Published on March 30, 2020

AHMEDABAD: Soumya (name changed), 32, an executive with a city-based company, called the Abhayam 181 helpline when she could no longer take the verbal abuse from her husband which had been going on for a week. “She had to balance work with her domestic responsibilities. While she also works from home like her husband, she was expected to also cook and clean and the couple had frequent fights over small issues,” said a counsellor with Abhayam.

As the fifth week of the lockdown ended on Wednesday, the EMRI 108 and 181 helplines have recorded an increase in cases of assault, falls and domestic violence. EMRI said that compared to usual, the fourth week of the lockdown had 86% more assault cases and domestic violence cases were up by 12%. Compared to 77 calls received for assault and 136 for domestic violence every day, the numbers have risen to 142 and 152 respectively.

Jashvant Prajapati, COO of EMRI Gujarat, said that immediately after the lockdown began, the number of cases had fallen. “But in the fourth week, it picked up. We believe it could be due to the increase in stress,” he said. “Almost all social classes are calling helplines with these issues. They are not specific to the lower socio-economic strata.”

City-based psychiatrist Dr Kalrav Mistry, who is also on panel of the NIMHANS helpline, said that Covid-19 has changed the way we live under one roof. “The lack of domestic help in middle and upper class homes for cooking and cleaning is a major stress point among couples and in-laws. Expectations from the husband or in-laws can induce stress. Often, it also trickles down to the children as parents scold them over trivial issues,” he said. “We advise proper division of labour, lowering expectations and to never fight in front of children.”

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