Global Rise in Domestic Violence Amid Coronavirus

By Tahreem Ashraf

The stay at home orders to prevent COVID-19 from spreading are unfortunately promoting a drastic surge in domestic violence globally, as abusers now have more opportunities to control the victims.

“As cities and towns across China locked down, a 26-year-old woman named Lele found herself entangled in more and more arguments with her husband, with whom she now had to spend every hour in their home in Anhui Province, in eastern China.” wrote Amanda Taub in The New York Times. Lele was holding her 11 month old daughter when her husband hit her with a chair on March 1st. While losing the sensation of her legs, she stumbled and and fell with the baby in her arms. “During the epidemic, we were unable to go outside, and our conflicts just grew bigger and bigger and more and more frequent.” Lele said.

In the French city of Nancy, after a nationwide lockdown a woman entered a pharmacy not for medicine but to seek help from her abusive partner, which was later arrested by the police. The lockdown gave aggressors the freedom to abuse the victims The more time victims spend with the aggressors, the more they have to suffer because of their abusive and oppressive nature. A young woman told Lucha y Siesta, women’s shelter in Rome, Italy, that her abusive and controlling partner has unfortunately turned out worse during lockdown. Due to this surge, victims are told to seek  help through the best ways possible. “France, inspired by a similar scheme in Spain, has started telling victims to head to drugstores. If they can’t talk openly in the store, they can simply say the codeword “mask 19” to the pharmacist behind the counter.” wrote Ivana Kottasová in CNN.

Haily Ott wrote on the CBS News website that domestic abuse in Britain has increased to 33% , as the London’s Metropolitan Police reported that in the first six weeks of lockdown they arrested 4000 domestic abuse culprits. “A U.K. domestic abuse hotline said it was receiving 49% more calls since social distancing measures came into effect. British lawmakers urged the government to come up with a plan to address the issue” she further noted. “London’s Metropolitan Police said they made approximately 4,000 domestic abuse arrests in the initial six weeks of the United Kingdom’s lockdown measures.” wrote Zack Budryk in The Hill News.

“Among the domestic incidents reported by the Chicago Police Department during the month of March and the first two weeks of April were three murders and 78 shootings, both of which represent a slight increase from the year before.”wrote Weihua Li in The Marshall Project. The victims are having a hard time making pleas for help while remaining unnoticed. “In Austin, Texas, a victims counselor for the police department said because people suffering abuse are having a harder time finding space to reach out for help, more calls are coming from neighbors or other witnesses.” Weihua Li further wrote.

Tyler Kingkade revealed on the NBC News website that 18 law enforcement agencies in the United Stated has seen the upward flow of domestic violence. Houston has 20% more increase in domestic abuse in March than in February. “Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina, police fielded 517  additional calls about domestic violence in March compared to the same month last year, an 18 percent jump, while Phoenix police received nearly 200 more calls, an increase of nearly 6 percent.”  he wrote. “While we absolutely support the need to follow these measures of social distancing and isolation, we also recognize that it provides an opportunity for abusers to unleash more violence.” Anita Bhatia, the Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Women told Time Magazine.

Unfortunately, the victims are abused in front children, and often they became the victims. Moreover, due to the COVID-19 crises many victims can not go to their parents or other relatives in order to prevent the exposure of virus. On the other hand, due to travel restrictions and overcrowded women shelters, they are unable to seek protection. The more time the partners spend together the more disastrous it get in this case. Chief executive Dr. Marsha Scott told  BBC, “Abuse isn’t caused by being home together. It is about the opportunities. The difference is that they can control more when they are home more.”

Crystal Justice, the chief marketing and development officer of National Domestic Violence Hotline, told Forbes that, in  March they received 2,345 calls in which “COVID-19 was cited as a condition of abuse” in the United States. The most unfortunate fact is that there is a severe threat of death. “A man killed his wife and then shot himself over fears that they might have the coronavirus. They both tested negative.” wrote Sarah-Al-Arshani in Business Insider News. As the rate is rising, many victims are unable to seek help during this crisis. Abusers are using lockdown measures as an opportunity for more abuse to further oppress the victim. In this case, the victim should build a community around oneself in order to get support and protection. As the coronavirus crisis continues while ravaging the economy, domestic violence is yet another important issue to consider.

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