Esha Johri Sunday, 3 May 2020

Domestic Violence during Lockdown

One thing that comes to our mind considering the current situation of this pandemic is 'Lockdown'. We all are complaining despite being in a comfortable shell we call home but what about those who have a home but it is not comfortable.

Domestic violence in India has always been a prevalent issue. Emotional, sexual, spiritual and physical abuse are few domestic violence types that hinder the balance of the household. Domestic violence or assault need not necessarily be physical, an abusive environment also makes living difficult. Especially in this time of Lockdown when the victim has no escape, various reports have suggested the hike in the number of domestic violence cases. The National Commission for Women (NCW) has recorded a dreadful increase in gender-based violence. The cries for help are not just limited to India but other parts of the world are experiencing the same. According to TheGuardian 13 women and 4 children are believed to have been killed by men in the first four weeks of lockdown in the UK.

In India, the places that registered the most domestic violence cases are Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana and Punjab. According to Rekha Sharma, NCW chief, the main reason for the rise in domestic violence cases is that the men are at home and are taking out all their frustration on women. The victims are also scared of reaching out for help due to the fear that harassment will increase.

The NCW has received more than 587 complaints since the lockdown on March 24, out of which approximately 239 are related to domestic violence and the numbers are continuously rising. Platforms that can help the victim suffering from family violence and domestic violence are:

Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 is an act to ensure the protection of the rights of the women guaranteed under the constitution, suffering from violence of any kind.

More than 50 helplines have started across India to help women facing domestic violence during the lockdown. The helplines are operated by police, women welfare departments and NGOs. The domestic abuse national helpline number is 181 while women police helpline numbers are 1091 and 1291.

The victim can also reach out for help through other means such as emails, Twitter direct messages and other social media platforms if convenient.

E-safety domestic violence, helps you to increase your personal safety and ensure you can continue to use technology. The victim can find various checklists online to protect their online privacy when living with an abusive partner.

It is disheartening to witness that Transgender people are also forced by their family to fit into gender binaries during lockdown by using physical violence. As a result of the lockdown, people are scared about their employment. As we know that India's workforce is male-dominated thus according to a study cited in the 2019 World Bank Economic Review, increased male unemployment is linked to increased incidences of physical violence against women.

Domestic violence not only disturbs the emotional and mental state of the victim but also of the people around, especially the children. Being exposed to domestic violence makes them more prone to developmental problems, low self-esteem, mental disorders and aggressive behaviors. It is important for the victim, whether the mother or the father to seek help and protect themselves and their children. Remember that the current situation of the pandemic is temporary but if we struggle to provide a safe space for people to live in then that could cause an even worse crisis. It is the need of the hour to help victims of domestic violence, we don't know how difficult it is for them to wake up every day in the confined walls of fear and anxiety. Do not neglect the signs and hesitate to help because you will be at fault too along with the abuser.