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Domestic Violence Surge In Covid-19

The Crime Of Domestic Violence

All of us must have heard from our friends, neighbours, relatives, or colleagues about some kind of violence suffered by them at their house which is known domestic violence. Most of the time the reports of such violence are received from females but this does not mean that domestic violence is a crime only against the women, it is also suffered by men in most of the cases. Domestic violence is a sort of physical, verbal or mental abuse that a person goes through in a domestic setting. This occurs mainly where two people have some sort of intimate relationship like in a marriage, live in or simply by a dating couple.

Domestic violence, which is also called as spouse abuse, is a cycle of repetitive abuse which is in most cases physical abuse that not only affects the physical being of an individual but also affects the mental health of a person. It is not a part of any specific religion, country, caste, or background it is a crime against mankind. The United Nations defines violence against women as "any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life [1]

Such kinds of violence against women exists in male dominating societies where there is very little or no freedom available to the women. In most cases, domestic violence reports are received from women who are not employed or under educated . This happens mainly because in such cases the man exercise a lot of power over the woman and the woman is dependent on the man for her living.

Women are subject to domestic violence not only by their partner but also by the family of her partner. This may happen in cases where dowry is involved. If the family of the husband is not satisfied with the dowry then they may torture the wife because of this.

Laws dealing with domestic violence in India

Section 2 of protection of women from domestic violence act 2005 defines domestic violence as harms or injures or endangers the health, safety, life, limb or well-being, whether mental or physical, of the aggrieved person or tends to do so and includes causing physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal and emotional abuse and economic abuse[2]. This act tries to give legal protection to women who are subject to such violence.

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 be liable to fine[3]. Here cruelty refers to any kind of physical or mental harm caused to the woman by the husband or his family or unlawfully demanding any kind of property or security from the woman.

The offense under this section is a cognizable offense which means that the police can arrest the husband even without an arrest warrant. If a woman committees suicide within 7 years of marriage and if she was subjected to any kind of cruelty by either the husband of the family of the husband than in such case the court may presume that the suicide has been abetted by the husband or by the relatives of the husband[4].

Covid-19 and violence against women

Where the whole world is struggling to end the Covid-19 crises there is a struggle that many women are facing at their homes. Whenever some kind of emergency is declared by the government it is seen that for most of the women their house becomes a home of horror. 1 out of 3 women globally have experienced some kind of sexual or physical abuse mostly by their intimate partner.

The recent data released by NAlSA (National Legal Service Authority) shows that the COVID-19 lockdown period has led to a great increase in the domestic violence reports in India. The report provided by NALSA also states that Uttrakhand has reported around 144 cases of domestic violence which is the highest so far followed by 79 cases in Haryana and around 63 cases in the national capital during the 2 months of nationwide lockdown.

During the lockdown period, the country has seen a 21% increase in domestic violence cases. According to NCW (National Commission for women) around 69 cases of domestic abuse have been reported from 24th March to 1st April. According to NCW, there is a sharp increase in the cases and the reason for the same may be the frustration of men who have to stay at home for so long due to the lockdown and so this frustration is taken out on the women. And the case is not only with India, it is now a global problem.

There is a sharp rise in cases in the United States of such violence against women. Such complaints are also being received from turkey where women are not only being physically abused but also being murdered by their husbands. 90,000 gender-based cases have been received from South Africa during the lockdown.

In France, the French minister has stated that there has been a 32% increase in domestic violence cases during the nationwide lockdown imposed to fight the coronavirus. The main reason for such an increase in cases of domestic violence being reported is because the women are forced to stay at their home during the lockdown as any kind of movement has been restricted by the government. All kinds of transports have been shut down and so women donít have many choices left with them.

Conclusion
Our house is considered to be the safest place for us but this isnít true for all. There are very less women who report such kinds of violence faced by them from their partner. The question why didnít she report is often asked to them but the reason for being quiet is the fear of facing the worst.

The victims of such violence refuse to fill any complaint of the same because they are then threatened to be killed by their partner, which is the final step of such violence. Most of the time such kind of violence is faced by the women of rural areas because the men here are less educated and women are not aware of the helps that are available to them since they do not know about the internet and various laws dealing with the problem. They also fear that if the complaint than their husband would torture them, even more, when he comes out of the jail.

To stop domestic abuse it is time for all the women around the world to recognize their worth and take a step to give up on such toxic relationships and leave their house immediately which indeed may be hard and scary but would lead to a better life for them. There is a need to provide good education to the women so that they donít have to depend on their partner for their survival. Gender equality should be promoted in all phases of life.

Women should connect to various counsellors or legal advisors if they are facing such issues in their houses. They should be made well aware of all the rights that are available to them. If there are children in the house than such kind of violence may also affect the mental health of the children to a great extent. Therefore it is necessary for women to come out of their shells and speak openly about such violence faced by them and provide ways to deal with it so that other women who are facing such problems can also gather the strength to fight against it.

End-Notes:
  1. United Nations. Declaration on the elimination of violence against women. New York: UN, 1993
  2. Protection of women from domestic violence act 2005
  3. Section 498A Indian penal code 1860
  4. Section 113A Indian Evidence Act 1872

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