Since the nationwide lockdown came into effect, India has witnessed a sharp rise in the number of domestic violence complaints. According to the Chairperson of the National Commission for Women (NCW), the spurt in reporting of these incidents is to attributed to the WhatsApp helpline number that the agency put in place to aid women who couldn’t access emails or posts to register their complaints.
“The increase in domestic violence complaints shows a spike in reporting, not necessarily a rise in such incidents or crimes. We started a new WhatsApp helpline number during the lockdown to help women to report, which led to an increase in the number of complaints,” Chairperson Rekha Sharma was quoted by a leading Indian daily.
In addition to highlighting the role WhatsApp helpline played, Sharma also said the complaints received, were not fresh cases.
“Many survivors who have approached us, say they have been experiencing violence at home for the past several years. These are not new cases,” she added.
Her comments came in the light of a new report which suggested that there has been a 2.5X spike in the number of domestic complaints that were registered after the lockdown was enforced.
According to the original article, between March 25 and May 31, NCW is believed to have registered more than 1,400 cases of domestic violence. Of this, at least 727 complaints were recorded via its WhatsApp helpline – +917217735372 – which was established around April.
While Sharma’s view on the spike in domestic violence complaints highlights a different angle, as it turns out, the situation is a global phenomenon.
Even as NGOs and women welfare organisations in India come together to spark conversations and work on this issue, around the world, many other organisations have also raised concerns relating to the safety and security of women amid a pandemic-induced crisis.
Multiple reports by the World Health Organisation (WHO) also attest to this. Driven by factors such as stress, increased economic hardships, and reduced access to services, these reports highlight how a global health crisis can “exacerbate the risk of women suffering violence.”
(Edited by Suman Singh)