How the ‘Shadow Pandemic’ has impacted women worldwide


Gender-based violence, especially domestic violence, has increased as isolation at home has forced more exposure to abusers. This surge of violence, often referred to as the Shadow Pandemic, is a worldwide phenomenon. “Levels of gender-based violence have risen by more than half since the pandemic began” in Columbia, and in South Africa, support centers registered a 65% increase in calls from women and girls

Gender-based violence takes different forms and is not limited to physical attacks. It includes communication of unwanted words, sounds or writing that suggests sex and can happen at home, on the street, or in the workplace

Gender-based violence is also experienced differently depending on a person’s identities. Women of color may experience violence that is also racialized. Women with disabilities are more likely to be abused and abused differently than non-disabled people. Trans people were the targets of more violence during 2020 than in any previous year. As Joey Mataele, a trans activist from Tonga, told Amnesty International: “COVID-19 may be a new killer – but hate has been killing us for decades.” 

To help eliminate gender-based violence in all its forms, Hesperian materials analyze the inequalities of power in which it is rooted in and equip people with the tools needed to protect themselves and others. Books like Where Women Have No Doctor and A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities include real-life examples of how to understand violence in different contexts and, even more important, how to organize against it.