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Breaking Free

End violence against women in the wake of the pandemic

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Thousands of women are at an increased risk of violence, abuse and injustice in the wake of the pandemic.

The Shadow Pandemic

In times of crisis, women are among the worst affected. During the lockdown in India, domestic violence rose as much as 131%, while a woman was raped every twenty minutes. With only 14% of cases of violence against women being reported, we know the figures must be much higher. So high that the UN has named this dramatic increase of gendered violence in India the “Shadow Pandemic”.


131% increase in domestic violence during lockdown in India

1 in 3

1 in 3 women are victims of physical or sexual violence


Only 14% of violent cases against women are reported


Conviction rates in rape or domestic violence cases is less than 25%


A combination of factors caused by lockdowns have led to this increase, including:

  • Increased security, health and financial worries being transferred into the home
  • Cramped living conditions
  • Isolation with abusers
  • Movement restrictions, leaving victims unable to escape
  • Isolated public spaces, where attacks can go uninterrupted

All of this has only worsened the already tragic situation in India, where 1 in 3 women are victims of physical or sexual violence and almost 50% of both men and women still believe a husband is justified in beating their wife.

Finding justice is even more difficult. The estimated conviction rate in a domestic violence or rape cases is less than 25%. For Dalit women, its less than 2%.

We can’t save those women who have already suffered, but we can find them justice.

Hope from Within the Community: “Barefoot Lawyers”

We can’t save those women who have already suffered, but we can find them justice. By providing legal aid and support to survivors to take their abusers to court, these women are breaking free of violence and abuse for good.

Our specialist lawyers are often survivors themselves, recruited from the very communities they now work in. These give them the unique tools to help other women just like them regain their dignity - women who may themselves become “barefoot lawyers” and help change their communities from the inside.

You can hear their story and see the change they are creating here in this short video:

Men, Boys and Girls

Prevention begins with the wider community, which is why we also work with boys and men on gender awareness training and activities, challenging outdated views and attitudes, ensuring that women are supported from the outside, too.

For young women and girls, we provide training around personal safety, self-defence, and confidence building exercises, so that they can feel safer and more knowledgeable about their rights and inherent dignity early on.

Breaking Free: How You Can Get Involved

Thousands of women still need your support to break free of violence and abuse. With the surge in cases of violence following the pandemic, we desperately need to reach more women than ever.