Locking Down Domestic Violence in India During the Pandemic

When India declared a full, police-enforced lockdown in March to halt the spread of COVID-19, it immediately became the largest single response to the pandemic on earth: 1.35 billion people confined to their homes. But the lockdown quickly revealed dramatic, unintended consequences—including a severe surge in domestic violence. Indeed, India’s National Commission for Women recently reported that complaints related to domestic violence have doubled since before the lockdown began.

AJWS grantee Akshara – Front for Rapid Economic Advancement (FREA) immediately sprang into action to confront this massive problem. FREA, with a coalition of other organizations, launched a huge social media campaign encouraging people to speak out to stop this epidemic. The centerpiece of this campaign is a trio of powerful videos, produced in English, Hindi and Marathi (the local language of the state of Maharashtra).

FREA’s campaign has already garnered support from the state government of Maharashtra, state police and nearly 20 Indian film and sports celebrities; nearly 3.5 million people have viewed the videos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.