On April 15, 2020, the UN Secretary-General took to Twitter to draw attention to the escalating domestic violence around the world following the coronavirus.
After COVID-19, such incidents escalated not only in developing countries (where either domestic violence laws do not exist at all and if they exist, their implementation is weak due to social pressures) but also in developed societies (where there are active laws) also seem to be intensifying. In this case, in Pakistan, where social attitudes generally appear to be reluctant to intervene by making domestic violence a private matter, the situation is deteriorating further after the epidemic. There are many reasons for this.
The first reason is that men spend more time at home, taking a social distance because of Corona. Moreover, women, regardless of their class, are expected to perform best in household chores, which have become more difficult to accomplish, especially in the absence of domestic workers since Corona. This situation is more of a problem for working women, as on the one hand they are forced to fulfill their career responsibilities at home, while on the other hand, they are also worried about handling household chores efficiently.
I recently had the opportunity to read the discussion of a social group of more than 28,000 highly educated women on Facebook on domestic issues in the wake of the Corona epidemic. In which women expressed mental and physical fatigue due to living in a joint family and the husband stays house for a long time. In the same group, a woman told her story and asked for a suggestion on how to treat her abusive husband. While she cleans the house, cooks, takes care of her husband, she is ridiculed by her in-laws.
The second major problem facing Pakistani women after Corona is the lack of education. Although many analysts say it is not gender, if you look at the rural girls who traveled miles to reach government schools, there are many problems after the epidemic. Because of their direct connection to the school, those who were previously involved in education are now at home and are forced to carry the burden of domestic responsibilities. The main reason for this is the ignorance of government schools about online education. This situation is even more troubling for girls because whenever the issue of continuing education in poor families in economic hardship comes up, boys are always given priority, regardless of qualifications. That is why the male literacy rate in the country is 70%, while the female literacy rate is 48%. It is also important to point out that girls who are also involved in online education are also forced to take responsibility for household chores, which significantly affects their academic performance.
Like education, women’s health conditions have deteriorated since the Corona epidemic. Especially for pregnant women who are waiting for regular medical checkups but are facing difficulties due to the Corona epidemic. Hospitals are already under pressure from the epidemic, and access to medical care has become even more difficult, especially for economically weaker women.
According to a United Nations report, 48.1% of women aged 15-49 in Pakistan have no personal preference for access to medical care. In these circumstances, rural women who are already unable to access medical care for various reasons are forced to face more difficulties after the virus.
Apart from education and health, another important issue facing women in the provision of employment. Although the general rate of unemployment in Pakistan, like in other societies, has risen due to the lock down after the corona epidemic, the victims are especially women who are deprived of job security due to their involvement in informal occupations. Globally, women are already living in 25 percent more extreme poverty than men, according to a United Nations report. This rate has increased in all countries since the epidemic. The victims are mostly female domestic workers.
In the end, it is important to note that whether it is an epidemic or a war situation, history has shown that women are the easiest victims. The saddest thing is that even in such emergencies, the ruling class does not take gender standards into account in its strategy. As a result, the weaker ones become more vulnerable.