Domestic Violence : Men are at home and so is their Machismo
Indeed there is a clear distinction between the rich and the poor in terms of the impact of the pandemic in India. The rich and the middle class are supposedly spending quality time with family, making memories, cooking, dancing with each other. Then, there are those from the poor section of the society who are walking miles together, for days only to be with family in the end and hoping to at least die with their own. But what has gone nearly unnoticed is the plight of those who are locked in with their families, and dreading it; those whose sole purpose to step out of the house each day for long hours at work, had been to save themselves from the daily domestic violence that they are subjected to.
It may be hard to fathom, but there has been a steep rise in crimes against women, despite a nationwide lockdown. Indeed, statistics of rapes in India during the lockdown period of over two months have shown a steady decline, but it is not necessarily a good news. With the country inside homes, misogyny and machismo has also peaked inside the four walls.
According to the data shared by Delhi Police with The Hindu, there has been an 83% dip in cases of rape in the capital from March 22 to April 12, with the number of rape cases registered under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code stood at 23 as opposed to 139 in 2019, during the same time period. The data also stated that the number of cases registered on charges of assault or criminal force to a woman with intent to outrage her modesty stood at 33 as compared to 233 in 2019 from March 22 to April 12 leading to a decline of 85.8%.
But does a decline in reporting of such cases during the lockdown really mean that such incidents are not taking place at all?
As per the data provided by the National Commission for Women (NCW), there were 315 complaints of domestic violence received in the month of April alone, among 800 other crimes committed against women across the country. Haryana, the state infamous for atrocities against women, recorded 66 cases of rapes, 62 of abduction and 142 incidents of molestation during the lockdown during the same month.
Instances of the rise in physical abuse were also reported, where women claimed that things were better for them at home until alcohol wasn’t available. Experts have repeatedly suggested that alcohol consumption is a major contributing factor in domestic violence, and hence there were concerns raised over alcohol-induced abuse, around the reopening of liquor shops after almost a month.
Another form of crime that the physical confinement and lockdown triggered, is cybercrime. NCW chief Rekha Bharadwaj said 54 cybercrime complaints were received online in April in comparison to 37 complaints – received online and by post – in March, and 21 complaints in February, and this might just be the tip of the iceberg.
Abuse and other forms of crime have been fueled by lack of freedom to move out, non-indulgence in economic activities and to a great extent to the social conditioning of men in patriarchal environments. While there is bound to be anger and frustration because of being locked down for a long period of time, a large section of men has inherent conditioning for the need to subjugate, which comes out in the form of physical abuse. Another factor is that of already pent-up resentments between couples, which result in greater opportunities for potential conflicts, upsetting the household dynamics.
While this was about the crimes, reported or unreported, that this lockdown has triggered, let’s now talk about something that may not be a crime, but has proved to be an added form of inequality for women in various households. While in most urban families, the concept of sharing household responsibilities is inherent, there is a huge section of the society where women have claimed that their household chores have only increased during the lockdown, with all family members staying at home now.
This phenomenon can be found in a lot of families and even on Twitter recently, where some men boasted about their wives cooking delicacies for lunch or dinner, while others cursed those who clicked themselves helping their counterparts in housework. The mindset in India that forces a huge section of the male and even female population to draw these distinctions between what a man and a woman are supposed to do respectively, has now become an added pressure on women during this lockdown.