Domestic violence, GBV cases on the rise as coronavirus pressures hit
- Many countries have reported a surge in domestic violence incidents and calls to abuse hotlines since the pandemic started spreading globally earlier this year.
- In France, domestic violence rates surged by a third in one week.
- In South Africa, authorities received nearly 90,000 reports of violence against women in the first week of its lockdown.
Health CAS Mercy Mwangangi has decried the increasing number of domestic violence and sexual offense cases in the country following stringent measures effected to fight coronavirus.
Dr. Mwangangi intimated that she witnessed a case of domestic violence over the Easter weekend.
“Within the area that I live in, I had neighbours coming to my house to report a case of domestic violence. There is a lady who was severely beaten,” she said.
Reports from Gender Violence Recovery Centre (GVRC) and the National Council on Administration of Justice (NCAJ) indicate that domestic abuse cases have spiked.
“Most of the time it it has been noticed that this violence is perpetrated by close relatives and guardians,” she said.
“Even as we address this between the various government departments, we are calling on Kenyans to focus on fighting the virus and to handle the disputes within the laid down civil structures and devoid of any violence,” Dr. Mwangangi added.
She warned that the law has not been suspended and those that are found culpable of meting violence will be arrested and prosecuted.
The statement by the Health Ministry affirmed that of Chief Justice David Maraga which revealed that sexual offenses constituted 35% of criminal matters reported this month.
Last week, U.N. Chief Antonio Guterres also warned that the increase in social and economic pressures brought on by the coronavirus pandemic has led to a global increase in violence against women and girls.
“For many women and girls, the threat looms largest where they should be safest – in their own homes. And so I make a new appeal today for peace at home — and in homes — around the world.”
On Monday, Pope Francis said society has to stand behind women victims of domestic violence, as abuse increased around the world during coronavirus lockdowns.
Pope Francis pays tribute to the women on the frontline in society's fight against coronavirus, thanking doctors, nurses, policewomen, prison guards and shop workers. pic.twitter.com/roG6nBhy7e
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) April 13, 2020
Many countries have reported a surge in domestic violence incidents and calls to abuse hotlines since the pandemic started spreading globally earlier this year.
In France, domestic violence rates surged by a third in one week.
In South Africa, authorities received nearly 90,000 reports of violence against women in the first week of its lockdown.
Australia’s government says online searches for support on domestic violence have risen 75%, while in Turkey, activists are demanding greater protections after the killing of women rose sharply after a stay at home order was issued March 11.
Entire countries have called for quarantines and lockdowns to slow the spread of the respiratory virus that has sickened more than 1.25 million people worldwide and killed nearly 70,000.
These stay at home orders mean many women and girls are stuck in crowded homes with men who have lost their jobs or have no outlet for their frustrations, such as watching sports or meeting friends at a local bar, and are instead taking them on out on them.
At the same time, authorities, such as police, are overwhelmed with their coronavirus response, and civil society groups are struggling to maintain staff and resources. In some cities, domestic violence shelters have been commandeered as health centers.
“I urge all governments to make the prevention and redress of violence against women a key part of their national response plans for COVID-19,” Guterres said of the disease caused by the coronavirus.
He said that includes declaring shelters as essential services, setting up emergency warning systems in pharmacies and grocery stores, declaring shelters essential services, and creating safe ways for women to seek support, without alerting their abusers.
Additional report from Reuters and VOA
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