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Proximity to aggressors leaves women with few options
Staying at home does not offer victims of domestic abuse much comfort or peace. Now, in close quarters with their aggressors, the victims – mostly women – are left with very few options, with NGOs in the city not only noticing an increase in calls but also some noting difficulties in providing apt assistance.
“These women are undergoing a lot of stress. They are in close quarters with their aggressors. Usually, the women who work can speak to colleagues or speak with neighbours, and this offers them some respite. But now, all of those are restricted, and they are experiencing a lot of fear,” said Shwetha Shankar, director, client services, The International Foundation for Prevention of Crime and Victim Care (PCVC).
When the lockdown began, NGOs did not record many calls, but this changed as the days passed. According to Shankar, many women are more comfortable messaging these hotline numbers than calling them, usually late at night.
“We’ve seen a spike in the number of downloads of our app ‘Saahas’, which offers support for victims of violence. I get between 2 to 10 distress calls or requests for support or shelter daily. The shutdown is not the reason for the increase of violence, but it has aggravated the situation by forcing victims to stay in close quarters with their perpetrators,” said Kirthi Jayakumar, founder, Red Elephant Foundation.
Another cause for the increase could be due to financial strain as well as decreased access to liquor and other substances, said Sherin Bosko, co-founder of the NGO Nakshatra.
While Bosko stated that communicating with the police has been difficult, Shankar stated that the police in the city have been receptive towards their calls. PCVC is working with the Corporation to secure travel passes for these women, most of whom state they wish to stay away from their aggressors during the lockdown.
Helplines: PCVC WhatsApp chat: 9840888882 Nakshatra: 9003058479