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THE RISE OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASES IN INDIA DURING LOCKDOWN

Author: Deepti Ahlawat, II year of B.A., LL.B. from Lloyd law college, Greater Noida.



INTRODUCTION

In India from centuries, we heard about domestic violence against women and still even in the 21st century it is continued. Every woman experiences domestic violence in their lifetime whether it’s physical or mental violence. Millions of women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year around the world. Most cases of domestic violence between one’s parents are the strongest risk factor of transmitting violent behaviour from one generation to the next. As during this lockdown period, the cases of violence increased so fast, as men are at home throughout the day, and sometimes they start treating women according to their mood.


DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACT 2005

The laws stated in our constitution, for the protection of the women are, The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 is an act of the Parliament of India enacted to protect women from domestic violence[1]. On 26 October 2006, it was brought into force by the Indian government. This Act provides a definition of "domestic violence" for the very first time in the Indian law system, it has a wide aspect and it not only includes physical violence, but also other forms of violence such as emotional/verbal, sexual, and economic abuse. Domestic Violence Act, 2005 is a civil law and is meant primarily for protection orders and not for being enforced criminally. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 is different from the provision of the Penal Code - section 498A[2] of the Indian Penal Code – It includes a broader definition of domestic violence.


Domestic violence is under Section 3 of the Act in which any omission, commission or conduct of the respondent shall constitute domestic violence in the following cases:


1. If anyone harms, injures or endangers the health, safety, life or well-being, whether mental or physical, of the aggrieved person or tends to do so and includes causing physical or sexual abuse, verbal, emotional and economic abuse.


2. If any harasses, harms, injures or endangers the aggrieved person to force her or any other person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any dowry or other property or valuable security.


3. It has the effect of threatening the aggrieved person or any person related to her by any conduct mentioned in clause (a) or clause (b); or


4. Otherwise injures or causes harm, whether physical or mental, to the aggrieved person[3]."


DOMESTIC VIOLENCE DURING COVID-19

Even though there are acts available for the protection of women, still in the nationwide lockdown, It was reported that between March 23 and April 16, the National Commission for Women’s Complaint and Investigation Cell registered 587 domestic violence complaints during this period. Since the lockdown began its helpline number and post – have been non-functional then they have been receiving complaints through its recently launched online portal, social media and the email addresses of its members. But According to a study, India has amongst the highest gender gap when it comes to access to mobile phones and the internet, with only 43% of the women owning a phone as compared to 80% men.


This gender gap increases when it comes to lower, middle-income groups or the rural areas of the country. This means that a significant proportion of women simply cannot report, while they could have earlier asked a friend or relative to intervene or give refuge in their house, even that is no longer possible. Although, the lockdown might be keeping the residents of the house safe from the threat of this pandemic of COVID-19, but at the same time this is only worsening the plight of women who are stuck with abusive partners, therefore no place is safe for them neither outside nor inside[4].


It featured nowhere in the discussions before re-allowing the sale of liquor, despite the well-accepted positive correlation between the two, as we all know that in India alcohol is the major cause of domestic violence, people consume it and abuse, harm, or physically assault the women or even rape their wife. As the Indian government already knows the consequences of selling alcohol during lockdown still they prefer to sell it. Government needs to understand that our nation’s success at handling the pandemic depends not only on how many people we can save from COVID-19 but also how well they can respond to other issues. Even though the government is involved in handling this pandemic, the authority cannot deny from the other responsibilities of the nation.


There is a report from Kolkata which shows that the Incident of domestic violence against women has raised since April continues in May. Many of such cases were repeats of pre-lockdown incidents Gangopadhyay told PTI. Women’s commission state that there is a sudden rise in domestic violence cases in West Bengal during the lockdown period.LeenaGangopadhyay, commission chairperson said that the domestic violence, verbal and physical abuse were even faced by the women even before lockdown but due to this pandemic and commencement of lockdown has worsened the situation. The new incidents of domestic violence include the complainants which were being abused long back and now during this lockdown period were repeated continuously.


EvenGangopadhyaymentioned that more than70% cases of domestic violence are reported to the commission which are from both rural & urban areas and the very important factor which arose here is that most of the abused women are homemakers[5]which shows that those who are self-dependent are less abused.


VIOLENCE IN DIFFERENT CORNERS OF THE WORLD

Except for India, there are several countries across the world such as Brazil in Latin America, UK, Cyprus, Italy and China in Southeast Asia which are witnessing a quick rise in domestic violence complaints. And some of the countries have responded actively to handle this dangerous issue of domestic violence. For example, the U.K. government has stated explicitly that the women stepping out of the house to escape abuse or report it to the police station will not be breaking the lockdown regulations even Spain has allowed women to leave home to report abuse without any fine. There are some code words formed such as when women request a “Mask 19”, from the pharmacy that alerts the pharmacist to contact the authorities. Even in India also it is stated that all the courts in the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir must treat cases of domestic abuse as ‘urgent’. Even In India, these measures should be replicated, if we want to respond effectively to domestic violence in the times of the lockdown[6].

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, I just want to say that domestic violence and abuse is a curse in our society and it can happen with anyone. It always leaves a deep and lasting scar in our mind when the abuse is psychological, rather than physical and because of this one is unable to function properly in his/her field. It can be so easy for people to ignore, or some even don’t want to raise their voice for others or do not want to get involved as it often happens without any witnesses. I think this is the crucial time and we need to enforce publicly speaking to fight against violence, if we all are together then we can challenge the violence in the home and show that domestic violence is a serious crime and it is not merely acceptable. It needs to stop now. All of us can spread the message and teach our children that violence is never the solution and together we all can make a difference and the best place to start is with you.


[1]The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, https://indiankanoon.org/doc/542601

[2]The Indian penal code,1860 sec.498(a)

[3]The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, https://indiankanoon.org/doc/542601

[4]Ayushi Agarwal, Domestic Violence in the Lockdown Has Been Aided by Govt. Apathy, https://thewire.in/women/lockdown-domestic-violence-government

[5] Rise in domestic violence cases during the lockdown, says West Bengal women’s commission, 11 May 2020, https://theprint.in/india/rise-in-domestic-violence-cases-during-lockdown-says-west-bengal-womens-commission/418931/

[6]Coronavirus lockdown, MAY 07, 2020, https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/coronavirus-lockdown-surge-in-domestic-violence-says-who/article31529111.ece


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