Secretary General Antonio Guterres
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Topline: U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres has urged “peace at home” and called for governments to prioritise safeguards against domestic violence in their COVID-19 response plans, as he warned that calls to support services have surged in some countries.
- The U.N. has urged governments around the world to prioritise the safety of women during the pandemic, by adding a series of measures to their coronavirus response plans.
- This includes measures such as: setting up ‘emergency warning systems’ in pharmacies, declare shelters as essential services, avoid releasing prisoners whose convictions are linked to violence against women and girls, and increase public awareness campaigns.
- “Violence is not confined to the battlefield,” Guterres warned, as he pointed out that lockdowns imposed across the world to contain the spread of COVID-19, has left some women and girls trapped with abusive partners at home.”
- The U.N. has found that calls to domestic violence helplines have tripled in China, while they have doubled in Malaysia and Lebanon, compared with the same period last year. In Australia, online searches for domestic violence help have surged to the highest levels in five years, according to the U.N.
- “These numbers give some indication of the scale of the problem, but only cover countries where reporting systems are in place,” the U.N. said, but the numbers are likely to increase as the virus spreads further.
- The coronavirus crisis has overwhelmed medical staff and first responders, while some shelters have closed, full, or have been converted into medical centres, Guterres said, making it harder for authorities to respond to these dangers.
Crucial comment: Guterres said in a video posted to Twitter: “We know lockdowns and quarantines are essential to suppressing COVID-19, but they can trap women with abusive partners.
“Over the past weeks, as the economic and social pressures and fear have grown, we have seen a horrifying surge in domestic violence.”
In numbers: 35%. That’s the percentage of women around the world who have experienced physical or sexual intimate partner violence, or sexual violence by a non-partner, according to figures from the United Nations. The statistics were compiled before the coronavirus outbreak and cover both developed and poorer economies, the U.N. said.
Additional info: The National Domestic Violence Hotline in the U.S is: 1-800-799-7233. In the U.K., the 24 hour domestic abuse helpline number is +44 808 2000 247. You can also find a list of global resources and numbers, here.