Pune's Zilla Parishad (district local body) has come up with a plan to fight domestic violence in the rural areas around the district. It has reportedly formed dedicated village-level committees to first track cases of domestic violence and then counsel the members resorting to abuse.
In cases where despite counselling, domestic violence does not stop, the perpetrator will be punished by putting him under 'institutional quarantine'.
“We reviewed the situation on domestic violence cases after the instructions of the home minister. While there were no such cases found in the district, these steps are being taken proactively in tandem with the Domestic Violence Act. The provision of putting the husband in institutional quarantine has been taken so that the women do not face a loss of residence," said Ayush Prasad, Chief Executive Officer, Pune Zilla Parishad.
Prasad said this is a precautionary measure taken by the authorities because of the increasing trend of domestic violence cases during this lockdown implemented due to the coronavirus pandemic. This entire process will happen with the help of local police.
They will also create focussed committees acting as a vigilante for the abuse survivors will comprise of women gram panchayat members, anganwadi sevikas and members headed by the senior-most members from the gram panchayat.
The committee responsible for this issue will also tend to pregnant, lactating mothers and kids till the age of six. It also will also ensure uninterrupted supply of essential goods to the villages and particularly to houses with malnourished children.
One of the reasons that Prasad claims may increase in domestic violence cases is the ban on liquor, he says that non-availability of liquor may lead the alcoholics to restlessness and turn to violent behaviour. Domestic violence reports have gone up for India as a whole as documented by the National Commission of Women.
“Along with the COVID-19 pandemic outside, there is a ‘shadow pandemic’ raging inside homes. The lockdown means that a woman cannot step out of the house to escape her abusive spouse. So, by this order, the tormentors would be transferred to an institutional quarantine facility, which could mean a town hall or a village lodge or any other facility,” the official said, observing that this would also ensure that the woman would continue to be safe at home.
Because of the lockdown, it would be difficult for survivors to reach out to law-enforcing agencies, how then will the committees get to know about cases? On this, Prasad elaborated that the committees will visit every house in their ward of a panchayat and conduct an anti-domestic violence campaign. Additionally, the Parishad has also launched a helpline number and hired a psychologist to counsel the abusers.