Stay home, stay safe has run out of steam. It has fallen into the trap of “COBRA EFFECT”.
The lockdown was aimed to prevent the spread of coronavirus, but the downside that was not anticipated is the rapidly escalating domestic violence. Women, old people and kids have been the victims. The history indicates that an increase in domestic violence is inevitable during emergencies, including a pandemic.
The Covid19, which has rendered the world home-bound, has aggravated the plight of the domestic violence victims. The various factors that contributed to this are – isolation, the financial distress,employment uncertainty, scarcity of community resources, stress and anxiety. The restrictions imposed during the pandemic complicated the situation for the victims, as the counter measures to escape were rendered moot. The sudden turn of events and being home-bound, with absence of visitors and no chance to make oneself scarce, intensifies the abuse and has also generated new victims. This relatively increases the consumption of alcohol and drugs.
One of my client Ms. Vanita (Name changed), aged 31 is a widow suffering from a dreadful disease called Multiple Sclerosis. She was earning her bread by tutoring the underprivileged and operating a cab for uber and ola. The lockdown left her with no options but to survive on her savings. It may have curbed the spread of the virus but increased the victim’s agony. Meeting her medical expenses and other daily needs drained her empty and her hardship continues. The stigma that is attached to a widow is no different even during the 21st century, as they are considered inauspicious and they have to endure the struggle that follows it. Seeking solace with a parent is a normal way a human can cope during trying times. Unfortunately, the stay with her parents was like leaping into the fire from a frying pan. She was denied access to the basic needs like food, medicine or monetary assistance. The restrictions made sure that the victim had no scope to vent out the distress. She was constantly under distress and the trauma forced her to commit suicide as she was physically and emotionally abused by her father for being a widow and for her other physical challenges. She was asked to leave the house during the middle of the night which has resulted in making her feel orphaned and handicapped.
(Source: WHO) According to WHO, violence is a pervasive public health and human rights problem around the world. It affects women, men, boys and girls in all countries and cuts across boundaries of age, race, religion, ethnicity, disability, culture and wealth. Statistically, women and children (both boys and girls) are most affected by violence in the home and it is often perpetrated by men they know and trust.
Data (Source: WHO and others)
● Almost one in three women worldwide have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner or sexual violence, not including sexual harassment, by any perpetrator
● Globally, 30% of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime
● Globally up to 38% of murders of women are committed by intimate partners
● Adolescent girls, young women, women belonging to ethnic and other minorities, transwomen, and women with disabilities face a higher risk of different forms of violence
● The majority (55% to 95%) of women survivors of intimate partner violence or sexual violence do not disclose or seek any type of help or services
● Being abused as a child or exposed to violence in the family when growing up, attitudes accepting of violence and gender inequality including gender norms increase the risk of perpetrating violence against a partner; in some settings violence is associated with excessive use of alcohol
● Globally, over one billion children – over half of all boys and girls aged 2–17 years – experience some form of emotional, physical or sexual violence every year
● The lifetime prevalence of childhood sexual abuse is 18% for girls and 8% for boys
● Homicide is among the top five causes of death in adolescents, with boys comprising over 80% of victims and perpetrators
● Regional statistics also exist. For example in Europe, it is estimated that one in five (20%) children have experienced sexual abuse, and in the WHO European region, a quarter of women (15-49 years) have experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime. In Latin America and the Caribbean, it is estimated that 58% of children experience sexual, physical or emotional violence each year, and 30% of women have experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime.
TIPS FOR COPING UP WITH STRESS AND PREVENTIVE MEASURES
● Be aware of quarantine and social distancing.
● Be occupied, reduce the time spent, minimize the communication and maintain the private space to reduce the triggering factor.
● Maintain a daily routine and make time for physical activities, relaxation exercises to relieve from stressful thoughts and feelings.
● Engaging in activities that had helped earlier in managing adversities.
● Cautious usage of mobile and system if that triggers it.
● Reaching out and seeking support from family, friends and immediate neighbours for help.
● Be discreet and keep information on violence against women hotlines, social workers, child protection, nearest police station and other support services available near residence.