In this fast-moving and ever-changing world, everything was going well. People were living their lives to the fullest. Everything seemed normal, but one day, something happened that changed almost everyone’s lives. It was March 25 last year when a nationwide lockdown was imposed in order to control the spread of the coronavirus. The Covid-19 pandemic remarkably brought some unusual and unexpected changes in people’s lives, but it was the women who suffered the most. From doing household chores to managing their job, the pandemic worsened the lives of women.
Noticeably, cases of domestic violence increased significantly during the lockdown. According to the reports, in the first week of March 2020, around 116 complaints were registered, and the number rose to 257 by the last week of the month. The reason behind imposing a lockdown was to save lives. In contrast, what happened was totally appalling. Women who struggled every single day for their freedom were now locked up with their abusers in their own houses. They suffered it all alone. They had no choice but to live in that four-walled cage with their torturer. These abusers did not just torture women physically, but also mentally and emotionally.
In my opinion, one of the major reasons behind this can be the frustration of the abusers for losing their jobs due to the pandemic. Angry and frustrated abusers who could not earn money took to abusing the women of their house just to get back their control and power that they were losing. It shows that in a patriarchal society such as ours, women become victims of everyday abuse. It was reported that some courageous women tried to complain about it, but for the sake of family honour and value in society, they remained silent. According to the data collected in the year 2020, 86% of women who were subjected to violence never sought help and about 77% of women didn’t bother to even mention the incident to anyone.
According to the data given by the National Commission for Women (NCW), overall 19,730 complaints of women abuse were recorded in 2019 as compared to the year 2020, in which the total number of cases recorded was 23,722. As the complaints of crime against women increased in number, the NCW started a WhatsApp number to simplify the process of complaints related to domestic violence. When asked about the factors resulting in an increase in domestic violence, NCW Chairperson Rekha Sharma stated that some of the possible reasons included increased stress levels, anxiety, economic insecurity and financial worry.
Most of the women who are subjected to any kind of violence in their families suffer from serious physical and mental health problems. If the woman is assaulted physically or sexually, it can cause both short-term and long-term effects. Minor injuries like cuts, bruises and broken bones make up short-term physical effects, whereas long-term effects include heart problems, headache, stress, asthma and problems like pain during sex.
Research shows that to cope with everyday violence, many women drink alcohol, take drugs or smoke, which results in anxiety issues and depression. After witnessing such a level of increase in domestic violence cases, the government is spreading awareness. It has expanded the coverage of its helplines. It has also ensured safe accommodation and shelters for survivors of domestic violence. The emergence of social media has also played an important role in the lives of many survivors. Because of social media, many women are now able to raise their voices and express their problems. In the end, I would only suggest that every survivor must have the means to be vocal about their problems and take strong and immediate action against the abuser.