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Domestic violence complaints peaked in red zones during lockdown: Study

Last Updated : 24 July 2020, 13:11 IST
Last Updated : 24 July 2020, 13:11 IST

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Domestic violence complaints in India went up in districts with the strictest lockdown rules, according to a study published in the US National Bureau of Economic Research on June 21.

As the coronavirus continues to rage through the world, the study, using variation in the intensity of government-mandated lockdowns in India, showed that although cases of harassment, sexual assault, and rape dipped in the red zones, complaints of domestic violence and cybercrime against women saw a rise.

For the study, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles and professors of Public Policy at UCLA, Saravana Ravindran and Manisha Shah, used the district-month level complaints received by the National Commission for Women (NCW) across India over the period January-May between 2018-2020 along with state-week level data from Google Community Mobility Reports and Googe Trends data.

Categorising the complaints into four primary types: domestic violence, cybercrime, harassment, rape and sexual assault complaints, the study maps them on to districts in the red, orange and green zones and cross-checks the findings with Google Mobility and Search trends. The red, orange and green zone classification is based on the number of Covid-19 cases and the doubling rate.

A total of 392 domestic violence complaints were registered with the NCW in May 2020 as compared to 266 cases in May 2019. The number of cybercrime complaints also went up, from 49 complaints in May 2019 to 73 in May 2020. However, rape and sexual assault complaints saw a 66 percent decrease from 163 in May last year to 54 cases in May 2020.

Through the compiled data, the researchers found a 0.47 SD (131%) increase in domestic violence complaints in May 2020 in districts with stricter lockdown measures (red zones) compared to those that had more relaxed lockdown norms (green zone districts). According to the report, red zone districts also experienced a 0.70 SD (184%) increase in cybercrime complaints relative to green zone districts in May 2020.

However, rape and sexual assault complaints fell significantly by 0.39 SD in red zones in May 2020 and sexual harassment by 0.35 SD in April 2020 in red zone districts relative to green zone districtsThe study believes this could likely be attributed to decreased mobility in public spaces, public transport, and workplaces.

The report noted that lockdowns increase women’s day-to-day exposure to potential perpetrators of violence. "The silver lining is the temporary decrease in rape and sexual harassment, highlighting the heterogeneity of impacts of one policy on various outcomes related to violence against women" it added.

India imposed a nationwide lockdown on March 25, 2020. Later, the initial lockdown was announced on April 14 for a 21-day period and was extended to May 3, 2020.

On May 4, 2020, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued an order that divided all districts into red zones, orange zones, and green zones.

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Published 24 July 2020, 06:11 IST

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