Police said on Friday the Covid-19 pandemic had not caused a significant increase in domestic violence reports, despite claims to the contrary.
Two political parties had called on the government on Thursday to protect women during the lockdown, saying there had been an increase in cases.
According to the statistics, although there was an increase between February 13 and March 13, with reports clocking at 301 compared with 283 for the same period last year, police said the increase was not due to the lockdown, which had begun on March 16.
A criminologist at the domestic violence and child abuse office Kyriaki Labrianidou shared the unofficial police data on domestic violence and child sexual harassment reports for this year with the Cyprus News Agency. She compared them with last year’s reports, concluding the figures did not increase significantly due specifically to the stay-home order.
Lambrianidou explained that investigations into domestic violence increased slightly throughout 2020 so far after police chief Kypros Michaelides instructed the force to look into reports even if the victim was not pressing charges.
Citing the stats, she said reports of domestic violence between March 13 and April 13, most of which was lockdown time, had reached 245 compared with 233 during the same period last year.
“Police are investigating all reports of domestic violence and proceed when required to issuing arrest warrants and detention orders as well as restraining orders for abusers in order to better protect domestic violence victims,” she said.
Police are also investigating easier ways for victims to be able to report their abusers, taking advantage of the technology available. An app is expected to launch so that victims have direct access to the police through their smart phones.
Cases involving child sexual abuse also decreased during the lockdown, Lambrianidou said. During the same period last year, police had investigated 29 such cases compared with 13 for the period this year.
Incidents of sexual harassment of children on the internet also fell slightly to 18 this year, from 19 last year for the same period.
The police website will upload the official data at the end of the year.
Victims can call the citizen’s line 1460, the direct phone lines of police stations, the office of domestic violence management at 22808442 and if they are in immediate danger they should call 112 or 119.
Meanwhile, the association for the Prevention and Handling of Family Violence (Spavo) is hosting 65 women and children who were removed from their homes to protect them from their abusers, it said. The association found alternative hosting places for those people abiding by the protective measures against the coronavirus.
To protect women who face domestic violence, Spavo also purchased 35 smart watches with a safety alarm system.