Here are 10 ways in which you can ensure women are safe inside their homes during COVID19 lockdown

Sushma Mahabala, one of the panelists from our recent Twitter Panel Discussion, pointed out how we - as educated & digitally literate individuals, and responsible communities - can curb this pandemic of domestic violence in the face of COVID19 pandemic.

We are collectively facing a crisis. A pandemic of this magnitude looming large over us, almost like a war, except only the enemy is a virus and is invisible. The problem is more complex than only the virus attacking us though. And the complexities are as harmful as the virus itself. The lockdown has been implemented for the greater common good, to battle this collective crisis. However, it comes with collateral damages.

According to the recent NCW report, 92,000 calls were received on the children helpline and calls related to domestic violence against women have risen by 50%. UN Women has been emphasizing about the impact this pandemic has on women who are prone to violence inside their homes and urging governments in every country to execute stringent measures to fight this gendered consequence of the pandemic. While the authorities are occupied with measures, can we - as educated, digitally literate individuals - do something to be there for a woman whose house is filled with screams now more than ever but her voice is not getting heard? The answer is an undoubted YES.

We, the team of Durga, conducted a Twitter Panel Discussion last Saturday titled - Side-effects of COVID19 lockdown on women. Brinda Adige (activist), Sushama Mahabala (Lead, BSAFE), Pinky Chandran (Co-founder Director, Radio Active CR 90.4), Meera Vijayann (independent journalist) constituted the esteemed panel. When asked, what can we do as individuals for women #wheninsideisnotsafe during this crisis, Sushma Mahabala, pointed out 10 things possible in action. Here they are:

  1. Volunteer to be a support person. Learn about the law, don't hesitate to take a survivor to a lawyer.
  2. Contribute to organisation working for causes, including those providing counselling.
  3. Volunteer to hold conversation with college students.
  4. Use WhatsApp to post info about DV (domestic violence).
  5. Check how supportive your local police station is for DV. Have all helpline numbers handy.
  6. Un-gender at home. Don't tell boys that they *have* to be breadwinners for the whole family. Tell girls that economic independence is key.
  7. List women, at least 10, include your domestic help and pourakarmika and tell them that there is help that any survivor can get.
  8. Engage with govt. for better legislation, more staff in police stations and support persons hired by govt. Eg. Connecting Asha workers to support persons in govt sponsored counselling centres
  9. Read & engage in conversation to unlearn. DV happens to women of all caste & class.
  10. More than anything, look within. Quite often, we are blind to the denial of abuse that we face. We deserve a safe space.

Let us start with No.10. Shall we? #weareinthistogether

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