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An Imperceptible Epidemic of Domestic Abuse against Children in India during COVID 19: An Analysis

By Sonakshi Pandey, Former Assistant Professor of Law, Siddhartha Law College, Dehradun

Right after the unfolding of the novel COVID 19 virus which is scientifically known as SARS-COV-2, all the nations around the world are acclimatizing themselves to extremely prodigious and displeasing circumstances. While the endeavours taken by the government for curbing and curtailing the crisis caused by the virus have been proved sprightly crucial for shielding and safeguarding global health, some of these shots of government ventures for grappling with the deadly virus have also been proved fatal to the children and adolescents in some countries by familiarizing them with the escalated perils and possibilities of domestic vehemence and family fierceness. The global outburst of corona crisis engendered by the 19 virus has smashed the economical and social lives of people all around the world including children. It certainly knocked out the educational life of these children, particularly those of poverty stricken and necessitous class. The data revealed by UNESCO babbles out that education of around 120 crores children around the globe has been disorganized and deranged by shutting down of schools and educational institutions. This data includes 32.1 crores children in India. The sudden upsurge of COVID cases left the government astounded and thus the government has no other option nut to shut down the educational institution to intercept the additional unfurl of virus in India. While the mature and adults can realize the insinuation of lockdown imposed by government it is the adolescents that have become more endangered and unfortified in these rugged pandemic situations. Especially in India where, conventionally most of the incidents related to child abuse, maltreatment and emotional or physical mistreatment of young children generally remain unregistered and undisclosed, has instantaneously witnessed an escalation in the number of calls on child helpline number. The contemporaneous facts and figures released by nations like UK,USA, France and Australia divulged the fact that there has already recorded an precipitous proliferation in the incidents of child abuse and neglect owing to the enforcement of complete lockdown by the various countries to ward off the ravages and scars of corona virus. Analogously, India provides land to around 385 millions of children who are actually struggling to survive in intense destitution and odious hardships. After the aggrandizements of corona cases in India, the government adopted an iron fisted course of action on March 25, 2020 by making the announcement of countrywide lockdown to curtail the outbreak of virus. After the abrupt imposition of unanticipated lockdown, most of the adult population along with their infants and children got cinched within the four walls of their houses in choked proximities which eventually made these children more prone to domestic perversion and exploitation. Moreover fiscal and monetary crisis caused by unforeseen circumstances have put surplus anxieties on the progenitors. These adverse repercussions of lockdown and household seclusions ultimately led to the multiplication in child abuses incidents that were reported by the child helpline number during the earliest phase of lockdown in India. To lay out, some frame of reference to the situation existing before the flaring up of corona cases, it is worthy to mentioned that as per the data released by National Crime Record Bureau in the year 2018-2019 approximately 40,810 children were found to suffer the fatalities caused by the different kinds of abuses including mental harassment and sexual exploitations. And in 95% of these reported incidents, victimizers were familiar to the victims. Howbeit after the foisting of lockdown, more or less 3, 00,000 calls related to child abuse were entertained by the Child helpline from March 23 to 31 March 2020, manifesting around 50% increase in the child exploitation incidents in the first 15 days of the earliest phase of lockdown in India. Around 30% of these calls were specially correlated with the domestic mishandling of young children and proper intercession was done by child welfare agencies in around 4857 of the reported cases. As per the figures revealed by The Child Line India, 11% of the reported calls were connected to physical health of children, 8% calls were associated with child misemployment and forced misapplication and around 8% calls were related to misuse and mistreatment of children by their own family members and associated relatives. Many postulations and speculations related to criminology were propounded to buckle down those factors which are actually conducive to promote family or child abuse in the pandemic situations. Social seclusion of people directed by the government of various countries to lower down the perils of virus, loss of job employments and financial instabilities, excessive straining, stress, anxiety, panic attacks and trepidation caused by the numeral deaths of family members and relatives, all these factors lead to the further enlargement of mental strain and trauma among the members of pregnable and impuissant families which in the fullness of time resulted out in the savagery and ferocity against young immature children who are compelled to trap with other member of family in these appalling state of affairs. As far as the intensity and severity of these ferocities is concerned, it predominantly includes physical abuse, psychological and emotional abuse, sexual violence, child neglect and most horrifying is intimate partner violence. Taking into account the facts of the child exploitations worldwide, the approximation divulged out by the various self analyzed surveys are shockingly great. The surveys conducted by different organizations concluded that 22.6% of children all around the globe are victims of physical abuse, 36.3% are suffering from emotional abuse, 7.6% boys and around 18% girl child are agonizing the pain caused by sexual violence, 16.3% of children are physically neglected by their parents and 18.4% of children face emotional neglect by their family members. In regard to children vulnerability and submission to intimate partner violence, the research is comparatively restricted however it has been evaluated that around 133 to 275 million children are subjected to this sort of exploitation every year. These calculations discloses that the relational and interpersonal abuse against the children by the family or societal members precipitates a far reaching critical and grave social and health issue nationally as well as globally. In the course of usual circumstances, the incidents of child abuse or any kind of mistreatment can be indubitably perceived by school teachers, counselors or friends but due to the enforcement of complete lockdown and cease operating of school institutions, this kind of fortification and security system has been awfully impeded. With school system not streaming properly and inefficacious in the environment has made the children in India emotionally sensitive and mentally unsafe. Thus, these hooligan and ruffian state of affairs has broached several questions and right set of circumstances along with opportune time on how to uplift and upraise our children in the near future. While the government in India is desirously zealous to compress the sinuous corona, but the regulations and policy framework to keep a tight rein on abuse against children transpiring during the pandemic still seem dawdled behind. To bolster first line of defense for discovering indications of child abuse in India, teachers and school employees must be given proper instructions on how to develop sanguine approach to tackle the issues related to child perversion. A substantial social consciousness, convalescent and improvised policing system for keeping guard over cases related to child exploitation and guarantying secured and circumspect shelters to the sufferers of domestic abuse or family violence will unquestionably lend a helping hand to manage this imperceptible epidemic pertaining to domiciliary brutishness against immature youngsters and adolescents of our country.


(Disclaimer- The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Child Rights Centre.)

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