In the latest episode of the ITF podcast, alongside our invited guests, we were discussing devastating spikes in the cases of domestic violence due to the special circumstances surrounding Covid-19. For many workers, especially women, going to work is a source of independence and allows time away from the abuser. Tension rises when employment is not guaranteed, taken away or when self-isolation is mandatory.
During these challenging times, domestic violence survivors are battling two wars. One with the virus and one to survive domestic abuse. Today the global message is to stay at home, to stay safe and fight the pandemic. However, what do we do when homes are not safe?
Neha Prakash, programme specialist (ending violence against women transport workers), spoke to Barb MacQuarrie and Sheela Naikwade.
Barb MacQuarrie is the community director of the Center of Research and Education on Violence against Women and Children at Western University, she has lead numerous training programmes, initiatives, and research projects.
Sheela Naikwade is vice president of MSTKS, India, and one of the leading contributors to the development of the ITF Women’s Advocate Programme.
Barb MacQuarrie highlights the risks self-isolation might bring: "Home isolation, however vital it is to fight against the pandemic, is giving more power to abusers. These social distancing measures are increasing women and their children's day-to-day exposure to abuse of men. We know when family members are in close proximity, under conditions of duress for extended periods of time, rates of violence against women as well as violence against children increase."
Sheela Naikwade added: "The bitter truth is that women workers often say that the workplace is a better, more supportive environment for them than their own home. They feel free and less fearful at work. They can share their experiences with others, they can get guidance from their colleagues and friends to tackle the situation, and sometimes they can even contact doctors, lawyers or counsellors. All of this is not possible from home."
The ITF podcast, All Over The Place, is available from the link below, Apple Podcasts and Spotify.