When Family Time Becomes Toxic
Across the globe, countries including Brazil, China, Tunisia, France, Italy, US, UK, Australia and others, have seen a surge in domestic violence, leading to United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calling for measures to address a "horrifying global surge in domestic violence" amid lockdowns imposed by governments responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
India's National Commission for Women (NCW) has registered 587 domestic violence complaints between March 23 and April 16, a noticeable increase from 396 complaints received in the previous 25 days between February 27 and March 22.
“Domestic violence cases have doubled than what it was before the lockdown. The cases of domestic violence are high in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana and Punjab,” says NCW chief Rekha Sharma. The stress of confinement, financial constraints and the lack of access to alcohol are the aggravating factors leading to increased domestic violence in the country.
Our reliance on house help can be felt the most during this lockdown. The men are at home and they are taking out their frustration on women and they refuse to participate in domestic work. Not used to doing household chores, many men are struggling to cope, given the existing stereotypical mentality of the patriarchy that only women are supposed to do the housework.
With everything that is happening outside, five girls from Afghanistan found the strength and courage to not just sit idle, rather try and help the victims of coronavirus. In a country where girls are raised with the idea that males should command and women must obey, these girls are on a lifesaving mission – to build a ventilator from used car parts and help their conflict-ridden country battle the virus. Despite the patriarchy always creeping into the lives of women and making them bear the pain of men thrashing them like a sitting furniture, women always selflessly try to help the society that very much denies then even a shred of respect.
Domestic violence includes any type of physical, emotional, sexual or financial abuse. It can be perpetrated by your partner, any family member (natal or matrimonial), or a combination thereof. Women are the victims of collateral damage in this continuing lockdown.
According to The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, survivors of domestic violence are entitled to the following:
*Monetary relief and maintenance: You are entitled to maintenance, including loss of earnings, medical expenses, and damage to property.
* Protection: After you approach the police, a magistrate can pass orders to stop the offender from committing violence towards you, interacting with you, taking away your assets, or intimidating your family or support network.
* Residence: You cannot be evicted from the shared household.
*Compensation: You can claim damages for mental and physical injuries.
*Custody: The court can grant you temporary custody of children. It can also pass an interim order to prevent violence before the final order.
*Legal service: Women have the right to free legal services under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.
As people around the world try to cope up with the boredom of quarantine, the steps to contain the transmission of the virus has forced the government to further extend the lockdown which might result in a greater number of domestic violence cases, as mostly are already going unreported. The government at the Centre and state levels need to address the upsurge in domestic violence immediately.