The stay at home order even though is the best way to beat COVID-19 it is detrimental for women who are stuck in abusive relationships. More time with family may be good for some but for those stuck in abusive relationships it is not so. Domestic violence has been on the rise globally since almost the entire world now is staying indoors. India is no exception. The National Commission for Women (NCW), which is the government body which receives complaints of domestic violence from all parts of the country has recorded more than twofold rise in gender-based violence during this ongoing lockdown. The NCW has now launched a WhatsApp number 7217735372 too.
NCW chief Rekha Sharma said,“Domestic violence cases have doubled than what it was before the lockdown. The cases of domestic violence are high in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana and Punjab.”
Sample this data:
- The total complaints from women rose in the period between 23rd and 30th of March 2020.
- Sharp rise in complaints of rape or attempted rape from two to 13,
- Increase in police apathy towards women’s complaints with the NCW receiving 16 complaints on the issue as compared to six earlier
- Complaints regarding the “right to live with dignity” rose from 35 cases to 77, The Hindu reported.
Sharma believes the reason behind this sudden surge is that the men are stuck at home and they are taking out their frustration on women and as they refuse to share responsibility of domestic chores. Women cannot go out and share their grief either. She also indicated that most of the complaints are coming via email as people are scared of going to the police. However she assured, “My team is working 24/7 and we are shifting the victims to hostels or help them to reach their parents’ home.”
Elsewhere in the world
France has witnessed a 36% increase in the number of reported domestic abuse cases in Paris and a 32% rise in the rest of the country since the country went into lockdown, the Time reported. To curb the menace pharmacies have been made the place to report a crime of domestic abuse. Women can ask a pharmacist to call the police by asking for a “mask 19”. French officials have set up an “alert system” in pharmacies across the nation. An emergency helpline has also been put up.
In China, a Beijing-based NGO which works towards combating violence against women, has seen a surge in calls to its help line since early February, The New York Times reported. In February 2020 the Chinese government locked down cities in Hubei Province, which was then the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.
In Spain, the emergency number for domestic violence received 18 percent more calls in the first two weeks of lockdown than in the same period a month earlier.
The UN Reacts
The UN on Sunday also called for immediate action to combat the global surge in domestic violence. “I urge all governments to put women’s safety first as they respond to the pandemic,” Secretary General António Guterres wrote on Twitter.
Many women under lockdown for #COVID19 face violence where they should be safest: in their own homes.
I urge all governments to put women’s safety first as they respond to the pandemic.
— United Nations (@UN) April 6, 2020
The Indian Helpline Numbers
IMPORTANT: Re-upping helplines for women facing domestic violence. pic.twitter.com/BSBOh3rkQO
— #MeTooIndia (@IndiaMeToo) April 9, 2020