STRENGTHEN FAMILY BONDS VERSUS DOMESTIC CONFLICT AND VIOLENCE DURING COVID – 19: AN OVERVIEW

STRENGTHEN FAMILY BONDS VERSUS DOMESTIC CONFLICT AND VIOLENCE DURING COVID – 19: AN OVERVIEW

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Work in this contemporary world is everything.  To imagine a world without work is quite impossible for most people.  The upsurge of the Novel Coronavirus, nations after nation is locking down cities across the world, requesting the citizens to stay home to prevent the further spread of deadly coronavirus. Even though, the working rules our daily routine, everyone welcomed the government’s strategy of lockdown happily to safeguard ourselves from coronavirus. This social distancing latches the citizens at their home with their families and altered everybody’s lifestyle with a mere feeling of anxiety, fear and sadness in this difficult time. To control the community transmission of the virus, a schedule of jam- packed with office loads changed into working from home and has been encouraged by many companies and organizations. Staying at home created an opportunity to spend quality time with family members.  Thus, the pandemic brought families and friends more close as it was earlier and gave them chance to engage in many activities including workout at home, finding healthy food items to eat and cooking together, meditating at home to maintain mental and physical peace to reduce stress, increase energy, enhance immunity system, playing games seems unending day which offers a precious commodity i.e. time to spend together as a family. Occupying time together gives chance to revisit past memories, looking old family pictures or videos together, playing games with children, watching movies and programs on television. Especially the re – telecast of the Indian epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata on doordarshan played an important role in strengthening family relations.

Of course, the reality of day to day life under home directs more complex than a simply blank schedule. Parents working from home and school demanding ‘distance learning’ for kids of all ages, the days seem just as busy and filled as ever. So far, reminding ourselves to leisurely take advantage of the rare opportunity to be with family at home, will help us to build a positive outlook and strengthen family bonds, now and for the future. The advantage of family dinner are well – established and sitting together at dining table also provide the time for members of the family to share their thoughts or feelings on a wide variety of topics. Family dinner seems to be the perfect place to help children and teens exercise their concerns about happenings in the world. Also, this quarantine is a great time to reconnect with distant family members by video callings or can plan a virtual reunion.  Such a bonding with family might seem old fashioned and cliché but in fact is an opportunity to come jointly and recapture the joys of being part of the well – built and beautiful family.

But, there are always two sides of the same coin, which means something good is always accompanied by its bad effects too, so does this home quarantine. Persistently, the home is identified with a sanctuary, a place where individuals seeks love, welfare, security and shelter but for some women, the home is the place that risks lives and breeds with the most drastic forms of violence. Women in India have very distinct provocations as our society clearly defines work for women and men respectively. Patriarchy attitude has brought inequality in the value of work as well. For Example: the ancient Indian texts, Manusmriti, determine the moral yardsticks for women through sermons. In Islam, the so- called moral guardianship is reposed in males. Women are the victims of gendered spaces that are deep- rooted by patriarchal prejudice.  ‘Woman’s work’ in India is focused towards cooking, cleaning and nurturing children and thus is rugged test of her patience, ability, energy and managerial skills. Thus, the further extension of the lockdown, some families at home are not at peace, towards women which raises the violence against women during the pandemic COVID – 19.

Unfortunately, India is not an exception to the universal trend of increased pandemic induced domestic violence, as recently, the National Commission for Women (NCW) mounting data suggest that in one week (from March, 23rd to April, 2nd) has received 257 of total complaints of which 69 domestic violence complaints by the women[1]. The NCW stated, the counting of such complaints has almost doubled after the government ensued a nationwide lockdown in March. The circumstances soar to such an extent that the NCW had to launch a Whatsapp number besides online complaints. However, the lockdown is a huge downside for the victims exposed relentlessly to their abusers and thus, reporting may not be an easy task and the results of reporting, on most cases will lead to more harassment to them.

This time of crisis sudden increase in cases of domestic violence, is not a new trend, instead women tends to be at greater risks during such health disasters and pandemics like the Ebola outbreak and the reasons for such violence is the economic hardships, global slowdown, economic insecurities along with the cramped and confined living conditions.  Consequently, the quarantine furnishes the pertinent opportunity to the abusers to practice ‘intimate terrorism’ – a situation where he can dictate and control all the actions and movements of women, with violence if needed.

 Moreover, the right guaranteed under Article 21[2] of the Indian Constitution provides for a ‘dignified life’ is being denied to these victims. As women who are the victims of domestic violence do not have access to appropriate help, they find themselves isolated, alone and vulnerable and the way of helplines provided by Women’s Commission are limited, help from police officials and courts is restricted and accessing shield from family and friends too is remote. These circumstances leave the behavior of the abusers unchecked and therefore, uplift more perpetrations due to the lack of sanctions.

Thus, ‘If all men are born free, how is it that all women are born slaves?’ These miseries of women in our household, their cries shook our hearts and constantly telling us how desperately we need to repair this social structure. It takes me wonder what the real virus is, the dying humanity or corona.

Though, India has laws and rules under “Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005” which mentions obligations on the part of government for regularly expose the problems of the Domestic Violence through the use of media or press to raise awareness in the society and also providing facilities such as shelter homes in each district by the state government. Many NGO’s like Breakthrough and CORO India step forward to look after the issues by organizing campaigns, etc. But to flatten the COVID – 19, somewhere this ‘Shadow Pandemic’ has been overlooked. Therefore, there is a need for execution of planned strategies to judiciously integrate coming up cases of Domestic Violence with pandemic.

Therefore, a home or family with domestic violence is not a safe and nurturing environment. Similar to the garden with weeds and no nourishment, the garden will not flourish until the gardener weeds the garden, turns up the soil, and adds nourishments for the plants. A family with domestic violence cannot hold up healthy growth and development. And someone needs to stop this violence against women and the period of nationwide lockdown gives a perfect opportunity to settle down these issues and to live happily ever.


[1] https://www.livelaw.in

[2] Right to life and Personal Liberty

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