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COVID-19 and Domestic Violence

  • IASbaba
  • April 8, 2020
  • 0
UPSC Articles
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SOCIETY/ GOVERNANCE

Topic: General Studies 1 & 2:

  • Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues 
  • Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and State

COVID-19 and Domestic Violence

The lockdown imposed by authorities in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic has imposed stricter control on one’s mobility and put women in abusive relationships at extremely high risk of damage from physical, sexual and emotional abuse.

Do You Know?

  • 67% of the world’s healthcare workers are women and thus are naturally more prone to infection. 
  • Women are burdened with three times more unpaid care work than men, which increases during lockdown

Global scenario of Women Violence 

  • Globally, violence against women affects one in three women. 
  • Of all female murders, an overwhelming 82 per cent happen in their marital homes, and are committed by an intimate partner or a family member.

Women violence in India – findings by the National Family Health Survey-4 (2015-16)

  • 30% women in India in the age group of 15-49 have experienced physical violence since the age of 15
  • About 31 per cent of married women have experienced physical, sexual or emotional violence by their spouses.
  • 6 per cent women in the age group 15-49 years have experienced sexual violence at least once in their lifetime

Consequences of lockdown (in the wake of COVID-19) on Women Violence

  1. Increases the vulnerability to sexual violence
  • Data from west African countries in the wake of the 2014 Ebola outbreak showed that there was a steady increase in rape, sexual assault and violence against women and girls. 
  • Sexual violence increased in these regions by 40per cent over a period of one year
  1. Increases domestic violence on women:
  • In the province of Hubei in Wuhan, China, which is the heart of the first outbreak of the Coronavirus, domestic violence reports to police tripled during the February lockdown period
  • In Brazil state-run shelters are estimating 40-50 per cent rise in demands from endangered women.
  • European countries have reported 20-30 per cent increases in calls to domestic violence helplines

Impact of lockdown on domestic violence in India

  • National Commission of Women has recorded 291 complaints of domestic violence in March 
  • Closure of Counselling Centres: Under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA), it is these centres and not the police who are first responder for women who experience domestic violence.
  • Non-functional NGOs: The hotlines run by NGOs (whom women report such cases) are silent – attributed probably to continuous presence of the abuser at home 
  • Given the above situation there is now a lack of alternative alert system for women abuse

Way Forward

  • The state governments need to declare helplines as “essential services” that should remain open during lockdowns
  • Disseminate information about gender-based violence and publicise resources and services available.
  • Increase resourcing for NGOs that respond to domestic violence and aid — including shelter, counselling, and legal aid — to survivors.
  • Encourage the equitable sharing of domestic tasks at home.
  • Provide for the continued provision of healthcare services based on medical research and tests — unrelated to the virus — for women and girls
  • Ensure women’s timely access to necessary and comprehensive sexual & reproductive health services during the crisis, such as maternal health services, safe abortion etc.

Examples from other Countries worth emulating

  • French government will pay for up to 20,000 hotel nights for survivors and finance pop-up counselling centres at grocery stores for easy access to abuse survivors. 
  • In Spain, women are being given codewords such as “Mask-19” in pharmacy stores, which can act as an alarm-response mediator.

Connecting the dots:

  • Gender wage gap post the crisis
  • Intersectional Feminism

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