A New Covid-19 Crisis: Domestic Abuse Rises Worldwide

Movement restrictions aimed to stop the spread of the coronavirus may be making violence in homes more frequent, more severe and more dangerous.

Add another public health crisis to the toll of the new coronavirus: Mounting data suggests that domestic abuse is acting like an opportunistic infection, flourishing in the conditions created by the pandemic.

There was every reason to believe that the restrictions imposed to keep the virus from spreading would have such an effect, said Marianne Hester, a Bristol University sociologist who studies abusive relationships. Domestic violence goes up whenever families spend more time together, such as the Christmas and summer vacations, she said.

Now, with families in lockdown worldwide, hotlines are lighting up with abuse reports, leaving governments trying to address a crisis that experts say they should have seen coming.

The United Nations called on Sunday for urgent action to combat the worldwide surge in domestic violence. “I urge all governments to put women’s safety first as they respond to the pandemic,” Secretary General António Guterres wrote on Twitter.

But governments largely failed to prepare for the way the new public health measures would create opportunities for abusers to terrorize their victims. Now, many are scrambling to offer services to those at risk.

But, as with the response to the virus itself, the delays mean that irreparable harm may already have occurred.

Read the full story here: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/06/world/coronavirus-domestic-violence.html

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