Domestic violence, child abuse cases on the rise in this lockdown: Experts explain why
While the lockdown is helping control the spread of the Covid-19 virus, one aspect of people being at home for extended period of time has left all shocked — the rise in the number of domestic and child abuse incidences. A PTI report stated that during March 20-31, the first week of the lockdown, the Childline India helpline ‘CHILDLINE 1098’ received over 92,000 SOS calls from across the country, asking for protection from abuse and violence. According to another PTI report, the National Commission for Women (NCW) received 315 complaints of domestic violence in April.+ +
Poonam Muttreja, executive director of the NGO Population Foundation of India, says that because of the current situation, people are not getting help on ground. “Not just in India, any kind of health disaster leads to increased violence, across the world, against women and children. Therefore, I’d like to request our government and women commission to look at the global trends, and let’s get ready for response now, as the vaccine is many months away,” explains Muttreja.
Psychologist Sachita Sethi feels that the abusers lack power and control in other aspects of life. And in this lockdown, “the victim is in front of their eyes. It becomes even more acceptable to them to commit such acts...,” she says. As for the impact on children, she adds, “The younger ones will find it tough to understand and express their situation, while older ones will experience guilt, shame, and anger.”
Less help on field
The focus right now, including that of essential service providers such as the police, is on the pandemic, so abuse cases remain unresolved, with no immediate help available, claims Yogita Bhayana, women and child rights activist and founder of the NGO PARI. “You’re staying with your abuser. You can’t seek help, call the police, go to your parents’ house... I’m also worried about marital rapes. Recently, liquor shops re-opened... NCW got 50% more calls than ever during this period,” says Bhayana.+ +
Filing a complaint
A senior police official, on the condition of anonymity, shares that the victim may inform their area’s police station or send an application to Crime Against Women cell via email, a hand-written copy or fax. A complaint may alternatively be sent to lieutenant governor, Women Commission or chief minister’s office. Then, it goes to District DCP, and is marked to Women Cell. The process is same for child abuse cases, but a different unit looks after it. NCW has also launched a WhatsApp number — 7217735372 — to report cases.
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