NOW: COVID-19 quarantines may increase intimate partner violence
National Organization of Women
A call has come from the National Organization of Women (NOW) for Barbadian households to be even more vigilant at this time regarding issues of sexual violence and abuse.
As social distancing is being enforced and more Barbadians are being urged to stay indoors to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus, NOW believes that times of crisis can result in heightened cases of abuse and intimate partner violence.
President Marsha Hinds-Layne outlined the organization's concerns in a recent statement:
"Research and experience show an increase in sexual abuse, domestic violence and intimate partner violence against women and girls during crises. As we continue to move through the various stages of the national plan to combat COVID-19 the National Organization of Women takes this opportunity to remind women, girls and children, who may be affected by acts of sexual violence, domestic abuse or intimate partner abuse that help remains available and accessible."
Hinds-Layne also went on to explain that abuse can be classified as physical acts of violence such as hitting or cuffing, acts involving weapons, as well as emotional abuse: teasing, taunting, threats. She also pointed to forced sexual activity including kissing, fondling or intercourse as an area of concern.
Financial abuse, Hinds-Laynes said, can also present itself during these crisis times through acts of withholding food or supplies needed to prepare meals and withholding access to funds for a dependent.
NOW also urged parents to be mindful about the care of their children at this time, ensuring they are left with trusted caregivers. Employers were also reminded to assist employees in areas of childcare where possible, as school has been closed early.
"Home is not a safe place for many people and while we implore people to follow the national guidelines we also ask communities to look out for the vulnerable, women, girls, children, the differently-abled and elderly. Say something if you see or hear something. Listen to information from trusted media sources only, wash your hands and stay safe."
NOW encouraged persons who may have information regarding instances of violence or abuse to report it to the nearest police station or through the emergency hotline, 211.
They can also call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-8477, the BPW Crisis hotline at 435-8222 or 253-5071.
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