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

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Union budget 'mum' on relief to marginalised communities facing climate change impact

Counterview Desk  ActionAid, an international advocacy group which claims to work for a world without poverty, patriarchy and injustice, has wondered if the Union budget 2023-24, which is being acclaimed for providing succour to the middle classes, has anything to offer to the India's poor. In a statement, it said, while the budget may have "prioritised inclusive development", the financial outlay for ensuring it "does not show the zeal as hoped." Stating that the Finance Minister said Rs 35,000 crore revenue would have to be "forgone" due to a reduction in personal income taxes, "fiscal prudence is not enough to expand public employment, social security, welfare, education and health expenditures considerably." "The need of the hour is to raise revenues through the reduction of revenues forgone and innovative mechanisms such as wealth tax on super accumulation of wealth", it added. Text: The Union Budget 2023 has given significant

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

How lead petitioner was rendered homeless when GM mustard matter came up in SC

By Rosamma Thomas*  On January 5, 2023, the Supreme Court stayed a December 20, 2022 direction of the Uttarakhand High Court to the Indian Railways and the district administration of Haldwani to use paramilitary forces to evict thousands of poor families occupying land that belonged to the railways.  Justice AS Oka remarked that it was not right to order the bringing in of paramilitary forces. The SC held that even those who had no rights, but were living there for years, needed to be rehabilitated. On December 21, 2022, just as she was getting ready to celebrate Christmas, researcher Aruna Rodrigues was abruptly evicted from her home in Mhow Cantonment, Madhya Pradesh – no eviction notice was served, and nearly 30 Indian Army soldiers bearing arms were part of the eviction process. What is noteworthy in this case is that the records establishing possession of the house date back to 1892 – the title deed with the name of Dr VP Cardoza, Rodrigues’ great grandfather, is dated November 14

Why no information with Assam state agency about female rhino poaching for a year?

By Nava Thakuria   According to official claims, incidents of poaching related to rhinoceros in various forest reserves of Assam in northeast India have decreased drastically. Brutal laws against the poachers, strengthening of ground staff inside the protected forest areas and increasing public awareness in the fringe localities of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries across the State are the reasons cited for positively impacting the mission to save the one-horned rhinos. Officials records suggest, only two rhinos were poached in Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve since 1 January 2021 till date. The last incident took place probably in the last week of December 2021, as a decomposed carcass of a fully-grown (around 30 years old) female rhino was recovered inside the world-famous forest reserve next month. As the precious horn was missing, for which the gigantic animal was apparently hunted down, it could not be a natural death. Ironically, however, it was not confirmed when

Civil rights leaders allege corporate loot of resources, suppression of democratic rights

By Our Representative  Civil rights activists have alleged, quoting top intelligence officers as also multiple international forensic reports, that recent developments with regard to the Bhima Koregaon and the Citizenship Amendment Act-National Register of Citizens (CAA-NRC) cases suggest, there was "no connection between the Elgaar Parishad event and the Bhima Koregaon violence." Activists of the Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) told a media event at the HKS Surjeet Bhawan, New Delhi, that, despite this, several political prisoners continue to be behind bars on being accused under the anti-terror the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Addressed by family members of the political prisoners, academics, as well as social activists, it was highlighted how cases were sought to be fabricated against progressive individuals, democratic activists and intellectuals, who spoke out against "corporate loot of Indian resources, suppression of basic democratic

Kerala natural rubber producers 'squeezed', attend to their plight: Govt of India told

By Rosamma Thomas   Babu Joseph, general secretary of the National Federation of Rubber Producers Societies (NFRPS) at a recent discussion at Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, explained that it is high time the Union government paid greater heed to the troubles plaguing the rubber production sector in India – rubber is a strategic product, important for the military establishment and for industry, since natural rubber is still used in the manufacture of tyres for large vehicles and aeroplanes. Synthetic rubber is now quite widespread, but styrene, which is used in making synthetic rubber and plastics, and also butadiene, another major constituent of synthetic rubber, are both hazardous. Prolonged exposure to these even in recycled rubber can cause neurological damage. Kerala produces the bulk of India’s natural rubber. In 2019-20, Kerala’s share in the national production of rubber was over 74%. Over 20% of the gross cropped area in the state is under rubber cultivation, with total

Bangladesh 'rights violations': US softens stance, fears increased clout of China, India

By Tilottama Rani Charulata*  In December 2021, in addition to the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the United States imposed sanctions on seven former and current officers of the force, alleging serious human rights violations. Benazir Ahmed and former RAB-7 commander Miftah Uddin Ahmed were banned from entering the US. RAB as an institution was also canceled the support it was getting from the US and its allies. At the same time, those under the ban have been notified of confiscation of assets held abroad. The anti-crime and anti-terrorism unit of the Bangladesh Police, RAB is the elite force consisting of members of the Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Police, Bangladesh Navy, Bangladesh Air Force, Border Guard Bangladesh, Bangladesh Civil Service and Bangladesh Ansar, and has been criticized by rights groups for its use of extrajudicial killings and is accused of forced disappearances. The government of Bangladesh has been insisting about lifting the ban on RAB, but the US had till recen

Lack of welfare schemes, BSF curbs force West Bengal farmers to migrate far away

Counteview Desk  In a representation to the National Human Rights Commission chairperson, a senior West Bengal based activist has complained that villagers living near the border with Bangladesh are forced to migrate to as far away as Mumbai and Kerala because of lack of government sensitivity towards their welfare in original villages. Giving specific instances, Kirity Roy, secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), said, if the Border Security Force (BSF) had not put any restriction on agricultural activities, and if villages had properly implemented welfare schemes, these people would never migrate to other States. Text: I want to attract your immediate attention to the inhumane condition of the migrated workers of Gobra village, Swarupnagar Block in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal to seek your urgent intervention to protect the rights of these people. Gobra is a village situated near the Indo-Bangladesh Border where the border fencing is about 500 meters i