An Enugu-based NGO, Women Aid Collective (WACOL) has urged Nigerian families to shun altercations that may lead to domestic violence during the lockdown occasioned by the Coronavirus pandemic ravaging the world.
The Executive Director of WACOL, Prof Joy Ezeilo made the call in a statement she issued in Enugu on Thursday.
According to her, during this pandemic, as much as you can, avoid altercations with your spouse.
“There is need for proper education and sensitisation on COVID -19 and the essence of looking out for each other; being and working together instead of being at loggerheads.
“Victims/survivors should identify the safest place in the house and hide if they feel threatened or are being abused or violated.
“Tolerance, endurance and love should be the slogan of all. Avoid sharp objects during an argument. Understand that this lockdown is temporary and you will get your space back when it is over,” she said.
Ezeilo encouraged people to find productive things to engage them while at home or in self-isolation including teaching children good values, online businesses and classes, embracing self-development opportunities among other activities.
The executive director also urged people to look out for the vulnerable and the less privileged people around and honestly care for them.
“It is important for us to understand that the most dangerous place in the world for women in abusive relationships during this pandemic is their homes.
“We envisage a rise in violence against women and girls as lockdown consequences of COVID- 19. Can you imagine situations where couples who can’t stand each other are now forced to look at each other’s faces 24 hours a day, seven days of a week and weeks undetermined?
“In addition, COVID-19 has created unprecedented anxiety, job insecurity, no work, no pay, food shortages and cash flow problems.
“People now resort to all manner of things for fun and consolation. Some men and even women now rely greatly on harmful drugs and alcohol,” she said.
Ezeilo, an onetime UN Rapporteur on Human Trafficking, disclosed that some countries like the US, China and Europe had started witnessing high rate of domestic violence since the spread of COVID-19.
“Unarguably, part of the unintended consequences of this Coronavirus pandemic is a spike in domestic violence-related cases. Facts and figures are already emerging that this is becoming globally a hot issue of focus.
“In the United States, there is an increase in the purchase of weapons. In China, Jiayun Fung has narrated the story of a 42-year-old wan surnamed Li who leapt to her death from the 11th floor of her apartment building in Shanxi province.
“The local police announced her suicide and that her husband had physically abused her while in quarantine together,” she said.
According to the Founder of WACOL and Tamar Sexual Assault Referral Centre, the world must respond promptly to avoid exacerbation of pandemic upon another pandemic of sexual and gender-based violence against women.
The director said that WACOL was offering free legal aid, counselling, and psychosocial support to women and girls in difficult circumstances through its hotlines, phone consultations and virtual sessions.