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NHRC Expert Committee Issues Advisory For Protection Of Women During Pandemic [Read Advisory]

10 Oct 2020 8:59 AM GMT
NHRC Expert Committee Issues Advisory For Protection Of Women During Pandemic [Read Advisory]
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Deeply concerned about the rights of the vulnerable and marginalised sections of the society affected by the pandemic, a Committee of Experts constituted by the National Human Rights Commission has issued the 'Advisory on Rights of Women in the context of COVID-19'.

The Commission has requested all the concerned Union Ministries and all States/UTs to implement its recommendations contained in the advisory and file a compliance action taken report before it.

The Committee of Experts on Impact of Covid-19 Pandemic on Human Rights and Future Response concluded that the pandemic has had a "gendered impact" on th society, in terms of workload and reduced economic opportunities, increase in incidences of gender-based. violence, communalisation and racialisation, lack of access to health facilities, food and nutrition, and financial and productive resources.

It has therefore made the following recommendations to the Central and the State Governments, under three different themes:

Gender-Based Violence (GBV)

  • A coordinated and inter-ministerial health system response to GBV is required to provide medico-legal care and psychosocial support for survivors of GBV.
  • Violence prevention and survivor support services should be classified as "Essential Services".
  • Ensure implementation of protocols in all states for health centres, hospitals, COVID-wards, shelter homes, quarantine centres, child welfare committees and one stop centres (OSCs) for safety of women.
  • Maintain confidentiality and privacy of all the patients of COVID-19 who test positive, particularly of women/girls who may be survivors of violence.
  • Set up a task force on GBV to ensure coordination and monitor support services, preventive initiatives as well as implementation of related laws and policies.
  • Regular collection of disaggregated data on varied dimensions of GBV is required. Institute a centralised system to collect and track data on GBV support services to ensure availability on of data in the public domain.
  • Ensure public messaging, Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials reiterating zero tolerance to GBV are displayed in government departments, health, and other institutions.

Sexual & Reproductive Health Rights of Women

This theme is further sub-categorized in the following categories:

1. Maternal Health of women

2. Provisions for safe Abortions and accessibility to Contraception

Key suggestions:

  • Ensure that maternal health services are not denied on the basis of religion, caste and location such as containment zones
  • Nutritional support through ICDS
  • Availability of free blood for safe delivery
  • Free contraceptives and medical abortion drugs

Inter alia, the Committee has made recommendations for protection of women belonging to the following classes:

1. Migrant & Unorganized Workers

2. Sex Workers

3. Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA), Anganwadi & Sanitation Workers

4. Women Belonging to Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST) & Minority Communities

5. Adolescent Girls

6. Women in Prisons

Key suggestions:

  • Universalize PDS
  • Increase guarantee of MGNREGA days from 100 days to 200 days
  • Extend moratorium on all loan repayment
  • Improve bank access
  • Recognize sex workers as informal workers
  • Access to free testing and treatment of Covid-19
  • Protect ASHA and Anganwadi workers from stigma
  • Involve ASHA workers in feedback processes to inform health policy
  • Notify sanitary napkins and iron folic acid supplement as essential items
  • Strengthen mental health services
  • Ensure legal services, court camps in prisons
  • Gender sensitive health care in prisons

Click Here To Download Advisory

Read Advisory

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