Domestic Abuse and COVID-19; A Pandemic within a Pandemic

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 Press Release, April 7, 2020
The Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW)

Domestic Abuse and COVID-19; A Pandemic within a Pandemic

The Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) offers a sincere thank you to Prime Minister Hon. Justin Trudeau, Provincial Premiers, Territorial Leaders, Government Ministers, Opposition Leaders and Municipal officials who have shown true leadership, respect and empathy in their frequent meetings with the press and the Canadian people. We appreciate the needed financial provisions to assist laid-off workers and small business owners and other relief measures to help those who most need assistance.

A thank you is also extended to the members of the press who are keeping us well informed with compassionate yet objective reporting; to health care workers; emergency workers including those at food stores, truck drivers, utility and municipal workers; educators, especially childcare workers and K-12 and post-secondary teachers who are utilizing virtual and other means to promote learning. To all those who keep our country and our economy going, providing food and other necessities of life we are most grateful.

As a long-standing advocacy group on behalf of human rights, status of women, peace and education, CFUW’s over 7800 members located in all Canadian provinces are concerned with the rise of domestic violence during these challenging times. The UN Secretary-General António Guterres is calling for measures to address a “horrifying global surge in domestic violence” directed towards women and girls, linked to lockdowns imposed by governments responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and says “Peace is not just the absence of war. Many women under lockdown for #COVID19 face violence where they should be safest: in their own homes.”

Women and girls are finding themselves caught in an “abuse pandemic within a COVID-19 pandemic”. CFUW praises efforts made to date and calls for additional action to curb violence against women and girls, the primary targets of abuse. When home is not a safe place to stay, governments must provide additional shelter capacity. For those parents who are also essential workers, but cannot leave their children in a safe place, governments must ensure there is sufficient accessible quality childcare available.

But what of the future? As Canadians continue to “stay at home” and separate themselves physically from colleagues, friends and family, we all share concerns about the long-term impact both psychologically and financially of the COVID-19 lockdown. We encourage governments to seek advice of experts as to the best way to manage situations so that, in future, people can work in safe environments that will enable the population and the economy to function and flourish. A world that can navigate outer space can find a way to navigate through the effects of COVID-19.

Grace Hollett

Mt. Pearl, NL

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