WHO 'deeply troubled' by domestic violence reports amid lockdowns

WHO 'deeply troubled' by domestic violence reports amid lockdowns
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The head of the World Health Organization's European office said Thursday that WHO is "deeply troubled" by rising trends of domestic violence across the continent.

Dr. Hans Kluge said at a press conference that some countries have reported that as many as 60 percent of women have been victims of domestic violence, adding that calls to domestic violence hotlines have multiplied five times since the coronavirus outbreak began earlier this year, according to The Associated Press.

“If lockdowns were to continue for six months, we would expect an extra 31 million cases of gender-based violence globally,” Kluge said, citing data from the United Nations. “Evidence shows that interpersonal violence increases during every type of emergency."

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Kluge went on to call for European nations to introduce measures specifically to address domestic violence, pointing to efforts in Spain, Italy and other countries to make it easier for victims to report their abusers.

The spike is not limited to Europe. In April, police departments around the U.S. told The Hill that they were experiencing double-digit increases in the percentages of calls coming in to dispatchers related to domestic violence situations.

“Not only are many people confined to their homes, but they are also experiencing stressors that are known to increase the risk of violence, especially job loss and health problems,” University of Maryland sociology professor Philip Cohen said at the time. “People at risk of abuse might not have access to the supports and services they might normally have been able to take advantage of.”