Since the COVID-19 pandemic, people are in a desperate attempt to find its cure to go back to leading a normal life. Taking advantage of the same many people, corporate, businesses, agencies etc. have claimed unlawfully to have a cure or treatment for this virus and have advertised the same on various platforms. The advertisements of high concern were that Homeopathy, Ayurveda, Naturopathy, etc. have treatment for COVID-19. The public might believe these advertisements to be accurate taking into consideration the good reputation and safety of these medicinal systems. To condemn such behavior of many agencies, the Ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) in consultation with the Government of India had released an advisory/ guidelines on 24th March 2020 for government authorities of center and state to take effective measures with regards to such matters and ensure punishment for those who make false claims. The advisory report states as follows:“Accordingly, in the exercise of the powers of Central Government, conferred under Section 33(P) of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, it is hereby directed to all concerned ASUYH Regulatory Authorities in the States/Union Territories to stop and prevent publicity and advertisement of AYUSH-related claims for COVID-19 treatment in print, TV and electronic media and take necessary action against the persons/agencies involved in contravening the relevant legal provisions and the aforesaid guidelines of National Disaster Management Authority.”However, these guidelines were not well received by Advocate M.S.Vineeth and hence a PIL was filed in Kerala High Court, namely Advocate M.S.Vineeth v. The Secretary dated 21 August 2020. The PIL was challenging the guidelines to be inaccurate to the extent that they bar the practice and system of Homeopathic Medicine to cure Covid-19 since as per the petitioner the system has been helpful in preventing outbreaks. The Kerala High Court disposed of the petitioner’s PIL and held the guidelines issued by the Ministry of AYUSH to be accurate. The court held:“Doctors practicing in AYUSH medicines are not supposed to prescribe any medicines, stating that it is curative for COVID-19 disease. However, as per the advisory, there is nothing prohibiting the qualified medical AYUSH practitioners to prescribe immunity booster mixture or tablets, as suggested by the Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India. Medical practitioners in AYUSH can also prescribe the same, but only as immunity boosters.If any qualified doctor practicing AYUSH medicine, makes any advertisement or prescribes any drugs or medicines, as a cure for COVID-19 disease, except those specifically mentioned in Annexure-I advisory to Exhibit-P1 D.O. letter dated 6.3.2020, it is open for the respondents to take appropriate action under the provisions of the Disaster Management Act 2005, and the orders of the Governments, both Central as well as the State, issued from time-to-time.”Resulting from this judgment, Dr. AKB Sadbhavana Mission School of Homeo Pharmacy appealed against it in the Supreme Court of India. On 15th December 2020, the Supreme Court of India in the case of Dr. AKB Sadbhavana Mission School of Homeo Pharmacy v. The Secretary, Ministry of AYUSH & Ors. while upholding the observations made by Kerala HC regarding misleading advertisements for cure of Covid-19, differed on a point that “actions can be taken against Homeopathic Medical Practitioners” and held the same to be restrictive since the advisory dated 6th March, 2020 issued by Ministry of AYUSH already regulates the conduct of such practitioners.
Fake news has become the ‘New Normal’ in today’s time especially via social media. Inaccurate and fake news circulated on various social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, and Instagram amid the COVID-19 pandemic has not only caused panic among the public but has also threatened the safety, security, and health of the public at large and has negatively impacted the economy.
Addressing this “Second Pandemic” a name given by Red Cross President- Francesco Rocca, the representatives of media organisation from BRICS i.e., Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa on 30th November 2020 came together to work jointly to combat the virus of misinformation during the global pandemic. The virtually held meeting included discussions by media organisations on how journalists could collaborate more closely to tell stories with countries facing such challenges.
In the present day, fake news about Covid-19, its vaccine, its effects, its prevention methods, etc. are being circulated for various reasons and this is misleading the public who are unaware of its authenticity which is ultimately leading to a crisis in the entire society. The circulation and creation of inaccurate and fake news is prevalent since before, its drastic negative effects resulted in the formation of various rules, regulations and amendments in various legislations in India.
For instance, Section 66D of the Information Technology Act gives punishment for cheating by personation by using computer resources and Section 54 of the Disaster Management Act states the punishment for spreading false warning regarding disasters.
Further, the Indian Penal Code has various provisions as well, Section 505(1) of Indian Penal Code, 1860 punishes whoever publishes or circulates any statement, rumour or report which may cause fear or an alarm to the public; Section 153 of the Code criminalises the act of wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot; Section 499 and 500 of the Code provide for defamation and punishment for defamation respectively. However, these provisions are usually under the ambit of the fundamental right to speech and expression provided under Article 19(1) (a) of the Indian Constitution which states that all citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression. The existing legal sanctions are therefore invokable only in case adverse consequences, violence, breach of peace, riots, etc. as stated by the Delhi High Court in Vinod Dua v. State (Govt. of NCT of Delhi) dated 10th June 2020.
However, this neglects the misinformation caused silently and negligently by people through homes or workplaces. This does not have immediate drastic effects but leads to major mental distress. For instances, any fake news related to the Covid-19 vaccine, or spread, deaths, etc. may not cause any protests or physical violence but it has the potential of affecting people’s minds, mental health and even the economy as a whole, i.e. fall in the share market, fall in the real estate prices, unemployment, shortage of supply of basic amenities due to sudden increase in demand, etc.
Hence, to safeguard the public and to fight against the spread of false information or misinformation, apart from the laws, awareness is the key. As commonly suggested, measures like promotion of relevant and accurate media exchanges, rigorous fact-checking, an investigation by well-trained journalists, etc. could be an initiative to curb the spread of misinformation, as even suggested by Mr. N. Ram, Director of The Hindu. Additionally, new fact-checking organizations supplemented by technological solutions and deployment of technologies such as AI can also help in achieving the desired results.
“It is the obligation of every person born in a safer room to open the door when someone in danger knocks.”
— Dina Nayeri
The following article highlights the devastating impact that the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has had on the refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons. Further, it addresses the measures that can be undertaken to mitigate their deplorable living conditions.
The human race is witnessing an unprecedented catastrophe by a ‘microscopic being’ which is bringing the world to a standstill. Nations are inundating with deaths, more than they can cremate, but the virus shows no signs of slowing down. Countries, big and small, have come under its clutches and are witnessing its blow. With an upsurge in global cases, most of the countries in the world have been experiencing nation vide lockdowns with increased border security,[ii] travel bans, immigration restrictions, etc. Millions of people across the globe observe this emergency scenario from the safety of their homes, comparatively at peace, whilst following the social distancing norms. However, this remains a far-fetched dream for most of the vulnerable sections of our society.
IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON THE VULNERABLE SECTIONS
Today, 79.5 million[iii] individuals are forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, violence, or human rights violations. The pandemic has only exacerbated the pre-existing social and economic disparities faced by them. They lack the basic amenities needed to protect themselves from this deadly virus. Even before COVID-19, refugee camps that were lacking adequate resources,[iv] have sprung concerns regarding public health and basic human rights. Considering most of them live below the poverty line, a bar of soap is also a luxury for them, let alone the ability to afford masks, sanitizers, etc. Moreover, to maintain physical distancing in inadequately ventilated, overcrowded, and closely situated camps is implausible. Unhealthy living conditions and dire standards of hygiene and sanitation make them more susceptible. Further, gathering of crowd at water and food points increases the risks of contamination. In such circumstances, a single case can cause the virus to spread like wildfire.
The virus is specifically brutal on women and girls[v] as they are outrightly denied care and face life-threatening delays getting emergency services. This has increased the risks of maternal deaths, infections, prenatal and neonatal mortality. As witnessed in the past during the Ebola outbreak[vi], the closure of maternal health clinics in West Africa resulted in a 70% spike in the rate of maternal deaths. The pandemic adds injury to the pre-existing societal and cultural norms, gender biases, underrepresentation and a host of other challenges that further marginalize them.
The pandemic has pulled the global economy to pieces with an estimated loss of 8.5 trillion USD.[vii]A majority of the refugee population works in informal markets and therefore, they rely on daily wages by working on construction sites, manufacturing, retail, etc. In recent times, with businesses closing down and several industries being hit hard, the refugees have lost their crucial income and other livelihood opportunities. This has in turn led to acute malnutrition, starvation, and dehydration among them. In Jordan, about 80% of the Syrian refugees are under the poverty line, and only 2% of households have paltry savings.[viii] They cannot afford to stock up on groceries and food, which is particularly problematic when prices of essentials also increase. Further, they are also not benefited from social schemes announced by governments to feed and pay the daily wagers since such schemes are not extended to non-citizens.
Further, they are deprived of adequate health care opportunities[ix] and are left on their own, to battle the virus. Refugee camps lack hospitals and modern healthcare facilities. The pandemic raises a pertinent question of whether refugee populations will be permitted to access the hospitals and ICUs of the host-country, especially when such services are falling short to serve their own population. There have been a plethora of incidents to respond negatively. In India, despite a Delhi Government Orderdated April 17, 2020 stating that all the inmates of Rohingya refugee camps should be tested, no such tests were done. [x] It has caused many asylum seekers to return to their country of origin despite the potential risk to their life and liberty. Further, the lockdown restrictions in Colombia incapacitated Venezuelan refugees to earn an income and force them to return to the crisis they once fled.
Furthermore, many countries like Canada that otherwise have a soft refugee policy, are now adopting strict measures and denying entry to asylum seekers- who are also stigmatized as ‘disease carriers’. On April 23, Bangladesh’s coast guards denied entry to Rohingya refugees. Similarly, Italy closed its ports on the grounds of public health concerns. In Malaysia, a boat carrying 200 Rohingya refugees was denied entry resulting in the death of around 30 Rohingya refugees[xi]. Thus, a subversive pattern is in the trend where governments are using the pandemic as a justification to ignore international principle of non-refoulement[xii]. This principle forbids governments from returning refugees and asylum seekers to countries where they fear persecution. To avoid worsening of the world’s largest humanitarian emergency, the international community must hold nations accountable for closing ports of entry.
Travel restrictions have paralyzed the movement of humanitarian workers. Even International Organizations and the UNHCR have suspended their resettlement projects temporarily as a preventive measure to curb the spread of the virus. Governments of various countries are putting refugee camps under lockdown, further enhancing their immobility.
MEASURES TO BE TAKEN
“If one person is sick with COVID, we all are,”[xiii] said Triggs, the UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner while urging national health systems to incorporate refugees. It is imperative that they are given equal elbow room for healthcare facilities. Various governments, international organizations, NGOs, and social workers are playing in the front foot to alleviate the spread of the virus.
The United Nations, too, is amplifying its actions for their protection. It is setting out basic sanitation facilities and adopting measures to prevent community transmission in refugee camps. In India the UNHCR office in Delhi partnered with several local NGOs, distributed hygiene kits in the refugee areas and conducted awareness camps.[xiv] Similarly, the UNHCR office in Mexico allocated soap bars to asylum seekers in Tijuana.[xv]
To achieve the norm of social distancing, the UN redesigned and rebuilt shelters for certain refugee families living in compact tents. Other measures include closing schools and explaining the masses what the virus is, how it can be transmitted, and what measures can be undertaken to reduce its spread. Isolation areas should be identified and existing programs must be re-examined to ensure that they are COVID-19-sensitive. In Greece, the UNHCR is moving over 1,000 asylum seekers from overcrowded island centres to safer accommodation in hotels and apartments.[xvi] In Sayam Forage camp, Niger, an additional transit centre is being built to ensure there is necessary distancing between shelters.[xvii]
Despite the backlogs of movement restrictions, technology has emerged as a catalyst to reach refugees. In the Za’atari and Azraq refugee camps in Jordan, a curfew is placed from 6 p.m. to 10 a.m.[xviii] Even during the day people must stay indoors, unless they have to buy essentials or seek medical help. Restriction in the movement of UN staff has been addressed through buoyant blockchain cash-disbursement systems and helpline numbers as they can be managed remotely.
Since the outbreak of the virus, there has been an escalation in gender-based violence in many parts of the world. To resolve this, the UN Women field staff have switched their operations to online platforms.[xix] With as much as in their hands, they have been on the front lines of prevention, arduously undertaking more than 100 calls daily to provide information, counselling, and psychosocial support to vulnerable refugee women in the camps, via phone and WhatsApp. The UN Women have also used ‘WhatsApp’ to provide accurate information on COVID-19 from the government and WHO.
To tackle the growing unemployment rates, it is need of the hour that nations perceive refugees as a helping tool to revive the plummeted economies. Since more than 80% of the world’s refugee population lives in low to middle-income countries, it becomes difficult for host countries to provide opportunities to refugees seeking asylum in their country. Even though high-income countries are currently hit hardest by COVID-19, they need to fund low and middle-income countries because those countries are ill-equipped and do not have the means to deal with the outbreak within these populations; and that puts the rest of the world at continued risk. It’s both humanitarian interest and self-interest to support these countries. Public-private partnerships should be encouraged. The host country should tie-up with humanitarian civil society organizations to address the refugee crisis. Industrialists, business tycoons must provide additional contributions to support refugees and host populations who have been negatively impacted by the virus. Governments must provide immediate cash assistance, long-term financial schemes and, interest-free loans to enhance economic recovery, support small and medium-sized businesses and help refugees to become self-reliant.
Immediate national policy reforms to improve labour market access and entrepreneurship opportunities – for both refugees (of all nationalities) should be made. They must be made part of labour and health care legislation, to make sure that they do not face disabilities in accessing jobs and business opportunities. Additionally, host countries should remove legal barriers and extend public services, socio-economic welfare benefits, healthcare, sanitation to increase the self-reliance of the refugees. Portugal has recently made a commendable decision to provide provisional citizenship to migrants, refugees and asylum seekers to give them access to the healthcare system.[xx] Such pragmatic policy measures must be welcomed by the global community.
Nevertheless, every country around has been prey to the COVID-19 pandemic, it requires a global effort to revive the status of the refugees upholding their basic human rights. The pandemic should not be used as an excuse to increase xenophobia and stigmatization or to implement policies such as stopping asylum. Refugees should not be seen as a burden, rather their talent, courage and strengths should be stimulated towards effective use. This is profoundly evident from the success stories of refugees around the globe- from the Syrian teacher cleaning hospital wards in London, Iraqi cardiologist caring for neighbours and patients in Atlanta, to Carmen, a Venezuelan doctor now saving lives in Lima.[xxi]
“If ever we needed reminding that we live in an interconnected world, the novel coronavirus has brought that home”.[xxii] These words coming from UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, express that the coronavirus knows no borders and no language barriers. This pandemic has nothing to do with status—who’s an asylum seeker or a refugee—it affects everyone.
The world is amidst the worst public health emergency and an economic crisis, which if not controlled might turn into a human rights crisis. To prevent this, there is a pressing need that the Global Community works in concert, embracing everybody and ensuring that no section of the society is left out in the cold.
Recently, Uganda’s Zombo district temporarily opened two border crossings allowing thousands of refugees facing violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo to seek asylum.[xxiii] This manifests that a pandemic should not be a reason to shun international human rights and a balance should be struck between border restrictions and refugee protection standards. Nations around the world should take inspiration from this and ensure that their policies do not end up being more detrimental to the refugee population than the pandemic itself. The time to act and make important reforms is now and it is of utmost duty to not fail the refugee population this time.
Fatema Lightwala and Aashi Shah are zealous law students of SVKM’s Pravin Gandhi College of Law based in Mumbai. Currently in the third year of the five-years B.L.S LL.B. course, they are interested in legal research and writing. Both in individual and joint capacity, they have written various articles, case comments and research papers on socio-legal and socio-political issues. You can reach them at email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org or connect on linkedin.com/in/fatema-lightwala-726823180 / linkedin.com/in/aashi-shah-97565a150
[ii] Syed Bardul Ashad, The status of refugees during COVID-19 pandemic, NE NOW NEWS (May 9, 2020, 10:06 pm), https://nenow.in/health/status-of-refugees-during-covid-19-pandemic.html.
[iii] UNHCR, Refugee Statistics, USA FOR UNHCR, https://www.unrefugees.org/refugee-facts/statistics/.
[iv] Jacquelyn Corley, Why Refugees Are The World’s Most Vulnerable People During The COVID-19 Pandemic, FORBES (Apr. 21, 2020, 11:04pm),
[v] Women and girls face greater dangers during COVID-19 pandemic, MEDECIN SANS FRONTIERS (July 2, 2020), https://www.msf.org/women-and-girls-face-greater-dangers-during-covid-19-pandemic.
[vi] Gender Matters: COVID-19’s outsized impact on displaced women and girls, RELIEF WEB (May 7, 2020),
[vii] Department of Economic and Social Affairs, COVID-19 to slash global economic output by $8.5 trillion over next two years, UNITED NATIONS (May 13, 2020),
[ix] Samuel Volkin, How are Refugees affected by COVID-19, JOHN HOPKINS UNIVERSITY (Apr. 20, 2020), https://hub.jhu.edu/2020/04/20/covid-19-refugees-asylum-seekers/.
[x] Tapan Kumar Bose, COVID-19: Rohingya Refugees in India Are Battling Islamophobia and Starvation, THE WIRE (May 01, 2020),
[xi] Daniella Ritzau-Reid, Rohingya refugees left to starve at sea, MEDECIN SANS FRONTIERS
[xiii] Emma Batha, UNHCR: Businesses have a vital role to play in helping refugees through COVID-19, WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM (June 19, 2020)
[xiv] Syed Bardul Ashad, supra note 1.
[xv] Syed Bardul Ashad, supra note 1.
[xvi] UNHCR, Coronavirus Outbreak, INDIA FOR UNHCR (Aug. 14, 2020),
[xvii] Supra note 15.
[xviii] Using technology to assist vulnerable Syrian refugees during COVID-19 lockdown, UN WOMEN (Apr. 28, 2020),
[xix] Supra note 16.
[xx] Nafees Ahmad, Refugee Rights and Health: The Impact of COVID-19 on Refugee Camps, JURIST (Apr. 5, 2020 05:02:41 AM), https://www.jurist.org/commentary/2020/04/nafees-ahmad-refugee-rights-covid19/.
[xxi] Filippo Grandi, Refugees are on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic. Let’s give them the rights they deserve, WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM (Apr. 30, 2020),
[xxii] UHNCR, Supra note 15.
[xxiii] Duniya Aslam Khan, Uganda opens border to thousands fleeing Congo violence, UNHCR FOR INDIA (July 01, 2020),
Independence of the judiciary is one of the essential traits of a democratic government. However, this does not mean that the judiciary, i.e. the judges or court officials should have unfettered power. Judges too must uphold the highest standards of integrity and be held accountable to the public. Where judges or court personnel are suspected of breaching the public’s trust; fair measures must be in place to detect, investigate and sanction corrupt practices. Formerly, several attempts have been made in the form of the Judicial Accountability Bills of 2006 and 2010 but these bills never saw the light.
In the past, several allegations have been made against judges for misconduct. In lines of the pandemic too, several questions were raised against the judiciary for hearing certain cases at great urgency, while keeping other similar matters pending without any hearing. Such practices make the public lose their faith in the justice delivery system.
Through the 2018 verdict of Swapnil Tripathi v Supreme Court of India, the Court laid down elaborate guidelines and modalities for live-streaming court proceedings. The Court held that the Supreme Court Rules, 2013 will have to be suitably amended to provide for the regulatory framework for holistic live-streaming as an extension of the principle of open courts and for dissemination of information in the widest possible sense, thereby imparting transparency and accountability to the judicial process.
This declaration made by the Supreme Court two years ago has now come to light. Several High courts like Madras and Gujarat have already started live-streaming certain matters. The SC accordingly, on 4th November, set up a panel to formulate rules for regulating the live streaming. However, several judges including CJI Bobde have claimed the process is susceptible to abuses and the Court until now had been reluctant in allowing the same.
Pursuant to a direction of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, the ECI in 2013 framed certain guidelines for election manifestos of political parties. These guidelines were incorporated as Part VIII of the Model Code of Conduct and they are applicable from the date a political party issues its manifesto.
Firstly, as per the guidelines the manifesto shall not contain anything repugnant to the ideals and principles enshrined in the Constitution and shall be consistent with the letter and spirit of other provisions of Model Code.
Secondly, in light of the Directive Principles of State Policy enshrined in the Constitution that enjoin upon the State to frame various welfare measures there can be no objection to the promise of such welfare in the election manifesto. However, political parties should avoid making those promises which are likely to vitiate the purity of the election process or exert undue influence on the voters in exercising their franchise.
Lastly, in interest of transparency, level playing field and credibility of promises, it is expected that manifesto also reflect the rationale for the promises and broadly indicate the ways and means to meet the financial requirement for it. Trust of voters should be sought only on those promises which are possible to be fulfilled.
Advocate Saket Gokhale filed a petition on 22nd October before the Election commission of India requiring the commission’s attention towards the comment made by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s leaders which promised free Covid-19 Vaccine to all the people of Bihar.
The petition highlighted that the statement was not made by the leaders of BJP polling in Bihar but by the Union Minister of Finance Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, which was objectionable and misleading. Secondly, the petition objected to the action of posting the comment via twitter from the official BJP handle.
The main ground of the petition was that the statement made by the political party is in ignorance of the Model Code of Conduct and of Article 14 of the Constitution of India since each and every state and every individual therein is equally entitled to access the vaccine. The petition stated that in the absence of any official policy by the Union government, such promises are baseless.
Whereas, the political party’s reply to it stated that, since public health being a state subject the state governments can decide the course of action and hence make promises for the same.
Further, in reply to this petition the Election Commission on 28th October waived the objections and held that the statements and promises made by the party do not violate any code of conduct specifically those mentioned above. Hence the Election Commission of Indian disposed of the petition.
(Food for thought- What truth will the above-mentioned statement hold for a common man’s understanding and is it likely to exert undue influence on people? – will be added in the slides)
In this article the author would be focussing on the rise in domestic violence cases with respect to women during the Pandemic.
The whole world has suffered a major crisis and is continuously fighting the Covid-19 crisis. People across the globe are facing huge repercussions due to it; be it political, social, professional, or economical. The governments have taken a lot of precautions to contain the spread of the virus. Many countries, including India, had announced nationwide lockdown as a precautionary measure. India has gone through some rigorous conditions in the past few months.
Though these tough steps taken by the government are understandable and essential for the benefit of people in general, the suffrage of one section of our society has been overlooked. This section has simultaneously suffered from another pandemic, namely Domestic Violence[i]. Due to this, women have been the most affected victims.
This is seen to be a fact not just at a national level but internationally too. On 6 April 2020, the United Nations Secretary called for a ‘ceasefire’ to address the ‘horrifying global surge in domestic violence.’ Since the pandemic, the cases of violence against women are exponentially rising at the global level. The UN reported that Lebanon and Malaysia received a double amount of helpline calls compared to the same month previous year; in China it tripled. In Australia, there was the highest number of google searches for domestic violence help in the past five years.[ii] Similarly, the imposition of lockdown in India led to the same unfortunate consequences.India’s National Commission for Women (NCW) on Friday said it registered 587 domestic violence complaints between March 23 and April 16 – a significant surge from 396 complaints received in the previous 25 days between February 27 and March 22.[iii] This is only the tip of the iceberg as there are a huge number of domestic violence cases going unreported.
Causes of the surge in cases
It is not possible to point out only one reason for the surge in cases as several factors play a role in it. According to Sociologist Marianne Hester, “domestic violence goes up whenever families spend more time together, such as the Christmas and summer vacations.”[iv] The lockdown laid the perfect circumstances for this and as an unfortunate consequence an increase was seen in the instances of domestic violence.
One of the significant reasons for the increase in cases is that India has always followed a patriarchal system, where women are mostly subdued by men. This gender and role discrimination has placed all the burden of domestic work on women. Domestic Work is generally referred to as “women’s work”. Generally female members look after the household chores and the imposition of lockdown has resulted in an increase in workload for her. Many women were put in the position of single-handedly managing their professional work along with the household chores; thereby overburdening them.[v] Now, in these circumstances, if they cause any inconvenience or fail to do something, they are exposed to violence.
The data provided of domestic violence does not show the real picture of this horrifying act as numerous cases go unreported. This is because many women fail to come forward to seek help and suffer in silence. They are clouded by an orthodox ideology or sometimes are even silenced by their family members in order to maintain the honour of the family. Retrieving help from anyone outside becomes impossible for some women who may not have access to relatives, police or any NGOs via mobile phones as many women do not even have mobile phones. They are left in misery being caged with the abusers.[vi]
According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, the overall unemployment rate may have surged to 23 per cent, with urban unemployment standing at nearly 31 per cent, amid the countrywide lockdown due to coronavirus outbreak.[vii] This scenario suggests the vulnerability of people and their helplessness due to loss of livelihood. The frustration of loss of income and to manage the expenditures of family, especially for males, makes them exert violence on their partners. It is worse if the female spouse is unemployed.[viii]
Another important aspect is that after the 40 days of lockdown, the government had opened the liquor shops as a first step towards easing the restrictions. The government had also levied a special corona tax of 70 percent on alcohol in some places amid concerns of lost revenue.[ix] This in turn magnified the already deteriorated conditions as many men increased their alcohol consumption, thereby increasing domestic violence. This not only added to the financial burden but also towards an increase in abuse against women. So many cases were reported where husbands in an intoxicated state had physically assaulted their wives and children.[x] In doing so, the state somewhere prioritized earning revenue rather than safeguarding the women and children.
According to UNICEF 20 million babies will be born in India till the end of this year.[xi] India also noted a surge of porn usage and sale of condoms.[xii] Women might have been exposed to domestic violence in the form of sexual harassment or marital rape – which unfortunately is not a crime in India.[xiii] In the isolated circumstances created by the lockdown, it is easy for the perpetrators to take undue advantage and shatter their domestic life.
Steps taken by the Government
The government has failed to take any major and significant measures, however, there are few things that governments have done. For e.g. Delhi Commission for Women has set up a helpline number (181) to combat violence and trauma during the pandemic that one can reach out to.[xiv] In UP, the state government has initiated a special helpline for victims of domestic abuse under the title `Suppress Corona, not your voice’.[xv] But as mentioned above some women don’t even have access to communicate or seek help. In such a situation they are left without any solution.
In Tamil Nadu, protection officers have been appointed under the Domestic Violence Act, 2005. They are given permission to move during the lockdown and some women have been rescued. The chairperson of NCW claimed that ASHA and Anganwadi and other frontline health workers are counselling against domestic violence and women can report to these workers in case they are facing abuse.
No doubt that the governments are trying their best even in these tough times to protect and safeguard the victims, however, the measures taken are not sufficient. The government should conduct campaigns to make citizens aware of domestic violence. It should ask citizens to be sensitive towards the increased damage of domestic violence and encourage them to intervene if they suspect abuse, using tactics such as the banging on the door or ringing the bell. In countries like France and Spain codewords such as ‘mask 19’ are used as an indication when women are being abused.[xvi]
Family is considered as a place where one secures love, solace, safety, and security but for some women, it has become a place of insecurity and violence. Women are being abused and tortured by their very own family and instead of receiving love and respect, they are forced to bear humiliation and violence without uttering a single word. Thus, to establish a safe and secure society for women, a lockdown should be imposed on the orthodox thinking of people. For creating a better and safe environment for women, governments should implement stringent laws and take all precautionary measures. They should also set up new mechanisms to safeguard women as much as possible.
[i] Section 3, The Protection of Women From Domestic Violence Act, 2005, No. 43 of 2005
[iii] Locked down with abusers: India sees surge in domestic violence, Aljazeera, April 18, 2020.
[iv] COVID-19, Domestic Abuse and Violence: Where Do Indian Women Stand?, EPW Engage, April 17, 2020 Available at: https://www.epw.in/engage/article/covid-19-domestic-abuse-and-violence-where-do
[v] Divya J Shekhar, What the Covid-19 lockdown tells us about the gender gap in house-work, Forbes India, March 30, 2020 05:39:41 PM Available at:
[vi] Arjun Kumar, Balwant Singh Mehta, Simi Mehta, The link between lockdown, COVID-19, and domestic violence, April 17, 2020
[vii] Coronavirus fallout: Unemployment rate spikes to 23% after lockdown, says CMIE, Business Today, April 7, 2020.
[viii] Schneider D., Harknett K., McLanahan S., Intimate partner violence in the great recession. Demography. 2016;53(2):471–505. Available at:
[ix] Delhi imposes 70% ‘corona’ tax on alcohol after crowding at shops, The Guardian, May 5, 2020.
[x] Romita Saluja, India’s resumption of alcohol sales during lockdown is fuelling a rise in domestic violence, SCMP, May 20, 2020, 7:30pm. Available at:
[xi] Coronavirus: Health system overload threatens pregnant women and newborns, UN News, May 7, 2020.
[xii] Sonil Dedhia, Coronavirus outbreak: Condom sales in India go through the roof, Hindustan Times, Mar 24, 2020.
[xiv]Ayushree Nandan, Is domestic violence the next pandemic in India?, TOI, May 21, 2020..
[xv] Panicker Lalita, The Lockdown is making women more vulnerable, The Hindustan Times, April 4, 2020.
[xvi] Ivana Kottasová and Valentina Di Donato, Women are using code words at pharmacies to escape domestic violence during lockdown, CNN, April 6, 2020.