As per the news reports and statistics released by the National Commission of Women, one of the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the surge in instances of domestic abuse taking place. It is true that the police are currently over-burdened, however there are a few straightforward and easy-to-implement practices that can be put to use at this time.
Accordingly, the team at One Future Collective is making the following recommendations by which the police can continue to offer meaningful and effective assistance to survivors during the subsistence of this lockdown.
- Allocate and specify teams which are responsible for patrolling around a few specific areas during the day. Preferably, once in the morning and once in the evening.
- Use speakers in order to spread awareness about the illegality of domestic violence and the punishments that can be imposed in case such violence takes place.
- Mandate follow-up calls with all survivors of domestic violence who have reached out to the police in the last 6-8 months
- Give mobility passes to protection officers within the area so that they can patrol some areas regularly. If protection officers cannot be given mobility passes, a few of the police officers are to be trained to act as ad-hoc protection officers
- Collaborate with organizations and volunteer groups mobilising their resources to provide rapid-relief services and permit them to travel by offering them mobility passes.
- Use police vehicles as a transport facility to help survivors move out of their house to shelter homes within the vicinity
- In some cases, where the instance of abuse is severe and the survivor and their dependents are in danger, the police should be given the power to make interim arrests and transfer abusers to an isolated area.This can also ensure continued access of the survivor and their dependents to the matrimonial house.
- Have a ready network of resources available listing out the organizations in the vicinity who are currently providing shelter or assistance to survivors of domestic violence so as to ensure that immediate assistance can be provided.
- Develop and publicise a code-word to be used by survivors which when used, the person to whom this word is used can reach out to the police
- Set-up and publicise a helpline-number which is attended by female police officers who are trained in offering quick and suitable assistance in a trauma-informed manner.
We are also happy to conduct a free virtual training for bystander intervention to provide support to survivors of domestic violence during the pandemic. To know more, please write to us at [email protected].
Read more about how each one of us can continue offering support to survivors during the pandemic, click here.
Uttanshi Agarwal is the Senior Program Officer at One Future Collective.