27 March 2020 – 6:17pm
The Office of Gender Affairs is calling for peace in households as the Territory prepares to enter into a 6 day, 24-hour curfew with the resulting lockdown.
Gender Affairs Coordinator Ms. Tara Sue Morgan said that when the Government agreed to place the country on a mandatory lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19 (the disease caused by the new Coronavirus), this can have victims who are experiencing domestic violence trapped in their homes with their abusers, further isolating them from their families, friends and the resources that could help them.
Ms. Morgan said, “Due to the fact that persons are now isolated within households for a longer period of time than usual, sharing the same space, food, utensils, necessities, etc., there will be increased tension within households.”
The coordinator explained that during times of a shutdown, curfew or quarantine, the stress, fear, and sense of helplessness associated with emergency situations tend to increase the perpetration of violence. Violence, she added is often motivated by a desire for a sense of power and control.
Ms. Morgan went on to state that the police and other personnel may be busy addressing other situations caused by the COVID-19, and perpetrators often use this chaos as an excuse or as a distraction to commit their crimes. “They may even threaten to throw their victims out of their home so they get sick or if they get sick. The victim will then want to comply with everything to ensure they have somewhere to live. As a result, the emotional turmoil and confusion can make it even more difficult for a victim to respond to the situation,” she said.
The Gender Affairs Coordinator is urging residents across the Territory to do their part by ensuring that:
- They are vigilant and report any suspected cases of domestic violence occurring during lockdown to the police.
- Provide accurate and supportive care and messaging with the intention to enhance people’s safety, dignity and rights.
- Ensure policies and interventions around response speak to everyone’s needs, which is a fundamental step to understanding the primary and secondary effects of a health emergency on different individuals and communities. At the same time the protection needs of women and girls must be at the centre of response efforts.
- Ensure the response to COVID-19 does not reproduce or perpetuate harmful gender norms, discriminatory practices and inequalities. It is important to recognize that social, culture and gender norms, roles, and relations influence women’s and men’s vulnerability to infection, exposure, and treatment.
- Use gender-based violence referral pathways to reflect available services. (Available at the Office of Gender Affairs)
- Support meaningful engagement of women and girls, men and boys at the community level, including their networks and organisations, to ensure efforts and responses are not further discriminating and excluding those most at risk.
The Office of Gender Affairs is charged with promoting gender equality and equity through the development of policies and programmes. This includes the integration of a gender perspective into the activities of government at the policy, programme, sensitisations and project levels. The Office of Gender Affairs also tries to promote psychosocial support to gender based violence survivors.