People in India searching for ‘domestic violence’ related keywords will be directed to relevant information from the Ministry of Women and Child Development and National Commission for Women on microblogging site Twitter India. The search prompt will be available in English and Hindi to start with. As an expansion of Twitter’s #ThereIsHelp prompt, which was specifically put in place for the public to find clear, credible information on critical issues, the search prompt will be available on iOS, Android and on mobile.twitter.com in India.
As per the press statement from Twitter India, the feature will be reviewed at regular intervals by the Twitter team to ensure that all related keywords generate the proactive search prompt. Some of the search keywords in English include #crimeagainstwomen, #domesticviolence, #dowry, #dowrydeath, #genderviolence, #genderbasedviolence, #lockdownviolence, #maritalrape, #POSH while Hindi ones include #ghareluhinsa, #dahejhatya, #mahilaatyachaar among others.
What prompted it?
As observed globally and in India, the COVID-19 lockdown period has resulted in a staggering increase in domestic violence cases. According to a recent report by UN Women, 243 million women and girls aged 15-49 globally have been subjected to sexual and/or physical violence perpetrated by an intimate partner in the past 12 months. Further, the National Commission for Women (NCW), which receives complaints of domestic violence from across India, has recorded more than a twofold rise in gender-based violence in the national coronavirus lockdown period. This can be attributed to domestic violence manifesting as a form of release by abusive partners who are presently bound at home.
Rekha Sharma (@sharmarekha on Twitter), chairperson, National Commission for Women said, “While the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown have impacted everyone, there have been adverse effects on women and girls who may be victims of intimate partner violence. With social distancing norms in place, several women are unable to contact their regular support systems. This initiative by Twitter will provide big support to the survivors, who would otherwise be easily isolated without access to relevant information and help.”
As per Mahima Kaul (@misskaul), director, public policy, India and South Asia, Twitter, the collaboration with the public, government and NGOs is key to combating the “complex issue of domestic violence”. Accessing reliable information through this search prompt could be a survivor’s first step towards seeking help against abuse and violence, she stated.