Celebrities raise voice against the Shadow Pandemic of domestic violence

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Akshara Centre in association with the Government of Maharashtra raises awareness about the shadow pandemic, urging citizens to put #LockdownOnDomesticViolence.

Lockdowns across the globe have pushed people into their homes as a bid to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It is assumed that homes are safe spaces for people. However, there is enough data and insights of experts involved in the field to suggest otherwise. The surge in cases of domestic violence in countries across the world has been such that the situation has been recognized by the UN Women as a Shadow Pandemic. In India, celebrities have come forth to raise awareness about the issue.

In a bid to help raise awareness about the issue, Akshara Centre along with Special Cell for Women and Children, with support from the government and the police have come up with a video featuring prominent Indian celebrities. Launched in three languages, English, Hindi and Marathi, the video urges citizens to fight and raise their voice against the brutality in their houses. The campaign is called #LockdownOnDomesticViolence.

Also Read: Armed with social media Indian Police tackles lockdown challenges

Eminent personalities such as Ajinkya Rahane, Anushka Sharma, Dia Mirza, Farhan Akhtar, Karan Johar, Madhuri Dixit Nene, Mithali Raj, Nandita Das, Rahul Bose, Rohit Sharma, Sachin Tendulkar, Sakshi Tanwar, Shabana Azmi, Shreyas Talpade, Sonali Kulkarni, Sunil Shetty, Vidya Balan and Virat Kohli have come together asking women to take a stand against abusers and perpetrators of gender-based crimes. They urge people to not be bystanders but to report and help women seek help.

"Even before COVID-19 existed, domestic violence was already one of the greatest human rights violations," says Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, adding that as the pandemic continues, this number is likely to grow with multiple impacts on women’s wellbeing, their sexual and reproductive health, their mental health, and their ability to participate and lead in the recovery of our societies and economy.

Also Read: UN Women and Dentsu Webchutney raise awareness about gender violence with #DrawALine

"Confinement is fostering the tension and strain created by security, health, and money worries. And it is increasing isolation for women with violent partners, separating them from the people and resources that can best help them. It’s a perfect storm for controlling, violent behaviour behind closed doors," explains Mlambo-Ngcuka.

Akshara Centre along with the Special Cell for Women and Children (a project of DWCD GOM, supported by TISS) has come together to set up priority measures to help domestic violence survivors, without detracting from the overall anti-COVID-19 strategy of lockdown.

A detailed backend plan along with compilation mobile numbers of 127 Special Cells, 358 protection officers and many other services are collated and shared with 100 so that police and other service providers work together and all burden is not only on police in the current time. With support by The Government of Maharashtra, steps to protect survivors of domestic violence have been made a part of overall anti-COVID-19 action plans.

Talking about this initiative Nandita Shah, Co-Director of Akshara Centre said, “We know that containment measures and quarantine are essential to overcome COVID-19 but we cannot have women entrapped in violent homes, where even making a phone call is difficult."

Commenting on his association with Akshara Centre, Rahul Bose said, “From my first-hand experiences from the 2004 Tsunami to the times of this present crisis it is a devastating fact that calamities, natural or manmade, hit women hardest. This campaign seeks to shine a light for battered women across Maharashtra, telling them that we are listening, women’s groups across the state are listening, the government is listening.”

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