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QUANDARIES OF WOMEN DURING QUARANTINE

Updated: Aug 28, 2020

By- Harsh Rai, Student at Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur and Shloka Verma Student at New Law College, Bharti Vidyapeeth, Pune

INTRODUCTION

Existence has been peculiarly dangled by the crisis of COVID-19. Augmented efforts are being put to fight two pandemics: Novel Coronavirus that threatens the lives of people and economic crisis which threatens the life of the state, but slightest attempts have been made to protect from the sneaking crises under the shadows of lockdown- violence against women.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, acknowledging the “outraging global surge” in the number of complaints, has urgently called for a “ceasefire” on domestic violence. This is crisis blooming under crisis and we require global collective support to cease it. As globally, COVID- 19 pandemic cases are relentlessly causing burdens over health services, essential services helpline, Shelters for domestic violence, have outstretched its regular capacity. It requires much more effort to prioritize addressing violence against women during outbreak and recovery efforts have to be strengthened.

Women are facing these issues that are not new to the world, and in a patriarchal society like India, women had always been victimized by uncultured dominance wielded by men. Anything that happens around their world is always raged out on women via different channels of violence.

The pathway which leads to this catastrophe is due to people being grounded at home, they are having financial constraint, mental unpreparedness, after getting sacked, handling the work pressure and staying under the same roof, are new to everyone; people are getting exasperated. A few months back a man allegedly killed his spouse, Savithramma, in the presence of their daughters because of rage in the conjecture of disloyalty. This incident took place at a temple in Dodderi in Karnataka where this family was quarantined just post announcement of nationwide lockdown by the Indian government to contain the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic in March 24th.

COVID-19 ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

Domestic Violence

In accordance with UN Women, about 243 million women and girls encounter violence between the ages of 15 and 49 by an intimate partner annually. The reports acquired by the front line warriors display a significant rise in physical, mental, and economical abuse perpetrated by an intimate partner. National Commission for Women released data that says 452 complaints of domestic violence were received in June itself. This amount of raise has been the highest since last September. These ratios can’t be ignored because the actuality of these counts has emerged several times substantial than their value with 99% cases going unreported in India.[1]

These counts are elevating due to living in the same periphery. Speculation has also been made that they are not been able to report to any authority via phone call because of the proximity with the abuser. Usually, victims could have gone to the friend’s place or some known ones for the shelter, sought paramedics help at the nights of facing violence but at this hour they are being made to live in the same place due to non-allowance to travel and psychosocial supports are not boosted to remedy every victim.[2]

Indian women do more unpaid domestic care than women in any country other than Kazakhstan. Women in India drain up to 353 minutes per day on the domestic establishment, which is 577% more than the 52 minutes drained by men on it.

The Malaysian leadership has inaugurated a campaign for “House-hold happiness” (#WomenpreventCOVID19) urging women to apply make-up at home, adapting a Sinchan like childish voice and chuckle flirtatiously, while asking a spouse to help in domestic establishments. Thereafter, the placards have been taken down by the protestors. However, the sentiments behind posters are widely in existence in India too. Different types of demonstrations have come forward via social media platforms to elevate the conditions.[3]


Sexual Violence against women

Towering complaints have been received by NCW in June alone, about 2,043 complaints regarding crimes against women have been registered which broke the record of the last eight months. A substantial raise have also been received by emerging data of 252 complaints regarding harassment of married women; dowry harassment accompanied by 194 complaints regarding molestation and outraging modesty of women.[4] These complaints have been duly multiplied because of certain advertisements made by social help institutions to spread awareness among unenlightened.

This is not the first time we inquest about sexual violence against women and girls, they have faced most vulnerable situations during the crisis and have been subjected to gender-based violence (GBV) in the boundaries of four walls of the house. Sexual violence cases saw a spike during the lockdown, globally. Women are not being able to access the essential sanitary services, proper birth-control requirements which leaves them with one option to opt for the abortion procedure, which has been made to come under essential services due to sudden hike of complaints.

These data are unsettling yet foreseeable. According to which, globally 30% of women face physical and sexual violence during their life span by their intimate partner. Including an 11-year-old daughter was sexually abused by her father in Kerala due to alcoholism. These gendered impacts have consistently received low recognition during the life-threatening pandemics.

Grave stride should be taken to tackle the violence encountered by women and children in the time span of this lockdown. The authorities must incorporate violence against women in essential services under the COVID-19 response protocol, resource them with adequate supplies, and scrutinize the strategies of application with due diligence by keeping the social distancing norm. Medical services should be incorporated with local support staff and be made easily available to survivors of such crimes.

STATES ACTION ON PANDEMIC

The global pandemic has been a catalyst in widening the domain of misery in several ways. Not only economically and physically health but also the mental health of the family members has been a challenging aspect to deal with. The same becomes a matter of greater concern to the vulnerable part of our society majorly being the female members of society.

The National Commission of women put forth a state which portrayed a tough and horrible situation of women in their homes.

The data was released by the Nation Commission for Women on March- April which presented a greater increase in the gender-based violence where the cases grew in a bigger two-digit number.

This made it clear that the coming situation along with the pandemic will gradually grow more dangerous for the women. Not only India but worldwide there are cases which show the graph heading to the greater numbers about the cases of domestic violence.

Tough we have various helplines and hardworking NGOs and organizations which are continuously working for the betterment of these domestic violence victims but there has been a pause due to this pandemic and the women have lost there jobs and connections which also has created restrictions on their access to the help centers or the next friends.

The situation seems bleak as we live in a society where the females are with no mobile phones, illiteracy and unaware this adds fuel to their situation getting worsen. They have no idea where to go and whom to ask for help. The data too speaks that 86% of the women who faced the violence in their homes never got help and 77% of them were not even in records or shared their suffering to anyone.

We are advocating for women's rights both at the national portals, state portals, the helpline numbers issued by the government, but the question arises as Is the victim going to take his husband's mobile phone to dial the helpline? The rise in food crises and income of the people has eloped their full meal, is this empty belly go for recharging her phone or will feed her children adjusting with a slap or two by his husband who is frustrated out of losing his job?

There are numerous question which cannot be answered even if we accumulate together all the laws, rights, conventions, and schemes. The field and the reality there has a very different story which we cannot even imagine.

WAY FORWARD

The pandemic has taught the entire world so many things. When we talk about specifically India this is the high time we must realize that we are still lacking on extremely important things which include education, health, population everything with it. At the end of the day, we conclude that every problem and shortcoming are interconnected with one another. A better education comes with at least some awareness. Making homes safe for our daughters, sisters and mothers be a huge responsibility and it will be fixed only if we work all together covering the major factors which are both, directly and indirectly, connected to the betterment of the females. One should not take in otherwise tagging the concern as a feminist or anti masculine approach, here we present an example- A healthy mental atmosphere of the house will keep the female secured and safe which will gradually be a happy and satisfying factor for the females and they will be able to enjoy their mental wellbeing, this will aid to her work she will be productive in whichever and whatever work she does, if the female is pregnant she will indirectly give birth to a healthy child with fewer complications at least not mental ones when the female will receive that deserving amount of love and respect one will have a view of the same love and affection a daughter receives and I hope eventually no father will ever fear or worry on being called a father of a daughter, the ratio will reach real connotation of balance.

References


[1] PTI, NCW received 2,043 complaints of crimes against women in June, highest in 8 months, THE HINDU, July 03, 2020, 12:40 IST.

[2] Santanu Chowdhury, Domestic violence cases see a spike during the lockdown in Bengal, THE INDIAN EXPRESS, June 19, 2020, 11:47 AM.

[3] Harshitha Kasarla, India’s Lockdown Is Blind to the Woes of Its Women, THE WIRE, May 02, 2020.

[4] Jasra Afreen, NCW received 2,043 complaints of crimes against women in June, highest in 8 months, HINDUSTAN TIMES, July 03, 2020, 13:18 IST.

(Disclaimer- The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of Child Rights Centre.)

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