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Domestic abuse calls up 25% since lockdown

April 16, 2020 4:00 PM

Domestic abuse calls up 25% and at least 16 suspected domestic abuse killings identified since the Covid-19 lock-down restrictions were imposed

As we prepare for a further period of lock-down, women in violent relationships are faced with being stuck at home and exposed to their abuser for even longer periods of time and making it very difficult for them to call helplines.

Campaigners have warned the restrictions could heighten domestic tensions and cut off escape routes such as the school run.

BBC news 6 April 2020 reported that the charity Refuge had said the National Domestic Abuse Helpline which runs 24/7 has seen a 25% increase in calls and online requests for help since the lock-down. Both globally and in some EU countries, it has been reported that cases of domestic violence rose by a third in the week after lock-down was put in place.

Added to these statistics the Guardian is reporting that at least 16 suspected domestic abuse killings in the UK have been identified by campaigners since the Covid-19 lock-down restrictions were imposed, far higher than the average rate for the time of year, it has emerged.

Karen Ingala Smith, the founder of Counting Dead Women, a pioneering project that records the killing of women by men in the UK, has identified at least 16 killings between 23 March and 12 April, including those of children. Looking at the same period over the last 10 years, Smith's data records an average of five deaths.

The charity which runs the National Domestic Abuse helpline said that it received hundreds more calls last week compared to two weeks earlier and visits to the UK-wide helpline website for information were 150% higher than during the last week in February,

Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge told the BBC " last year 1.6 million women in England and Wales experienced domestic abuse, and "while in lock-down or self-isolation, women and children are likely to be spending concentrated periods of time with perpetrators, potentially escalating the threat of domestic abuse and further restricting their freedom.Domestic abuse isn't always physical - it's a pattern of controlling, threatening and coercive behaviour, which can also be emotional, economic, psychological or sexual."

High-profile campaigner, Rachel Williams, believes domestic violence and potentially homicides will escalate as social distancing restrictions in the UK continue. "For me the homicide rate is going to go through the roof, and this is what we're anticipating and bracing ourselves for," she told the BBC.

In Feb before the lock-down began, the Independent reported that the number of women killed by a partner or ex has risen by almost a third in just one year, new figures show. Data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show 80 women were killed by a current or ex-partner between April 2018 and March 2019 - a 27 per cent increase on the year before.The number of female victims of overall homicides in England and Wales rose by 10 per cent in the year up to March 2019 - the highest number for 13 years.

Reacting to this situation, Evelyn Regner Chair of the European Parliament Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality, declared: ''These days and the weeks ahead are especially dangerous for women. We are all facing major psychological challenges through isolation or quarantine, but women and sometimes children in unsafe homes are facing a particularly gruelling stress test. We, therefore, must now pay particular attention to this issue and expand our actions to stop violence against women.''


For information and support on domestic abuse, contact:

SOURCES:

BBC news report by June Kelly & Tomos Morgan on 6 April 2020

EUROPEN PARLIAMENT NEWS - Covid-19 stopping the rise in domestic abuse

INDEPENDENT - NUMBER OF WOMEN KILLED BY A PARTNER OR EX RISES BY A THIRD

Guardian: Domestic abuse killings 'more than double' amid Covid-19 lockdown -

Pioneering project identifies at least 16 suspected incidences in UK over three-week period Home affairs correspondent@JamieGrierson