Daily US Times: The coronavirus seems to be more deadly to men, but in many ways, the virus is disastrous for women and their rights.
From disproportionate economic impact to a spike of domestic violence and restricted access to family-planning services, the lockdown measures put in place to stop the outbreak are hurting women and their basic rights a lot more than men.
Previous epidemics of Zika and Ebola have resulted in major setbacks for girls and women and their rights in the regions most affected by the outbreaks — activists and experts are warning the same thing is happening globally right now.
Earlier this year, a CNN analysis found that in the countries for which data was available, men were 50% more likely than women to die after being diagnosed with Covid-19. But experts say focusing purely on health data is dangerous.
Julia Smith, a researcher at the Simon Fraser University in Canada, said: “We think about this crisis in very narrow terms, only focusing on the health impacts, but we’re missing the bigger picture.”
Smith is working on a multi-year project looking at the wider impact of the pandemic.
“But these women have already experienced the violence … we need to respond to the issue before the rates go up,” Smith said.
She added: “Men are having worse health outcomes if they become infected, but when we think about the secondary impacts, here we see that women are being disproportionately affected.”
The currrent coronavirus pandemic is worsening problems women were facing even before it started.
Kristina Lunz, co-founder of The Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy, said: “Crises like this exacerbate already existing structural inequalities in society — when it comes to women’s rights, women’s health, and women’s economic status, this is exactly what we are seeing now.”
Women’s rights as an afterthought
Smith said that when marginalized groups are underrepresented at the decision-making table, their rights and needs are often forgotten.
She said: “And unfortunately, women’s rights are almost always an afterthought in any crisis situation.”
As the virus started spreading around the world, many governments announced sweeping lockdown measures, confining most citizens to their homes.
While this helped slow down the outbreak, authorities in a number of countries recorded a worrying consequence: spikes in domestic violence.
Many activists say it was painfully obvious that such abusing tendency towards women would increase in a lockdown situation.
Numerous studies have shown that stressful events such as economic downturns or natural disasters often lead to higher instances of gender-based violence.