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U.N. Reports That COVID-19 Quarantines Has Led to Increase in Domestic Violence Worldwide

by Georgia Dodd

The United Nations, specifically Secretary-General António Guterres, are expressing concerns about the reports of alarming increases in domestic violence. As the world remains shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, the U.N. is urging all governments to find ways to protect abuse survivors and think of them when creating response plans for this public health crisis.

To introduce this topic, Guterres called for an immediate ceasefire around the world last month because of the virus outbreak. The U.N. chief said, “I appealed for an end to violence everywhere, now. But violence is not confined to the battlefield. For many women and girls, the threat looms largest where they should be safest: in their own homes.”

He continued, “Over the past weeks as economic and social pressures and fear have grown, we have seen a horrifying global surge in domestic violence.”

Research has shown women and girls are disproportionately victimized. Executive Director of U.N. Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, noted that “in the previous 12 months, 243 million women and girls (aged 15-49) across the world have been subjected to sexual or physical violence by an intimate partner.”

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, this number is likely to grow with multiple impacts on women’s wellbeing, their sexual and reproductive health, their mental health, and their ability to participate and lead in the recovery of our societies and economy.” Mlambo-Ngcuka said.

Since the lockdowns have started, there have been increased calls to domestic violence support hotlines and police services. There has also been shuttered shelters and limited funding for local groups that help survivors.

To address this global issue, Guterres called for: Increasing investment in online services and civil society organizations; Making sure judicial systems continue to prosecute abusers; Setting up emergency warning systems in pharmacies and groceries; Declaring shelters as essential services; and Creating safe ways for women to seek support, without alerting their abusers.

“Together, we can and must prevent violence everywhere, from war zones to people’s homes, as we work to beat COVID-19.” U.N. Secretary-General Guterres said.


Header image of António Gutteres, UN Secretary General, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


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