A man has been arrested in Barcelona after his partner alerted authorities using a secret hand signal to indicate she was being abused.

The woman was accompanied by her abusive partner when she made the signal to a female health worker in the waiting room at a Barcelona hospital on November 11.

The staff member immediately recognised the sign as a call for help alerted the police. 

While the woman was being treated, officers from the Catalan force Mossos d’Esquadra arrested her partner and are investigating a case of domestic abuse.

The Canadian Women’s Foundation created the ‘Signal for Help’ during the coronavirus lockdown so that victims of domestic abuse could call for help via video call without leaving a trace on their mobile phones. 

The gesture that has now gained worldwide recognition involves opening the hand with the palm facing outwards. Then folding the thumb over the palm and covering the thumb with the other four fingers.

Throughout the pandemic several other initiatives were launched to help abused women, including a campaign run by pharmacies where victims could ask for a certain type of mask, which was a code for needing help. 

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