Skip to main content

Shadow pandemic: Reduced government, corporate effort to fight domestic violence?

By Sushmita Das*
One in three women worldwide experience physical or sexual violence. Most of this violence is perpetrated by either their intimate partner or a relative. Due to the coronavirus pandemic outbreak and the subsequent lockdown, the violence against women, especially domestic violence, has increased significantly. This is known as the Shadow Pandemic.
With the reports of the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic intensifying in recent days, there is a real threat of the intensification of the shadow pandemic.
Inl ine with the global trend, India has also seen a spike in the number of reported domestic violence cases during the first period of lockdown enforcement due to COVID-19. According to a report by Saravana Ravichandran and Manisha Shah of the University of California, Los Angeles, India has seen a higher magnitude in domestic violence cases in districts that saw the strictest lockdown measures.
It also states that in districts where a larger proportion of husbands saw domestic violence as justified, larger increases in domestic violence complaints have been observed. According to the National Commission for Women, complaints across various kinds of violence against women have seen a sharp rise during the lockdown, especially domestic violence and cybercrime.
Due to Covid-19 pandemic, many people, especially working in the unorganized sector, have lost their jobs. The lockdown, combined with the unemployment, has increased the anxiety level of people. There were news reports of husbands beating up their wives for issues as trivial as not putting garlic in daal.
The violence is not limited to beating. There have been cases of homicides as well amidst the lockdown.
In Azamgarh district of Uttar Pradesh, Irshad (49) killed his wife Amina (45) after a heated argument. A 45-year-old man in Telangana's Meerpet allegedly strangled his 40-year-old wife to death for failing to give him food on time.
In India, domestic violence against women is seldom discussed and rarely reported. On a normal day, men used to stay outside home for the most part of their day. But, due to the lockdown, women are bound to spend more time at home with their abusers and are also unable to seek any support. Also, the possibility of getting a job in this scenario is difficult, which furthers restrains unemployed women from taking any drastic step against their family or partner.
The United Nations has started working to tackle the shadow pandemic worldwide by taking out $25 million from its emergency fund. About 30% of this fund is proposed to be given to women-led local organizations that prevent violence and help survivors access medical and legal help, family planning, mental health services, and counselling. 
According to the National Commission for Women, complaints of violence against women have seen a sharp rise during the lockdown
Sheba George from Ahmedabad leads one such organization, SAHR WARU, Women's Action and Resource Unit. She says, while SAHR WARU is working towards reducing inequalities between genders and empower women, an NGO or a set of NGOs cannot bring the entire change. She points out the need for the government and the corporates to take necessary steps towards this.
Sheba George
During this shadow pandemic, it would be very important for the Government to take note and enact proper steps towards the cause. There could be an argument that says that Governments are currently occupied in fighting the Covid wave and the health emergencies, but historically, even in the pre-pandemic era, the efforts in this area have been minimal. The Nirbhaya fund, launched in the wake of the 2012 gangrape, has only seen 36% usage since 2013. 
The diminishing efforts corporates in reducing inequality are also alarming. The corporate social responsibility (CSR) expenditure in reducing inequality has decreased almost three times (Rs 187 crore vs 525 crore) in 2018-19 when compared to 2017-18. Only 10% of this spend comes from public sector undertaking (PSUs), showing a picture of no focus towards reducing inequality, which in turn results in empowering women.
Victims of domestic violence need to understand that any kind of violence is totally unacceptable, and the perpetrator deserves to be punished by law. Often abusing, slapping and beating are deemed non-serious, and women usually bear these in silence. But ignoring such instances fuels the aggressive behaviour of the perpetrator and later leads to even more violence. 
There are a number of helplines for domestic violence and free online counselling websites that victims can use for relief.    
In the short term, the Government should use national television to raise awareness about the possible ways victims could seek help. There is also a need of more ways of reporting an abuse without detection. In Spain one smart innovation in Canary Islands, since copied in a number of countries, is for victims to use the code “Mask-19” at local pharmacies to discreetly signal their plight, according to "Financial Times". Government should also provide financial assistance, so that more women could escape their abuser.
One of the major factors in bringing change in the long term would be to stimulate young minds in understanding gender equality as a part of their curriculum. Gender equality in mainstream education would help change children's patriarchal mindsets and help them understand the rights of women. Education in this regard through National television might also contribute to gender equality.
---
*Student, IIM Ahmedabad

Comments

TRENDING

What's Bill Gates up to? Have 'irregularities' found in funding HPV vaccine trials faded?

By Colin Gonsalves*  After having read the 72nd report of the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on alleged irregularities in the conduct of studies using HPV vaccines by PATH in India, it was startling to see Bill Gates bobbing his head up and down and smiling ingratiatingly on prime time television while the Prime Minister lectured him in Hindi on his plans for the country. 

Muted profit margins, moderate increase in costs and sales: IIM-A survey of 1000 cos

By Our Representative  The Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad’s (IIM-A's) latest Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES) has said that the cost perceptions data obtained from India’s business executives suggests that there is “mild increase in cost pressures”.

Displaced from Bangladesh, Buddhist, Hindu groups without citizenship in Arunachal

By Sharma Lohit  Buddhist Chakma and Hindu Hajongs were settled in the 1960s in parts of Changlang and Papum Pare district of Arunachal Pradesh after they had fled Chittagong Hill Tracts of present Bangladesh following an ethnic clash and a dam disaster. Their original population was around 5,000, but at present, it is said to be close to one lakh.

Govt putting India's professionals, skilled, unskilled labour 'at mercy of' big business

By Thomas Franco, Dinesh Abrol*  As it is impossible to refute the report of the International Labour Organisation, Chief Economic Advisor Anantha Nageswaran recently said that the government cannot solve all social, economic problems like unemployment and social security. He blamed the youth for not acquiring enough skills to get employment. Then can’t the people ask, ‘Why do we have a government? Is it not the government’s responsibility to provide adequate employment to its citizens?’

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

Anti-Rupala Rajputs 'have no support' of numerically strong Kshatriya communities

By Rajiv Shah  Personally, I have no love lost for Purshottam Rupala, though I have known him ever since I was posted as the Times of India representative in Gandhinagar in 1997, from where I was supposed to do political reporting. In news after he made the statement that 'maharajas' succumbed to foreign rulers, including the British, and even married off their daughters them, there have been large Rajput rallies against him for “insulting” the community.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

IMA vs Ramdev: Why what's good or bad for goose should be good or bad for gander

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD* Baba Ramdev and his associate Balkrishna faced the wrath of the Supreme Court for their propaganda about their Ayurvedic products and belittling mainstream medicine. Baba Ramdev had to apologize in court. His apology was not accepted and he may face the contempt of court with harsher punishment. The Supreme Court acted on a public interest litigation (PIL) moved by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

Youth as game changers in Lok Sabha polls? Young voter registration 'is so very low'

By Dr Mansee Bal Bhargava*  Young voters will be the game changers in 2024. Do they realise this? Does it matter to them? If it does, what they should/must vote for? India’s population of nearly 1.3 billion has about one-fifth 19.1% as youth. With 66% of its population (808 million) below the age of 35, India has the world's largest youth population. Among them, less than 40% of those who turned 18 or 19 have registered themselves for 2024 election. According to the Election Commission of India (ECI), just above 1.8 crore new voters (18-and 19-year-olds) are on the electoral rolls/registration out of the total projected 4.9 crore new voters in this age group.

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.