COVID-19 has engulfed the world as we know it in chaos. Apart from the loss of life that the disease has brought, economies and livelihoods have been put in jeopardy and physical distancing measures are being implemented in most parts of the world.
While physical distancing measures are undoubtedly useful in slowing down the spread of the coronavirus, and reducing the burden on healthcare systems across the world, being stuck at home is having some unintended consequences.
In particular, the due to the nature of the lockdown, many individuals are getting trapped at home with their abusers, with little room for escape. In the French context, data released by the government of France suggests that cases of domestic violence has gone up by 30% during the lockdown period. This number is ever higher for some of the urban areas, like Paris, where cases have increased by 36%.
France is a country with among the steepest rates of domestic violence in Europe, with one life being lost to intimate partner violence every three days.
While there is already a helpline in place for victims of abuse, the government now plans to implement a code system wherein women will be able to contact the authorities by going to a pharmacy, so as not to alert their abusers.
Addressing domestic violence is important because it is closely linked to adverse and long term mental health outcomes (Howard, 2010). Therefore, domestic violence needs to be addressed especially during these times, because the pandemic is already having a deteriorating impact on mental health (WHO, 2020).
In the India, scenario as well, the National Commission for Women has reported an increase in the cases of domestic violence reported. In order to tackle this issue, a WhatsApp helpline at +91 7217735372 has been put in place to tackle complaints of domestic violence.
To conclude, domestic violence is an important social issue with implications for mental health, that must be addressed especially in the wake of the lockdown.
Domestic violence cases jump 30% during lockdown in France. (2020). Retrieved from here
Howard LM, Trevillion K, Agnew-Davies R. Domestic violence and mental health. Int Rev Psychiatry. 2010;22(5):525‐534. doi:10.3109/09540261.2010.512283
PTI. (2020). Lockdown: NCW receives 315 domestic violence complaints in April. Retrieved from here