The Pandemic pertaining to COVID-19 has led to a rise in incidents of violence, especially of rape, even at COVID facilities. Most of these cases are against females, the perpetually oppressed section of the society. It seems like even a Pandemic is not enough for people to keep their malice aside and focus on survival for once.
Incidences of Rape at COVID Facilities
One of the most recent incidents of violence has been the rape of a 14-Year old girl, that too at India’s largest COVID facility, the Sardar Patel Covid Care Centre in South Delhi. The 19 year old Culprit and his friend, allegedly recorded the heinous crime as he forced himself onto the girl.
This is still not where it ends. In another case, three men gang raped a woman in a school in Rajasthan. The victim, a daily wage earner, lost her way to her native village. In the absence of a quarantine centre, the police made her stay at the school for the night where the three men raped her. Not just the general public, women have fallen prey to frontline workers as well. In Aligarh’s Deen Dayal Hospital, a 30 year old Doctor tried to rape a woman who was being treated for coronavirus.
As a matter of fact, the perpetrators see no age or condition the person is in. The victims include 5 year old children as well as 55 year old people.
These incidents, during such a time of crisis, occur mainly due to increased vulnerability. The victims stand legally bound to remain in the COVID centres or camps due to physical immobility, in view of the lockdown. Further, a potential criminal mind would use such an opportunity to misuse this vulnerability of the people living with them. An opportunist, if you may, would see this as a chance of gratifying his needs, regardless of the means.
Lack of infrastructure also contributes to the same evil. This includes lack of hospital beds, quarantine beds and COVID facilities. Less accommodation for patients means more accumulation of people in proximity. This automatically amplifies the chance for a case of violence of any kind.
Moreover, the official authorities at these places have to be blamed for the occurrences of these incidences under their nose. Regular checks, proper supervision by the police or the concerned authority would surely assure more safety, if not absolute.
The Administrative authorities, in most cases, have arrested or kept the perpetrator in judicial custody. But this is not enough of a step to ensure justice for the aggrieved or to prevent such instances in the future. What we need is stringency; Stringency in laws, in methods, in dealing with such cases, in punitive measures, and towards everything that contributes to such ill acts. This should not just be restricted to the lockdown period, but remain in perpetuity.
The Larger Picture
Women have been subjected to violence and considered submissive in all spheres of life, more so during this lockdown. At work, public places and even at their homes. The rise in rates of Domestic Violence cases are a testament to the same. Even though the number of rape cases have deteriorated in number by almost 84%, this is not really good news; considering the hindrance to movement during these times. Just because cases aren’t being reported, does not mean they aren’t happening.
The administration and the government may be considering these issues right now, but the point is that we must not need a pandemic to consider the importance of protection of women. However, laws alone are not sufficient. You can make the laws as stringent as you want, but that often leads to murder of the victims. The underlying factor is the psychology of a man and his entitlement – A deeper and more complex problem.
In India, a woman is raped every 20 minutes. By the time you stop reading this article, someone might be going through the same, just silenced by a Pandemic this time. The Coronavirus has just been an additional opportunity for the perpetrators to outrage their modesty. After all, what is left for a virus to corrupt in a morally corrupt nation?