It’s a pandemic; everything has come to a standstill and the virus has created such drastic chaos that the entire world is facing a crisis. It’s not just the pandemic, there are multiple things that have occurred during the past few months. From the death of lakhs of people because of the virus to Amphan cyclone that destroyed many lives, also the Vizag gas leak, Nisarga cyclone and last but not the least Uttrakhand fire, and this is only in India.
One question that keeps recurring around all these incidents is who is at the receiving end? I don’t have an accurate answer to this, but surely the marginalised groups and communities. They aren’t dying only on the roads, in trains or due to starvation but there are people who are dying of violence and mental pressure which will surely go unseen by the media. Because India is in a state of lockdown! And not only this, people who stood a few months back against the CAA are now been charged with draconian laws or UAPA and are being sent to jail for an indefinite period of time. Though a few of them have been released on “humanitarian grounds”. People from marginalised communities across caste, gender, religion, and class, are at a higher risk of facing violence and inequality and their rights are also withdrawn by the state.
Lockdown is seen as a progressive step for fighting against the virus in India but its social impact is still ignored by the larger group. The number of violent cases against women has increased, be it from physical labour, emotional labour, economic or sexual labour. Migrant labourers who were walking for miles to reach their home are dying of starvation and exhaustion, but all this scenario has been manipulated and then shown to the larger society. It is because of their social standing in reference to the larger society that they were suffering.
Similarly, people from the middle class had a different opinion altogether and this is from personal experience and other related anecdotes. One thing that was completely stuck in the mind of the middle class was that the state is not working for their benefit, they believe only people from the bottom of the system are using the benefits provided by the government. If this is the case then why is there a high rate of death not from the virus but from starvation, violence and other social factors?
Since the past few days, there is a viral video circulating, of a man brutally beating his wife. This isn’t the first example of women being unsafe in the country, in their own homes; there are many rape cases, sexual assault and molestation cases taken place during the lockdown and only a few got reported. And a majority of such survivors did not even dare to move out of the four walls of their house. It’s not just the increasing number of cases within the confined four walls called home, there are also cases of gang rape and murder that our media fails to capture, especially the ones that have some or the other kind of official involvement.
It is not just women of a particular class or caste who are becoming the victim of domestic violence, rape and assaults, violence exists in all range of the system that we call society. Not to forget that ‘lockdown’ made everything come to a standstill which also forced people to work from home, which has now become the new normal. But this too had various consequences and particularly on the marginalised gender. Women are now multitasking, which they were doing earlier as well, but the burden has just doubled in number. Everybody is staying at home, together, logically this should decrease the workload but, patriarchy believes that women are the one who are supposed to look after the house and care for the family which leads to her working from home as well as managing other household chores while fulfilling everyone’s demands. This leads to tons of damage to their mental health and children are also affected by this.
Until a few days back mental health was even considered a taboo, but because of the death of a celebrity by suicide, people have now realised. However, people have made mental health a trend. People from LGBTQIA+ community have been suffering since ages and there are people who have ended their lives because of mental pressure and various forms of violence inflicted on them.
How much ever, we, as a society deny the fact that people from marginalised community and gender face issues which goes unheard and unreported, the truth is the youth is now looking and understanding this oppression. They are acknowledging what patriarchy, caste system and class division is doing to the society and are working for a better society to live for, giving equal freedom to all.