Freedom of expression and fundamental rights

Is COVID-19 the only epidemic?

Heshani Karunarathna

“Please doctor; I cannot stay at home with my husband during the lockdown. He has almost killed me,” said a woman who telephoned a radio programme. Few people know that another epidemic is spreading within the COVID-19 pandemic. Almost all the media focus on the numbers related to the coronavirus pandemic. Increasing numbers about domestic violence has been swept under the carpet. 

Do you know that the daily average number of domestic violence complaints in Sri Lanka during the lockdown period was between 10 and 15? The Children and Women’s Bureau of police says that the daily average now is equal to the monthly average previously. 

Domestic violence consists of physical violence, including assaults and mental violence, like shouting as well as sexual violence. Mainly the perpetrators of physical violence are men, and the victims are women and children. However, there are instances that females also commit domestic violence. However, males are responsible for domestic violence in 90% of the cases. 

What can be the reason for the increase in domestic violence during the COVID-19 lockdowns? Lockdowns are useful to control the spread of the coronavirus, but a person who is locked in a house with a violent partner might face a situation worse than the pandemic.

Humans love freedom. No one wants to be stuck within four walls. However, we cannot roam freely and entertain with our loved ones as we did in the past. COVID-19 has changed the daily life of many of us. All of us are under pressure while some are depressed. Some depressed persons unleash their pressure on a close person. 

Only a little thought is sufficient to control the pressure. Music, painting, watching movies, and sports help people to balance their mental condition. When the pressure is unbearable, people can call to the state counselling service dialling 1926. The benefit of the psychosocial counsellors is free of charge. 

However, the majority of women are reluctant to reveal that they have been subjected to violence. They are afraid that reporting may lead them to further reprisals. Some other women think that their actions against domestic violence may embarrass their children and other family members. However, they must not be afraid to report abuse. Their efforts will be helpful not only to themselves and their children but also the others in society. Many lives can be saved through it. 

One may argue that woman is physically less strong than the man. But she is mentally more potent than the man. Therefore it is not difficult for her to fight for her rights. 

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The views and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Sri Lanka Press Institute.

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