Inequality across the globe during COVIS crisis

Zeynep T., Staff Writer

The coronavirus, which has caused around 275,960 deaths worldwide, as of May 8, is indirectly causing more deaths, inequality and abuse. As millions of Americans are going into quarantine, many have called the pandemic the “great equalizer,” as in people of all races and socioeconomic classes are susceptible to being infected.

However, others reject this label, claiming it is anything but. According to Vox, the coronavirus is only exacerbating the inequalities in American society. In April, a record 20.5 million Americans lost their jobs, according to CNN.

As governors of states such as Georgia and South Carolina prepare to reopen again, those who receive low wages and are employed in jobs where they can’t virtually work may not have an option to choose between their work and their safety. As a response to this, United for Respect, is trying to organize Walmart employees and wants to ensure that workers won’t be fired for staying at home because of coronavirus related circumstances, according to TIME magazine.

“We shouldn’t have to fear losing our jobs or not qualifying for a bonus if we decide to stay home with the virus,” said Walmart employee Melissa Love, in an interview with TIME.

With about 86% of American workers employed in service industry jobs with low pay and few benefits, the different conditions people experience throughout the world are getting exposed.

These workers may have to lose regular unemployment benefits as well as a six-hundred-dollar check from the federal government by returning. However, despite the struggles to restart the economy, many economists warn that quickly reopening businesses will increase the risks for vulnerable workers, without generating any significant growth.

“Because workers in these positions often have substantial face-to-face customer contact, they face elevated coronavirus exposure risk if the virus spread,” said MIT labor economist David Autor, in an interview with TIME.

Therefore, some business owners choose not to reopen, believing that the income they’ll receive won’t be worth the risk, according to the New York Times.

Another difficult circumstance caused by the coronavirus is that there are still plenty of people trapped inside their homes with abusive partners. The chief executive officer of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, Katie Ray-Jones, told the New York Times that there had been fewer reports of domestic abuse. However, rather than domestic abuse itself diminishing, the ability of victims to get help was.

According to the Los Angeles Police Department data, calls related to domestic abuse in Los Angeles declined eighteen percent from March 19 to April 15. Although this may seem like improvement, Californian officials are concerned about these drops, according to ABC news.

Nonetheless, these reports were not the same in all nations since they doubled in some. France, which has one of the highest rates of abuse, saw a thirty percent increase in reports, and Spain received eighteen percent more calls only within the first two weeks of quarantine. These are alarming rates that only seems to be increasing, as COVID-19 continues to threaten lives.

“Domestic abuse is acting like an opportunistic infection, flourishing in the conditions made by the pandemic,” according to the New York Times.

Marianne Hester, a Bristol University sociologist who studies abusive relationships, reported to the New York Times how domestic violence escalates wherever families spend more time together. To many it seems that abuse will only significantly increase as governments declare lockdown to stop the spread of the virus. As a response to these problems, organizations, like the United Nations, are attempting to prevent the further escalation of domestic abuse.

“I urge all governments to put women’s safety first as they respond to the pandemic […] That means increasing investment in online services and civil society organizations, making sure judicial systems continue to prosecute abusers,” said chief executive of the U.N., António Guterres, according to the New York Times.

They advise nations in following this path by establishing emergency warning systems in pharmacies and groceries and declaring shelters for victims. France is following their advice by setting up hotels as sanctuaries and having women use codes in pharmacies as a sign that they need help, according to ABC news. In a time in which uncertainty prevails, problems only seem to be growing. 🔳