Stay Home, Not Silent
Updated: Oct 18, 2020
Today, domestic abuse faced by people in society is a hidden pandemic, one that is terribly difficult to detect and 'erase'. COVID-19 has created chaos, confusion and most of all agitation all over the world. People have been forced to stay home during these tough times and there is no denying that national lockdown has had its toll on our physical and mental health.
Today, the United Nations estimates that 243 million women and girls (globally) between the ages of 15 and 49 were subjected to sexual or physical violence by their partner in the past 12 months, with 87,000 intentionally killed in the last year on record. The United Kingdom saw the highest number of killings of women within the first three weeks of lockdown of any other 21 day period in a decade.
Why this sudden increase?
People have been put in a situation where they have "no where to go". Households are under financial crunch and live in confined spaces for weeks at a time. Most cannot afford to work from home and have either been suspended from work or have been forced into unemployment. These are a few reasons one may state for the abrupt rise in domestic violence cases the underfunded justice system is one of the underlying reasons why victims refuse to come forward with their problems.
The justice system for victims is greatly flawed: One where the common excuse given by the abuser is "she made me do it". The response has too often been to provide support for the victim than to address the behaviour of the abuser.
In 2016, it was the first time that domestic violence was seen as a crime in China according to the domestic violence law.
During COVID-19, a court in Italy ruled that the abuser must leave the household rather than the victim. Similar rulings were given in Germany and Austria.
The domestic abuse bill is finally making its way through parliament in the UK and though the legislation does not go very far, it sets a broad statutary definition of domestic violence.
However, the narrative is shifting and studies find that on ground intervention can deliver promising results.
Drive, is a program in the UK which works with perpretators. It intensive case management, working closely with victim services, the police, probation, children’s social services and housing, substance misuse and mental health teams. An evaluation of their work showed that physical abuse was cut by 82 per cent and sexual abuse by 88 per cent and there was a sustained reduction in perpetrators assessed as posing a risk of murder or serious harm.
What is important for each and every person to understand is that the trauma a victim faces cannot be erased with 'support' or public grants.
Programs like Drive need funds to provide better service. With little money, lives can be saved and suffering avoided.
- India: National Commission for Women- 7217735372
Cental Social Welfare Board (Police)- 1091/1291, (011)23317004
- United Kingdom: Emergency- 999
Rape Crisis (England and Wales)- 0808 802 9999
- United States: Emergency- 911
National Domestic Violence Hotline- 1-800-799-7233
- Australia: Emergency- 000
1800 Respect- 1800 737 732
Written by Urvi Agarwal