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The French government on Monday announced new measures to protect victims of domestic violence after reports showed a sharp rise in abuse cases since a nationwide lockdown to slow the coronavirus outbreak went into effect last week.
Gender Equality Minister Marlene Schiappa said the government will pay for up to 20,000 hotel nights for domestic violence victims and open 20 pop-up counseling centers in grocery stores so women can seek help while leaving the house to go shopping.
“My biggest concern is to multiply the points of contact with women,” she told French daily Le Parisien on Sunday. “As it’s difficult for women to get out, we want to make sure that support systems can go to women.”
Since France ordered a strict lockdown on March 17, Minister of the Interior Christophe Castaner said the government has seen cases of domestic abuse soar 36 percent in Paris and 32 percent in other parts of the country, according to the paper.
A deserted street near the Gare de l’Est railway station during a nationwide confinement to counter the new coronavirus, in Paris on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Two of the cases were being investigated as murders, Reuters reported.
The initiatives included an alert system to be set up at pharmacies so that victims can discreetly ask the pharmacist for help, Castaner said.
The government will also provide 1 million euro ($1.1 million) for anti-domestic abuse organizations during this time of increased demand, Schiappa said.
The lockdown measures are expected to last until at least April 15. The strict orders still allow citizens to leave the house for essential needs such as buying food and medicines, along with exercise.
Since the quarantine measures, the number of coronavirus cases and deaths have continued to rise.
France reported 418 virus-related fatalities Monday, the largest single-day death toll to date, bringing the total to more than 3,000. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases rose to at least 45,232 as of Tuesday.