There has been a 47 per cent drop in calls to the women helpline number (181) pertaining to domestic violence in September in comparison to April. Officials from the Women and Child Development said that the inability of women to step out or call amidst the lockdown might have resulted in a dip in the number of cases of domestic violence being registered in the last six months.
According to the WCD data, in April, the women helpline number received around 180 calls daily on an average regarding domestic violence. But as the lockdown was enforced, the number of calls started decreasing. In September, the helpline recorded an average of around 95 calls daily.
However, this might be just the tip of the iceberg, as officers suspect that some women found it difficult to make calls from within their homes, too, as the entire family was closeted together during the lockdown.
Idzes Kundan, secretary, WCD said that, currently, there are 37 one-stop crisis centres that were functioning during the lockdown across the state. Since the lockdown, 7,055 cases have been filed physically by women in the state. “To prevent and address cases of domestic violence, we also started the ‘Mala Bolayache Aahe helpline. Round the clock, we coordinated with police control rooms across districts and shared the contact numbers of protection officers and social workers across the state,” she said.
A total of 6,571 women had sought help across the state, of which 3,448 were given general family counselling, 363 got a medical call, 1,973 got psychological counselling and 532 got short term shelter facility.
Hrishikesh Yashoda, commissioner, WCD said that they have 34 senior protection officers at the district level and 358 junior protection officers at taluka level, who are working full time in the prevention of domestic violence and relief services. “We are taking various measures for women. Moreover, we are also developing an app Stand up against violence in association with the Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS),” he said.
Senior WCD officers said they are also planning to form a village-level committee of women to take proactive steps to stop the incidents of domestic violence, especially in rural areas. “We involved self-help groups and other grassroots workers. We aimed to provide counselling and social support to the victims. If need be, we involve authorities like the police and the concerned protection officers as designated under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005,” he said.