Isolation Increases Domestic ViolenceBy Bruna Brandao | Thu, 04/09/2020 - 10:31
About two weeks ago, Mexico, like many other countries across the globe, introduced a social-distancing plan in an attempt to slow down the spread of COVID-19 in the country. Among the measures laid out by the government is the immediate cease of non-essential operations in both the private and public sectors, known as the Jornada Nacional de Sana Distancia (National Social-distancing Program). In plain words, for many this means staying at home to protect oneself. Ironically, this measure triggered a troubling situation: there has been a rise in domestic violence.
An increase in incidences has been registered in Mexico City, as well as in other places. The Mexico City Attorney General's Office (FGJ-CDMX) registered 7.2 percent more arrests related to domestic violence in March, according to Wendy Figueroa, Director General of the National Shelter Network during an interview. Similarly, other institutions like the City Council for Security and Justice reported an increase of 24 percent in family violence.
Meanwhile, statistics show that other states in the country, such as Morelos, have also become part of this violence phenomenon. On March 31, the Women's Institute for the State of Morelos reported that there were 91 cases of family violence after the confinement declaration. Flor Dessiré Arenas, Director of the Institute, said that “people are at risk” and further explained that in China, the epicenter of the pandemic virus, there were cases of women who died not of COVID-19 but rather of partner abuse.
Globally, the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has asked all countries to take measures due to the “horrifying surge” in domestic violence across the world amid the fight against COVID-19. Guterres explained that lockdowns and quarantines are necessary for the containment of the virus, but this can trap women with abusive partners. In the last few weeks, economic and social stresses and concerns have risen, which has lead to a shocking global increase in domestic violence, according to the UN. Moreover, the UN reported that it is a worldwide concern. Calls, for instance, from Malaysia requesting help have doubled and in France they increased by 32 percent, while Lebanon had twice more calls last month when compared to March 2019.
In Mexico, according to the National Shelter Network, there has been an increase of 60 percent in assistance to women through various communication outlets, such as calls, social media and email regarding gender violence of all sorts. As a direct response to the current situation, the Mexican National Women’s Institute has made available a list of places along with their telephone numbers to which citizens can call and ask for assistance in all 32 states of the country. In addition, the 911 number is available for any type of emergency calls related to different types of violence, such as sexual abuse, harassment, rape, partner violence and domestic violence.
Nevertheless, Figueroa points out that in a country where 10 women are murdered every day, there is a need to develop solidarity assistance networks with friends through the creation of Whatsapp groups, for example. Figueroa advised that women can create trust groups to whom they can send a message if they need help, whether this means calling the police, calling or calling on to their homes.
“Violence does not only occur in the battlefields and danger to women and girls occurs in areas where they should be much safer: their own homes,” said Guterres.