Ever since the covid-19 pandemic, National Commission for Women (NCW) has received 1443 cases of domestic violence across India.
Despite various shortcomings in this part, 55 of the cases were from Jammu and Kashmir also.
Minister of Women and Child Development informed the Parliament last week that while two cases were received in March, the number was six in April, five in May, 13 in June, ten in July, 11 in August, and three in September besides 6 cases were received through WhatsApp number.
While mankind is fighting against the coronavirus disease, the pandemic has had very adverse social and economic consequences for women and girls.
As the lockdown continued, societies as a whole had reduced access to resources and its impact lingered on even as lockdown eased since. There is definitely an increase in stress due to the loss of jobs and strained finances. Lack of income, unemployment, insecurity about the future, or the fate of children creates tensions amongst the adults, leading to abuse of all kinds.
The lockdown on account of pandemic led to the creation of a situation of confinement of families in closed spaces and unfortunately, it has also led to abuses on various counts. Ironically it also kept most women away from people and official machinery they could approach for help.
In April this year, the social welfare department reported that 81 cases of domestic violence stand registered in the J&K while 16 cases of rape, 64 cases of molestation and one case of eve-teasing have been reported during the lockdown during the time.
While the government says the complaints received including at NCW are acted upon by coordinating with victims, police and other authorities to provide immediate assistance, there is a need to have wide-ranging facilities available for anybody to report in distress and there should be such a mechanism that her call is effectively answered and action is taken sans delay.
The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 which came into effect in October
2006 defines domestic violence as any act, omission or commission that causes injury to a woman’s physical or mental health and includes specific forms of violence such as physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and economic abuse. The Act seeks to provide relief to women in the form of protection order, residence order, monetary relief, custody order and compensation orders. Breach of any protection order is a criminal offence. Authorities need to act fast and those subjected to violence need to come forward.