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Coronavirus quarantine measures will hit women harder than men, study warns

Published Apr 1, 2020

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London - Data is

urgently required to highlight the different impact of

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coronavirus on women and men, with early signs that women face

higher levels of violence and more care work, researchers said

on Wednesday.

Although death rates appear to be slightly higher among men,

a study by aid organisations CARE International and

International Rescue Committee (IRC) found women were more at

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risk of suffering domestic violence while quarantined.

They were also more likely than men to take on the burden of

caring for family members who were sick, and less likely to have

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access to health care, according to the study.

"The effects and impact of global crises, such as Covid-19,

differ greatly across the gender spectrum," said Kristin Kim

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Bart, gender equality director for the IRC, referring to the

condition caused by coronavirus.

"It is critical that changes are made now in collecting and

analysing data, enacting governmental policies and allocating

resources so that women and girls are not left further behind."

Women take on 76% of unpaid care work, the study found,

saying this would increase as health services became overwhelmed

and relatives needed to be looked after at home.

The researchers called for more data on the direct and

indirect impacts of the virus on women and girls, increased

communication to tackle myths and misinformation, and help for

frontline health care workers grappling with these issues.

Some countries have already seen a rise in domestic violence

since quarantine measures were put in place to arrest the spread

of the virus, and women's charities have said they are bracing

for more.

There are also fears teen pregnancies could rise after

previous epidemics in which schools were closed led to a spike,

as was seen in Sierra Leone during the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak.

The UN Population Fund estimated that 18 000 teenage girls

became pregnant during that outbreak, with long-term

consequences. When schools reopened, the government banned them

from attending, and many missed university entrance exams.

"From natural disasters and armed conflict to public health

emergencies... power discrepancies are often exacerbated during

emergencies, which deepens existing vulnerabilities," said

Michelle Nunn, president of CARE USA.

"We need to ensure that the emergency response to Covid-19

doesn't forget society's most marginalised people, as is too

often the case."

Reuters

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