Angelina Jolie calls for the spike in domestic abuse during the coronavirus pandemic to be a transition moment

Angelina Jolie
Angelina Jolie wrote an essay about domestic violence. SOPA Images / Getty Images

Angelina Jolie wrote an essay for Time highlighting the problem of domestic violence during lockdown.

She cited figures from a recent UN Secretary General report on COVID-19 that showed how harm towards women and girls, extreme poverty, genital mutilation, and child marriages have been on the rise.

Jolie said that while the coronavirus pandemic is not entirely to blame for these figures, it is "the latest excuse" for not making progress.

She also said it would not be enough to "return to the status quo before the pandemic," and there needs to be more support and services available for survivors of trauma and violence.

"Not to use our influence to defend and promote women's rights at a time when they are threatened would betray the fundamental principles of our democracy," Jolie said.

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Angelina Jolie has penned an essay for Time about how domestic violence cases against women have spiked since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Jolie cited a recent UN Secretary-General report on COVID-19 that showed an additional 15 million women and girls had endured harm during global lockdowns every three months, "and a further 47 million women forced into extreme poverty."

The report also predicts two million more global cases of female genital mutilation by 2030, and 13 million more child marriages.

"The prospect of 'decades' of progress in women's rights being undone by the pandemic is intolerable and ought to be unthinkable," Jolie wrote. "It is over half a century since the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights promised equal rights for all women, yet basic rights, protections, and freedoms are still non-existent in some countries. In others, they are built on such fragile foundations that it seems the pandemic might sweep them away."

Insider's Sarah Al-Arshani reported that a study published in the journal Radiology in August found "the proportion of physical abuse compared to verbal or emotional abuse was 80% higher in 2020 than in the past three years combined" and that injuries sustained were "far more severe."

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Early on in the pandemic, domestic violence cases were on the rise worldwide, with some police departments seeing "double-digit percentage jumps" in the number of calls received.

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Psychologist Perpetual Neo, who works with women recovering from abusive relationships, told Insider this is partly because it is a time where toxic dynamics might reveal themselves more clearly. Victims are trapped behind those doors for longer than ever before, in close quarters.

domestic violence

domestic violence

Domestic violence cases have been on the rise all over the world during the pandemic. Andrew Aitchison / Getty Images

Jolie explained that while the coronavirus pandemic is not entirely to blame for these figures, it is "the latest excuse" for not making progress. She said even before lockdowns began, around one in every three women are likely to be "beaten, raped or otherwise abused during her lifetime."

She said we live in an era of artificial intelligence and quantum computing. However, the world is still backward in terms of basic rights for women, including access to education, voting, control over their bodies, and equal pay.

She also noted how little funding sexual and gender-based violence programs receive.

"Continued suppression or reversal of women's rights would lead to a more insecure and divided world, with greater numbers of refugees and increased conflict," Jolie wrote. "It is as much a threat to our interests as it is an affront to our values. Women shouldn't be the main voices in this fight. Men must take a stand."

She said this is not a "partisan issue," and it is not enough to "return to the status quo before the pandemic."

Instead, she called for more support and services for survivors and children exposed to trauma and violence, and "a system that provides accountability." This promise would have to stretch to countries such as Afghanistan, she said, where the US has "knowingly taken part in a diplomatic process that side-lined Afghan women."

"Not to use our influence to defend and promote women's rights at a time when they are threatened would betray the fundamental principles of our democracy," Jolie said. "It would also send a message to young girls everywhere — already conscious of growing up in an unequal, unjust world — that even though we could see their horizons narrowing during this pandemic, we didn't care enough to try to stop it."

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