Due to the current developments with the COVID-19 virus, on 11 March our Government adopted additional measures and recommendations for all citizens in the country and announce a state of emergency for a period of 30 days. One of the main recommendations for preventing the spread of the virus is that all citizens stay home.
The National Network to End Violence against Women and Domestic Violence expresses its concern in these times as the home is not a safe place for many women victims of domestic and intimate-partner violence. With these measures, women-victims of violence and their children (if they have any) are put in a very difficult and sometimes life-threatening position. In a country under a state of emergency, children stay at home for the entire day. All cafes, restaurants, bars and betting shops are closed, leaving people with limited options for socializing. Friends are at home with their families, and all places where people could channel their aggression are closed. All that is left are the wife/partner, the children and the parents.
It is a well-known fact that one of the main triggers of domestic violence is the need to exert power and control over others. In this situation when we all feel more or less scared for losing control over our own lives, violent persons will try to regain their control through their victims. The state of emergency may not necessarily lead to an increase in the number of domestic violence cases (although it is not unlikely), but it will certainly lead to an increase in the intensity of the violence in the marriages and partnerships where it is already present. The victim has nowhere to go, cannot escape the perpetrator by going to work or at friends’, and she is exposed to violence throughout the day.
The state of emergency makes victims’ access to services for help and protection more difficult. Medical institutions are fighting to respond to the Coronavirus challenge, the health system has limited capacities, the centers for social work operate via telephone calls, which taken together makes victims’ access to protection more difficult.
We are calling upon all competent institutions – the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Health, regardless of the current situation, to act professionally with regard to all reports of domestic violence and to undertake all measures at their disposal in order to protect victims and their children (if they have any). All calls for reporting domestic violence must be treated as the highest priority and all measures for protection must be undertaken.
We are encouraging all women who are suffering any form of domestic or intimate-partner violence to report the same to the institution/organization in the place where they live. Below is a list of existing services by towns.