Be it a head-to-head war between powerful nations, or a common street feud. Be it a religious proclamation in one part of the world or a religious places’ rule of entry in another. Be it laws of reproduction or an eye over the bedroom’s door. Women are always the hardest hit.
Surely the times are strange, there is an impending sense of fear every time one steps out of the house even to buy groceries. The only safe haven these days is inside the four walls of our homes, where SARS-CoV-19 would hopefully not find us. Homes, that you and I may seek shelter in, have become cages for countless of women who are stuck there with their potential abusers, with nowhere to go, no one to ask for help.
The National Commission for Women (NCW) received 58 complaints from March 23 to March 30, according to data released by PTI. And these are just those women who managed to complain, they had the strength and the means to do it. There are so many others who lack either of those things and in most cases even both.
While talking to PTI, Rekha Sharma, Chairperson of the NCW said, “The number has increased. Men are frustrated sitting at home and are taking out that frustration on women. This trend is especially seen in Punjab from where we have received many such complaints.”
She even explained that the number of complaints that they might have received on the post, especially from the lower strata of the society, has not been accounted for as it has not reached them still. It is a good time to notice that the government has shut down postal services as they were deemed as not important.
All India Progressive Women’s Association secretary and rights activist Kavita Krishnan said, “All the women (domestic violence victims) who contacted me said had they known (about the lockdown) they would have tried to get out earlier and be at safe places. The only thing to do is help and rescue domestic violence survivors. Their situation is worse now in the lockdown,”
Domestic abuse is an ugly reality of modern India, a social evil that we have been living for a very long time now. And while many women have been struggling with abusive members of their family, the 21-day lockdown has increased the probability of the abuse.
Precisely because the crime takes place inside our very homes, we don’t seem to care for it enough. What else explains that while drafting policies of nationwide lockdown, no one even thought about the possibility of giving time for women to escape any unsafe place they might be stuck in?
Men, who were often out of the house for work, are now present in the same house 24*7. The feeling of staying at home is new to men as our century-old gender division has instilled the idea that men go out to hunt, while women stay at home. These claims find no footing when actually tested by historians or feminists but unfortunately have become the norm.
To add to this anxiety is the anxiety of the impending future. What will happen to my job? Will I be able to earn enough to feed my family? Or something as trivial as, when will I be able to drink again? These questions fuel up aggression, another characteristic that is believed to be “natural” in men.
So, when you have put all the anxiety and burden about the future on men, when you have told them it is manly to be angry, sometimes even erotic, when you have told men over the years that they have all rights on their wives, did you possibly hope of another outcome?
First, the sheer apathy at the condition of migrant workers and now the stories of women being unsafe due to the lockdown are all testimonies that policies in India come from a patriarchal, capitalist lense that has no place for women or workers or anybody else that doesn’t find room on the table.