Letter to the Editor: Make the invisible visible

Letter to the Editor: Make the invisible visible

8 March 2021

Dear Editor, 

Few people have escaped the effects of the pandemic. For some, the past 12 months have resulted in untold grief; for others, the loss of a livelihood. Some people have experienced both.  

From the old to the young, lockdowns have exacerbated suffering. The ongoing lockdowns have made countless people feel trapped – like there’s no escape.

But for the women and girls trapped at home with a violent partner or family member over the past 12 months, they have been horrific.

This particular gendered impact of the pandemic on women was immediately evident: reports of gender-based violence surged in many countries that introduced lockdowns to suppress the spread of the virus. 

Ireland was no different. Over the first six months of the pandemic, there was a sharp increase in the number of women and children seeking support from domestic violence services. 

According to Safe Ireland, a national agency which works with domestic violence organisations, 3,450 women and 589 children sought support and advice for the very first time between March and August 2020. This equates to a monthly average of 575 women and 98 children accessing services for the first time.

Meanwhile, the lack of consideration for the vulnerability in most countries’ Covid responses has been shocking, according to findings from the United Nations Development Programme’s Covid-19 Gender Response Tracker. 

The tracker, which monitors policy measures enacted by governments worldwide to address the Covid-19 crisis, has revealed that less than 15 percent of countries introduced measures to tackle violence against women and girls.

As we prepare to mark International Women’s Day 2021, we need to listen to the message of the World Health Organisation which asks countries to collect gender-disaggregated data on the effects of Covid-19 on men and women. 

Why? Because it says that data and information make the invisible visible. 

And that’s the very least that women and girls experiencing domestic violence deserve.

Yours etc 

Rosa Brandon

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