Voices from the field: COVID-19 exposing women to violence
The containment measures instituted by the government to curb the spread of the coronavirus, - including restriction on mobility, lockdowns, and the halting of non-essential businesses and suspension of multiple economic activities, are having an indiscriminate effect on women in mining communities. The profound socio-economic hardships brought about by COVID-19 have the negative impact of increasing incidences of violence against women in the home, with an increase in cases recorded since the onset of lockdown, continues to impact women's safety and security in the home negatively.
Confinement to family homes for extended periods is exerting economic pressure on many families, resulting in financial distress. Many families already grappling with poverty now face a lack of opportunities to earn a livelihood and consequent difficulties in meeting basic needs. This is evident in communities affected in our areas of operation. In the districts of Hoima and Buliisa, men who used to spend most of their time fishing, working in camps, and attending to their shops have now become 'stay home' husbands due to the pandemic. Stressed by the COVID-19 measures and the associated financial problems, men who find themselves overwhelmed by the struggle to cope unable to provide for their families and feel humiliated by their incapacitated state, faced with multiple stressors, anxiety, and caregiving responsibilities without their usual supports, many take out their frustrations on their wives.
The increase in domestic violence explicitly calls for interventions that showcase alternative ways to cope with multiple socio-economic stressors, but, at the same time, it graphically illustrates critical aspects that demand policymakers' attention, notability, the need for social protection, social capital, and psychosocial support to help to prevent outbreaks of new violence. As part of our sensitization efforts, GRA partnered with Hoima and Buliisa district local government organized radio talk shows under the theme: "Raise against domestic violence and manipulative sale of land." District taskforces & local government acknowledge the issues arising from COVID-19 and commit to a swift response to violence against women, domestic violence, and land disputes. They shared Referral pathways and GBV shelters.