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Smriti Irani Did Not Say There’s No Surge In Cases Of Domestic Violence. She Chose To Not Answer It At All. Why Though?

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What would do if you knew a neighbour of yours was being subjected to domestic violence? Would you just stand by not wanting to interfere or would you ring the bell continuously and call the helplines? This is a question that has a right answer and you would be surprised at how many people get it wrong. Domestic violence victims need our help, more now than ever because this lockdown has been extremely cruel to them. Just thinking about how hundreds of women are currently staying locked up with the very people who abuse them – both physically and mentally – is gut-wrenching. 

From women’s groups to the Secretory-General of the UN, everyone is spreading awareness and warning people about grim horrors that these women have to face more often now, because of the lockdown. Not only in our country but essentially everywhere in the world, domestic violence cases have drastically increased.

In an interview merely a month ago, the National Commission for Women (NCW) Chief, Rekha Sharma, was asked about this hike n domestic violence cases in India she said, “From the comparison, there’s an increase of 94% in complaint cases in total including domestic violence. The nature-wise complaint received on Rape/Attempt to Rape is 11 after lockdown. Domestic violence complaints received before lockdown from 27th Feb to 22nd March is 123 and after lockdown from 23rd March to 16th April is 199, and after adding the complaints received on the WhatsApp helpline number is 40. So the number is 123 versus 239. This is how we saw approx. 94% increase. ” The numbers are terrifying. 

However, on Sunday night when our Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani was asked to talk about this hike in domestic violence cases and the fact that women are not being able to lodge complaints on the hotlines that have been put in place by the ministry at a TiE talk.  She said, “It is false. Every state has a police line functioning. We have one-stop crisis centres across every district of every state.” 

Now, most reports deduced that she is denying the surge in cases. But, let’s take a second look at her quote. It looks like she side-stepped the question about why there is a rise in cases and only answered the part where she was being asked about the crisis lines. We don’t know what’s worse – that she avoided the question that’s literally her job to answer – or that we’ve enough crisis centres. 

The thing is, being a women’s minister and not talking about domestic violence when it is being called a shadow epidemic in itself is as bad as denying there is a rise in cases. That entire conversation focuses around how there are helplines to save and protect these women but not once did she talk about what’s happening and how we will curb this in the long run. 

Also Read: The Number Of Cases Of Domestic Violence Have Increased During Lockdown. The NCW Is Taking Initiatives To Fight It. But Is It Enough?

Smriti said that not every man is thrashing the woman in his house. She said, “Our police lines have been functional throughout the lockdown. Our crisis centres have been functional throughout the lockdown.” She further added, “In fact, so far as the numbers go, I have 35 helpline numbers across all states apart from a central number that has been functioning fully throughout the lockdown period.” Just because every man is not beating on the women in his house doesn’t negate the fact that a significant amount of men are. Is she trying to use the fact that not all men are domestic abusers as an excuse for the ones that are? 

We have helplines all over the country which is great but so not address the elephant in the room has got to be the worse way to deal with the issue. So, I went back a little and realised that she hasn’t spoken about the domestic violence situation at all. 

Though, Smriti was in the news a few days ago for a child abuse tweet that she shared which was retweeted by Priyanka Chopra. 

Post this pandemic, Smriti needs to wield her position as our Women’s minister and take steps towards minimising domestic violence. Let’s hope she doesn’t side-step at that point as well.

During These Tough Times, Women Are Stuck In Homes With Their Abusers. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres Has A Message Regarding This

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