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Is Lockdown The Real Culprit Or Is Violence Against A Wife Or Kids Just So ‘Normal’?

Violence cases in families have risen since the lockdown came into effect, with the survivors stuck with their abusers in homes. Why?

My friend Anu (name changed) called me late at night; I picked up the call on the very first ring. Late-night calls often jolt me with the thoughts that someone must want to talk desperately! I knew something was wrong as soon as I picked up the call. She was sobbing.

Anu and her husband are a ‘happily married couple’ for more than a decade now. It was never a marriage with bed of roses, yet they managed to overcome the obscurity of life. Of late, the lockdown period had opened a box full of fear plunged with hatred for her. Anu was flabbergasted by her husband’s behaviour, mainly his unusual sexual desires and fantasies.

Sleepless nights, shock and pain overshadowed her life. She was not ready to take help. Lips tight, she even warned me! Maybe It’s just the lockdown effect, she concluded. He is not always like this, it’s just pressure, lockdown effect maybe!

Has violence always just been there?

The lockdown has taken a toll on all, but a sick mind and sick mentality are two different things.

In a bizarre incident that happened early April this year, a Bihar man married his ex-girlfriend after his wife happened to visit her parent’s place and unfortunately was stuck there due to the lockdown. A case was registered against the man and his ex-girlfriend. At first, I reacted to the news humorously. But soon there was an appalling increase in such incidents, worse than we can imagine.

The majority of the population is taking this time to spend quality time with family, extended sleeping hours, and the liberty to break the daily routine. However, the situation can go bad when you are stuck in wrong relationships, surrounded by negative people in or out of your own home, arising conflicts.

To make things worse, cases of domestic violence and sexual abuse on women and children are surging high. What triggers to such violence?

Violence is a mindset

Domestic violence is a mindset coupled with low esteem, inferiority complex arising due to lack of education, employment, and social stature. Men tend to pick on easy victims to pour out their frustration. Sometimes domestic abuse need not be only physical – emotional, and psychological abuse causes equal harm. Due to societal pressures, patriarchal norms and the necessity to hold up a family, women seldom raise voice the domestic violence they render in the closed walls of their own house.

Then there is sexual violence too

Last week most of us woke up to grossly shocking news. A father raped his 18-year daughter after giving her sleeping pills on the pretext of antibiotics for cold. The incident came to light when the girl tried to kill herself consuming poison. A case was registered against the father and her stepmother.

What can explain the mindset of a man who is violent, or a sexual abuser? A disturbed childhood, a victim of abuse, or mental illness are a common reasons that studies imply but it doesn’t permit a man to get away with the harm he had already inflicted on the victim. Sexual abuse at home has increased during the ongoing situation, raised questions about humanity. If women are not safe at home then where?

Don’t ignore the cries for help!

NGOs working with children and women have received an increased number of calls during the lockdown. The number of calls increased by 25% after the first lockdown was announced on March 23rd. A friend from an NGO working on domestic violence stated that women victims of domestic abuse often hesitate to file a case or even a warning from authorities. They just want us to hear them out. Just to listen to their ordeal!

Author’s Note: My friend Anu is making a big mistake by not raising her voice against her husband. There is nothing I can do either, beyond picking up her call any hours and hearing her out. Sometimes merely listening does a great difference. However forced sex in marriage is also not Ok. And without consent, it’s rape! Stand against it.

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