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Domestic violence and COVID-19
No pandemic is invincible. Every woman can escape from abuse if she "unlocks" the power hidden within her.

Domestic violence is a pandemic within a pandemic. In the current situation, thousands of women in our country are trapped at home, for a long time, with their abuser: husband, partner, or relative.

Quarantine and “social distancing” are fertile ground for the perpetrators to exercise even greater social control over their victims, closing any escape route in a period that objectively makes it difficult for survivors to access protection. Isolation from the supportive environment cut off from work, and financial insecurity are likely to be additional factors of discouragement in any attempt to move away.

In numbers

The increase in domestic violence during the pandemic period is also evidenced by the statistics: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), calls for incidents of domestic/partner violence increased by approximately 60% in April 2020 compared to 2019, in some of its member states. According to estimations by the United Nations Population Fund, if the lockdown continued for more than six months (which it did), an additional 31 million cases of gender-based violence would be recorded worldwide.

In Greece, there was also a significant increase in incidents. According to the SOS Line 15900, the relevant calls recorded in March 2020, the first month of the quarantine, were 325 instead of 69 for the same month in 2019. In April 2020 they jumped to 1064, instead of 167 recorded in 2019. In May and in June 2020, with the gradual lifting of restrictive measures, the numbers remained extremely high with 789 calls in May and 606 in June, instead of 114 and 83 respectively for the same months in 2019 (source: inside story).

In fact, sometimes domestic violence reached its most extreme form. In 2020, 10 femicides were recorded, including 3 during the first lockdown, and 5 attempted femicides.

It wasn’t the quarantine’s fault

It is necessary to establish that the emergency of the pandemic is not the cause of domestic violence. A violent spouse/partner who previously used verbal, psychological, financial, or even physical violence is extremely likely to become more aggressive in this situation. Thus pre-existing violent behavior becomes more frequent and threatening during the pandemic period.

After all, this is demonstrated both by earlier international scientific studies on cases of epidemics, natural disasters, etc., in addition to empirical data, that is to say, domestic violence increases in times of crisis, as well as in periods of time when the couple spends more time together, e.g. Christmas, Easter, summer holidays.

You have a right

However, it is worth noting that after the end of the first quarantine, there were many survivors of domestic violence who sought support and legal assistance from the Diotima Center. The number of women increased especially during the second lockdown, particularly from January 2021, when the Greek #metoo broke out.

It seems that the experience of lockdown, and what it implies for the intensity of the abuse, played a catalytic role in some women to now make the decision to leave the abusive relationship. In addition, the Greek #metoo also worked as an empowerment tool for many.

With the #UnlockYourPower campaign, we are sending the message that no pandemic is invincible. Every woman can escape from abuse if she “unlocks” the power hidden within her. She will not be alone in this journey. She can turn to the appropriate agencies for specialized support, and talk to people she trusts. All women have the right to safety, justice, freedom; to a life free of violence.

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Diotima Center:  |  Facebook: Diotima Center for Women’s Studies and Research | Twitter:  @CentreDiotima | Instagram: @diotima_center | Linkedin: Diotima | Tiktok: DiotimaCentre | Youtube: Diotima Center

British Embassy in Athens: GOV.UK | Facebook: UK in Greece | Twitter: @UK in Greece & @KateSmithFCDO


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