There have been a high number of reports of domestic violence during the coronavirus lockdown, the justice ministry said on Thursday, saying that a total of 990 cases were reported between March 13 when coronavirus measures started to be implemented and July 6 when they were eased.
The figure for just those four months was not far off the total number of reported incidents for the whole of last year.
The high number of reported cases is clearly a problem, Justice Minister Emily Yiolitis has said.
“The justice minister is in constant touch with women’s organisations to see what can be done,” spokeswoman Rona Michaelidou commented on Thursday.
Police statistics show that the number of reported incidents for the whole of 2019 was 1,161, of which 26 were sexual, 779 bodily and 356 psychological.
According to the justice ministry, police are looking into setting up special units in all cities which will deal exclusively with issues of domestic violence.
At the same time, representatives of the ministry and police are actively involved in the creation of a Women’s House, an interdisciplinary centre for the immediate and effective response to incidents of violence against women by all professionals involved in this matter.
Among the services which will be provided to victims of violence as part of the Women’s House are counselling in order to help victims to take responsibility for their professional, personal and family lives and to make the best decisions for their own future, encouraging women to break out of isolation, to understand that they are not alone and that they are not responsible for the violence they suffer and individual psychosocial counseling support.
Taking into account the possible effects of the restrictive measures and the pandemic in general on the issues of domestic violence, police have also accelerated the procedures for the use of a special application which will enable the victims of domestic violence who are in danger to immediately inform police.
“The processes for the implementation of this action are in progress in close cooperation with a telecommunications company that undertook the issue,” Michaelidou said.
An Unficyp report earlier this year warned of the effects of the coronavirus on domestic violence.
“In any crisis, domestic violence gets worse, and Covid-19 is no exception,” Unficyp reported on May 20. “Measures taken against the pandemic are inevitably producing conditions highly conducive to domestic abuse. Isolation, alongside with health and economic problems that pile up, caused globally an upsurge of violence against women and girls. The same is true for the whole of Cyprus.”
“According to civil society sources, incidents of domestic violence in the Greek Cypriot community increased by 58 per cent since the lockdown, that is, from the middle of March till the 22nd of April 2020.”