POPE Francis has said that world society had to stand behind female victims of domestic violence, as abuse levels have spiked upwards during the international Covid-19 lockdowns.
In Spain, calls to a helpline for victims of violence increased by 12.4 per cent in the first two weeks of the lockdown compared to the same fortnight last year.
Online consultations of the helpline’s website grew by 270 according to the Equality Ministry.
Pope Francis praised women in frontline roles in helping society deal with the crisis, as he mentioned doctors, nurses, police officers, prison guards and sales staff in stores selling essential goods.
Speaking from his official library on an Italian national holiday, Francis said: “Sometimes they (women) risk being victims of violence in a cohabitation that they bear like a weight that is far too heavy.”
“Let us pray for them, so the Lord grants them strength and that our communities support them along with their families,” he added.
In Italy, support groups said they were concerned that a sharp fall in official reports of domestic violence was a signal that women risked being even more exposed to control and aggression by a partner because victims have more difficulty communicating during a lockdown.