‘Shadow pandemic’ of gender-based violence spurs action in Chicago

City is first in nation with strategic plan to fight home violence, intercourse trafficking, intercourse abuse

CHICAGO — As the Covid-19 disaster raged, a “shadow pandemic” was unfolding behind the closed doorways of quarantine and on the empty streets of Chicago. 

“Rates of violence actually increased dramatically under Covid-19,” mentioned Samantha Luce, Project S.A.F.E. director on the City Colleges of Chicago.

According to Luce, with social distancing and isolation forcing individuals to remain house, Chicago skilled a dramatic improve in home violence 

“The pandemic fostered a way for violence to happen privately,” mentioned a home violence survivor who wished to be referred to as “Jo.” “It left us nowhere to go.” 

Jo mentioned she suffered emotional, bodily and psychological abuse by the hands of a person with whom she lived.

“It’s more common than what some may expect,” she mentioned.  

It’s so widespread {that a} statewide home violence hotline acquired 32,000 calls final year.  The quantity of murders and shootings stemming from home violence in Chicago elevated practically 66 % from 2020 to 2021, in line with Chicago Police crime statistics.

In the meantime through the pandemic one other kind of sexual violence, human-trafficking, turned the fastest-growing crime worldwide. In Chicago, a minimum of 16,000 ladies and women turn into trafficking victims each year, in line with survivor and advocate Brenda Myers-Powell, who based the Dreamcatcher Foundation.

Brenda Myers-Powell

Domestic violence and intercourse trafficking are solely two elements of a large-scale of what specialists name “gender-based violence,” an umbrella time period that encompasses home violence, human trafficking, sexual assault, sexual harassment and different kinds of abuse. 

“Gender-based violence is a really significant problem in the city,” Luce mentioned. “It’s really interconnected with a lot of other violence we see or hear about in Chicago.” 

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot mentioned she noticed the numbers, listened to the victims and decided that preventing this “shadow pandemic” would require the complete power of metropolis authorities, not merely the cops and the courts. She tripled the finances for violence prevention efforts, and survivor help providers, naming Darci Flynn because the first-ever metropolis director of gender-based violence coverage and technique.  

Darci Flynn

Flynn wrote a 36-page strategic plan (pdf) that makes Chicago the primary main metropolis in the nation to create a complete strategy to gender-based violence.

“We can’t create a system that’s one size fits all,” Flynn mentioned.  

Prior to the plan, town had allotted simply $7 million for victims of home violence victims. Under Lightfoot’s strategy, utilizing {dollars} from federal covid aid funds, she has greater than tripled the finances to fight all kinds of gender-based violence.  

“We don’t care if you’re a domestic violence survivor, an assault survivor, a trafficking survivor, we know you need legal services, we know you need rapid rehousing. We know you need emergency financial assistance, so we’re going to build those resources for you,” Flynn mentioned.  

The money is supposed to create connective tissue between metropolis departments, and to strengthen town’s response to victims.

“We need to build the muscle across the entire city government, the  34 departments that exist,” Flynn mentioned.  

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