The year 2020 will be remembered distinctly in human history. While most of us will remember it for the disastrous Covid-19 pandemic, unfortunately some among the feminine gender will remember it for the brutalities of domestic violence. Though some people are of the opinion that despite being so unfair, Covid-19 has had some positive impacts, like it has reduced environmental pollution, it has made family relationships strong, etc. But this pandemic has undoubtedly worsened the evil of domestic violence.
The main slogan used to combat Covid-19 is “stay home, stay safe”, but for many women staying at home means no safety. The loss of safety in the world is for them only a reflection of the loss of safety in the house. I believe that a lot of what we see outside is really a reflection of what’s happening inside.
An incident in mid April:
It was 2:30 am when Daniel Jimenez was woken by his neighbour’s screams when he went outside his home in the Los Pajarillos neighbourhood of Valladolid in north-west Spain. He saw a woman hanging from a third-storey window. Another neighbour rushed out with mattresses to help break her fall but he was too late.
The words “self isolation”, “stay at home”, “practice social distancing” are terrifying to many women who are living with intimate partner violence (IPV). The lives of these women are filled with fear and danger. They are the “invisible victims” of this pandemic.
Statistical data and some
• In Delhi, a social worker got a call from a woman saying she was in terrible pain after being beaten up by her in-laws and asked to leave her marital home. When the social worker took her for a medical check-up, it was found that the abuse had resulted in broken bones. About 32 complaints were received per 1 million women in Delhi, the highest rate ever recorded.
• In UP, one of the worst states in terms of violence against women, police have launched a new domestic violence helpline as complaints have surged during the Covid-19 lockdown. UP has recorded 600 complaints since the lockdown began, the highest among all states.
• In Hubei in China, the origin of the deadly outbreak, domestic violence reports to police have tripled during the lockdown. As countries around the world quarantine their citizens, the working class people are sitting idle at home. They have more time to find mistakes in their partners and subject them to violence.
• According to the National Commission for Women chairperson Rekha Sharma, “The number has increased. Men are frustrated sitting at home and are taking out their frustration on women. This trend is especially seen in Punjab from where we have received many such complaints.”
• The UK has reported femicide rates higher than they have been in the past 11 years.
• Mexico has reported an 8% increase in femicides with nearly 1,000 women murdered in the first three months of the year. These data clearly indicate an escalation of more severe forms of violence, likely leading to an increase in the number of IPV-related traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).
• In 2020 between March 25 and May 31, 1,477 complaints of domestic violence were made by women in India. This 68-day period recorded more complaints than those received between March and May in the previous 10 years.
• About 86% women who experienced violence never sought help, and 77% of the victims did not even mention the incidents to anyone. Data shows that women who were subjected to both physical and sexual violence seek help relatively more than those who suffer from only one form of abuse.
A lesson to learn
The Arabic and Hebrew word for “womb” is ‘rahm’. It is derived from the word mercy (rahma). Womb is also an expression of the creative power of God in women. In degrading women, we degrade the highest qualities of our human nature, and in elevating her, we elevate our highest nature. When the natural virtues of women – compassion, kindness, caring, selflessness, and love – dominate in men, they are able to overcome their natural vices and realise their humanity fully. When those virtues are absent, men descend to the lowest of the low and are worse than beasts. In looking at the outward beauty of a woman, we become veiled to her inner beauty.
It is the foremost duty of both common people and government authorities to curb the menace of domestic violence at the earliest. Educating people, especially the younger generation, about domestic violence is necessary. For this, speakers from local religious organisations, women social activists, NGOs and other social groups should be invited to schools and colleges. Women who face violence should identify safe places to safeguard themselves. If safe shelter is not available, they should call for help at the women’s helpline number. The government should frame strict and harsh laws and policies to curb the menace of domestic violence.
—The writer is an MEd student at Cluster University Jammu. [email protected]