A spike in calls to helplines suggests a rise in domestic abuse, in a region where almost 20 million women and girls suffer sexual and physical violence each year, reports Reuters.
In cities from Buenos Aires to Mexico City, Santiago, São Paulo and La Paz, families and individuals have been confined in their homes in an unprecedented way, often only allowed out for emergencies or to shop for essentials. Prosecutors, victim support teams, women’s movements and the United Nations all say this has caused a rise in domestic violence towards women. They cite increasing numbers of calls to abuse hotlines.
In some countries, like Mexico and Brazil, there has been a rise in formal reports of abuse, while in others, including Chile and Bolivia, there has been a drop in formal complaints. Prosecutors and UN Women said the latter was likely not due to a decline in violence, but because women were less able to seek help or report abuse through normal channels.
Rising concern over domestic abuse has been global, with fears victims are being silenced in Italy, calls for help from women rising in Spain, and systems to prevent child abuse in the United States hampered by the lockdown. In Latin America, the fear is that violence against women that was already prevalent is being exacerbated further. The region has seen huge marches and strikes by women over the last year against male aggression and abuse. In Brazil’s Sao Paulo state, which has been hit hardest by the pandemic and imposed sweeping isolation measures, there was a 45% jump last month in cases of violence against women where police were dispatched, compared to a year earlier. In Mexico, complaints to police of domestic violence rose around a quarter in March against a year earlier, official data show.
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