When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

Coronavirus — Global Brief: Quarantines Can Be Toxic For Domestic Violence

COVID-19 shutdown in Argentina
COVID-19 shutdown in Argentina

For the coming weeks, Worldcrunch will be delivering daily updates on the coronavirus global pandemic. The insidious path of COVID-19 across the planet is a blunt reminder of how small the world has become. Our network of multilingual journalists are busy finding out what's being reported locally — everywhere — to provide as clear a picture as possible of what it means for all of us at home, around the world. To receive the daily brief in your inbox, sign up here.


One-third of the world's population is now said to be on lockdown. The purpose of the confinement appears clear enough to most: to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Still, there are consequences, and not just for the economy.

Across the globe, advocates against domestic abuse are warning that this period of imposed self-isolation will almost certainly provoke an increase in intra-family violence. In China, where the COVID-19 outbreak began, there's already evidence of that being the case.

An extended quarantine places a huge psychological strain, even on families without a history of abuse. And so in situations where violence is already present, the dangers are now that much greater, says Elisabeth Liotard, director of a women's protection association in Lyon, France.

"We're clearly expecting things to get worse," she told the French daily Le Monde. "In this period of uninterrupted cohabitation, violent men will have even more pretexts to lose control and the cycles of violence are probably going to accentuate."

For victims — women and children mostly — quarantine means there's no place to escape, and no time in the day when they can extricate themselves from an abusive environment. There's also the question of how a woman, in such a situation, might make a plea for help while on lockdown. Calling a hotline, for example, may not be an option when the victim is constantly in the presence of the abuser.

Marie-Pierre Badré, a leading anti-abuse advocate in France, says that since the lockdown began in her country, there has already been a significant decrease in calls to the 13 13 hotline. But there are other ways victims can reach out — by texting emergency services, for example, she said in an interview with French public radio.

According to Buenos Aires-based Pagina12daily, Argentinatook a very practical step toward ensuring special protection last week, by automatically extending restraining orders and other temporary legal protections for abuse victims. Simiar moves will be needed elsewhere, as this toxic side-effect of coronavirus spreads around the world.

Benjamin Witte


  • Toll: Deaths inItaly slow for the fourth day in a row, but in the second hardest-hit European country, Spain, deaths rose by 738 in 24 hours and the Parliament has voted to extend the State of Emergency until April 11. U.S. death toll passes the 1,000 mark.

  • U.S. jobless record: More Americans filed unemployment claims, 3.28 million, last week than anytime since records began being tracked in 1967.

  • Vaccine hope: Experts conclude that a vaccine could be long-lasting as COVID-19 mutates at a slower rate than other respiratory viruses like the flu.

  • Africa spread: The virus is spreading rapidly through Africa, with 2,400 confirmed cases across 46 of the continent's 54 countries. Some 700 of those are in South Africa, where President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a nation-wide, 21-day lockdown starting Thursday night.

  • Iran restrictions: Iran's government bans internal travel and warns of a "second wave" of COVID-19 as the official death toll passes 2,000.

  • Returning home: In Afghanistan, the western province of Herat has emerged as the epicenter of the country's outbreak, representing 54 of the 75 reported deaths, and the government fears the situation will worsen as Afghans keep returning from neighbouring Iran. Between March 8 and 21, 115,000 Afghans crossed the border from Iran.

  • All 94 residents of a New Jersey nursing home are believed to be infected.

DRASTIC DRAGHI: "Wars," writes Mario Draghi, former Europe Central Bank President, in an OpEd in the Financial Times, "(are) the most relevant precedent" for the economic response to the COVID-19 crisis." The only effective way to reach immediately into every crack of the economy is to fully mobilise entire financial systems. And it has to be done immediately."

CHINESE STUDENTS, CAUGHT BETWEEN: As the COVID-19 virus spreads across the world, stories pile up of people living abroad struggling to get home, or stuck isolated in a foreign land. The stories of the 370,000 Chinese students studying in the U.S. have a unique angle of their own, reports The Initium, a Chinese-language global news site.

  • Some 45 % of these students major in STEM subjects, i.e. science, technology, engineering and mathematics, often many subject to single-entry visas, in particular the ones studying biotechnology, computer science, robot manufacturing applications and aerospace. Each time they leave the United States, they have to re-apply for an entry visa.

  • Mao, a computer science major at the University of Southern California, had secured a Google internship this summer, which she now fears may be canceled. Tensions over the virus between the two countries have continued to grow. In mid-March, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian tweeted that it was probably the US army that had brought the coronavirus to China. President Trump refuted this claim calling it a "Chinese virus."

  • Andrew, a Chinese student who has been living in Boston for six years, says he wore a mask when he took public transport at peak hours. But since the wide propagation in March, he has stopped doing so. "I'm worried that wearing a mask puts me at an even higher risk than that of the virus." —Read the full article, translated from Chinese by Worldcrunch.

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT: How to enforce your local lockdown? Forget about fines and fees, or even being sent to jail, Paris public prosecutor Rémy Heitz warns that he may start sending citizens not respecting the strict rules of confinement to a place that may be more dangerous than jail: to the local hospital for community service work. According to Le Parisien, there have been a total so far just under 10,000 noted infractions in Paris since the lockdown began a week ago. Heitz's choice of this particular community service might not just provoke fear, but also remind people that when they break the quarantine the pressure, and risk, increases for the medical staffs working at local hospitals.

CHOMSKY SCHADENFREUDE: For many long-time critics of global capitalism, COVID-19 is a glaring new example of how our prevailing economic system no longer serves the common good. Among those is the 91-year-old public intellectual and self-described anarcho-syndicalist Noam Chomsky, who shared his thoughts on the crisis in an interview with the Chilean news site El Mostrador. Here are three takeaways:

  • Big Pharma: Like climate change, the pandemic is another case of massive market failure. For private pharmaceutical companies, the market signals were clear: Don't waste resources preparing for a pandemic ahead of time.

  • Neoliberalism gone wrong: The U.S. government could have intervened, as in South Korea, but that conflicts with neoliberal ideology that centers on the sacred rights of concentrated private power. The government's role is to subsidize and provide exorbitant patent rights — ensuring colossal profits — but not to interfere with privilege and wealth.

  • Worse to come: The crisis reveals deep flaws in the dominant economic models, flaws that will soon lead to much worse crises, unless important preventive steps are taken. As terrible as the coronavirus crisis is, there will be recovery. There will be no recovery from global warming if it is not controlled.

WHY SUCH DIFFERENT FATALITY RATES?: Over the past three weeks, Europe has become the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, killing thousands of people. But why are 9.2% of infected people in Italy and 7.5% in Spain dying, while Germany has a fatality rate of just 0.37%? Since such discrepancies cannot be justified only by the difference in age population or the quality of health systems, French daily Les Echos provides a clearer explanation:

  • Choosing who to test: Some countries like Germany and Italy are testing a lot of people, even those who do not show symptoms and therefore register a higher number of cases. Others like France choose to primarily test severe cases while some US states are facing shortage of testing kits.

  • Cause of death: Not all countries record the death tolls using the same method. Some include in the total count, every death of infected patients, even if an infection or pre-existing disease or condition ultimately caused the death, while others only included deaths caused by interstitial pneumonia, which is specifically linked to Covid-19.

  • Delayed impact: It is also impossible to measure the exact fatality rate (dividing the number of deaths by the total of confirmed cases) because the latter number is probably higher than we know. The testing program in Iceland revealed that half of those who tested positive showed no coronavirus symptoms. In the United Kingdom and the United States, the real count could be "10 times higher" than official numbers, according to epidemiologists Neil Ferguson and Marc Lipsitch. Other experts think the number of confirmed cases should be increased fivefold to obtain the real count. This does not mean that the actual fatality rate is proportionally lower, as we have to take into account the delay between the infection and the death of a patient, i.e. 5.5 days for the incubation period followed by 8 days for the disease to develop, according to a recent study by the Italian National Health Service.

SNORKEL MASKS TO RESCUE: The shortage of breathing equipment is a crisis in itself, with respiratory failure responsible for many of COVID-19's fatalities. One innovative response, reports Milan-based Corriere della Sera, comes from an Italian doctor to convert ordinary full-face snorkeling masks into an apparatus that allows for artificial ventilation. Doctor Renato Favero has teamed up with 28-year-old engineer Alessandro Romaioli, to connect "Easybreath" masks sold at Decathlon to plastic air valves that Ramaioli has developed for immediate production thanks to 3D printers.

To receive Worldcrunch's daily coronavirus brief in your inbox, sign up here.

El Mostrador is a Chilean online newspaper, founded on 1 March 2000 and is Chile's first exclusively digital newspaper.
The Financial Times is an English-language international daily newspaper with a special emphasis on business and economic new. It was founded in London in 1888.
This leading French daily newspaper Le Monde ("The World") was founded in December 1944 in the aftermath of World War II. Today, it is distributed in 120 countries. In late 2010, a trio formed by Pierre Berge, Xavier Niel and Matthieu Pigasse took a controlling 64.5% stake in the newspaper.
The Initium is a Hong Kong-based, Chinese-language digital media outlet that covers news, opinion, and lifestyle content directed to Chinese readers worldwide. It was founded in 2015.
The leading daily newspaper in Paris, Le Parisien has a national edition called Aujourd'hui en France (Today in France). The newspaper was founded in 1944 by World War II resistance fighters in the occupied capital.
Founded in 1876 as an evening newspaper ("Evening Courier), the Milan daily has long been a morning paper. The flagship publication of the RCS Media Group, Corriere della Sera is noted for its sober tone, reliable reporting and moderate political stances.
Premium stories from Worldcrunch's own network of multi-lingual journalists in over 30 countries.
France's top business daily, Les Echos covers domestic and international economic, financial and markets news. Founded in 1908, the newspaper has been the property of French luxury good conglomerate LVMH (Moet Hennessy - Louis Vuitton) since 2007.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

food / travel

When Racism Poisons Italy's Culinary Scene

This is the case of chef Mareme Cisse, a black woman, who was called a slur after a couple found out that she was the one who would be preparing their meal.

Photo of Mareme Cisse cooking

Mareme Cisse in the kitchen of Ginger People&Food

Caterina Suffici


TURIN — Guess who's not coming to dinner. It seems like a scene from the American Deep South during the decades of segregation. But this happened in Italy, in this summer of 2023.

Two Italians, in their sixties, got up from the restaurant table and left (without saying goodbye, as the owner points out), when they declared that they didn't want to eat in a restaurant where the chef was what they called: an 'n-word.'

Racists, poor things. And ignorant, in the sense of not knowing basic facts. They don't realize that we are all made of mixtures, come from different racial and ethnic backgrounds. And that food, of course, are blends of different ingredients and recipes.

The restaurant is called Ginger People&Food, and these visitors from out of town probably didn't understand that either.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest