The National Commission for Women on Friday said the number of domestic violence cases in the country has continued to surge this month amid the countrywide lockdown imposed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, PTI reported.

The women’s organisation said it has received 587 distress calls or complaints between March 23 and April 16. Out of these, 239 cases were related to domestic violence. Earlier, the commission had said it received 69 cases of domestic abuse between March 24 and April 1.

In comparison, in the preceding 25-day period of February 27 to March 22, the National Commission of Women had received 396 reports of offences against women, of which 123 were domestic violence cases.

Last month, the United Nations had observed that the combination of economic and social stresses because of the pandemic, along with other lockdown measures, have dramatically increased the number of women facing domestic abuse, as self-quarantine puts them in perpetual proximity with their abusers.

In India, too, norms of social distancing and stay-at-home orders have fuelled incidents of domestic violence. On April 10, the NCW launched an emergency number on WhatsApp for women to register emergency complaints. Within a week, the commission received 40 messages alleging forms of domestic violence.

A special team was constituted by the commission to handle the complaints on a fast-track basis. The messages received on the helpline number are first scrutinised, and those related to domestic violence are given priority, said the NCW.

Earlier this month, NCW chief Rekha Sharma said the lockdown has resulted in fresh challenges for women as they are unable to reach the police even if they want to. “In many cases, they don’t want to approach the police because if the husband is released from detention after a couple of days, the woman will still be unable to leave the house,” Sharma had said. “Earlier, the women would go to their parents’ home, but they are no longer able to do so.”

Usually, a woman can register complaints with the National Commission for Women through various channels. This includes physical visits to the office in different states, postal communication, phone calls, online complaint registration, emails and through social media. However, under the lockdown, the mediums to file a complaint have been curtailed and restricted to just three forms: social media, email and online registration, Sharma said.

India’s patient count rose more than 1,000 to reach 13,835 by Friday evening. The nationwide toll went up to 452, according to health ministry data.

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