New Delhi: The Childline India helpline received more than 92,000 SOS 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 3.07 lakh 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. Also Read - Lockdown 4.0: This State Allows Taxis And Auto-rickshaws in Red Zones From Today

According to the deputy director, the number of calls after the lockdown, which started after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech on March 24, has increased by 50 per cent. Also Read - Virtual Rallies, Conferences: This is How BJP Plans to Celebrate First Anniversary of Modi Govt 2.0



The data was shared on Tuesday during an orientation workshop for district-based child protection units and attended by senior Women and Child Development ministry officials. Discussions at the workshop focused on coronavirus-related issues and ways to reduce stress on children during the ongoing lockdown. Also Read - On First Day of Last Week of Lockdown 4.0, India Reopens Its Skies; Highest Single-Day Spike of 6,977 Recorded | 10 Points

Some of the other calls received following the lockdown dealt with physical health (11 per cent of calls), child labour (8 per cent), missing and runaway children (8 per cent) and homeless (5 per cent), according to figures shared by Walia in the meeting.



Besides, the helpline got 1,677 calls with questions on the coronavirus and 237 seeking help for those who are sick.

Walia has suggested the helpline be declared an essential service during the lockdown. Many women who are victims of domestic violence are also more vulnerable during the lockdown.

National Commission of Women chairperson Rekha Sharma recently said domestic violence complaints have been increasing by the day since the nationwide lockdown was imposed with 69 complaints received just through email.

From March 24 till April 1, 257 complaints related to various offences against women were received.

Of the 257, 69 complaints are related to domestic violence, the latest data released by the NCW showed.

Sharma said the number of cases of domestic violence must be much higher but women are scared to complain due to the constant presence of their abusers at home. “Women are not approaching police because they think that if they take their husband away, her in-laws will then torture her. And he will, in turn, torture her more when he gets out of the police station. Earlier, women could go to their parents but now they are unable to reach them,” Ms Sharma told news agency PTI, adding that the NCW is in touch with some of the complainants.

India is currently under the biggest lockdown with around 1.3 billion people asked to stay home in view of the coronavirus outbreak, which has claimed at least 149 lives and infected more than 5,100 people.

“Confinement is fostering the tension and strain created by security, health, and money worries. And it is increasing isolation for women with violent partners, separating them from the people and resources that can best help them. It’s a perfect storm for controlling, violent behaviour behind closed doors,” UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said in a statement calling the violence against women and girls “a shadow pandemic”.

Child rights bodies recently wrote to the Prime Minister’s Office, asking the government to declare 1098 toll-free and to make it a COVID-19 emergency outreach number for children or parents or caregivers.