Author: Shaijal Shekhar, Student at Faculty of Law, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh.
Co-Author: Aradhaya Singh, Student at Indraprastha Law College, Greater Noida.
Domestic Violence is a public health issue at both the international and national levels. Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 Pandemic, there is rapid increase in gender-based violence cases. In this paper, we will discuss the link between Covid 19 and domestic violence and will try to find out the increase of domestic violence cases reasons because of Covid-19 calamity. This is a brief article in which we are going to analyze the cases of domestic violence as per by statistics and insights since the outbreak of Covid-19 around the world and the present literature in relation to Covid-19 and domestic violence. The increase in cases of domestic violence resulting from Covid-19 is a link of profitable and communal crisis. This article analyses in-depth that how Covid-19 is a double Pandemic for women and discusses how it impacts on the profitable and communal crisis. The whole world is battling with Covid-19 by taking various measures to combat the speed of transmission. As per the United Nations reports and other organizations, it was observed that the measures used by countries globally, like lockdown, had increased the domestic violence cases. This article throws light on certain changes in policies and strategies required to reduce domestic violence incidents at present time.
Keywords: Domestic violence, Gender-based violence, Covid-19, Women, economic crisis, social crisis.
The issue that covid-19 has become a double pandemic for women due to increased domestic violence on them during this period has generated an intense public debate in many parts of the world. Domestic violence has been recognized as global, economic and social issue for centuries. Its prevalence may vary from country to country but it is to be made clear that this problem of domestic violence exists in all countries and societies.
As we can see that, at present, the whole world is battling with the Covid-19 pandemic or the current Corona Virus disease of 2019 and many countries including India, worldwide had imposed lockdowns to cope up with this deadly virus which has created havoc in the world. But do we all know that how this lockdown had an adverse or negative effect on the lives of women? The answer is no, we have no idea about this. Researches have stated that lockdown has led to increasing in number of domestic violence cases throughout the world. It is widely claimed that domestic violence is one of the biggest and greatest challenges of 21st century and now the Covid 19 lockdown, being what it is, has trapped people at their homes and has given an opportunity to abusers to carry their misdeeds. The lockdown has led to the horrifying global surge in domestic violence and has urged all governments at the international level to include protective and safety measures in their pandemic plans.
Domestic abuse is acting like an opportunity for those who want to abuse females physically or mentally. Women and children are trapped within their houses with the perpetrators and are being abused by them. Ever since the lockdown, violence against women is rising exponentially. Due to this increase, several nations have enacted special policies along with the legal guidelines and programs to deal with violence against women at homes.
In this study, laying more emphasis on the available data or literature as well as facts and statistics, we expose the impact of Covid-19 on domestic abuse, impact on physical and mental health of women and children. We will discuss various reasons behind the increase in domestic violence cases, together with how the increase, affects economic and social environment. This article covers measures taken by different governments of different nations to cope with this pandemic. The article includes all the steps taken by our country to prevent domestic violence in India and also various suggestive measures are mentioned for the government.
IMPACT OF COVID-19 PANDEMIC ON DOMESTIC ABUSE
Globally, the breakdown of the Covid-19 pandemic has presented a lot of challenges for all of us and has also affected the family dynamics of many people especially of women. It had caused a deep and devastating effect on women in abusive relationships.
As per data released by WHO, globally 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced physical and or sexual violence by her intimate partner or sexual violence by any perpetrator in their lifetime. The reason behind this cause are the intimate partners.
It was said by the Secretary-General of United Nations, Antonio Guterres, after noting the horrifying global surge, has called for domestic violence a ‘ceasefire’.
In many reports, it has mentioned that before the Covid-19 lockdown, nearly 30% of women have been facing mental or physical domestic abuse through their partners. Devastation may also occur during this crisis of Covid-19 due to increasing cases of violence, child marriage, female genital mutilation and unintended pregnancies. Data shows that 86% of Indian women who experience domestic violence do not try to seek help, and about 77% of women experiencing domestic violence do not mention the incidents of domestic violence to anyone whether to their family members or friends.
In all over the world, many domestic violence help lines and organizations are continuously working to deal with this global issue. In India, the mandatory lockdown which imposed restrictions on the mobility of 1.3 billion people, in an attempt to slowdown the spread of Covid-19 pandemic, has unfortunately doubled the female-related domestic violence cases. Recent data released by the National Legal Service Authority (NLSA) states that, “the nationwide lockdown has led to a rapid surge in domestic violence cases in India”.
HOW DOMESTIC VIOLENCE INFLUENCED PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH ?:
Covid-19 along with domestic abuse has impacted the mental health of the whole community, especially of women. The mental torture or challenge a woman facing is unimaginable. There is a need of survey to be done to shed light on the level of stress and anxiety that women are facing around the globe during the Covid-19 pandemic, and also to assess their well being and mental health. Due to lockdown imposed by various countries in order to cope with the pandemic, women are given much less freedom, space and financial security which has affected their mental health.
Covid-19 crisis has affected the lives of women in an unexpected way. Even though as per the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC) survey, which founds that the fatality rate for men at 8.8% was higher than women at 1.7%. During this lockdown the persons with pre-existing mental illnesses and those who are addicted to substance use, were disadvantaged and this had affected their mental health. Those persons with metal illness or patient of epilepsy, reduced access to medication can lead to relapse of symptoms, as can the stress, anxiety could also be there. Domestic violence exists in different forms like physical, emotional, sexual etc. but the physical violence gets highlighted every time and given much importance. This pandemic outbreak has set a pavement for domestic violence which indeed affects physical and mental health of the women not only in India, but in all over the world.
RECENT LITERATURE ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
The increase cases of domestic violence during Covid-19 have been highlighted by a growing stream of literature. As per the research study by Bradbury-Jones and Isham, it was identified as the paradoxical effects of a pandemic.
Recently, as per the article from “The Guardian”  which reports about the gush in domestic violence and laid more emphasis on the pattern that can be observed globally. Study also reveals that in Brazil, there is rise of 40-50% domestic violence cases and also up to 25% increase in calls related to domestic violence cases in UK within a week after the enactment of social distancing and lock down measures. In other countries like Portland, there is an increase by 22% arrests of domestic violence cases. Countries like Alabama experienced an expansion in domestic violence calls by 27% in 2020 in comparison to the cases in March 2019. Whereas New York city has experienced the same like this too as there is an increase of 10% calls of domestic violence during March 2020 in comparison to March 2019.
The latest data released by the National Commission for Women (NCW) shows that there is an increase of at least 2.5 times in domestic violence complaints since the nationwide lockdown. According to official data of NCW, from March 25 to May 31, the NCW has received 1,477 domestic violence complaints.
At the international level or we can say globally, large number of domestic violence cases has reported in US, UK, France, Spain and at several other nations too. If we go through, we would be able to find out that in South Africa alone, the first week of lockdown witnessed 90,000 reports of violence against women and also the number of distress calls have doubled in Malaysia and China too.
For many females, staying at home is a public health crisis. As per India’s National Family Health Survey which states that, close to 42% of men agree that a husband is justified in hitting or beating his wife. Then, it is not surprising to observe that, a third of India’s women experienced some form of physical, emotional or sexual violence once in their lifetime.
There are numerous published articles and blogs which shows that Coronavirus pandemic is having an influence on domestic violence. Further, if we go through, we would see that the impact of pandemic or epidemic on domestic violence is not a new issue. Earlier also many epidemics had made an impact on domestic violence cases. There has been an impact of HIV epidemic on female abuse earlier as investigated by Decker et al in 2013.It was investigated by Pellowski et al (2013) that, how this US HIV pandemic earlier led to communal disadvantages for different groups whether racial or gender that had resulted in violence.
It can be said that whether it be of pandemic or natural disaster, each of them effects the domestic violence rates. Limited research has been made or available to expose the reasons behind such effects and most important how they influence the expected economic and social crisis.
- What are the reasons that led to an increase in Domestic Violence due to Covid-19 Breakdown?:
There are several reasons behind expansion in Domestic violence cases due to Coronavirus breakdown. As we can see that Covid-19 infection has became the reason to impose some restrictions on physical distance or we can say social distancing by many countries, including India too. As per by literature mentioned in sociology and also gender literature, there is an undeviating link that can be well understood that when families spend more time together with each family member, there may occur a violence without any key reason. Thus, we can say that Covid-19 is an indirect cause of violence.
After researches conducted by scholars, we came to know that low income can also be the reason to increase in domestic violence cases as infection of Covid-19 had limited to place restrictions on certain aspects of movement because of which there are loss of jobs, unemployment, low income etc. as impose of lock down made all the companies whether small or big, to shut down.
Although even there is not any history of abuse in a family, still then profitable distress in the pandemic which arose due to financial strain and lack of social support can fuel violence.
Facts says that high stress levels among couples increased the rate of violence 3.5 times more than among those with low stress levels. Shift in responsibilities is also the main cause for rising in domestic violence cases. This is because an opportunity is being made to torture their partners mentally or physically.
As per research these lockdowns which are imposed because of some natural calamity or pandemic, put each and every family member very near to each other and reduces the time due to one person who goes to work, and due to this chance of domestic violence increases.
Last but not the least, domestic violence can also arise because of spending more time together with each other which leads to see various habits, whether good or bad, which may or may not be compatible or may be contradictory to each other in a setup of family.
- Influence of domestic violence on the profitable and communal environment :
As we can see that there are many grounds for increase in Domestic Violence cases because of Coronavirus breakdown all around, so we can see it clearly that increase in Domestic Violence will also affect the profitable and communal climax too.
Firstly, in terms of communal climax prior to this pandemic of Coronavirus breakdown the sufferers of domestic violence abuse had accession to get aid from their household associates, acquaintances, colleagues, NGOs, the homes which can provide shelter to them along with lawful guidance. But due to this lockdown which was imposed to prevent from the infection of noval Corona Virus, such options are no longer exists now. Homes cannot be left by the victims of the abuse and children, due to this intensity and suffering, they face domestic abuse which is probably to expand at a higher rate.
Secondly, Domestic Violence will be going to influence children also. As there is an expansion in domestic violence instances, there is also a high risk for parents of losing their children along with a big challenge that was created because of not getting support from their family members and the society. This is also a big loss for victims as it becomes the reason for increased pressure/ management for the two sides that is the (sufferers and the little ones). Child care services are not available in the areas which falls under containment zone and it will increase the challenge and children overall development will also get affected due to this. Expansion of more brutality between parents as well as cynical interconnection because of lock down imposed may also affect the mental health of children.
Thirdly, due to imposition of lock down creates an incapacity for victims to communicate community squints, friends and co-workers, whose support is always needed the most. But because of Covid 19 crisis, which has made people to start work from their houses or working remotely on a large scale has affected all social relations and made people to get trapped inside their home and also people’s social circle being affected. These issues are a big challenge for a community which is socio-economically backward like women of hue, women who belongs to a feeble family, or on account of the two reasons, constructional along with the ethnical not having accession to carry neither from the administration not from the section before the pandemic too.
Economically, increase in domestic violence require governments from all over the world to take actions. This may take a long time to be realized that on account of domestic violence, countries face losing fruitful workers which always contributes to the wealth, but is now vanished away by the cognitive as well as bodily outcomes of domestic violence.
One of the most distinctive features about this pandemic and domestic violence can be seen is that profitable issues everyone has faced are causes and consequences. With the increase in number of domestic violence cases in many of the defeated hit nations and the nations which are still developing and underdeveloped, at the current framework, it can be said that profitable affairs which are result of this Covid-19 calamity are the chief benefactors to the gush in domestic violence.
It can also be observed that the social inequalities which still prevail in our society will place women and girls at a higher chance of violence. As unemployment, monetary traces increase, so at the same time the cases of violence towards women and girls will also proceed in large number. It is even more difficult for women to get away due to loss of income for them in abusive condition.
Given the influence of Covid-19 on domestic violence and communal and profitable crisis, which were discussed above, government and all of us need to design different policies, campaigns and various strategies which will be helpful for us to cope up with the unfavorable outcomes on the profitable and communal surroundings of our nation.
Further,in this paper we will discuss on, how different governments of different nations are taking measures to tackle with the issue of Domestic violence during Covid 19 pandemic.
MEASURES TAKEN BY DIFFERENT NATIONS
For the prevention of increase in cases of domestic violence different nations like Spain, Argentina, Germany, Norway along with Italy and France have started a Campaign called as ‘Mask-19’, also well known as the ‘Code-Word Scheme’. As per the scheme, a woman can go the nearby chemist or drug store as well as can ask for Mask-19 whenever she faces or experiences abuse at her home or any sexual assault. As per this scheme, the drug store staff will write down about the victim which includes her name of the , cell phone number along with the address and through this they can inform the police stations and all other emergency services to cut off the abuse faced by the women.
Let’s discuss separately about the measures taken by different countries in order to deal with the prevention of domestic violence cases. These are:
Italy: An app was introduced by the Italy government. Through this app domestic violence sufferers can ask for help without any phone calls. The administration of Italy in order to provide shelters to the victims of domestic violence abuse is considering an offer of allocation 4 million euros for this.
Malaysia: The administration of Malaysia has implemented the “Talian Kasih” hotline in order to provide bona fide cooperation and support the victims of domestic violence and also the sufferers due to other forms of abuse.
Greece: A campaign was launched by Greece to provide help to women and how to deal with problems that became the reason of confinement.
New Zealand: Here in New Zealand nation, hotels and lodges are becoming shelters for the sufferers of domestic violence abuse or any other abuse who need to leave unsafe houses in order to follow social distancing parameters.
These are some of the countries which has taken different measures in order to prevent domestic violence cases. Next, we will discuss the steps taken by India to prevent domestic violence in their nation.
STEPS TAKEN BY INDIA TO PREVENT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
The police are taking required preventive measures to cope up with this domestic violence pandemic. A helpline Number for domestic violence victims was launched by the Uttar Pradesh government and the Kerala government too has done the same. The National Commission for Women (NCW) also has launched a whatsapp number to report about domestic violence. In order to help and counsel sufferers of domestic violence various NGOs came forward together to help the victims and various helplines have been operating in India for 24 hours. These help in transferring the victims of domestic violence into a secure place. Also, there these NGOs counsel them over the phone or any other mode which can be online too.
A petition was filed by The All India Council of Human Rights Liberties and social justice (AICHLS) regarding the safety of sufferers of domestic violence, which has increased rapidly during the imposition of lock down by the administration. Further with regards to this case a bench which consisted of Justices J.R. Midha and Jyoti Singh of the Delhi High Court on 18th April 2020 instructed the Central Government, Delhi government, Delhi Commission of Women and others to call for the meeting at a high level and to think about the subject of victims of domestic abuse during this period and all the necessary steps should be instantly executed to protect the victims of domestic violence from abusers.
The above-mentioned measures are taken by India in order to prevent the rising number of domestic violence cases and also to provide support and assistance to the victims of domestic violence abuse.
RECOMMENDATIONS OR SUGGESTIVE MEASURES FOR GOVERNMENT
The ferocity in case of women has been prevailing for a long time and is nothing new and for the defence of women from criminals, an act was made in 2005 which is known as Domestic Violence Act, 2005which was executed by the government on 26th October 2006. As per by the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 women can quest defence from brutality against them. The Supreme Court of India in Savitaben Somabhai Bhatiya v. State of Gujarat And Ors. held that, “Section 3 of the Domestic Violence Act not only ensures protection to the women who are married, but also to the couples who are in live-in relationship.”
It is the duty of authorities and government to carry out constructive measures to protect the sufferer and in lieu of publicizing the cell phone number, watchful and systematic inspection of dubious houses should be done during the going on pandemic and punishment should be given to the perpetrators who had abused women very brutally during the lockdown for Covid 19 pandemic. In order to give victims of domestic violence a safe and terror-free atmosphere, it is requisite for the regime to make shelter homes for the sufferers of domestic violence abuse. Domestic violence victims find themselves alone and isolated when there’s no facility and support available to them. Further, women leaders of our country and other leaders too, can generate consciousness about the gloomy effect of domestic violence abuse in addition to make women familiar regarding their virtue in the society as well as voices should be raised by them against this abuse and should also inform the police and the authorities so that punishment can be given to the perpetrators.
The government can also declare the concept of “One-stop Centers” which was earlier introduced in 2015 as a part of the scheme named “Sakhi” which was sponsored by the central government and was made as an essential service. The government can also adopt the same approach just like the European nations and can initiate informal complaints centers in medical stores, grocery shops etc. to deal with the domestic violence abuses.
The administration and the agencies which are responsible for implementation of law need to acknowledge the gravity of the matter and must take necessary steps to fight with this issue before it can ruin the lives of other women in the coming days to come. Till we win the battle against the pandemic of Covid-19, the protection of women cannot be neglected. It is the duty of the administration to take all necessary and appropriate steps with not deviating from the work plan of Coronavirus in order to safeguard and providing aid to the victims of domestic violence.
No-one had anticipated that, Covid-19 pandemic will engender another pandemic in the form of domestic violence for women. At present, it has become very important to tackle this issue of domestic violence against women which has risen during the Covid-19 pandemic. Law enforcement organizations, NGOs worldwide, governments, special organizations and commissions like the United Nations (UN), National Commission for Women (NCW) etc., in general should come forward to take appropriate measures and to outline different efficacious plans to fight with the unfavorable sequel of the coronavirus on domestic violence so that no women of any country can face any type of harassment in her life. This is the time for all of us, whoever is a part of human society to come forward in unity in order to combat the negative effects of Covid-19 on domestic violence. In the end, it can be concluded that all of us along with the government and law enforcement agencies need to understand the severity of the issue. The protection of women cannot be put on hold until we win the battle against the pandemic and make our country a safe place for women to live in.
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 Amalesh Sharma & Sourav Bikash Borah, “Covid-19 and domestic violence: an indirect path to social and economic crisis”, 28 July 2020, at 2.
 Ibid at 3.
 All India Council of Human Rights, Liberties and Social Justice v. Union of India and Ors (2020) (W.P. © 2973/2020 & CM APPL.10318/2020 (India).
 Domestic Violence Act, (2005), (India).
 Savitaben Somabhai Bhatiya v. State of Gujarat And Ors (2005), Appeal (Crl), 399 (India)