In this period of the pandemic, we all are locked in our houses considering our home to be the safest place. In this lockdown we feel safe at our houses, but does everyone feel the same? The answer is NO. Some people are going through the worst situations even in their houses. They are facing ‘domestic violence. This sounds like a big threat in itself. Domestic violence is increasing all over the world day by day and during the lockdown, it is increasing speedily. Not only do women suffer through it, men and old age people also are suffering through domestic violence.
Domestic violence in simple words is an action for the purpose of gaining power and control over a spouse, partner, or any other close family member. According to Adrianna Mello, a Judge specializing in domestic violence, almost 40% to 50% of cases are increased during this quarantine period all over the world. According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), a 20% increase in domestic violence is reported during an average three-month lockdown in all 193 UN member states. Researchers are expecting 15 million more cases of domestic violence every three months if lockdown keeps extending. These cases are almost getting doubled and tripled in several countries.
According to a recent survey by Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF), a human rights organization, at least 4,249 women and 456 children were subjected to domestic violence in 27 out of 64 districts of Bangladesh in April, with 1,672 women and 424 children facing violence for the first time in their lives. In the U.S, many cities recorded 15% – 20% more cases in the lockdown period. The Atlanta hospital reported a 15% increase in domestic violence cases in their facilities. Russia reported at least one-fourth increase in cases of domestic violence in a month during this pandemic.
National Commission for Women in India registered 587 domestic violence complaints which are an approximately a 45% hike between March 23 to April 16. In the first week of March (beginning of lockdown), France reported a 32% rise in rural and suburban areas of the country. By the end of the month, this figure increased to 36% in Paris. In China, police stations reported a nearby tripled number of domestic violence cases during February 2020 as compared to February 2019. According to statistics, 90% of the causes of this violence are related to the COVID-19 epidemic, citing quarantine anxiety, economic insecurity, and weakened victim support networks as factors.
Cases from all over the world
In China, a 26-year-old woman named Lele has gone through a big tragedy being in her own house. On March 1, she was holding her 11-month-old daughter. Arguments started between Lele and her husband about the financial crisis. During this argumentation, her husband started beating her with a chair. Her left leg started bleeding badly but still, she somehow managed to protect her baby and herself. She said her husband abused her many times since their marriage but during the lockdown, it was getting worse. Lele then immediately informed the police and also filed a divorce. But due to pandemics, her proceedings are postponed till April 15. And until she finds a new house she has to survive in the same house with an abuser.
In Spain, The New York Times with the women’s associations contacted women who are stuck with their abusive partners. One of them was Ana, who is sharing an apartment with her partner who is abusing her on daily basis. Her partner insists on total surveillance all the time. He doesn’t even let her use the bathroom alone. She told that her privacy is invaded and she can’t survive in such a situation for longer.
Mithu aged 48 is from Kolkata, India said over a call to the city’s helpline number that she is being abused by her husband and mother-in-law. Her husband is a short-tempered and foul-mouthed man. They blame Mithu for ruining her husband’s life and keeps abusing her. Nearby police officers reported her house after receiving this call. A 70-year-old woman is being tortured by her husband and son for money and food in her own house.
In Italy, an activist received a message from a woman who had locked herself in the bathroom to protect herself from her husband who keeps abusing her. She asked for urgent help in this message. On 19th March, Spain recorded a heinous domestic violence case during the lockdown. A woman was murdered by her husband in her own house in the presence of their children.
Causes and effects of domestic violence:
- Feeling of inferiority. In this era, women are educated, independent, and strong. Some men with low mentality feel jealous about women’s superiority in education or economically. They can’t bear this feeling of inferiority and starts abusing women in their house to show that they are superior. This has been a major cause of domestic violence in both rural and urban areas across the globe;
- Dominant beliefs. Most men have blindly believed that women are not equal to men. They have the right to control their wives or partners. They can behave with women the way they want. Those people with these beliefs are one of the most dangerous viruses in society;
- Situational factors. When a child is grown in a family where abuse has taken place, the child is more likely to commit it in the future. Many women who suffered through violence in their past are also likely to commit violence against their daughter-in-law. This cause speaks itself that a child or a victim is affected so badly that they commit such violence in their future;
- Alcohol or drugs. Consuming alcohol and drugs, one can lose his sound mind and becomes aggressive. Men after consuming liquor become violent against their partners and abuse them in physical or sexual form. In this situation, gender can be reversed. Yes, women with the habit of consuming alcohol or drugs also abuse their husbands or in-laws;
- Sexual desires. When sexual desires of some men are not fulfilled by their partners or when women refuse for having intercourse with their partners, violence enters the scenario. This cause leads to sexual abuse or violence against women in many countries.
Domestic violence directly affects the mental health of women. They are tortured in the way that they find suicide as an option for escape. Physically they have to suffer from various permanent injuries and diseases. Suicidal cases are increasing day by day and the most common reason behind this is domestic violence. The most affected member in the family is a child. When a child is grown in a family where violence has become a habit, he is affected mentally and is more likely to commit violence in the future.
Actions were taken against domestic violence
Countries are coming up with new ways to tackle domestic violence during the lockdown period. Italy has launched an app for asking for help without making any phone calls. France has launched an initiative to help victims by websites and also implemented code words to ask pharmacy staff for help. Australia has created a family and domestic violence task force to work with the police force for better service.
National Commission for women, India has relaunched a whats app number for the duration of lockdown on which women can directly ask for help through a message. Also, some domestic violence awareness campaigns have started like ‘bell Baja which means ring the bell. Spain has implemented a code word ‘ Mask-19’ which if a woman says to the pharmacist means she needs help and is suffering through domestic violence. Many countries have come up with new helpline numbers for women and special teams are appointed to look upon domestic violence cases during this lockdown.
‘Stay home Stay safe’ is the slogan during the COVID-19 pandemic but there are people who are not safe even at their own houses. Domestic violence is a crime that takes place inside the house by own family members. During the lockdown, women have to suffer through violence as they are stuck with their abusive partners all the time. Violence affects women mentally, physically as well as sexually and may harm women’s health permanently. Sudden actions should be taken against this crime like raising a voice or shouting for help so that neighbors can help. Helpline numbers should be used for asking for help from authorities. Awareness is necessary about these helpline numbers as many women are unaware of how to use those. Silence may lead to harm in the future, this crime shouldn’t be hidden from society just for the sake of reputation. More helpline numbers or websites should be initiated and should be known to the public. Strict and sudden actions are needed against the abusers. There should be free women’s hostels for the victims of domestic violence so that they don’t have to live with their abusive partners. Houses in doubt of domestic violence should be inspected by the police regularly.