We appreciate the pandemic has been a difficult time for many, we believe this is a conversation worth having and if anyone would like to talk about how lockdowns are affecting women's rights, or have affected you personally, we would be interested in publishing writing on this issue.
On 23rd March 2020 Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a televised announcement telling the British public: “From this evening I must give the British people a very simple instruction - you must stay at home.
To put it simply, if too many people become seriously unwell at one time, the NHS will be unable to handle it - meaning more people are likely to die, not just from Coronavirus but from other illnesses as well.”
This followed Matt Hancock’s address to parliament on 16th March, saying that all unnecessary social contact should cease. These were all measures taken by the UK government in response to COVID-19, a disease caused by a coronavirus previously unknown to scientists, but very similar to other coronaviruses. Appearing to affect China first with viral videos of people dropping in the streets, shocking images from Italy of army vehicles removing bodies followed weeks later. It was frightening. It was a new virus. The media had a field day, fear sells better than sex.
China shut down, then Italy. There was an increasing sense of agitation amongst the British public, who were looking to the government to do something to reassure the people that they were in control. Lockdowns started to be discussed in the media. There were warnings that lockdowns trap women with their abusers, and that women’s rights and independence may be rolled back, but these went unheeded and on 23rd March the UK ploughed headfirst into a lockdown policy. The devastating effects were almost immediate. It is difficult to pin an increase in male violence on any single factor, as Karen Ingala Smith points out, however in the first three weeks of lockdown 14 women and two children were killed by men which is the highest it has been in this three week period for at least 11 years.
Nine months on we find ourselves in another lockdown. Lockdowns were unevidenced, untested and never recommended in any pandemic plans by the World Health Organisation when they were implemented in March. It was known that they would hurt the vulnerable by the committee that advised the WHO. They still aren’t recommended by the WHO, and definitely not as a first line of defence. Nine months later we now have mounting evidence of their efficacy and the harms they cause. At the peak of the virus in Spring, for every three people that died of Covid-19, the lockdown measures killed two. A peer reviewed paper studying 160 countries found that factors such as general health, average age of citizens, and prior flu seasons dictated how badly Covid-19 affected a country, and that “this burden was not alleviated by more stringent public decisions” ie. lockdowns. Yet the UK government has been using a series of tactics to ensure compliance to the lockdowns and other pandemic response measures, and many seem to be straight out of the abusers’ handbook.