Official Holy See news website Vatican News has denounced what it called a “global rise in domestic violence” cases in countries under coronavirus lockdowns.
– “Victims now forced to spend each day with their perpetrators”
“As the number of people in lockdown increases, so do the victims of domestic violence, now forced to spend each day with their perpetrators”, an April 1 article published on the Vatican News website reads.
– Full text of the Vatican News article on the virus of domestic violence under Covid-19
Since the beginning of the lockdown imposed by several governments to help stop the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus, domestic violence cases have increased immensely.
A large reason for this is that where victims previously found space to breathe, whether at work or for social reasons, they are now spending all their time at home with their abusers.
Likewise, children are not able to attend school, which many parents consider a safety net.
Governments all over the world are receiving more and more calls for help, as victims of domestic violence fear for their own and for their children’s health and well-being.
In France, domestic violence has risen by 36%, including two cases of femicide, since the beginning of the lockdown.
To help tackle this, the government has announced that it will be paying for victims to stay in hotels, whilst pop-up counselling centres will be installed in shops in the hope that women out buying groceries will be able to access them easily.
In the United Kingdom the police are encouraging victims to use what they are calling a silent call: by calling the emergency number 999 and then dialling 55 the police say that they will recognise the call as “a cause for concern”.
In Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a 75% rise in Google searches for help since the start of the lockdown. And the government has given a $142 million boost in funding to tackle domestic violence.
Pope Francis has often condemned violence, in all its forms.
Last year, the Catholic Church in England and Wales gave their Day for Life the theme of “the scourge of domestic abuse”.
On that occasion, Pope Francis sent a message showing his support for the bishops working for “the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters” and committed to fighting “all forms of exploitation”, “in particular the shameful ill-treatment to which women are sometimes subjected (cf Amoris Laetitia, 54).”
– Expert: Quarantine measures “provide abusers with additional power and control”
More recently, in the particular context of the coronavirus quarantines to which one-third of the world’s population is currently subject, Pope Francis has from his daily livestreamed Mass in the Casa Santa Marta prayed for “families who are cooped up” – that their relationships “might flourish always for the good” – and for parents – “that they might succeed in bringing the entire family forward with strength and joy”.
But the Pope has hardly been the only person to reflect upon the difficult situation now confronting domestic violence victims under Covid-19 quarantine.
President of the Group of Experts on Action against Violence on Women (Grevio) of the Council of Europe Marceline Naudi, for example, denounced to SIR recently that for many women and children “home is a fearful place, not a safe place”.
Social distancing measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus “provide abusers with additional power and control”, the expert warned.
Not only that, but the consequences of the coming Covid-19 economic recession “will hit women very hard”, Naudi deplored, urging governments “to do all that can be done” on the worsening domestic violence front in coronavirus times and to put in place “innovative solutions” to guarantee attention to survivors of abuse.
“I hope. the new supportive spirit that this pandemic is creating in our societies may extend to the abused women and girls who now risk feeling even more trapped up with their abusers”, Naudi pressed.