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The curious case of ‘Coronavirus Divorce’

New Delhi, April 19 (IANSlife) To prevent the spread of COVID-19, social-distancing plays a key role, but has resulted in proximity for days-on-end with a spouse you may no longer get along with, have drifted apart from, an abusive partner, or just find it hard to live with 24×7.

Just as the Coronavirus pandemic increased divorce rates in China and the rest of the world, it seems like India, too, could face this psychosocial crisis after months of lockdown.

The situation may be creating a strain on your marital relationships, says clinical psychologist Kamna Chhibber.

Being in close proximity for extended hours can lead to cases of domestic violence. The National Commission for Women (NCW) revealed that ever since the lockdown came into effect there has been a significant increase in the number of domestic violence complaints — almost doubling in number.

Senior advocate Priya Hingorani told IANSlife that she has received calls from people wanting to file for divorce, and anticipates a similar future as that of China.

“According to me, there is going to be a hike in the matrimonial issues which arise, mostly because of violence and aggressive behaviour towards the partner, because they can take it out on them in the house. In a couple of cases, there’s a problem of marital rape, even though it is not legally recognised, but there are women facing forced sex during this kind of a lockdown. Unavailability of liquor is another issue,” Hingorani explained, over the phone.

Speaking in financial terms, Hingorani holds that some women, especially those with child custody, are dependent on whatever maintenance they receive, while estranged wives may have limited earnings in the shutdown.

For couples who are not divorced yet, the alimony and settlement may be reviewed as the world is projected to go into the worst-ever economic crisis. “I had so many matters pending in court, where maintenance applications are pending or alimony is to be decided. Now all settlements will be reviewed. The dynamics are going to change in the family law area,” the senior lawyer said.

However, as decision-making in difficult circumstances often tends to be coloured by emotions, lawyers and psychologists recommend opting for counselling before coming to a conclusion during this crisis.

“That’s what we advise, to think about it, go for counselling, give yourself some space,” states Hingorani.

As a way to prevent ‘Coronavirus divorce’, a short-term rental company in Japan is offering its unoccupied ready-to-move-in flats to spouses, for them to get some time apart. It, however, goes without saying that this solution can not be availed by people of all classes.

One of the the other factors leading to the desire to separate is the close brush with mortality; people will want to improve the quality of their lives after surviving such a difficult time and crisis.

Chhibber who is the Head of Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences states, “Narrowly focusing on the problems that may be arising on account of being in such close proximity for extended hours can lead to an enhanced perception of substantial problems within relationships. This would contribute towards increased assumptions and alter people’s thought process about whether they believe they can continue to be in the relationship or not. It is important to be wary of these assumptions and not to rush or jump to conclusions. Decision making in strenuous/extreme situations is always dissuaded as emotions run high and there can be numerous misconceptions and misperceptions contributing to the current thought processes.”

(Siddhi Jain can be contacted at [email protected])

–IANS

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