Domestic Violence: Pandemic behind the walls
Author: Anishka Jain
Designation: Student, BBA. LL.B 5th year, Centre for Legal Studies, GIBS, GGSIPU
Contact No.: +91-70********
India is a country walking the path of a patriarchal society. The age-old traditions are never dying because of the circumstances and the upbringing of youth in a culture that glorifies it. The movie "Thappad," released in 2020, came as a blockbuster encouraging open discussions regarding domestic violence growth all over the place. Domestic Violence is not something recently introduced in society; it has always been present behind the four walls.
Domestic Violence is a concept introduced because of the presence of other extensive issues termed as gender inequality. It takes the form of the vicious cycle of Violence against women, thus keeping them disempowered, subordinate, and unequal. In this challenging time of the pandemic, where social, economic, political, professional, and personal positions are at stake, huge repercussions are faced by the women community. The rate of domestic abuse suddenly ramped up not only in India but all over the world. During this corona pandemic, a silent pandemic showed its face that will surely not end like the months-long lockdown one day.
Justice, Liberty, Equality, human dignity, democracy, with many others are the ideals on which the constitution of India is based. These are upheld by accommodating them as the fundamental rights of the citizen of the country. In the last 75 years of independent India, State has successfully ensured political equality of its citizen; still, social and economic equality is far out of reach. Domestic Violence is still considered one of the most pervasive human rights violations on a global level. In 1992, the UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women, in Article 6 and Article 1 stated gender-based Violence as "violence that is directed against a woman because she is a woman or that affects women disproportionately" and "is a form of discrimination that seriously inhibits women's ability to enjoy rights and freedoms based on equality with men" respectively.
The Vicious Cycle
Dr.Martin Luther King Jr. once said that "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
It is essential to understand that savagery happens regardless of class, gender, caste, time, creed, or place. Family is considered the prime support system of the accused; instead, it becomes the primary site of constant brutality and abuse. Considering the patriarchal role allocation, the household work can also be referred to as "women's work." In the pandemic, the change in the daily home routine and an increased burden of work affected the ambiance of the house. Helplines in the country have been stated restrictions regarding food, non-access in the ration card, clinics, masks compromising their safety, and even the liquefied petroleum gas. Most women do not have access to phones for communication, or their problems are left unheard, adding to another ineffectiveness of the law with the marital rape, adding to another insult.
In this financial recession period, human behaviour tends to be reckless, impulsive, aggressive, and controlling. The brunt usually comes down to the patriarchal power hierarchy, which is so significant in India. A few contributing factors contributing to this endless loop of Domestic Violence are:
Absence of awareness on the availability of hotline facilities: Because of this, individuals who undergo Violence cannot notify or report it to anyone. An increase in the attention and the promotion of these helplines will increase the help facilities.
Fear of police or legal hassles and stigma related to it: Most of the women affected by the Violence stay away or avoid reporting complaints to the police officials because of the resistance, fear, or worry of exploitation by the police.
Lack of livelihood: Those women who cannot go physically to work have to balance "work from home" with "work for home." This adds to the domestic liabilities with the financial crisis.
Knowledge–Attitude–Practice gap: It is one of the most contributing factors. Because of this age-old mindset, domestic Violence has been normalized so much that the awareness and the need for prevention are undermined awfully.
With the increasing cases of domestic Violence, the situation is becoming bleak. Thus, the judiciary and the executive must implement the laws and take effective and appropriate measures in non-compliance with the law. In lockdown, to help tackle this situation, the National Commission of Women has launched WhatsApp helpline numbers with the appointment of protection officers by the Delhi government and Delhi High Court. In severe cases, The Crisis Intervention Centre (CIC), with the help of counsellors, accompany the aggrieved person and help her have access the recourse to public authorities.
Anyone can be an abuser, and anyone can be a victim. In one's dark times, it is a hand, a shoulder, or emotional support that one craves. In the pandemic time, when it was impossible to have a face-to-face individual Session, such services were essential. Violence based on gender is a problem that has dissolved itself in society and is a systematic problem that needs an accurate solution.
With other measures in place, a helpline number (181) has been set up by Delhi Commission for Women to combat trauma and Violence during the pandemic. It is one of the paths to take until a day comes when the problem has been completely dismantled from the roots.
The CEDAW Committee is a body of 23 independent experts on women's rights worldwide, monitoring the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, 1979, which entered into force on September 3, 1981. As of January 2014, 187 countries have ratified or acceded to the Convention.
UN, CEDAW Committee (1992), General Recommendation No. 19 on Violence Against Women, adopted at the 11th Session, 1992, A/47/38, January 29, 1992
"Letter from a Birmingham Jail [King Jr.]." African Studies Center – University of Pennsylvania. (1963). Available online at: https://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html