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  • Child Rights Centre, CNLU

Hit by a Pandemic or by Your Husband

By Antra Azad, a 4th Year, B.A., LL.B. (Hons.) student at Chanakya National Law University, Patna

 

For some people, lockdown meant staying at home to safeguard themselves from the increasing corona cases outside whereas for a section of the society it was fighting from raging pandemic outside their door and atrocities by the partner inside their home.


The United Nations defines violence against women as "any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life[1]." According to WHO estimates, at some point in their lives, one out of every three (30%) women in the world has experienced physical and/or sexually intimate relationship abuse or non-partner sexual assault. The majority of this violence is caused by intimate partner abuse. Almost a third (27%) of women aged 15 to 49 who have been in a relationship say their intimate partner has physically and/or sexually abused them. India saw an increasing trend of violence during the lockdown imposed in the country due to Covid-19.


Causes of Domestic Violence

The Prime Minister of India declared a one-day nationwide lockout on March 22, 2020, but the situation prevalent forced to extend the lockdown along with other guidelines of social distancing which made the life of women more vulnerable to domestic violence. The notion that atrocities and violence are limited to villages and do not creep into the household of rich, educated, metropolitan cities should break the constrain. According to several sources, during the pandemic, metropolitan police stations received around 20-25 calls every day related to the violence. However, NGOs reported a decline in the number of reported cases and this may be due to confinement at home, round-the-clock surveillance or not be able to contact friends and relatives due to isolation. Spending quality time with the family during this pandemic acted like a silver lining for a few, but it turned out to be a nightmare for others. As the number of persons infected with Covid-19 climbs, countries are being pressed to implement travel restrictions, resulting in unemployment, job losses, and lost earnings. According to experts, low income has been linked to an increase in domestic abuse. Domestic abuse seems to have an inverse association with a woman's educational degree, according to reports. Domestic violence is avoided by women who are self-sufficient and have access to resources. Several other types of research, on the other hand, have found that as women's status rises, so does domestic abuse. Such violence leads to adverse impacts for a lifetime which may be physical, emotional, sexual, and reproductive health, as well as increase their risk of contracting HIV, and the scar never fades away.


Gender inequality is yet another cause of domestic violence when the male ego and masculinity overpowers them and find their female partners as gullible targets. Such violence is in the physical, psychological and sexual form, in a country that does not even acknowledge sexual violence as a crime in a marital relationship.


Laws Related to Domestic Violence

Domestic violence in itself is a pandemic. Time travel from the year 2003 where only 45 countries recognised the domestic violence law whereas by the year 2011 domestic abuse was prohibited in 125 countries, but rape inside a marriage is not specifically prohibited in 127 countries.


India lays down wide legislation in this arena to safeguard the interest of women. Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, the provocation for dowry by the husband or his family is considered a crime. The Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961 makes the practice of dowry illegal. Furthermore, the Protection of Women against Domestic Violence Act of 2005 bans a wide variety of harassment against women, including physical, mental, sexual, and financial abuse, all of which are broadly defined. The Act applies to women who are not married and live in a live-in relationship. Under this Act, a woman can choose to be free of abuse and has a variety of choices. Such choices extend up to seeking an order of security against her husband and his relatives, to remain in the same house (she cannot be evicted from her matrimonial home eve