The Other Pandemic: Rising Domestic Abus Mumbai
The Other Pandemic: Rising Domestic Abuse
In the fight against the dreaded Corona Virus pandemic, lockdown has become a necessity,cutting across languages, geographies, socio-economic strata. And yet, there’s a flip side to it – a threat being faced by an increasing number from a demographic group that roughly comprises one-half of the world’s population – Women!
The threat has been an age-old one, but now exacerbated by the side-effects of lockdown. It’s called domestic violence. And as people fly off the handle under the stress of lockdown and fear of the unknown (the pandemic!), the worrying incidence of domestic violence is rapidly on the rise, the world over.
Statistics are bearing this out on a global scale… During the month of February, Hubei province in Wuhan (the epicentre of the Corona Virus) reported a tripling in domestic violence cases. Brazil’s state-run shelters are experiencing a 40-50% rise in appeals from women in distress under similar circumstances. And it isn’t any better in the so-called developed and wealthy world. That most loved city of Paris has seen a 36% spike; the overall French average itself at a worrying +30%, with the rest of Europe ranging between an increase of 20-30%.
In India, it’s an eerily different story, with the otherwise busy hotlines gone silent – pointing to the distressing fact that the 24x7 presence of the perpetrator at home, is now making it impossible for victims to report brutalities inflicted upon them.
All of these distressing facts prompted Gaali-Free India to examine the issue and trace its origins. Admittedly, while there can never be one single cause, the reality is that domestic violence is often an off-shoot of the perpetrator being inherently abusive by nature. Or, more specifically, by language. A warped sense of entitlement that gives them a misplaced feeling of having some God-given right to take out their anger on soft targets – in this case, women.
Topical as always, Gaali-Free India’s latest campaign trained the spotlight on domestic violence and its rising incidence in the time of lockdown. To be sure, the campaign is not against lockdown;rather, one of its unfortunate side-effects.
It uses now-universally objects like a mask and gloves to creatively unravel its narrative. A narrative succinctly captured by its solitary line ‘If only we could see what lies beneath’. Coupled with its emotional imagery of battered woman, the campaign immediately draws attention to the dangers of the times we live in.
Vandana Sethhi, entrepreneur, communications expert and the architect behind the Gaali-Free Indiamovement, explains the thinking behind the campaign: “The objective of the campaign is not creativity, but awareness – as is the case with every Gaali-Free campaign. Awareness from several perspectives… For perpetrators, so that they may begin to check their baser instincts and thus course-correct; for victims, that they may stand up for themselves and report the same; and, as importantly, for third parties (neighbours, relatives, etc), that they may step in and come to the aid of such hapless victims.”
The objective and timing of the campaign are both laudable and of huge service to society – especially the silent victims. The campaign tugs at one’s heart-strings, conscience and responsibility towards society. As a movement, Gaali-Free India is committed towards stamping out the menace of verbal (and,by extension, other forms of) abuse. It’s a commitment to return India to its original ethos of being a peace-loving, respectful and caring society. Its predication lies in the reality that too many people in too many places and situations are freely using abusive words, thereby reducing the sanctity of society and community.
Gaali-Free India finds an excellent vehicle in social media. Through this, it can very effectively reach out primarily to the younger audience – especially those for whom verbal abuse has become a way of life; and equally to those still at an impressionable and peer-pressure stage, who can be conscientized towards correcting themselves and work towards becoming nicer human beings.
Ms Sethhi adds: “While this campaign seems targeted at perpetrators, there is a much wider audience – in fact, anyone and everyone! As mentioned, victims and third parties, from a primary standpoint. But more broadly, this latest campaign is part of an ongoing effort to continuously engage with youngsters and remind them of their responsibility towards making our world a better place.”
More power to Gaali-Free India. And more power to women who find themselves unfortunate victims of domestic abuse. Together, let’s pledge our commitment to a better world.
Other News Mumbai
Another bad day!
He’s 60. An excellent bike rider. He has been riding bike since 20 long years and yet he hasn’t met with a single accident.
He was passionate about car driving too. However, due to lack of money, he couldn’t own a car very early in his life. He finally managed to buy a car at the age of 55 years. Motivated by his passion, he learned driving at such a later stage in life. He successfully completed his training and pursued a licence for the same.
Although he had completed his training, he wasn’t as confident and skilled at car driving as he was in bike riding. However, he never stopped trying to get better at driving.
One day, Harry started to practise a new skill in driving. He kept trying to move the car in a reverse gear. However, multiple number of attempts turned out to be a failure. He still did not give up. After some more trials, his ears heard the roaring of car engine while his nose smelled something burning. He was advised to stop trying in order to keep the car from getting more damaged. Feeling ashamed, Harry stopped his practise and parked the car in whatever position it had taken!
It was difficult for him to digest the fact that he failed at doing something. After a few minutes of cursing the road itself, Harry went on to do his daily chores. He got onto his bike, removed the stand, his hands held the clutch and accelerator while his mind was still caught in the feelings of disappointment, frustration and shame. As soon as he kick-starts the bike, it gets raised and he loses the control over it. He tries hard to get the control back. Helplessly, he lets the bike bump into the wall in front! Gasp!
What did just happen?
Harry was still trying to gather what had just happened. The shock had left him with pounding heart, racing breath and pain in his stomach. On the other hand, he was trying to deal with the negative emotions which came up as a byproduct of the whole incident. He had not failed only in something he wasn’t good at but he also failed doing something that he’s very much skilled in!
Well, the situation Harry finds himself in, is not an uncommon one. Often we come across times when ‘nothing’ goes right! We keep getting stuck at things constantly one after the other. Do you remember any time in your life when you’ve said ‘aaj ka din hi kharab hai!’ ? I’m sure each one of us has had such an experience at least once in a lifetime. Have we ever speculated about why does it happen so? And is there anything we can do about it?
Time flies so fast in daily busy life that we rarely sit with such questions and try finding answers to them. Cleverly, we find some or the other shortcut. Some of us end up blaming it onto the fortune or the position of planets or our enemy. Are these really the reasons for such situations? Moreover, is it enough to find something to blame the situation on? Is there anything else that can explain the situation better? The answer is yes! I would like to make an attempt to explain what it is and how does it work. And a good news about it is that you can have fairly better control at it than on your fortune, the position of planets or your enemies.
The answer is – emotions. Let’s go back to Harry’s story.
Why did harry lose control over his bike in spite of being a skilled rider? Prominently because his mind was filled with the feelings of shame, frustration and disappointment, he was left with fewer cognitive resources to be allocated to the action of riding. Because of lack of mental energy, he actually ‘forgot’ to check which gear the bike was in!
In other words, failure in one situation spilled over to other situation because the negative emotions were carried forward and not vented out. Many times this happens due to several reasons ranging from lack of knowledge about the phenomenon to simply because you don’t consider yourself to be an ‘emotional’ person! The taboo about being ‘emotional’ actually stops you from understanding an inseparable and important part of yourself.
Understanding and identifying emotions is not as challenging as it sounds! Asking yourself a few questions can help you accomplish the task. Ask yourself ‘how am I feeling?’ Am I feeling irritated? Am I feeling angry? Am I feeling weak? Or burdened? Or sad? Or confused? You may go ahead with your list of vocabulary for emotions until you find the answer. Most of the times you will find more than one answer and that is absolutely fine!
The question that arises now is ‘how?’. How can I ‘vent out’ emotions? Does that need me to cry? The answer is, not necessarily each time! However, if it is needed, remember it’s not a sign of weakness but a healthy practise for your mind.
You may use your own unique ways to vent out emotions. (Disclaimer: acts that harm you CANNOT be healthy ways to do that!) For instance, consider talking to someone you are close to- can be your spouse, mother, a dear friend or even your dog! If you find nobody to talk to, remember you can help yourself. Stand in front of the mirror, smile and have a conversation with your personal expert-yourself. You don’t feel like talking? You can definitely pen down or type whatever is there on your mind. You can also call up or visit a counsellor in order to have a listening ear! (Remember, you need not be ‘crazy’ or ‘stupid’ to approach a counsellor!)
Emotions are the fuel in your car which will help you move. But unfortunately, they don’t know which direction to take you in. Once you give them enough time and attention, the steering wheel of your car will be in your hands! Now you are better equipped to go ahead!
It has taken a pandemic to realise how important is the physical health. Unfortunately, recent statistics enlist suicide to be the leading causes of death in non-COVID individuals. Moreover, suicide rate is likely to raise sharply due to economic struggles once the lockdown period is over. The time has come to take care of our mental health too so that we can avoid witnessing more severe mental health issues in the near future.
Stay home, stay safe, stay healthy!