DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND COVID-19
This post is written by Vismitha S studying BBA LLB at SASTRA University.
In intimate relationships, such as marriage, dating, family, or friends, domestic violence can be characterized as a pattern of abusive conduct by either or both partners. In a relationship, it’s an establishment of power and fear. Physical abuse, sexual harassment, and intimidation can be domestic abuse. Through various methods of violence, the abuser tortures and controls the victim. In most cases, females are the victims.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN LAW
Definition of domestic violence in section 3 of IPC-
any act, omission or commission or conduct of the respondent shall constitute domestic violence in case it- harms or injuries or endangers the health, safety, life, limb or well being, includes causing physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal and emotional abuse, and economic abuse, or harasses, harm, injuries or endangers the aggrieved person with a view to coerce her or any other person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any dowry or other property or valuable security, or has the effect of threatening the aggrieved person or any person related to her by any conduct mentioned in clause (a) or clause (b); or clause (d) otherwise injuries or causes harm, whether physical or mental, to the aggrieved person.
In 2005 the government implemented the Domestic Violence Act, 2005. According to this Act, women can seek protection from violence against them. In Savitaben Somabhai Bhatiya vs State of Gujarat and Ors, the Supreme Court of India held that Section 3 of the Domestic Violence Act not only ensures protection to the married women but also live-in relationship couples.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND COVID
Domestic abuse incidents are rising all over the world as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on. The rapid spread of the virus has forced victims of domestic violence to stay with their abusers at home. Women have to fight the male aggressor inside and the virus outside in abusive households. Living with abusive spouses affects them both physically and mentally since they are tightly enclosed within the walls of their homes.
And in low wages household, husband tends to be more abusive towards their partners verbalize their exasperation on them. The lack of income during the pandemic also added problems to the women who are financially dependent on the husband suffered more. According to the research, one out of the three women globally experienced violence over their lifetimes. And due to lockdown, many women were not able to contact the police or social workers as they are trapped at home with the abuser.
Husbands appear to be more violent towards their wives in low-income households, verbalizing their exasperation on them. Women who are financially dependent on the husband suffered more from the lack of income during the pandemic also added problems. One out of three women worldwide has witnessed abuse throughout their lifetimes, according to the report. And many women were unable to call the police or social services because they were stuck with the abuser at home because of the lockdown.
During the lockdown era, cases of domestic violence increased around the world. Domestic abuse incidents have risen to 30% in France since the start of the lockdown. Domestic abuse crimes nearly doubled during the lockdown in China, according to their study, with 90 percent linked to the pandemic. In a recent report, the United Nations Sexual and Reproductive Health Agency (UNFPA) said that if the lockdown lasts for a few more months, there will be more than 31 million cases of domestic violence worldwide.
Many countries have introduced Campaign Mask-19, also known as the Code-word system, such as Spain, Germany, Argentina, Italy, Norway, and France. She should visit the nearest pharmacy and ask for Mask-19 when a woman experiences violence at home or sexual harassment. Her name, phone number and address will be registered by the pharmacy staff and they will warn the police stations and emergency services to tip them off about the violence.
In a country like India where patriarchal morals are given more importance, where the women are supposed to tolerate each and everything that is thrown in their way, there needs to be an equitable way out. With the extension of lockdown, the sentence of confinement for the suffers only gets prolonged. Fighting these abusers and the beasts who prey upon the frangibility of women is as salient as tracking with the pandemic. The administration 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.