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‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ But Where Do You Go When Home Is Not Safe?

Posted: April 5, 2020

The famous lockdown motto is ‘Stay home, stay safe’ but for a lot women and young girls staying home is not always safe.

*Translated by Asefa Hafeez

The entire country is in a lockdown but there are still a lot of injustices that are yet to be in lockdown. Where do you go when home is not safe?

In the first week of lockdown many people have lost their livelihood – many have lost their jobs, many have been forced to work from home, severely restricting what they can do. Daily wage earners like hawkers, vendors, small shop owners, cab/ auto drivers, tourist guides etc have had massive hit on their livelihood, day to day life has been filled with frustration and pressure to feed one’s family.

Increased gender based violence

This is one of the things that has led to increased violence on women and children.

A recent report by National Council of Women states that Gender based violence doubled in the end of March. In The first week of March (2-8 March) about 116 cases were reported, which increased to 257 cases by the last week of March (23 to 1st April). This shows a drastic increase in the reported rape cases from the 2nd to the 13th, and the majority of these cases were found in Northern India. And these are only official reported cases during the time where staying home is recommended, the real unreported cases are staggeringly higher.

Many women who are living with their in laws are scared of the repercussions of reporting a case when the option of going anywhere else is not available. Not only that, the fear of police not taking it seriously during this stressful time is also a major reason these women are not reporting domestic violence and dowry related violence. Imagine living with violent in laws with no option of getting out, with no one coming or going from the house. For these women the lockdown period will be filled with dread and cruelty.

Why complaining has become impossible

The NCW receives complaints from all over the country, some via email and others via post.

Currently by post communication is severely hindered, and internet is the only option right now. In rural and semi- urban areas most women don’t have access to phones let alone internet and email. So many complaints are going unrecorded.

We have no idea to find out the real numbers in this case. So many women all over the country and the world at large have to take the brunt of frustrated, unemployed and bored husbands and in laws.

Calling out for Govt action

If the govt had given some time period before locking down the entire country, these women might have had some opportunity to get away from violent household.

There are still two more weeks left in the lockdown. Can the govt act proactively and spread awareness that rape and domestic violence victims can still lodge complaints, and that they will still be protected from their in laws. Emphasising that the police is still very much responsible to lodge complaints for and follow up on violent and criminal matters, will give women an option.

Let us also be aware, and help

However, we as the citizens also have some responsibility in curbing the matter.

If anyone near you is being victimised in a domestic violence case, take them to report a complaint with the local authorities. If any one of your neighbours is being harassed during this time take her into your house, provide a safe space until an official action can be taken against the perpetrators.

You can contact certain agencies online who can intervene and get these women to safety. During this difficult times we have to be helpful to one another and ensure women’s safety because for a lot of them, Stay Home is not always Stay Safe.

Image source: Canva

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