“Your abuser is only as strong as your silence - Najwa Zebian”
Our country went into complete lockdown on March 24 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Everybody believed they will be safe in their homes, with their loved ones. But there were in abusive relationships, women being beaten and burnt for dowry, people being forced to engage in coitus by their spouses(IPV). According to India’s 2015–2016 National Family Health Survey (NFHS), one-third of the women in the country experience domestic violence. At today’s date, the cases have increased by a large number, without including the unreported ones! They used to heave a breath of relief when their children went to school and spouses to the office. But this lockdown has increased their sufferings.
Many countries have reported the same issue. France has tackled the situation with an effective plan, they have set up booths in a grocery store and hospitals(places where women frequent) to help them. In India, the National Commission for Women [i]has launched a Whats App number- 7217735372 along with online complaint links and emails which were already operational, to help women reach out.
Many NGOs have put forth this problem that, the restriction of movement is a huge hindrance in helping women shift to shelters or even reach them, especially when many of them do not even have access to a mobile phone.
The Domestic violence act, 2005 is a laudable and progressive piece of legislation in our country, it has addressed issues relating to women, not just physical but mental or emotional abuse as well. Ranging from harassment arising out of unlawful dowry demands to experiencing domestic violence in a live-in relationship. But it is very disheartening that people do not report or reach out for help due to the fear of their abuser, family members, or relatives.
Patriarchy and misogyny have been prevailing in our country for years, women having enough courage to go against societal norms and so-called ‘good manners’ isn’t easy to imagine. To convince women or counsel them forms a very important part of rescuing them from their abuser and help them voice their problems. With efficient and empowering laws mentioned in the Domestic Violence Act, like having the right to get a protection order stopping the aggressor from dis-housing her, right to get maintenance from her abusive husbands, child custody, etc. play a major role in helping women put their foot down and speak for themselves. But it is not enough so a silent and safe service to save people is the need of the hour in this lock down.
 The World Health Organization (WHO) defines IPV as "... any behavior within an intimate relationship that causes physical, psychological or sexual harm to those in the relationship, including acts of physical aggression, sexual coercion, psychological abuse and controlling behaviors.
 This is the link to various helplines which one can reach out to http://www.ncw.nic.in/helplines
This is the link to the bare act http://legislative.gov.in/actsofparliamentfromtheyear/protection-women-domestic-violence-act-2005
Author- Abhiruchi Lakras
LEGALEAGLE LAW FORUM