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Covid-19: Domestic Violence Is On A Surge. Supress Corona, Not Your Voice!

Every person deserves a peaceful and respectful life and its never too late to speak up.

To run from the virus, we need to practice the art of social distancing. People are scooped up in their houses. Some with abusive partners, some with abusive parents and others with abusive kids. Others are happily enjoying the “healthy family time” they are blessed with. This lockdown might be the best time for some happy families but for others, who have issues at home, this might be a nightmare.

For some people the extended lockdown is just a prison sentence which got longer.

The government needs to make sure that all the citizens are protected. In our nation, protection has a very vague meaning. In the name of protection, people are being lathi charged by the police, some are being abused by the common public while some are being tortured behind the closed walls of their house. There is no name given to all these cases. They often go unnoticed but leave a deep impact and a scar on the person who is subject to these issues.

In India, the government must ensure that the police is working generously for this cause. Appropriate amount of funds must be channelized for emergency events like these.

Moreover, the Nirbhaya fund has a separate portion of the domestic violence. With that fund, every state should have 181 helplines and one-stop centres. The government can make use of the already existing resources for vital issues like this.

Certain NGOs and charitable organisations have come forward to publicise this issue which is prevalent in todays time. Only after this was pointed out by the masses, the government decided to take steps to prevent the violence.

 One in six new complaints of domestic violence was made over a relaunched WhatsApp number. That WhatsApp number had been out of use for some time, suggesting there could have been more complaints that never got through. The NCW relies on women to report domestic violence on its fixed helpline numbers and through the post, two modes of communication that have been closed since the lockdown. The Commission then publicised the email address of its members and began receiving complaints on social media and through its online portal. This in a country where only one-third of women have access to the internet. One-third of women in India’s 2015-2016 National Family Health Survey (NFHS) said they had experienced domestic violence, but less than 1 percent of them sought help from the police.

There are some states in India who have actually taken care of this situation and are trying to reduce this horrendous crime. In Tamil Nadu, protection officers, appointed by the state, are allowed movement during the lockdown, and Shankar said some women in dangerous situations were rescued and moved to shelters.

But the question is, why are women moved to the shelters? According to the Domestic violence act of India, women are allowed to sty at home with their children while the abuser has to go to a rehabilitation centre.

Moreover, even when the women are being taken to the shelter homes or any victim is being taken, they are kept in poor conditions as the hygienic conditions are extremely pathetic in these shelters. They are over crowded with a lot of people staying in the same hall.

It’s as if they have escaped domestic violence but come to corona virus.

There hasn’t been a proper solution for curbing the domestic violence. The shelters aren’t of good quality and the complaints aren’t been taken up with a proper mechanism. This is a serious issue which needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

“There’s already so much sexism and gaslighting in Indian homes. It doesn’t take too much for these homes to turn violent,” said a researcher activist.

Global Surge In Domestic Violence Cases

  • The secretary of the United Nations, General António Guterre said that there has been surge in the domestic violence cases during the lockdown. He has called on governments around the world to make addressing the issue a key part of their response to the pandemic.
  • Domestic violence rates have surged in France and South Africa, according to Voice of America. In South Africa, authorities said there were nearly 90,000 reports of violence against women in the first week of a lockdown.
  • In Australia — where the government has promised some $91 million to address the problem as part of its COVID-19 response plan — Google reports a 75% increase in online searches for help with domestic violence.
  • France has announced that it would pay for hotel rooms for victims of domestic violence and open pop-up counselling centres after figures showed the number of abuse cases had soared during the first week of lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus. The French government has also announced an extra one million Euros ($1.1m) in funding for anti-domestic abuse organisations to help them respond to increased demand for services.

This is an issue which is highly prevalent in both, the rich and the poor nations. Domestic violence does not even pertain to the poor families, there have been cases of domestic violence even in the rich households. All first world countries have a large number of domestic violence cases right now and we must learn that this isn’t the right way to live. Supress corona, not your voice!

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