Experts Review Increased Inter-Partner Violence in Covid-19 Lockdown

April 29, 2020

Despite the fact that inter-partner violence (IPV) is more difficult for victims to report as couples live in close quarters during lockdown to stop the spread of Covid-19, there has been a significant increase in reported cases of such violence, according to presenters participating in the webinar “Gender-Based Violence: The Other Pandemic,” hosted by the Santiago and Rio Centers in conjunction with Columbia’s Institute for Latin American Studies (ILAS).

Maria Jose Abud (SIPA’15), Chile’s acting Undersecretary at the Ministry of Women and Gender Equality, said that her office aims to ensure continuity of operations to help serve affected women, while also putting new initiatives into action, such as the “Facemask 19” initiative where women can go to pharmacies and use this codeword to signal to the pharmacist that she is in trouble and needs help. Other projects include reinforcing hotlines and women’s centers, setting up a WhatsApp hotline and executing information campaigns, while the ministry is working on implementing other projects such as launching a panic button app and designing an economic response for those women financially affected by repressed activity stemming from quarantine.

In turn, Lisa Bates, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, emphasized that the violence could be physical, sexual, psychological or controlling behavior. The reduction of IPV can be brought about in three ways: response-based (treatment and support), prevention-based (changing norms) and mitigation-based (reducing exposure and minimizing secondary harm), she said, underlining the activation of touch-points like healthcare facilities and pharmacies where women can denounce violence, such as the case of Chile’s “Facemask 19.”