Story of a woman behind the closed doors amid lockdown
While having a conversation with Neetu (maid) – changed name, she said, due to the pandemic, her husband is not earning a penny, drinks every night and hits her. She further added, “Being beaten is nothing new, I am just tensed for his work.”
When I told her about the helplines and that she could actually report it, she said “I tried, but then he would beat my daughters and I don’t want them to get into all this.“
“Currently I am the sole earner, and he sits at home, abuses verbally, physically and also emotionally.”
While interaction with several maids and also the housewives from a well to do family, one thing that is observed common is women keeps “children” and “what will society say” to their priority. According to them, leaving husband concerns the financial crisis a non-working woman bears while raising the children.
Domestic violence is not new and has existed prior to Covid-19 but has intensified during pandemic, resulting to men releasing their stress on women. The lockdown situation has proved to be difficult for victims of domestic abuse. Women are locked up with their abusive partners for more than a month, and are left with no alternatives to get away with it.
Spike in domestic violence cases
Covid-19 has affected people both, mentally and physically. The pandemic situation is not only creating panic but also hit people by the financial crisis. This has left people anxious and frustrated, which are leading to many vicious consequences. According to official data of the National Commission of Women, domestic violence complaints got increased by 2.5 times since the nationwide lockdown and keeping this in mind, many states introduced helplines for women amid lockdown. Politics has to dive in, like always. According to a report, ‘Union women and child development minister Smriti Irani denies the increase in such cases and those NGOs were scaremongering’.
According to Swayam, a women rights organization that was registering 22 complaints of domestic violence per month on an average before Covid-19 is now registering 57 complaints each month on their helplines or through mail. Started with three helplines, now has nine functional helplines, according to the Hindu.
Domestic violence is a crime that is practiced worldwide in a form of right. According to a world health organization report, one third (30%) of women have gone through either physical or sexual violence by their partner. This can lead to several threatening consequences on women’s body and mind.
Consequences like homicide or suicide, injuries, unintended pregnancies, induced abortions, infections including HIV, miscarriage, depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, eating disorders are mainly observed among the victims. Such violence leaves direct impact on children. Children who grow up in families with surroundings of violence undergo through emotional and behavioral disturbances. They either inherit these habits and declare it normalcy or experience violence later in life.
Laws on domestic violence
Under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, harassing a woman mentally or physically for the dowry by husband or relatives of husband is considered as crime. Dowry system is already disallowed under the dowry prohibition act 1961, but it is still practiced quite openly. Marital rape is not accepted as a crime yet in India but victims of forced sex in a marriage can seek help from Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005. It also covers any action that can drive a woman to commit suicide or risk her life.
Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 prohibits vast range of crime against women including physical, emotional, economical and sexual.
What patriarchy says -?
While having a conversation with a group of elders, they spoke about the values they got from their ancestors saying, ‘we don’t believe in breaking the marriages like today’s generation. Small arguments can be solved within the four walls and it is not necessary to involve everybody.’
Domestic violence is a taboo that people does not want to talk about. It is widely accepted as one of the personal matters that should be solved within the four walls rather than taking the situation to police or the NGOs or any working organization in this sector.
Patriarchy says, men are the only breadwinner and head of the family, the decision maker and especially the one, who cannot be counter parted. Whereas women are taught from the very beginning to adjust with whatever situation comes after marriage, because they no longer belong to their own family. Growing up with this particular mindset makes men authoritative in nature and women to feel responsible for any action that can put the marriage in danger.
Being a woman is not easy, even if you belong to upper class family. Big names also made headlines on Indian media, of being a domestic violence survivor or the one who is accused of practicing it. Karisma kapoor (Bollywood actress) who filed domestic violence case against her ex-husband Sunjay kapoor, Veteran Bollywood actress Zeenat Aman had to deal with the domestic violence in her both the marriages, Leander Paes, Indian professional tennis player was accused for practicing domestic violence by spouse rhea pillai, are some of the high profile cases and there are many others.
Domestic violence is a crime that cannot be justified with reasons like illiteracy, unemployment or financial status. Living with a partner within four walls doesn’t give you rights to exploit other mentally, physically, emotionally or sexually.
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