What’s Worse: Domestic Violence or Catching Covid?


One of the silent killers behind Covid lockdown has been domestic abuse and violence. And it has been as cross-cultural and indifferent as coronavirus – countries all across the globe have reported increased violence at home, typically against women and children.

At the start of lockdown, UK’s largest domestic abuse charity, Refuge, reported a 700% increase in helpline calls in just one day. In Spain, they registered the first domestic violence fatality five days after quarantine began, where a husband murdered his wife in front of their children.

On the other side of the world, a Brazilian judge specializing in domestic violence, Adriana Mello, estimated a 40–50 percent rise in violence, “…and there was already really big demand,” he said. “We need to stay calm in order to tackle this difficulty we are now facing.” 

Even as alarming as those numbers sound, it only represents those who are able to seek help. Many are too scared to make calls for fear of being overheard. In Italy, for example, activists said that calls had decreased, yet desperate text messages and emails were taking over.

But it would be amiss to blame these statistics only on coronavirus. 

Domestic Violence Is Not New

In some countries, domestic violence was rising before the term covid-19 was even coined, particularly in Latin American countries

In Mexico City, for example, the Mexico News Daily reported that femicides went up 60% in 2019. Additionally, 6 out of 10 women in Mexico report being victims of some type of violence from their partners, including economic, emotional, physical and sexual abuse.  

On average, 10 women are killed every day in Mexico (126 million population) – and the majority of deaths are at home by a relative or an acquaintance. To put this into context, Germany recorded 189 femicides in one year (83 million population), the highest of all EU countries in 2017 but still only a small percentage of Mexico’s statistics.

Another issue is poor education on women’s rights, where women are unaware of what would count as abuse or that it should even be reported. PSYDEH, a NGO that uses donations to educate and empower women in Mexico, found a severe gap of women rights knowledge in the region where they work, Hidalgo. Women told stories of being raised believing they had no value and did not need education; or of violent episodes, one in which a pregnant woman was slapped, thrown out and lost her unborn child. 

This doesn’t even tell the full story because many women are unable to report what they suffer. The challenge is connecting women to the services they need. Mexico’s director of the National Citizens’ Observatory (ONC), Francisco Rivas, said the country’s 2019 crime statistics didn’t paint the full picture.

“What we are seeing is only the tip of the iceberg; there are… entire communities where we never find out about the crimes committed against women,” Rivas said. “They are not only victims of physical violence but also psychological and economic violence.”

Women Speak Up

But this incorrectly paints a picture of vulnerable women. Women aren’t staying quiet, and the growing number of global women’s marches every year are testament to this. 

In Mexico City, they even took the march one step further with a subsequent public strike, a ‘day of women’s absence’ in offices and public places. It was an impactful statement in a country that is known for machismo roots. 

Especially in March 2020, the global support for the women’s marches felt like a spark had been ignited. But covid-19 hit, and the light felt dimmed somewhat. 

“In many countries, women are the majority but are often not supported as such. We believe communities can see significant and sustainable change by empowering women to lead the required solutions themselves,” said PSYDEH.

There is still a lot of hard work to be done – better laws, increased protection, more education – but what is not out of reach, even in quarantine, is building awareness. 

Covid, it seems, is sticking around for a while. But it is important to not lose traction, especially as we watch the numbers of domestic violence rise.

Now is the time to continue a ‘digital women’s march.’ Share the articles that the world needs to hear, show the real statistics, keep the topic in everyone’s mind.

UN Women put together this useful infographic to explain domestic violence, and many other articles and NGO missions are out there ready to be shared.

Welcome to the pink side.



Help Keep Big Easy Magazine Alive

Hey guys!

Covid-19 is challenging the way we conduct business. As small businesses suffer economic losses, they aren’t able to spend money advertising.

Please donate today to help us sustain local independent journalism and allow us to continue to offer subscription-free coverage of progressive issues.

Thank you,
Scott Ploof
Big Easy Magazine

Share this Article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *