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Hotels should open their doors to domestic abuse victims during Covid-19 crisis, say campaigners

HOTELS should make their empty rooms available to women and children suffering domestic abuse during the coronavirus lockdown, campaigners said today.

Organisations are warning of a possible “epidemic” of abuse as social-distancing measures make it harder for women to flee conflict and coercion at home.

Southall Black Sisters, a charity that campaigns on gender-related violence, and cross-party organisation Compassion in Politics wrote to hotel chains urging them to offer refuge to abuse victims.

A woman who had contacted Southall Black Sisters said social-distancing measures would be “difficult and very stressful” for her family due to ongoing conflict with her partner.

Labour Birmingham Yardley MP Jess Phillips said hotels had an “opportunity to throw a lifeline to vulnerable women and children.”

But this would be no long-term solution, so the government must deliver emergency funding for women’s refuges, said Nicki Norman, acting co-chief executive of the Women’s Aid Federation of England.

Beverley Hughes, Greater Manchester’s deputy mayor for policing and crime, said on Thursday that there had been increased reports of abuse linked to the coronavirus lockdown.

Detective Chief Inspector Dan St Quintin of Cumbria Police has asked postal workers, delivery drivers, food delivery companies and carers who are still visiting to look out for signs of abuse to report to the authorities.

Labour’s shadow women and equalities secretary, Dawn Butler, called the rise in domestic violence “shocking” and said that the government should help those in danger.

“Women’s lives are in danger and it can’t be left to cash-strapped refuges and charities alone to support them,” she stressed.

“Refuge centres must be properly funded and access to specialist services should be available round the clock for those suffering.

“For those living with an abusive person, this is a terrifying time and we must do everything we can to support victims.”

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