Domestic Violence & Covid-19: The UK government must act now to save lives.

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In February this year in China, the number of domestic violence cases reported to the police tripled. The likelihood is many more cases will not have been reported. This rise is because of Coronavirus and the isolation within the home that comes with preventing the spread of it. China is not alone in this phenomenon. The US domestic violence national hotline has also reported a growing number of calls. Across the globe domestic violence and abuse is on the rise.

For professionals and campaigners in the domestic violence sector, this comes as no surprise. Abusive partners use many different methods of control and using Covid-19 to keep victims trapped at home and away from seeking help, is becoming common throughout the world as Covid-19 spreads.

Coming into 2020 we know that the number of women being murdered a week in the UK by an abusive partner or ex-partner, has risen to 3. On top of this we know that a further 3 women a week commit suicide to escape abuse. Whilst women are overwhelming the victims of domestic violence and it is one of the biggest killers of women worldwide, all genders and many children will be suffering at the hands of these abusive patterns.

The rise in domestic violence is on top of a decade of vicious cuts. Many refuges and community services have been forced to close and the ones left are struggling to survive. How can victims flee when they have no-where to go? There must be secure, specialist refuges for victims.

The UK government should take heed from the patterns across the globe with the increased rates of domestic violence and act urgently to protect victims. We say not one woman more must die; there are things the government must do to act quickly to save lives.

We demand the following:

·         Put measures in place to assist victims to safely leave the home and get to secure accommodation.

 

·         Immediately give substantial funding to current domestic violence refuges – with a view to replacing the refuges that have been cut under austerity and funding more refuges to open to deal with the crisis in lack of provision.

 

·         Emergency funds for those fleeing violence to support them with immediate provisions such as transport, food etc.

 

·         Treat domestic violence specialists as key workers.

 

·          Seek to reach out to specialist workers who have lost their jobs due to domestic violence service closures and re-deploy their skills to new services.

These are the immediate measures we demand for women's lives to matter in this crisis.

If these measures are not met, many more lives will be lost.