What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence involves a pattern of psychological, physical, sexual, financial, and emotional abuse. Acts of assault, threats, humiliation, and intimidation are also considered acts of violence.
This violence is towards someone who we are in a relationship with, be it a wife, husband, son, daughter, mother, father, grandparent, or any other family member. It can be a male’s or a female’s horrors towards another male or a female.
Lockdown and the Women
The lockdown has proven to be a terrible time for the females as their already tough and miserable life has only leveled up to another realm. With the closing down of the economy, everyone in the home, be it the kids, husbands, in-laws, and relatives, leading to the increment of an additional multi-faceted burden, ranging from extra household activities to additional childcare, education, and at the same time, maintaining the professional life as well.
For women, the lockdown has also resulted in the increase in what is called “unpaid work” at home. The cooking time has increased as all family members are at the house.
Mental Health leads to violence
Pandemics, financial insecurity, stress, and uncertainty have led to increased aggression at home. with abusers able to control large amounts of their victims’ daily lives. Domestic violence also increases whenever families spend more time together, such as during vacations.
Studies say that Sixty-one percent of Indians are experiencing mental health-related issues because of the uncertainty and looming financial crisis during the lockdown, Furthermore, women are struggling more than men as their workload has increased significantly with them carrying multiple responsibilities without any assistance from domestic helpers, the survey added.
Staying home, staying unsafe?
Although a home may be considered a safe place for some, it is not the safest place for all. In fact, with the COVID-19 lockdown in place, there has been a surge in cases of domestic violence. All over the world, victims of domestic violence are more vulnerable and at-risk to a frighteningly new degree of violence.
As most Indians remain homebound during the lockdown, chances of violence not only increase but women become more vulnerable to physical and mental harm.
Rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment, stalking & voyeurism rise during the lockdown in India, according to online data from the National Commission for Women. With husbands at home, many women unlikely to complain.
During the four phases of the COVID-19 lockdown, Indian women filed more domestic violence complaints than recorded in a similar period in the last 10 years.
Lockdown conditions may not only intensify the abuse suffered by existing victims but can also create new victims. The sudden, unnatural situation of staying home all day, every day with no visitors and more free time than usual, may in itself cause some psychological issues. Add to this, the fear of the deadly virus, and uncertainty about work and financial security.
India hit by Domestic Violence Pandemic
Domestic violence is the worse thing a woman can expect specially during the lockdown. Cases of violence against women has seen a surge during the pandemic.
In India, the National Commission for Women (NCW) registered an increase of at least 2.5 times since the nationwide lockdown. The NCW has observed a recent spike in complaints of domestic violence in the country, having received 1023 such ‘emails’ between 23 March and 10 April. State governments and women commissions have also taken cognizance of this alarming trend.
In India, according to the latest data of the National Crime Records Bureau (2018), 103,272 women have reported “cruelty by husband or his relatives”, constituting about one-third (the single largest category) of all reported crimes against women.
Recent data released by the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) suggest that the nationwide lockdown has led to a rapid increase in cases of domestic violence. The data, which is classified according to cases in different states suggest that Uttarakhand recorded the highest number of domestic violence cases in the last two months of lockdown.
Reason for Domestic Violence
One of the reasons for it being so prevalent is the orthodox and idiotic mindset of the society that women are physically and emotionally weaker than the males. Though women today have proved themselves in almost every field of life-affirming that they are no less than men, the reports of violence against them are much larger in number than against men.
The most common causes for women stalking and battering include dissatisfaction with the dowry and exploiting women for more of it, arguing with the partner, refusing to have sex with him, neglecting children, going out of the home without telling the partner, not cooking properly or on time, indulging in extramarital affairs, not looking after in-laws, etc.
In some cases, infertility in females also leads to their assault by the family members. The greed for dowry, desire for a male child, and alcoholism of the spouse are major factors of domestic violence against women in rural areas.
Violence against young widows has also been on a rise in India. Most often they are cursed for their husband’s death and are constrained of proper food and clothing. They are not allowed or encouraged for remarriage in most homes, especially in rural areas.
The possible reasons are many and are diversified over the length and breadth of the country. According to United Nation Population Fund Report, around two-third of married Indian, women are victims of domestic violence and as many as 70 percent of married women in India between the age of 15 and 49 are victims of beating, rape, or forced sex.
In India, more than 55 percent of women suffer from domestic violence, especially in the states of Bihar, U.P., M.P. and other northern states.
Situation in other Countries:
Incidents of domestic violence appear to be rising exponentially across the globe, in countries like China, the United Kingdom and the United States among others. UN Women Commission in a report said that there was evidence of rising violence against women in Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia, and a doubling in the number of domestic violence in Argentina during the lockdown.
In Colombia, daily domestic violence calls to a national women’s hotline were up nearly 130 percent during the first 18 days of the country’s lockdown
Russia has reported an increase in the number of cases of domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. On a personal level, the pandemic has often heightened many of the factors that can lead to domestic violence such as stress, economic anxiety, or social isolation.
In India Domestic Violence and laws against it
In India, there are mainly three laws that deal with domestic violence—the Protection of Women from Domestic Violece Act, the Dowry Prohibition Act, and Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code. All these laws protect women from dowry demands, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, economic abuse, threat, psychological abuse, etc.,
Need for Government Plan
Even before COVID-19 existed, domestic violence was already one of the greatest human rights violations. In the previous 12 months, 243 million women and girls (aged 15-49) across the world have been subjected to sexual or physical violence by an intimate partner. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, this number is likely to grow with multiple impacts on women’s wellbeing, their sexual and reproductive health, their mental health, and their ability to participate and lead in the recovery of our societies and economy. In many countries the law is not on women’s side; 1 in 4 countries have no laws specifically protecting women from domestic violence.
The Government should introduce better plans to contain such incidents and provide quick remedies for the concerns. The civil and social bodies shall work in tandem to maintain women’s interest and safety. On the personal ground, we need to communicate and connect with our relatives and friends, not only to keep a check on their well-being but at the same time, make men aware of their responsibility as a healthy partner, supporting their family with the right mindset.
We can consider lockdown as nothing, but a test to our patience, good conduct, and how to deal with worst-case scenarios, to train ourselves and come out stronger than ever. Stay home, stay safe.
Also read this