When Home Gets Violent Under Lockdown In Europe


When Home Gets Violent Under Lockdown In Europe

Flags were lowered to half-mast and three days of mourning were declared in the Spanish town of Almassora to mark Carina’s death.

In normal times, this community near Valencia would have gathered in silence to remember their 35-year-old neighbour. But confined to their homes by coronavirus, they paid their respects at a distance.

The bells tolled and Mozart’s Requiem boomed out from the town hall as residents came to their windows and balconies.

Carina was killed at home in front of her two young children. Her husband José turned himself in to the town’s civil guard and confessed.

National lockdowns have heightened the danger for women forced to stay at home with their abusers, cut off from the respite of work and less able to call for help undetected. Children, mostly home from school, are now even more exposed to trauma.

Carina was the 17th woman killed by a current or ex-partner in Spain this year. She was the first since restrictions to try to limit the spread of Covid-19 were imposed.

Fearing the aggressor indoors and virus outside

Less than a month since Europe came to a near-standstill, it is too soon to see the full impact on gender violence from official statistics.

But in abusive households, experts see a potentially devastating combination of emotions brewing. Women fear the aggressor inside the home and the virus outside.

Stress makes abusers even more volatile, while heightened privacy gives them a feeling of impunity.

In Spain, Kika Fumero traces it back to the state of alert declared on 14 March.

“From that moment I knew that what was good for stopping Covid-19 was going to be horrible for those women and their children who were in a violent situation at home,” the head of the Canary Islands Institute for Equality told the BBC.

She had seen the spikes in abuse from periods of confinement before, when women were forced to spend more time with their partner during floods or holidays.

Italy, like Spain, has been at the forefront of the pandemic. More than 100 doctors there have lost their lives treating the sick.

Lorena Quaranta, 27, was on the brink of qualifying as a doctor when she died on 30 March. But she was not a victim of Covid-19. Her boyfriend Antonio told police he had killed her.


When her coffin returned to her hometown of Favara in Sicily, people hung white sheets from their balconies.

It represented, as Mayor Anna Alba put it, “the purity of her spirit, and the colour of that uniform she dreamed of wearing for the rest of her life”.

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How abuse has spiked under lockdown

France initially reported a sharp drop in calls to the national helpline. But within a week the government said police reports of domestic abuse had gone up nationally by a third, and by even more in Paris.

An SMS service set up for people with hearing impairments now helps abuse victims too and receives 170 text messages a day. Drop-in areas have been opened in shopping centres and there is a support service for perpetrators “on the edge”.

When Home Gets Violent Under Lockdown In Europe


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