Domestic violence in Kerala: Data shows calls to women helpline almost doubled in 2021

KV Kala

Representational image | Photo: Mathrubhumi

Balussery (Kozhikode): Kerala government’s 24-hour women helpline (WHL) Mithra 181, set up for reporting and seeking help for atrocities against women, has been witnessing an influx of calls pertaining to domestic violence.

In 2021, WHL received 10,898 calls related to domestic violence, almost double the number during the previous years.

WHL received 5,895 and 4,444 calls for domestic violence in the years 2020 and 2019, respectively.

Data suggests there was huge spike in domestic violence complaints during Covid-19 lockdown period. Experts pointed out that lack of socialization and spending more time in houses might have triggered a spike in atrocities. Also services including police was disrupted which restricted proactive interventions.

Even when Covid-19 restrictions were gradually lifted in 2021, the number of domestic violence complaints almost doubled.

According to Mithra 181 volunteers, after reports on Uthra murder case and Vismaya suicide case, the number of women calling WHL has increased. In the wake of those cases, the government too had initiated proactive campaigns to build awareness among public. This in turn has also motivated to approach WHL for resolving their issues.

The WHL was launched in Kerala in March, 2017. This was part of constituting a common helpline for integrating women safety across the country, in the wake of Nirbhaya case (2012 Delhi gang rape and murder). The union government is providing the financial aid for the operation of WHL, while state government’s Women Development Corporation is integrating the activities of it.

Since its setup, WHL in Kerala has received 1,26,821 complaints related to atrocities against women. Among that 29,398 cases relate to domestic violence.

The peculiarity of Mithra 181 WHL is that women can call up authorities concerned for any emergencies and the network is integrated with services like police, ambulance and hospital.

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