The 2020 plague of Domestic Violence

The Covid pandemic and subsequent lockdown saw a surge in both virus and domestic violence cases leading to initiatives by various bodies and social media

Domestic Violence

The National Commission for Women (NCW) data painted a very grim picture on the rising cases of domestic violence in India amid the Covid 19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown in 2020.

Over 5,000 complaints and counting, has been recorded by the NCW from women forced into confinement with abusive husbands and relatives over the last few months. In June alone, it received a staggering 2,043 complaints of crimes committed, the highest in the last eight months. To further call attention to this ordeal, the commission that received 607 complaints in 2019 between March to May, in 2020 registered a total of 1477 cases between the same range.  

In May, 1,500 complaints were received by the NCW, whereas 800 in April and 1,347 complaints in March. In February, 1,424 complaints were received while in January 1,462 complaints were received as per the NCW data which may be read here.

As reported by The Tribune, NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma attributed the rise in complaints to numerous factors like economic insecurity, financial instability and isolation among others. “Victims of domestic violence are distanced from their regular support systems making it difficult for them to call out for help. The series of lockdowns in India reduced the opportunities of reporting of domestic violence cases,” she said.

The National Family Health Survey (NFHS 4) data in India has also stated that the number of violence cases against women is always a concern in India as they remain underreported. It is more difficult to assess the cases and report it in a country like India as just 46 percent of women have access to their own mobile phones as a whole, while in rural areas, the percentage is a mere 37 percent.

Swayam, a feminist organisation based in Kolkata also revealed that where there were 22 complaints on average per month before the lockdown, it increased to 57 complaints on average per month through emails and different helplines. The NGO also released a “Stop Domestic Violence” campaign on Twitter in June which was picked up by the Kolkata Police who took the responsibility of displaying the posters across 79 police stations in the city.

While talking to the media, the Associate Director of Swayam said: “Domestic violence is a deep-rooted structural problem in our society caused due to patriarchy and gender inequality which prevents women from leading a life free from violence and dignity. Through this campaign, Swayam hopes to involve individuals, corporates and institutions to support the #StopDomesticViolenceCampaign and help raise awareness around domestic violence.”



The NCW also undertook measures to curb violence against women using social media platforms that proved to be a boon in this period. It launched an Advertisement campaign through electronic media and social media inviting women who suffered any kind of violence to come forward and report it. Though this ad campaign remain restricted to urban women only and ignores the women in rural India who possibly bore the brunt of frustrated unemployed men due to the lockdown.

Further, in addition to handling complaints received through regular modes, NCW also initiated the launch of a WhatsApp number ‘7217735372’ on April 10, 2020 to report domestic violence cases. In August the Chairperson, Rekha Sharma revealed that the helpline number did wonders for several women.



In a move to back efforts to quell rise in domestic violence, Twitter India launched a search prompt. Through this initiative, people in India searching for ‘domestic violence’ related keywords will now be directed to relevant information from the Ministry of Women and Child Development and National Commission for Women in both English and Hindi.

Some of the search keywords in English include #crimeagainstwomen, #domesticviolence, #dowry, #dowrydeath, #genderviolence, #lockdownviolence, #maritalrape, #POSH while Hindi ones include #ghareluhinsa (domestic violence), #dahejhatya (dowry death), #mahilaatyachaar (violence against women) among others, as reported by Indian Express.



As most countries were pushed into dealing with the menace of violence against women, Italy as an example of innovation, launched an app called “YouPol’, that allowed victims of domestic violence to seek help without talking on the phone, as per the New Indian Express report. The app enabled survivors to send images and messages in real-time to the state police operators and one could anonymously report if they didn’t want to reveal their personal information. In France, women used the term “Mask 19” if they felt anxious and insecure to ask for help from people working at 24*7 pharmacies who then passed on the message to the Police.


SC: Women have a right to stay at marital home under domestic violence laws

Violence against women – more than just a law & order problem

Making the Domestic Violence Act work for Women: Majlis Experience



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