15th April 2020

COVID-19 and Domestic Violence

As a result of this COVID-19 pandemic, millions of people across the country have been told to work from home in the name of public safety and security. The government has strongly recommended everyone to participate in social distancing. There have been multiple social and economic consequences as a result of the pandemic - employees have been fired without notice, with many more on unpaid leave. Many individuals acting as their family’s primary breadwinners have found themselves jobless, unable to support their loved ones.

The high-stress atmosphere compounded with economic pressures has caused another threat to arise - domestic violence. Despite safety from COVID-19 in quarantine, the pandemic has caused a spike in domestic abuse throughout Indonesia. Komnas Perempuan’s annual records in 2019 showed that 75.4% of cases of violence against women occurred in the home. Which means that the perpetrators are primarily those closest to them.

The hashtag #DiRumahAja is no doubt a blessing to many privileged citizens. However, this situation isn’t easy to face for many victims of domestic abuse. While for many of us the home is a place of safety and comfort, many victims of domestic violence view it as a prison they are unable to escape. In this sense, the home becomes a dark space of hurt rather than security. The patriarchal culture present in Indonesia means that many husbands are expected to take on any economic burdens the family faces. Men, who are presumed to be financially independent or the primary breadwinner of the family, may feel like they’ve failed when they’ve lost this role. The sudden lack of a job, which could happen to anyone, makes many men feel ashamed, vulnerable, and hopeless. This is an example of toxic masculinity, wherein men are given a set of expectations and are rarely (if ever) allowed to express themselves. This harmful culture means, instead of healthily releasing their emotions, many men turn to violence as a way to come to terms with their emotions. This, many times, is the beginning of a case of domestic violence.

Many women who become victims of this abuse also become susceptible to this cycle abuse. Some marry or date abusers if the relationship ends, believing they are ‘undeserving’ of a healthy relationship. Others become abusers themselves. Many children growing up around the violence also begin to mimic the violence they encounter at home. Due to economic pressures, these actions/behaviours are unlikely to change.

The current pandemic has called for an essential self-quarantine. However, it is crucial to remember that not everyone has the privilege to self-quarantine or be safe in their quarantine. Victims of domestic violence who could escape their abuser for a few hours a day are now unable to leave. Our thoughts are with the victims of domestic abuse across Indonesia during this time of #DiRumahAja.

Source : detik.com

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