Recently, due the outbreak of COVID-19 has emerged as a global public health crisis which has originated from Wuhan in China which has rapidly spread across the globe affecting various countries. The countries which have been severely affected with the virus have adopted a number or preventive measures to combat with this global public health such as lockdown, travel restriction. Wearing mask, social distancing, closing all public places respectively. Various countries had imposed lockdown to combat the deadly virus such as USA, Italy, Spain, France as well as India. Thus the implementation of the lockdown not only constrained the spreading of the virus but also led to the prevalent public health crisis which has appeared as an undesirable consequence of the lockdown is domestic violence. UN Women has referred to the rise in violence against women during the Covid-19 pandemic and accompanying lockdowns as the “Shadow Pandemic”.
Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 defines domestic violence as physical, sexual, emotional, verbal and sexual abuse against a women or by her partner or family members residing in a joint family which also take account of unlawful dowry demands. Domestic violence is a public health concern which has adverse consequences physically and mentally on a women. India, as a nation shares a significant global burden of domestic violence which has amplified during the lockdown.
As per a report published by the National Family Health Survey in 2015-2016, one out of every three women were exposed to violence during non-pandemic periods. The increase in the rates of domestic violence across the nation over the lockdown has been substantiated by various reports, newspaper articles and organizations.
According to the recent date published by the National Service Legal Authority, has stated that there have been a surge in the rates of domestic violence in India during the lockdown. At the beginning of lockdown, 257 reports of different offence have been received by the National Commission of Women (NCW) out of which 69 cases have been reported as domestic violence. According to the Chairperson of NCW, highest number of domestic violence cases have been reported from Punjab during the lockdown and all the cases have been registered via email. The number of cases may be more as many do not have the privilege to the internet or have no accessibility due to lockdown. Delhi, the capital city of India has reported that about 2500 women calls have been received from emergency helpline number out of which 600 calls have been categorized as women’s abuse, 23 calls have been recorded as rapes and maximum of the calls have been accounted as domestic violence. As per NALSA’s report, the maximum number of domestic violence cases have been received from Uttarakhand followed by Haryana and Delhi. The crimes against women have drastically increased by 21% and out of these most of the cases have been reported as domestic violence.
As per special women help desk since 25th March, 2020, more than 600 cases of physical and mental tortures have been recorded against their spouses and family members. A recent example can be drawn from West Bengal, where a woman was killed in the district of Malda, West Bengal to protest against affairs with her husband. This is an example of the most inhumane cases which have been reported from the eastern India region due to domestic violence in the course of the lockdown.
The outback of COVID-19 pandemic has already shown destructive footprints over the world. In one hand, the entire world is anxious with COVID-19 and struggling with it for the victory of human society. On the other hand, a group of vicious people are destroying the physical as well as mental health of inmates. Thus both COVID-10 and domestic violence have appeared as twin public health emergencies. The effect of domestic violence on psychological health is more precarious than the effect on physical health. It brings tremendous depressions, anxiety, eating problems as well as other social dysfunctions. Numerous times battered women experience suicidal thoughts due to domestic violence. As a result there is a critical need for actions to overcome these long lasting social problems.