Locked down with their abusers: India’s domestic violence surge

As world's largest coronavirus lockdown is extended to May 3, National Commission for Women reports spike in complaints.


Chennai, India – When the beating began on March 25, Parvathi* tried the usual things first, but things were different under the nation-wide coronavirus lockdown.

As her husband began beating her, she would run out into the narrow lanes of the slum she lives in to call for help from her neighbours, a strategy that usually worked. But a police barricade had been erected at the entrance of the street, and neighbours called to her from their homes to stay indoors.

The 45-year-old cook in the southern Indian city of Chennai had become accustomed to physical abuse from her unemployed, alcoholic husband in the early years of her marriage, but the violence had diminished recently, largely because of the salary she brought home every month, she said.

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Under the lockdown, Parvathi’s employer asked her to stay home. She was not being paid, and her husband, deprived of his daily drink, was in a foul mood.

Half an hour later, she ran out again, this time working up the courage to walk to the police barricade, and asked to be taken to the police station.

“Go home and sort it out,” the officer on duty told her from behind a mask. “The police and courts are shut for 21 days.”


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