Lockdown on one hand has ensured safety of lakhs of Indians from Coronavirus, but on the other hand, it means worsened living conditions and frequent abuse for a lot of people. The period of lockdown has seen a steep increase in the cases of domestic violence and other gendered violence.
“Lockdown can’t mean that you save me from a virus, but you expose me to other forms of violence,” said Ms. Vrinda Grover, a senior Advocate and women’s rights activist.
Abuse Is Like A Ticking Bomb
Lockdown was imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus. But for women and children, it means sharing the same roof with abusers. Within the four walls, potential abusers are coming out of their shells to exploit the quarantine situation.
Why Cases Of Abuse Rise In Pandemic?
Ms. Jaya Velankar, the Director of Delhi-based NGO explains why women face abuse and domestic violence in crisis.
“There is evidence that in situations of crisis or calamity there is an increase in violence against women. There is a lot of anxiety in people’s minds uncertainty about whether they will find a job, whether there will be pay cuts, there are hardships such as in accessing food. In a patriarchal society like ours, men find women easy targets for venting their anger.” – Ms. Velankar
National Commission of Women (NCW) received 257 complaints, out of which 69 are cases of domestic violence in the very first week of the lockdown (24th March-1st April).
These numbers indicate just the reported cases, while the actual numbers could be much bigger with the monsters inside the same walls as the victims.
Rekha Sharma, the Chairperson of NCW said, “The actual number of cases is much higher as there are women who don’t report such incidents. They are afraid that if they file a complaint against their husband then their in-laws will torture them or when their husbands will come out of jail then he will torture them again and this time mercilessly.”
Also Read: Things We Need to Teach Our Sons!!
Cases Of Sexual Abuse Against Women And Children
For many, the lockdown was a temporary stop on rape cases, but the reality is abominable.
A 16-year-old raped by a friend and 8 others – The case is from Dumka, Jharkhand. This gruesome crime took place on 24th March. An FIR at Gopikandar police station was registered on 27th March by the girl and her parents.
14-year-old raped by stepfather – “We received a complaint on March 25 from a 14-year-old girl stating that she has been raped several times by her stepfather.” – Golconda Police
4-year-old raped near Ashwini Kumar crematorium, Katargam, Surat – The child was sexually abused near the railway station by an unidentified man and later abandoned on the railway tracks.
8-year-old raped by her 19-year-old cousin – “An FIR was registered based on a complaint lodged by the girl’s family and the suspect was held. During questioning, the suspect, who is a cousin of the girl, confessed to the crime.”– Police Official, Noida.
25-year-old raped for two days by a doctor – On the suspicion of being corona positive, the woman was admitted to the emergency ward where the attending doctor raped her for two days on 2nd and 3rd April.
All the above rape cases have been registered during the period of lockdown. And there is a probability of the occurrence of many more cases that were either not reported or not covered by mainstream media.
Gendered violence during the coronavirus period is not just limited to women and children, but also extends to the LGBTQ community. People belonging to the LGBTQ community are facing physical and psychological abuse at the hands of their family or neighbours, who might be unaccepting of their identity.
Jobs and working outside their house gave them the freedom to escape the oppression by their own family members, but due to the lockdown, they have to face the same physical and emotional abuse all over again.
Addressing domestic violence during the lockdown is important and it is true that the police is busy maintaining the lockdown. But apart from the police, NGOs, NCW and other helplines are working for women’s welfare even in lockdown. Women should know that there are helplines and WhatsApp numbers that are working for their safety.
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