Reported by The Courier – the news we share raises awareness of equality issues being reported in the media.

Women’s rights campaigners across the north-east and Tayside are preparing themselves for an expected increase in domestic abuse calls as fears are raised about coronavirus restrictions.

Scottish Women’s Aid said the nation “must not lose sight” of the specific challenges for children and women experiencing domestic abuse in the midst of the pandemic.

The organisation has stressed that local groups are being supported to continue to provide services to the best of their ability, including providing their service over the phone, online, by text or by email.

It comes as the First Minister announced on Tuesday that £1.5 million will be given to Scottish Women’s Aid and Rape Crisis Scotland to ensure access to these services during the pandemic.

She said: “The key message is people who are suffering domestic abuse do not have wait to seek help.”

Meanwhile, Police Scotland has said it is taking “proactive” steps to deal with domestic abuse and is engaging with ministers, charities and voluntary organisations to monitor the impacts.

Aileen Forbes, manager of Grampian Women’s Aid, said they are “fully prepared” for an increase in calls during the lockdown.

She said: “We have not noticed an increase in calls as yet but we think it is a bit to soon to gauge that right now.

“But we are expecting it, taking the lead from other countries ahead of us, who are reporting quite substantial increases in numbers. We’re fully prepared for that to change.

“At the moment families are at home. It’s not just children off school but husbands and partners at home which will present barriers and challenges for women to be able to report incidents.

“If a woman feels it is too difficult to contact us she could ask a friend to do so. We worry about children and young people at home in a pressure cooker situation and not being at school.”

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