Trigger Warning: Mention of rape, sexual assault
Since the lockdown, people are staying inside their homes as a safety measure against COVID-19. But even in-home, which is apparently the safest, women are not safe.
The National Commission for Women (NCW) has raised an urgent alert about the rise in domestic violence abuse since the countrywide lockdown. Now with the unlock of the lockdown, women are again getting harassed outside their vicinity.
Incidents of abuse started being reported right after the lockdown. A 13-year-old girl was allegedly raped by two men in Uttar Pradesh’s Sitapur district on the afternoon of 22nd April, 2020, and four others recorded the act, the police said. All six were arrested, reported NDTV.
In another report by the NDTV, a police station in-charge in Odisha’s Sundargarh district was suspended on 26th June, 2020, for suspected involvement in facilitating the abortion of a minor girl, who was allegedly gang-raped for over two months.
As per another Times Now report dated 29th June, 2020, a construction labourer’s one-year-old daughter was raped in Punjab by a hotel employee.
According to a Times Now report on 30th June, 2020, “A 31-year-old woman journalist has filed a police complaint stating that a scooter-borne man asked her for an address, then flashed his private parts, and started masturbating in front of her in Bengaluru’s Banaswadi locality.”
Another NDTV report dated 1st July, 2020, states, “A police officer in Uttar Pradesh has been arrested after he was caught on camera masturbating before a woman complainant and a case was filed against him.”
There are so many other unlisted cases. But the pivotal question of concern remains: “When will women ever be safe?” Due to the virus, everyone is dealing with mental and financial problems. But women are facing problems, both due to the pandemic as well as the imbued patriarchy and misogyny in our society.
When women are at home, their family members instigate domestic violence, and now that there is some relaxation due to unlocking, they are facing harassment and assault (now by people outside of their vicinity), again.
Some say we have laws and legal measures that women should use if they face harassment, but which law will be applicable when the protectors and police officials are harassers themselves? When the one whose job is to provide security and protection misuses their power and status, no one can be safe.
After Nirbhaya and Unnao and Kathua, many other similar incidents ignited anger and rage among people. Protests were held, rallies were undertaken and candlelight marches were organised, only with the hope that maybe no such other incident will happen. But to no avail.
After the hanging of Nibharya’s convicts or arrest of Unnao accuser, many thought that the mindset of people has changed. But no, it is still a far-fetched reality, no matter how many laws, acts, convictions or marches are undertaken. Nothing will change until and unless misogyny, patriarchy and the illusion of women as a tool doesn’t disappear from our society.