Posted on: October 4, 2020 Posted by: SRI VARSHINI. S Comments: 0
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INTRODUCTION:

     The issue relating to the Surge of Domestic Violence during Covid-19 pandemic has generated intense public debate in many parts of the world regarding the safety concerns. Domestic Violence has always been recognized as a global, economic and social issue for centuries. The prevalence of Domestic violence may vary from country to country but it is clear that this hassle exists in all the societies. Research has stated that the lockdown has led to the increase in number of domestic violence throughout the world. It is widely claimed that domestic violence is one of 21st century’s greatest challenges, and the Covid-19 lockdown, being what it is, has trapped people at home and given abusers free will to carry their misdeeds. The lockdown has led to horrifying global surge in domestic violence and has urged all governments globally, to include protective measures and safety regulations in their pandemic plans.

     Corona virus (Covid-19) pandemic which broke out in 2019 in the Wuhan city of China has directly affected mankind. The outbreak of Covid-19 has been declared red alert by the World Health Organization (WHO) and, globally, nations have imposed obligatory lockdowns. However, ever since the lockdown, attention is being centered on monetary repercussions and on providing food and shelter to the poor. The pandemic has exposed vulnerabilities and created challenges at different fronts too. One of such vulnerabilities is Domestic violence (DV) also known as Intimate partner violence (IPV). The vast majority of domestic violence victims are women, children, and LGBTQ+ individuals. Domestic violence can also take vicinity in heterosexual and same-sex household relationships. Domestic violence towards women and children has surged during the course of the lockdown. Women and children are trapped within their houses with the perpetrators and are going through extreme abuse. Violence against women is exponentially rising ever since the lockdown. Several nations have enacted special policies, legal guidelines and programs to deal with violence against women in homes.

Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on Domestic Abuse

COVID-19 has presented many challenges for us all and will have impacted family dynamics for a lot of people. COVID-19 crisis had caused deep impact on women in abusive relationships. Globally, 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner or sexual violence by any perpetrator in their lifetime.[1] Mostly this kind of violence is caused by intimate partners. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, noting the horrifying global surge, has called for a domestic violence a ‘ceasefire’.[2] Prior to the pandemic lockdown, reports stated that over 30% of women have been facing domestic abuse through intimate partners, be it physical violence or mental abuse. Currently the lockdown situation has trapped many women with their abusive partners. It is expected that millions of cases of violence, child marriage, female genital mutilation and unintended pregnancies may occur during this crisis, causing devastation.[3] The domestic homicide has exacerbated. 86% of Indian women who experience domestic violence do not try to seek help, and about 77% of women experiencing domestic violence do not mention the incident of domestic violence to family, friends or anyone.[4] Various domestic violence help lines and organizations all over the world are working constantly to deal with this global issue. In India, the mandatory lockdown which imposed restrictions on the mobility of 1.3 billion people ,in an attempt to slowdown the spread of Covid-19, during which the surge of domestic violence in India had doubled.  Recent data released by the National Legal Service Authority (NLSA) states that the nationwide lockdown has led to a rapid surge in domestic violence cases.[5]

Impact of domestic violence on physical and mental health

Covid-19 has impacted the mental health of the complete community in one or other manner, which along with domestic abuse has created an unimaginable mental health challenge. A survey aims to shed light on the level of stress that women are facing around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to assess their well-being and mental health. Due to various social, cultural and economic factors, women are going through a sharp amplification in care giving responsibilities, with even much less freedom, space or financial security. Covid-19 has affected women much more profoundly, even though the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC) found that the fatality rate for men at 2.8% was higher than women at 1.7%. Persons with pre-existing mental illnesses and substance use are particularly disadvantaged during the lockdowns. For persons with mental illness or epilepsy, reduced access to medication can lead to relapse of symptoms, as can the compounded stress.[6] Domestic violence manifests in different forms like physical, emotional, sexual but only physical violence gets highlighted. This pandemic has set a pavement for vigorous domestic violence which indeed impacts physical and mental health of the women.

Social and Economic Impact of Covid-19

The economic impact of COVID-19 ensuing from the widespread closure of businesses and industries puts increased monetary pressure on communities especially in particular segments of the population. Women work in insecure, lower-paid, part-time and casual employment, with little or no income security and social problem, such as health insurance plan – and are consequently less protected from financial recession in instances of crisis.[7] The social inequalities will place the most susceptible group of women at an even great chance of violence. The violence towards women and girls will proceed to escalate at the same time as unemployment, monetary traces increases. A loss of income for women in abusive condition makes it even more difficult for them to get away.

Steps taken by India to Prevent Domestic Violence

Most Non-Governmental organizations (NGOs) have taken innovative steps to prevent domestic violence during COVID-19. New campaigns also use social media to spread awareness of resources available to survivors, including hotlines, text message–based reporting, and mobile applications. The Delhi High court, after a petition filed through an NGO- All India Council of Human Rights, Liberties & Social Justice (AICHLS),[8] on 18 April 2020 directed the Delhi government to deliberate on measures to curb domestic violence and shield victims in the course of the lockdown. The state in its reply mentioned that it has put a protocol in place where if a survivor once calls the helpline number, the telephonic caller will take the complaint and will forward it to the counselor who will set up a telephonic conversation with the survivor on her account throughout the lockdown. However, this method has numerous flaws. The court has directed both the central and the state government to successfully enforce the provision of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005.[9]

CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS

It is imperative to tackle the increase of domestic violence against women during Covid-19 through accelerated and concerted efforts of governments, global and national civil society organizations and UN agencies. The needs of women and girls who face forms of discrimination need to be prioritized. The following can be recommended to decrease the surge of domestic violence during COVID-19:

  1. Allocate additional resources to address violence against women and girls in COVID-19 national response plans.
  2. Strengthen services for women who experience violence.
  3. Build key services to prevent and improve quality of response.
  4. Ensure sex-disaggregated data is collected to understand the impact of COVID-19 on violence against women and girls.

[1] World Health Organization, ‘COVID-19 and violence against women What the health sector/system can do’ 26 March 2020 < https://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/emergencies/COVID-19-VAW-full-text.pdf?ua=1>

[2] UN News, ‘UN chief calls for domestic violence ceasefire amid horrifying global surge’ 06 April 2020 <https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/04/1061052>

[3] UNFPA,’ Millions more cases of violence, child marriage, female genital mutilation unintended pregnancy expected due to the COVID-19 Pandemic’, 28 April 2020 < https://www.unfpa.org/news/millions-more-cases-violence-childmarriage-female-genital-mutilation-unintended-pregnancies

[4]The Hindu, ‘Data | Domestic violence complaints at a 10-year high during COVID-19 lockdown’, 22 June 2020

<https://www.thehindu.com/data/data-domestic-violence-complaints-at-a-10-year-high-during-covid-19-lockdown/article31885001.ece#! >

[5] Times of India, ‘Domestic violence cases in India on the rise during lockdown, says report’, 18 May 2020 < https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/relationships/love-sex/domestic-violence-cases-in-india-on-the-rise-during-lockdown-says-report/articleshow/75801752.cms>

[6] World Health Organization,‘Mental health and psychosocial considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak’, 18 March 2020 < No. WHO/2019-nCoV/Mental Health/2020.1>

[7] Tennessean, ‘Why COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to domestic violence | Opinion’, (22 July 2020), <https://www.tennessean.com/story/opinion/2020/07/22/why-covid-19-pandemic-has-given-rise-domestic-violence/5481831002/>

[8] ALL INDIA COUNCIL OF HUMAN RIGHTS, LIBERTIES AND SOCIAL JUSTICE v. UNION OF INDIA AND ORS (W.P. (C) 2973/2020 & CM APPL.10318/2020) [2020]

[9] Domestic Violence Act, 2005

SRI VARSHINI. S
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BBA.LLB (7TH Semester) Student at Alliance University, Bangalore         

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