At a time when the coronavirus is ravaging communities in every corner of the world, it appears COVID-19 presents far more problems than meet the eye.
Reports have surfaced in numerous countries of a dramatic increase in domestic violence complaints as more families find themselves secluded at home with little or no outlet for their worries and fears.
Domestic violence complaints in the Hubei Province of China, where the virus first appeared, have tripled, with 162 reports filed since a lockdown was imposed in February, compared to 47 complaints over the same period of last year.
"The epidemic has had a huge impact on domestic violence. According to our data, 90 of the domestic violence cases are related to the coronavirus," said Wan Fei, a police officer in Hubei.
Brazil has seen a 50% rise in domestic violence complaints since the Corona eruption with a significant increase in the number of women seeking restraining orders in recent weeks.
"There has been a 50% increase [in complaints of domestic abuse] and there is already a great demand for [battered women] shelters. We need to stay calm in order to overcome the difficulty facing us," said Adriana Mello, a judge who specializes in domestic violence cases in Rio de Janeiro. According to a report from Catalonia's Domestic Violence Assistance Center in Spain, there has been a 20% increase in calls for help over recent weeks. Even Cyprus has witnessed a 30% increase in domestic violence reports since the first coronavirus case was reported in the island nation on March 9.
"There has been a dramatic upsurge and since [the outbreak], the [amount of complaints] has only increased. We operate a special [family violence] line 24 hours a day, and calls have been coming in non-stop," said Anita Draka, of the Nicosia Family Violence Prevention Association. In Italy, the country hardest hit by the coronavirus thus far, authorities have reported a large number of severe violence complaints.
"One call came from a woman who'd locked herself in her bathroom and was begging for help. Since there is a national emergency right now, women can't get out of the house and it causes terrible distress," said Lella Paladino, president of the Women Against Violence organization in Italy.
In the UK, MPs have suggested giving police special authority to evict individuals for committing acts of violence against other family members and allowing courts to withdraw court fees for protection orders.