More abuse victims asked for help in Latvia last year

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Compared to the situation before the pandemic, last year the Resource Center for Women Marta has doubled its assistance to women affected by violence, including women from Ukraine, Iluta Lāce, head of the association Marta, told Latvian Radio in an interview on January 19.

The situation with violence remains critical in Latvia: women, children, young people, as well as men, are suffering from it. At the same time, more and more women are venturing for help, and a particular increase of 40% was seen during the Covid pandemic. Last year, the number of requests for assistance still rose.

Generally, the association provides assistance to 200-300 women per year, while in 2022 it was nearly 600 women throughout Latvia, mostly in Rīga, Rēzekne, and Liepāja.

“One of the factors is that they are more likely to seek help feeling that there is support in society and that they do not feel so much alone,” said Lāce.

At the same time, she said that assisting institutions still lack a common understanding of what constitutes violence. “The institutions that should help victims are still often on the side of the perpetrators of violence. That's what we see,” discovered Lāce.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has also contributed to the influx of customers, and the center Marta also helps women from Ukraine with psychological assistance.

The association also concluded that the subject of violence is very topical among young people. In a survey of minors, 56% of respondents acknowledged that they had suffered from violence. And in 60% of cases, these young people have not said anything about it and have done nothing.

According to Lāce, there is a similar trend among adults: approximately 60% of victims of violence do not report it and do not seek help. "It is therefore essential to encourage and support people at the same time as the person is seeking help. Because the fight for your rights, fairness, the cessation of violent relations is an extremely long-standing process, and it really needs supportive people,” said the head of the association.

In order to encourage and give assurance to victims of violence that they have not been left alone but will be spotted and heard, the information campaign “I will keep my eyes open” will be launched. The campaign's organizers stress that it is not uncommon for people who suffer from violent crimes to choose to remain silent. Therefore, others must be able to see those victims of violence who may not dare to ask for help.

 

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