COVID-19 which has been declared a global pandemic, many countries are making
policies to deal with it in every possible aspect. Many measures have been
announced by the countries to reduce the spread of disease. However, even after
taking a lot of measures, there have been unintended, negative consequences. As
the virus continues to affect all over the world, it brings in several new
stress along with it such as isolation and loneliness, physical and
psychological health risk, closure of many businesses, and job losses.
Domestic violence is one of the major problems during this lockdown as women are
affected physically and psychologically. Though along with the women children
are particularly vulnerable to the risk of domestic violence. Domestic violence
can be defined as the physical, sexual or economic violence that is committed by
the elder member of the family or the intimate partner.
With the spread of Covid-19 in almost every country and as a measure of
prevention countries have adopted lockdown and social distancing as its chief
weapon for now till a permanent cure is made available. The preventive measures
have led to the lockdown of many business areas, closure of schools and
But this preventive the measure may be seen as a safety measure against Covid-19
but the other aspects of human security have been grossly challenged. Though at
one hand government has become somewhat successful in providing safety to
residents from COVID many such sectors was left strategized and thus exposed the
residents to those risks. One such is domestic violence. Reports have come
across the globe that domestic violence such as child abuse, pet abuse and many
more such violence cases have seen a significant increase after the lockdown.
Violence is seen to be administered on the powerless section by the powerful
section. In India women and children are considered as powerless sections as
most of the female fraternity is dependent on the male fraternity. Due to the
dependency of the wife and children on husband and father respectively it is
have seen that they use violence on them as a symbol of control. Generally,
domestic violence abusers isolate their victims in order to reduce the
possibility of disclosure of abuse or as a method of control. The current
conditions of society are likely to further impact these actions.
Lockdown has affected the economic and social lifestyle of people as well as the
psychological conditions of people. College, workplaces acted as emotional
support to the people. Families who are victims of domestic abuse in the past
used to get help from these places due to social interaction. But after the
lockdown, their emotional support is snatched. Moreover, as the reports suggest
the abusers generally cut all support that victims should get by isolating or
restrictions the movement of victims.
It is reported that the number of domestic violence complaints received by the
National Commission for Women had doubled. Violence against women is
considered as a most grievous violation against human rights. Violence against
women results in serious physical, mental, sexual, and reproductive health
problems. In some cases, violence may result in death.
Definition and types of domestic Violence:
Domestic violence can be defined as the violence done against a woman by a
husband or intimate partner. The World Human Rights Conference in Vienna, first
recognized gender-based violence as a human rights violation in 1993. United
Nations defined violence against a woman as “any act of gender-based violence
that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological
harm or suffering to a woman, including threats of such acts, coercion or
arbitrary deprivations of liberty, whether occurring in public or private
Types of violence:
Physical violence This type of violence happens in a family where the intention is to cause
the feeling of pain or bodily harm. Aggressive behavior is shown towards the
wife like hitting her, burning her, dowry related violence. It is not
necessary that physical harm must be inflicted. Deriving the victim of other
functions to live comes under physical violence.
Sexual violence Sexual abuse is when a woman is forced to have sex without her consent. Even
involving women in such sexual activities which will cause her pain where
the sexual activity has been done in the past comes under this type of
violence. Example: - Marital rape, harassment, demeaning the life of the
Economic violence In economic violence, the abuser has control over the victims of all
economic resources. The aim behind this kind of violence is to diminish
the victim's resources so as the victim will be dependent on the abuser for
her day to day expenses and essential commodities. e.g.: - the victim from
the money she is entitled, isolating the victim so that she won't get any
financial help, etc.
Domestic violence In India
In India, the lockdown has been imposed on 24th March 2019 which continued up
till 8th June 2019. A home that is considered to be the safest place during this
lockdown is turning to be unsafe for some people, especially for the victims of
domestic violence. Coronavirus has exposed the precarious lives and invisible
faces of hunger, and predominate among those are women.
How domestic violence is affected amid of Covid-19 is discussed here:
Domestic violence is a historic immoral practice that continues to exist and
remains hidden from the eyes of society for a long period. In the 1980s,
India reorganized this as the human rights issue due to an increasing number
of dowry deaths which resulted in the addition of Section 498-A. Section
498-A, states that the husband or his relative shall be punished for the
term of three years and will also be liable for the fine in case of cruelty
performed towards the women. With evolving law and society it has been
considered as the public health issue. Thus, the government is taking this
matter more seriously than before but there are aspects which needs
According to the report published by the National Crime Research Bureau in
the year 2018, the crime recorded in India is in every 1.7 minutes against
the women and every 4.4 minutes of women are subject to domestic
violence. As per the data more crimes were reported across India in the
year 2018 as compared to cases registered against women in the year 2017.
The National family health survey, 2016-16 highlighted that in India 30
percent of women went through the pain of Domestic violence. Among married
women report shows that 83% of the women were subjected to the violence by
their husband, followed by the husband's mother (56%), siblings (27%), and
These statistics don't provide us the exact number of the violence going
around in the country because of the prevalence of the orthodox social norms
on domestic violence most of the case remains underreported. Most of the
women don't report the cases due to the fear of their in-laws and the
problem that they might face after their husband/partner is released.
- Current Reports
National Commission for Women (NCW) show that there have been 587 registered
domestic violence complaints between 23rd March and 16th April which is a
significant rise in the report between 27th February and 22 th March which
was 396 between these months. The report also shows that one in every six
complaints is launched via WhatsApp. NCW had published the email address
of their officials to receive the complaints through their online portals as
a lockdown measure as its traditional modes, i.e. post and direct
registering to complain would be a difficult procedure in lockdown. But in
India where the only 1/3rd of the women have access to the internet most of
the cases remain unreported. It is so as victims do not get access to cell
phones most of the time.
It is not that domestic violence against women has not been reported earlier.
But amid Covid-19, the psychological factors are being affected to the most. The
virus has mirrored the discrimination and oppression against women which exists
in a male-dominated patriarchal society for centuries. Also, Covid-19 has struck
the economy of the lower middle class and BPL families. A woman who was
considered as a lower rung in many of such families after the lockdown had
completely been economically empowered. Further, during the lockdown, women were
expected to take up traditional gender roles, i.e. domestic work negligible
contribution from men.
In many such families we have seen that a Lakshman Rekha
has already been
existing before lockdown for women. All these have led to a woman being
considered as second-class citizens. Thus, caged in a violent home the woman is
being placed in such a situation from where it will be difficult for them to
seek help. Thus, domestic abuse cases are certainly on a rise after lockdown.
Factors aiding for domestic Abuse:
Any type of violence shows the mentality of that person or society.
There theories which have been given as to what is the real cause of domestic
According to the theory of personality traits, a person has primary and
secondary personality traits. Primary traits are responsible for what you
show to another person. While secondary traits are generally shown in front
of your trusted people or close ones only. Anger, poor impulse control etc.
are such traits which come under secondary personality traits and is
responsible for domestic violence in many such cases. These traits have been
developed in childhood and if left unchecked it will become more when the
child becomes an adult. Reports suggest that about 80% of men accused as
abusers' studies exhibited typical personality disorders.
Stress Stress has the biggest play in any type of violence. Stress increases when
people are confined and their movements are restricted. Due to financial
problem stress may be increased in a family which attracts
tension.Violence is always caused by stress and many people found
violence to be an act which relieves their stress. Families in poverty
may be more likely to experience domestic violence, due to increased stress
and conflicts about finances and other aspects.
Behavior and jealous It is reported that men and families are generally patriarchy in India. They
consider male fraternity to be superior than the female fraternity. If wife
exceeds in any part of life than the husband feels jealous of her. Also,
many such cases of domestic violence happen as the husband is jealous of his
wife or when he suspects her to leave him if she becomes independent.
While the government was putting all the blueprints of the plan together for
COVID-19 the problem of domestic violence should have been prioritized. In India
where domestic violence is one of the major concerns, it seems that the
government has overlooked the mental health repercussions that will be caused by
domestic violence during the period of lockdown.
Like various other countries, India should have taken the step to control the
gender-based violence. For instance, in a country like France efforts have been
made to find the solution to protect the victims from domestic violence.
The France government has asked the victims to report domestic abuse at
pharmacies and the same report would be submitted by the pharmacies to the
police station. France government has also provided the facilities for renting
hotel rooms to accommodate the victims.
A similar step could have been taken in India to curb the increase of
gender-based violence as during the lockdown all the essential shops and
pharmacies were open, all the locals should have assured that the name of the
person registering the complaint won't be disclosed. In this way, those who
couldn't reach the police station or those who didn't have access to their cell
phones could have registered their complaints in near
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