THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Faced with the reality that the Covid-19 scenario has increased the vulnerability of women and children towards domestic violence, the state police has formed an exclusive cell to deal with the menace and provide quick relief to the victims. The Domestic Conflict Resolution Centres (DCRC) will function under the direct supervision of the district police chiefs and take targeted steps to ensure peace and justice among the vulnerable group comprising women, children and the differently-abled.
The decision to set up DCRC was taken after noticing that the domestic violence against the vulnerable groups is on the rise since the pandemic struck, which had confined people to their homes. The number of domestic violence complaints registered with the National Women’s Commission has doubled during the lockdown period as compared with the pre-Covid days, which is a grim indicator that all is not well in many homes in the country.
The DCRC will primarily adhere to reconciliatory and negotiatory methods to bring down violence, but will shift the gears and take legal routes if the complaints are of grave nature.The first phase of the programme was launched in May first week and will remain in place for six months. The DCRC will receive complaints in the form of SMS, WhatsApp message or phone calls.As per the action plan, the police patrol party will reach the location within two hours of receiving the complaint to check its veracity. The cell will also go through the police files to check for the houses where incidents of domestic violence were reported in the past. “The Pink Police patrol team will visit such houses to check the present situation,” said a senior officer on condition of anonymity.
The officer said the programme will continue even in the post-Covid phase also.The DCRC will also prepare a vulnerability map by identifying the areas where domestic abuse occurs regularly and then take measures to mitigate the issue with the help of various government agencies. During the first three weeks of lockdown, 17 incidents of cruelty by husband or relatives, 66 instances of molestation and 37 rape cases were reported with the police in the state. Though the numbers are fewer compared to previous year figures, this could not be construed as the state becoming more women-friendly.
Police sources also said they are expecting more complaints once the lockdown is lifted. Kerala State Women’s Commission member Shahida Kamal said only a few victims of domestic violence and abuse are approaching various agencies, including police, to register their complaints. “The people have just started to register their grievances physically with various agencies. In the coming days, we will have more number of cases reported. Our intuition is that there will be an avalanche of complaints once the life returns to normal,” she said.