Thursday, 9 December, 2021
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Domestic Violence during Covid-19

Mariam Masud

Domestic Violence during Covid-19
Mariam Masud

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“Hope” is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul

And sings the tune without the words

And never stops at all

 

And sweetest in the Gale is heard

And sore must be the storm

That could abash the little Bird

That kept so many warm

 

I’ve heard it in the chillest land

And on the strangest Sea

Yet never in Extremity,

It asked a crumb of me.

 

—Emily Dickinson        

 

Quarantining within the four comforting walls of one’s home might shield them from the deadly coronavirus but might expose them to a harsh reality- the terrorizing world of domestic abuse and intimate partner violence. The “Just Leave” card does not work anymore. No words of consolation can ever suffice for someone whose home is a living, burning hell, a genesis of abuse and violence in all its forms. And in light of the lockdown, it is even harder for women and children to leave their abusive households.

The huge spike in calls to the hotline centres is being impossible to keep up with, that is because the rate of violence and attacks has soared high too. According to hotline operators, the attacks have grown even more violent with the lockdown orders but on top of that, the victims are unable to separate them from their abusers or perpetrators. Overall distress, anxiety, economic distress and trauma have done nothing but aggravate the attack and terror. All kinds of help and assistance have moved online, and the openings and resources are declining day by day.

And the case of domestic violence being exacerbated by the pandemic is not exclusive to Bangladesh only. It is a global catastrophe. As stated by the United Nations entity UN Women, domestic violence reports in France have increased 30% since they initiated a March 17 lockdown, calls in Argentina have increased 25% since their March 20 lockdown, along with a 30% increase in helpline calls in Cyprus and 33% increase in Singapore. According to a Bangladeshi non-government organisation at least 4,249 women and 456 children were subjected to domestic violence in 27 out of 64 districts of Bangladesh in April 2020, with 1,672 women and 424 children facing violence for the first time in their lives. One of the main reasons for the pandemic based violence is unhealthy, misogynistic men who take out their financial frustrations on their wives and kids. One such example is Antara Chakma, wife of Biswa Tripura, who lives in Boalkhali union. Her husband Biswa lost his job during the lockdown and grew torturous. He physically assaults his wife Antara whenever he fails to put food on the table. In May 2020, a man killed his wife by striking her over the head with a brick, because she failed to get cold water from the fridge during iftar.

Exhausted parents and family members can and do take out their wrath on their young ones. These children are not only surviving a global pandemic but are having to deal with relentless abuse from the hands of the very people supposed to protect them. A telephone survey conducted by an NGO in 2020 provided one such case of a girl Samiya, a twelve-year old student from 5th grade, who used to receive meals from school before the pandemic. Now that school is closed due to lockdown, she requests for money everyd ay around 11 pm for food. Her jobless parents beat up the hungry child as they cannot provide for her.

Around 30 percent of women have been a victim of domestic violence for the first time since the pandemic. Women have gone through the same uncertainties and difficulties as men did but did not let their frustration take violent turns.

The coronavirus pandemic cannot be a reason to overlook the pandemic raging inside most homes. The victims are ever more helpless now, and certain substantial measures must be taken to combat the silent but agonizing trauma of domestic violence.

Some important resources that can be reached out to in case any consultation is required are given below:

 

Kaan Pete roi: www.shuni.org

MonerBondhu: www.monerbondhu.org

Identity inclusion: www.identityinclusion.com

 

The writer is a student of 12th grade in Suffern High School, New York