Domestic violence during coronavirus pandemic

Around 3 percent of women in Germany were subject to physical violence at home during the strict lockdown period and 3.6 percent were raped by their partner. In 6.5 percent of all households, children were subjected to violent forms of punishment. These are some of the results of the first major representative survey on domestic violence during the coronavirus pandemic, a project by TUM and the RWI – Leibniz Institute for Economic Research. In cases where women were in quarantine or families suffered from financial insecurity, the figures were significantly higher. Only a very small percentage of the women concerned made use of support services.

While restrictions on movement and physical distancing rules were in place to fight the coronavirus pandemic, there were growing concerns that women and children could be exposed to domestic violence. However, because not all victims contact the police or support services, the actual dimensions of the problem remained unknown.

Janina Steinert, Professor of Global Health at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and Dr. Cara Ebert of the RWI – Leibniz Institute for Economic Research, therefore conducted an online survey on the experiences of around 3,800 women between the ages of 18 and 65. The study is representative for Germany in terms of age, education, income, household size and place of residence. The women were asked about the preceding month between April 22 and May 8 2020, i.e. the period in which the strictest social distancing rules were in effect. To address the possibility that some of the respondents might be too embarrassed to give truthful answers, the researchers used a recognized method of indirect questioning for highly stigmatized forms of violence, e.g. sexual violence.

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