Domestic violence and abuse has always been a matter of huge concern for all the countries around the world. But in light of the recent health crisis, where people must remain in a state of quarantine, the problem seems to have increased drastically. Reportedly, the United Nations Population Fund in collaboration with Avenir Health, Johns Hopkins University in the US and Victoria University in Australia, observed a 20% increase in domestic violence during an average three-month lockdown in all 193 UN member states. In India itself, as per the National Commission for Women, the cases of domestic abuse doubled since the nationwide lockdown occurred on March 25.
Considering the gravity of the situation, where lockdown has made it all the more difficult for women to speak publicly about their abuse or seek help, on April 14, 2020, in Canada, the Canadian Women’s Foundation introduced a unique hand gesture as a sign to call for help against domestic abuse. The hand signal was designed as a single continuous hand movement, rather than a sign held in one position, so as to make it more visible but not suspicious.
Directions to the Domestic Abuse hand signal
If you’re a victim of domestic abuse and are locked down with your abuser at home, speaking about your abuse may not be possible in person or on a video call. That is when you can resort to this hand gesture that can come to your rescue. All you need to do is hold 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.
How to help if you witness a person using the hand signal for help?
While it is important that both the victim and the helper understand the important of the gesture, it is all the more important to remain vigilant and to act immediately, without alarming the culprit. That being said, here are some of things you can do to help the victim of domestic abuse.
– Immediately, email, text or call the person concerned and ask them YES/NO questions to make sure if they want you to call a helpline.
– Call the domestic violence helpline number for your country or state.
– Comfort them and let them know that you are always there for them, no matter what.
Even when the lockdown has relaxed in the recent times, the number of domestic violence continues to increase and while it is important to address this issue, it is all the more necessary to locate the root of all this hatred and violence and find ways to tackle this problem.