This article has been written by Yash Mittal, who is pursuing LLB-1 year from Mewar Law University. Picture credits to NBC news
Immediately after the imposition of lockdown by our honourable Prime Minister on 24 March 2020, considering the outbreak of world pandemic that is COVID-19. Only the essential services were given access, all the school, colleges, universities, offices were ordered to be shut.
The main objective of the lockdown is ‘Stay home, Stay safe’. But is it possible to stay safe at home trapped with their abusers. Women were put in vulnerable situations where they don’t have any other option left but to stay with their abusers and nowhere to go.
The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted to protect women from domestic violence. This is the first definition of domestic violence in Indian law. It covers the broader aspects of domestic violence not just only physical violence, but also other forms of violence such as emotional, verbal, sexual, and economic abuse.
United Nations defines domestic violence as domestic violence” or “intimate partner violence”, can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner.
After the imposition of lockdown, there is a huge surge in cases of domestic violence. Women face physical and mental abuse.
From the beginning the situation of women in India is vulnerable, they were ill-treated at their on house which considered being the safest place.
The patriarchal structure of Indian society further adds to the problems of women
World wide increase in domestic violence is described by the United nation as a ‘shadow pandemic’.
According to India’s national family health survey from 2015-2016, around 33% of women have experienced spousal violence – physical, sexual, or emotional. Only 14% of women were able to seek help.
Rekha Sharma, The Chairperson of the National Commission for Women said that they were receiving more complaints in the lockdown.
Domestic violence has increased in their states and the national commission of women (NCW) was working on the complaints 24/7.
NCW helpline – Whatsapp number has also been introduced for women to report to cases of domestic violence.
WhatsApp number for domestic violence is 7217735372.
Impact on Health
The impact of violence on health is also very much significant on women’s and as well as on their children’s also. Violence can result in severe injuries and serious physical, mental, and sexual health problems.
Sexual violence has been also increased during the lockdown. The sale of condoms, sex toys which indicate the violation of sexual rights of women which results in unplanned pregnancies, can transmit infections, HIV.
Disconnection from social support systems is one of the reasons for an increased risk of domestic abuse during the period of lockdown. As a result, there are very few ways to find safety or help for victims of domestic violence.
Violence due to Economic Instability
The study of Daniel Schneider at UC Berkeley shows that unemployment among men led to abusive behavior. His studies also show that men felt increasingly frustrated due to the loss of their jobs and financial security and this results in violence towards women.
Loss of income for males also leads to lesser control over their household which makes them even more frustrated.
Consumption of liquor by men and violence towards women is interlinked. It was found that half of the physical abuse and sexual abuse was done by men who consume liquor or alcohol.
Women who were earning for their households and now we’re not able to fulfill the requirements whenever their husband demands money for liquor consumption which also results in domestic violence.
Women were the only workers whose work was doubled during the lockdown because now all the family members were at home for 24/7.
It’s always a fight of a feminist to get women’s work recognized in the economy as well. Most of the women have been engaged in the informal sector which doesn’t get counted under GDP.
Women work 24 hours at home, which is never paid nor appreciated and acknowledged. Most of the time women were not allowed to leave an abusive spouse and sometimes women themselves don’t want to leave because of the stigma attached to the patriarchal Indian society that getting a divorce is against the traditions and no men could marry her again.
The life of women isn’t safe at home nor outside. Even after the strict laws; poor implementation of them has always made the crime rates increased. But the change comes from within and the victims should start raising their voices and we as a society had to help the victims.
Education is the key that helps them to know their rights and which also makes them self-dependent.
The campaign like Bell Bajao (Hindi for ‘ring the bell’) is an anti-domestic violence campaign that urges local residents to take a stand against physical abuse through simple acts meant to interrupt domestic violence. When residents, especially men, overhear violence against a woman taking place, they are urged to ring the doorbell and ask a simple question – such as to borrow some tea, to use the phone, or to have a glass of water. This is meant to let the abuser know that others can hear them and will act to interrupt the violence.
If you think dealing with lockdown was very stressful then just imagine how many women were suffering from domestic violence which adds to their problems.
1) Police helpline: 1091/1291
2) National Commission for women’s WhatsApp helpline: 7217735372
3) Helpline for shakti Shalini based NGO: 10920
4) Crisis for Sneha, a Mumbai based NGO: 9833052684,9167535765.
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