English News

  • youtube
  • facebook
  • twitter

Violence against women in EU rises during Covid pandemic lockdowns

Violence against women in EU rises during Covid pandemic lockdowns

Lockdowns to contain the coronavirus led to spikes in domestic violence reports. In two new studies, the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) assesses the measures each European union (EU) country took to protect women during the pandemic and shows how governments can amplify the role of people witnessing violence.

“Women usually face the most danger from people they know. EIGE’s research shows EU governments recognise this: every single country has introduced special measures to protect women from intimate partner violence during the pandemic. Yet persistent under-funding of shelters and domestic violence hotlines has resulted in sometimes patchy support,” said Carlien Scheele, EIGE’s Director in the lead up to the international day to eliminate violence against women.

Ireland, Spain and Lithuania have launched national action plans to eradicate intimate partner violence during the pandemic. Spain has strengthened coordination among its health, police and justice services, as has Lithuania.

Several countries have adapted legislation to declare shelters and hotlines “essential services” to keep them accessible at all times.

In Latvia, Estonia, Slovakia and France, legislation now obliges governments to provide women facing violence at home with alternative accommodation.

Almost every EU country rolled out awareness-raising campaigns to let victims know about the help available. Greece, Finland and Portugal addressed refugees and migrants, while other countries reached out to women from Roma communities, LGBTIQ+ women, or those with hearing impairments.

Awareness campaigns are important for witnesses, who can fail to intervene because they might not recognise intimate partner violence when they see it.

As EU countries re-enter lockdowns, governments can learn from the positive action taken during the first wave of the pandemic as well as the shortcomings.

In the majority of EU countries, the pandemic exposed the overall shaky support systems for victims of gender-based violence. Although natural disasters and pandemics lead to surges in violence against women globally, no EU member state had a disaster plan in place to deal with this.

Covid-19 has shone a harsh light on how unprepared societies often are to protect victims of intimate partner violence. The governments must not turn a blind eye to gender-based violence even if it is from within..