Strict restrictions of mobility resulted increased violence against women, says study

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Domestic violence and online sexual abuse cases were higher in red-zone coronavirus (COVID-19) districts as compared to those in orange and green zones, according to a new study which argues that gender-based violence shifted from streets to domestic spaces due to restrictions on mobility.

The Working Paper titled, “Unintended Consequences of Lockdowns: COVID-19 and the Shadow Pandemic” was published in the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) on July 20, and is authored by Manisha Shah and Saravana Ravindran from the University of California at Los Angeles.

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The study highlights that domestic violence complaints rose by 131% and those on online abuse increased by 184% in red zone districts as compared to green zones districts. Correspondingly, there was a significant decrease in harassment, rape, and sexual assault complaints in red and orange zone districts relative to green zone districts in the months during and after the lockdown.

The paper “compares districts over time, while also comparing across districts,” Ms. Shah told The Hindu in an email.

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Effective May 1, more than a month after the nationwide lockdown on March 25, all districts in the country were demarcated as red, orange and green on the basis of cumulative number of COVID-19 cases. Districts with the highest number of cases were identified as red zones and saw strictest curbs on public movement, while those with no positive cases in the past 21 days were identified as green zones and saw least restrictions. An orange zone was one where new cases were emerging but at a decreasing rate.

The authors compare the complaints received by the National Commission for Women between October 2019 and May 2020 with district-wise data on lockdown categories issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs. They also studied the affect of lockdown measures on mobility of individuals using data from Google Community Mobility Reports, which show percentage change in the number of visitors to places of interest (“Grocery & Pharmacy”, “Parks”, “Transit stations”, “Retail & recreation”, and “Workplaces”) in a particular week relative to the five-week period from January 3–February 6, 2020.

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Working on the premise that domestic violence is not just a consequence of restricted mobility, but of patriarchal mindsets. the study uses data from National Family Healthy Survey 4 (2015-2016) and finds that districts “in which a greater proportion of husbands report that beating wives is justified see greater increases in domestic violence complaints received by the NCW in May 2020 in red zone districts relative to green zone districts. On the other hand, districts in which a greater proportion of wives report that a husband beating his wife is justified see fewer domestic violence complaints received by the NCW in May 2020 in red zone districts relative to green zone districts.”

Along with the increase in complaints made to NCW, there was also a rise in Google searches for domestic violence related terms after the nationwide lockdown on March 25.

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Printable version | Sep 22, 2021 12:59:44 AM |

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