By Justice Pranita A. Deshpande.
It is said that there are many doors which can take one to the death and if we start counting them, our imagination stops. Causes such as aging, accidents, victims, crime, illness, attacks, suicides. One more reason has now been added. That is “Covid 19”.
As the corona virus has been spreading rapidly, most countries in the world resorted to lockdown. Strict adherence to the rules of lockdown is the message of ‘Stay home – Stay safe’. But then a confusing question suddenly arises – ‘What if home is not a safe place for some of us?’
The most vulnerable elements in society are women and children – have always had to face or have to go through oppression. Violence against women and children has doubled or tripled in the wake of the Emergency, the financial crisis and the pandemic.
The United Nations (UN) branch, which works for global women’s empowerment, gender equality and the prevention of violence against women and girls, has condemned the escalating domestic violence in Covid Lockdown as ‘Shadow Pandemic’. It is said that the pandemic , which comes on foot, but is just as fierce.
Violence against women remains devastatingly pervasive and starts alarmingly young, shows new data from WHO and partners. Across their lifetime, 1 in 3 women, around 736 million, are subjected to physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner or sexual violence from a non-partner – a number that has remained largely unchanged over the past decade.
“But unlike COVID-19, violence against women cannot be stopped with a vaccine. We can only fight it with deep-rooted and sustained efforts – by governments, communities and individuals – to change harmful attitudes, improve access to opportunities and services for women and girls, and foster healthy and mutually respectful relationships.”
WHO and partners warn that the COVID-19 pandemic has further increased women’s exposure to violence, as a result of measures such as lockdowns and disruptions to vital support services.
Violence disproportionately affects women living in low- and lower-middle-income countries. An estimated 37% of women living in the poorest countries have experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence in their life, with some of these countries having a prevalence as high as 1 in 2.
The regions of Oceania, Southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa have the highest prevalence rates of intimate partner violence among women aged 15-49, ranging from 33% – 51%. The lowest rates are found in Europe (16–23%), Central Asia (18%), Eastern Asia (20%) and South-Eastern Asia (21%).
Younger women are at highest risk for recent violence. Among those who have been in a relationship, the highest rates (16%) of intimate partner violence in the past 12 months occurred among young women aged between 15 and 24.
Domestic violence is on the rise across the globe during pandemic.This conclusion is drawn from the statistics of women who could be contacted for help via helplines, police, and other service providers during lockdowns. But the number of women whose calls do not reach us is also huge. Lack of phone facility, lack of patience, fear of being caught, etc., many obstacles prevent them from reporting.
In India, complaints of domestic violence are made to the National Commission for Women. According to the latest figures from the National Commission for Women, the number of complaints received during the lockdown has more than doubled compared to the normal period. The cases of domestic violence are more prevalent in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Delhi and Maharashtra.
The National Commission for Women has launched a special WhatsApp helpline number: +91 7217735372, which will act as an exclusive helpline for domestic violence complaints during the period of lockdown.
This will be in addition to the emails, online complaints links, and helpline numbers
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has also collaborated with the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences to provide psychological support to women facing domestic violence through the helpline number.
Along with this partnership with different NGOs may assist government efforts to combat this shadow pandemic.
French Government to House Domestic Abuse Victims in Hotels as Cases Rise During Coronavirus Lockdown. France introduced a separate initiative to encourage women to report domestic abuse in pharmacies.They also decided to set up a counselling center in the shops to help the women who came to the shops to buy goods.
The move follows a similar one in Spain where women can go to their pharmacy and request a “Mask 19” – a code word that will alert the pharmacist to contact the authorities.
If a woman victim of domestic violence in the United States calls 999 and dials 55, the police will receive a silent call.This is one of the ways you can urgently get in touch with police if you’re stuck inside with an abuser.The police are also raising awareness for women to make maximum use of this facility.
The Council of Australian Governments endorsed the Fourth Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022, agreeing on five national priorities to reduce family, domestic and sexual violence Against Women and their Children 2010-2022.
The Stop it at the Start campaign encourages adults to “unmute” themselves and empowers them to take actions that will have a positive influence on the attitudes and behaviors of young people. A suite of tools and resources will be available online at www.respect.gov.au to parents and young people about respectful relationships.
When it comes to the Netherlands,The government wants to tackle and prevent domestic abuse. Measures include public information campaigns, domestic exclusion orders and protection for victims. If there is an immediate threat, call 112 and ask for the police.There is also a service called ‘Veilig Thuis‘(Safe at home),which is a state-run advice and reporting point for any domestic violence or child abuse. You can always call it (for free), 24 hours per day, on 0800 2000.The service also runs shelters, gives advice, and provides support.
In many countries people are living with their extended families which has, sometimes, more than ten people in one house and also with their abusers (more than one).
Coronavirus has shown us the importance of local community and how volunteering shall strengthen the bond that comes from looking after each other’s.