Violence against women

Context: Domestic violence cases spiked during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Explain about the violence during the pandemic?
  • Shadow pandemic: The UN Secretary-General used the term for rise in domestic violence cases during the lockdown.
    • Women and sexual minorities were confined indoors with their abusers and even making a call or stepping out for shelter were likely to be very challenging.
  • Violence: Violence is the short-hand language we use to communicate power play.
    • Different kinds and contexts of violence lie on a spectrum which is defined by inequality and the desire to control.
    • This includes domestic violence, rape and sexual assault, street sexual harassment, workplace sexual harassment, custodial rape and conflict-related sexual violence.
  • Inequalities: The deep-seated inequalities of Indian society, creates a climate where state violence is tolerated because we are conditioned to granting others power over us and condoning its abuse.
What was the impact of lockdown on the females ?
  • Access to reproductive healthcare: The lockdown made access to reproductive healthcare, including abortion, very difficult. The dullness of lockdown is the new context of marital rape, with frustration over income uncertainty is offered as justification.
  • Forceful marriages: One of the outcomes of lockdown was that many girls were married forcibly and early in desperation to see them safe and fed.
  • Abandonment: Women and girls with disability were left alone to fend for themselves in the aftermath of the lockdown.
  • Vulnerable to harassment: New forms of workplace harassment have emerged with “work-from-home” and made women vulnerable to harassment.
  • Impact on children: The children witnessed daily violence and was taken to be the normal language of human interaction.
  • The male child who gets everything he reaches for knows he is entitled and that he can grab it with freedom.
Way forward
  • Systematic creation of a support infrastructure (easy access helplines, secure shelter services with enabling cultures), bystander intervention awareness and gender violence sensitisation of the police and administration especially for crisis contexts, would have mitigated the epidemic of violence.
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