The global pandemic of COVID-19 has aggravated violence against women in all sectors of society. According to UN agencies, since the outbreak of COVID-19, violence (sexual and physical) against women/ girls has intensified. Globally, in the last one year, 243 million women and girls have been subjected to sexual and physical violence. This number is most likely to increase due to heightened security, health, and money constraints. Within the first week of national lockdown in India, National Commission for Women (NCW) has reported a steep rise in complaints of women from 116 to 257 in the last week of March 2020.
An online survey was rolled out during the first lockdown period between 5th to 30th April 2020 to understand the common perception of the population on violence against women through a set of questions. A total of 401 respondents answered the complete survey across 25 states of India. Social media platforms (What’s app, Facebook, and Linked in) and email lists were utilized as data collection methods. A univariate analysis was carried out to understand the perception of violence against women during the lockdown period due to COVID-19 situation. Findings from our study suggested that an overall 68% of the respondents were feeling low during the lockdown. Mental health was rated as ‘average’ by nearly 38% of all the respondents. Furthermore, around 4 in 10 respondents reported an increase in mental health issues owing to economic slow-down, regular news updates on mortality and coronavirus spread, insecurity arising due to fear of loss of job, and lack of social circle. Nearly half of the males and urban respondents perceived that women’s workload has increased under lockdown situation.
Results from the figure above showcases that overall 44 percent of the respondents agreed that violence against women will increase during the lockdown. Therefore, with the extended lockdown, the state functionaries must pay attention to the women in distress facing any form of violence. There is an emerging need to allocate enough resources like providing counseling services, creating awareness through media, helpline support, and accessible health services to the women in need.