French Domestic Abuse Survivors To Be Put Up In Hotels During Quarantine
Officials in France have announced a plan to assist domestic abuse victims after figures showed the number of abuse cases soared during the first week of the country’s lockdown to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
Gender Equality Minister Marlene Schiappa made the announcement on Saturday, March 28, following a 36% increase in the number of domestic abuse cases reported to police in Paris and 32% elsewhere in France.
The plan includes the government paying for 20,000 hotel bookings for victims of domestic violence, contributing €1 million (£881,000) to organisations that fight domestic abuse, and setting up assistance points at supermarkets and pharmacies across the country.
In an official statement announcing the plan, Schiappa’s office stated that the enforced home confinement many around the world are currently experiencing as a result of COVID-19 ‘can unfortunately generate fertile ground for domestic violence’.
France entered a confinement period on March 17, when Prime Minister Édouard Philippe put the country on lockdown and banned anyone from leaving their home except in the following circumstances: to buy food or medication; to visit a doctor; to exercise; or walk a pet.
Last week, he announced the government would be extending the country’s lockdown until April 15 at the earliest, saying, as per France 24: ‘After these first 10 days of confinement, it is clear that we are just at the beginning of this epidemic wave.’
While these actions are absolutely necessary if we hope to flatten the curve and slow the spread of COVID-19, Schiappa said the quarantine measures will undoubtedly lead to a surge in domestic violence and make it harder for victims to seek help.
In an interview on French news channel BFM TV on Tuesday, March 31, Schiappa drew attention to some other concerning figures: the country’s anonymous hotline number for domestic abuse, 3919, has seen a 30% increase in calls since the beginning of the COVID-related lockdown.
As such, the Gender Equality Minister’s plan will also provide support to the hotline, as well as making an extra 1,000 spaces in women’s shelters available. ‘My biggest concern is to multiply the points of contact with women. As it’s difficult for women to get out, we want to make sure that support systems can go to women,’ Schiappa told French newspaper Le Parisien.
According to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University, there have so far been 52,870 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in France and 3,532 deaths – the third highest reported number of deaths after Italy and Spain.
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Towards real equality between women and men