HT Image
HT Image

In lockdown, domestic violence threat a worry

By Dhamini Ratnam
PUBLISHED ON APR 26, 2020 11:25 PM IST

In the second week of April, the Delhi Police recorded a “total event count” of 2446 that pertained to the “event type: women”. Put simply, nearly 2500 women in Delhi called emergency helpline numbers which triggers the Emergency Response Support System of the state police. Of these calls over 600 were classified as “women abuse”, 23 calls reported rape, while a majority — 1612 — pertained to domestic violence. One of these calls was about a 28-year-old woman from west Delhi’s Uttam Nagar.

The woman’s brother, based in Nepal, first got in touch with a New Delhi-based government licenced shelter home for women and transwomen survivors of abuse and violence. Shakti Shalini, based in Jangpura, rang the police helpline and a policeman was sent to investigate the matter. The 28-year-old mother of two toddlers had allegedly undergone sustained physical abuse by her husband and his family. Initially, the police sought to mediate between the two, following which the woman was asked to stay home for the duration of the lockdown. But the woman said the abuse had worsened after the husband came to know that a police complaint had been filed. On April 14, the police took her for a medical check up, recorded her bruises and transported her and her two children to Shakti Shalini’s shelter home.

“I was physically, mentally tortured for four years. Two days before [my brother called the shelter], my husband beat me up to an inch of my life. I begged him to spare me. He told me to get out of the house,” she said.

The Uttam Nagar resident is one of the few women who have managed to access police help to reach a safe space. Singh, who has received 25 calls since the beginning of the lockdown said that in the cases where police needed to intervene, they mediated between the women and their abusers, asking them to stay put till the lockdown was over.

A Hindustan Times analysis of cases recorded across the country reveals two important aspects of the issue. One, some states have reported a decline in the number of domestic violence complaints, others have reported a spike in the calls being received by helplines. Thus, rather than make claims on absolute decline or increase in the incidence of domestic violence during the lockdown, it is the ability of victims to make complaints while they share domestic spaces with perpetrators of violence that has been clearly affected. In some states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana, the number of complaints received by state-run helplines has decreased. In Ghaziabad, which forms part of the National Capital Region, instances of domestic violence during the first phase of lockdown saw a decline of about 50% as compared to the pre-lockdown period in March, according to the data compiled by 18 police stations in urban and rural areas of the city. “There used to be around 400 complaints related to Domestic Violence every day from all parts of the state till last month and now, the number has come down to around 150-200,” Inspector General of Police (Women Safety) Telangana, Swati Lakra said.

However, in some other states the number of calls on domestic violence have, in fact, increased. The Punjab State Commission for Women (PSCW) has received at least 30 complaints everyday related to domestic violence since March 22. According to Manisha Gulati, chairperson of PSCW, prior to the lockdown, only a third of the calls they received pertained to domestic violence incidents. Even private helplines, such as that maintained by Mumbai-based Tata Institute of Social Sciences’ iCall helpline has seen a spike in calls. “We are getting phone calls from Ghaziabad, Noida, Mumbai, Hyderabad and many other cities Everyday there are at least three calls,” coordinator Ruchi Sinha said.

The second aspect to this issue is that while there are several helplines and shelter homes available for women to call or live in — both state-run, and those maintained by non governmental organisations — the help that they can provide has been curtailed due to the lockdown. Women cannot travel to police stations, and social workers cannot reach them or arrange for their travel; the police are overburdened with Covid-19 duties, and visiting homes to investigate domestic disputes is often not considered a priority. What’s more, domestic violence cases are filed in lower courts as these are civil disputes and at present, courts are only open for emergency hearings, such as bail pleas.

The National Commission for Women (NCW) chairperson Rekha Sharma said that the commission received 250 domestic violence complaints between March 25 and April 22. “These were the numbers that could reach us. I am afraid the actual numbers would be higher. We’re trying to follow up on more cases. State bodies have also been asked to stay more alert,” she said. Across India, only the most dire cases seem to be getting addressed.

Last week, Kerala State Women Commission member Shahid Kamal got a call from Chennai pleading for help. The caller told her that his sister, a resident of Idukki district in Kerala, and her daughter were hiding in a forest after the woman’s husband ejected them from their home. The caller said that the jungle had several wild animals so his sister’s life was at risk. Kamal immediately alerted the Idukki police, and the matter was investigated. The husband, who was brewing illicit liquor at home was taken into custody. “In some cases a little counselling and advice will do. But cases like this need serious intervention. It is fact during lockdown, domestic violence cases have increased. But if you ask me, data will be [lesser],” she said.

Another counsellor said that parole granted to prisoners and undertrials — done in order to ease the pressure on overcrowded jails during the Covid-19 epidemic that requires strict social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus — has meant that several perpetrators of violence have returned home. In Kottayam, a family had approached the prisons department against the release of one of their male members from the jail on this account. The prisoner was released, but warned not to stay with his family.

In Malda district of West Bengal last week, 26-year-old Sona Mondol was allegedly strangled by her husband of five years. In another incident in the district, another woman was allegedly killed by her husband for protesting against his extra-marital affair.

“There is hardly anything we can do at this moment. We have helped the victims to connect with the local police station, lawyers and local NGOs,” said Debaprasad Roychoudhury, an official of Association of Protection of Democratic Rights, a NGO.

Rituparna Borah, co-founder Delhi-based Queer Nazariya, a resource group for lesbian, bisexual women and transmen, said that the number of distress calls that they have received has increased, but unlike before where they could offer assistance in person — whether counselling or arranging for the queer person to leave their home if they needed to — the only help that they can offer at present is counselling over the telephone.

The courts have taken cognisance of this issue. On April 18, the Jammu & Kashmir high court passed an order taking suo moto cognizance of domestic violence cases during the lockdown, and offered a slew of directions including creating a special fund and designating informal safe spaces for women like grocery stores and pharmacies, where they could report domestic violence/abuse without alerting the perpetrators. The Karnataka high court too asked the state government about the helplines, and action taken on domestic violence complaints. The state responded to the court on April 25 stating that helplines, counsellors, shelter homes and protection officers were working “round the clock” to help victims of violence.

On April 25, the Delhi high court directed the state and Centre to take measures to protect women from domestic violence, following a petition filed by an NGO on April 15.

The Centre, Delhi government and the national and state commissions of women had submitted status reports of what action was taken against domestic violence, including spreading awareness about helpline numbers, shelter or one-stop homes as well as appointment of protection officers.

The government of Delhi told the court that on April 12, it put in place a protocol to tackle cases of domestic violence during the lockdown: once a survivor reaches out to the helpline (181), the telecaller will take down her complaint and then forward her case to a counsellor who is required to establish a phone communication with her on account of the lockdown. The counsellor is empowered to conduct sessions with the woman and her spouse or family if required. However, in case the woman is a victim of sexual or physical assault, the telecaller is required to inform the police about the case, and assist in filing an First Information Report. The counsellor is further required to inform the protection officer — Delhi has 17 — to allow them to file an incidence report.

However, according to advocates Mithu Jain and her colleagues who filed the petition on behalf of All India Council of Human Rights, Liberties and Justice, the responses of both state and Centre offered no information in their respective status reports about victims who have been saved. “Is it their job to receive complaints alone? Where is the data to show that any action has been taken on these phone calls,” Jain asked.

(With inputs from Saurabh Chauhan, Aneesha Sareen, Ramesh Babu, Joydeep Thakur)

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
app
Close
Dr Sandeep Nayar, the first beneficiary of Covishield vaccine, developed by Oxford-Astrazeneca Plc. and manufactured by Serum Institute of India Ltd. at the BL Kapoor Super Specialty Hospital, gestures, in New Delhi, India, on Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. India launched one of the world�s largest coronavirus vaccination drives on Saturday, setting in motion a complex deployment plan aimed at stemming the wide spread of infections across a nation of more than 1.3 billion people. Photographer: T. Narayan/Bloomberg(Bloomberg)
Dr Sandeep Nayar, the first beneficiary of Covishield vaccine, developed by Oxford-Astrazeneca Plc. and manufactured by Serum Institute of India Ltd. at the BL Kapoor Super Specialty Hospital, gestures, in New Delhi, India, on Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. India launched one of the world�s largest coronavirus vaccination drives on Saturday, setting in motion a complex deployment plan aimed at stemming the wide spread of infections across a nation of more than 1.3 billion people. Photographer: T. Narayan/Bloomberg(Bloomberg)

Covid-19 vaccination drive was successful on Day 1, says Union health ministry

Written by Meenakshi Ray, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 16, 2021 08:18 PM IST
There were 16,755 personnel involved in the vaccination drive across India as 3,351 sessions were held across the country with both the vaccines during the drive, the health ministry said.
Close
More than 30,000 people in Norway have received the first shot of the Pfizer or Moderna coronavirus vaccine since late last month.(AFP)
More than 30,000 people in Norway have received the first shot of the Pfizer or Moderna coronavirus vaccine since late last month.(AFP)

Microbiologist says Covid-19 vaccines made after in-depth study, research

ANI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 16, 2021 08:17 PM IST
In the first phase, government and private-sector health care workers, including Integrated Child Development Services workers, will receive the vaccine.
Close
Medical workers wait to be inoculated with a Covid-19 vaccine at a hospital in New Delhi on Saturday. (AFP PHOTO)
Medical workers wait to be inoculated with a Covid-19 vaccine at a hospital in New Delhi on Saturday. (AFP PHOTO)

In bid to meet vaccine needs of other nations, India’s neighbours to be priority

By Rezaul H Laskar | Edited by Sohini Sarkar
PUBLISHED ON JAN 16, 2021 08:01 PM IST
  • As the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines, there is considerable pressure on India, especially from neighbours and developing countries, to supply Covid-19 vaccines.
Close
Covid Warriors receiving Covid-19 vaccine shots at Base Hospital Delhi Cantt.(@adgpi/Twitter)
Covid Warriors receiving Covid-19 vaccine shots at Base Hospital Delhi Cantt.(@adgpi/Twitter)

From Ladakh to Vizag, thousands of military Covid warriors get vaccine jabs

UPDATED ON JAN 16, 2021 07:41 PM IST
  • In the Army alone, a total of 3,129 healthcare workers were vaccinated on the first day, the officials said.
Close
Union health minister Harsh Vardhan displays a vial of Bharat Biotech Ltd. Covaxin at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi on Saturday. (Bloomberg Photo )
Union health minister Harsh Vardhan displays a vial of Bharat Biotech Ltd. Covaxin at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi on Saturday. (Bloomberg Photo )

I’ll wait for my turn: Harsh Vardhan’s comeback on why he is not taking vaccine

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Kanishka Sarkar
UPDATED ON JAN 16, 2021 08:15 PM IST
As many as 165,714 people received the shot on the first day, the health ministry said.
Close
Dr Jose Chacko Periappuram, a Padma Shri recipient, was the first to receive the Covishield vaccine in Kerala on Saturday. (HT PHOTO).
Dr Jose Chacko Periappuram, a Padma Shri recipient, was the first to receive the Covishield vaccine in Kerala on Saturday. (HT PHOTO).

Famous cardio surgeon receives first vaccine shot in Kerala

PUBLISHED ON JAN 16, 2021 07:06 PM IST
  • A fellow of three prestigious institutions-- Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, Royal College of Surgeons of Glasgow and Royal College of Surgeons of London-- he was conferred the Padma Shri in 2011.
Close
Chief minister Edappadi Palaniswami, deputy chief minister O Paneerselvam, health minister C Vijayabhaskar and health secretary J Radhakrishnan were present to launch the vaccination drive in Madurai.(Sourced)
Chief minister Edappadi Palaniswami, deputy chief minister O Paneerselvam, health minister C Vijayabhaskar and health secretary J Radhakrishnan were present to launch the vaccination drive in Madurai.(Sourced)

Tamil Nadu govt doctors' association prez receives 1st dose of Covid-19 vaccine

By Divya Chandrababu, Chennai
UPDATED ON JAN 16, 2021 08:20 PM IST
  • President of the Indian Medical Association, Dr J A Jayalal, and a sanitary worker, Muthumari, received the second and third doses respectively in Madurai.
Close
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan shows a dose of COVAXIN developed by Bharat Biotech at AIIMS in New Delhi on Saturday as the first phase of vaccination begins across the country. (ANI Photo)
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan shows a dose of COVAXIN developed by Bharat Biotech at AIIMS in New Delhi on Saturday as the first phase of vaccination begins across the country. (ANI Photo)

‘Day of tremendous relief’, says Harsh Vardhan as India vaccinates 191,181

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Deepali Sharma, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 16, 2021 08:13 PM IST
He also appreciated volunteers who helped in clinical trials and the research process of the vaccines.
Close
The prime minister said the Indian startups are disruptive because startup companies are able to bring new innovations and think outside the box.(PTI)
The prime minister said the Indian startups are disruptive because startup companies are able to bring new innovations and think outside the box.(PTI)

Disruption and diversification major USP of Indian startups: PM Modi

By hindustantimes.com, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 16, 2021 07:38 PM IST
  • While firms across the world struggled for survival, an army of startups came up in India during Covid-19 pandemic: PM Modi
Close
Defence minister Rajnath Singh at a hospital in Lucknow during the Covid-19 immunisation drive. (@rajnathsingh/Twitter Photo )
Defence minister Rajnath Singh at a hospital in Lucknow during the Covid-19 immunisation drive. (@rajnathsingh/Twitter Photo )

More people will turn up to get vaccinated, says defence minister Rajnath Singh

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Kanishka Sarkar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 16, 2021 06:26 PM IST
Rajnath Singh visited the King George Medical University and Balram Hospital in Lucknow where the immunisation drive was underway and greeted frontline workers involved in the campaign.
Close
Prime Minister Narendra Modi(Screengrab)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi(Screengrab)

PM Modi announces 'start-up India seed fund' to support new entrepreneurs

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Shivani
UPDATED ON JAN 16, 2021 06:39 PM IST
"Earlier, on hearing about a startup people used to ask 'why don't you do a job?'. But now people say why not create a start up instead of doing a job," PM Modi said during the summit.
Close
Senior BJP leader Syed Shahnawaz Hussain lost the Lok Sabha election from Bhagalpur in Bihar in 2014 and did not contest the 2019 polls. (HT PHOTO).
Senior BJP leader Syed Shahnawaz Hussain lost the Lok Sabha election from Bhagalpur in Bihar in 2014 and did not contest the 2019 polls. (HT PHOTO).

BJP selects Shahnawaz Hussain as nominee for Bihar MLC polls

PUBLISHED ON JAN 16, 2021 06:12 PM IST
  • A former civil aviation minister, Shahnawaz Hussain was recently sent to helm the party’s campaign for the DDC elections in Jammu and Kashmir along with Union Minister of home for finance Anurag Thakur.
Close
This week, Meghalaya received 35,000 vaccine doses for vaccination in the first phase when 16,000 health workers will receive the first dose.(AP | Representational image)
This week, Meghalaya received 35,000 vaccine doses for vaccination in the first phase when 16,000 health workers will receive the first dose.(AP | Representational image)

35-year-old sanitation worker first to get Covid-19 vaccine in Meghalaya

By David Laitphlang
PUBLISHED ON JAN 16, 2021 06:10 PM IST
Over 800 health workers across the state were scheduled to be vaccinated on day one of the immunisation drive.
Close
Over 16,000 healthcare workers are set to be vaccinated on the first day across the state. (Reuters | Representational image)
Over 16,000 healthcare workers are set to be vaccinated on the first day across the state. (Reuters | Representational image)

Vaccine is completely safe, says doctor who got first jab in Gujarat

PTI, Ahmedabad
PUBLISHED ON JAN 16, 2021 06:03 PM IST
As you can see, I have not felt any adverse effect even an hour after getting inoculated. I am blessed to be the first recipient...The vaccine is totally safe, effective, and we can defeat coronavirus only when all of us get vaccinated," Dr Thacker said.
Close
Foreign minister Pradeep Gyawali is the senior-most Nepalese leader to visit India in more than a year after the Covid-19 outbreak. (HT PHOTO).
Foreign minister Pradeep Gyawali is the senior-most Nepalese leader to visit India in more than a year after the Covid-19 outbreak. (HT PHOTO).

'Will never allow interference in domestic politics': Nepalese foreign minister

By Rezaul H Laskar, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 16, 2021 05:29 PM IST
  • Gyawali said his country has “excellent” ties with India and China and seeks to improve connectivity and economic ties with both.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP