It was reported earlier that the National Commission for Women (NCW) had received more than 13,410 complaints of violence across the country since March to September 18 this year. Out of them, 4,350 complaints are registered under ‘Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005,’ with Uttar Pradesh registering the maximum number of complaints at 968.
The latest survey by the National Family Health Survey -5 (NFHS-5) states that over 30 percent of women suffered sexual and physical violence by their spouses in five out of 20 surveyed states and union territories in the country — the five states being Assam, Bihar, Karnataka, Mizoram, and Telangana.
The survey was carried out in 6.1 lakh sample households, including household-level interviews, to gather information on population, family planning, health along with nutrition-related indicators.
The data shows that about 40 percent of women in Bihar, 39 percent in Manipur, 36.9 percent in Telangana, 32 percent in Assam, and 30 percent in Andhra Pradesh suffered spousal physical and sexual violence. About 44.4 percent of women aged 18-49 years experienced domestic violence by their spouses in Karnataka.
Additionally, a total of seven states and UTs out of the 22 surveyed reported an increase in domestic violence faced by women in NFHS-5 as compared to NFHS-4.
These seven states/UTs include Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Sikkim, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
Under NFHS-4 (2015-16), 20.6 percent women in the state said that they faced spousal violence.
In nine states/UTs, there was an increase in the percentage of women aged 18-29 years who said that they faced sexual violence by the age of 18, the survey reported. These places are Assam, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Goa, Meghalaya, Sikkim, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
Activists, experts and NGOs have attributed the high percentage of women suffering from domestic violence to low literacy levels and high consumption of alcohol, among others.
To add to this, the lockdown declared in India in late March to contain the outbreak caused millions of migrants to lose their jobs in cities and move to their hometowns/ villages that they had left in search of work.
Earlier, a report by the Associated Press stated that many countries had made progress against such traditional and transactional marriages of girls in recent decades, but COVID-19’s economic havoc has caused significant backsliding.
“With schools closed and the pressure on household finances mounting, marrying off young girls has become a more viable option for reducing options,” it said.
The United Nations estimated that hardships resulting from COVID-19 will drive 13 million more girls to marry before the age of 18.
The ChildLine India also recorded 5,214 early marriages in just four months of the lockdown between March and June 2020 across India. According to the organisation, this figure is considered to be a vast undercount as the majority of cases are not reported.
(Edited by Kanishk Singh)