CORONA VIRUS: A TSUNAMI WAVE CONVERTING THE HUMAN CRISIS INTO HUMAN RIGHTS CRISIS
Sanmathi S. Rao, V year of B.A.,LL.B. from B.M.S. College Of Law
The coronavirus outbreak came to light on December 31, 2019, when China informed the World Health Organization of a cluster of cases of pneumonia of an unknown cause in Wuhan City in Hubei Province. Subsequently, the disease spread to more Provinces in China, and the rest of the world. The World HealthOrganization declared it a pandemic on March 11th 2020. Since then, 5.4 million people have been affected, 342k people have succumbed to death, 2.11 Million have recovered from the virus, worldwide. Sars-Cov2 has nevertheless become the catalyst which converts a ‘human crisis’ into a ‘human rights crisis’.
Blatant disregard to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs
Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a motivational theory in psychology comprising a five-tier model of human needs, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid. From the bottom of the hierarchy upwards, the needs are: physiological, safety, love, esteem, and self-actualization. The Governments around the world have given no importance to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The Governments around the world are filled with corruption, red-tapeism, etc., because of which providing the 5 needs to their citizens has become the last priority. The Covid-19 Pandemic has become the catalyst which enhances this attitude in the governments around the world.
The priority for all governments, the UN acknowledges, has been to contain the pandemic and at the same time to provide Food, clothes and Social Security to all its citizens. The UN report reveals that an estimated 2.2 billion people are unable to wash their hands regularly because they have limited access to water. This shows the huge resources disparity between the Bourgeois class and the Capitalist class. The Plight of the migrant workers has become so severe that they have started living on the streets due to being thrown under the bridge of unemployment, poverty, helplessness, anxiety because of Covid-19. The Advocates in India found themselves in the same soup as that of migrant workers, they couldn’t eke out a living and the State Bar Councils had to provide the loan of minimum ₹5000 (with 0% Interest) per advocate.
Long-standing inequalities and unequal underlying determinants of health are leaving particular individuals and groups disproportionately impacted by the virus, the inequalities have intensified the Government’s blatant disregard for the Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs model.
Perhaps, if at all a vaccine is discovered, even that will be distributed amongst the elite class, Upper-middle-class of a country by the pharmaceutical companies owing to its extortionate price. The Corona Virus had overburdened the Health care system of all countries, there was the shortage in bed supplies, ventilators, and doctors, the income, resource disparity between people who could afford the expensive treatment, medicines and people who couldn’t, had intensified, in the initial stages of the pandemic. The challenge as of now for any country is how they are going to revive their economy in the aftermath of Covid-19 pandemic, how they are going to sustain the community spread of the virus once everything gets back to square one.
Due to the self-preservation tendency of human beings, and the state, the nation-states are unable to guarantee even permissible Individual rights emanating from their Constitution. Art 21 of Indian Constitution provides that every person is entitled to the right to live with human dignity, due to CoronaVirus housemaids, migrant workers, daily wage labourer’s, and even salaried classes, right to work, right to livelihood had been disregarded. For Instance- X is a housemaid working in Y Apartment, due to the outbreak of CoronaVirus, the apartment’s association has taken a consensus decision to not allow housemaids, visitors, inside the apartment. Thus, X’s right to work, right to eke out a living has been violated on the pretext of social security and stopping the pandemic.
CoronaVirus doesn’t discriminate, but the mechanical setup of a country does
The Social distancing norm became the alleged antidote to the spread of Corona Virus, but even this norm came with Racial& ethnical discrimination, discrimination to the entire LGBTQ Community (there are countries which are yet to recognize the existence of such a community), and Prisoners and persons with disabilities.
1. Challenges faced by LGBTQ Community
LGBT communities were disproportionately impacted by HIV. Without the right treatment, a compromised immune system is more susceptible to the effects of COVID-19. LGBTQ Community has more smokers population and hence can be more susceptible to contracting Coronavirus Pneumonia and the Homophobia is rampant amongst the doctors' fraternity.
2. Challenges faced by people with disabilities and Senior Citizens
People with disabilities and Senior Citizensneeded much more support than the rest of the population in the face of a pandemic. None of the messages in the media was using sign language interpreters. The physically disabled a washbasin or may not be able to wash their hands vigorously. Children and adolescents with conditions like cerebral palsy or Down’s Syndrome needed assistance for even being fed. The Indian Govt had deferred a certain percentage of pension to the Senior Citizens, because of which the senior citizens were unable to afford even necessities. The Senior Citizens and people with disabilities were more susceptible to Covid-19 due to Comorbidities like Diabetes, Asthma and Hypertension.
3. Challenges faced by Prisoners
The spread of the coronavirus in India’s notoriously crowded prisons had prompted authorities to impose jail lockdowns and release thousands of pretrial detainees on parole, furlough, bail as health experts worried that the cramped facilities were serving as breeding grounds for the spread of the virus. United Nations experts and the World Health Organization had urged governments to reduce their prison populations during the pandemic. The virus has spread rapidly in overcrowded prisons across the world, leading governments to release inmates en masse.
The Corona Virus lockdown had increased domestic abuse cases globally
The National Commission for Women (NCW) has raised an urgent alert about the increasing number of domestic violence cases since the national lockdown began. In addition to the violation of human rights, victims ( men, women, transgender’s, children) of domestic violence can face several physical and mental health difficulties such as the risk of chronic disease, depression, sexual disorders, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and substance abuse. The Claps followed by lighting lamps dying the Janta Curfew in India, perhaps couldn’t act as medicines to anxiety, stress, chaos during the pandemic.
Sustainable development, optimum utilization of resources, Multilateralism, International Cooperation and the notion of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ are the only antidotes which can prevent this ‘human crisis’ as well as ‘human rights crisis’.The Pandemic has caused nations around the world to think about introducing legislation which will cater to such pandemics in the future.
. AP, United Nations. ‘UN Chief: Corona Virus pandemic becoming a Human Rights Crisis’ April 23rd 2020 https://www.deccanherald.com/international/world-news-politics/un-chief-coronavirus-pandemic-is-fast-becoming-a-human-rights-crisis-828824.html
Kretchmer Harry. ‘6 ways to protect human rights during lockdown – according to the UN’ May 1st 2020 https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/05/un-human-rights-coronavirus-lockdown/
LGBT Foundation ‘Why LGBT People are Disproportionately Impacted by Coronavirus’https://lgbt.foundation/coronavirus/impact
 Pandey Tanushree. ‘Coronavirus: India's packed prisons raise Covid-19 alarm’https://www.India today.in/mail-today/story/india-packed-prisons-raise-coronavirus-alarm-1661136-2020-03-30