To further add to all the current pandemic stress, the National Commission for Women shared a distressing report last week. As per their latest records, a steep rise in violence against women has been registered during the lockdown period. While earlier this month, the NCW had already raised alarm about a two-fold increase in the number of gender-based violence cases reported to them within the first week of lockdown, their latest reports show no signs of improvement since then.
As per the NCW data, the organisation has received a total of 587 complaints in the period between March 23 and April 16. Out of these, 239 happen to be related to domestic violence. NCW had earlier registered 123 cases of domestic violence between February 27 and March 22 and in the past month, they have received 239 more such complaints.
NCW's Chairperson Rekha Sharma had said in a media statement earlier that the rising number of domestic violence cases can be attributed to the fact that this lockdown has, in fact, put the abuser and the victim together in one confined space. However, speculations are also being made that all these reported cases just happen to be the tip of the iceberg with the majority of women not even reporting such instances or being purely unaware of what comes under the premise of domestic violence.
All this while, Sharma has been stressing on the need of making women across the country understand that domestic violence doesn't just constitute physical violence but includes instances of mental harassment, verbal abuse, aggressive taunts, body shaming, and all sorts of derogatory behaviour.
Keeping in mind the ordeals of women during the lockdown, the NCW also launched a Whatsapp helpline recently so as to provide a hasslefree platform for women to reach out to help register the cases. Here are the details:
To handle the cases reported through Whatsapp, the commission has made a special team that filters and handles them on a fast track basis. Once any such message is raised to the commission, it is first scrutinised and taken up on priority if it happens to be a domestic violence case.
It was just last month that the UN shared reports of a spike in violence against women in France by up to 30 percent during the lockdown. The experts attributed the surge to women being isolated at homes for days with abusive partners whose violent tendencies have been enabled and further aggravated by an increased level of stress. The UN has been referring to this spike as a "shadow pandemic."
It is rather saddening that amidst the current distress, humans have found a way to take it out on each other with the marginalised having it the worst right now. In case you happen to know someone who must be facing the brunt of current lockdown in the form of domestic violence or gendered abuse, here are a few helplines that you can reach out to:
Domestic abuse national helpline number: 181
Women police helpline numbers: 1091, 1291
Helplines to provide psychological assistance to women: 9000070839, 0402760531
Let's come together in the sporadic times and extend a helping hand to those in need instead of bringing each other down.