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Domestic Violence during Lockdown

Let’s Remove Darkness of Domestic Violence

By Anuja Kapur

Domestic violence has always been within the roots of our society, but with the lockdown cases have become more frequent. Women and children are most vulnerable at the point. Social distancing and staying at home are important factors to curb this pandemic, but it is also providing the abuser with chances to exploit.

Domestic violence cases presently are on the rise due to restraints and safety measures put in place to limit the outspread of the new deadly virus Covid 19. After receiving umpteenth calls every day the emergency centers and concerned authorities have ascertained the sharp move in domestic violence cases. As per the authorities, they have received calls from married and unmarried women both. Not only married women are facing abuse by their spouses or in-laws but unmarried women are also going through abuse from their brothers and fathers. Women used to get some relief before while they were out for work or vice versa when their husbands/ brothers or fathers were out. At present the lockdown has caged them in the four walls of their house facing the dirty challenge of domestic abuse.  Not only women but children are also highly impacted by the domestic abuse. With schools, playgrounds, parks, public places shut they have no option to go anywhere. The children are bound to stay at home and are left with no more safe refuges.  Before the corona virus, these places served as secured options where children could escape the aggression at home. Now, they’re stuck at home and likely witness more domestic abuse than in the past.  Staying together at one place for longer duration is the leading concern to more and more cases of domestic abuse on children and women.

Physical violence is not the only abuse women and children are going through, other forms of abuses is also being thrown at the victims by the abuser

           Complete isolation from family members at home,

           No talking over the phone with friends or acquaintances,

           Regular monitoring of the person, strict rules and regulations

           Restriction on providing basic necessities like food, water, clothes, sanitary      facilities.

The stress of lying at home and doing nothing, financial problems and the lack of access to alcohol are aggravating factors of domestic violence. Most of the women facing abuse cannot go to their parents house or relatives due to this lockdown. Government or emergency service centers can only shift them to shelter homes where the risk of infection is high due to large number of people and hygiene issues. Why only a woman has to adjust or deal with such issues? If a man is stressed or not getting alcohol, he should be the one who needs to be sent to shelter home rather than a women. It is the man creating a ruckus, while the women have to bear the brunt of the consequences.

One of the biggest assumption always about domestic violence has been that the cases are higher in backward regions or amongst poorer sections, but the actual picture is quite different. The percentage of middle class women or rich section of the society is almost equal when it comes to domestic abuse. Women are afraid of lodging a complaint against their spouse because they fear that if their partner is arrested they will have to face more embarrassment and violence once he is out. The in-laws also add to the torment born by her.

The government is taking various measures to curb the virus and on the other hand is not seeking any measure to safeguard domestic abuse victims. Our authorities have failed to craft strategies to save victims of domestic abuse during this lockdown period. People must be super-sensitive towards the higher risk of domestic abuse, on-lookers and neighbors should step in if they find something suspicious. They can use tricks like knocking the door or ringing the bell. They should also be provided the benefit of anonymity if they choose to report a case. The isolation due to Covid 19 has also destroyed all service networks, making it much harder for victims to get help or escape the situation. If someone is unable to register a complaint via text message, call or mail, essential service providers like grocery stores, medical stores, delivery executives should help to provide necessary support to such people and send their message to the right authorities if required.

 Domestic abuse or stress can adversely impact mental state of the person as well, so it is better to stay calm and seek help from others. Sooner or later, this tiring lockdown will come to an end, but as the repercussions, the risk of abuse will escalate. As per the research’s, abusers are more likely to murder or assault their spouses and others as the aftermath of personal crises, including lost jobs or major financial setbacks. In a scenario like this, it is crucial to be alert of things like fussiness, outbursts, feelings of despair and anxiousness. If people can adjudge these things are increasing, that’s the time to find safe areas in the home and agreeable rules of engagement. Disengage and reload yourself a little bit, so that a small matter doesn’t intensify.

As concerned citizens, we are abiding by all laws and steps to flatten the pandemic curve, but we need to be equally responsible to make sure that darkness of domestic abuse does not rise exponentially. In such cases we cannot let one curve surpass the other. With Covid-19 devastating the economic system, such crises will become much more predominant. As the crises continues the government must assure that security assistance is available, and provide necessary resources to help the victims of domestic abuse. We definitely can’t risk lives of women and children till we emerge out of this pandemic.

(Anuja Kapur is a Criminal Psychologist, Advocate and Social Activist)

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