Malta’s Foundation for Social Welfare Services (Appoġġ) has confirmed it is conducting risk assessments into whether quarantine measures could lead to increased rates of domestic violence.
“We have emergency measures in place. We are prepared to face such a situation,” the Foundation’s CEO Alfred Grixti told Lovin Malta.
He said the Foundation is closely following the government’s actions in light of the coronavirus outbreaks and have contingency plans for potential future developments in relation to quarantine measures.
“Staff are offering to take on longer shifts at the residencies,” he said. “In case of lockdown, we will continue to provide services and shelter for those in our programmes.”
The agency runs eight shelters, seven of which are for protected children and one dedicated to victims of domestic abuse.
Activists in countries of outbreaks have warned of COVID-19-induced measures of quarantine leading to a surge in domestic violence rates.
“The epidemic has had a huge impact on domestic violence. According to our statistics, 90% of the causes of violence are related to the Covid-19 epidemic,” an anti-violence activist in China has said in an interview.
Local activists and organisations have have also raised their concerns on these secondary effects of the pandemic and warn of a similar fate hitting Malta in the future.
Malta Gay Rights Movement activist Alex Caruana has called for the setting up of a response team for domestic abuse in light of the quarantine measures.
“With a lockdown, the perpetrators will spend more time with their victims so violence will increase,” he warned.
Local feminist youth organisation Young Progressive Beings also shared their concerns.
“In light of the recent spike in the rates of domestic violence due to the pandemic, we expect vigilance and protection at all costs from the authorities for victims. The government must unequivocally ensure that women who require a safe space from their perpetrators are given the resources and help that they need,” they said.
If you are experiences domestic violence, please call Appoġġ on 179