The risk of becoming a victim at the hands of an intimate partner has always been high, especially for women: According to data published in 2021 by the German government, every third woman experiences domestic violence and/or sexual abuse in her lifetime. In fact, out of the 148,031 reported intimate ... (Show more)
The risk of becoming a victim at the hands of an intimate partner has always been high, especially for women: According to data published in 2021 by the German government, every third woman experiences domestic violence and/or sexual abuse in her lifetime. In fact, out of the 148,031 reported intimate partner violence victims in Germany 2020, 119,164 were women.
Intimate partner violence (IPV) incidents rose in 2020 compared to its previous years – as was expected due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and its countermeasures. While lockdowns, contact bans, curfews, school and kindergarten closures were implemented to protect citizens’ health, the victims of IPV found themselves in a vulnerable position and thus at the forefront of being at risk. Social menace and injuries of victims were left unseen due to missing engagement with their surroundings. Shelter for battered women were restricted or even temporarily closed due to hygiene regulations. The situation and restrictions in hospitals to this day still create an unfavorable environment of meeting the required additional healthcare resources for domestic violence victims.
Yet, recent data from the Federal Criminal Police suggest that there is no correlation between Covid-19, its countermeasures, and IPV, as the numbers of official police reports filed decreased during the second lockdown. This, however, disregards the gender inequality women had to face during the pandemic. It also diminishes the new-found attention of media, governmental and non-governmental organizations that IPV received in the public discourse in form of awareness and so-called ‘vigilant campaigns’ that were spread across Germany. The public was encouraged to stay vigilant and to pay attention – making IPV, that takes place in the private sphere, an important and crucial public matter it actually is. By qualitatively assessing IPV in the context of Covid-19 measures under a social construction feminist lens, this paper highlights different areas of gendered inequality: economic dependency, gendered norms of family structures, disconnection of social support, and limited capacity of women’s shelters, which were caused and/or intensified by Covid-19 measures. Nevertheless, this paper also highlights that Covid-19 brought new interest and needed attention to the matter. It is essential to continue to communicate the risk of IPV to make an impact on a shadow pandemic, that existed before Covid-19 and will continue to exist even after successfully combating or finding ways to live with Covid-19. (Show less)