Quarantined & Trapped: Domestic Violence Against Victims At An All-Time High Worldwide
It is no secret that the coronavirus outbreak has caused stress and chaos around the world. Its deadly consequences and financial strain has negatively affected millions of people. But that’s not all. Since the outbreak started, reported cases of domestic violence all over the world have increased. This has led to new calls for action to help domestic violence victims in the wake of this already-damaging global pandemic.
Domestic Violence Is A Huge Global Problem Due To Coronavirus
Lockdowns have been put into place all over the world to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. However, for many, this means being stuck in isolation with their abusers. In South Africa, domestic violence was already a prevalent problem before the outbreak even started. Now authorities are saying that there were nearly 90,000 reports of violence against women in the first week of a lockdown. And the problem doesn’t stop there.
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Calls to domestic violence health lines in Malasia have doubled, and in China, the number of calls has tripled. This comes after China was first put on lockdown on January 23. They have since been allowed to go back to work and socialize with some restrictions. Google reports that in Australia, there was a 75% increase in online searches for help with domestic violence. And in Spain, the emergency number for domestic violence received 18 percent more calls in the first two weeks of lockdown. This is a huge difference from the number of calls in the same period a month earlier.
United Nations Called For Action To Help Domestic violence Victims
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres acknowledged that domestic violence is a huge issue. It cannot be swept under the rug during this pandemic. “For many women and girls the threat looms largest where they should be safest, — in their own homes,” he said. He also made it clear that he wants there to be “peace at home” for everyone since there is already so much going on in the world around us. But he knows this will not be easy. Many people still do not have access to the necessary resources at this time.
“We know lockdowns and quarantines are essential to suppressing COVID-19, but they can trap women with abusive partners,” he continued. The harsh reality is that some women will not be able to get away from their abusive partners. Some of them do not have protective measures offered in their countries. He spoke about how “the number of women calling support services has doubled” while “healthcare providers and police are overwhelmed and understaffed.” The data from Malasia and China certainly supports this. Medical workers are already working extremely hard to tend to those infected with the coronavirus. More workers are certainly needed to help domestic violence victims. He urged governments to make prevention and solutions to the issue of domestic violence as a part of their national coronavirus response.
How Countries Are Trying To Offer Help To Victims During The Pandemic
Several countries in Europe are now under strict lockdowns, however, shelters, hotlines and legal services for domestic abuse have largely remained open, said Jurgita Pečiūrienė, a gender expert at the European Institute for Gender Equality. It was also announced that domestic violence victims in these areas would not receive fines for violating stay-at-home or lockdown orders when seeking safe shelters. But because of coronavirus and the risk of being infected, it definitely is a lot harder to find shelters during a pandemic. Some governments are trying to address the rising need by providing more money to organizations that will help victims who have been displaced.
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After seeing a soaring number of domestic violence cases during the pandemic, France is paying for hotels and other accommodations as many shelters in the country are over capacity. The French government also announced that they would be donating money to anti-domestic abuse organizations to help them offer more services to victims during this time.
In Australia, the state of New South Wales has made it easier for victims to receive an immediate police protection order against their abuser. The Department of Communities and Justice in Australia is also willing to provide accommodations to those who have been in lockdown with their abusers. And in Seattle, Washington they are finding new ways to file orders of protection for domestic violence victims. An online form is now available since many courts have been halted due to coronavirus. Other states are looking into providing the same form for victims.
Domestic violence hotlines are always available to call if you or someone you know is in need of help.
With one pandemic affecting the world tremendously, we hope that domestic violence victims can find the support they need. Whether it be new accommodations or legal aid in this difficult time, there are people out there willing to help.
For any victims and survivors who need support, resources are available 24/7. Call 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-799-7233 for TTY, or if you’re unable to speak safely, you can log onto thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 22522.