Story by: Julia Naftulin
Anxiety, stress, and anger continue to run high during coronavirus lockdowns continue, and those feelings could be life-threatening for people who experience domestic violence.
During a May 7 press briefing, the World Health Organization’s Regional Director for Europe Dr. Hans Kluge highlighted the rise of domestic violence as a result of stay-at-home orders and lockdowns.
Kluge said little data exists because only a fraction of cases are ever reported, but information the WHO has gathered from member countries like Spain, France, Belgium, and Bulgaria, and from the United Nations Population Fund, is alarming.
He said there’s been a 600% increase in women subjected to violence by their partners. If lockdowns continue for six more months, there will be an estimated additional 31 million domestic violence cases globally, according to UNFPA data projections based on estimates of how often interpersonal violence occurs.
“This is unacceptable,” Kluge said.
To help those dealing with domestic violence behind closed doors, Kluge called on government officials and local communities. He said governments should continue to provide and expand services like hotlines and health services that support victims of domestic violence, and consider these things “moral obligations.”
He also called on the public to check in with neighbors, friends, and family through texts and calls since they can’t see what their lives are like in person.
“Stay in touch. Contact and support your neighbors, acquaintances, family, and friends,” Kluge said.
WHO said it will release a detailed memo on how to better support victims of violence in the coming days.
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