The impact of COVID-19 on women's safety at home and in public areas has been emphasized in a new UN Women study.
According to the paper "Measuring the Shadow Epidemic: Violence Against Women During COVID-19," which is based on survey data from 13 countries, over half of the women said that they or a woman they knew had suffered some sort of violence since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the research, which was issued on the eve of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which falls on Nov. 25, around a quarter of women felt less safe at home, while existing tension within families grew.
When women were asked why they felt uncomfortable at home, one of the explanations they gave was physical violence (21 percent). Some women explicitly reported being harmed by other family members (21 percent) or being harmed by other women in the home (19 percent).
Women were also feeling more vulnerable to violence outside their homes, with 40% of respondents indicating they felt less comfortable walking around alone at night since the outbreak of COVID-19. Approximately three-quarters of women said that sexual harassment in public places deteriorated during COVID-19.
Financial stress, unemployment, food insecurity, and stressful family relationships came out as having a substantial influence not only on feelings of safety (or violence) but also on women's general well-being.
Violence against women is an existing global crisis that thrives on other crises, the UN says. The COVID-19 pandemic "enabled a second, shadow pandemic of violence against women and girls," says the UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous in a press release. "Our new data underlines the urgency of concerted efforts to end this," she says. Conflict, climate-related natural disasters, food insecurity, and human rights violation all play a role.