Supporting women who experienced intimate partner violence during COVID lockdowns
The SHOPS Plus project in India ran a highly successful campaign that reached 24 million people and changed minds about family planning as a form of intimate partner violence.
India, like many other countries, has implemented quarantines and lockdowns to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. A consequence of an extended quarantine and other physical distancing measures is women’s increased vulnerability to intimate partner violence, and restricted access to family planning services. Pre-existing gender inequalities, harmful norms, financial stress, crowded homes, increased exposure to abusers at home, and more domestic work has exacerbated violence.
To address this problem SHOPS Plus developed an integrated intimate partner violence and family planning digital campaign, targeting women and their partners using #KyaYeHinsaNahi? (Is this not violence). The campaign aimed to recognize intimate partner violence in its early stages and empower women to take action and seek help. Because gender norms push women, men, and bystanders to accept violence as part of life, this campaign prioritized recognizing violent behavior early and identifying it as unacceptable. It also educated the audience to recognize reproductive coercion, or denying access to family planning, as a form of intimate partner violence. SHOPS Plus partnered with Mompresso, India’s largest community of young mothers with a digital platform that has over 30 million readers, to gauge the audience’s knowledge of intimate partner violence, design the campaign, and amplify its message. Momspresso facilitated collaboration with approximately 213 influencers, each with a fanbase ranging between 2,000 and 100,000 followers. To see typical Instagram posts, look here and here. Engagement (likes and comments) totaled over 450,000 clicks across channels. The campaign achieved a 2.1% engagement rate, higher than Momspresso’s average rate of 1.5%.
The campaign encouraged women to call the SHOPS Plus helpline, where they would be screened and, if appropriate, referred to the Indian NGO, Shakti Shalini, to receive specialized counselling and support on intimate partner violence. Those who called the NGO’s helpline were also screened, and those seeking a confidential way to speak with a counselor on family planning topics were referred to the SHOPS Plus helpline. During the campaign, calls to the SHOPS Plus helpline increased by 25%. The India Social Responsibility Network also worked to promote the campaign and the SHOPS Plus helpline through its network of over 800 grassroots volunteer organizations with trainings for frontline health workers.
The campaign concluded in April 2021 and cumulatively reached over 24 million people through influencers, Facebook Live interviews with gynecologists, and several blog posts from gynecologists. Momspresso conducted a post-campaign survey and found that 81% of the women in the exposed group now consider not having a say in contraception as a form of violence, compared to 56% in a pre-campaign survey. Strong partnerships, thoughtful messaging, and campaign integration into broader programs can play an important role in amplifying messaging and providing critical support to women who experienced intimate partner violence.