Coronavirus: A Jordanian woman pleads for help as domestic abuse cases rise globally

Eman al-Khatib, the Jordanian woman who was abused by members of her family. (Screengrab)

In a video that has since gone viral, a Jordanian woman pleads for help after a nationwide coronavirus lockdown trapped her with her abusive family.

“My son and I are always hit, and they kept threatening to report me if I run away,” a tearful Eman al-Khatib said.

Despite losing her job and being unable to find a new one due to the restrictions on movements in Jordan, the 36-year-old said that she could no longer escape the abuse inflicted on her by her mother and brothers.

In the video, al-Khatib called on authorities and women’s rights activists to take action and stop the violence that she had suffered from for years.

Since the video was posted, the Jordanian Women’s Union managed to get al-Khatib and her son out of their abusive home.

Al-Khatib’s case mirrors the stories of dozens of women across the world as the global pandemic leaves victims of domestic violence stuck at home and more vulnerable to abuse, with a rise in the number of reported cases.

France, Spain report rise in cases, launch initiatives

“Confinement is a breeding ground for domestic violence,” France’s Secretary of Equality Marlene Schiappa said in an interview with Le Parisian newspaper on March 28.

In France, the number of reported domestic abuse cases increased by 36 percent, according to the Minister of Interior.

Also read: Coronavirus could have long-term mental health consequences: Yale doctors

The government has since launched an initiative to help victims of abuse, featuring a new hotline to provide support and a website in case people cannot speak on the phone.

The initiative also outlined code words that women could use at pharmacies to notify staff if they needed help without drawing attention to their abuser or anyone else.

The idea of the using code words to notify authorities in France came after Spain and the Canary Islands had advised people who were being abused to ask for “mask 19” at pharmacies if they want the police to be called.

Spain’s Ministry of Equality reported that calls to the government’s gender violence helpline increased by 12.4 percent in the first two weeks of the lockdown.

Meanwhile, online consultations on the helpline’s website rose by 270 percent, the ministry added.

UN Secretary-General urges global fight

“Violence is not confined to the battlefield,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement and video published on his official Twitter page.

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

In India, the nationwide lockdown has made women increasingly vulnerable to abuse. Data from the National Commission for Women showed that 257 complaints were made from March 24 until April 1 related to various offences against women. It includes 69 complaints directly related to domestic violence.

Guterres urged governments to set up emergency warning systems in pharmacies and groceries to help “women to seek support, without alerting their abuser.”

“Together, we can and must prevent violence everywhere, from war zones to people’s homes, as we work to beat COVID-19.”

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Last Update: 06:57 KSA 09:57 - GMT 06:57
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