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'Horrifying surge in domestic violence' against women amid coronavirus lockdowns, UN chief warns

A group of women paste the word "violence" onto a street wall, part of a protest to draw attention to domestic violence, Paris, France, October 2019.
A group of women paste the word "violence" onto a street wall, part of a protest to draw attention to domestic violence, Paris, France, October 2019. Copyright Kamil Zihnioglu/AP
Copyright Kamil Zihnioglu/AP
By Alasdair Sandford with AP
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UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres says many women and girls are threatened and appeals for "peace at home" amid the pandemic.

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The head of the United Nations has appealed for "peace at home" as he described a "horrifying global surge in domestic violence" against women, linked to government-imposed lockdowns amid the coronavirus pandemic.

After making repeated for ceasefires in conflicts around the world, António Guterres pointed out that violence is not confined to the battlefield.

"For many women and girls, the threat looms largest where they should be safest: in their own homes”, the UN Secretary General said.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, the United Nations had warned that a third of women around the world experienced some form of violence in their lives.

Now, as lockdowns are imposed in many countries restricting movement, added to the social and economic stresses brought by the crisis, the UN says the number of women and girls facing abuse has increased in almost all countries.

"Today I appeal for peace in homes around the world. I urge all governments to put women’s safety first as they respond to the pandemic," António Guterres added on Twitter.

The UN chief noted that as resources became stretched to deal with the coronavirus, services for victims of violence were reduced.

"I urge all governments to make the prevention and redress of violence against women a key part of their national response plans for COVID-19," Guterres said.

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