Women in pandemic in India

Priyanka Nadiya
6 min readAug 31, 2020



Women play an important role in our society and economy. Our society depend on women both on frontline and at home. In times of crises, when resources are strained and institutional capacity is limited, women and girls faced disproportionate impact. Even women rights are also under great threat. Economic and social stresses combined with the movement restrictions and cramped homes are during a surge in gender base violence.

According to the world economic forum, our past experiences shows that domestic, sexual, and gender-based violence increase during the crises and disaster. It happened during the 2014–16 Ebola and 2015–16 Zika epidemics, and it appears to be happening now. Under conditions of quarantine or stay-at-home measures, women and children who live with violent and controlling men are exposed to considerably greater danger.

Similarly, the Covid-19 pandemic and ensuring lockdown has placed women from abusive households in a tough situation. They suddenly find themselves locked in with those who abuse them, verbally, physically, or emotionally, and going out means risking infection.

They say that in several countries like UK, Spain, and china, domestic abuse helpline have witnessed increased in the number of calls since social distancing measures enforced by their government kicked in.

In India, however while the number of calls to domestic abuse helplines seems to have registered a decline, women’s right activist and counsellor told. The victims were increasingly employing other means such a emails, even twitter direct messages, to lodge complaints or seek guidance without tipping off their abusers.

The Delhi-based Jagori and Shakti Shalimi and Pune -based AKS Foundation –all NGOs running helplines that counsel women who face domestic abuse- said they were receiving fever calls and emphasized that this was a cause for concern.

AKS Foundation said the volume of calls had fallen by 65 percent- from average 15–20 calls per week to 7 since 25 March.

AKS Foundation director Barkha Bajaj mention a big reason behind the drop in calls “at this point in time is because the women are not getting the opportunity to call”. “Usually, we receive calls when abusers are away from home, but now women are trapped in their homes with their abusers all day without any privacy”, she said. “It does not at all mean abuse has stopped. This could in fact lead to a rise in abuse” she added.

Many several similar reports were printed on different media platforms. All these reports put light on the same ‘The condition of women in pandemic’. But this time it is different because now women are trapped in their homes with abusers due to lockdown. The controlling and violent nature of men leads to abuse or many times even death of women.

In a country like India, there is a strong relationship between levels of violence and modifiable factors in a country such as concentrated (regional) poverty, income and gender inequality, the harmful use of alcohol, and absence of safe, stable and nurturing relationships between children and parents.

According to study conducted by Kerala institute of local administration (KILA), financial uncertainty was the key reason of domestic violence during the corona virus lock down, while alcoholism, is suspected infidelity and denial of sexual intercourse are the other reason.

The corona virus COVID-19 pandemic is having potentially catastrophic secondary impact on the health of women and girls around the world. Decision made at every level of the response to the pandemic are resulting in women being further cut off from sexual and reproductive health services, threatening sharp rises in maternal and neonatal morality.

An significant lesson from the west Africa Ebola outbreak of 2014–16 is that the biggest threat to women’s and girls’ lives was not Ebola virus, but shutdown of routine health services and people’s fear of going to health facilities where they could get infected.

Female migrants during covid-19

According to UN women, the impact and implication of the covid-19 corona virus are different for men and women and may create inequalities for people who are in vulnerable positions, such as migrants.

The uncounted, unvalued, unsung labor of migrant women is not reflected in the media as main focus on the plight of men at the expense of the glossed over other half.

There are many women who are also migrant worker. The poorer amongst them work in brick kilims, as farm labor or on construction site. The women, who have a basic education, work in the services industry in cities as sales girl, as beauticians or as waitress. There are also many young women who are employed in several small scale industries such as the garment sectors, where they live in hostel close to their place of work. We must also not forget northeast India, from where thousands of young men and women, travel a long way to work in our bigger cities.

Also, during these times of covid-19, the young women from the north east, who in any case are harassed because they look different? There have been several deplorable incident of women being spat upon, even assaulted, and called ‘corona’ because of their looks. This represent the worst of racial and gender prejudice.

Whether women move to accompany their men or move of their own, they face same struggle. Young women, living away from their homes, are vulnerable to sexual violence. Women who move with their, they ensure of their house hold work in their temporary homes. They also many women stayed back in their villages. They have burden to survive in a fixed expenses for each month. During covid-19 the migrant women or the women in village were out of their income.

The pandemic make really hard for them to survive without no income in such big town. Women are helpless they were forced to moved back from the big town to their native villages. Loss of income , and out of food makes migrants women to travel hundreds of kilometers by foot, where many of them 6 to 8 months pregnant, carrying 3 to 4 children with them.

All of these reports or case put light on the mental and physical torture the migrant women faced during this pandemic. Also it also shows that govt. of India might have failed to provide the income or food security to men and women of this country.

Problems are not yet resolved after coming back to village in Bihar’s sitamarhi, women from the families of migrant workers say they are forced to borrow form private money lenders as their husbands and sons are left with no income sources.

There are many men who have returned villages hardly have any money and no income source to support their families. This has put the economic burden on women and led to a trend of illegal borrowing from money-lenders at high interest rate. Under the Bihar money lenders act of 1947, private money lenders not registered with the state government are prohibited from lending money.

The condition of the money could further deteriorate after the lockdown is over there is a huge probability that’s how there will also be a surge in case of domestic violence.


Being in pandemic or in disaster women always faced the worst, whether she is a migrant or belong to big cities. Whether women move to accompany their husbands or to earn their livelihood. Due to his lockdown, women are left with all these never ending miseries like, domestic and gender-based violence, loss of income and etc. which UN Women called shadow pandemic. All those hard to gain women’s rights are also under threat. This lockdown has been pretentious to women’s reproductive rights. The UN Population fund has warned that pandemic has “severely disrupted access to life-saving sexual and reproductive health services.” Human Rights Watch has flagged the impact that the ongoing crisis could have on abortion access and maternal care.

Although there are many reasons for this condition of women in the pandemic like covid-19. In my opinion one of the main reason of condition of women is the gender based inequality. We face this gender based inequality in our day to day life but during the pandemic like covid-19 it is at its peak due to lock down. Women are locked with their abusers, or women are helpless move in extreme conditions.


World Economic Forum /weforum.org/ what-the-covid-19-pandemic-tell-us-about-gender-equality.

Theprint.in /indian-women-are-locked-in-with-their-abusers-but-are-finding-new-ways-to-seek-help.

English.mathrubhumi.com /even-in-the-covid-19-migrant-narratice-women-don’t-count.

Theprint.in /in-Bihar-reverse-migrant-in-forcing-these-village-women-into- another-crisis-debt.

MSF.org/ women-and-girl-face-greater-danger-during-covid-pandemic.

credits: firstpost.com