KARACHI: As part of its Siyani Sahelian series, SOC Films has released ‘Domestic Violence during COVID-19 Pandemic’. The short film is the fourth and final instalment of the animated series aimed at tackling various social and gender issues. Launched in March 2018, Siyani Sahelian aims to tackle gender inequality for disadvantaged out of school adolescent girls (aged 9-19) in 480 towns and villages spread across the three districts of south Punjab: Muzaffargarh, Bahawalpur, and Rahim Yar Khan.
‘Domestic Violence during COVID-19 Pandemic’ is a conversation between the protagonist, Asghari, and her parents. The characters in the film address the need to fight the COVID-19 pandemic together, as a family, and urge men to help out around the house instead of burdening their wives, daughters, or mothers. The characters then highlight another pandemic that our country has to fight, i.e. domestic violence. Domestic violence cases in Pakistan increased during the COVID-19 lockdown as they did in other parts of the world. As the world shut down, fewer avenues have been available for women to seek refuge in. Sadly, the gravity of the situation goes unacknowledged by many as Domestic Violence Bills are opposed.
In the short film, Asghari’s father reminds fellow men that any form of violence against women is unjustified. The pandemic has been a source of stress for most people but in no way does it give men license to abuse women.
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Asghari suggests relieving stress by sharing problems with people in the house. Her mother recommends distracting one’s self by watching tv, listening to the radio, or talking to a friend in moments of anger.
Asghari’s father takes the conversation forward by suggesting that women experiencing domestic violence should try to reach out to neighbours or family members for help, come out of their houses and onto the streets where they can scream for help, or lock themselves in a room until help reaches them. Some important helplines mentioned in the film are:
1099 (Ministry of Human Rights)
0800-22266 (Aurat Foundation)
1043 (Punjab Women Helpline)
1094 (Sindh Women Helpline)
0800-22227 (KPK Women Helpline)
Thousands of women in Pakistan continue to be targets of domestic violence each year. Suggesting ways to leave an abusive household or partner is easier said than done since many of these women are manipulated and threatened by their abusers to keep their mouths shut. Asking for help is sometimes not even an option, especially if their phones are taken away or they are locked away in a room. But with greater awareness amongst the public and accountability for criminals, one can hope to put an end to the practice.