Neighbors keep vigilant watch over domestic violence
Domestic violence against women has been on the rise amid the coronavirus outbreak, but women hesitate to report abuses they suffer to authorities because they live in a confined space with their partners and fear that their partners may notice they’re being reported.
But, according to experts, neighbors are often ready to step in to call police or relevant authorities to report domestic violence cases.
Tensions between family members and couples have been running high as people are forced to spend more time together in their homes since the start of the outbreak and more and more women are subjected to domestic violence, say experts.
“Physical violence against women has risen 80 percent while the phycological abuse cases rose 93 percent,” Canan Güllü, the head of the Federation of Turkish Women Associations (TKF), told Milliyet newspaper.
Şükran Eroğlu from the Istanbul Bar’s Women’s Rights Center, agrees but noted that despite the rise in domestic violence cases, the number of calls legal helplines received has declined.
According to Eroğlu, when the partner is in the same house, women cannot contact authorities to report abuses.
Both Güllü and Eroğlu concede that calls from neighbors to report domestic violence have been on the rise.
“More women are also seeking refuge in shelters amid the coronavirus outbreak. However, we have seen a 96 percent drop in legal complaints over domestic abuses. Not only women but also children are calling us to report violence. When universities and dormitories were closed, students had to go back to their homes only to be faced with domestic violence,” Güllü said.
She added that her organization has not received sexual abuse reports and said that “It does not mean sexual abuse is not happening.”
Güllü explained that family practitioners and teachers inform them about sexual abuses. But since schools are closed, teachers cannot reach out to their students.
According to Güllü, calls from neighbors to report abuse and violence cases have increased during the outbreak. “We have worked very hard to encourage people to inform authorities about domestic violence around them,” she said.
Eroğlu, from the Istanbul Bar, agreed that neighbors are now keeping vigilant against domestic violence.
“Relatives, friends and neighbors are calling us. We are assigning a lawyer to follow the reported case and get protection orders from the authorities,” she noted.
She added that it has become more difficult to apply for divorce under the current circumstances.
“Since all hospitals are overwhelmed with the outbreak, we cannot easily obtain a doctor’s report confirming a person is battered in domestic violence. Some hospitals should be designated for this,” Erdoğlu said.