LOCKDOWN AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

APR 9

Mains   > Society   >   Role of women   >   Health

IN NEWS:

News reports suggest that there is a rise in the number of cases involving domestic violence due to the ongoing lockdown.

BACKGROUND:

  • To contain the Covid-19 pandemic, the central government imposed a nationwide lockdown on March 25, 2020.
  • According to the data shared by the National Commission for Women, from March 23 till April 10, a total of 370 complaints related to women issues were received by the panel.
  •  Out of it, 123 were of domestic violence and all of these were received through email which means people without internet facilities are unable to file complaints. The trend has been similar across the world.

WHAT IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?

  • Domestic violence can be described as the power misused by one adult in a relationship to control the other. It is the establishment of control and fear in a relationship through violence and other forms of abuse. This violence can take the form of physical assault, psychological abuse, social abuse, financial abuse, or sexual assault.

In India, domestic violence is defined for legal purpose under the Protection of women from domestic violence act, 2005. It defines domestic violence as acts that:

  • 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
  • harasses, harms, injures or endangers the aggrieved person with a view to coerce her or any other person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any dowry or other property or valuable security
  • has the effect of threatening the aggrieved person or any person related to her by any conduct
  • injures or causes harm, whether physical or mental, to the aggrieved person.

WHY THE INCREASE DURING LOCKDOWN?

  • Usually when one of the partners is working the interaction time is less and the domestic violence tends to reduce. Under the lockdown interaction time has increased leading to more instances of violence in families where it is already being perpetrated.
  • The current atmosphere of fear, uncertainty, food insecurity, and unemployment may create feelings of inadequacy in men.
  • Lack of access to liquor during lockdown creates withdrawal symptoms and frustration all of a sudden and it may manifest as violence.
  • Lack of access to friends, family and support organizations for women keeps the violence unchecked and may encourage men to continue with their behavior.

THE ROOT CAUSES:

  • Patriarchy: Marital and familial relationships give dominant position to men. All, including women, are culturally conditioned to live under patriarchy. An NFHS survey tells that 52% women and 42% men think there is at least one valid reason for wife-beating. This shows how ingrained and normalized is the idea that men can beat women when they want.
  • Economic dependence: Without the ability to sustain themselves economically, women are forced to stay in abusive relationships and are not able to be free from violence.
  • Socio economic conditions: Emotional wellbeing of people is directly connected to their socio-economic conditions. A major chunk of the Indian population lives under struggling conditions. This keeps people unhappy with their lives. Issues like unemployment, alcohol and drugs contribute to violent behavior.
  • Individual level: Some people with low self-esteem, jealousy, anger management issues or inferiority complex resulting from lower level of education or economic background with respect to their spouse will try to control their partners through violence.
  • Culture: Due to deep-rooted values and culture, societal attitude of victim blaming prevents women from making complaints. Also, women do not prefer to adopt the option of separation or divorce.
  • Awareness: Lack of information about alternatives forces women to suffer silently. Also, many women lack the awareness that violence is a violation of their basic human right. Lax enforcement of legal provisions fails adds to the woe domestic violence.

IMPLICATIONS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE:

  • It has serious consequences on women’s mental and physical health, including their reproductive and sexual health. These include injuries, gynecological problems, temporary or permanent disabilities, depression and suicide, amongst others.
  • Over the time women’s physical injuries and mental trouble interrupts or ends their educational and career paths leading to poverty and economic dependence.
  • Effect of disrupted family life on children: They may develop serious emotional, behavioral, developmental or academic problems.
  • A loss of faith and trust in the institution of the family which means disruptions in the societal life.

PROTECTION OF WOMEN FROM DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACT, 2005:

  • The Act covers all women who may be mother, sister, wife, widow or partners living in a shared household.
  • A complaint can be filed against:
    • Any adult male member who has been in a domestic relationship with the woman
    • Relatives of the husband or the male partner
    • Includes both male and female relatives of the male partner
  • Complaint can be made to a police officer/Protection Officer/Service provider (an NGO) or Magistrate.
  • Provision for shelter home and Medical Aid – An aggrieved person can request to provide shelter or medical aid to her.
  • On receipt of the complaint a Magistrate may issue orders to prevent eviction of aggrieved from the household, issue protection order, grant monetary benefits & custody of children and may even direct the respondent or the aggrieved person to undergo counseling.

WAY FORWARD:

  • Gender equality: Since violence against women is a consequence of gender inequality, primary prevention programs that address gender inequality and tackle the root causes of violence are all essential.
  • Economic independence: Ensuring economic independence of women will enhance the status within their families. Programs that focus on building self-efficacy and livelihood skills are needed.
  • Awareness: Building awareness by creating and disseminating materials and innovative audio-visual messages, which project a positive image of girl child and women in the society. A media campaign that portrays domestic violence as unacceptable is the need of the hour.
  • Strengthen institutional mechanisms: Law enforcement agencies need to focus on effective and efficient implementation of law to ensure that perpetrators are dealt strictly. Appointing women officers to deal with domestic violence cases can help improve the situation. Measures are also needed to popularize available legal facilities.
  • Funding for NGOs working against domestic violence must be enhanced. They are more familiar with ground realities and can make timely interventions.
  • The national and state women’s commissions need to reach out to women in distress in more informal ways. This will make it easier for women to register complaints and use facilities.
  • Recognizing men as important partners in addressing the challenge of domestic violence is equally important. Strategies need to be devised to engage men in campaigns against domestic violence