Authors: Priyanka Singh and Sujeet Singh*
No Country is cent percent successful in providing safe haven to its Women, her basic human Rights remains in suffocation all around the Globe. The ‘She’ Empowerment is a mythical concept even in today’s modern Civilization.
These ‘Covidnary Times’ are extremely challenging and Neo Normal. Be it the ‘Right to Life’ or ‘Rest in Peace’ both are now under the scowl of Coronavirus. The Covid era has made the existing ‘Vulnerable’ section more prone to abuse, Physical, sexual or Mental.
It won’t be incorrect if we postulate that it’s not the Monster disease called Covid-19 that is more daunting but the harrowing position of the Women, in the middle of this Pandemic Era. It remains a poisonous truth that women even in the 21st century had still not got the same status as men. The degraded state of women is visible, not only in the society as a whole but is prevalent in more severe form within the households and this makes women highly vulnerable in the Covid-19 Tsunami.
Violence against women is neither spatially nor temporally bounded Evil. It persists all around the Globe from time immemorial with the variation in the form of exploitation and atrocities.
Any Pandemic like Covid-19 is bound to have draconian impact on the lives of women particularly those belonging to marginalized communities. This is primarily due to two major reasons, firstly the women in India within a given household remain neglected which means even if they become symptomatic of the deadly Coronavirus disease there is high probability of them being ignored especially in orthodox families that possess pre-existing patriarchy overdose. Secondly, because of the widespread educational deficiency which persists more in women than men in India. Information lacuna is more prevalent among them and in any digitally interconnected Global World ‘Information’ plays a role of a ‘Superhero’ capable enough to prevent the deadly Coronavirus disease.
Note that only 45.9 percent women in India use their own mobile phones themselves
The United Nations General Assembly in the year 1993 adopted the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women. This Declaration defines, violence against women as ‘any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life’.
According to the World Health Organization the violence against women is major Public Health Problem that has seized the woman’s basic human rights internationally. And particularly vulnerable are the women having forced social subordinate status and lower education standard are more prone to experience intimate Partner’s violence.
Women continue to exist as a neglected bunch and their plight is often swept under the rugs.
If one goes about analyzing the State of women in contemporary India, one may find a clear depiction that the women in India has been and still continue to be marginalized vis-à-vis the other dominant sex. However one cannot deny that the status of women has improved but still women need a far speedier journey to be covered.
And it is not only the women as homogeneous group which is being discriminated over centuries but the ‘women’ as broader group has many sub-groups of women which persists as the ‘Marginals among the Marginalized’ like the Dalits, Tribal, HIV Infected, Sex workers and women belonging to minority group.
Going by the official data in India, the National Family Health Survey in 2016 revealed some deplorable Statistics which we cannot afford to ignore. It stated that 28.8 per cent women faced violence domestically by their respective spouses, 3.3 per cent women faced violence even during pregnancy.
The story however is no different for the Women in America, their well-being is also under jeopardy. In the United States, a man beats a women every twelve seconds, the women in the lower income category tend to face six times more violence as compared to the American women in the higher income category. The women belonging to Indian-American & African-American subgroups are more threatened with domestic violence. The American-Indian women’s rate of victimization is more than double that of other American women. The major cause of female injury related death during pregnancy in the United States was due to intimate Partner’s violence. The women with any type of disability are 40 per cent more at the risk of severe intimate Partner’s violence than women having no disability in America.
The National Crime Records Bureau’s Crime in India, 2018 statistics, highlights that a grievous 31.9 percent cases were registered under the sub head Cruelty by husband or his relatives out of the total Indian Penal Code crimes committed against women.
Again one should keep in mind that these figures might be a case of under reporting or no reporting at all. Mostly the women remain reluctant to report any kind of violence, primarily due to the terror they face within their given households.
Homely brutalisation of Women is also reconfirmed recently by National Commission Of Women, asserting a steep surge in domestic violence complaints during the Covid-19 lockdown phase. This Physical abuse and exploitation of women also brings severe repercussions to her Mental Health. Various studies suggest that the prevalence of depression is more among the women than men in India.
In such a deadly era, it is highly unlikely that the required attention and care will be provided to the Women.
Although the Government of India in recent years has taken a number of ‘one of its kind’ initiatives which needs to be applauded with appreciation. But unfortunately the timely utilisation of fund allocated, implementation of schemes and legal remedies for Women at grassroot level has remained far behind expectations.
The discrimination, exploitation and the disadvantages faced by women starts even before she takes birth.
On the health front as well the percentage of Indian Women suffering ‘Anemia’ remains at a strikingly high figure of 53 per cent (NFHS, 2016). Lower ‘Public Expenditure’ on Health has acted as our ‘Back Pain’ of all times, for the past few years it has been more or less closer to 1 percent of the GDP. Although amid the Covid-19 lockdown phrases, there has been phenomenal upgradation in our Indian Health Infrastructure.
All the above, points to the gloomy state of women in our society, be it economic, social or political. However, in India it is not the case that initiatives are not taken up by the State but the major problem lies with the fatigued implementation of various pro-women schemes and whatever funds are allocated remains unutilised.
Finally it can be concluded that the Vulnerability of women is likely to surge more in these Covidnary Times.
*Sujeet Singh is an Educator based (Delhi) India. Can be reached at sujeetsinghh123[at]gmail.com