25 Nov 2020

Family & Matrimonial

Human Rights

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

On this day each year, the UN marks International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. It is a day when survivors, activists, decision makers and people from every walk of life join hands to shine a light on the need for funding, essential services, prevention and data that shapes better informed responses to violence against women.

This year’s theme is ‘Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect’ and iconic buildings and landmarks across the world will be turned orange to recall the need for a violence-free future.

Violence against women and girls in one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today yet it remains largely unreported due to the impunity, silence, stigma and shame surrounding it.

Since the outbreak of Covid-19 across the world, all sorts of data and reports showing how violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence, have emerged, as well as a multitude of real-life stories of the horror of living with an abusive partner during lockdown. In some countries, helplines have received a staggering five times as many calls than average during the pandemic[1].

Here in the UK, while the original ‘Stay at Home’ rule helped to reduce coronavirus cases and prevented the spread of the virus at the time, unfortunately, it did not mean safety for everyone as the thousands of people living in an abusive relationship were suddenly, without warning, trapped in their own home with their abuser.

In the UK, in the three weeks between the introduction of the March lockdown and the government launching its You Are Not Alone campaign, put in place to encourage the public to report domestic abuse, 11 women, two children and one man were killed in alleged domestic violence cases[2].

These vulnerable people – and thousands more like them – who were undergoing heightened stress because of the pandemic, simply had no escape as it was much more difficult for them to make an emergency phone call or to access support services.

According to an investigation by the BBC in the summer, two-thirds of women in abusive relationships suffered more violence at the hands of their partners during the pandemic.[3] Their abusers used – and in many cases, still are using – the pandemic as a method of keeping their victims fearful and submissive.

Using statistics obtained from UK police forces under freedom of information laws, the BBC also revealed that there was one domestic abuse call every 30 seconds in the first seven weeks of the UK’s first lockdown. The recorded calls included reports of violent offences such as kidnap, arson, revenge porn and even poisoning.

Many people think that domestic abuse means physical abuse, but it can actually be inflicted in a number of ways – from physical abuse, sexual abuse and verbal abuse to emotional/mental abuse and financial abuse – all of which are incredibly painful and distressing.

As more and more women and girls across the UK face a terrifying ordeal in their own homes as Covid restrictions continue over the winter, please remember that domestic abuse is a criminal act that ruins lives. No one should have to suffer alone.

Our Family Law team understands the support, confidence and help that you need when emerging from an abusive relationship. We provide direct and sympathetic advice to those who need it most in difficult circumstances, as well as linking our clients to local support services to help them to make the changes they need to make.

If you are feeling trapped or worried about your situation, call us in complete confidence on 01633 244233 and speak to one of our dedicated, experienced solicitors to talk through your options.

 

[1] ‘Intensification of efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls: Report of the Secretary General, July 2020’

[2] BBC Panorama – Escaping My Abuser, August 2020

[3] BBC Panorama – Escaping My Abuser, August 2020

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