Domestic violence cases have increased twofold during the pandemic and, due to social distancing, women were cut off from all kinds of support.
NEW DELHI — The Department of Social Work, Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) organised a webinar on ‘Domestic Violence during Covid-19 Pandemic and Solution-Based Interventions’ on Saturday as part of the Jamia Centenary Celebrations.
The objective of the webinar was to understand gender-based violence, especially domestic violence, in social work perspective and suggesting solution-based interventions.
Two eminent speakers–Dr. Urvashi Gandhi, Director for Global Advocacy, Breakthrough India and Dr. Sanghamitra Dhar, Consultant UN Women, EVAW–provided an insight into the situation of domestic violence in India during the covid-19 lockdown where the women have been forced to stay at home with their abusers at a time when there is extreme volatility all around.
As per the reports, the cases of domestic violence have increased twofold and due to social distancing they were cut off from all kinds of support. One-Stop Crisis Centres are not available in all states as those in some districts were inaccessible for women.
The speakers discussed the kind of support services being provided to women by CSOs and the government. The resource persons also provided a way forward to social work professionals to deal with the problem of domestic violence during the lockdown.
They stressed the need for challenging the norms normalising the violence within the four walls of the family. There is a need for advocacy, mass awareness by media and community mobilisation. There is a need for rights-based approach to ensure that every woman, including the most marginalised, has access to necessary information, support systems and resources during the current crisis.
In her welcome address, Prof. Archana Dassi, Head of the Department, highlighted the fact that covid-19 pandemic had brought a tsunami of collateral impacts on social, economic, cultural and public health systems. Although there is an on-going effort to manage and minimize its effects on the human population, it is important to consider the disproportionate burden that covid-19 pandemic extends to women–calling for a fresh design to the rendered emergency response.
One of the ways in which the covid-19 crisis has affected Indian women is her vulnerability to domestic violence, or, rather intimate partner violence. India’s National Commission for Women has reported that there has been more than twofold rise in gender-based violence during the lockdown in India.
The webinar was inaugurated by the Prof. Najma Akhtar, Vice Chancellor, Jamia Millia Islamia. In her inaugural address, she mentioned that during the lockdown, many women had faced an increased risk of domestic violence as they had been forced to stay at home with their abusers at a time when there was extreme volatility all around.
Prevalence of patriarchal social norms, she said, played a central role in perpetuating gender inequality, domestic violence being one of the kinds, adding that educating Indian children from an early age about the importance of gender equality could be a meaningful start in that direction. Prof Akhtar stressed upon the fact that an attitudinal shift was required in the mindset of people to bring about equality in the society.
The webinar was attended by 140 people representing the civil society organizations, academic institutions, researchers and students all across the country. The participants interacted with the speakers and had a number of questions regarding the reasons for domestic violence in India, the response of government and what should the role of trained social work professionals to address the violence against women.
The webinar was a big success and was widely appreciated by all for addressing such a significant issue during the pandemic.