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Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world, tough times have been witnessed by all, life seeming more stressful than ever before!

Following examples from the West, India saw a nationwide lockdown commence from March-end 2020 onwards.

A virus managed to lock us inside a long-forgotten world where majority have time for their loved ones, in case staying with their family around.

Work-schedules at offices gave way to more time for board-games, household-cleaning, as well as introspection!

However, with the trending #WFH (Work-from-Home) culture, one’s home isn’t always the safest place for all.

In fact, for victims of domestic violence, home is by far the most unsafe and disturbing place to be confined in!

Rise in Domestic Violence Cases during Lockdown

While cases of road-accidents had visibly reduced during the lockdown (even during the current ‘gradual unlock’ phase), instances of domestic violence showed rise in numbers.

Stress, due to factors like badly hit finances, low/no income, wounded daily budget, and norms on ‘social’ (or rather ‘physical’) distancing affecting routine office-work and community-interactions, has led to many men turning violent towards their partners.

This is the simplest way for them, they feel, to exhibit and impose their ‘masculinity’!  

Violence can be in the form of physical torture, emotional abuse, and sexual excesses.

During lockdown-situation, the worst aspect is that victims of such domestic violence are hardly able to formally complain to the police, as their abusive partners/family members neither leave them alone for much time nor allow them to step out (the latter not being a very wise option anyway, due to pandemic-induced restrictions).

It was reported that between March 23 and April 16, the National Commission for Women (NCW) Complaint & Investigation Cell (CIC) alone had registered 587 complaints of domestic violence from across our country![1]

WHO’s Regional Director for Europe, Hans Kluge, said that countries had reported up to 60% increase in emergency-calls by women subjected to domestic violence, as compared to the numbers recorded in April 2019[2].

Violence against Women in India

Violence against women is a grave violation of human rights and serious concern for women.

Domestic violence includes physical, sexual and mental torture against women.

In India, generally, domestic violence is a part of women’s lives, and their family teaches them to keep their mouth shut in these situations due to the fear of ‘samaaj’ or society.

It does not matter whether these women are educated or not, all of them would tend to bear the pain of domestic violence quietly.

It imposes greater costs from the points of view of health care, legal expenses (if the case goes to court), and productivity-losses.

Moreover, if the women (incase married) rushes to her mother’s place in lockdown, the family thinks that this is an additional burden, as there was pressure on limited income in middle-class families during lockdown, along with additional fear f infection-spread during these troubled pandemic times.

The National Family Health Survey (NFHS) shows that 52% of the surveyed women and 42% of the surveyed men think that there is at least one valid reason for wife-beating.[3]

This shows the mindset of these people and their unreasonable thinking that abused women should not expect support from others in society. 

Possible Solutions?

The sudden increase in domestic violence against women must be dealt urgently by the Government.

24×7 Helpline numbers should be available for women.

Psychosocial support and online counselling should be boosted.

Women, especially those living in rural areas, should be guided to approach the nearest police station in such cases.

Women should talk to their friends or relatives about this so that they can help them in such matters.

UN has urged Member-States to include prevention of violence against women in their action plans on COVID-19, and consider shelters and helplines as essential services, considering the rise in gender-based violence.[4]

Steps to protect victims of domestic violence must be made a part of the anti-COVID-19 agenda.

In Spain and France, women can do to a pharmacy and request a “Mask-19”, a code-word that will alert the pharmacist to contact the authorities.[5]

Priority measures to help domestic violence victims should be initiated by the Government so that the crime should get reduced due to the fear of getting punished.

The Government should provide affordable medical services to the victims of domestic violence.

Campaigns and advertisement for prevention of/protection from domestic violence should be available on social media as well as means of mass communication so that women should know what to do when they are stuck in these situations.

-By SHALINI GUPTA (Galgotias University, Greater Noida)

[1]Ayushi Aggarwal, Domestic Violence in the Lockdown has been Aided by Govt. Apathy, THE WIRE (25 May, 2020), https://thewire.in/women/lockdown-domestic-violence-government

[2] AFP, Corona Virus Lockdown Surge in Domestic Violence, THE HINDU (7 May, 2020, 10:34 PM),


[3] Akshaya Vijaylakshmi, No Lockdown for Abuse, THE HINDU, Apr 9, 2020, at 7.

[4] Special Correspondent, Gender Violence is a Shadow Pandemic: UN, THE HINDU, Apr 8, 2020.

[5] Jayanthi Natarajan, Women’s Safety during Lockdown, THE HINDU, Apr 13, 2020.


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