Twitter takes a step to help Indian women facing domestic abuse 


The side effects of the lockdown are so many that we might not able to comprehend certain issues or even realize what some people are through.

One of those cases is – domestic violence. For those experiencing abuse at home, being stuck inside for long periods with the “significant” other can be hell. And surely in the last three months of lockdown, there has been a spike in such cases.

To address this issue, Twitter on Thursday launched a search prompt for users in India seeking information on domestic violence.

People searching for domestic violence-related keywords on Twitter will now be directed to relevant information from the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) and National Commission for Women (NCW). These pages then direct the users seeking help to various pages and helpline numbers.

Twitter has partnered with both MWCD and NCW to expand its effort towards women. The search prompt will be available on Android, iOS, and on as well.

According to a recent report by UN Women, during the country-wide coronavirus lockdown period, NCW saw a staggering 257 cases of crime against women for a duration of 10 days (23 March to 1 April) of lockdown were recorded.

While it might be a few months too late since the lockdown, it is still a thoughtful step towards helping those who seek to be heard.

Some of the search keywords in English include #crimeagainstwomen, #domesticviolence, #dowry, #dowrydeath, #genderviolence, #genderbasedviolence, #lockdownviolence, #maritalrape, #POSH, and so on. Hindi keywords include #ghareluhinsa, #dahejhatya, #mahilaatyachaar among others, a report by PTI stated.

This was created in collaboration with UN Women Asia Pacific. It is an expansion of Twitter’s #ThereIsHelp prompt, which was launched for the public to find credible information on critical issues. The platform’s #ThereIsHelp hashtag also aids mental health issues, suicide prevention, child sexual exploitation, vaccination, and COVID-19.

Rekha Sharma, chairperson, NCW said, “While the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown have impacted everyone, there have been adverse effects on women and girls who may be victims of intimate partner violence. With social distancing norms in place, several women are unable to contact their regular support systems. This initiative by Twitter will provide big support to the survivors. They’d otherwise be easily isolated without access to relevant information and help.”

Recently a domestic abuse hand signal has also come to light, which women are using across Canada to alert their friends on video calls about the domestic abuse that they are facing. The signal involves holding your hand up to the camera with your thumb tucked into your palm, and then folding your fingers down and trapping your thumb in your fingers.

However, for a country like India, where a large number of women facing domestic violence may not have access to smartphones, let alone social media, tracking down cases of domestic abuse gets trickier. There is a need for more inclusive solutions that are effective and can also be availed by women with little to no access to digital mediums.