By Sharanya Gopinathan
A One Stop Crisis Centre, run by Action Aid and the Madhya Pradesh Public Health and Family Welfare Department, has said that it saw a significant spike in the number of distress calls it received in the weeks after the government announced that Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes would no longer be legal tender.
While the centre receives an average of 500 calls a month, in November 2016, it received 1200 calls. The NGO records indicate that 50 percent of the callers had experienced violence at the hands of their partners in money related disputes post demonetisation, and 230 callers required counselling. Sarika Sharma, regional director of Action Aid, told The Indian Express that husbands beat and threatened their wives on learning that they had saved money without their knowledge, and that these reactions stem from the supposed loss of control that they felt on learning this.
In one case, a 27 year old woman was forced to leave her house with her seven year old child after her husband discovered that she had saved Rs. 4500. Despite receiving counselling, the husbands refuses to let her enter the home again. Many husbands threatened to imprison their wives for saving money “illegally”, and also refused to return the money after converting the notes.
Shivani Saini, a coordinator at the center, said that any husbands were also expressed their anger at losing their daily wages after demonetisation on their wives, making it clear that many women often face double burdens of gender violence and poverty. It took over a month for the situation to stabilise and for cases of domestic violence to return to previous levels.