Coronavirus lockdown | Surge in domestic violence, says WHO

60% rise in calls by women subjected to violence in Europe

Updated - May 07, 2020 10:34 pm IST

Published - May 07, 2020 09:55 pm IST - Copenhagen

Victims of domestic violence at a shelter for women in Marseille, France.

Victims of domestic violence at a shelter for women in Marseille, France.

Emergency services across Europe have seen a sharp rise in domestic abuse calls under sweeping lockdowns imposed across the continent, the World Health Organization’s regional office said Thursday.

Billions of people are subject to some form of stay-at-home orders across the globe, and experts say women and children are most vulnerable to abuse.

WHO’s regional director for Europe, Hans Kluge, said countries “are reporting up to a 60% increase in emergency calls by women subjected to violence by their intimate partners in April this year, compared to last”.

According to the organisation, domestic violence often increases in times of crisis, and is exacerbated due to restrictions and containment measures put in place to limit the spread of the new coronavirus. “We have an increase in reporting from almost all countries,” said Isabel Yordi, Technical Officer for Gender and Health at WHO Europe.

The UN agency for sexual and reproductive health (UNFPA) has estimated that there would be 31 million more cases of domestic violence worldwide if lockdowns continue for another six months.

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