On March 23, 2020, when the Prime Minister of India announced the nationwide lockdown against Coronavirus, it had unexpected and unfortunate fallout. In the next 15 days, the National Commission of Women (NCW) reported a cent percent rise in domestic violence complaints. Restricted movement, absence of formal support system, reduced contact with family & neighbours, etc were some of the reasons why there was a rise in domestic violence cases against women. Alarmed at the situation, the NCW launched a nationwide Whatsapp number for allowing women to report abuse to the authorities.
However, there was one senior police officer, the erstwhile SSP of Raipur, Chhattisgarh and presently Director, EOW &ACB, Mr. Arif H. Sheikh, who went beyond his call of duty and launched a first-of-its-kind campaign on social media called ‘Chuppi Tod’. The name literally means “breaking the silence” and it wasn’t just limited to the cases of domestic violence reported during the period of lockdowns. In fact, the then SSP Raipur decided to revisit such complaints/FIRs lodged during the previous 3 years as well in the Raipur city. The campaign generated a buzz on social media as well as on the streets. The police started receiving calls and complaints from the victims themselves as well as from concerned citizens who couldn’t stay silent on watching such mishaps around them. The Chuppi Tod team visited these victims personally whenever required and where they could not reach themselves, they tried to resolve the cases over phone as well.One such team has also been formed and is headed by the then Additional SP (IUCAW) Amrita Sori.
At a time when every state in India was showing a rise in cases of domestic abuse, as the NCW data shows, Arif Sheikh’s Chuppi Tod campaign came to the rescue of Chhattisgarh women and ensured that the perpetrators of crime were brought to justice. He always believed in community policing and this platform is available not only to the victims but the witnesses too, so that they can also do their bit to curb violence in the society. And it can already be seen happening.
Talking about the impact of domestic abuse on children in the family, Director Arif Sheikh says, “It is a well-documented fact that children suffer the more negative outcomes of domestic violence because they are unequipped to process what is happening in front of their eyes. Studies across the world have shown that children coming from such families, where domestic violence is common show behavioural problems when they turn adults. They have trouble adjusting to a family life as well as in acquiring academic excellence.”
So, this Women’s Day, March 8, 2021, Arif and the ‘Not So Khaki’ team have launched a heart-touching video that shows how domestic abuse is robbing our children of their childhood. A few teasers of the video were earlier shared on the social media as well, which generated quite an interest in the video as well as in the main protagonist, Gouri! The video shows an ongoing tuition class where Gouri, shown as a girl of 22-23 years in age, sits with an unlisted look on her face. Her hair is awry and she is dressed shabbily. While the other kids are looking at her mockingly and laughing at her nervousness, Gouri stands up and starts running away suddenly. She recalls the instances of domestic violence at her home and she is shown running away.
As she is running, Gouri turns into a little girl of 9 or 10 years, which is her actual age. This transformation is gut-wrenching as it depicts how domestic violence at home makes the kids lose their childhood earlier than usual. The video also comes with a tagline, “Aapke Saath Ho Raha Gharelu Atyachaar, Aapke Bachhon Ka Bachpana Chura Raha Hai. Aaj Hi Apni Awaaz Uthayein Aur Apne Parivaar Ko Bachaayein! #ChuppiTod” Roughly translated, this means – The injustice happening inside your home is robbing your child’s childhood. Speak up and break the silence!
Talking about this Women’s Day message in the video under the Chuppi Tod campaign, Arif says, “The message is directed at women, who are facing psychological and physical abuse at the hands of their spouse or other family members. If these women find the courage to speak up, we can save the childhood of their kids!”
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