Rape victim, abuse victim
Image Credit: Supplied

India is in lockdown. But, that has not stopped crimes against women in the country. In a shocking news amid the nationwide coronavirus lockdown, a 53-year-old visually impaired woman was allegedly raped by an unidentified person in Madhya Pradesh’s Bhopal district on Friday.

The woman, a manager of a state-run bank, had been living alone in the flat for the last few days as her husband was stuck in his hometown of Rajasthan's Sirohi district due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

According to a PTI report, the police said that the woman was asleep in her home, when an unidentified man entered her room and allegedly raped her. Assistant superintendent of police (ASP) Sanjay Sahu said that according to the initial investigation, the culprit used the stairs to get to the second floor and then entered the woman's flat through the open doors of the balcony. The woman told the police official that she had left the balcony door open to avoid suffocation.

“A case has been registered under section 376 (rape) and other relevant provisions of the Indian Penal Code and hunt is on for the accused,” inspector Chandra Bhan Patel of Shahpura police station said, as quoted by news agency PTI.

Patel added that the victim was sent for medical examination.

As India announces the extension of the lockdown till May 3, some Indian Twitter users took to the micro-blogging site to highlight the situation by sharing this report and other incidents of rape in the country.

Tweep @aarifshaah posted: “The coronavirus Pandemic will go, but when will rape culture end in India. Women in India are not safe even during the lockdown.”

And, Pritam Dey commented: “India has to do something about the way such perpetrators are dealt with. Even a lockdown cannot control crimes against women. This goes to show that many of us don’t respect the women in our own homes.”

It is not just rape. India in lockdown has seen a spike in women and children facing domestic abuse. India's National Commission for Women (NCW) on Friday said it registered 587 domestic violence complaints between March 23 and April 16.

And, according to an April 9, India.com article: “The Childline India helpline received more than 92,000 calls asking for protection from abuse and violence in 11 days, a sombre indication that the lockdown has turned into extended captivity not just for many women but also for children trapped with their abusers at home. Of the 307,000 calls received by the 'CHILDLINE 1098' helpline for children in distress across the country between March 20-31, covering the first week of the lockdown, 30 per cent were about protection against abuse and violence on children," said Harleen Walia, deputy director of Childline India. This comes to 92,105 calls.

On April 18, India announced that more than 50 helplines have been started across India to help women facing domestic violence during the ongoing lockdown. The helplines are run by police, women welfare departments and NGOs working for the rights of women, the official said. The domestic abuse national helpline number is 181 while women police helpline numbers are 1091 and 1291.