The leader of the UN has made a worldwide appeal related to the coronavirus outbreak, but it has nothing to do with equipment shortages or best practices while out in public. Instead, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is worried about "a horrifying global surge in domestic violence," reports the AP. He didn't call out specific nations, but he said calls to help lines have doubled in some places amid the lockdown, and he urged governments to make sure victims are safe. The problem is that police departments are frequently overwhelmed with other virus-related issues. Coverage:
- Code word: Europe has been largely locked down for weeks, and the problem seems most pronounced in Spain and France. There, women can now go into pharmacies and use the phrase "mask 19" to alert the pharmacist to abuse, reports CNN. The pharmacist takes the woman's information and calls police. "There has always been gender violence, but this crisis makes it all worse," says a worker at a women's shelter in Rome.
- In the US: Women's groups around the US are seeing an uptick in domestic violence calls, a sign that what's been happening in Europe could follow suit here, reports the Wall Street Journal. The shutdown is "almost like a petri dish for violence to increase within families," Barbara Paradiso, director of the Center on Domestic Violence at the University of Colorado Denver, tells the newspaper.
- More on the US: NBC News reports that 18 of 22 US law enforcement agencies that responded to a request for data saw a rise in domestic violence calls in March. "The financial stress alone creates a ticking time bomb for some families with a history of domestic violence,” says Sheriff Steve Mueller of Cherokee County, South Carolina, where calls rose 35%. "Unfortunately many of these domestic violence cases occur in front of children and often the children become victims of abuse and assault, as well." The situation is made worse because shelters for abuse victims are generally struggling to remain open amid the shutdown.
- All over: The National Domestic Abuse hotline in the UK saw a 25% increase in appeals for help since that nation's lockdown began, reports the BBC. The AP adds that the "the killing of women has surged in Turkey" since the lockdown in that nation, and that Australia has seen internet searches for domestic violence resources jump 75%. The story collects similar stats from India and South Africa.
- First person: The BBC talks to one woman in the UK about the tension in her own home, which worsened with the lockdown. "As soon as he gets up, he tries to cause an argument out of nothing, and if I fire back he'll just hit me." She has since fled to Wales and is being helped by a charity. Advocates say the abuse is wide-ranging, including men threatening to throw out women if they get sick, preventing them communicating with relatives, and barring them from leaving the house even for groceries.
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