The government is urging self-isolation and quarantine at homes. The peoples is appealing to maintain a 1 meter distance between each other. Doctors are reminding us to wash our hands with soap repeatedly while others advise us to take a bath with hot water, drink warm water, and eat healthy food. The news and discussions are endless. Coronavirus is spreading rapidly around the world and currently, from the nation to the individual, everyone is seeking to protect themselves from this pandemic disease.
Homeless young women however, are far beyond these concerns and worries. Not having a home to return to or even stay for the night, no free toilets for bathing and bodily functions, let alone accessing clean and hot water and having barely any space to protect themselves, the 1 meter separation is a distant dream for these women.
In a country like ours, where women are not allowed to enter temples during menstruation, where #untouchability is practiced against those from marginalised #castes, where they often die due to various kinds of violence inflicted by family and society, some young women bravely step out of their houses in order to protect themselves and claim their rights. Even today, the government has not been able to provide a completely safe space for these homeless women and neither has the society given them opportunities to build their own lives. Consequently, exposure to violence and continuous exploitation has impacted the #mentalhealth of women so much that even daily activities can be difficult and cause a lot of discomfort. Thus, she is unable to not take care of herself and cannot accurately judge the danger of untoward incidents. Furthermore, if some women are exposed to gender and #sexualviolence, their #physicalhealth is also not the same.
Perceiving the scenario from this lens, can we truly expect that a vulnerable and #marginalisedwoman infected with #COVID-19 will be treated with equal respect, receive healthcare and support, with belongingness, love and acceptance? Or is it likely to be another reason that renders her homeless?
How will the homeless fight this terrible reality? If #homelessyoungwomen are to keep themselves safe from COVID-19, where and how will they get there? How many women and for how long will the walls of organisations like URJA provide safety and security? In this journey of breaking this deep-rooted exploitative chain, there are few of us with even fewer resources who are co-travellers with the inhuman acts and insensitive behaviors of the society and striving to realise the #safety, #dignity and self-respect of these brave and resilient homeless young women.
To be honest, this journey is not easy for homeless young women and for those like us, but if we all wish to understand the roots of their struggle with an empathic and rational mind, then it is not difficult either.