U.N. secretary-general Antonio Guterres. Photo: AP
NEW YORK – The U.N. secretary-general Antonio Guterres warned the coronavirus pandemic has led to a global increase in violence against women and girls.
Last week, Antonio Guterres called for a global cease-fire so that the international community could focus all of its attention on stopping the virus and helping those who have contracted it.
“But violence is not confined to the battlefield,” he said, “For many women and girls, the threat looms largest where they should be safest – in their own homes. And so I make a new appeal today for peace at home — and in homes — around the world.”
Many countries have reported that the increase in social and economic pressures brought a surge in domestic violence incidents and calls to abuse hotlines since the pandemic started spreading globally, VOA reported.
In France, domestic violence rates surged by a third in one week. In South Africa, authorities received nearly 90,000 reports of violence against women in the first week of its lockdown.
Australia’s government says online searches for support on domestic violence have risen 75%, while in Turkey, activists are demanding greater protections after the killing of women rose sharply after a stay at home order was issued March 11.
Entire countries have called for quarantines and lockdowns to slow the spread of the respiratory virus that has sickened more than 1.25 million people worldwide and killed nearly 70,000.
Guterres said that he urged 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 that includes declaring shelters as essential services, setting up emergency warning systems in pharmacies and grocery stores, declaring shelters essential services, and creating safe ways for women to seek support, without alerting their abusers.
(with inputs from Agencies)