From the day our honorable Prime Minister, Narendra Modi addressed the nation with his words of complete lockdown, then itself there has been a sudden rise in the domestic violence cases in the country. The lockdown has provided safety to the citizens but has also come up with the huge number of women victims of domestic violence. Where the country is busy fighting this pandemic but there is another invisible pandemic taking birth in the country, that is in form of Domestic violence. So is STAYING HOME, STAYING UNSAFE?
The sudden hike in domestic violence during the lockdown
We have all heard about domestic violence cases prior to lockdown but statistics amid lockdown will give a shock as according to National Commission for Women’s report there were 123 mails that were received between March 23 to April 10. NCW also reported about 600 cases between the months of March and April. When we look at a global level, the report by the UN describes the brutal condition of the world as it recorded about 240 million cases of physical and mental violence against women between 15-50 years of age. As our police forces are busy looking out for people’s safety amid lockdown and are overburdened with enforcing lockdown guidelines, these beasts got a golden opportunity to show their power on women within their four walls.
No single ear to hear
Lockdown might be giving safety to the people in their homes but it is totally devastating for the women who are stuck with their abusive partners. These women are caged like animals in a zoo in their violent homes. The condition is so bad that the neighbor is unable to help them. Throughout these lockdowns, the world has come to online platforms and so has the lodging of complaints. But there are women who do not have the internet facilities to tell the world about their condition. They also lack a separate room for themselves as the house is too small to get some private space and can tell their friends and other members about the cruelty they are facing. Earlier there were few sources that were available like legal access etc. but amid lockdown, these all become impossible for them.
How did this lockdown made cause an increase in cases of domestic violence?
The COVID-19 pandemic has stopped the world and human life. The people are not able to find a solution for this problem and are feeling helpless to combat this situation and as a result frustration, anger, stress, etc., starts to develop. The reason, for the increase of domestic violence cases, are the following-
· Financial crisis
This pandemic has resulted in taking up the loss of jobs of many private sector people and which has resulted in anxiety and frustration in the minds of the individual which comes out in the form of violence especially in the house. As the economy of the whole world has marked a full stop and many companies have fired their staff and members, it has caused a money crisis in the families not only in the private sector but also in labor groups who have always suffered much. There’s an anxiety which is stuck carrying the economic burden and this anger comes out as domestic violence.
· Being in Quarantine
Social isolation has been practiced by each family of the country and the world as well. It has become a government policy as all other places are being closed. In this isolation, it has become easier for these abusers to do violence as there is no way out for seeking help from many friends, family, or other relatives. This has mostly affected those women who are housewives as they do not bring any money into the house and as a result are beaten. Continuous violence on such victims can get them in a critical condition and will force them to think that there is no way out.
· Impact of alcohol
There is a saying that “Alcohol is a perfect solvent which dissolves marriage, families, and career”. Alcohol boosts up the level of aggression in an individual. Whenever a victim of abuse is asked, the common answer you will get is their partner was drunk at that moment. If we say isolation and financial crisis are fire then it will be very true to say that alcohol acts as a fuel in them. It even became worse when the government made a ban on alcohol during lockdown which made abusers lose their mind and to have violence to be at the peak.
It is said that when stress increases then the level of aggression and violence increases automatically. People are already facing the stress of the outbreak of a deadly virus which has no vaccine and also some families are facing financial stress too. So in this the only way to release stress according to these people is violence. They take domestic violence as a measure to release their stress not once, twice but many times.
Measures taken by the Indian government for tackling domestic violence amid lockdown –
This lockdown has emerged as a tool for some people to exploit women. So there are some measures taken by the government like-
· In UP, the state government has started a helpline called Suppress corona not a voice for this domestic violence in which a women officer will tackle this problem when a complaint is filed.
· Sec. 3 of PWDVA(protection of women from domestic violence act) 2005 says about domestic violence that whoever involved in this act of abuse and violence will be punishable.
· The Jammu and Kashmir high court took the suo moto cognizance on 18 April 2020 in which special funds were raised and women can tell their violence issue in a nearby medical or grocery store without even knowing of the abuser.
· The chairperson of NCW announced that health and other workers of Anganwadi will be available for help as the victim can report to them also about the abuse they are facing and they will report to the concerned authority.
· The SANTHWANA scheme is also launched by the Karnataka government on the advice of Karnataka high court in which the victims will get free medical aid and other useful help.
A need of the hour.
There is an urgent need to create some awareness among the people about this domestic violence. For this, the police should note down the complaint seriously and take action without any delay. Also, there is a need to make people aware of these cases through the help of media and news channels so that victims can come forward to fight. Further, the NCW can take the help of some local NGOs to deal with the issue.
India can also adopt the guidelines as followed by countries like France that there must be some safe places like school or hospital or any place where that victim can be kept who have been forced to leave their house.
This Covid-19 has emerged as a pandemic in this world and is testing way more to all of us. This type of situation has never come in this world and has thrown a great impact on everyone. Amidst this pandemic, domestic violence is an invisible evil that we have to fight against. Domestic violence is a kind of termite that will hollow our whole society and we all have to come together to raise our voice against this. Our government is also doing its best to cope with it and we must support the government to fight this invisible pandemic of our society.