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UN urges governments to protect women from domestic violence during coronavirus lockdowns

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called on governments to protect women during coronavirus lockdowns Source: Archive Photos

The UN has called on governments around the world to increase their protections for women as domestic violence figures surge amid global coronavirus lockdowns.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged governments to include the protection of women in their response to the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

Reports of domestic violence have surged globally in the wake of massive lockdowns imposed to contain the spread of the disease.

"Violence is not confined to the battlefield," said Mr Guterres in a statement and video released in multiple languages, days after his call for a worldwide ceasefire in the wake of the outbreak.

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

Describing the rise in domestic violence as "horrifying," he urged all governments "to make the prevention and redress of violence against women a key part of their national response plans for COVID-19".

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 percent increase in internet searches relating to support for domestic violence victims.

Mr 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."

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others and gatherings are limited to two people unless you are with your family or household.

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, family or domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.

If you believe you may have contracted the virus, call your doctor (don’t visit) or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

If you are struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000. SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments.

News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

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