UN chief Antonio Guterres urges govts to protect women during coronavirus lockdown

UN chief Antonio Guterres said there has been a horrifying global surge in domestic violence in recent weeks. PHOTO: REUTERS

UNITED NATIONS, UNITED STATES (AFP) - UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres late on Sunday (April 6) urged governments around the world to consider protecting women as part of their response to the deadly novel coronavirus pandemic.

"Violence is not confined to the battlefield," said Guterres in a statement and a video released in multiple languages, reminiscent of his call for a ceasefire in conflicts worldwide to face the Covid-19 pandemic.

"For many women and girls, the threat looms largest where they should be safest. In their own homes," Guterres said.

"Over the past weeks as economic and social pressures and fear have grown, we have seen a horrifying global surge in domestic violence," he said.

"I urge all governments to make the prevention and redress of violence against women a key part of their national response plans for Covid-19," he added.

India reported double the usual number of domestic abuse cases in the first week of nationwide movement restrictions, according to the country's National Commission for Women.

Cases in France rose by a third in the week after that country's lockdown, authorities said, while Australia reported a 75 per cent increase in internet searches relating to support for domestic violence victims.

Guterres called for setting up emergency warning systems in pharmacies and groceries, and for safe ways "for women to seek support, without alerting their abusers.

"Together, we can and must prevent violence everywhere, from war zones to people's homes, as we work to beat Covid-19," he said, as he called "for peace at home - and in homes - around the world."

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