Snapshot: COVID-19 and gender-based violence

Snapshot: COVID-19 and gender-based violence
Snapshot: COVID-19 and gender-based violence – Text version

COVID-19 and gender-based violence

Canadians have been urged to stay at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, home is not a safe place for everyone.

Shadow pandemic

"As more countries report infection and lockdown, more domestic violence helplines and shelters across the world are reporting rising calls for help. We see a shadow pandemic growing, of violence against women."

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women

This increase has been seen around the world:

  • China: police reports show family violence tripled in Hubei province in February 2020 (compared to February 2019)
  • France: cases of intimate partner violence increased by 30% in March 2020
  • Argentina: emergency calls for family violence rose by 25% in March 2020.

Situation in Canada

The stress and anxiety resulting from physical distancing measures was a top concern for many Canadians in early April 2020. 1 in 10 women reported being very or extremely concerned about the possibility of violence in the home. (Statistics Canada)

  • 32% of Canadians think that domestic violence has increased a lot since the start of the pandemic. (Privy Council Office survey, Spring 2020)
  • The Assaulted Women's helpline of Ontario reported a 400% increase in calls in April 2020.
  • The Battered Women's Support Services hotline, located in British Columbia, reported a 400% increase in calls between April and May 2020. Of those calls, 40% were from women isolated with their abuser.

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