Go to main navigation Navigation menu Skip navigation Home page Search

Domestic violence has increased by 60% - alarming consequences of the pandemic

As governments around the globe are continuing to enforce contagion management strategies to limit the spread of COVID-19, many experts are voicing their concerns about a different kind of pandemic. Alarming reports have surfaced from a wide range of countries suggesting significant increases in domestic violence, including one of its most prevalent forms – intimate partner violence.

In Europe, the number of intimate partner (IPV) emergency calls has increased by 60%, according to the UN’s regional director of Europe. In the Hubei province of China, a police department reported three times as many domestic violence (DV) cases in February 2020 compared to the same month in 2019. In El Salvador, 95% of local and government DV support services closed due to the pandemic, while reports show that the demand for such services among women increased by 70%. Reduced social interaction and mobility, high rates of unemployment, and restricted access to support services are just some indirect consequences of the pandemic that are likely to exacerbate DV.

At the same time, data from other countries have suggested the opposite trends. In the Italian region of Lombardy, the number of women requesting support services decreased, although the region was one of the most severely hit by the pandemic. While DV hotlines in the US anticipated increases in calls for support, some regions experienced a 50% decline. Many have stressed that these trends have a much darker side – underreporting. Measures aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19, as well as the fear of getting infected, force victims to stay at home in direct contact with their abusive partner, limiting their ability to report on the violence, and restricting access to support services such as women’s shelters.

As much as pandemic-related trends in DV have heightened the concerns about the well-being of victims and increased the need for sufficient and adequate policies, the unique settings created by the pandemic have offered new opportunities for researchers to better understand the underlying causes of DV.

This policy brief is the second part in a series of two briefs summarizing the research presented at the online workshop “Economic Perspectives on Domestic Violence”, organized as part of the Forum for Research on Gender Economics (FROGEE). The current brief offers an overview of the presentations that specifically studied the implications of the Covid-19 crisis for domestic violence. The remaining research presented at the workshop is addressed in the first policy brief of this series. Read the continuation of part two here!


SITE Crime Gender Inequality COVID-19 Equality Policy brief