COVID-19 increases domestic violence in Venezuela

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Domestic violence figures on women and children in Venezuelan territory increased during confinement for COVID 19.

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Figures reveal that domestic violence against women and children has increased during the quarantine in Venezuela. / Photo: Pexels

LatinAmerican Post | Samy Pineda

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Leer en español: COVID-19 aumenta a violência doméstica na Venezuela

The organization Save The Children, whose focus is the promotion and defense of children's rights, released figures that reveal an increase in physical, sexual and emotional violence in Venezuelan homes at a time when Latin America is the focus of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Data from the organization that supports families within Venezuela and migrants in neighboring countries shows a 33% increase in demand for support for gender-based violence between March and May, with cases of sexual assault against children and psychological and physical violence against women by their partners. An increase of almost 80% in calls to their helplines and 62% in psychological first aid consultations reflect the situation that Venezuelan families are experiencing.

According to Save The Children, of all Venezuelan households surveyed, almost a third reported that the quarantine increased aggression and hostility against children in their home.

The situation in this nation before the pandemic was already worrisome, with the highest inflation rate in the world and a great shortage of food, medicine, drinking water and fuel oil. This situation has been exacerbated by the crisis and measures, such as border closures and confinement, that the coronavirus has left in its wake, creating more shortages, needs, and greater exposure of women and their children to abuse within the home.

The figures indicate that almost 90% of the protection workers interviewed in Venezuela said that "isolation and imposed curfews put children in a dangerous condition" and added that "the most prominent types of violence reported are: emotional violence (100%) such as shouting or neglect, physical violence (88%) and sexual violence (25%)" the organization concludes.

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According to the organization, these figures are probably only the tip of the iceberg, "domestic and gender-based violence is chronically underreported, and women and children are afraid to speak out for fear of reprisal and stigma". Moreover, being trapped in quarantine with your abusers is likely to make this trend worse.

For Victoria Ward, Save the Children's Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, "our teams are being informed about more and more children who suffer in silence behind closed doors". "The increase in violence is directly related to the deepening of the humanitarian crisis and the decrease in the options available to increasingly desperate families due to the coronavirus outbreak" explains the Director.

"It is unacceptable that many Venezuelan children have no refuge in this crisis. If they follow the rules and stay at home, they face abuse, says Ward, "when their homes should be the safest places," she concludes. 

In its publication, Save The Children points out that one of the priorities during the passage of the pandemic is the prevention of domestic and gender violence, designing concrete and immediate measures to mitigate the risk of abuse and ensure that all children and families can access these resources.