Mankind is suffering from its darkest phase. The menace of corona has dilapidated the fundamentals of hope, belief and optimism. This dreadful disease has not only cost the lives of millions of people but also engraved a fear inside mankind to never forget its gift to them, a gift of catastrophe and fiasco. Till now world has lost 1, 98,532 lives in the hands of corona and many more to show up. We cannot predict how our lives is going to be moulded by this virus, or whether it’s a sign of dooms day or something else, but what we know is that we cannot escape from this and we have to face it with utmost feeling of togetherness. Even the world’s most puissant country, the United States of America is engulfed by this pandemic. The most influential fact about this virus is that, it does not discriminate among caste or creed, mighty or weak, or developed or under developed. It spreads its hand for all. But do you know that there is another pandemic which is prevalent in the world long before this corona virus? This is more devastating than any virus or flu, and irony is that people are completely aware to this and still mankind has no vaccine for this. I am indicating about a pandemic which arises from the four walls of houses, a “shadow pandemic” called domestic violence and child abuse.
When the whole world is engaged in seeking a solution to fight corona, there is another pandemic sprouting inside our homes. The only thing that we can do right now to fight corona is through social distancing and Lockdown. But this lockdown is seemed to be the reason for growth of another dreadful sin.
According to statistics released by the UN, reports of domestic violence in France has increased by 30% following the country’s lockdown. Not only in France but in the first two weeks of lockdown in Spain, the emergency number for domestic violence received 18% more calls and helpline in Singapore received 30% more calls. These statistics clearly depicts that during lockdown, the case of domestic violence has increased tremendously. It seems that people are getting out their frustration of being locked down on women and children. The world is already intrigued in corona and it is not really prepared for any other problem like this. In the first four weeks of lockdown in the UK, 13 women and 4 children are believed to have been killed by men most while shut inside their homes. Calls to domestic violence helplines have increased by 120%, while traffic to their websites is tripling. The most affected country by corona pandemic is U.S.A and their too the cases of domestic violence has risen up to 35% in recent weeks.
India is also clouded by this shadow pandemic Commission of Women is receiving more cases of violence during lockdown than before. According to NCW, total complain from women rose from 116 in the 1st week March (28) to 257 in the final week of March – April. States which are most affected by this are UP, Bihar, Haryana and Punjab. As the literacy rates of these states indicates, the results are not shocking. According to Sunanda Desai, a middle class working women in Mumbai, she said her self-esteem is being crushed every single day. She is questioned every single day for not been done well. She is shouted at by her husband, her in-laws and even by her children. The compete lockdown, not only restrict the movement of country but it seems that people mind are also locked inside their houses. Men are taking out their frustration on women and they refuse to participate in the domestic chores. Job loss, salary cuts, an uncertain future arising out of lockdown has everyone on the edge.
Not only domestic violence but child abuse has also rose drastically during lockdown. The child line India helpline received more than 92000 SOS calls asking for protection from abuse and violence in 11 days. Of the 3.07 lakh calls received by the child line 1098 helpline for children in distress across the country between March (20-31), covering the 1st week of the lockdown. 30% were about protection against abuse and violence on children, said by Harleen Walia, deputy director of child line India.
Some measures taken worldwide
UN Secretary General Antonio Gueteres in his speech directed the governments of different countries to put women safety 1st as they respond to the pandemic. He ordered the governments to increase investment in online services and civil society organisations, declaring shelter as essential services and continue to prosecute abusers. On his directions, numerous national and local governments has started following these instructions. For example, Canada is keeping Domestic violence shelter open and diverting $50 million to support for victims of domestic violence and gender based violence. Scottish government has announced, it is providing Scottish aid with 1.35 million euros over 6 months from its communities fund to help those at risk of domestic violence.
At the time of pandemic like corona, we all need to unite together to fight this deadly virus. Without strong action to tackle domestic abuse and support victims during the Covid-19 pandemic, society will be dealing with the devastating consequences for a generation. In a pandemic that has killed tens of thousands of people across globe, the message to an anxious public is that staying home means staying safe and saving lives. According to a report by UNICEF, at least one in every three women globally has been beaten, coerced into sex, or abused in some other way, most often by someone she knows, including her husband or another male family member. In the words of La Toya Jackson, “It doesn’t matter how rich or poor a person is, what gender or social class, or how much fame or education she possesses. Verbal, mental, and physical abuse can happen to anyone. It doesn’t matter what a woman’s ethnicity is because the only distinguishing color of abuse is black-and-blue.”
Authored by: Mukul Kumar
Author: Mukul Kumar,
University Of Allahabad, 1st year, B.A LL.B