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Abstract

There has been an alarming increase in domestic violence (DV) cases in different parts of the world amidst COVID-19 related lockdowns in 2020-2021. This paper aims to understand the prevalence of DV in Pakistan through the analysis of online media sources published during the lockdown period. The objectives of this research include the questions (1) how was the issue of DV presented in the Pakistani media during the lockdown period? and (2) what messages were conveyed by the media discourses? A summative qualitative content analysis was used as a method for data collection and analysis. Three national newspapers were selected as data sources due to their relevance in reporting women's issues and their reputations. A purposive sampling technique was used to select a total of 20 articles published in these newspapers, which focused on DV amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The data shows that DV is seen as a serious social issue and is condemned in these newspapers. The power and control of perpetrators over women has increased during the lockdown and the home has converted into a dangerous space where women feel insecure and unsafe. DV is directly related to financial constraints, inadequate support groups, and poor social services including security and housing. The government attempts to address DV during the lockdown are considered inadequate and symbolic. Along with the attention of the state, the contribution of civil society is needed to redress the issue of DV in Pakistan. Engagement of community volunteers, neighbors, educators, and health workers may help to gain the trust of the women victims who are unable to access state-run initiatives such as helplines.

Note on the Author

Rabia Ali (PhD): Rabia Ali is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the International Islamic University in Islamabad. She holds a PhD from UNSW Sydney, Australia and was a Fulbright Fellow at Brown University, USA during 2019-2020. Some of her research interests include women’s empowerment, gender inequalities at work, and reproductive health of women. She teaches the courses Introduction to Sociology, Sociological Theories, Sociology of Globalization, and Qualitative Research. She can be reached at rabia.gul@iiu.edu.pk.

Asma Khalid (PhD): Asma Khalid is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the Allama Iqbal Open University in Islamabad. She holds a PhD in Sociology of Childhood from University of Wollongong, Australia. Her research interests include children and young people’s daily lives, human rights, qualitative research, and girls and women’s issues. She can be reached at asma.khalid@aiou.edu.pk.

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