‘Almost all have suffered stress during Covid’
As Covid seems to decline, domestic violence cases show no sign of receding, according to Bengaluru police data.
Cases of dowry harassment from January to August 2022 in the Shivaji Nagar police limits alone number 132. “There were 800 Not Criminally Responsible (NCR) cases registered in the first eight months of 2022 alone,” said Shivaji Nagar Inspector Savita. Similarly, out of the 72 cases registered at the Indiranagar Police Station during the same period, 31 pertain to domestic violence.
A hybrid work culture has increased the time people spend at home, causing disagreements that lead to violent actions and challenging situations for families and couples living together. Most women do not complain, while some muster courage and approach the police.
Gayathri, a victim’s friend, said: “Preeti, 26, a freelance designer, got married to Gaurav, a 33-year-old supply chain distributor, in December 2021. He had promised to support her…, but due to extra expenditure in the marriage, he backed out. As she was looking for a job change, disagreements started between them. He started consuming alcohol post-marriage which led to abuse physically and mentally. As her in-laws got involved, the fights led to frustration, and she was hospitalised. As both felt suicidal, they live separately, and he is going to a psychiatrist.”
Psychologist Naomi Bhatia said: “Cases are increasing post-pandemic because lockdown and Covid-19 have increased the level of stress and anxiety of people. Directly or indirectly, almost everyone has suffered during Covid either by losing a loved one or a job, leading to frustration. Such frustration leads to violence against women as they are considered weak.” People with severe anger and ego issues are the cause of the increase in domestic violence.
Sulochana, an employee of the women and child section of the Indiranagar police station, informed The Observer: “In-laws ask women to give all the jewellery they own and threaten to throw them out of the house.”
Women who cannot arrange dowry during or after marriage are pressured by their husbands to get it, and physically and mentally abused. Less educated women who are married early are particularly vulnerable to abuse and threats.
According to The Shadow Pandemic campaign, started by the United Nations, women must create awareness and help other women suffering domestic violence.
The campaign creates awareness and supports women in raising their voice and standing up for their rights.
“Women should learn and consult with social workers and NGOs aiming to help women and children for their safety and security,” said Sulochana.
The government has launched helplines for women’s safety. Women can dial 112 in case of emergency to connect with the police.