Domestic Violence against Women: War behind Locked Doors during Lockdown
The lockdown made people to stay at home for a long period of time, it clearly indicates that the increased number of crimes against women have taken place behind the doors of their houses.
By Lipsa Nandini & Prajwal Singh: Exploiting women has been an old practice in our society and domestic violence plays a vital role in the process. Women have always been assumed to be vulnerable and in a position to be exploited. Domestic violence is the violence against women by her spouse, her in-laws or both.
While the doors of the house are meant to protect the women from the hazards of the outside world, women are being tortured and exploited inside them. Domestic violence can be anything among hitting, slapping, shoving, homicide, restraining, throwing objects, etc. Domestic violence can be family violence, spouse violence, intimate partner violence, or any other abuse against women.
Indeed, the women of India have developed a lot throughout the past years but it seems like the society has still a long way to go and develop itself for the women to be completely safe and respected in it. We live in one of those countries, where marital rape is still not a crime and women are mocked at as ‘stubborn’ and ‘characterless’ for raising their voice to seek justice. Women have always been expected to compromise their quality of life and self-respect which in return reduces their self-sufficiency, productivity and confidence.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the cases of violence against women have increased as reported by the ‘National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)’. And as we know that the lockdown made people to stay at home for a long period of time, it clearly indicates that the increased number of crimes against women have taken place behind the doors of their houses. Therefore, we can rather say that the Covid-19 pandemic caused an elevation in the number of domestic violence cases against women in India.
And so, there was an increase in the number of sexual and intimate partner violence cases. As per the Crime in India Report of 2018 released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), in every 1.7 minutes in India, there is a crime happening against women and in every 4.4 minutes, a woman is subjected to domestic violence and the Covid-19 pandemic escalated the situation. And therefore, owing to the pandemic, half of the women population in India has been at risk. And it’s high time that the government and the people of India start working together towards protecting the dignity of women.
REASONS BEHIND THE INCREASE IN DOMESTIC VIOLENCE DURING COVID-19 IN INDIA
THE DIRECT RELATION BETWEEN THE INCREASED ECONOMIC DISTRESS AND THE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IN THE COUNTRY:
The decreased economic rate and increased unemployment in the country happened to be directly proportional to the increased cases of domestic violence against women. As per various reports, India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contracted by 7.3% in 2020-21. Due to the pandemic, the unemployment rate rose to 6%-7% as per the surveys done by the government. Therefore, the financial stress spread among every second house across the country and especially in the lower-middle class and lower class families and this financial stress in a house generally leads to the violence against women. Researches show that mostly women have been victims to violence in houses with financial strain.
It can be said that women have become a source for the husbands and the family members to vent out their frustration and stress upon. The men in the families found a way to deal with the economic distress and their feeling of helplessness by abusing the women. And financial background is also a factor for women to leave their abusive partner if they do not earn and are totally dependent on their husbands. And due to the lockdown, the women could not even seek to social support which fostered the abuse and violence even more. The women not only across the country but across the globe where locked up with torturers and abusers inside the house.
EFFECT OF COVID-19 PANDEMIC ON THE RATE OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IN INDIA
According to the reports of NCRB and NCW, domestic violence against women has increased immensely in the year 2020 as compared to the year 2019, which is after the widespread of COVID-19 across the country. According to the NCRB, the number of cases of dowry deaths in 2019 was 49806; in 2020, the number of cases increased to 52616, approximately increased by 6 percent during COVID-19. Similarly, the number of cases registered for cruelty by a husband or his relatives in 2019 was 622091, while in 2020 the number of cases was elevated to 677185, a 9 percent increase in the number of cases. And according to the reports of NCW, the cases against the protection of women against domestic violence in 2019 were 2960, which increased to 5297 in 2020 which is an increase of approximately 79 percent.
EFFECT OF COVID-19 ON THE RATE OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IN ODISHA:
According to the NCRB, the total number of cases of crimes against women in Odisha before COVID-19 in 2019 was 118324, while in 2020; the number was elevated to 136884, roughly 16 percent increase.
ROLE OF THE GOVERNMENT, CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS (CSOs), AND INDIVIDUALS IN HELPING WOMEN AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
It’s high time now to raise our voices against domestic violence and help the women, live a life of dignity and confidence. And for that each and every person of the society needs to put equal efforts. Therefore, the roles that should be played by the people from different backgrounds are discussed below:
ROLE OF THE GOVERNMENT:
The government is the apex of the country and so it should be for the revolution against domestic violence. First of all, the government should raise awareness regarding different facts like the women helpline numbers, different laws made for the safety of women, different institutions in place for the women including the shelters specially made for the survivors of domestic violence or abuse.
A lot of women are there who want a way out for themselves but don’t know the right way to do it. The women should also be well informed about the PWDVA (Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005). Especially speaking about the illiterate and tribal women in the rural areas, they should be made understand, the abuse and violence that they go through at home is a crime and they should be assured justice and freedom by the government. The government should also put efforts towards empowerment of woman in terms of providing livelihood support which would make them self-sufficient. Becoming confident and independent would drastically help the women to take a stand for their rights and fight for their dignity.
ROLE OF THE CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS:
Civil Society Organizations are the ones that work for the welfare of the people. One such example is ‘Seva Mandir’ that has been working for the women since past 40 years in the southern Rajasthan. The CSOs which are particularly working for the rights of women and women empowerment should work as a bridge between the Govt. and the grassroots women. More efforts to be given for raising awareness and helping the distressed to reach the right place to seek justice, as very few organizations work in this field in particular areas which needs to be increased and the work to be done more actively.
ROLE OF INDIVIDUALS:
Besides the social organizations and the government, we as an individual have some duties that we should perform to stop domestic violence against women. It would still make a difference if we manage to help one woman, victimized by the domestic abuse. If any such kind of crime would be happening in our neighborhood or our surrounding, it should be our responsibility to help the woman by telling her the right way to find her way out of it or file a complaint in favor of the woman who couldn’t seek help for herself. A little amount of support would be enough to gather a lot of courage for a victimized woman. What we need to remember is, ‘a mass revolution starts from a small change.’
“SHE is just not a gender,
SHE brings your life into existence
How can you still judge her?
How can you still not respect her?
Many roles do SHE play,
Many responsibilities do SHE carry;
An embodiment of selfless lover as a MOTHER,
The wind beneath your flying wings as a SISTER.
SHE is the idol of sacrifice as a WIFE,
Your little guiding angel is the DAUGHTER;
A pillar of strength when SHE’S a BEST FRIEND,
And the epitome of compassion as a GIRL FRIEND.
SHE is not a burden,
SHE does not bring you shame.
It is not her fault for being WOMAN or GIRL;
Let her smile, swing and swirl.
Why can’t she live however she wants?
Why can’t she wear whatever she likes?
It’s high time for you to let her grow and learn;
Does she still need your permission to earn?”
—- Lipsa Nandini