As Covid-19 virus is forcing entire cities to go under lockdown, women who live with domestic violence or the threat of it can become unwitting victims of the pandemic without even contracting the disease.
With world leaders and epidemiologists around the globe preaching social distance and self-isolation, many families have been forced to remain cooped up inside their homes with no means to step out. India, which saw a spike in cases this week, has already recorded over 150 patients who have tested positive for coronavirus and a total of five deaths, sending state and central governments pleading to Indians to self-isolate.
While self-isolation is being seen as one of the most effective ways to restrict the spread of the virus, it could prove to be a challenge for those facing domestic violence at home. In keeping with the situation, however, Uttar Pradesh Police has come up with a novel solution to help out victims of domestic violence.
Even as the rest of the country continues to grapple with lockdowns and the 'Janata Curfew' initiated by the PM this Sunday, March 22, UP Police has launched a special helpline number for victims of domestic abuse. In a front-page advertisement in a newspaper, UP Police announced, "Suppress corona, not your voice". The advertisement included the sketch of a woman's face wearing a face mask. The move is meant to provide "enhanced response" to cases of violence against women.
The messaging is meant to convey the fact that though it is essential to wear masks right now to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it was equally essential to ensure speaking up in case of injustice or crime.
The advertisement further asked victims to dial 112 when in case of any complaints. Upon receiving complaints, women police officials will personally visit the complainant and ensure everything is alright. The cops will also ensure speaking to the perpetrator of violence and arrest them if necessary.
The move has generated a warm response on social media with many praising UP Police's sensitivity in coming out with the helpline number.
UP Police is emerging as one of the finest in India. — Veer Bhadra (@sanghifromsouth) March 20, 2020
& the Ram Navami celebrations in Ayodhya too have been cancelled as per latest reports. ! Great news @Uppolice , @UP_IndiaTourism & also this initiative to report Domestic Violence against women in Uttar Pradesh. ♀️ https://t.co/Msm1ZtKPay — SONA (@sonamohapatra) March 20, 2020
Great step of @Uppolice to stop domestic violence in the time of #CoronaVirus. pic.twitter.com/Yj0fLo58mR — Dr. MUKESH Srivastava (@Srivastava_1987) March 20, 2020
Domestic violence is a global issue that affects millions of women as well as men around the world. Since the lockdown in the United States, which has already recorded 5,218 positive cases of coronavirus, a report in Time noted that the National Domestic Violence Hotline has recorded an increasing number of calls. Representatives from the hotline told Time that many victims feared to be turned out onto the streets by their abusive partners during coronavirus.
At a time when the world is focused on containing coronavirus, UP Police's move comes as a pleasant surprise as it focuses on women's safety while also maintaining the messaging for Coronavirus awareness. The fact that it focuses specifically on domestic violence at a time when its victims are most at risk is progressive and commendable of UP Police at a time of crisis.