Twitter on Wednesday launched a dedicated search prompt that will direct people looking for domestic violence-related keywords towards relevant information from the Ministry of Women and Child Development and National Commission for Women.
The search prompt will be available on iOS, Android, and on mobile.twitter.com in India in English and Hindi languages.
“Every time someone (in India) searches for certain keywords associated with the issue of domestic violence, a prompt will direct them to the relevant information and sources of help available on Twitter,” the company said in a statement.
This is an expansion of Twitter #ThereIsHelp prompt, which was specifically put in place for the public to find clear, credible information on critical issues. Some of these terms include crime against women, domestic violence, dowry, dowry death, gender violence, gender-based violence, lockdown violence, marital rape, and POSH (Prevention of Sexual Harassment).
The feature will be reviewed at regular intervals by the Twitter team to ensure that all related keywords generate the proactive search prompt, it said. Twitter noted that globally and in India, it has been observed that the COVID-19 lockdown period has resulted in a staggering increase in domestic violence cases.
According to a recent report by UN Women, 243 million women and girls aged 15-49 globally have been subjected to sexual and/or physical violence perpetrated by an intimate partner in the past 12 months.
Twitter said the National Commission for Women (NCW), which receives complaints of domestic violence from across India, has recorded more than two-fold rise in gender-based violence in the lockdown period.
Rekha Sharma, Chairperson of NCW, said while the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown have impacted everyone, there have been adverse effects on women and girls who may be victims of intimate partner violence.
“With social distancing norms in place, several women are unable to contact their regular support systems. This initiative by Twitter will provide big support to the survivors, who would otherwise be easily isolated without access to relevant information and help,” she added.
Twitter India and South Asia Director Public Policy Mahima Kaul said new data shows that since the outbreak of COVID-19, violence against women and girls has intensified in India and across the globe.
“We are aware that many suffering domestic violence are isolated at home with abusers, without friends or bystanders around them who can step in to help. We recognise collaboration with the public, government, and NGOs is key to combating the complex issue of domestic violence,” she said.
Accessing reliable information through this search prompt could be a survivor’s first step towards seeking help against abuse and violence, Kaul added.