HYDERABAD: As soon as schools were shut due to the lockdown, 16-year old Ashi (name changed), who was studying at a Gurukul school in Karimnagar district, was asked to go back to her home. She had never imagined that the four walls of her home will become unsafe for her. After being allegedly sexually and physically harassed by her father for months, in around April, terrified and confused, she mustered the courage to reach out to the police who, with the help of the Sakhi team, rescued her. Since the outbreak of Covid-19, data from the State Women and Child Department shows that domestic violence, including physical and sexual assault against women and girls, has risen.
In just four months from March to July, the number of cases of domestic violence filed is more than 25 per cent of the complaints recorded in the last three years. A staggering 2,083 cases were reported in Telangana as compared to the 8,379 cases that were reported in the last three years (between December 2017 and March 2020), as per the data. According to officials, this unusual spurt might be much lower than the actual number, as most women who experience domestic violence do not seek help and those who wanted to, might not have been able to approach the police due to the lockdown. In the State, the highest number of domestic violence cases were reported in Rangareddy, followed by Medchal and Hyderabad.
Speaking to Express, an official from One Stop Sakhi centre in Hyderabad said, “During the lockdown, many victims of domestic violence were trapped with their abusers, unable to reach out to us.” “The drastic increase in complaints was especially reported soon after alcohol shops were reopened. We received multiple cases where women were brutally beaten up by their drunk partners,” added an official from a Sakhi centre in Karimnagar.