The National Commission for Women (NCW) received over 13,000 complaints of crimes against women during lockdown, as per data compiled by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, which was presented in the Lok Sabha.
In April this year, the NCW said there was a steep rise in crimes against women across the country amid restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
For the full period of the COVID-induced lockdown, the NCW has received 13,410 complaints from across the country. The commission’s portal said these complaints were reported from March to September through various sources including from WhatsApp. The month of July reported the highest 2,914 cases. The first month of the lockdown, March, saw 1,347 such complaints while in May it increased to 1,500 cases. In September, 1,235 complaints were registered during the first 20 days.
A total of 1,443 complaints were registered through the WhatsApp number from across the states. The NCW had launched the WhatsApp number (7217735372) to report domestic violence cases in April in view of a spike in such incidents during lockdown. The commission said that the number was launched for the period of lockdown till normal offices resume.
Uttar Pradesh (5,470 cases) and Delhi (1,697 cases) reported the highest number of these complaints during the lockdown. Together these states accounted for over half (or 53.45 per cent) of the cases. The rest of the states and union territories have less than 1,000 cases during the same period.
Sixteen states have more than a hundred and up to a thousand cases while seventeen states/UTs have reported less than a hundred cases during the lockdown. The northeastern region saw only 74 such complaints with NCW.
Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLC) of Maharashtra, Dr Neelam Gorhe, shared the details of the work undertaken on ground by the government and volunteers of her NGO, Stree Aadhar Kendra, across Maharashtra.
“We received about 180 such complaints through our NGO and we assisted all those women. Looking at the circumstances during the lockdown, it had become difficult for the women to seek help from the police, so I contacted state home minister and requested him to assign at least one officer, especially women, for every district to assist women during lockdown. We also tried to connect through various online platforms and lent a helping hand to the victims,” Dr Gorhe told The Federal.
Dr Gorhe said verbal abuses had increased during the lockdown. She added, “So we ran many online campaigns, online support groups as well as covert calling methods to assist women during the lockdown.”
Things have recovered a bit and women can reach out to seek help. Along with that, it is necessary to have a social support system everywhere to support these women, she said.