Kirsten Lühmann: EU COVID-19 response must address domestic violence

A surge in domestic violence becomes an increasingly worrying adverse effect of the confinements and lockdowns that we find ourselves in during the unfolding COVID-19 crisis. The President of CESI’s Commission on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, Kirsten Lühmann, calls on the European Commission to address this as a matter of urgency in its overarching EU response to COVID-19.

Responding to findings of the EU’s gender equality and fundamental rights agencies EIGE and FRA published yesterday, Kirsten Lühmann said: “What we have feared and predicted at the outset of the crisis is being confirmed: The COVID-19 crisis has an important negative impact on women and gender equality, and particularly worrying is an observed spike in domestic violence during the current lockdowns and confinements in many Member States. Together with job and financial uncertainties in many households, COVID-restrictions seem to lead to stress levels in families which result in violence.”

She added: “In early March, just before the Coronavirus hit Europe hard, we stated our appreciation to the European Commission’s new Gender Equality Strategy for the years 2020 t0 2025. We were particularly encouraged to see a more ambitious European agenda than during the previous years and clear objectives especially for the fight against domestic violence.”

“As the EU institutions have shifted their agenda totally -and rightly so- to the acute management of the COVID-19 crisis, the EU response to the crisis must not only be about financial and economic alleviations. It must include a dedicated social dimension and in particular seek to ensure the safety and security of women. More than before, the EU Gender Equality Strategy must be implemented. In the European Commission’s response to the COVID-crisis, domestic violence must not fall off the table and become collateral damage of the crisis. The European Commission must bring the findings of its specialist agencies EIGE and FRA to the table”, she concluded.