Representatives from organisations across Tamil Nadu that provide support services indicated that economic stress was one of the main reasons for domestic violence during the COVID-19 lockdown.
These responses were a part of a short survey that representatives from 24 NGOs working across 33 districts took up as a part of a consultation on domestic violence and other gender-based violence organised by The Prajnya Trust in December.
In the report ‘Domestic Violence in Tamil Nadu during the COVID-19 lockdown’, 31% of the respondents said economic stress was the main reason for domestic violence during the lockdown. The other reasons for violence were: the men in the family drank or didn’t have the opportunity to drink and unemployment.
When asked about the cases registered under the IPC and Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005, the respondents indicated that Villupuram had 103 cases, followed by Virudhunagar which had 80 cases registered. As many as 23% of the respondents said that they had seen an increase in instances of domestic violence in their districts.
A total of 29% of the respondents said that compared to 10 years ago, more women had been coming forward to seek help. Support service representatives said one of the main reasons women still hesitated to seek help was their concern that the future of their children might be affected.
“During the lockdown, we realised that women were much more vulnerable and that it would have been challenging for some of them to reach out for help. This is something that support service providers need to think about and address,” said Sudaroli Ramasamy, trainer and consultant, Prajnya.
Among the suggestions put forth during the consultation were the need to organise camps to help women register domestic violence cases, better access to data, and capacity building for NGOs who may not specialise in, but need information about gender-based violence and laws.
“As a part of the consultation, we interacted with organisations working on the field that provide support and took their responses into consideration. Many of the representatives who participated, shared with us that they would like to come together for more such consultations and keep the conversation going. People need to be able to work together in a coordinated way to address these shared concerns,” said Swarna Rajagopalan, founder, Prajnya.