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Socio Legal Aspect Involved In Rise Of Domestic Violence Against Women Amid Lockdown

While scrolling Instagram, there are very fewer chances of not coming across quarantine hobbies started by people. Everyone has got their Me time with which they are pursuing their passion and relaxing sitting at their home. All this is because of the lockdown announced by our honorable Prime Minister on 24th of March to control the spread of the corona Virus. We all are privileged that this quarantine is not bringing bruises and marks to us as it is happening with those women and children who are suffering because of the abusive male member who has been lock downed with them. The abuser and the victim are locked because of this pandemic, unfortunately.

Since the Lockdown has been announced by the Government due to the pandemic caused by the Coronavirus, The National Commission for Women has seen a rise in the number of cases reported for the crime against women[1]. There are a total of 587 complaints out of which 239 are the ones reported against domestic violence. And these figures are from 23rd March to 16th April that and in the next 30 days, these figures will certainly get double.

In an interview with a domestic help working at the author's place brought harsh reality in front of the author. She said that earlier she used to run in the narrow streets or hide at her neighbor's place when she was about to face any abuse. But now she can't do anything. She wept her tears and said she wants to leave that place along with her children who are forced by her husband to make illegal and unlicensed face masks at home using cheap material. Now the maid and her children are at her mother's home but there are many who could not reach there. This extract will cover the socio-legal aspect which has led to an increase in domestic violence against Women and Children amid Lockdown.

What Is Domestic Violence?

Many of the readers must be in the perception that domestic violence is merely physical violence, but it is an indoor crime done with a purpose to gain power and control over a spouse, or any family member[2]. It is not just ‘intimate partner violence' as it can happen to children as well. The term ‘domestic violence' was first used by Jack Ashley in The Parliament of the United Kingdom in 1973. In 1983, domestic violence was recognized as a specific criminal offense by the introduction of Section 498-A into the Indian Penal Code.

In a recent community-based cross-sectional study conducted in Tamil Nadu, the prevalence rate of domestic violence was 77.5% in the age group of 15 to 49 years which shows a high prevalence of this crime and it has harsh implications on socio-economic, well-being, emotional health and the financial status of women.

In India Laws regulating domestic violence is mentioned in The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005[3]. It not only gives a broader definition to the crime but also mentions about its scope and application. The act was enacted in the Indian Parliament on 26 October 2006 and states sexual, verbal, mental and emotional abuse as a form of domestic violence.

Under Section 3 of the Act domestic violence is defined as any act, omission or commission or conduct of the respondent shall constitute domestic violence in case it:
  1. harms or jeopardizes the wellbeing, security, life, appendage or prosperity, regardless of whether mental or physical, of the distressed individual or, will, in general, do as such and incorporates causing physical maltreatment, sexual maltreatment, verbal and psychological mistreatment and financial maltreatment; or
  2. harasses, hurts, harms or jeopardizes the abused individual to pressure her or some other individual identified with her to fulfill any unlawful need for any settlement or other property or significant security; or
  3. has the impact of compromising the abused individual or any individual identified with her by any lead referenced in condition (an) or statement (b); or
  4. Otherwise, harms or causes hurt, regardless of whether physical or mental, to the distressed individual.
The Protection of women from Domestic Violence Act 2005, is commendable legislation by our parliament as prior to it any violence or abuse against women was dealt with the IPC ( Indian Penal Code) which did not regard the gender of the victim. This excluded the victims which happened to be children. In addition to this, the act holds much importance from the feminist point of view in this

Domestic Violence And Covid-19 Lockdown

Imagine a situation where you are locked inside a room with a venomous snake that is feeding on you by giving its poison to you. You can't do anything; no one is around you whom you can ask for help. What would you do to save yourself from that death? It is the same condition through which thousands of women with their children are going through. They are trapped inside their own home with a venomous snake in the form of their father and husband.

The Lockdown has seen many economic changes[4] which include pay cuts by the employers, downsizing employees by the companies and excessive norms to be followed while the operation of firms. The daily wage laborers and small earning people are facing a huge crisis. Some are suffering from it in human terms while others are resorting to cruel behavior with their family.

The financial constraints have stopped the income of such people and due to this their frustration, unfortunately, takes the form of domestic violence. The unemployment faced by them boosts their anger which gets reflected on their wives. This is the section of society that is making the world for their wives and children more dystopian. Due to the non-availability of alcohol, limited resources, and limited social life these men are becoming more aggressive.

And since they don't have anyone else to take out their frustration on, they show their brutality and beat their family members. Another major issue as for household misuse or family viciousness is an expanding danger of aggressive behavior at home related crime. Last yet not the least notwithstanding grown-up survivors of family savagery there are youngsters and pets that live in 60 % or a greater amount of families where abusive behavior at home is executed are at extraordinary danger of experiencing physical and additionally enthusiastic trouble.[5]

This domestic violence is not new to these ladies, or to us but the difference which this lockdown has made that now these poor souls can't find another safe place to hide from these demons. Earlier they had the support of the government and the NGOs but now they are all left alone The NGO workers are also preoccupied with the service of the patients and contacting them has become a constraint.

The society and government are to an extent helpless at this point in time because all the resources and funds are allocated to save lives of COVID-19 patients and the number of volunteers who can help in this has also reduced. But there have been instances where the police could have helped such victims rather than saying You have to bear with this which happened in one of the districts of Uttar Pradesh.

Recently the newspapers were flooded with articles related to VAT imposed on the Liquor purchase in 13 states to cushion the revenue generated by the government[6]; this led the author to think that this can be another factor which can increase the rate of domestic violence. As these alcoholic abusers got another reason to get frustrated upon. But it's not that the government is silently watching this, NCW National Commission of Women has released a Whatsapp helpline number so that such victims could seek relief.

Global Position On The Issue

This rate of domestic violence is not only at an alarming level in India, but also in countries like Brazil, Germany, Italy, China, the United Kingdom, and Spain. The women and children living there have no escape and the activists there are already seeing alarming abuse. Theresa May, the former Prime Minister of United Kingdoms in her address to all the MPs said ‘'Measures to tackle coronavirus must not do more damage than the disease itself"[7].

In Hubei[8] the number of domestic violence cases has legit tripled during the Lockdown. Those alarming figures log only cases where women are able to seek help; many cannot make calls because they fear being overheard by abusive partners, or are stopped from leaving home.

Being confined to home because of coronavirus is difficult for everyone, but it becomes a real nightmare for female victims of gender-based violence, Due to a surge in domestic violence cases Antonio Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General appealed to the governments to pay attention and prevent such horrifying conditions amid lockdown measures.

But in other parts of the world, mechanisms to protect women from being locked in with their abusers have evolved to take into account lockdowns and social distancing[9]. In many countries like France, Italy etc. measures have been taken by the government to protect the women from such abuse along with social distancing. In France Pop-up counseling centers and pay hotel rooms are opened by the government for the abused ones. In Italy, the government has launched an app that enables domestic violence victims to seek help without making a phone call.

Remedies And Measures
If a person commits the crime of Domestic Violence then under Section 498 A the offender would be given a punishment up to 3 years along with a fine decided by the court. This can be done on the grounds of ‘cruelty' which is any kind of mental, bodily, economic, emotional or verbal harm. Coercion, dowry harassment and abetment to suicide also come under this. Cruelty under section 498[10] is defined as:
Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also is liable to fine.

According to the Section 125(1)[11] of The Code of Criminal The procedure, 1973 provides for legal provisions regarding relief to the wives and children. The provisions of maintenance of the Code of Criminal Procedure are applicable to persons belonging to all religions and have no relationship with the personal laws of the parties.

The government should create some counseling centers for such victims, where they can easily approach. The NGOs should take this issue more seriously as it's not just a virus that can harm the humanity; it's the humans themselves who are harming each other.

The police stations should support such women and children and file an FIR against such offenders rather than making excuses. The women who suffer should not feel that they are alone; they should be given the necessary support. Awareness about Domestic violence Laws should be spread amongst the public so that the message could reach those who are brutally assaulting their family members.

Conclusion
This family viciousness that ladies experience in the general public is essentially a consequence-old enough old male-centric structure winning in India. The degree is so much that even in the hour of a catastrophic event like a crown infection which is the most the capricious episode that has happened over the globe; ladies are having a genuine intense time staying inside.

Consequently, the onus is presently on the administrations that while assembling the designs to react to one of the greatest catastrophe humanity has ever confronted called Covid-19, the issue of aggressive behavior at home should be organized. In India, the administration has ignored the need to officially coordinate abusive behavior at home, and emotional wellness repercussions into the general wellbeing readiness and crisis reaction plans against the pandemic. But instead accusing the administration we ought to advance mindfulness about abusive behavior at home and feature the different modes through which objections could be recorded.

End-Notes:
  1. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/india-witnesses-steep-rise-in-crime-against-women-amid-lockdown-587-complaints-received-ncw/articleshow/75201412.cms
  2. Definition of Domestic violence https://www.acesdv.org/domestic-violence-graphics/
  3. The Protection Of Women From Domestic Violence Act, 2005 http://chdslsa.gov.in/right_menu/act/pdf/domviolence.pdf
  4. The Economic Times May 01, 2020, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/indicators/period-of-lockdown-global-recession-changes-in-consumer-behaviour-to-shape-economic-activity-db/articleshow/75486283.cms?from=mdr
  5. https://www.indialegallive.com/special/domestic-violence-amid-lockdown-the-shadow-pandemic-98540
  6. The Financial Express May 6, 2020, https://www.financialexpress.com/economy/coronavirus-lockdown-3-0-states-up-taxes-on-auto-fuels-liquor-for-income/1949300/
  7. BBC News 28 April 2020 https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-52453372
  8. The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/mar/28/lockdowns-world-rise-domestic-violence
  9. Aljazeera 18 Apr 2020 https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/04/locked-abusers-india-domestic-violence-surge-200415092014621.html
  10. S.498 IPC,1860 https://indiankanoon.org/doc/538436/
  11. S.125 CrPC , 1973 https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1056396/

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