Domestic violence in Europe worsens amid COVID-19 crisis
Women in Western nations rallied on Wednesday to highlight how lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic had left many trapped with their abusers and exposed to greater danger.
The protests took place in cities across Europe during the annual International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
The United Nations said that since the outbreak of COVID-19, all types of violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence, had intensified, with shelters at capacity and helplines in some places seeing a five-fold rise in calls.
"Men's violence against women is also a pandemic, one that pre-dates the virus and will outlive it. It too needs our global, coordinated response and enforceable protocols. It too affects vast populations of all ages," said UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka in a statement.
Last year, 243 million women and girls experienced sexual or physical violence from their partner. This year, reports of increased domestic violence, cyberbullying, sexual harassment and sexual violence have flooded in, she added.
In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel said in her weekly podcast, "statistically, every 45 minutes a woman in our country is attacked by her current or former partner.
The Italian Health Ministry, citing data from national statistics agency ISTAT, said calls to domestic violence hotlines shot up during the lockdown, registering a 75% increase compared to the same period in 2019.
France’s minister for equal rights, Elisabeth Moreno, said that reports of domestic violence registered with the government rose 42% during France’s first virus lockdown in the spring, and have risen 15% since a new lockdown was imposed nearly a month ago. Given that most people don’t report such abuse, the real rise is believed to be higher.
In Britain, The Office for National Statistics said police recorded 259,324 domestic abuse offenses between March and June, an increase of 18% compared to the same period in 2018.