Due to the epidemic, maximum people were exhorted to stay at home in order to downturn the widespread. One day, while I was sitting idle at home, a thought passed through my mind. I contemplated that assaults against women might have not taken place in the lockdown period. I thanked God that at least lockdown has brought something positive with it and women are at home safely. The notion prevailed until I came over media coverage on television that revealed a terrible picture of the scenario. The incidents headlined were so barbaric and further, I was no better to go ahead with my emotion. Later on, I attempted to dig more about it on the internet. It was then I left with no words as soon as I acknowledged that women’s harassments are even heightened like never before.
Nevertheless, domestic violence withstood even before COVID-19 but the gendered effect has acquired far more attention now than usual times. The women who were previously in an abusive relationship or at the trouble of such abuse, staying at home intensified their threat of intimate partner violence. Lockdown seemed like an ideal occasion for spending quality time with loved ones but it proved as a curse for various women. The complexion of miseries women drive through are mainly unheard, unseen, and locked within four walls. The idea of ‘Quarantine’, economic, and medical distress arriving along with it, elevated the terror within homes. It bleared the door of ‘escapism’ in the lives of sufferers. Work, school, and colleges that used to be the medium of escape earlier were not there anymore.
The national lockdown has reported a more than 50% rise in domestic violence. The opening up of liquor shops after May 3 increased cases of domestic violence. In Agartala, Tripura, 43 incidents of atrocities against women including murder, rape, and domestic violence have been reported till now. For which, Ganatantrik Nari Samiti also staged a peaceful demonstration of 15 minutes.
India is not alone in witnessing a surge against domestic violence complaints. In Jilan Country, Hubei, province of China, a police department reported a tripling of domestic violence cases in Feb 2020 compared with Feb 2019. In the UK, a project teaching violence against women noted that deaths from domestic abuse between 23 March and 12 April had more than doubled as compared with the average rates in the previous 10 years.
In spite of these, there are always many unreported cases. The major cause for unregistered cases was the restrictions on women and their troublesome access to phones, internet, and disrupted social services like police, justice, and women NGOs. One more reason is the lack of privacy. With all the members existing at home during a lockdown, there would have barely been an adequate moment for women to call or lodge complaint. Incorporation of patriarchal fear and enabling men’s power or supremacy over women, however, stays the most common reason for women not being able to raise their voice. If one tries to she is caught by society’s use of degrading terms to insult her and criticize her as shameful. Another reason is the loophole of long procedures for approaching justice being followed by the judiciary.
Recently, Nandita Das also launched a short film ‘Listen to Her’ which aims to express the problem of domestic violence. One in three women in India has dealt with some kind of domestic abuse in her lifetime. One in four countries has no laws at all heeding the safety of women against domestic violence. In order to work around this, we need to attend it as a primacy equal to other necessities of democracy with more accurate budgets, awareness, and progressive strategies.
The UN Women has announced violence against women and girls as a ‘Shadow Pandemic’, which possibly holds true. The rising violence against women is another disease that seems to have no one-stop vaccine. Assaults against women, a dark trait of a pandemic is a mirror that reflects our moralities and mankind. We must not only survive the virus but also fix the bug in our systems serving justice for women. The system needs to be more victim-centered than focusing on the consequences of punishments for guilty. One of the key features behind gender-based violence is dissemination of rape and misogynistic culture in our everyday lives as an extensively accepted norm. Traditional gender roles have constantly observed women as ‘caregivers’ and men as ‘breadwinners’. This needs to be altered. Thus, we should develop as a revived nation with women as a strong force at the centre of recovery. Also, Women of the world hope to see the problem completely dismantled one day.