Sharp increase in domestic violence cases in US during coronavirus lockdown

Forced to stay with a violent family member or partner, it may be more difficult, if not dangerous, for victims to seek help when the abuser is always around.

ANI | Updated on: Thursday, April 23, 2020, 01:52 PM IST


Washington D.C. [USA]: At a time when violent crimes, including murder, rape and assault, have plummeted owing some form of lockdown across the world to slow the spread of COVID-19, official figures cited by The Economist have shown a sharp rise in domestic violence--a crime committed in private, inside people's homes.

An analysis on Wednesday, by the London-based weekly magazine of data collected from five big American cities, indicates that although most types of crime have indeed fallen in recent weeks, reports of domestic violence have increased.

Sifting through over 100,000 reports from police departments in Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Memphis and New Orleans, which all went into lockdown from March 19 to 24, the tabloid learned that total crime soon fell by 25 per cent, compared with the week ending on March 1. However, reports of domestic violence increased by 5 per cent.

Domestic violence is thought to be one of the most under-reported crimes. During lockdown, it maybe even more so. Forced to stay with a violent family member or partner, it may be more difficult, if not dangerous, for victims to seek help when the abuser is always around.

Earlier this month, UN chief Antonio Guterres also called for measures to address a "horrifying global surge in domestic violence" directed towards women and girls, linked to lockdowns imposed by governments responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The combination of economic and social stresses brought on by the pandemic, as well as restrictions on movement, have dramatically increased the numbers of women and girls facing abuse, in almost all countries. However, even before the global spread of the new coronavirus, statistics showed that a third of women around the world experienced some form of violence in their lives, he stressed during a briefing.

Citing the records of other countries, The Economist further stated that reports of domestic violence have risen by 30 per cent in France.

However, the tabloid said further that some governments have also taken action to stop the abuse of women at homes.

In France, victims of domestic violence can visit newly created drop-in centres near supermarkets, or stay in a hotel room at the government's expense. In Spain, those who would like to report violence at home discreetly can visit a pharmacy and give the code word "Mask 19". The pharmacist will then alert the authorities, the tabloid reported.

Data provided by Denmark's national domestic-violence hotline, Lev Uden Vold (Life Without Violence), show that in the week after the country's lockdown began, total call volumes fell by more than 50 per cent, while calls about emergency shelters--typically from people asking for a place to stay immediately--rose sharply.

In Denmark, the authorities have set up additional temporary shelters to deal with the surge in requests.

Globally, more than 2.5 million people have been diagnosed with the deadly virus, with a tally of 170,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The stringent lockdown measures in place have further led civilian lives only restricted to their homes in a bid to contain the virus spread which further has been affecting the mental status of the people and leading to a surge in cases of violence at homes.

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Published on: Thursday, April 23, 2020, 01:52 PM IST