BBC: When home gets violent under coronavirus lockdown in Europe


Well-known member
Dec 11, 2018
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.
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.

In Russia, the dilemma about leaving or staying was particularly hard for Maria, living in a flat 113km (70 miles) west of Moscow.

Maria, not her real name, had never been hit by her husband before. But on 26 March he flew into rage that lasted 18 hours.

"At first, there was verbal abuse. Then he started breaking things and throwing them at me and the kids," she told BBC Russian. "He smashed everything up, from the fish tank to the fridge. My children were scared."

She believes the catalyst for her husband's attack was President Vladimir Putin's announcement of a "non-working week" - and the loss of income that came with it.

When he left to buy beer, she called the police. "They told me they couldn't throw him out because it was his flat," she said. It was up to her to find a shelter for herself and her children.

Calls in Denmark for emergency accommodation almost doubled in the week after the government told people to stay at home.

The government has since funded 55 extra rooms in shelters for four months and on Wednesday the lockdown will be eased, allowing some Danish schools to reopen and giving an opportunity for women to seek help.

"One way or the other, we'll make sure there's room for everyone," says Susanne Lamhauge, head of a new crisis centre run by women's rights group Danner.

In Belgium, Jean-Louis Simoens describes a three-fold increase in calls to the listening service of the Collective Against Family Violence and Exclusion (CVFE).

"When I was manning the phones, a woman called and told me she only had 15 minutes to speak while her husband was out buying cigarettes.

"She was very frightened and we had to talk really quickly. He had hit her so badly, her face was so swollen, that she couldn't open her eyes any more.

The confinement had made his behaviour worse, so Mr Simoens helped her plan where to go if he went out. As calls are anonymous, he has no idea if she managed to escape.
The threat of infection from coronavirus is in some cases a very direct obstacle to getting help, according to Marceline Naudi, who heads the Council of Europe's group of gender violence experts.

In some cases, it means that women victims of violence have decided not to seek medical attention for fear of contagion, but there are also fewer places to turn to.

"Domestic violence shelters in some areas have already stopped all admissions, because they are unsure how to manage the risk of infection," she says.

She also fears that by losing a job or income women will become more financially dependent on an abuser and it will be harder to leave.

In a pandemic that has killed tens of thousands of people across Europe, the message to an anxious public is that staying home means staying safe and saving lives.

That mantra is of little comfort to women imprisoned with an abuser, weighing up their chances of a successful escape amid so much uncertainty. For many, it is an impossible choice.


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