Surge in violence against women

“Horrifying global surge in domestic violence”

One of the negative effects of the Covid-19 pandemic is the “horrifying global surge in domestic violence” against women and girls, according to UN Secretary-General António Guterres. He said that urgent action should be taken by government to stop this violence which is linked to directives given by different governments around the world for people to self-quarantine.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres made his appeal in a video message in which he also appealed for a ceasefire in conflicts around the world. 

Guterres noted that besides the violence caused by wars and armed conflicts there is, for many women and girls the threat of violence in their home which should be the safest places.

 Before the spread of the pandemic, reliable statistics showed that 33% of women around the world experienced different forms of violence. These incidents have increased around the world as a result of restrictions on movement. Such increases have been registered in both developed and poor countries.

What does research show?

Research conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) reveals shocking results:

  • Women who are abused physically or sexually are twice as likely to have an abortion;
  • The experience of abuse almost doubles their falling into depression as well as substance abuse;
  •  In some regions, they are 1.5 times more likely to acquire HIV;
  • 87,000 women were murdered in 2017, and more than 50% were killed by intimate partners or family members;
  • Domestic physical or sexual violence is a greater cause of ill health than the statistics for traffic accidents and malaria.

Part of national strategy

The United Nations said that calls on helpline against abuse have doubled or tripled in several countries.

 “Healthcare providers and police are overwhelmed and understaffed”, said Guterres, “local support groups are paralyzed or short of funds. Some domestic violence shelters are closed; others are full”.

The head of the United Nations is appealing to governments to make the response against domestic violence as part of its national strategy against Covid-19.

 “Together,” he said, “we can and must prevent violence everywhere, from war zones to people’s homes, as we work to beat COVID-19”.

Phone 179

The Maltese Association of Psychiatrists has recently published a list of 13 tips which can help parents cope with the coronavirus crisis. The association noted that the lockdown and quarantine measures could also be a time for an increase in abuse both via domestic violence and towards children. They urge victims not to remain silent but they should seem help call 179 or speak to your doctor about it.