Over 900 new cases of gender-based violence during lockdown according to authorities
Public health crisis could result in 50-year setback for equality
Authorities have reported over 900 new cases of gender-based violence in Catalonia during lockdown – 913, to be precise, that took place between March 16 and May 15.
The Catalan Women's Institute also notes that women received emergency care 1,113 times during this same period; that said, however, the number of Mossos police reports filed for gender-based violence decreased by 31% compared to that same time last year.
But while reports went down, the number of calls to the women's help hotline increased by 88% over the first month and half of the lockdown compared to prior months – it could be, perhaps, that the added difficulties in terms of leaving home would explain the decrease in police reports, while the greater number of calls suggest this kind of violence became more commonplace due to the heightened stress of the crisis.
50-year setback for equality
Women are already disproportionately far more likely to be in charge of childcare and housework than men are, with the Covid-19 pandemic further entrenching these disparities – in fact, the only main household task that is now predominantly carried out by men is grocery shopping.
School closures during the health crisis have meant that children must be educated at home, and a University of Barcelona and Pompeu Fabra University study concludes that 62% of mothers have been in charge of helping their kids with their schoolwork versus 38% of fathers although lockdown has forced parents of both sexes to stay home in similar proportions. Before the crisis, 64% of mothers oversaw this compared to 34% of fathers.
As for spending time with children when they are not being homeschooled, 55% of mothers usually are the ones to do so versus 45% of fathers – before the pandemic struck, this responsibility was distributed fairly similarly.
And with children at home most of the day and schools out for the year, as well as with no options to externalize care for them, women have been far more likely to reduce their working hours or leave their jobs altogether to be with them.
Single mothers who cannot share the burden of rent and other basic needs with someone else are, therefore, not coincidentally overrepresented among the 30% of Catalonia's residents who are at risk of poverty.
As a result of these intensified disparities, some experts believe the public health crisis could do away with some of the advances women have made over the past decades, with Anna Mercadé, of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce's Women, Entrepreneurship and Economy Observatory asserting that an inability to balance work and home life will force women "back 50 years."