Domestic violence increased in India During Covid 19 lockdown: Gender Experts in JMI Webinar

Department of Social Work, Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) organized a webinar on ‘Domestic Violence during COVID 19 Pandemic and Solution Based Interventions’ on 25th July, 2020 as a part of Jamia Centenary Celebrations. The objective of the webinar was to understand the gender based violence (special reference to domestic violence) in social work perspective and suggesting solution-based interventions.

The two eminent speakers Dr. Urvashi Gandhi, Director for Global Advocacy, Breakthrough India & Dr. Sanghamitra Dhar, Consultant UN Women, EVAW provided an insight into the situation of Domestic violence in India During 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. There were twofold increase in the cases of domestic violence and due to social distancing they were cut off from all kinds of support. One Stop Crisis Centres are not available in all states / or with in states in district so inaccessible for women.

The speakers discussed about the kind of support services which are 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 lockdown. Speaker raised the need for challenging the norms which are 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.

The webinar started with the welcome address by Prof. Archana Dassi, Head of the Department who welcomed the chief guest and all the participants. Prof Dassi highlighted the fact that COVID19 pandemic has 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 COVID19 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 to be more specific intimate partner violence . India’s National Commission for Women (NCW) 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 this lockdown, many women have faced an increased risk of domestic violence as they have been forced to stay at home with their abusers at a time when there is extreme volatility all around. Prevalence of patriarchal social norms plays a central role in perpetuating gender inequality, domestic violence being one of the kinds. 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 is required in the mindset of people to bring about equality in the society.

The webinar was attended by 140 people representing the civil society organization, academic institutions, researchers and students all across the country. The participants interacted with the speakers and had 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 ended with a vote of thanks to the VC for her guidance and support, the speakers , all the dignitaries and all the participants. The Webinar was a big success and was widely appreciated by all for addressing such a significant issue during this pandemic.

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