DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: THE SHADOW PANDEMIC
It is the lockdown time frame, and everybody is sitting in their homes, using their time in their way. Men continue sitting in front of the TV, and the kids are occupied in their telephones chit-chatting and recalling the school and college days. But here come ladies who continue pursuing the family needs and trying to figure out what to prepare the next day. This is what is happening in a middle-class family. Despite what might be expected, the inverse occurs in a lower-class family who are struggling to battle every day of lockdown. The men in the family locate a little motivation to show their strength by getting rough on ladies. The psychological wellness of the kids and ladies in the family exacerbates each other day. Indeed, the National Commission of Women during this lockdown has reported many cases.
With 90 nations in lockdown, more than 3 billion people are shielding at their home from the global pestilence of COVID-19. It's a defensive measure; however, it brings another dangerous peril, i.e., violence against women. This is a shadow pandemic growing, and the casualties are much more in correlation with the worldwide disease COVID-19. At the hour of the global pandemic, the United Nations perceives violence against women like a shadow pandemic. Violence against women has always been a hidden epidemic in India as the cases are left under-reported. The police administration keeping in mind the features of patriarchal society, refuses to register cases and settle it at the police station itself by stating the chronology of the steps they have to take, leading to loss of efforts, time, and money. Surprisingly, nations like Spain, France, UK, Australia, China, and Bangladesh have likewise announced an enormous increment in the casualties since the pandemic broke out.
STAY HOME, STAY SAFE: AN IRONY
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has tended to the country multiple times, asking the individuals to remain inside their homes to keep themselves away from the contagious COVID-19. Indeed, even the doctors guaranteed that the house is the most secure spot to be. But Ironically, home is the most unsafe place to be in for domestic violence victims. Over the past three weeks, as economic and social pressures and fear have grown, there can be seen a horrifying global surge in domestic violence. Domestic violence can be verbal, psychological, financial, and sexual. The main reason for domestic violence is a patriarchal society. Men dominate women using power and control, and women feel weak in front of them. The lockdown has made it impossible for men to control their own lives as they are unable to do anything. Everything is beyond their power and control. As a result, they yell their frustration on the women in the house. Mental issues emerge out of confinement just as responsive misery, however as opposed to perceiving these issues and looking for help, men become brutal. The caregivers, however, are the bearer of their brutality.
The victims are unable to vent out because they are themselves living in with the miscreants who are stopping them from calling for help. Mask- 19, which became a quite viral code in Spain and France, is a new way sufferer called out for help by just spelling out to the chemists. The robust democracies in the world must take note of these innovative measures and inform the people about it.
Keeping in mind the brutalities against the women, it is high time for the legislators to address these issues as they are the ones at the Armageddon battling against the COVID- 19 taking the form of doctors, nurses, healthcare- workers, etc. We not only need a strategy to prevent trade-offs but protecting victims from domestic violence must be included in the action plan to fight the pandemic.
Direct helplines and online counselling should be improved, and in case there is no access to the internet in remote areas, police administration should make sure that there is no such mishappening, and if found, strict actions must be taken against those malicious individuals. Psychosocial centres must be opened in rural areas as well as urban areas where women can address their problems and boost up their confidence. Social media such as online posts, memes, and short films if found taunting and belittling men for providing a helping hand to women to be reported and acted upon. Enhancing geolocation facilities may be added to the list.
Prime minister Narendra Modi who has a large fan base, must ask the people of the country and media channels to raise awareness that domestic violence is a punishable offence under section 498- A of Indian Penal Code. Yes, raising awareness can do it. After all, the issue of domestic violence starts straight from our homes, and it can be prevented by not doing in the first place.
Notwithstanding one intimidating crisis, another can't be ignored. The COVID-19 emergency gives us an extraordinary chance to understand and enact strategies that can prevent domestic violence in times of global crisis.
Symbiosis Law School, Noida