It’s a SHADOW PANDEMIC By- Madhvi Patidar@lexcliq

Domestic violence is not a new problem we are coming across. It is a part of our society from the time immoral. With the time it just comes up with some new aspects, reasons, forms and many more. This time it is a pandemic in a pandemic. In present time after so much of tries it is somehow still developing in our society because its roots are stronger and deeper than us as a society.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the only solution in light to stop the spreading of deadly virus was imposing worldwide lockdown. Thus, the implementation of lockdown due to outbreak of COVID-19 not only restricted the spreading of infection but also a new public health crisis has appeared as a negative consequence of lockdown i.e., Domestic Violence.

The emerging data and reports from those on the front lines, have shown that all types of violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence, has intensified. During the first four phases of the COVID-19 related lockdown, Indian women filed more domestic violence complaints than recorded in a similar period in the last 10 years. But even this unusual spurt is only the tip of the iceberg as 86% women who experienced domestic violence do not seek help in India.

Women tends to face greater risk during emergencies, including health disasters such as pandemic. It is so obvious that during the times of economic hardship, there is an increase in violent, abusive, impulsive, compulsive, and controlling behaviour and aggression directed towards cohabiting partners.

This pandemic situation had affected GDP of many developed and developing nation so, it is not a shocking thing that the economic situation of many household has been widely affected, some may have lost their regular jobs, there is been decrease in pays and in addition to it the increased price of commodities has added up to a whole in economic crises which ultimately leads to unbalanced lifestyle which causes depression, anxiety, stress and being confined in house for long period of time has came out in a way of violence, violence over women either physically, mentally or emotionally.

The restriction to stay home just to stay safe, this stay safe is only limited to be safe from coronavirus and not get infected by this. But unfortunately, it does not focus on the area it should focus on, this stay safe is totally blind on the parts which is more deadly than this virus. This lockdown made families live together for such a long period of time without even a day out break, women of the house was so burdened with all the household chores for 24*7. Beside all the household chores she was subjected to bear the frustration of house. The working women were the most affected person during the time, handling the house, family, violence in one or other form with all the office work from home and lead her a pointless life.

By the second month of lockdown, complaints about domestic abuse doubled. Such complaints rose from 116 in the first week of March to 257 in the final week. According to official data, the National Commission for Women (NCW) registered an increase of 2.5 times in complaints of domestic violence in April last year. The NCW received 1,477 complaints between 25 March and 31 May.

The steps taken by courts and government to overcome this pandemic in a pandemic is commendable, however, they, might not be enough considering the stigma and fear surrounding domestic violence. Moreover, a recent report indicates that only 38% of women in India own a mobile phone and thus, it might not be easy for a victim of domestic violence to use the available helplines. Robust community responses and partnership with different NGOs and self-help groups may assist government efforts to combat this shadow pandemic. A number of NGOs are already proving support to victims of domestic violence, but due to some restrictions, it is vital that the government takes the lead.

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