Russian experts warn of increase in domestic violence & other crimes during coronavirus quarantine
With people all around the world ordered to stay at home to protect themselves from Covid-19, focus has now switched to the potential side effects of so many being confined for an unknown period of time.
Many of the downsides to self-isolation are also clear, including loneliness, potential mental health problems, and the inevitability of an increase in families who can’t make ends meet. However, another issue is also front-and-center in the era of pandemic panic – domestic violence. Experts fear that, due to less work and more time spent on the domestic front, incidents could surge.
In yesterday’s address to the nation, President Vladimir Putin encouraged Russians to stay at home. With public events canceled, as well as the closures of cafes, restaurants, and parks, many Russians will comply.
This means that violence in the home could become a big issue. Human rights defenders in Russia have long drawn attention to the fact that the longer national holidays – such as the one-week New Year holiday – see a dramatic increase in violence cases. According to lawyer Marie Davtyan, head of the Center for the Protection of Victims of Domestic Violence, life in isolation poses a similar threat.
“This is the first time we are facing a quarantine, but, of course, the situation [with domestic violence], in my opinion, will worsen,” she told Moscow daily Izvestia. “A person prone to violence is constantly with a potential victim. The aggressor cannot be distracted by other problems and affairs. He continually focuses on the object of violence. And the victim has no way to escape the company of her tormentor.
“Based on our observations, most often, a woman who has suffered from aggression leaves her home during the period when her husband is at work or on a business trip – in these moments, she has a chance to leave safely,” she explained. According to Davtyan, those potential victims are now stuck in a situation in which they will be afraid to leave the house.
The lawyer also explained that domestic violence is generally committed by people who have a lack of self-control and relieve stress through aggression. She warned that the current situation, including the loss of income, unemployment, and canceled holiday plans, may turn potential aggressors into actual abusers. Davtyan recommends that those who are quarantined with an aggressor remain in constant communication with friends and family who are ready to help.
Criminologists believe that Covid-19 will not only affect domestic violence rates but a whole range of crimes – especially if quarantine drags on.
“It is very important to see how the quarantine situation will affect job cuts,” Alexander Teokharov, a professor at Omsk Police Academy, told Izvestia. “We can expect more criminal activity from people who have lost their source of income due to quarantine, especially if it affects vulnerable groups of the population, like migrants.”
If the situation develops and quarantine lasts for a long time, Teokharov believes there will be an increase in robberies. “It is highly probable that the number of petty thefts from supermarkets will increase,” he said.
A Moscow police source, talking to Izvestia on condition of anonymity, said there have been noticeably fewer complaints recently. The officer hypothesized that self-isolation has meant more people are worried that their neighbors might hear or witness their crimes. “And not without reason,” he said, “people really call and report those neighbors who are coughing, ill, and those who have returned from foreign trips.”