Locked in unsafe spaces: Actor Sandhya Mridul appeals to people to report cases of domestic violence
The main intention behind the lockdown was to protect people from getting exposed to the deadly virus but, statistics have shown that women have ended up becoming more vulnerable to abuse
The main intention behind the lockdown was to protect people from getting exposed to the deadly virus but, statistics have shown that women have ended up becoming more vulnerable to abuse. The National Commission for Women (NCW) recently reported 587 complaints on their helpline number and online portal since the lockdown kicked into effect in March.
Several women have taken to social media sharing stories of how just being at home in this period has ensured safety from gendered assault and harassment, Whilst on the other hand gender experts and women rights activists have been raising concerns about domestic abuse and violence. The lockdown has presented a challenging situation for lakhs of women caught in difficult situations with their abusers, with no looming respite. Financial uncertainty, lack of access to basics and struggles of confinement have aggravated the situation.
If you are a silent witness to a case of domestic violence, you are as guilty as the one indulging in it, says actor Sandhya Mridul in a newly-released video campaign that urges bystanders to be as vigilant as survivors in seeking help by calling the National Helpline for Domestic Violence
According to Sandhya Mridul, the video is not just shedding light on a bitter reality, but also calling out our own hypocrisy in dealing with this situation.
“Such a grave issue cannot be just regarded as someone else's problem, or a personal matter. We cannot be mere bystanders; we need to take ownership as a community and stand up against what is wrong. This lockdown was imposed for the safety of people, but the flip side is that because of it, many women are not safe in their own homes,” she says.
In-case we know of a friend, neighbour or anyone in the community who is going through this ordeal, we should call the National Helpline for Domestic Violence, or even use the Whatsapp alert, which is set up for a scenario where victims might not be able to make a telephone call, she added.
Abha Bhaiya, a gender expert who is also one of the founders of Jagori, says that domestic violence against girls and women is an epidemic, if not a pandemic.
“The lockdown is supposed to ensure safety with physical distance. However, for many women, the home was never a safe place and the enforced lockdown has resulted in escalated violence against women inside the homes,” she says, adding that the state must recognise the gravity of the crime and act with utmost seriousness, putting in place safety measures and infrastructure required for women to move out of violent homes.
The video is the latest in a series around Coronavirus advocacy started by Mumbai-based Waatavaran Foundation, Bengaluru-based Jhatkaa.org and Bihar-based Centre for Environment and Energy Development (CEED). Below are the helpline numbers to reach in case of need:
Women Helpline Number: 181/100
Whatsapp Number: 7217735372 (National Commission for Women)