Women's rights at stake as US Abortion clinics close
The excuse? Coronavirus
Conservative American economist Milton Friedman (2002, p. xiv) writes: ‘Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around.'  Patriarchy is always lying around, ready to pull back hard-won women's rights.

The coronavirus threat to public health is no time to restrict abortion access
Washington Post
Texas, Ohio and Mississippi have halted abortion services during the coronavirus outbreak — and they’re unlikely to be the last states to institute such restrictions. Some policymakers are using the pandemic as an excuse to try to achieve a political, and perhaps moral, goal that is not currently supported by law.

How Anti-Abortion Activists Are Taking Advantage of the Coronavirus Crisis
Abortion opponents are using this moment to close as many abortion clinics as possible throughout the U.S.

This is not just a threat to the US. In Australia, the 'tyranny of the urgent' in emergencies works to pull back gender equity measures. It happens at the public level, e.g. appointing yet another man, former mining CEO Neville Power as chief of the new National COVID-19 Coordination Commission.

It happens through taking two steps back on gender equality. The UK government has halted monitoring of the gender pay. (Does attention to COVID-19  mean '
the fight for equality and inclusion in the workplace gets derailed'?)

And it happens in the community and in the home:
  "The women of the community were independent, men equitable, couples by and large egalitarian. People of both gender occupied the same segments of space, public and private arenas, hours of day and night. [... But for many after the Oak Firestorm, the] return of old behaviors and the loss of new was 
so swift, so engulfing, and so unconscious, few understood what occurred." (Susannah Hoffman, 1998, pp. 57-58).

Crises may ‘provoke attempts to restore a dominant masculinity’ (Connell, 2005, p. 84), and, Duke Austin writes that ‘ a form of hyper-masculinity emerges from the stress and loss created by a natural disaster, which often leads to increased levels of violence and discord in heterosexual relationships (Austin, 2008, p. 1).

Australian media is alert to the crisis of domestic violence in the context of the coronavirus isolation measures. This is a vital and potentially life-saving reminder to government to be alert to this reality, and to all of us to not excuse this violence.

The context that increases family violence post-bushfires - and that we know is damaging to women, children and to the perpetrators -  is echoed now with the COVID-19 shut-down.

Resist the tyranny of the urgent to defend women's rights everywhere. We are capable of doing more than one thing at once.

Austin, D. W. (2008). Hyper-Masculinity and Disaster: Gender Role Construction in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina. Paper presented at the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Sheraton Boston and the Boston Marriott Copley Place.
Friedman, M. (2002). Capitalism and freedom. University of Chicago Press: London.
Hoffman, S. (1998). Eve and Adam among the Embers: Gender patterns after the Oakland Berkeley Firestorm. In E. Enarson & B. H. Morrow (Eds.), The Gendered Terrain of Disaster: Through Women's Eyes (pp. 55-61). London: Praeger.

Bushfires 2020 - remember them?
What help is in place for women, men and children who survived the unprecedented 2020 bushfires? Unrelenting drought, followed by horrific bushfires, now followed by coronavirus, leaves a situation for survivors that is far worse than even that faced by women and children after Black Saturday. Isolation compounds domestic violence. Gendered expectations compound it further.

Requests for the Gender and Disaster Pod's Lessons in Disaster training go unmet, as there are no funds to provide this training. It now needs to shift to online provision. How this can occur, soon, without funding, is yet to be known.

This training, developed for disaster contexts, is highly applicable to this COVID-19 context, which replicates the post-disaster context in every way except one - men's heroism. The need is even greater, as urban areas are affected by this disaster.
The Wire reports:
'Environment the loser as virus panic takes hold"
"The headlines of just a month ago were all about environmental recovery and saving biodiversity. The searing Australia bushfire season had wiped out nearly 13 million hectares and killed over a billion animals. Just as recovery operations got going the pandemic hit, and in many places those efforts have had to stop. Environmental scientist David Paton warns that in spite of the economic and social chaos caused by Covid 19, forgetting the environment now could have serious repercussions later.'
Download Audio  4 MINS 37.

Providing women's legal services during this crisis

Women’s Legal will continue to provide legal services during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to support women experiencing relationship breakdown and violence during this difficult time.

However, to ensure the wellbeing of our clients, partner organisations and staff, WHSV have made some important changes.  Many services will be provided in a modified format – i.e. by phone or video-conferencing rather than in person. Read more details here.

Helplessly Hoping
il coro che non c'è


Hello from the State Library, Victoria

"We may have temporarily closed ours doors in response to the evolving COVID-19 situation, but the Library is so much more than a building.

Our vast range of online resources are a gateway for you to keep exploring the world from your lounge-room. Some of these resources are accessible only to members and many to the general public. You can sign up for free membership
If you missed last week's Communique, join others in journaling your experience of the virus or the shut down measures
Are you interested in keeping a journal to capture your impressions and experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Keeping a journal of even a sentence or two each day can help in many ways:

I’m interested in how women, men and people of diverse gender and sexual identities live through this event. We know from bushfires and other disasters that you don’t need to be directly involved to be anywhere from slightly anxious to profoundly affected.
We would like to interview people about their experiences related to COVID-19, whether you are directly involved through having contracted the virus, in self-isolation, unexpectedly at home with children or others, wondering whether to stock up on food and essentials, whether to continue travelling by public transport, etc.

Perhaps you are now working from home, or live alone, or are indirectly affected through bombardment of information, misinformation and 24 hour media coverage.

Once we have ethics approval, I will invite those of you who are interested, to email your journals through and/or be interviewed at a later stage.  
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Gender and Disaster Pod · 680 High Street · Thornbury, Vic 3084 · Australia

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