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COVID-19 and gender-based violence service provision in the United States

Published onFeb 17, 2022
COVID-19 and gender-based violence service provision in the United States
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COVID-19 and gender-based violence service provision in the United States
COVID-19 and gender-based violence service provision in the United States
Description

Introduction Gender-based violence (GBV) policies and services in the United States (U.S.) have historically been underfunded and siloed from other health services. Soon after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, reports emerged noting increases in GBV and disruption of health services but few studies have empirically investigated these impacts. This study examines how the existing GBV funding and policy landscape, COVID-19, and resulting state policies in the first six months of the pandemic affect GBV health service provision in the U.S. Methods This is a mixed method study consisting of 1) an analysis of state-by-state emergency response policies review; 2) a quantitative analysis of a survey of U.S.-based GBV service providers (N = 77); and 3) a qualitative analysis of in-depth interviews with U.S.-based GBV service providers (N = 11). Respondents spanned a range of organization types, populations served, and states. Results Twenty-one states enacted protections for GBV survivors and five states included explicit exemptions from non-essential business closures for GBV service providers. Through the surveys and interviews, GBV service providers note three major themes on COVID-19’s impact on GBV services: reductions in GBV service provision and quality and increased workload, shifts in service utilization, and funding impacts. Findings also indicate GBV inequities were exacerbated for historically underserved groups. Discussion The noted disruptions on GBV services from the COVID-19 pandemic overlaid long-term policy and funding limitations that left service providers unprepared for the challenges posed by the pandemic. Future policies, in emergency and non-emergency contexts, should recognize GBV as essential care and ensure comprehensive services for clients, particularly members of historically underserved groups.

 

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