The Pune Zilla Parishad (ZP) has found an unique way to address a serious issue during the extended lockdown: the increase in cases of domestic violence.
Usually, in such cases, the victims are moved to shelter homes and action is taken against their abusive husbands. Given the extraordinary circumstances right now, when the whole country is battling a pandemic, the ZP has decided to send the men to institutional quarantine centres run by the district administration.
Ayush Prasad, chief executive officer of the Zilla Parishad, has also ordered that village-level committees of women should be set up, which can take proactive steps to stop incidents of domestic violence.
Earlier, state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh had taken to Twitter and warned that police were keeping a close watch on such incidents and will take serious action. The National Women’s Commission had also raised a red flag about increasing domestic violence incidents during the lockdown.
Explaining the rationale behind the ZP’s move, Prasad said it was an attempt to flip the current practise of shifting the women to shelters. Instead, the Zilla Parishad plans to send the men into one of the many institutional quarantine centres in the district. “During the COVID-19 crisis, the state and the district is in lockdown. The institutional quarantine centers, which are run out of schools and hostels, and which don’t have any patients right now, are also being used to house migrant labourers and the homeless,” he said.
“The logic behind this move is to allow the woman the comfort of her home to decide her next course of action. She will be given the mental and physical space to decide on her next course of action, which can involve approaching the police to file a complaint,” he said.
Prasad said the Zilla Parishad has also tried to emulate the ‘ring the bell’ campaign to tackle domestic violence cases. Put simply, the campaign urges local residents, who are aware of such cases in their neighbourhood, to intervene through a simple act like ringing a bell to interrupt incidents of abuse.
Meanwhile, the all-women committee at the village level will work towards stepping up awareness and preventing cases of domestic violence. The committee will also conduct house-to-house surveys to check whether everything was alright.
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