The number of victims of domestic violence perpetrated by partners or ex-partners has continued to rise in the second year of the pandemic. As research by WELT AM SONNTAG in interior ministries and state criminal investigation offices in the 16 federal states revealed, 160,921 victims were registered with the police last year. This corresponds to an increase of almost 1.3 percent compared to 2020. Two thirds of the victims recorded are women. But the number of unreported cases is large because many do not dare to press charges.
Federal Family Minister Lisa Paus (Greens) told WELT AM SONNTAG that the government wanted to “regulate access to protection and advice by federal law, create a uniform legal framework for reliable financial security for the support system and expand it as needed.” Despite the around 350 women’s shelters nationwide, 100 shelters and more than 600 advice centers the offer is insufficient. “That’s why we are continuing to expand women’s shelters and counseling centers together with the federal states and are making 120 million euros available from federal funds until 2024,” explained Paus.
When comparing the federal states, Thuringia recorded the strongest increase with 24 percent (3227 victims). Behind them come Lower Saxony (plus 12.9 percent, 22,405 victims) and the state of Bremen/Bremerhaven (plus 9.1 percent, 3018 victims). Saarland (minus 7.1 percent, 2653 victims) and Hamburg (minus 6.3 percent, 5058 victims) report the greatest decline.
North Rhine-Westphalia (plus 4.7 percent, 34,235 victims) is one of the eight federal states in which the numbers rose. State Family Minister Joachim Stamp (FDP) finds the renewed increase in the number of victims “shocking”. The corona pandemic with strict contact restrictions or quarantine periods would have increased the incidence of domestic violence. NRW has just developed a camouflage app behind which offers of help from the victim protection portal are hidden. “This gives victims access to it, even if their cell phones are checked,” says Stamp.
According to Maria Loheide, head of social policy at Diakonie, the reasons for the increase in domestic violence are complex. Fears of existence due to job loss and short-time work would have hit many people harder in the pandemic. “On top of that came living in cramped living conditions and homeschooling during the pandemic.” The President of the German Caritas Association, Eva Maria Welskop-Deffaa, says that the lack of affordable housing is exacerbating the problems. “Because the women can’t find an apartment, it makes it more difficult to separate from the violent partner, and it also delays moving out of the women’s shelters.”
Domestic violence includes murder, manslaughter, physical harm, rape, threats, stalking, deprivation of liberty and forced prostitution. So far, however, there is no uniform recording.
Most of the countries use figures from the police crime statistics (PKS), but a handful make special evaluations that go beyond that. As a result, the states show slightly higher numbers than the Federal Criminal Police Office, which only uses PKS numbers. They also show that the number of victims has risen steadily in recent years. The BKA will present its 2021 annual report on “partner violence” in autumn.
The chairman of the Conference of Interior Ministers (IMK), Joachim Herrmann (CSU), says: “We must further strengthen the measures to combat domestic violence and to protect the victims.” crimes directed against women”, which the IMK had used in June 2021. A corresponding nationwide situation report is planned for 2023.
Dirk Peglow, chairman of the Association of German Criminal Investigators (BDK), calls for “crimes motivated by the fact that women are inferior to men or that the perpetrators have a male claim to possession of women or the female body” to be classified as hate crimes. The BDK assumes that at least 20 percent of the victims of domestic violence are men. Their inhibition threshold to file a complaint is even higher than for women.
The annual report of the “Violence against Women” help line is expected to be presented at the end of May. This is available nationwide around the clock on 08000 116 016.