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Domestic violence amid Covid19 lockdown in Kashmir

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By: Noorain Jeelani

There is a greater risk of rise in domestic violence during the lockdown and women, who are mostly the victims of domestic violence, have no way to reach out and yell for help in the given circumstances.  There is no escape, no way to reach out to friends or relatives, no way to seek help for those women who are facing domestic violence in this hour of worst pandemic that has confined us all to our homes. In such a scenario, women who are facing domestic violence go unheard and unreported while the perpetrators of the violence assume a safety net around them due to the lockdown. Some cases of domestic violence that have been reported are actually tip of an iceberg and we, as a society must be very active and conscious about our surroundings, neighborhoods to detect any such unfortunate happening and report that to the concerned authorities so that no precious life is lost.

Violence is an aggressive behaviour or an act of Physical force, the purpose of which is to hurt or harm someone. It is the power misused by anyone in a relationship to control or make dominance on the other.  Domestic violence is not only limited to physical violence alone rather we can say any behaviour the purpose of which is to grab power and to establish control over a partner or intimate family member. There are multiple forms of violence including physical, verbal, emotional, religious, sexual abuse or harassment which can range from aggressive and oppressive forms to marital rape, violent physical abuse or even death.

The most victims of domestic violence are extensively and profusely women.  Women have been the worst sufferers of domestic abuse and the cases are accelerating amid Covid -19 lockdown. According to a survey, the cycle of violence in Kashmir valley has taken its toll and women tend to experience more severe forms of violence from the in-laws or spouses and in most common intimate relationships there may be constant cycle of abuse during which conflicts and tensions rise and an act of violence is committed- in worst case scenario women have been ruthlessly murdered as well.

We know that the religion of Islam has given womenfolk a status which no other religion did and any form of emotional or psychological abuse or any kind of unethical treatment of women is prohibited in Islam. Islam strongly disallows any form of oppression or abuse.  Prohphet Mohammad (pbuh) said ‘the best among you is the best towards his wife’.

In most cases, dowry related conflicts are seen between the couples that give rise to mental torment followed by physical violence leading to even murders and suicides. This is one major reason for domestic violence and has caused tremendous to womenfolk. Many poor parents hesitate to get their daughters married for the same reason and since they don’t posses enough financial avenues, the daughters are often tortured by their in-laws.

A number of domestic violence incidents happened in our valley during this Covid lockdown. A few months ago a 32 year old woman ended her life at her in-laws house in South Kashmir’s Anantnag District, and in a video recorded before her death the woman had accused her in-laws for assaulting her and setting her ablaze. Another incident that happened in Bandipora District as a 27 year old woman was found dead in mysterious condition.

In this lockdown, the perpetrators have got opportunity to harm women and it isn’t a secret that even the working women are also facing domestic violence. Working women who, before lockdown, would somehow vent their pain and emotions either with friends or family, now find it very hard to spare a moment to speak out as they are under continuous surveillance.

Domestic violence victims face worsened physical and psychological health disorders such as depression, anxiety, lack of sleep, heart problems and go on to commit suicide. There is no relief for the survivors of gender based violence as there are no domestic violence shelters in Kashmir and the moment restrictions and lockdown hampers NGO’s  and courts to do their work, there is a sudden rise in such cases.

It is a matter of concern that erudite and civilized people are also involved n this criminal practice. It becomes our moral obligation to teach and guide our children and youngsters about Islamic marriage including the rights of bride and duties of grooms post marriage. it is also obligatory for in-laws so that they should treat their bride or daughter-in-law as their own daughter and treat her with love and honour as she is entitled to.  Awareness programmes must be organized to teach young people to make healthy relationships that can prevent violence.

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