With over 4 billion people sheltering at home from the pandemic COVID-19 (1), some people are stuck within the clutches of another deadly danger, a silent pandemic: domestic violence.
According to a recent global study conducted by UN Women, over 243 million women and girls were subjected to domestic violence by intimate partners in the past 12 months. (2) Emerging data shows that this number saw an alarming increase across the 90 countries where the COVID-19 lockdown was in full spin.
To give you an idea, here are a few data points:
In the UK, calls to the national abuse hotline went up by 65% in the last weekend of March 2020 (3) with a 150% increase on website hits by April 2020 (4)
In India, there were more than 92000 SOS calls made in the first 11 days of the lockdown (5)
In Australia, Google searches for domestic violence help had increased by 75% in March this year compared to last year (4)
In China, a Beijing-based NGO dedicated to combating violence against women had observed the cases to have tripled in February 2020 compared to February 2019. (6)
The COVID-19 lockdown’s become an unhealthy breeding ground for a silent pandemic that domestic violence has now become, and one that the world wasn't prepared to tackle.
In the second episode of It’s Kritikal!, we are in conversation with Anika Verma, a Women’s Rights Activist and Senior Campaign Manager at Breakthrough India and Lakshmi Ayyagari, a Counselling Psychologist. While Anika covered topics specific to domestic violence, Lakshmi highlighted the importance of mental health.
Illustration by Sid Bishnu
Some of the things we discussed on the podcast -
Defining what comes under the purview of domestic violence: what violence means, highlighting various forms of violence and the difference between a survivor and a victim. Here’s an article for details (7)
How mental health plays an important role: why focusing on the mental health of a victim/survivor is essential, why it’s crucial to focus on the mental health of the abuser. Here’s an article explaining how domestic violence impacts the mental health of women. (8)
Defining intersectionality: Learn about intersectionality straight from the woman who coined this term: Kimberlé Crenshaw (9)
The importance of a Support System: most of us NEED a SUPPORT SYSTEM! Here's an article explaining how and why you can turn to your social support (having a network of family and friends) in times of need. (10)
Unfortunately, financial abuse occurs in 99% of all domestic abuse cases, and the effects can negatively impact survivors for years after they escape. For those of you who might be interested, here's a guide that focuses on rebuilding your finances after escaping an abusive relationship, providing tips on budgeting, building credit, and getting back into the workforce.
You can connect with Anika here:
LinkedIn: Anika Verma
You can connect with Lakshmi here:
LinkedIn: Lakshmi Ayyagari