During this COVID -19 lockdown, many reports have shown an increase in the incidence of domestic violence across all spectrum of society. While for some staying at home has brought opportunities of bonding time with families, indulging in self-care, and cultivating new hobbies, for many women, this lockdown has brought in accelerated abuse – physical, verbal, and/or sexual. Many of them share tiny living spaces with their husbands or partners making it extremely difficult to find any escape route during aggravated episodes of abuse.

Sahaara’s initiative among empowering victims of trafficking have involved helping these women fight abuse faced from their live-in partners or husbands. They are made aware of their rights, given counselling and medical treatment when needed, and their male partners are counselled and made more aware of the consequences of domestic violence on women and children.

During this lockdown, we too had many cases of domestic violence reported from the red-light communities of Turbhe and Bhiwandi. Since we could not be present on site to help our beneficiaries who needed medical support, our on-ground Community Leaders came forward to help their sisters in distress.

*Laxmi has been living with her partner for the last 15 years. Though Laxmi would describe her partner as someone with a volatile temper, she would also confess alcohol could smooth out his aggressive outburst and turn him into a gentle giant. For this very reason, Laxmi had no issue with her partner’s drinking habits. But with the lockdown in place and no source of income, the money ran out in Laxmi’s household and her partner had no income to buy his daily dose of alcohol. Soon the fights would turn ugly with Laxmi sustaining some minor bruises.

One evening the fight turned worse and Laxmi ended up with a broken bone, bleeding mouth and swollen face. Laxmi could not even find strength to raise herself from the bed and ask for help from her neighbours. The next day during the noon time, some curious neighbours found her in bed in a battered state and called our community leader Shakti.

Shakti immediately took Laxmi to the nearest clinic and helped her get the right treatment for her injuries. Our counsellors helped Laxmi through counselling and Sahaara could pay for her medical expenses to ensure she gets fully treated for her injuries.

Through our Community leaders like Shakti we were able to help Laxmi during her darkest hour.

*Name changed to protect identity