WHO ‘Deeply Troubled’ by Reports of Spike in Domestic Violence

The World Health Organization says it is “deeply troubled by reports that domestic violence has spiked dramatically in many areas of Europe during COVID-related lockdowns.”Speaking from Copenhagen Thursday, the WHO Europe chief, Dr. Hans Kluge, said he had seen reports of increases in reports of domestic and other interpersonal violence against men, women and children from countries including Belgium, Britain, France, Russia, Spain and others amid the coronavirus pandemic.FILE – Padlocks and ribbons signed “Free for Khachaturyan sisters” are attached on the Patriarshy Bridge during an action against domestic violence, with the Kremlin in the background, in Moscow, Russia, Dec. 14, 2019.While statistics are difficult to come by, Kluge estimates that 60% of women are suffering domestic violence, and that calls to help hotlines have jumped about five times. What perhaps is more troubling is the fact that most domestic violence cases go unreported.Kluge said if lockdowns were to continue for six months, the organization would expect an extra 31 million cases of gender-based violence globally.Saying there is no single solution to the problem, Kluge called on government officials to consider it a moral obligation to ensure help services are available to communities.He said that some countries have already responded to the emerging crisis, noting that Italy has developed an app where people can request help without making a phone call. Spain and France have programs where pharmacists can be alerted to problems by people using code words. Scotland has also allocated additional funds to social services related to domestic violence. 

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