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SHORT COMMUNICATION
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 47  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 195-196

Health system response to the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic-induced violence against women


1 Department of Community Medicine, Medical Education Unit, Institute Research Council, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Chengalpet, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Chengalpet, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Submission12-Jun-2020
Date of Acceptance18-Jul-2020
Date of Web Publication21-Jan-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava
Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Tiruporur - Guduvancherry Main Road, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet - 603 108, Tamil Nadu
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jss.JSS_56_20

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  Abstract 


The coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has affected all the sections of the community, while the situation pertaining to women and girls is complex, as they have been subjected to incidents of violence. Even though, the data on violence against women during the ongoing COVID-19 emergency is not adequate, nevertheless reports of rising incidence of domestic violence has been reported. The outbreak has resulted in a stressful condition with disruption in the daily routine and has even accounted for financial hardships. From the public health perspective, such a risk just cannot be ignored and we have to be prompt in addressing these needs during even emergencies. In general, the health care delivery system has a crucial role to ensure that victims of violence remain safe and accessible during the entire outbreak. In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic has accounted for a simultaneous rise in the incidence of violence against women and thus the health sector has to improve their preparedness to respond to the challenge and ensure that the rights of women are not violated.

Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic, Violence against women, Health system, World Health Organization


How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Health system response to the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic-induced violence against women. J Sci Soc 2020;47:195-6

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Health system response to the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic-induced violence against women. J Sci Soc [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 Apr 16];47:195-6. Available from: https://www.jscisociety.com/text.asp?2020/47/3/195/307602




  Introduction Top


In the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID 19) pandemic, the global caseload has increased to 7,273,958 cases, whereas 413,372 people have lost their lives to the viral infection.[1] Even though the disease has affected all the sections of the community, the situation pertaining to women and girls is complex, as they have been subjected to incidents of violence and violation of their basic human rights.[1],[2] Violence against women has been acknowledged as one of the important public health concerns worldwide, and the incidence of the same has reported a significant rise during the times of public health emergencies, affecting predominantly the women who are displaced or living in conflict affected settings.[2],[3]

COVID-19 and Violence against women

Even though the data on violence against women during the ongoing COVID 19 emergency are not adequate, nevertheless, reports of rising incidence of domestic violence have been reported in nations such as China, United Kingdom, and the United States.[2] The outbreak has resulted in a stressful condition with disruption in the daily routine, and due to the imposition of movement restrictions, all the family members are staying at home, and there is a definite chance of exacerbation of the trivial events and potentially an abusive relationship. In continuation, schools have been closed and that adds to the stress to which a woman is exposed, and more than that the women are finding it difficult to spend time with family and friends who tend to act as a stress buster and often extend support.[2],[4]

In addition, due to the closure of most of the workplaces, the financial status of the family has taken a toll, which further adds fuel to the family problems and plays an important role in the exacerbation of violence incidents.[4] Moreover, the access to basic sexual and reproductive health services is quite limited during these times of emergency and the same thing stands true for other welfare services such as shelter homes and hotlines, and all these factors cumulatively have increased the incidence of violence against women. The worst part of these violent episodes is that it accounts for serious and long term physical, mental, sexual, and reproductive issues, such as acquisition of sexually transmitted infection and even unplanned pregnancies.[2],[4],[5]

Need of the hour

From the public health perspective, such a risk just cannot be ignored and we have to be prompt in addressing these needs during even emergencies.[2],[3] Before we plan for their welfare, it is important to acknowledge that the circumstances created by COVID 19 are ideal for the violence against women. In fact, even the female health workers are not safe neither in home nor in workplace settings due to the workload stress and reports of stigmatization or social isolation at the hands of the different sections of the community despite the reality that they are working in the field compromising their own safety.[2],[5]

Role of Health System

In general, the health care delivery system has a crucial role to ensure that victims of violence remain safe and accessible during the entire outbreak. The policy makers should introduce essential strategies to respond to violence against women within the outbreak readiness and response plan for COVID 19.[2] The health care establishments should identify all the available services within their purview and establish referral services with these services for providing assistance to the violence survivors. In addition, the health professionals can offer the first line of support and treatment to the women by not only listening to their concerns in a nonjudgmental manner but also by connecting them to the relevant supportive services. Moreover, the health sector should plan to extend nonperformance dependent financial incentive and travelling expenses to the outreach community health workers.[2],[4],[5]

Other recommendations

It is essential that the awareness about violence among people has to be increased about the same, so that people are aware that something like this has been happening even during the times of a pandemic and thus be helpful to the victims who reach out to them for their assistance. In addition, it is critical to understand that the stress in the family can very much aggravate due to the COVID 19 and thus all the family members should avoid stressful circumstances (such as referring to reliable information sources only, maintain daily routine, practice mind relaxing activities, encourage hobbies, and spend quality family time). Women who are being subjected to violence should have information about the helpline numbers, social workers, police station, etc., and should keep a plan ready for maintaining the safety of themselves and their children, if the condition worsens.[2],[4],[5]


  Conclusion Top


In conclusion, the COVID 19 pandemic has accounted for a simultaneous rise in the incidence of violence against women and thus the health sector has to improve their preparedness to respond to the challenge and ensure that the rights of women are not violated.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
World Health Organization. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Report – 143; 2020. Available from: https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200611-covid-19-sitrep-143.pdf?sfvrsn=2adbe568_4. [Last accessed on 2020 Jun 12].  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Pan American Health Organization. COVID-19 and Violence Against Women: What the Health Sector/System Can Do. Washington: WHO Press; 2020. p. 1-3.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Implementing universal minimal standards to counter the challenge of gender-based violence in emergencies. Ann Trop Med Public Health 2016;9:289-90.  Back to cited text no. 3
  [Full text]  
4.
Humphreys KL, Myint MT, Zeanah CH. Increased risk for family violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pediatrics 2020;146:e20200982.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
van Gelder N, Peterman A, Potts A, O'Donnell M, Thompson K, Shah N, et al. COVID-19: Reducing the risk of infection might increase the risk of intimate partner violence. EClinicalMedicine 2020;21:100348.  Back to cited text no. 5
    




 

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