Domestic Violence Featured

A Mirror to The deep-rooted domestic violence culture in India

The coronavirus pandemic is revealing the hidden pandemic that the world has been shrouding. With COVID19 triggered lockdowns, many are trapped in their house; for some the experience is fine but a substantial portion of them are confronting their worst nightmare. Vulnerable are condemned to live with their abuser under the same roof for a very long time; as a result during the pandemic cases of domestic violence against women has seen a sharp spike, globally.

But what is the main cause of domestic violence? How COVID19 pandemic has made the situation more worse for the vulnerable? And what can be done to protect women from falling prey to domestic violence?

Domestic Violence: The Shadow Pandemic

Brutality on women by her partner is a common occurrence as says the UN; one in every three women globally suffers violence, and mostly by their spouse. According to the United Nations Women 2020, in last year close to 243 million girls and women of the age group 15 to 49 were subjected to some form of physical or sexual violence by their intimate partner.

Now with everyone bound to stay in their homes, the cases have astoundingly grown; says the survey of 122 community organisation, conducted by the UN Trust Funs and End Violence against Women and Girls (VAW/G), 2020. The surging domestic violence cases are becoming a global concern and have been named as “The Shadow Pandemic”.

‘This is the Shadow Pandemic growing amidst the COVID-19 crisis and we need a global collective effort to stop it’ UN Women. With the surging cases of coronavirus infection and domestic violence; along with hospital helping-homes sheltering abused women and girls have also reached their full capacity. Physical or sexual harassment, cyberbullying and other forms of persecution are on uprising amid the pandemic.

It is difficult to pinpoint what exactly causes domestic violence. This mainly reflects the learned behaviours of the culprit; which make them feel having a sense of control over their partner. It is very widely found because of the belief that they can get away with it. Lack of education, social forces (gender-role identity), impunity, etc play a very important role in shaping abuser’s values and attitude.

Home: not a safe place

The restrictions imposed during the pandemic is making the truth crystal clear; home is still not a safe place for many women and girls globally. India has never been a safe country for women but; the staggering increase in the number of domestic violence cases during the lockdown is gut-wrenching.

According to the National Commission of Women (NCW), between March-September, there have been outpouring, 13,410 complaints of domestic violence; crime against women in the highly restricted zones (red zone) was 131% higher than the zones with fewer restrictions (green zone). The cases hit a peak in July with 2,914 complaints of misdoing against women, highest since November 2018 (#MeToo movement).

774 of the 2,914 complaints were filed under clause Right to Live With Dignity; which accounts for the emotional abuse of the victim. The number surely do not paint the real picture because according to a study, only 14% of the women experiencing violence reach out for help, true figures are much greater.

Domestic Violence: is there a way out?

The patriarchal society of the country have objectified women for a long time, now in the modern time things have changed but evidence of the deep-rooted misogyny can be ascertained in headlines every day. Rapes, honour-killing, Dowry related abuses, domestic violence, sexual assault and gender-based discrimination in the country have made India to becomes the most dangerous country for women in the survey of the Thomson Reuters Foundations in 2018.

Eradicating crime against women especially domestic violence is a far-fetched dream but attainable. Reaching out for help whenever in suffering is the shortest route to the dream’s accomplishment. In most cases, women do not go for help because of family reputation. India is a country where despite one of every 3 women is a victim of domestic violence, 52% women and 42% men believe it is fine for women to be abused by its family.

According to the United Nations violence against women and girls is a violation of human rights, therefore being tormented and abused by in-laws or partner is not okay. Schemes like Emergency Response Support System and One Stop Centres are the initiatives by the government to ensure the safety of women in the country but as long as people themselves don’t step forwards to speak up, these are of no use.

Financial Independence, community support, more attentive and supportive women helping agencies and most importantly advocacy and awareness can together India a better place for women too.

“Systematic creation of support infrastructure (easy access helplines, secure shelter services with enabling cultures), bystander intervention awareness and gender violence sensation of the police and administration especially for crisis context, would have mitigated the epidemic of violence. But the truth is we simply don’t care enough”; says Swarna Rajagopalan (Writer, Political Analyst, Consultant, Social Entrepreneur) in dissapointment.