Sexual Abuse and Domestic Violence During Lockdown

There will be flying cars in the year 2020 they said. The future will be beautiful and full of possibilities. No one will face hardships owing to the advancements in science and there will be happiness all around while people will enjoy equal rights. But the reality is slightly different from this utopian dream. Corruption, inequality, hatred, bloodshed, diseases, and what not, 2020 came out to be one of the hardest years faced by humanity in a long time. Flying cars was a far-fetched dream, here the lockdown grounded the airplanes as well.
The World at Halt
Lockdown 2020 has affected almost everyone’s life, ranging from social and monetary blackouts to mental stress and anxiety. Of all the negatives that Covid-19 made us realize, one of the prime exposures was about the inequalities suffered by females. Yes, the 2020 exposition about equal rights was amiss, as the world hasn’t been justified to this gender.
Lockdown and Women
The lockdown has proven to be a terrible time for the females as their already tough and miserable life has only leveled up to another realm. With the closing down of the economy, everyone is home, be it the kids, husbands, in-laws, and relatives, leading to the increment of an additional multi-faceted burden, ranging from extra household activities to additional childcare, education, and at the same time, maintaining the professional life as well. Not to forget the additional discrimination of women at the workplace, along with the fear of losing the job due to cost-cutting in these times.
Workplace Discrimination
As per the various studies, females have been discriminated across the workplaces and treated unjustly because of their gender. Only 38% of women employees are promoted to managerial positions, and the number falls even lower to 22% when it comes to C-suite executives. Source. Women who already were paid less and held insecure positions, now live in continuous anxiety and fear of losing their jobs and falling into poverty. Furthermore, the fear of single mothers and female-headed households are facing this issue on a higher level.
In the patriarchal society that India is, the financial dependence of women on men results in vulnerability, often leading to exploitation, physical, mental and sexual abuse. The dependence on the other gender limits their decision-making capacity, movement, social life, and free will.
During the times of COVID 19, while everyone is home, the cases of domestic violence have increased on an alarming level. The National Commission of Women received over 315 reports of domestic violence in the month of April alone. Source. This is the count when the majority of the female population is scared to report such incidences, or even unaware that it should be reported.
The disconnect from the outside world has taken away the temporary refuge and solace from women, keeping them in continued stress. And if this condition is not handled, women trapped in such conditions will experience mental health concerns, anger, helplessness and unfortunately, the rate of suicides will increase gradually.
The lockdown has also seen a rise in sexual violence in relationships, and while healthcare is diverted towards containing the epidemic, women are failing to have access to sexual, reproductive, and maternal health services. The risk of women’s health has increased due to the lack of proper contraception, abortion, medication, while they are dealing with worthlessness, shame and lowered self-esteem due to continued hammering of violence and abuse.
What can be done?
Now coming to the part of how to handle this situation, there are 2 aspects of what needs to be done.
  1. The Government should introduce better plans to contain such incidents and provide quick remedies for the concerns. The civil and social bodies shall work in tandem to maintain women’s interest and safety. Domestic shelters shall be introduced to provide a roof to the victims and safe helplines should be promoted to ensure their safety, along with the provision of sexual and reproductive healthcare.
  2. On the personal ground, we need to communicate and connect with our relatives and friends, not only to keep a check on their well-being but at the same time, make men aware of their responsibility as a healthy partner, supporting their family with the right mindset.
We can consider lockdown as nothing, but a test to our patience, good conduct, and how to deal with worst-case scenarios, to train ourselves and come out stronger than ever. Stay home, stay safe.

  • Dr. Lopamudra Priyadarshini