Spike in Domestic Violence

The domestic relationship between men and women is one of complementarity and not of competition or power hierarchy. Still some men tend to be dominant and patriarchal in their very approach towards the women of their particular households. There, however, has been the prevalence of a universalization of male dominance in most of the third world societies. While maximum male heads of the family tend to be compassionate and caring towards the women, many have been indulgent in a display of cruelty and inhumane behavior towards the female folk of the household. Many a time involving the children and minors as well!

In the current crisis the graph of domestic violence demonstrates an all-time alteration across the whole globe. According to reports from a number of international organizations associated with domestic violence, during the times of crisis there often is an increase in the instances of the cases relating domestic violence. According to the European regional office of WHO’s Gender and Health department, there has been a 60% rise in the calls by women subjected to violence. Italy, Germany, Brazil and China among other nations report a sharp increase in the instances of domestic violence since the onset of the lockdown concerning the pandemic. It is pertinent to mention here that the domestic abuse is a summation term used to include physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, reproductive coercion, and digital abuse.

World over the main reason of Covid-19 specific domestic violence has till now been the surging rise in unemployment levels. Unemployment caused to the male members of the family pushes them in panic and to vent their frustrations they switch to domestic violence. Contrary to this, women losing jobs become more vulnerable as they lose their financial independence. A 2018 survey by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) revealed that domestic violence can affect survivors’ education, career, and economic stability over the course of their lives. Another research by Women’s Refuge, a charity organization in New Zealand, found that 60% of people had full-time jobs when their abusive relationships began but half of them were no longer employed as these relationships continued. According to WHO, estimates of the cost of violence in the United States of America reach 3.3% of the GDP. In England and Wales, the total costs from violence amount to an estimated $40.2 billion annually.

The situation in India is no better. Recent data by National Legal Service Authority [NALSA] suggest that the nationwide lockdown has led to a rapid increase in domestic violence. According to an article by Times Of India, Uttarakhand has recorded highest number of cases in last two months followed by Haryana and Delhi. Reports revealed that since the start of lockdown till 15 of May 144 cases of domestic violence were reported in Uttarakhand, 79 from Haryana and 69 from Delhi. According to another article published in Hindustan Times complaints of domestic violence have decreased in states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana during COVID -1.Yet there is a significant increase in such cases in states like Punjab. Punjab State Commission for Women [PSCW] stated that they have been receiving an average of 30 complaints everyday related to domestic violence since March 22 of this year. National Commission for Women [NCW] has registered 250 complaints related to domestic violence between the 25th of March and 22nd April 2020. An alarming number of 400 cases of domestic violence were received on Whatsapp by NCW all this while.

Eventually due to this Global Pandemic people for most part have been restricted to the domains of their houses. While the global population is witnessing this lockdown almost for the very first time, the people residing in the region of Jammu and Kashmir are witnessing less changes in their ways of life. The instances of lockdown of various natures and rules have been a regular part and parcel of the lives of the people of this Conflict Zone. Over the years, coping strategies have either evolved or have been developed by people to get along with the realities of their circumstances and normalize their lives over the atypical realism.

However, this time some strings have been pulled for the first time. Over the years, as part of the coping mechanism and tactics, many people have moved out from the Valley. They have been doing businesses across the globe and others have been doing a paid job. Not only have these people managed a good life and living standard for them but at the same time increasing remittances have been finding way home. With the pandemic in place people globally have lost both jobs and businesses. Instances like financial constraints, unemployment, uncertainties, conflict pressure, Post-Stress Traumatic Disorder and Anxiety like conditions that already exist because of the conflict have aggravated. The easiest way to vent such frustrations being harsh on the subordinates of the households, the instances of domestic violence have shown an increase in the Valley of Kashmir as well.

Enquiring from the State Women’s Commission we were told that there has been an increase in the number of reports they received from mid-March 2020 onwards. They claim that they receive more than twenty complaints daily since the onset of the lockdown. The trend seems to go up than stagnate or go down, obviously being correlated with the increasing number of crisis, miseries and hardships that passing days of lockdown are harbingers of. The lone Women’s Police Station in Srinagar informs that they have also been receiving increasing number of cases since the onset of the pandemic related lockdown. According to the data available with them it is clear that the number of cases have more than doubled over these months. This increasing trend can be seen in each district of the Valley.

On the domestic violence front Covid-19 crisis has added to the miseries of the conflict torn women. The stress level and anxiety has increased amongst them. Questioning a set of women from different social and economic set-ups we get a mixed response. While some women blame their fate, most women believe that the absence of peace in this part of the world has had a lifelong toll on their households, their male family members and of course on their own health and lives. Each individual has the right to life and as such no instance of domestic or any other sort of violence with any person discrete of gender, social group or any other classification is insupportable and intolerable.

Note: Contribution form Young Analysts is acknowledged. It is a group of students (mostly girls) from Cluster University, Integrated Economics, that I have taught. These students are highly inquisitive and ready to study, question, research, analyze and answer; so I call them Young Analysts! This article for the most part is based on their research and findings with a little help from me.