It was in August 2018, that GVK EMRI in association with Government of Gujarat launched 181 – Abhayam Women Helpline in the state. The national helpline is a collaboration between the Women and Child Development and Home Departments and seeks to counsel/resuce any victim/ survivor of any form of domestic or otherwise inflicted violence/abuse.
However, four years on, Abhayam (“fearless”) reported the 2022 domestic violence caseload to be higher than pre-covid levels. All the cases reported are tracked for successful closure through a back-office run by Gender Resource Centre of the state government.
To support its study, the Gujarat chapter of the helpline reports a sharp rise in the number of calls: 60,000 in 2020, 79,675 in 2021 and 87,732 in 2022.
Social scientists and psychologists trace the reason behind the rise in domestic violence to “passive aggression” that festered within most during the lockdown. With nowhere to go and little to do within the house in terms of recreational escapes, most people went through some level of monotony-induced depression.
“While some marriages collapsed, others took to venting their frustration on women and children. The trend will take a while before cooling down. Just because the lockdown is now a past, does not mean that the economic losses or dampening of plans has been reverted. For those who feel a pointlessness in living at all, counselling is a must. Else, they turn aggressive and exploit the space of co-inhabitors,” share experts.
“The 24×7 helpline -181- is a toll-free three-digit number to support woman in distress and is directly accessible through any mobile or landline. Any woman can access 181 “Abhayam” helpline for the purpose of information, counseling, guidance, and also for the rescue in various highly threatening situations including domestic violence through dedicated fleet of outreach rescue vans with trained team including police,” shared a senior official.