During confinement by COVID-19, sexist killings have doubled in the UK and distress calls have increased by almost 50%. Victim aid organizations report that gender-based violence is, in reality, a silent pandemic.
According to figures from the organization Counting Dead Women Project, which keeps track of femicides, 14 women and 2 children have been killed during the first three weeks of the forced quarantine.
This is the highest number recorded during a 21-day period (from March 23, when the measures were decreed, to April 12) in eleven years and more than double the average rate.
Also, calls to the state aid line, which is managed by the Refuge organization, increased by 49% in the same period.
These data are part of a report by the British Parliament, which urges the government of the conservative Boris Johnson to undertake “an urgent action plan that establishes practical measures to tackle this violence as an integral part of the fight against COVID-19”.
In 2019, at least 115 women were killed by men in the UK, and as of April 2020, 45 femicides are counted, according to data from the Counting Dead Women Project.
CONFINEMENT SHARPS FEMINICIDES
The organization Women’s Aid, which runs shelters and support services for victims of sexist violence through a network of associations across the country, has found that confinement increases the risk of physical and emotional aggression.
“The home is not a safe place for many women, since being locked up with their abusers for a significant period of time, violence increases and their chances of getting help and accessing public services are much more limited,” said Lucy Hadley, campaign manager for Women’s Aid, in an interview with Efe.
For Hadley, it is important to spread the message that women are “not alone” and that they have “help available via phone or chat” within their reach. The latter has experienced a 45% growth during the confinement, since some victims find it safer than the telephone, as they cannot speak because the abuser is nearby.
The alarming increase in the figures is, according to the secretary general of the Commonwealth of Nations, Patricia Scotland, the reflection that one of every three women and girls in the world suffers physical or sexual violence.
“In countries with coronaviruses, there has been an increase in abuse of between 25 and 300%. We are facing a silent pandemic. It is very important that we fight it because many women affected by this violence are trapped at home with their abusers,” she said. Scotland.
Respect is a British organization that caters to male abusers and victims and has seen not only how confinement has increased calls to their hotline by 125%, but how it has brought violence to light in higher income families.
According to Efe, Alistair Sherlock, in charge of accrediting Respect’s services, are receiving requests for help from socioeconomic groups with whom they have not had contact before, “people of a much higher economic level, where traditionally violence is more hidden and it’s harder to recognize. ”
“Violence in the domestic environment affects our entire social structure, it is not a matter of a particular community,” said this expert, who specified that the COVID-19 pandemic has meant “the appearance of violence in some families. , while in others it has brought to light a historical and sustained abuse that has always existed but has not been denounced. ”
CRITICISMS FOR LACK OF RESOURCES
The pressing lack of reception centers in the United Kingdom caused that 64% of applications to access these spaces in England were rejected between 2018 and 2019, the parliamentary report revealed.
“We are concerned that there are many more women asking for help when the containment measures are softened because before COVID-19 we no longer had the services to face the number of women and children in need (…) The Government is weighing options like enabling hotels, but we need to see that there are enough centers and a clear plan on what to do if there is an increase in demand, “Hadley said.
He also pointed out that it is vital that the British Executive implement a plan similar to the one that exists in Spain and that allows pharmacists to alert the authorities when a woman pronounces the code “Mask 19”, which means that she suffers abuse.
The Government has announced that it will allocate 76 million pounds (almost 86 million euros) to support these services during the pandemic, a financing that Sandra Horley, executive director of Refuge, wants “to take effect quickly” and serve to alleviate “the gaps generated by a decade of cuts “.
The organizations hope that the law on gender violence, which is being processed in the House of Commons, will include the petitions that they have long claimed: equal aid for battered migrant women, a safe visitation system for those who have children. with its abusers and the sustained financing of assistance services.
IT IS URGENT TO END THIS PANDEMIC
Sherlock said statistics show how COVID-19 “has exacerbated what was already a national emergency on the safety and well-being of survivors of domestic violence,” and also indicates “a significant increase in violence across the board. the world”.
For Hadley, sexist violence is “the silent part of the current crisis”, which is why “much more dedication by governments in their response to COVID-19 is necessary to protect women who are being affected not only by the risk of contracting the virus. ”