The number of coronavirus cases in India is touching new peaks every single day. With more than 1.2 million cases the country stands third in the queue after Brazil. Quarantine centres and hospitals are flooding with patients, some have reached their full capacity. But, these hospitals and quarantine centres; the only place one can think of to be safe after being infected, is not safe for women. Various causes of sexual Assault, in such hospitals and quarantine centre, have come in the past few months.
How is India in Women safety?
Astonishingly, India is amongst the country with a minimum number of rapes per capita. But the reality lies far beyond it; 1 rape is reported in India in every 15 minutes, National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). The reason behind India’s rank in the number of rapes per capita is because maximum sexual assaults go unreported.
About 71% of rape cases in India, never make to the police. The victim is scared of being humiliated by the society, therefore, decides not to speak up the crime against her. Several countries have even put advisory for their female citizen visiting India, not to visit alone.
According to Thomson Reuters Foundation survey in 2018; India came out to be the most unsafe country for women, in the world. There have been numerous brutal rapes in India from time to time. Some of which have covered headlines of the entire world; as an example the gang rape in 2012 ‘The Nirbhaya Kand‘ in which a young woman was raped by four; on a running bus and then murdered brutally, in the capital city of the country. Or, the 2019 ‘Hyderabad gang rape‘. There are millions of such examples.
India has never been safe for women. In the pandemic, the number of domestic abuse have seen an increment everywhere. But now, in the global pandemic; when the entire world is trying to control the spread of the contagious virus; the sexual assaults have taken another form. Now, even the hospitals and quarantine centres are not safe for women.
Sexual Assaults in hospitals and quarantine centers
Sexual assault of a minor, Bihar
In the evening of July 8, a minor girl was sexually assaulted by a security person in an isolation ward; Medical College and Hospital (PMCH), Patna, Bihar. The girl was found at the city’s railway station alone.
She was handed over to child helpline authorities, where she tested positive for COVID-19. The case of the girl came into light when she herself dictated the mishappening with her; to a person who came to visit her from child helpline authority.
40-year-old’s sexual assault, Mumbai
A 40-year-old woman was sexually assaulted by another inmate in a quarantine centre. Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone- II), Mr Ashok Dudhe; told media “The woman was sent to the quarantine centre three days after showing COVID-19 symptoms. The 25-year-old accused, who is known to the victim, entered her room on Thursday afternoon and on the pretext of a massage sexually assaulted her,”
14-year old, Delhi
A 14-year-old girl was sexually abused by another inmate, a 19-year-old boy; in a quarantine centre in the capital city of the country, Delhi. The culprit and the person who filmed the entire incident were taken into police custody. All three, the victim and the culprits were admitted into the country’s biggest quarantine centre with 10,000 beds.
Sexual assault of migrant woman Bihar
Gaya hospital, A migrant woman was raped in an isolation ward. The woman was suspected of COVID-19 and was admitted into the hospital’s isolation ward. The 25-year-old victim woman was admitted to the hospital on 1st April. She was abused by a doctor who attended her on April 2 and April 3. The fourth-day reports came and she was tested negative for infection.
When the woman came back home she was terrified. After being repeatedly asked she opened up to her husband and in-laws about the incident. The woman died, the next day after excessive bleeding. The matter was brought to the police by the woman’s mother-in-law.
There are much more such cases, but apart from them, there must be thousands which went unreported.
What do these cases mean?
The above cases through light one of the ugliest faces of India. Even at the time of such a contagious pandemic, women are not safe. Women’s safety in India has been a concern for ages.
Domestic violence has increased globally due to the pandemic and lockdowns. But sexual assault in the place where one is supposed to be safe reflects; how far a chance India haves to make the country safe for its female residents. If women are not safe, especially in the hospitals and quarantine centres, where should they expect themselves safe? And if hospitals are not safe where should they go for treatments?
Being an Indian girl, I understand that such cases are rare and in most cases; doctors and medical staff are more understanding than any outsider. But such cases are happening, even though not very often. So, it should be the responsibility of the government to make strict rules; as well as the people to speak up about the crimes against women. The victim does not need to fear anything.
The very first brick in making society safe for women and men from sexual assaults is proper education. Quality education will form an educated society that knows the difference between right and wrong. Such cases fill everyone’s heart with misery, but things could change, what we need is strong determination.