Marginalized People are Bearing the Brunt of Quarantine
For many people, flattening the curve isn’t as simple as relaxing on their couch.
At the beginning of this pandemic, President Trump tweeted, “We can not let the cure be worse than the problem itself.” Since then, millions of Americans have lost their jobs and domestic abuse has risen internationally. Government officials are saying that this virus affects marginalized people the most. The cure, too, is negatively affecting marginalized people the most.
Social distancing measures have caused a dramatic spike in domestic abuse. According to Marianne Hester, a Bristol University sociologist, domestic violence goes up whenever families spend more time together, such as during holidays and summer vacations. Quarantine has been no exception. An NGO in China dedicated to combating domestic violence reported that they have experienced a surge in calls to their help line since February. Shelters in various other countries reported the same experience.
So, is stopping the spread of COVID-19 worth the increase in domestic violence? It is difficult to tell because many cases of domestic violence are left unreported. Some women and men have even been more afraid to report than usual because reporting can mean going to a shelter and catching Coronavirus. According to the Marshall Project, while crime reports have dropped 43% since the outset of quarantine, domestic abuse reports have only dropped 23%. This suggests that despite cases left unreported, domestic abuse may still be on the rise.
As we maintain social distancing, it is vital that we pay attention to those who have been negatively affected by it. To help, you can donate to a local domestic abuse shelter or become aware of other groups who have been negatively affected by this quarantine. We should all do what we can to ensure the cure for this pandemic isn’t worse than the problem itself.