Domestic violence and confinement
Public Ministry reported that domestic violence complaints in the last two months (March and April) compared to the same period in 2019, had come down 43.6%.
According to statistics, between March and April last, 1,627 complaints were filed in the country (1,109 and 518, respectively), while last year they totaled 2,888 (1,380 and 1,508, respectively).
If the first quarter is analyzed, the reduction in cases falls to 16.2%, based on the fact that 4,710 are reported between January and April 2020, compared to 5,627 last year.
The director of Protection of Women's Rights of the Ombudsman's Office, Jennifer Delgado, attributed the decrease in complaints of domestic violence to the obstacles that women may be facing to raise their cases before the corresponding authorities.
The situation worries Delgado after the decision taken by the Health authorities to lift the dry law, that is, the prohibition of the purchase of liquor. The decree that lifted the prohibition on the purchase and sale of liquor - in force since March 24 - was enacted on May 8.
Delgado expressed that, as the Ombudsman, they understand that there may be sectors that consider lifting this restriction as a favorable measure for the economy. However they cannot help expressing their concern about the impact that this decision may have on vulnerable populations, against domestic violence, such as women, children and adolescents, as well as older and disabled adults.
Delgado indicated that, although the consumption of alcoholic beverages is not the cause of domestic violence, sexual violence and femicides, "it can increase the risk of assaults."
She added that a home in which there were already manifestations of verbal and psychological violence, with the consumption of alcohol, these can turn into physical violence.
She added that in the case of sexual crimes, in the first four months of the year there were 1,527 complaints, while in the same period last year 2,057 were registered.
However, femicides reflected an increase. In the first four months of 2019, 3 were registered and in 2020, 4 were reported.
Women's rights activist Joyce Araujo said that at this time of confinement there are many women at risk. She warned that many situations of domestic violence, including attempted rape and attempted homicides, must be occurring during the quarantine, which are not reported because the protection mechanisms announced by the authorities are not effective.
Araujo stated that the decision of the authorities to lift the dry law in itself is not what affects or not the violence that women experience, because male violence is a cultural issue.
She said that the issue of alcohol consumption and violence must be analyzed from a macro point of view, because not all men who consume alcohol end up starring in episodes of violence.
For Araujo, men who have anger management problems and, in addition, have macho and violent behaviors with their partners, ex-partners or with women in general, represent a risk for them and for their families.
Recently, some 17 organizations defending the human rights of women in Panama expressed their concern that the measures adopted by the health authorities to contain the spread of the SARS-Cov 2 virus leave vulnerable women who are at risk of domestic violence.
The organizations stated that the general call to the population to stay at home is exactly the reason for concern for those women, adolescents and girls who live in situations of violence in their homes; since it increases the risks of aggressions, since they will be in direct coexistence with their aggressor, a situation that places them in high physical and mental vulnerability.