September 29, 2020 3:50:08 pm
That the pandemic has exacerbated existing problems, is known. Around the world, as the ongoing health crisis confines people to their homes, they are having to grapple with many issues that may have worsened in the past few months. Besides mental health issues, domestic violence cases have alarmingly risen, too.
Recently, a senior police official in Madhya Pradesh was caught on camera mercilessly beating his wife. Dated September 27, the video has been widely shared on social media platforms. The man has been identified as Purshottam Sharma, the additional director-general (ADG) of police, and the incident took place in the capital city Bhopal.
In the video, Sharma can be seen pulling his wife with much force and pinning her to the ground, as other members of the house make feeble attempts to disengage the two. While she can be heard struggling and shouting for help, Sharma appears rather menacing and volatile. A dog, presumably their pet, barks in distress.
On September 28, while the National Commission for Women (NCW) tweeted to MP Chief Minister Shivraj Shingh Chouhan, to take “appropriate punishment” against Sharma, the latter issued a statement of his own, saying it was a “family dispute, not a crime”.
Justifying the assault, Sharma was seen as saying: “We’ve been married for 32 years. In 2008, she complained against me. But the point is, since 2008, she has been living in my house, enjoying all facilities and travelling abroad on my expenses… I am neither a violent person nor a criminal.”
If my nature is abusive then she should’ve complained earlier. This is a family dispute, not a crime. I am neither a violent person nor a criminal. It is unfortunate that I have to go through this. My wife stalks me & has put cameras in the house: Additional DG Purshottam Sharma https://t.co/R58xF8daTD
— ANI (@ANI) September 28, 2020
He has since been stripped of his duties, and according to reports, a police complaint was filed by his son.
The cost of pandemic
Domestic violence has unwittingly become a heavy price that many people across the world have been paying, having to share a roof with their abuser.
Back in April, UN chief Antonio Guterres had pointed out that “violence is not confined to the battlefield, and that for many women and girls, the threat looms largest where they should be safest: in their own homes”.
Peace is not just the absence of war. Many women under lockdown for #COVID19 face violence where they should be safest: in their own homes.
Today I appeal for peace in homes around the world.
I urge all governments to put women’s safety first as they respond to the pandemic. pic.twitter.com/PjDUTrMb9v
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) April 6, 2020
According to UN News, research by the World Health Organization (WHO), details some disturbing impacts of violence on a woman’s physical, sexual, reproductive and mental health. “Women who experience physical or sexual abuse are twice as likely to have an abortion, and the experience nearly doubles their likelihood of falling into depression. In some regions, they are 1.5 times more likely to acquire HIV, and evidence exists that sexually assaulted women are 2.3 times more likely to have alcohol disorders.”
Ever since the pandemic began, the UN reported that while Lebanon and Malaysia saw the number of calls to helplines double — compared with the same month last year — in China, they have tripled. And in Australia, Google has been seeing the highest magnitude of searches for domestic violence help in the last five years.
Additionally, according to a report in Al Jazeera, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland has recently said countries could “save billions of dollars a year by tackling the ‘disgusting pandemic’ of domestic violence”. She listed many ways in which domestic violence can take an economic toll — from putting a burden on health, police and judicial services, to fostering absenteeism at work and school, and permanently damaging children who witness it.
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