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JULY 2020

Hell is Other People: Pandemic Lifestyles and Domestic Violence

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Hell is Other People: Pandemic Lifestyles and Domestic Violence

ILLUSTRATIVE IMAGE

Written by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

In No Exit, the translated title of Jean-Paul Sartre’s play, Huis Clos, three deceased characters find themselves in a room, ostensibly in Hell, in what transpires as a permanent wait.  Locked after being ushered in by a valet, with quite literally no means of escape, they are confronted with each other’s moods, lies and eventual confessions.  Sadism, cowardice and mendacity figure.  The torment each character subjects the other to leads to that famous observation: L’enfer, c’est les autres (Hell is other people.)  Humans are inventive, and tiringly so, in ensuring that torture or physical requirement need not be necessary in inflicting enduring misery.

The global lockdowns and forced hibernations should not just be seen as measures of imposed isolation.  The Pandemic State has done much to kill off that delicate creature of solitude, the routine of tranquil space essential to life.  Privacy does not merely die before the wizardry of heat sensors, drones and state surveillance; it also vanishes in spaces crowded and crammed, even with your intimates.

In the context of health and a raging pandemic, paranoia can also be a continuous companion.  Does a cough in bed or a rising fever entail a risk to the entire family? The unfortunate sufferer, whatever the actual illness, risks accusation and banishment.  The converse is also true: using a disease to affect vulnerability, thereby keeping a tormented partner or relation in that space.  The range of human manipulations in that regard are legend and endless.

As Crystal Justice, chief marketing and development officer at the US National Domestic Violence Hotline puts it, “We are hearing from survivors how COVID-19 is already being used by their abusive partners to further control and abuse, how COVID-19 is already impacting their ability to access support and services like accessing shelter, counselling, different things that they would typically lean on in their communities.”

The British medical journal The Lancet, in a survey on the literature on forced isolation, had few surprises.  “Most reviewed studies reported negative psychological effects including post-traumatic stress symptoms, confusion and anger.”  Problems arise from the duration of quarantine, leading the authors to warn that such periods should be “for no longer than required”.  Clear rationales for such quarantine, accompanied by “information about protocols” with sufficient provisions, should follow. Such technical formulations, fine as they are to script, do little to alleviate the social an physical constrictions that place people in Sartre’s room of hell.

If hell is other people, some versions are more hellish than others.  China, the first country to impose lockdown measures in response to COVID-19, saw the immediate social effects: neglect, domestic violence, enervating anxiety.  Retired police officer turned activist Wan Fei claimed that domestic violence reports had doubled since China’s cities had gone into lockdown.  The police station in Jingzhou’s Jianli County had received over triple the number of reports from February 2019 – 162 in total.  “According to our statistics, 90% of the causes of violence are related to the COVID-19 epidemic.”

This has also been accompanied by a certain apathy in some responses from the police authorities, if the observations of Feng Yuang, director of Weiping, a Beijing-based women’s rights non-profit, are anything to go by.  “The police can detain people for insulting (leading respiratory disease expert) Zhong Nanshan online and arrest someone for not wearing a mask on the street. If they use the epidemic as an excuse not to deal with domestic violence cases, that’s not acceptable.”

Consulting the statistics on domestic violence is always a dispiriting exercise.  They have become even more telling of late.  The United Nations calls it the “shadow pandemic”.  Following the March 17 lockdown in France, a 30% increase in domestic violence reports has been registered.  Helplines in Cyprus and Singapore have registered an increase in calls – 30% and 33% respectively.  A Women’s Safety New South Wales (Australia) survey found that frontline workers had registered a 40% increase in calls for assistance from survivors, with 70% reporting an increase in the level of complexity in cases during the coronavirus outbreak.  (Rates of domestic violence in Australia – with one in four women experiencing some physical form of it since 15, was already horrendous.)

The impediments for sufferers to access services has also seen social workers and activists turn to more virtual and online methods of communication, a point that can only ever be half-satisfying at best.  Calls to Italian helplines may have dropped (it tends to be difficult to make calls in near presence of an abuser), but the use of emails and text messages has increased.  Lella Palladino of the activist group EVA Cooperativa told the Guardian about the desperation arising from those in confined spaces. “For sure there is an overwhelming emergency right now.  There is more desperation as women can’t go out.”

The Pandemic State is insular and closed.  Technology has given an illusion of proximity to ameliorate this condition, at least to some degree.  It is being praised for connecting people during periods of pandemic isolation.  But you still have to be able to use it.  Unfortunately for those unblessed in their fraught human relations, living in less than commodious accommodation, there may simply be No Exit.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

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  • Zionism = EVIL

    Where is the fuckwit Jens? Danes are worst woman and child beating cowards in Europe, only next to Americunts and Indians.

    Calls in Denmark for emergency accommodation due to alcohol and drug induced domestic violence almost doubled in the week after the government told people to stay at home.

    The government has since funded 55 extra rooms in shelters for four months
    and on Wednesday the lockdown will be eased, allowing some Danish
    schools to reopen and giving an opportunity for women to seek help.

    “One way or the other, we’ll make sure there’s room for everyone,” says
    Susanne Lamhauge, head of a new crisis centre run by women’s rights
    group Danner. Denmark has a history of hidden social problems normally glossed over by propaganda of a fraying affluent society.

  • Hasbara Hunter

    Humans are chickenshit ignorant brainless Sheeples fully obeying their Satanic Shepherds…that is what I have learned during this Bullshit Corona “Crisis”

    They will die like flies during a real apocalyptic event… Eat eachother because there is No Food & No Clean Drinking Water!

    • Zionism = EVIL

      Well, like most intelligent people know that the Jew media has brainwashed the braindead western sheeple, to put things in perspective the Jew cunts and Americunts have spent over $15 TRILLION and counting now on wars for Zionism and the destruction of the Arab world since 1948, when the Zionist cancer was planted in Palestine and then since the 911 false flag farce. In contrast the shameless cunts spend less than 50 cents per capita on health, education or welfare. No wonder the dotard Trump and his boyfriend Kushner are the co-presidents of dying Americunt deadbeat empire. In the meantime, over 55,000 Americunts will be killed or maimed by mass killings and random gunfire, not to mention the millions of civilians the cowardly bastards have killed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Palestine, and now increasingly Africa since it has minerals and uranium.

      The pimpeovirus is a bigger hoax than the Hollywood created holohoax.

      • Hasbara Hunter

        Karma is a Bitch! America deserves every inch of it….a Massmurdering Demonic Entity since 1776….

        • Zionism = EVIL

          It is funny watching the hateful greedy Americunt bastards blaming each other for their pathetic fourth world style mishandling of their own virus, the dumbass fat orange dotard Trump is blaming the states, while the Jew media fails to mention the main reason the bastards are begging and dying in the streets is their skewed priorities of warmongering and spending trillions on weapons and a police state than invest in human capital or health care. Americunts are most dehumanized sub-humans on the planet. They are only interested in themselves and have no human values. As even the Independent wrote in an op-ed, there has not been a war that America has not cheered for, but when it comes to human welfare America is always absent. The bastards are full of hubris and let’s hope KARMA does bite the scum like a rabid Bitch.

          • JIMI JAMES

            Thumbs up on that why? See the q they are following suggests its all patriots,meaning each and every country but as soon as they more than not get what they want in trump vs incumbent neo-liberals/stupidity like you mention,they assume not to be part to blame for the massive debts and assume to get off scott free from the debt carnage they recieved,then out of nowhere there is an army of these so called patriots whom are butting into australias free trade success with china,remmember australasian,thus trying to tun us all against our most prospering trade partner so that they asssume they can control us so to rake as much from scams like other countrys to service their debt,yet without ever offering any positive solutions for example bring back our car industry they simply gave it all to europe,where before that time atleast they had of sime relevance to our economy,but that will fail as the future is in good trades,no more cia butting in to our buisness,do yeah they are arrogant no better or worse than soros funded trolls,me thinks best yell them to fkoff,mind your own region,no matter what,shouldn;t have thrown the allie under the nazi bus,serves them well,as for karma? It hasn’t really started as yet,sad but true!

          • Hasbara Hunter

            Well said…same goes for Europeans by the way…though they are a bit more intelligent & rapidly waking up at the moment thanks to all the ZIOVID-19 commotion

    • אהרון

      It’s “sheeple”, as opposed to sheeples. One doesn’t say “peoples” are brainless.

      People will tend to take you more serious if you write more as a adult.

      • Hasbara Hunter

        I’m very happy with the way I am taken seriously… especially up here in Holland…amongst all Dutch peoples from every Nation… AngloZioNazis are fucked! Which was the AIM…

        • אהרון

          Fascinating. One can teach grammar to a seven year old but some teenagers, particularly narcissists, will reflexively resist.

          You poor thing.

          • Hasbara Hunter

            Countless AngloZioNazi Paedophile Elites will dangle in them trees…including your Paedophile Roman Catholic Bishops…we are done with you Demonic Paedophile Motherfuckers….peoples are getting really angry at the moment boy….gaining Knowledge every day…AngloZioNazis will burn in this life & in Hell…

  • Lazy Gamer

    All this time, we have been in the midst of a worldwide survival scenario. Consider two families who are neighbors on a little island. They have two options. The first is to cooperate and the second is: -To do what one wants. The response everytime is fucken consistent…
    Weve seen this in nuclear ban laws, climate change laws, pandemics, space laws and even in comml transactions like the oil glut. So yes, hell is other people.

  • JIMI JAMES

    Denmark king reloes on other nations,via paris accord and green genders to sustain wealth,they are not real economy other that grants from rotchilds/nwo/brussels/etc,expection being the woodworks!