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Home / Articles / Around the World / Around the World: Domestic Violence on the Rise

Around the World: Domestic Violence on the Rise

China creates an offender database and the UK revamps its family courts

Around the World: Domestic Violence on the Rise

Domestic violence is a global issue, particularly during these challenging times. And as you’ll read here, the pandemic is negatively affecting domestic violence incidence rates. But it’s not all bad news. There are still people advocating—and effecting positive changes—for survivors. 

Increased Violence During the Pandemic

With many around the world still sheltering in place and millions facing dire economic and health situations stemming from COVID-19, domestic violence rates are on the rise. That’s according to the United Nations, which reports:

  • France has seen a 30 percent increase in DV reports since March 17.
  • DV-related emergency calls have risen by 25 percent in Argentina.
  • Calls to Singapore helplines have increased 33 percent. 
  • In New South Wales, Australia, 40 percent of frontline healthcare workers reported an increase in patients with domestic abuse-related injuries

The U.S. has experienced its share of startling figures as well. The Phoenix Police Department in Arizona says year-to-date domestic violence-related deaths were up 180 percent over the same time period in 2019, according to Fox 10 Phoenix. Police departments in several other major cities, including Boston, Mass.; Portland, Ore.; and Seattle, Wash.; reported double-digit increases in domestic violence-related arrests and reports since shelter-in-place orders were established, according to CNN.

In response to these and other unfavorable statistics, the UN produced a public service announcement titled The Shadow Pandemic. Voiced by actress Kate Winslet, the PSA asks people to check in on anyone they think might be in trouble and familiarize themselves with domestic violence hotline numbers. 

China’s Domestic Violence Offender Database

 In July, Yiwu, a city in China’s Zhejiang Province, launched a domestic violence database with the goal of reducing intimate partner violence between married couples. The database allows couples to run a background check on their partners to find out if they’ve previously been convicted of a domestic violence crime or the subject of a restraining order. 

There are, of course, loopholes in the system. It’s unclear if the database has information on people who live outside Yiwu, and as we know all too well, many abusers are never convicted of their crimes. It also requires that both parties agree to the search. Of course, if one party refuses, that could be telling in and of itself, Han Jin, a law lecturer at Harbin Engineering University, told The New York Times.

“If one party is unwilling to provide such information, then it might not be possible to submit an application,” he said in the interview. “But the rejection of that party would also be a wake-up call. If that person is not willing to let you check on that information, do they have something to hide?”

Read why advocates in the U.S. are wary about creating a similar database in the States in “Are Domestic Violence Offender Registries a Good Idea?

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Overhauling Family Courts in UK 

Following scathing reports of how domestic violence is handled in U.K. family courts, lawmakers introduced a bill proposing sweeping changes. The Domestic Abuse Bill aims to better protect victims of domestic violence by mandating:

  • Separate court entrances and waiting areas away from abusers, and screens to keep them out of view in the courtroom
  • Improved training for family justice employees
  • The ability for judges to issue barring orders in an effort to prevent abusers from continually filing court cases for the purpose of harassing their partners
  • The ability for judges to use discretion when granting visitation rather than presuming involvement by both parents in a child’s life is the best option

As of July 7, the bill had made it through the House of Commons and had been introduced to the House of Lords, according to