Survey: 3 out of 10 Greek women were abused during first lockdown

Over 3 out of 10 women have been victims of violence, according to an online survey that took place in Greece from July to October and reported at on online discussion on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

The survey had been ordered by the Citizen Protection Ministry and the Center for Security Research, following an increase in reported abuse during the first lockdown in Greece this spring. It was completed by 750 women, of whom 36 percent said they had been victims of violence not long ago.

As Evi Lezgi, psychologist for the help line 15900 said, she has to deal with such reported incidents on a daily basis. “During the first lockdown alone,” which began in March and lasted for 42 days, “we had 3,000 calls and 500 emails,” she notes, adding that “children and teenagers were calling while violent incidents were taking place at home and their mothers couldn’t place a call.”

Based on data collected from the above survey, authorities said the victims were usually women aged 38 to 39, married and with an average of two children. Four in 10 had a college degree, including a PhD, and lived in urban areas. In terms of the perpetrators of violence, 8 in 10 were men with a median age of 45, 4 in 10 were college graduates, worked at full-time jobs and had no history of violence.

“In terms of social demographics, statistically the victims’ profile does not deviate significantly from that of the general sample,” said professor of criminology at Panteion University Vassiliki Artinopoulou, in comments at the event.

“Violence against women is not a seasonal infection,” sociologist Dimitris Stefanidis, member of the Alexandroupolis Counseling Center noted, speaking from northern Greece. “We confirm the rise of this violence on a daily basis through several incidents we are called upon to handle in the Alexandroupolis area. Gender stereotypes are more resilient here and it’s harder to deconstruct them,” he admitted.

Confirming the experiences of Niki, a woman describing her initial belief that she was responsible for the abuse and her fear of seeking help, legal advisor at the Athens Counseling Center Irini Soziou said, “Women are even quering whether they can leave the center and go file a suit or ask for protection. Their greatest anxiety is their safety the day after, and whether they will be able to continue to live normal lives – especially to keep custody of their children.”

PM Mitsotakis intervention

The online discussion was also followed by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who commented on the long road from calling to report an incident to living life confidently and without fear after abuse.

Mitsotakis said that Greece’s legislation adequately covers violence against women, but it is still unclear how fast laws are applied and in what spirit.

During the discussion, organized by the General Secretariat for Family Policy and Gender Equality and chaired by Natasa Syrengela, the Greek premier said the first annual report on violence against women in the country provided “incentives and useful tools to do our job more efficiently.”

The message to be sent out should be that no woman is doomed to suffer violence in her family environment, Mitsotakis said and cited the existing help line (15900), which women being abused can use, especially during the pandemic lockdown conditions. He also said that third persons who know a woman is being abused have a responsibility to report this to authorities, whether they are relatives, friends or neighbors.