COVID-19 Reports on Latin America and the Caribbean: No. 4 (en español)
Domestic violence in Paraguay is a social issue which impacts people from all socio-economic backgrounds. Based on the first survey on family issues looking specifically at gender, one in five people has suffered domestic violence in the country.
During the middle of the strict obligatory quarantine and the declaration of a health emergency in mid-March 2020 and until the lifting of restrictions at the beginning of May 2020, households became unsafe places for numerous women which resulted in victims of domestic violence. The Ministry of Women (Ministerio de la Mujer, in Spanish) acknowledged that the stress and economic difficulties, as a result of COVID-19, have increased the risk of violence at home.
Authorities from the Ministry of Public Health and Wellbeing, the National Police and the Ministry of Public Services have informed that cases of domestic violence, sexual abuse and violence towards women in general have all increased during the quarantine as it is registered in the high numbers of official complaints in these institutions.
In order to help and support victims of domestic violence, Paraguay has enacted legislation under the Law no. 1600/2000 on Domestic Violence and Law no. 5777/2018 on Protection to Women Against All Forms of Violence. Nonetheless, the mandatory lockdown has increased the risk of violent situations for victims which can’t leave their own households to make an official complaint. Victims and victimizers are at home together. They are unable to leave for work or for any other reason. Furthermore, it is both a complicated economic situation as well as a deteriorating mental health situation which contribute to increasing levels of risk and serve as detonators of domestic violence.
In combatting this situation, national authorities have agreed to create alternative mechanisms to protect victims and to mitigate the risks they endure. The Ministry of Women has led the creation of a protocol of prevention and warning towards women, victims/survivors of domestic violence and to tackle the particularly emergency situation during COVID-19. This new protocol aims to provide effective, fast and specialized responses to victims, and to help them access protection and counseling.
Government agencies together with the media have agreed to promote a campaign of awareness directed towards family, friends and neighbors in order to transform them into allies during the quarantine. This campaign aims to raise awareness about the importance of teaching the entire society how the cycle of violence works and how you can accompany the victims/survivors of violence during the lockdown and forced isolation.
For its part, the Ministry of Childhood and Adolescence is working on a campaign called We Are All Responsible (Todos Somos Responsables, in Spanish) in order to raise awareness about specific abuse targeting children and teenagers.
Quarantine and Femicide
In August 2020, the Observatory on Women, a sub agency within the Ministry of Women, informed that in the first semester of 2020, there has been a smaller amount of femicides compared to the same period last year.
Until June 2020, 15 cases of femicide have been registered. Despite these numbers, the Observatory on Women also concluded that the quarantine did have an impact because 6 victims of femicide were registered between January and March 10 (first day of the official national lockdown) and from March 11 to the end of June, there is an increase to 9 victims of femicide.
By Ruth Navarro