Domestic violence calls up 12 times in 5 weeks of lockdown, say Pune police
The Women’s social security cell and Bharosa Cell of the Pune police has reported 598 calls from women in distress suffering domestic violence during the one-and-half months of the lockdown from March 10 to April 25. On a monthly basis, this cell receives about 40 calls from women, on an average, said assistant police inspector Swati Kedar Khade from the Social Security Cell of the Pune police.
According to Khade who is also coordinator for the Bharosa Cell which seeks to provide assistance and counselling to senior citizens, women and children, the police addressed all the cases by conducting telephonic counselling sessions and visits to homes wherever required.
“Most of the calls were about husband harassment or harassment by the in-laws. Problems sometimes arise due to small houses and personality clashes. When such calls come in, we try to persuade them to adjust during the lockdown. We make individual calls to the woman as well as her husband and so far it has worked,” said Khade.
While some women were strong, there were others who would start crying over the phone and needed to be pacified. “We have had calls from women who said they had to leave their homes. In such cases, the nearest police personnel visit the house and check the situation. If things cannot be resolved, then the woman is taken to the Women’s rescue home as a temporary arrangement,” she said.
Social activist and counsellor Rama Sarode expressed the fear that domestic violence cases could rise in the future with rising job and financial insecurity due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Substance abuse and alcoholism could further aggravate the situation, said Sarode, who is an advocate.
She and her husband Asim, a human rights activist and lawyer run the Sahyog Trust. The trust has produced a 3-minute film called “A deep Breathe’ / Ek Lambi Saans on social media to create awareness about domestic violence. This film hints at taking a deep breath to break the pattern of violence. It has some messages on how domestic violence affects the children, the family and how it is not just physical but also verbal.
Sarode said she has received more than 20 distress calls of domestic violence since the lockdown began as compared to the regular calls which are more.
“The only frustrating this that we do not have a legal recourse from the judiciary as we are not able to file cases during lockdown. Legal aid or any other aid for domestic violence should be considered as part of emergency services by Government,” said Sarode.
Sarode said that many cases of domestic abuse go unreported when the women in question do not have access to a phone or is unwilling to report for the sake of her children.
Jaya Valenkar, of the women’s rights organisation, Jagori, said for a woman to complain over a helpline, she needs to have access to a telephone while being 100% sure that she is not being overheard. With almost 57% of the women in the country not having access to phones, their options for registering complaints under the lockdown are now limited, said Valenkar.
Sometimes, women rely on other family members to report on their behalf. But since the perpetrator is right there, they are unable to seek help, she said.