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COVID-19 crisis: Secretary General concerned about increased risk of domestic violence

Summary of interview with Deutsche Presse Agentur (DPA)

Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić has expressed concern about an increase in domestic violence during the lockdowns due to the corona virus. Reports from member countries in the past few weeks already have shown that women and children are now at greater risk of abuse within their own homes, said Pejčinović Burić in response to questions from German Press Agency (DPA) on Friday.

In addition to the increased risk of violence, the effects of the crisis also could harm women economically and threaten their financial independence, explained Pejčinović Burić. Reports from France showed that many women were unable to call helplines because of the restrictions, the Secretary General said.

According to Pejčinović Burić, the help phone numbers received four times fewer calls than normal. At the same time, instant messages to relevant aid organisations across Europe have increased. This could mean that perpetrators prevent their victims from seeking help by phone, said Pejčinović Burić.

In Denmark, it has been observed that the number of women seeking refuge in a women's shelters has increased, she said. The Council of Europe, based in Strasbourg, France, has the task of monitoring human rights in its 47 member states. In addition to the EU countries, these include Switzerland, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and Azerbaijan. The Council of Europe also has contacts with German authorities on domestic violence, said Pejčinović Burić.

The Secretary General added that the Council of Europe offers member states a platform to exchange information on domestic violence and best practice to prevent it.

Secretary General Strasbourg 30 march 2020
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