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Domestic violence during the pandemic

 Domestic violence during the Covid pandemic is a major concern which indicates the negative psychological and social impact of the pandemic on our society. Countries all over the globe, have reported alarmingly high number of cases of violence faced in the households.  



Domestic violence

It refers to any sort of physical, sexual or emotional violence by a partner or any other family member. Women are the primary victims of this sort of violence. It is a crime according to section 498A of the Indian Penal Code. The Government of India had passed the ‘Protection of women from domestic violence act’ in 2005. 


Impact of the pandemic

Cases of violence have increased with the rise of Covid-19 pandemic. The National Commission for Women(NCW) received 13,410 complaints of crime against women between March- September, 2020. Out of the complaints received, 4350 were about the problem of domestic violence. Not only in India, but a rise in cases were seen globally. According to a report by the UN in 2020, 243 million women and girls were subjected to domestic violence worldwide.


A drastic rise in cases were seen, even when many of the cases go unreported due to the social stigma attached to it. Research shows that violence tends to increase in conditions of any crisis or disaster. A similar rise in cases of violence in households was seen during the Ebola outbreak between 2014-2020. 

Causes of increase in violence

The pandemic has led to quarantine in many of the countries, it has completely changed the day to day lifestyle of the people. The pandemic has restricted the movement and confined people to their house. It has also economically impacted people with a rise in unemployment and other losses. This has contributed to psychological distress among the people.


Unfortunately the stress, anger and frustration has culminated into violence in some households. There is also a lack of social support or protective network for the victim because of isolation inside the house. Many find it difficult to access timely help or intervention in these situations. 


Solutions

The first and foremost step is to make people aware about it and give them proper knowledge to access help. Most of the survivors have limited information about seeking justice against violence. Many of them hesitate to speak up or register a complaint. Under-reporting of cases is a major problem. Surveys show that only 7% of the victims reach out for help. In such conditions legitimate information and awareness plays a crucial role in raising voice against the crime. Building an easily accessible community support system for the victims and giving them psycho-social support is another important step. 


Various social media campaigns have helped to make support accessible in the times of Covid-19. Often youngsters have actively involved themselves in such awareness campaigns. Recently, NCW had launched a Whatsapp based helpline to ease the process during the pandemic. Some state governments had also started different initiatives like tele-counselling programmes for women. The UN had also launched the ‘Shadow pandemic public awareness campaign’ to raise awareness about the increasing violence. 

Domestic violence is a social evil which needs to be eradicated for the betterment of our society.