THE WITHDRAWAL of high-denomination notes on the night of November 8 saw a sudden spike in instances of domestic violence over the next few weeks when men realised that their wives had saved money without their knowledge, an analysis of complaints at the country’s first One Stop Crisis Centre (OSCC) in Bhopal has revealed.
“Husbands threatened their wives, beat them and warned them of consequences like jail terms because they felt a loss of control over their wives,’’ said Sarika Sinha, regional director of Action Aid, an NGO that runs the OSCC “Gauravi”, in collaboration with the Public Health and Family Welfare department of the Madhya Pradesh government.
WATCH VIDEO | Madhya Pradesh Crisis Centre Reveals Demonetisation Led To Rise In Domestic Violence
“The wives used to save money in the past, too, but it never came to light. Overnight, they became criminals in the eyes of their husbands,’’ said Sinha, referring to some of the victims who approached the OSCC in the government-run J P Hospital in Shivaji Nagar.
The toll-free crisis number received as many as 1,200 calls in November — it receives 500 calls per month usually — from women out of which 230 needed counselling. Among those counselled, about 50 per cent faced violence at the hands of their husbands due to demonetisation-related discord, the analysis revealed.
Citing the case of a 27-year-old woman, OSCC coordinator Shivani Saini said her husband drove her out of their home with their seven children on November 9, when he found out that she had Rs 4,500 with her. “The victim and her husband were provided counselling. He heard us out but is yet to change his mind. She is still at her mother’s place. The husband used to harass her before, too, but never went to the extent of throwing her out,’’ said Saini.
In one instance, she said, a man bullied his wife and demanded Rs 8,000 from the Rs 10,000 she had saved, saying she would go to jail for “illegally keeping the money”. In some cases, the husband’s anger was aggravated by the sudden loss of his own daily wages, said Saini.
In another instance, a husband refused money to his wife for insulin shots that she needed for their 13-year-old daughter and sent her to her mother’s place after harassing her, said Saini.
“In many cases, husbands objected to the wives having saved money without their knowledge. Also, they did not return the exchanged currency to their wives,” said Saini.
Saini said that the centre spent a lot of time creating awareness among women about demonetisation and the changing rules. “It took nearly 40-45 days for things to normalise and for cases of physical violence to come down,” said Saini.
J P Hospital Chief Medical Health Officer Dr Veena Sinha said the centre is a joint initiative between the state government and the NGO. “We have provided them basic infrastructure and staff, but they have their own technical staff,’’ she said.