Ministry introduces code word ‘Masker 19’ for domestic abuse


As of Friday victims of domestic violence can use the code word ‘masker 19’ (mask 19) at pharmacies so staff can help them contact social services, the health ministry has announced.

The same code is already being used in France and Spain. Although no figures are available as yet, help organisations in the Netherlands are afraid incidents of domestic violence have been increasing in the Netherlands over the past weeks because the lockdown is forcing people to spend more time in the home.

‘Pharmacies provide a safe and trusted environment, pharmacy association KNMP chair Aris Prins told broadcaster NOS. ‘Questions about masks are common and if people ask for ‘masker 19’ it won’t attract much attention,’ he said

The scheme will make it easier for people to ask for help, Prins said. If they are accompanied by others, staff will contact the relevant service on their behalf.

Last week, the ministry launched an information campaign aimed urging victims to ask for advice by contacting domestic violence prevention organisation Veilig Thuis (0800 2000). The organisation has also added a chat function to its internet site.

But not everyone is able to use the phone without alerting an abusive partner so a ‘low threshold method is needed to alert help victims of domestic violence in a particularly difficult time’, health minister Hugo de Jonge said.

People who are in immediate danger must call the police at 112, the ministry said.

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