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Domestic violence in isolation. The situation in Armenia and other countries

Many countries around the world impose strict restrictions on the Coronavirus epidemic and its prevention, banning men from leaving their homes. This situation has created a serious problem: many citizens are forced to stay at home with the perpetrators, and this problem exists in Armenia.


According to international media, about 200,000 women in France are isolated in four walls with perpetrators. According to French Interior Minister Christophe Castagner, the number of police interventions in cases of domestic violence has increased by 36% after the use of restrictive measures against coronavirus. Against this background, the French government has announced that it will pay for hotel rooms for victims of domestic violence for 20,000 nights and will open temporary counseling centers in supermarkets.


In China, where the coronavirus epidemic began, hard quarantine was introduced in January, and the number of victims of domestic violence has tripled since last year. These data were published by the Association for Combating Domestic Violence in Hubei Province.


In some European countries, because of quarantine hotlines are not working, which can alert victims of domestic violence, and organizations cannot accept those who are in a difficult situation. Fortunately, in late March, the French Minister for Gender Equality announced that the service had resumed its work. However, the number of calls is not higher than usual, given the fact that women are not always able to call while in isolation with the abuser.


The governments of France, Italy and Spain have introduced new aid schemes to help victims of domestic violence. Now those who need help should go to the pharmacy and ask for protection, but if for some reason they are unable to do so openly, they should ask for help by saying the code word “mask 19”.


Australia has also reported an increase in domestic violence. The government said the number of reports of domestic violence had risen by 75% during the coronavirus outbreak. As a result, the government has allocated $ 150 million to support victims of domestic and sexual violence due to the effects of coronavirus.


According to the Russian RIA Novosti news agency, the number of cases of domestic violence has increased in Russia during the quarantine days, and not only women but also the elderly are becoming victims. Oksana Pushkina, deputy chairwoman of the State Duma’s Committee on Family, Women and Children’s Affairs, said she was receiving a lot of calls these days, and the situation was compounded by the fact that many crisis centers in the country were closed and the number did not exceed 15. In addition, Russia has not passed a law on combating domestic violence, and the negative consequences of all this have become more than obvious today.


What is the situation in Armenia?


In the data on the operative situation presented by the RA Police in recent days, there is always an alarm about at least one case of domestic violence. For example, between March 31 and April 1, the police received one such call, and between March 27 and 30, three alerts. In other words, on average, one case is reported a day, and the only thing left to guess is how many that number actually is.


In March 2020, the number of phone calls to the hotline of the Women’s Support Center increased by 26 compared to the same period last year. Of the 86 primary calls, 56 are family violence alerts and 30 are social assistance calls. This was reported by the Women’s Support Center, which studied the problems of victims of domestic violence due to the restrictions of the coronavirus.


Problems caused by restrictions


Amid restrictions on coronavirus, the Women’s Support Center has identified the following issues related to victims of domestic violence: Deterioration of social status, lack of access to communication, lack of vehicles, lack of sensitivity of police officers.  In particular, the center warned that women who are subjected to violence due to lack of vehicles are unable to reach even the precinct police or the office of the Women’s Support Center. The center also reported a case when a police officer did not respond properly to a woman who was looking for help and was looking for a place to stay.


“One of the women who applied to us during the last week, who had been abused by her husband for 25 years, just left the house on foot because of the lack of transport these days and approached the first policeman she met with the expectation of support. The latter offered to apply to the precinct police, and when asked how to get there, he answered that it was not his job. The woman approached the accidental taxi driver excitedly and asked him to help her. After all, with the support of compassionate people, such as the female police chief, the woman found herself in our shelter, ”Coalition to Stop Violence against Women” said in a statement.


In this regard, it is important that the police officers in public places be sensitive to the victims of domestic violence, master the guidance mechanisms, as well as have the hotlines and alerts of NGOs at their disposal, say coalition experts.


“The Coalition to Stop Violence against Women”  expects the support of government agencies, as well as individuals and organizations, to support women in this difficult time and to protect their right to live outside of violence,” the statement said.


All hot lines work


Fortunately, unlike other countries, anti-crisis phone numbers for women continue to operate. Though experts say there is another problem: hot lines are working, but there are fewer callers for objective reasons.


Hotline: 099 88 78 08


Zara Hovhannisyan, Public Relations Officer of “The Coalition to Stop Violence against Women” , a human rights activist, told WomenNet.am that the situation of women subjected to domestic violence is extremely bad these days, as they are unable to even call for help. They are at home and there is almost no way out. It’s not just about the husband, but also about the husband’s parents, but also about relatives who can use violence. “Predicting such a situation, we have gathered all the hotlines on one platform to make the necessary phone numbers more visible and accessible to people. Of course, we also realize that today everything is more difficult and in many cases it is almost impossible to contact us, “she said.


In addition to domestic violence, these days women face another problem: disproportionate distribution of family burden, when all members of the family are at home, but only the responsibilities of a wife increase: children, husband, in some cases online work from home, and so on. This puts extra strain on women who are now deprived of the opportunity to rest and be alone for at least an hour, which puts extra strain on families and psychological stress. This situation is quite dangerous and conducive to the creation of hotbeds of violence.


How to get help from the ombudsman’s office?


The Human Rights Defender’s Office of the Republic of Armenia has again published How to Get Human Rights Defender’s Guidance on Domestic Violence? It is stated that the injured person, his / her representative, legal successor, heir, guardianship and trustees – children, incapacitated and disabled persons, as well as relatives and relatives of detainees and servicemen may apply to the Human Rights Defender. In addition, the Ombudsman may be approached by a non-governmental organization if there is a written consent of the person.


In a conversation with WomenNet.am, Nune Hovsepyan, Head of the Public Relations Department of the Human Rights Defender, noted that during the days of the state of emergency, the hotline of the office received two alarms about domestic violence. She mentioned that it is difficult to present the statistics objectively today, as many women simply cannot make an alarm call.


“We are still monitoring the situation. After the end of the state of emergency, we will analyze in detail, a general study will be done to better understand the picture, “our interlocutor said.


WomenNet.am reminds that in case of emergency, the Human Rights Defender works in emergency mode on a 24-hour basis.


How to apply?


by e-mail (ombuds@ombuds.am),

online (www.ombuds.am, www.pashtpan.am),

by calling staff (+374 10 53 76 51),

116 by calling the hotline.

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