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Domestic Violence: a curse in the society that prevails to the women in every country and the hardships that they have to face. It has been so normal in the due course of a men’s life without any remorse these days to give-oneself upto the act of domestic violence against women, a gender based violence for several reasons. With the mental breakdown, loss of lives and other impacts that COVID-19 has created; Domestic Violence has been such a silent topic and left undiscussed which is a very crucial aspect that concerns with the women’s right. In this article, I am going to discuss the various incidents that has caused a sheer rise in the domestic violence against women during the period of COVID-19 lockdown and the particulars about cases, remedies and what the due process of law around the globe quotes with regard to the pushing of these men who indulge in it and compare it with countries like India, USA, Australia and other prominent countries around the globe.
In today’s modern era, the stereotypic mindset about infringing and submerging the rights of women has changed people are more open minded and forward thinking with regard to he aspects of women’s rights in this misogynistic world. It has been a common thing to see the violence against women. It’s a say that one out of every three reproducing women are being abused either sexually or physically throughout her life. A couple seem to be intimate but the reports from the WHO in 2013 says that more than one-third of murders are reported by people from these category. As a result of this lockdown there is a huge spike in the cases related to violence against women reported by the domestic violence and the counselling agencies. The initiation towards these violence was mainly because of the reasons like cohabitation, financial insecurities and high levels of mental stress due to the Covid-19 pandemic. There are many cases of domestic violence being reported but at the same time there are just one-fourth of the domestic violence cases that are happening out. All over the world this is a prevailing and an alarming incident which was anticipated as the Covid-19 lockdown started as well as it could have been prevented. The government of the respective Staes and countries had regulated norms with regard to the lockdown, curfew timings, procurement of essential goods as well as other related aspects but neither did a statutory body looked into the purview of domestic violence of people nor tried to prevent it.
Reported incidents around the globe and the defence to these incidents
The lockdown’s main motive to save people for the virus is good but there are many women whose lives are at stake as they are prone to domestic violence. The local magazine of Brazil, The Guardian has also reported a spike of almost 40-50% in Brazil, 20% in Spain with regard to the domestic violence cases. The Telegraph have reported 30% spike in Cyprus and 25% spike in The US. The respective governments of the country have directed order to stay at home but with a perpetrator of domestic violence, it is really unsafe for the women and children to be with that person as psychological, sexual and physical abuses happens at home as these are the places that are not to be monitored most by public or some other people. These stringent measures seems to be a birth right for men with an idea of free license to abuse women and children as there won’t be any check on these people and neither can they speak up because of the fear that few people have thinking the image of a family being in solace and joy would be tarnished. There should have been some solution to this like the professionals asking women of every family directly whether they are safe. Though this is a tiring task for a professional as they have to have the patience time and in order to cover the large amount of population there should have been a unique and uniform way set by the government and it was the only go to have prevented these situations.
In countries like the UK, the statistics show that in the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown almost two deaths of women killed by their partners were being recorded. In March 2020, Spain, which was affected severely by the Covid-19 epidemic, recorded their first domestic violence case just five days after they started the lockdown. A man mother his wife right before the eyes of their children, in Valencia. It is crucial that all skilled personnel dedicated to providing support for abused individuals be aware that the pandemic may cause a higher number of casualties as long as the crisis continues. Due to the lockdown many women who have not wanted to stay in their houses now have to forcefully stay in their perilous house and become more vulnerable to these violence.
Domestic Violence is a just a mere part of a big issue which can be categorised into rape and sexual assault; street sexual harassment; workplace sexual harassment; custodial rape; conflict-related sexual violence; communal violence; war; drone strikes; caste violence but it is been seen from a very small purview. Viciousness is the unfavourable, ubiquitous, clear reality in the existences of young ladies, ladies, sexual and sex minorities and many, numerous young men. What we know from each unpredictable crisis in history is that sexual and sex based viciousness is both early admonition of an emergency just as one of its most merciless outcomes. A long way from shadowy or amazing, sexual and sex based viciousness was the most unsurprising outcome of the lockdown. Methodical making of a help framework to simple access helplines, secure haven administrations with empowering societies), spectator mediation mindfulness and sexual orientation brutality sensitisation of the police and organisation particularly for emergency settings, would have alleviated the pestilence of viciousness. Be that as it may, in all actuality we just don’t mind enough.
Preventive measures undertaken in-order to reduce the domestic violence cases
An instance that took place in Turkey during the year 2019 was the creation of a mobile application called as the Women Support Application (WSA) which can be installed in both Android as well as Apple phones where the victims facing any problems just need to press a larger button in their phones to call for help from the police. These initiative implemented back in the day has saved many people’s lives. This initiative by Turkey was recognised by the UN and many other countries have also created a safety measure like this and some are still in the process of creating them. In countries like India where the use of sanitation facilities is being propagated the same way the government can take up initiatives and make sure that they never lay their hand on their partners. They can taken up open pledges in open public places in-front of their families. The ideal husbands can counsel other men with regard to how to treat their wives.
Legal purview of domestic violence and its consequences around the globe
In countries like the United States of America, if a person indulges in domestic violence then he/she can be charged as a misdemeanour, it can be charged as a violation of Penal Code § 273.5 (domestic violence), § 243(e)(1) (battery upon a spousal or upon someone with whom defendant has a dating relationship) or § 242 (simple battery). The person might face a three years of probation and if he has prior history of indulging in domestic violence then he have to stay in the country jail for a minimum of 15 years upto 1 year. The monetary penalisation will amount to $300 as a court fees and which can be extending upto $6000 along with the fine. The domestic violence cases in New Zealand are dealt with The Family Violence Act, 2018 and its amendments where the safety of the family is ensure d by the government with utmost protection. In countries like Australia, the domestic violence crimes are dealt with The Crimes Act, under section 35 where the person can be imprisoned upto 14 years depending upon the graveness of the crime.
India and its story of Domestic Violence
Though there was a controlled level of domestic violence against women, during the COVID-19 lockdown the issue became alarming and worsened. With comparison to the other countries even India was in the same position where women were not having the accessibility towards supportive organisation and other resources in order to call for help and save themselves from the pandemic. There has been an overall 47% increase in the domestic violence cases that were filed during the months of March-July, 2020. The statistics say that the following are the number of cases that were registered during the lockdown:
|The Hindu||The Times of India||Dainik Jagran|
Other than these small numbered reports imagining the population of a country like India there would be many more unregistered cases due to lack of support or courage to face the apprehensive men.
The World Report on Violence and Health, 2002 generated by the WHO states that the main cause for domestic violence is due to the poverty that leads for the intimate partner violence. In addition to this there are few other reasons that has lead to the increase in the domestic violence. In India, The National Crime Records Bureau have revealed that the 31.9% of the total reported cases mark to Cruelty by Husband or his relatives. The dowry system in India which is very prevalent in the Indian Marriage and if the girl failed to give the promised dowry she would have to undergo physical abuse and all these instances during the time of Covid-19 lockdown have let these women feel even more helpless.
The reports of the National Commission for Women’s concern states that some of the prominent states in India where most of the Domestic Violence cases during lockdown were Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana and Tamil Nadu. The cases reported in Uttar Pradesh were on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd May were 29, 34, and 34, and the number of complaints on the 4th, 5th, and 6th May was 92, 123, and 143. The men, also known as the abuser at least got few chances to go out of the house in the name of procuring essential services but the women was confined in the house where they were just allowed to go to offices and school and some women were not even allowed to go to those places so that they can seek help and some inspite of going to offices and school defied to ask out for help at the cost of loosing their family solace and shame. The happenings of the Domestic Violence incidents is not just with the Corona Virus pandemic or its lockdown but it is a permanent issues that are prevailing around India and the women are apprehensively facing them. The risk of corona virus and lockdown is temporary but the fear of women’s being suffered is eternal. The outcomes of this study warrants not only for strict and effective legal provisions to help these women but also call for the attention of scholars and mental health professionals to study and design effective interventions so as to educate and prepare a gender‐egalitarian society that can shatter the existing power hierarchy based on gender. The men indulging in the cruelty of Domestic Violence is either by their own willingness with sound mind or by intoxication where they are not in a stable and sound mind and in most of the cases it is the latter that exists and prevails.
There are surveys being conducted by the National Family Health Survey where the survey is being taken about the married women aged 18-49 years who are facing the issue of domestic violence but at times the repots are biased as the women are scared to reveal out the problems that they are facing because of the consequences that they have to face form the husband and his family if she reveals. The NFHS-5 also echoes the stark reality of domestic violence in India (see figure 1): 44% of women respondents in Karnataka have experienced spousal violence, followed by Bihar (40%), Manipur (39.6), Telangana (36.9), Assam (32%), and Andhra Pradesh (30%). Lakshadweep (1.3%), Nagaland (6.4%), Goa (8.3%) and Himachal Pradesh (8.3%) have the lowest violence among all the states surveyed.
Legal consequences of Domestic Violence in India
According to the NCRB, only 30% of 4.5 Lakh domestic violence cases reported are registered under section 498A of The IPC which deals with the cruelty by husband or his relatives. The section explains that if a women either is being harassed, any conduct of the husband that drives the wife to suicide or cause any grave injury to limb or health the husband behind all these conduct can be imprisoned upto three years along with monetary penalisation. There are statutory acts being enacted in order to protect women from Domestic Violence. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 lays down sections for the protection of women from domestic violence. Section 12(1) of the Act cites that An aggrieved person or a Protection Officer or any other person on behalf of the aggrieved person may present an application to the Magistrate seeking one or more reliefs under this Act: Provided that before passing any order on such application, the Magistrate shall take into consideration any domestic incident report received by him from the Protection Officer or the service provider. Section 375 of the IPC states that if a women is being being raped against his will, without her consent. Section 376 states that a person who has indulged in rape will be imprisoned upto 10 years or life imprisonment along with a fine or both. If the husband assaults the wife physically or uses criminal force then under section 352 of IPC, the husband can be imprisoned upto 3 months along with a fine of Rs. 500. At the same time if the husband outrages the modesty of a women by using an criminal force or by assaulting her, under section 354 of the IPC the person might be behind bars for not less than a year- 5 years along monetary penalisation.
A try for a so called remedy: The legalisation of Prostitution
Despite all the means and factors of domestic violence, one of the most prevailing factors that leads to domestic violence is because of the men who live in the denial of a physical sex along with their parent. There might be various reason for the partner in order to deny a person go get into physical contact but despite of any reason, it should be the duty of the person to stay away from that girl and rather not force her and rape her or indulge in any other means and indulge in a sexual activity. Instead an remedy would be that if prostitution in countries all over the world is legalised then any person can themselves into a sexual activity with their desired person after a mutual consent and these might reduce all the rape, human trafficking and domestic violence that is happen to the people in the country. Countries like New Zealand, Bangladesh have already legalised and the outcome of that also has been really impressive. Also, sex workers will have their own rights and won’t be cornered or discriminated by the society and can have a peaceful life with respect and dignity because the law itself will accept them.
The silent countries with no laws or the countries that support domestic violence?
There are few countries around the globe that still doesn’t have a proper Domestic Violence Regulation or punishment and consequences if a person indulges in the act of domestic violence and few of them to name would be Iran, South Sudan, Morocco, Egypt.
The present study portrays the evidences of the prevalence of domestic violence in India as well as over the globe. This is a solid proof of gender‐related variations in each general public. The results of this article warrants not just for severe and compelling lawful arrangements to help these ladies yet additionally require the consideration of researchers and emotional well-being experts to study and plan viable mediations to instruct and set up a gender‐egalitarian culture that can break the current force order dependent on sex. The public authority and law authorisation offices as well as the non‐governmental associations and the overall population should meet up to make conditions in which connecting for help is made simple. Albeit the Covid answerable for the COVID‐19 pandemic doesn’t separate between sexes in its clinical effects, the socio‐psychological outcomes of the pandemic may likewise be interceded by one’s sexual orientation. The COVID‐19 pandemic has brought about an extraordinary emergency for the daily routine and experiencing of the whole world people. Its effect on ladies, notwithstanding, has been extraordinary and more terrible. Home control, which was viewed as the best strategy to ensure the wellbeing and well‐being of the overall population, has prompted expanded languishing over ladies. While ladies were liberated from out‐of‐home viciousness acts because of the cross country lockdown, they were progressively presented to the brutality inside their homes without much socio‐legal backing to help them. The precarious ascent in the aggressive behaviour at home cases announced in the public news dailies in India is an obvious sign of the pattern that the homegrown space is as yet risky for a larger part of ladies.
Author: Sai Srivatsav S, School of Law, Christ University, Bengaluru
Editor: Kanishka Vaish, Senior Editor, LexLife India.