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For many women, girls, threat looms largest in homes: UN chief urges nations to protect women during lockdown

With almost the whole world in a lockdown due to the Coronavirus pandemic and families confined to their homes, fears are rising of a surge in domestic violence.

SNS | New Delhi |

United Nation (UN) Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged governments around the world to consider protecting women as part of their response to the deadly novel coronavirus pandemic, on Sunday .

Guterres said, “For many women and girls, the threat looms largest where they should be safest. In their own homes,” in a statement and a video released with subtitles in several languages.

“Over the past weeks as economic and social pressures and fear have grown, we have seen a horrifying global surge in domestic violence. I urge all governments to make the prevention and redress of violence against women a key part of their national response plans for COVID-19,” he said.

With almost the whole world in a lockdown due to the Coronavirus pandemic and families confined to their homes, fears are rising of a surge in domestic violence.

NGOs and organisations all across world, working with the victims of domestic violence have sounded the alarm after countries are going underlockdown to arrest the spread of Coronavirus.

“For many people, their home is already not a safe place,” news agency AFP quoted the German federal association of women’s counselling centres and helplines (BFF) said.

The association warns that the stress caused by social isolation is exacerbating tensions and increasing, “the risk of domestic and sexual violence against women and children”, the association warns.

As the people are stressing about losing jobs, and fear of economic insecurities, factors that would increase the likelihood of conflicts, apart from confinement at homes alone where violence is already a problem.

In China, which is slowly emerging from several weeks of total lockdown, the women’s rights organisation Weiping has reported a threefold increase in reports of violence against women.

In the countries with the strictest lockdowns, such as Italy, victims are exempt from some of the rules — such as the requirement to carry a document justifying why they are leaving their home — if they need to visit a refuge centre.

“The current situation is unprecedented,” says Adriana Havasova, a psychologist from Bratislava. She hopes the confinement will be limited to two or three weeks.

If it goes on for several months, “I can’t imagine how much more domestic violence could increase,” she warns.

Australia on March 29, had announced a nearly US$100 million boost in funding to tackle domestic violence after support services reported a spike in coronavirus-related family abuse.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison had said there had been a 75 percent surge in Google searches for help during the ongoing nationwide shutdown of non-essential services to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Women’s Safety, a domestic violence charity in Australia’s most populous New South Wales state, had reported that more than 40 percent of workers had seen an increase in client numbers, with over a third of cases directly linked to the virus outbreak.

In India, the 21- day lockdown is in it’s 12th day and with domestic violence still accepted as normal and not even reported, in everyday life, it would be difficult days ahead for many families.