COVID-19: Right to Life with Dignity and Violence in Homes
Nigam S (2020) COVID-19: Right to Life with Dignity and Violence in Homes, SPRI Vision, XI (1) 97-120
25 Pages Posted: 16 Aug 2020
Date Written: August 15, 2020
COVID-19 has caused illness and deaths worldwide, and at the same time, it has also re-exposed many other worst vulnerabilities that exist within the society since ages. The fragility of the pandemic has gender dimensions. Patriarchal violence is existing for ages, yet it is manifesting itself extensively now. For instance, during the lockdown, the violence against women and children has risen within homes. This is despite the fact that during COVID-19, home has emerged as a significant space which could provide safety from the spread of the disease. Countries worldwide have enacted special policies and programs to deal with increasing violence against women in homes during the pandemic. In India, the stakes are high as almost half a billion women stay at risk. Therefore, there is a need to evolve a comprehensive robust response plan to tackle the emerging challenges. The Supreme court recently gave directions regarding the provisions of Shramik trains, food and work among other facilities to the migrant workmen, however, the urgent need is also to permanently notify domestic violence as an `essential service’ to ensure that in calamities or otherwise support to women victims remain available round the clock. Also, plans have to be made to support women who walked back while facing adversities. Schemes for compensation and rehabilitation packages are essential to support children who are being orphaned or are facing risk due to the pandemic. Moreover, as the restrictions are being eased down, it is crucial to recognize the link between the consumption of liquor by men and its proportionality to the incidences of abuse against women as been highlighted by several anti-arrack movements led earlier. While dealing with the virus, it is vital that all other existing ailments that this pandemic is fueling, be taken care of, such as patriarchy, discrimination, poverty, inequalities among others which are adversely affecting the society. Scientists will find the treatment for coronavirus, but for all other anathemas, the society has to find a permanent cure. Article 21 of the constitution guarantees life with dignity. But the fact remains that domestic violence existed earlier and is increasing during the pandemic denying women their basic survival. Unless the state holds perpetrators accountable, it is not going to disappear. A campaign to spread a strong message that there is a zero-tolerance for violence against women is essential. In the long term, the need is to address entrenched structural discrimination in order to eliminate patriarchy and to restore the right to dignified life for every person. In the post-COVID world, the society needs to isolate the patriarchal notions and quarantine the misogyny to reimagine the violence-free gender-just world.
Keywords: Domestic violence, COVID-19, India migrant workers, women
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