In Russia, after the introduction of the self-isolation regime, the level of domestic violence is growing, human rights activists report. At the same time, due to the threat of the spread of coronavirus in a number of centers for victims of domestic violence, they temporarily stopped accepting new people. Public organizations switched to a remote mode of operation, and the police on March 27 suspended the personal reception of citizens in the departments. All this, according to public figures, leads to the fact that people who are subjected to violence by the household do not know where and whom to turn to.
After the end of the self-isolation regime, when the victims can leave the apartments in which they are now forced to live with tyrants, the number of calls to the police will increase significantly, human rights activists say.
“Because of the restrictive measures introduced in the regions, people do not fully understand how to act, what institutions work and in what mode,” explained the curator of the protection of women's and children's rights of the human rights organization “Zona Prava”, lawyer Valentina Frolova .
Over the ten days of the hotline, the lawyers of this organization received 35 reports of assault on women and children by household members. However, in only eight cases, the victims agreed to leave their contact details.
Before the regime of self-isolation, the organization received approximately 30 similar messages within two weeks, that is, the number of requests increased by more than one and a half times.
“The situation reaches the irreparable”
Experts believe that the number of victims of domestic violence actually exceeds the number of complaints received. For example, in the Vologda Oblast in the city of Sokol with a population of 37 thousand people, during the first week of self-isolation (from March 30 to April 5), the police received 70 reports of domestic violence from local residents.
“The peak occurred on the weekend - April 4 and 5, when up to five alarm calls were received in 15 minutes. All of them were worked out by our employees, who had to work in heavy duty, ”the city police said.
Most of the applicants, say public figures, refuse to write complaints to the police: more often they ask not for legal support, but for a consultation with a psychologist or temporary shelter.
A resident of the Sverdlovsk region told human rights activists that she, along with two young children, is being abused by her husband and his mother. According to the victim, the man suffers from alcoholism and in fits of rage he beats her and rivets her to the battery. The woman left with her children to live with her grandmother, but so far she did not go to the police.
“Some are not ready to go all the way to bringing the perpetrator to justice. Most simply describe the situation and on the offer of legal support they say: “Well, let's think about it.” Of course, every adult himself has the right to make a decision, but, based on our practice, I can say that when the situation reaches the irreparable, it’s not the victims themselves who are contacting us, but their relatives, ”said the representative of the“ Zone of Law ”human rights activist Bulat Mukhamedzhanov.
Diana Ramazanova, lawyer for the Crisis Center for Women, also speaks of an increase in the number of complaints of domestic violence.
“The number of calls to our psychologists has more than doubled, but as a lawyer, the number of calls has declined. The fact is that the victims, who turned to us even before isolation, now just had to leave the apartments where they live with their offenders. Instead, they have to postpone the move due to self-isolation, ”explained the interlocutor of RT.
According to Ramazanova, domestic violence is most often reported by women, although older people who suffer from beatings and insults from their own children or other relatives also face this problem.
The head of the psychological service of the Center “Violence.net” Tatyana Orlova believes that the level of domestic violence increases with increasing anxiety among the population.
“Many people have now lost their jobs, for the first time someone has been so close to their family - it happens that partners meet at home only at night, and now they spend days together. Aggressors who are used to using their partner to alleviate anxiety resort to psychological and physical abuse. In addition, people begin to drink to drown out negative emotions, and this only complicates the situation, ”the psychologist notes.
The best defense is to leave
To avoid the first or repeated case of domestic violence in conditions of self-isolation, it is important not to hide the fact that you or your loved ones are in danger from households. Human rights activists advise to warn neighbors and ask them to call the police if they hear cries for help or a long noise from your apartment. You can arrange with your loved ones about the code word, having received which by phone or SMS, they will call the police to your home.
Psychologist Tatyana Orlova believes that it is better to try to get away from the abuser.
“Life in an apartment with an aggressor is unpredictable - no one knows when it can go to violence. It’s better to keep money, phone and documents with you, and at the moment when you assume that you may become a victim of violence, respond very quickly and leave, ”she explains.
Despite the fact that the police temporarily suspended the personal reception of appeals from citizens in the departments, law enforcement officers are still obliged to respond promptly to statements about domestic violence - they can be submitted by phone or via the Ministry of Internal Affairs website.
“If a person leaves the house to get to the doctor and record the beatings, this is not a violation of the self-isolation regime,” explains lawyer Diana Ramazanova. “It is very important to report the violence to the police, because a forensic medical examination must be carried out to initiate an administrative or criminal case, and it is the police who issue a referral to it.”
If you have been attacked by a loved one, it is better to personally ask him to tell the police when visiting a doctor.
“According to the law, doctors are obliged to inform law enforcement officers that the patient’s injury was received as a result of the assault,” Ramazanova said.
On April 2, nine NGOs sent an official letter to the Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, in which they proposed the creation of a coordinating center for quick response to reports of violence by relatives who are in joint isolation.
“Human rights activists provide support to victims of violence, but the difficulty is that the country does not have a single center for this assistance. We propose that they become the Coordinating Council, which will be able to ensure the safety of people who report violence, and to assist in obtaining medical, psychological and legal assistance, ”said Valentina Frolova. “The relevant public organizations are ready to help create such a body, but without state support, we simply don’t have enough resources to provide quality support to the victims.”
The growth of assault in families due to forced self-isolation and quarantine measures swept around the world. French Interior Minister Christoph Castaner said on March 27 that in the first month of isolation, domestic violence rose by an average of 32% in the country and 36% in Paris.
The British national telephone service for victims reported that the number of such calls on Saturday in the first week of toughened quarantine increased by 65% compared to the same day a week earlier, when quarantine measures were less stringent. An increase in the number of reports was also announced by the National Domestic Violence Hotline in the USA.
In the Chinese province of Hubei, which became the epicenter of the spread of coronavirus, during February, when the population was in strict quarantine, the police received twice as many complaints of domestic violence compared to the same period last year. This was reported to reporters at the local women's assistance center.
The UN also recognized the problem, calling it global.
“In recent weeks, with increasing economic and social pressure and fear, we are witnessing a terrifying global outbreak of domestic violence,” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on April 5.
The international organization called on the governments of all countries to include in their national plans for the fight against coronavirus the provisions on preventing violence against women and redressing the damage caused by such violence.
Guterres stated the need to increase state support to specialized non-profit organizations and online support services, install emergency threat reporting systems in pharmacies and grocery stores, as well as equate shelters to life support facilities.
Community organizations where you can apply for support in case of domestic violence:
“Zone of Law”, +7 (917) 897-60-55 (WhatsApp, Telegram) - legal, informational, psychological support
Consortium of Women's NGOs, +7 (495) 690-63-48 - Women's Rights
Center "Violence.net" +7 (495) 916-30-00, firstname.lastname@example.org
Center "Sisters", +7 (499) 901 0201, email@example.com - psychological and informational support for survivors of sexual violence
Center against violence against women “ANNA”, +7 (800) 7000 600 - legal assistance to victims of domestic violence
Project “Legal Initiative”, +7 (499) 678-21-37, +7 (981) 713-20-83
Women's Crisis Center “Kitezh”, +7 (916) 920-10-30 (WhatsApp) - legal and psychological support, assistance in finding and renting housing
Mutual assistance network for women “TyNeOdna”, tineodna.ru, firstname.lastname@example.org
RPO "Crisis Center for Women", online reception crisiscenter.ru, +7 (812) 327-30-00, legal chat on WhatsApp: +7 (921) 303-08-20