Coronavirus lockdown: France to shift domestic violence victims to hotels
Amid the coronavirus outbreak, as lockdowns across several parts of the world forced people indoors, the incidents of domestic abuse have surged. In France, since the lockdown was imposed on March 17, domestic abuse cases have risen by 32% and two women have been killed. To tackle the problem, the French government has announced hotel stays for women to escape abusive households.
French Gender Equality Minister Marlene Schiappa said Monday the government would pay for 20,000 hotel nights for domestic abuse victims. Schiappa said around 20 counseling centers would be established around the country, where women could seek help while getting groceries by using a code word. An additional €1 million has been set aside for anti-domestic abuse organizations to match the increased demand for services.
France has reported over 52,000 cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and 3,532 deaths. Since March 17, France has been on lockdown, which will last until April 15. People are only allowed to leave their homes to buy food or medication, visit doctors, get exercise or walk a pet. Domestic abuse cases have risen 32% in France (36% in Paris) since the lockdown was announced.
Reportedly, a man was arrested Saturday in the Northeastern city of Nancy for domestic abuse. His wife had gone to a pharmacy after hearing that she could report domestic violence at such stores and complained about her husband. The woman is five months pregnant and said her husband slapped her and threatened her with a knife. She reported three other previous incidents.
Similar occurrences of increased domestic violence have been reported across the world. In China's Hubei—home to Wuhan where the COVID-19 outbreak began—domestic violence nearly doubled during the lockdown, a Jingzhou-based non-profit told South Tone earlier in March. Similar spikes in domestic violence cases have been witnessed in the United States, Spain, Cyprus, and Brazil and even in India.
BBC spoke to a woman, identified as Geeta (27) from rural India, who told the publication how the COVID-19 outbreak has worsened the abuse she has always faced at home. Geeta said since schools are shut, her four children stay inside their one-room house all day, much to her husband's chagrin. The income he earned as an auto driver has also lessened significantly.
Geeta said, "[The children] have seen their father angry but past few weeks have been worse. They've seen him throw things against the wall and pull me by the hair," adding she tries to draw her husband's ire to herself to keep the kids safe.
According to PTI, between March 23 and March 30, the National Commission for Women (NCW) received 58 complaints of domestic violence over e-mail alone. NCW Chairperson Rekha Sharma said, "The number has increased. Men are frustrated sitting at home and are taking out that frustration on women. This trend is especially seen in Punjab from where we have received many such complaints."