OPINION

Domestic Violence During COVID–19 Pandemic

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By: Asiya Wani and Abid Hussain Rather

The year 2020 will be remembered differently in the human history. While most of us will remember it for disastrous COVID-19 pandemic which disrupted the normal life of almost every human being but unfortunately some among the feminine gender who suffered from the brutalities of strong gender will remember it as a year of extreme violence. Though some people are of the opinion that despite being so unfair, Covid-19 pandemic has some positive impacts on us like it has reduced environmental pollution, it has made the family relationships strong which had become weak as everyone among us was busy with worldly affairs; but this pandemic has undoubtedly given rise to the lousy evil of domestic violence. Women folk have suffered too much from the evil of domestic violence during the pandemic.

The main slogan used to combat the battle of pandemic is “stay home, stay safe,” but for many women staying at home means nothing as safe as the slogan speaks about. The loss of security in the world is only a reflection of the loss of security in the house. A lot of what we see outside is really a reflection of what’s happening inside.

An incident of mid April:

It was 2 :30 am when Daniel Jimenez was awoken by his neighbour’s screams. When he went outside his home in the Los Pajarillos neighbourhood of Valladolid  in north–west  Spain,  he saw a woman hanging from a third – storey window. Another neighbour rushed out with mattresses to help break her fall but he was too late. She fell to her death. So is this universal slogan “stay home, stay safe,” equally helpful to women. As on one end we are concerned about women’s health and asking them to stay at home.

The words mostly used during pandemic like “self isolation,” “stay at home,” and “practice social distancing” are all to be terrifying for many women who are living with intimate partner violence (IPV). The lives of these women are often filled with fear and danger under normal circumstances but because of ‘stay home’ mantra, they are becoming more prone to domestic violence.

Statistical data and some reported incidents :

  • In Delhi, a social worker got a call from a woman saying she was in terrible pain after being beaten up by her in–laws and asked to leave. When the social worker took her for a medical checkup, she found that the abuse had resulted in broken bones. About 32 complaint were received per 1 million women in Delhi, the highest compliment rate.
  • In U. P which is one of the worst state for violence against women in the country, the police has launched a new domestic violence helpline as cases surged during the COVID–19 lockdown. U. P recorded 600 complaints, the highest among all states.
  • In Hubei, the origin of the deadly outbreak, domestic violence reports to police have tripled during the lockdown.  As countries around the world quarantine their citizens, domestic abuse cases are rising. The working class people are sitting idle at home. They have more time to find faults with their partners in their day to day activities.
  • According to the National Commission for Women chairperson Rekha Sharma, “The number has increased. Men are frustrated sitting at home and are taking out that frustration on women. This trend is especially seen in Punjab from where we have received many such complaints”.
  • The UK has reported femicide rates higher than they have been in the past 11 years, double the average for a 21 day period.
  • Mexico has reported an 8 % increase in femicides with nearly 1,000 women murdered in the first three months of the year. These data clearly indicate an escalation of more severe forms of violence, likely leading to an increase in the number of IPV – related traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).
  • In 2020 between March 25 and May 31, 1,477 complaints of domestic violence were made by women. This 68–day period recorded more complaints than those received between March and May in the previous 10 years.
  • About 86% women who experienced violence never sought help, and 77 % of the victims did not even mention the incidents to anyone. The table shows that women who were subjected to both physical and
  • sexual violence seek help relatively
  • more than those who suffer from
  • only one form of abuse.

A lesson to learn:

The Arabic and Hebrew word for “womb” is ‘rahm’ and is derived from the word mercy (rahma). Womb is also an expression of the creative power of God in women. In degrading women, we degrade the highest qualities of our human nature, in elevating her, we elevate our highest nature.

It is the foremost duty of both common masses and government authorities to curb the menace of domestic violence at an earliest. Educating people especially younger generation about domestic violence by inviting speakers from local religious organisations, women social activists, NGOs and other social groups, schools and other educational institutes should address these issues. A women while facing violence should identify safest place to safeguard herself. If safe shelter is not available she should call for help by dialing local women helpline number. Government should frame strict and harsh laws and policies to curb the menace of domestic violence.

(Asiya Wani is M. Ed student at Cluster University Jammu and Abid Hussain Rather teaches Geography at GDC, Kulgam. They  can be reached at rather1294@gmail.com)

Data on the type of violence and their disclosure released by National Family Health Survey.

 

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