Global Covid-19 lockdowns inflame violence against women



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No country has been spared the coronavirus, nor the scourge of domestic violence which has surged during lockdowns, as the world marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on Wednesday.

From a spike in rapes in Nigeria and South Africa, increased numbers of women missing in Peru, higher rates of women being killed in Brazil and Mexico and overwhelmed associations in Europe: the pandemic has aggravated the plague of sexual violence.

According to UN data released in late September, lockdowns have led to increases in complaints or calls to report domestic abuse of 25 percent in Argentina, 30 percent in Cyprus and France and 33 percent in Singapore.

In essentially all countries, measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus have resulted in women and children being confined at home.

“The house is the most dangerous place for women,” Moroccan associations noted in April as they pressed authorities for “an emergency response”.

In India, Heena — not her real name — a 33-year-old cook who lives in Mumbai, said she felt “trapped in my house” with a husband who did not work, consumed drugs and was violent.

As she described what she had endured, she frequently broke down in tears.

After buying drugs, “he would spend the rest of his day either hooked to his phone playing PubG (PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds) or beating me up and abusing me,” she told AFP by telephone.

Insufficient measures

On August 15, her husband beat Heena worse than before, in front of their seven-year-old son, and threw her out of the house at 3:00 am.

“I had nowhere to go,” she said. “I could barely move my body — he beat me to a pulp, my body was swollen.”

Instead of going to the police, she made it to a friend’s home and then to her parents.

She is now fighting for custody of her son, “but courts are not working in full capacity due to Covid”.

She has not seen her son in four months, though he manages to call her in secret from time to time.

It is not just the courts that are hobbled by the virus. The closure of businesses and schools, as well as cultural and athletic activities, have deprived victims already weakened by economic insecurity of ways to escape violence.

Hanaa Edwar of the Iraqi Women’s Network, told AFP there had been “a dangerous deterioration in the socioeconomic situation for families following the lockdown, with more families going into poverty, which leads to violent reactions”.

In Brazil, 648 murders of women were recorded in the first half of the year, a small increase from the same period in 2019 according to the Brazilian Forum for Public Security.

While the government has launched a campaign to encourage women to file complaints, the forum says that measures designed to help victims remain insufficient.

‘Mask-19’

Worldwide, the United Nations says that only one country in eight has taken measures to lessen the pandemic’s impact on women and children.

In Spain, victims could discreetly ask for help in pharmacies by using the code “mask-19”, and some French associations established contact points in supermarkets.

“The women who came to us were in situations that had become unbearable, dangerous,” said Sophie Cartron, assistant director of an association that worked in a shopping mall near Paris.

“The lockdown established a wall of silence,” she said.

Mobilisation on November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women remains uncertain owing to restrictions linked to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Marches for women’s rights have nevertheless taken place recently in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Liberia, Namibia and Romania.

“We will not be able to demonstrate to express our anger, or march together,” said the Paris-based feminist group Family Planning.

“But we will make ourselves heard all the same, virtually and visually.”

Tamara Mathebula of the South African Commission for Gender Equality described a chronic “toxic masculinity” that was “everywhere you look”.

“There are gender pay gaps which are widening and continue to widen during the Covid-19 pandemic,” she told AFP.

“Gender-based violence worsened” as a result, she said, and the potential consequences were very serious.

In July, the UN estimated that six months of restrictions could result in 31 million additional cases of sexual violence in the world and seven million unwanted pregnancies.

The situation was also undermining the fight against female genital mutilation and forced marriages, the UN warned.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)



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Covid-19 pandemic triggers global spike in violence against women



No country has been spared the coronavirus epidemic, nor the scourge of domestic violence, which has surged during lockdowns as the day marking such violence approaches on Wednesday.

From a spike in rapes in Nigeria and South Africa, increased numbers of women missing in Peru, higher rates of women being killed in Brazil and Mexico and overwhelmed associations in Europe: the pandemic has aggravated the plague of sexual violence.

According to UN data released in late September, lockdowns have led to increases in complaints or calls to report domestic abuse of 25 percent in Argentina, 30 percent in Cyprus and France and 33 percent in Singapore.

In essentially all countries, measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus have resulted in woman and children being confined at home.

“The house is the most dangerous place for women,” Moroccan associations noted in April as they pressed authorities for “an emergency response”.

In India, Heena — not her real name — a 33-year-old cook who lives in Mumbai, said she felt “trapped in my house” with a husband who did not work, consumed drugs and was violent.

As she described what she had endured, she frequently broke down in tears.

After buying drugs, “he would spend the rest of his day either hooked to his phone playing PubG (PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds) or beating me up and abusing me,” she told AFP by telephone.

Insufficient measures

On August 15, her husband beat Heena worse than before, in front of their seven-year-old son, and threw her out of the house at 3:00 am.

“I had nowhere to go,” she said. “I could barely move my body — he beat me to pulp, my body was swollen.”

Instead of going to the police, she made it to a friend’s home and then to her parents.

She is now fighting for custody of her son, “but courts are not working in full capacity due to Covid”.

She has not seen her son in four months, though he manages to call her in secret from time to time.

It is not the just the courts that are hobbled by the virus. The closure of businesses and schools, as well as cultural and athletic activities, have deprived victims already weakened by economic insecurity of ways to escape violence.

Hanaa Edwar of the Iraqi Women’s Network, told AFP there had been “a dangerous deterioration in the socioeconomic situation for families following the lockdown, with more families going into poverty, which leads to violent reactions”.

In Brazil, 648 murders of women were recorded in the first half of the year, a small increase from the same period in 2019 according to the Brazilian Forum for Public Security.

While the government has launched a campaign to encourage women to file complaints, the forum says that measures designed to help victims remain insufficient.

‘Mask-19’ 

Worldwide, the United Nations says that only one country in eight has taken measures to lessen the pandemic’s impact on women and children.

In  Spain, victims could discreetly ask for help in pharmacies by using the code “mask-19”, and some French associations established contact points in supermarkets.

“The women who came to us were in situations that had become unbearable, dangerous,” said Sophie Cartron, assistant director of an association that worked in a shopping mall near Paris.

“The lockdown established a wall of silence,” she said.

Mobilisation on November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women remains uncertain owing to restrictions linked to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Marches for women’s rights have nevertheless taken place recently in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Liberia, Namibia and Romania.

“We will not be able to demonstrate to express our anger, or march together,” said the Paris-based feminist group Family Planning.

“But we will make ourselves heard all the same, virtually and visually.”

Tamara Mathebula of the South African Commission for Gender Equality described a chronic “toxic masculinity” that was “everywhere you look”.

“There are gender pay gaps which are widening and continue to widen during the Covid-19 pandemic,” she told AFP.

“Gender-based violence worsened” as a result, she said, and the potential consequences were very serious.

In July, the UN estimated that six months of restrictions could result in 31 million additional cases of sexual violence in the world and seven million unwanted pregnancies.

The situation was also undermining the fight against female genital mutilation and forced marriages, the UN warned.

(AFP)   

                  

   



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Frenchman sentenced to 25 years for killing wife, burning her body



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A French court Saturday sentenced Jonathann Daval to 25 years in prison for killing his wife and then burning her body, in a case that shocked the country. 

The 36-year-old Frenchman was impassive as the verdict was read out. He turned to look at members of his own family who were present.

Earlier, he had said “Sorry, Sorry” in the dock, looking towards his wife’s parents.

Daval finally confessed to beating his wife to death and burning her body in the woods after initially reporting her missing.

The charred remains of Alexia Daval were found hidden under branches near their town of Gray-la-Ville in eastern France in October 2017.

Daval initially said Alexia, a 29-year-old bank employee, had gone jogging and never came back.

Jean-Pierre Fouillot, Alexia’s father, passed an arm around the shoulders of his wife Isabelle as the court’s decision was delivered.

A few minutes later the mother, Isabelle Fouillot, went out to talk to reporters, as she had done throughout the trial.

“It is a very good decision, exactly what I hoped, at the height of our suffering. That will allow us to turn a page,” she said.

‘Almost perfect conjugal crime’

Defence lawyer Ornella Spatafora swiftly indicated that there would be no appeal against the sentence.

Outside the courthouse dozens of people were pressed against the barriers blocking access to it.

Prosecutors had asked for a life sentence calling the 2017 murder “an almost perfect conjugal crime.”

After his wife’s death, Duval had cut a distraught figure, appearing in tears at a press conference with his in-laws and leading one of several events organised countrywide in her memory.

Three months later, prosecutors said the IT worker confessed to the murder — admitting he had beaten his wife in a heated argument, knocking her face against a concrete wall, and strangling her.

He initially denied setting fire to her body, but finally admitted to that too, in June last year.

Daval changed his story several times, at one point withdrawing his confession, blaming his brother-in-law, and finally admitting to everything all over again.

On Monday, when asked by the judge whether he admitted to “being the only person implicated in the death” of his wife, Daval replied “yes”, appearing close to tears.

The crime deeply shocked France, and nearly 10,000 people turned out in the couple’s quiet town for a silent march in her memory.

The murder highlighted the scourge of violence against women at the height of the global #MeToo campaign against sexual abuse and harassment of women.

On Monday, French authorities said 125,840 women were victims of domestic violence in 2019. Another 146 were murdered by their partner or ex-partner — 25 more than the previous year.

(AFP)



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Anxiety needs global health attention


anxiety
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Led by King’s College London in collaboration with the University of Zimbabwe and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and published in The Lancet’s EClinicalMedicine journal, the research examined a group of people with depression in Zimbabwe and found that people are nearly three times more likely to suffer this illness long-term if they also have a high level of anxiety.

This is the first report of this finding from a low-income country and, according to the researchers, programmes aimed at tackling depression in these countries must consider the implications that this complex combination of anxiety and depression has for the effectiveness of treatments.

Depression is common worldwide with 4.4% of people estimated to be affected at any given point in time, and 5.9% of women in African countries. Many LMICs, ranging from small low-income countries like Zimbabwe and Malawi, to large middle-income countries like India, south Africa and China are trying to develop programmes for mental health with limited resources.

There is a growing interest in low-cost programmes which can be delivered on benches in the community by non-specialist workers who provide basic education and simple talking therapies. However, this approach could mean those with more complex combinations of mental health problems may not receive the support they need.

Lead author, Professor Melanie Abas from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), King’s College London and Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust said: ‘In parts of many African countries people face situations likely to provoke severe anxiety and fear more frequently than most people living in high income countries. These situations include poverty, living with serious infectious diseases like HIV, malaria, cholera and now potentially COVID-19, sudden death of family members, and sexual and domestic abuse. As such, anxiety levels are already likely to be high for many people living in low to middle income countries but anxiety and depression are often conceptualised together as one syndrome.’

The study analysed measures of depression and anxiety in 329 people in Zimbabwe who had been assessed as having probable major depression and were experiencing significant low moods.

Participants were taking part in a randomised clinical trial of a therapy for depression called the Friendship Bench, which is delivered by a grandmother lay worker on a wooden bench and aims to train and empower people to solve problems that are negatively impacting their mood. As such some received the Friendship Bench therapy and some received simple education about their symptoms and advice on psychosocial issues which might be causing them. The results of the trial have already been published in JAMA (see notes to editors). The aim of this study was to analyse the data to understand how many people suffer both anxiety and depression symptoms and the links this has to long-term depression.

The study found that over three quarters of participants suffered from anxiety alongside major depression, where anxiety consists of feelings of nervousness, worry, restlessness, and fear that continues for over two weeks.

Over a third of the women and men in the study were still suffering depression at six months. After taking into account other influencing factors such as gender, age and socioeconomic status, the study found that those with anxiety were 2.8 times more likely to still be suffering depression at six months.

The analysis suggests that persistent depression is more likely in those who also experience symptoms of anxiety and that, although the Friendship Bench is successful at helping most of these people, some who use it will still have long-term depression.

Dr. Dixon Chibanda, Associate Professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Director of the Friendship Bench and last author on the paper said: ‘These findings demonstrate the need to integrate anxiety screening in our work with grandmothers on the Friendship Bench. By understanding who is more likely to have longer lasting depression and need more care, we can ensure they get the support and mental health care they need.

‘Addressing mental health is even more important given the coronavirus pandemic. I hope our further support of online Friendship Bench sessions, and extra COVID-19-related material will support people with anxiety and depression during these tough times.’

The researchers highlighted that many of the psychological treatments being advocated for use in LMIC countries such as problem-solving therapy and interpersonal therapy may improve common mental disorders but do not specifically target fear, avoidance, excessive worry, and the re-living of traumatic experiences. They suggest that screening for anxiety needs to be made available in low income countries and that treatments need to include education about coping with anxiety and therapies specifically targeted at anxiety, such as relaxation and therapy that addresses thoughts and behaviours.

Professor Melanie Abas added: ‘More research is needed to understand typical experiences of anxiety in LMICs and to adapt therapies for anxiety. This must be done in partnership with local service providers. In the same way that we have adapted evidence-based treatments for depression for use in low income settings, we also need to forge ahead to develop and test culturally adapted therapies for anxiety.’

Only those people on the trial who were assessed as having probable major depression were included in the study. 186 of these participants received the Friendship Bench therapy and 168 received psychosocial education. Depression was assessed using the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) and anxiety was assessed using the Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD-7).


Many patients with atopic dermatitis experience symptoms of anxiety and depression


More information:
Melanie Amna Abas et al, The effect of co-morbid anxiety on remission from depression for people participating in a randomised controlled trial of the Friendship Bench intervention in Zimbabwe, EClinicalMedicine (2020). DOI: 10.1016/j.eclinm.2020.100333

Citation:
Anxiety needs global health attention (2020, May 27)
retrieved 27 May 2020
from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-05-anxiety-global-health-attention.html

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