It is often asserted in intellectual discourses that there does not exist an opportunity to change the mindsets with the law creeping in to usher in social change. This analogy very well applies to cases of domestic violence and harassment/ oppression of women in the society as well.
Today when people are locked down within their homes, and they stare at an uncertain future where they are constrained to think and speculate anything but negative prospects and gloom in the near future, our women are not really safe. It maybe rightly said that they’re locked down with their abusers.
The National Commission for Women is regularly reporting exponential hike in the number of cases of domestic violence being reported. The numbers are ticking like clock work. This does not simply imply that in all the corners of the country all the victims have actually reported the offences being committed. This means what about rapes and sexual exploitation within the households?
The national broadcaster Doordarshan which has witnessed a dramatic viewership these days is also airing the domestic violence awareness campaign and the governments have also made dedicated hotlines which are publicised in the dailies where the ladies of our society get to ask for help when they need it in these times.
India has after years of hard-work has reached a place where we have seen legislative as well as social recognition of the evolving roles of the woman in our society. In 2020 Global Gender Gap report prepared by the World Economic Forum, India has just scored 0.668 points where the highest is 1.000. This report is premised on a variety of factors which include economic participation and employment, educational attainment, health and survival and political empowerment as parameters where India currently doesn’t fair well.
In the coronavirus setting today many women are easy targets to the psychologically imbalanced in-laws and husbands who will abuse the women psycologically, then physically as well and in ways which may not be imagined today. The trauma of the abuse may have far-reaching effects and even post-this lockdown the safety of our women remains a challenge which is as of yet unforeseen.
In times like these the generl dispostion of a Bharatiya Nari naturally remains to be one where she tolerates the offences without actually reporting them since the common perception is that the law is as well locked down. Yet the fact is incorrect, various high courts have taken cognisance of the plight of the women and alerted law enforcement agencies to take all possible measures to ensure that all the cases are reported and action is taken as promptly as possible.
POST-Lockdown Will Our Women Be Safe?
Once this lockdown is over the safety of women at their workplaces might also take a hit given the fact that there will be utter desperation and chaos in the situation post-lockdown which will throw our women into the most vulnerable sections of persons trying to stand guard against the society as a whole, becuse we haven’t been able to change the mindset of our people, though we have laws that might act as a deterrent yet it still does not rule out the possibility of the crimes still taking place.
The fear of loosing their source of livelihood may put them in vulnerable positions where they maybe exploited and if they land up loosing their jobs many in their households might abuse them.
Eductaional Attainment of Our Women:
It is still our belief system that women are not the breadwinners of our families, so their education does not matter. When the families will see a dip in their earnings and their expenses mounting due to loss of jobs and other factors our daughters are set to be the first class of students to loose access to education and our female literacy might as well see a sharp fall.
The pandemic is beyond our control yet the government and our society must feel the pain the woman as a person and constituted as a class they will be vulnerable and will swallow the bitter pill by tolerating the situations.
Health and Survival of Our Women During the Lockdown and Post-Lockdown:
There is an awkward position in terms of the survival rates for pregnant women, and women in general lack the prompt medical attention in Indian families. With many women loosing their financial freedom, and facing oppression as well as approaching mental ill health along with physical their survival rates as well as health will take a dip. The nutritional standards for our women will also go down due to loss in earnings.
Aggravating Female Objectification With Internet Use Spreading Across Age Groups
Exploring the reliance on technology (internet) as a medium of social intercourse which shall be put to a various uses and will be accessed by people of all age groups, our government must resolve to ban pronographic content which aggravates the problem of objectification of women and young ladies, and young men might get deeply influenced and motivated to further dent our gender parity.
The Silver Lining:
All the people who are ignoring the incidents of domestic violence are no less than a culprit since the exposure to awareness and opposing domestice violence lays down the foundations of a psychological shift in the minds of the people around the abused and the abusers where they land up becoming more sensitive to the issues related to women.
The reform groups and the community by and large can raise their voices against the cause of women and it will create more awareness and will deter many crimes from happening. Vigil and awareness will prove to be a boon amid these times.
Government schemes must be continued no matter what since it will keep the confidence in the women from the weaker sections while gender sensitisation awareness can be spread and taught over the internet in a variety of methods.
To make internet a healtheir place for our little young folks we can explore the possibilities of banning pornographic content altogether, since work from home even will need psychological conditioning if it has to be a new normal, and working with pronography and privacy will certainly not be the kind of work ethic to be cultivated.
We can improve our gender gap scores if we spread a little awareness.