How TN Cops are Keeping an Eye on Domestic Abuse During Lockdown

The Tamil Nadu Police has received 1,409 calls about domestic since the lockdown began.

3 min read
The Tamil Nadu Police has received 1,409 calls about domestic since the lockdown began.

The nationwide lockdown in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic in the state has forced policemen in Tamil Nadu to figure out innovative methods to identify and stop harassment of women and domestic abuse. While earlier, women would directly approach police stations in the neighbourhood when in trouble, current restrictions have forced several to silently put up with domestic abuse.

And while some women do still call the police helplines, most times, officials tell TNM, they tend to be blank calls. This, experts say, could be because abusers are in close quarters and it would become more dangerous for victims if they are heard complaining to the police.

According to police sources, the department has received 1,409 calls since the lockdown began.

In a circular issued on Monday, M Ravi, Additional Director-General of Police, Crimes Against Women and Children, said the State Police Master Control Room had been receiving an average of 25 calls related to domestic violence daily. As a result, he issued directions to police in all districts to create strategies to address the grievances of women and children during the lockdown period.

This includes increasing monitoring systems for domestic violence and keeping an eye on shelters where migrant women workers are housed to prevent any harassment.

“We have instructed all district officials to speak to known offenders and go to their houses and make discreet enquiries,” says the ADGP. “The all-women police stations have been put in charge of this,” he adds.

When TNM spoke to Trichy range (Trichy, Pudukottai, Karur, Ariyalur and Perambalur districts) DIG (Deputy Inspector General) G Balakrishnan, he stated that necessary measures had been strategised soon after the State Women's Commission intervened in the matter on 6 April.

The commission had asked the Social Welfare Department to keep tabs on women in the city who had earlier complained about domestic violence.

Outlining the plans, the DIG stated that there were three objectives to the plan—  the first was to study the spike in domestic violence cases, the second to monitor the families that have reported domestic violence in the last three years and the third to intervene if necessary.

“In the last three years, there have been 14,900 domestic violence cases in Trichy range alone. We understand that these victims are vulnerable now during the lockdown as they are in close quarters with their abusers without the freedom of daily movement. So we have been contacting these families on the phone,” he tells TNM.

The calls made by the AWPS (All Women’s Police Station) inspectors are camouflaged as awareness efforts and during the course of the conversation, domestic abuse is brought up with women.

“We can recognise signs of abuse based on how they talk and the tension in their voice. If only the male talks in a household, we make multiple calls until we can speak to the women. And in cases that we think require intervention, officials go personally and inspect,” he explains.

An inspector from the Pudukottai AWPS told TNM, that sometimes the women who have been abused just require a friendly shoulder to lean on.

“I got a call from a 30-year-old woman who had been abused and all she wanted was someone who would listen to her. She asked if she could even lie on my shoulder and cry. After some time she herself got better. I bought her coffee and some food as well and counselled her. I then counselled her husband and told him he needs to be kinder to his wife and cannot raise his hand under any circumstance,” says Inspector Kavitha.

(This was first published on The News Minute and has been republished with permission.)

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