Prague, Czech Republic – The threat of domestic violence and abuse is growing due to the ongoing quarantine and movement restrictions, a Czech NGO has warned.
Czech Republic faces surge in domestic violence cases amid lockdown
The victims relief organization White Circle of Safety warned that cases of domestic abuse, verbal and physical abuse might be skyrocketing, as victims are stuck at home with their abusers and have less options to reach out for help.
The Czech Republic doesn’t lack the tools to crack down on domestic violence, but might currently lack the resources or focus to enforce the appropriate preventive and protective measures.
A 2007 law against domestic abuse – either physical, sexual, psychological, verbal or economic – allowed authorities to ban abusers from their own homes in order to protect the victims and give them a safe heaven and enough time to decide which steps to take next. Since it came into effect, the measure was applied to nearly 16,000 households.
There were around 350 cases of expulsions in the first three months of the year, but watchdog groups warn that these figures do not reflect the full extent of the problem as many cases go unreported.
The Circle of Safety association offers a 24/7 assistance to victims of domestic violence and operates the non-stop hotline 116 006. A number of other organizations have also taken special steps to ensure that victims can call for help despite the restrictions introduced to prevent the spread of coronavirus. These include the ProFem organization (contact via phone, chat rooms or Messenger app), Acorus (24/7 hotline 283 892), the Rosa center or the free Bright Sky mobile app.
Domestic violence increases all around the world
The Czech Republic’s case isn’t unique, as locked-down countries all around the world report a skyrocketing increase in domestic violence. Often stuck at home, unable to go out freely and cut off from their friends and family, victims of domestic abuse appear more vulnerable than ever.
Earlier this month, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned of “a horrifying global surge in domestic violence” amid the coronavirus crisis. “For many women and girls, the threat looms largest where they should be safest: in their own homes”, he said.
China, for instance, has seen the number of calls to domestic violence helplines triple during the coronavirus quarantine, while many other countries, including Lebanon and Malaysia, have seen a two-fold increase.
The U.N. chief urged governments to take appropriate measures to prevent domestic violence and offer help to victims. These could include reporting mechanisms in pharmacies, one of the only businesses allowed to remain open as part of the current restrictions. Many women in countries like France or Spain have been able to alert the police by discreetly saying a word to pharmacists.
More on the coronavirus crisis in the Czech Republic and Central Europe right here.