Lockdown GBV Stories

The immobilities of gender-based violence during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted gender-based violence, with a surge in reports of domestic abuse and changes in patterns of other forms of gender-based violence in all parts of the UK. A UN report last June described a worldwide increase in domestic abuse as a “shadow pandemic” that saw many victims trapped at home with their abuser. The national domestic abuse helpline in the UK received 49% more calls than usual in the week ending 5 April 2020.

A survey by children’s charity Plan International and the campaign group Our Streets Now found that 19% of young women and girls (aged 14 – 21) in the UK experienced street harassment during the spring lockdown, rising to 51% during the summer as restrictions were lifted. There are also widespread reports of increases in online harassment as more people are working remotely.

This research study will focus on better understanding the links between gender-based violence (GBV) and the constraints on movement – immobilities – during the pandemic, across the UK. Through an analysis of existing stories of GBV already in the public domain and original life stories set at different stages of the COVID pandemic, the aim is to produce concrete policy recommendations for the ongoing crisis and beyond.

Restriction of movement generated by the pandemic has led to a terrifying increase in gender-based violence. This transdisciplinary project will support women to share experiences of COVID-19 that will help us unravel hidden tragedies and these important stories will enable us to raise awareness, inform policy and generate meaningful and urgent change.

Previously untold stories will be sought via original life writing, images (e.g. photographs and drawings) and objects (e.g. textile embroidery) from people who have experienced GBV. For those that would like support, we offer safe space online workshops and creative writing cafes. By bringing together expertise from different fields – sociology, creative writing and criminology – the project will look to address gaps in knowledge and bring fresh understanding to a serious and worsening social issue.

The project (AH/V013122/1) is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of UKRI’s Covid-19 funding. 

The grant  will support an interdisciplinary team that comprises Dr Lesley Murray, Associate Professor in Sociology, Dr Jessica Moriarty, Principal Lecturer in Creative Writing, both at the University of Brighton; and Dr Amanda Holt, Reader in Criminology at the University of Roehampton; and Dr Sian Lewis, Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Plymouth.


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