The Tamil Nadu police have said that they have recorded 13,447 complaints of women facing violence in their homes between March 24 and May 31. This includes complaints recorded by police personnel who have been personally enquiring in homes with previously recorded cases of domestic violence. It also includes calls that the state police have received on their helplines.
"This is at least 500 cases lesser than what had been recorded between January 1 and March 23," says Assistant Director General of police M Ravi from the Crime against Women and Children department. "We suspect that this is because relatives and children are at homes, forcing husbands to restrain themselves and not indulge in violence against their wives," he adds.
Activists who work against domestic violence however say this is not the full story. They fear that because women are now being monitored closely by their abusers, it is possible that fewer women have had the chance to record their complaints.
TN has been divided into five categories to record helpline calls. The first zone has Chennai city, Trichy city, Coimbatore city, Salem city, Madurai city, Tirunelveli city and Tiruppur city.
The North Zone comprises Kancheepuram, Thiruvallur, Vellore, Thiruvannamalai, Villupuram and Cuddalore.
The West zone comprises Salem, Namakkal, Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri, Coimbatore, Erode, Tiruppur and Nilgiris.
The Central zone consists of Trichy, Perambalur, Ariyalur, Karur, Pudukkotttai, Thanjavur, Thiruvarur and Nagapattinam.
The South zone consists of Madurai, Virudhunagar, Dindigul, Theni, Ramanathapuram, Sivagangai, Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi and Kanyakumari.
According to data gathered by the Crime against Women and Children department, the cities – Zone 1 – contributed to 702 calls; the north zone recorded 1255 calls; the west zone 689; the central zone 2066; and the south zone 1405. This adds up to a total of 7,372 calls.
"In addition to this police have been proactive in preventing domestic violence. Across all zones police officers have been either calling or visiting in person homes where complaints of domestic violence have been recorded or sorted out earlier," says ADGP Ravi. "Based on these calls and visits we recorded another 6,150 complaints of domestic violence in the state," he adds.
With that, the state has recorded a total of 13,447 cases of domestic violence during the lockdown period, exempting the month of June. Of the total number, police say they have ‘resolved’ 13,372 cases while 75 complaints have led to cases being filed. In addition to this, 48 persons have been arrested.
The highest number of complaints have emerged from Pudukkottai district which recorded 1.424 complaints while Tirunelveli comes second with 705 complaints.
Chennai city, despite its dense population has recorded only 45 complaints between March 24 and May 31.
As early as March 31, Chennai-based International Foundation for Crime Prevention and Victim Care (PCVC) observed that the number of calls to their helpline had reduced.
"The number of calls we are getting has definitely reduced and we feel this could be a direct result of having to be in close quarters with the perpetrators. Women may be unable to call and express their problems because their communication is monitored. But, all the women who do manage to place calls to us, have complained of escalating violence," said Swetha Shankar, Director, Client Services at PCVC.
Across the country too, reports noted that during the first four phases of the lockdown, Indian women had filed more domestic violence complaints compared to numbers in the same period over the last 10 years.