Domestic violence increased significantly in Germany during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the victim support organization Weisser Ring.
"We have seen an increase of about 10% in domestic violence in 2020, and even 20% since 2018. And we will probably reach the 2020 level again this year," Joerg Ziercke, who heads Weisser Ring, told German press agency dpa.
The group's volunteers handled around 17,000 cases in 2020. "Twenty-six percent are sexual offenses," Ziercke noted.
He said the group's work confirmed the prediction that domestic violence would increase as a result of the pandemic and related curbs.
A few weeks after the 2020 and 2021 lockdowns, he said, calls increased as people suffering domestic violence reached out for help.
He said the group was receiving more calls and providing counseling online. Calls grew by some 20% from 2019 to 2020, he said, with the number rising by about 4,000 to around 22,000. He predicted a similar increase this year.
The group provided 3,350 online consultations, twice as many in 2020 as in 2019, he said, predicting a further increase of up to 10% this year.
Some 80% of the victims of domestic violence are women, up 5% since 2020, Ziercke said, pointing to the difficulties of living at home in close proximity during lockdowns.
The trends are confirmed by police statistics, which recorded a 15% increase to 150,000 crimes last year.
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