In collaboration with Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey, singer Rihanna has donated $2.1m to the Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles to provide the necessary support to victims of domestic violence who have been at increased risk during the coronavirus lockdown.
Through her Clara Lionel Foundation, Rihanna has donated enough money to cover “10 weeks of support, including shelter, meals and counseling” for families and individuals affected by the increase in domestic violence in the Los Angeles area, according to The Guardian.
Since confinement was adopted as a means of preventing the massive spread of the aggressive virus, organizations and domestic violence advocates have warned of other underlying public health crises, such as violence, abuse, and neglect.
UN Secretary General António Guterres, who has made feminism and gender equality a key issue in his administration, wrote on Twitter on April 6: “Many women under lockdown for #COVID19 face violence where they should be safest: in their own homes. I urge all governments to put women’s safety first as they respond to the pandemic.”
In cities like Los Angeles, for example, organizations like the Jenesse Center in South Los Angeles, the The Los Angeles Times last month, “The lockdown was a worst-case scenario for anyone in an abusive relationship: Compound that with the fact that access to services is more difficult than ever.”
The consequences were evident almost immediately: Since the pandemic exploded in China, the increase in reports of domestic violence has grown at the same rate in every country that has had to quarantine its population.
In Spain, calls to emergency numbers have increased by 18 percent, according to the New York Times.
“We’ve been getting some very distressing calls, showing us clearly just how intense psychological as well as physical mistreatment can get when people are kept 24 hours a day together within a reduced space,” said Ana Bella, who set up a foundation to help other women after surviving domestic violence herself.
In France, the increase has been 30 percent throughout the territory, and 36 percent in the capital.
In Italy, organizations like Eva Cooperativa, an association that provides support to abused women, told NBC News they had been “flooded with emails and WhatsApp messages from victims.”
In the United States, currently the epicenter of the pandemic, the situation is not much different.
Since the first days of March, law enforcement agencies across the country have reported an increase in domestic violence complaints, adding up to 300 more calls than during the month of February, according to NBC News.
Rihanna and Dorsey said in a statement announcing the donation, “Victims of domestic violence exist all over the world, so this is just the beginning.”