Since there has been a nationwide lockdown and people have been directed to ‘stay home’ to prevent the virus spread, cases of domestic violence have surged. Predominantly women who are mistreated are now confined to homes with abusive partners whose physically violent tendencies are further inflamed by economic stressors. This situation is now recognized as a ‘Shadow Pandemic’ by UN Women and countries across the world are seeing a surge in domestic violence. Akshara Centre along with the Special Cell for Women and Children with support from Government, the Police and celebrities have come together to create awareness about the current situation with a powerful video in English, Hindi, and Marathi. #LockdownOnDomesticViolence urges citizens to fight and raise their voice against the brutality taking place in their houses.
The National Commission for Women record shows up to 257 cases in the first week of April and this has created great concern amongst women’s groups and activists to address the needs of women from all spheres of life who are playing an indispensable role on the front line in the war against COVID-19. Akshara Centre along with the Special Cell for Women and Children (a project of DWCD GOM, supported by TISS) has come together to set up priority measures to help domestic violence survivors, without detracting from the overall anti-COVID-19 strategy of lockdown. A detailed backend plan along with compilation mobile numbers of 127 Special Cells, 358 protection officers and many other services are collated and shared with 100 so that police and other service providers work together and all burden is not only on police in the current time. With support from The Government of Maharashtra, steps to protect survivors of domestic violence have been made a part of overall anti-COVID-19 action plans.
Eminent personalities from the sports and entertainment industry such as Ajinkya Rahane, Anushka Sharma, Dia Mirza, Farhan Akhtar, Karan Johar, Madhuri Dixit Nene, Mithali Raj, Nandita Das, Rahul Bose, Rohit Sharma, Sachin Tendulkar, Sakshi Tanwar, Shabana Azmi, Shreyas Talpade, Sonali Kulkarni, Sunil Shetty, Vidya Balan and Virat Kohli have come together asking women to take a stand against abusers and perpetrators of gender-based crimes. They urge people to not be bystanders but to report and help women seek help. Their passionate support to be a part this cause will be significant to educate and spread awareness about social crimes like domestic violence in our country.
Talking about #LockdownOnDomesticViolence Nandita Shah, Co-Director of Akshara Centre said,
“This increase in domestic violence during lockdowns is not just an Indian phenomenon; is being reported all over the world. We know that containment measures and quarantine are essential to overcome COVID-19 but we cannot have women entrapped in violent homes where even making a phone call is difficult. The government of Maharashtra has extended their support to help prevent this violence. We would also like to thank our long-standing supporter Rahul Bose who has been extending his endless support to the organization.”
Commenting on his association with Akshara Centre, Rahul Bose said,
“From my first-hand experiences from the 2004 Tsunami to the times of this present Covid19 crisis it is a devastating fact that calamities, natural or manmade, hit women hardest. During this lockdown period incidences of domestic violence against women have spiked alarmingly across not just the country, but the world. It has been my privilege to be a part of this campaign (which, crucially, is in three languages, Marathi, Hindi, and English) created by the wonderful people at Akshara Centre in partnership with the Special Services Cell and the Government of Maharashtra. A campaign that seeks to shine a light for battered women across Maharashtra, telling them that we are listening, women’s groups across the state are listening, the government is listening.”
Akshara Centre in the past has also worked with the government to ensure Gender inclusion in Development Plan of Mumbai, the safety of women in transport, setting up of Gender Resource Centre with MCGM, setting up of police helpline 100. It is well documented that during this war on COVID 19, women’s bodies are bearing the brunt of the crisis. Akshara Centre, working relentlessly towards gender justice has joined hands with the Government of Maharashtra to put an end to domestic violence during this period of lockdown.
Nandita Shah – 9821898676
Nandita Gandhi – 9819109023