COVID-19 and the resulting lockdowns has resulted in increased cases of gender-based violence and human trafficking. This is mainly because people have lost their livelihood and migrant labourers are on the move fleeing from their cities of work. There is a need to provide women and children with moral support and healthcare.
Providing health and any other support in the community and particularly to young women is very challenging due to the virus' threat to many people’s health and lockdown restrictions. In India, the Government Health Department and other Government village level staff work on the frontlines to support people. Therefore, working with them is vital to spread awareness.
With the lockdown arising out of COVID-19, many socio-economic issues have surfaced leading to the exploitation of women and children. The Government staff are a chosen few who work on the field. Among the Government Staff, it is the Health Department which works closely with the community which makes them the most suitable individuals to create awareness during these difficult times.
The Telangana State Government Department of Women and Child Development and Department of Health such as ASHA Workers, ANMs and Anganwadi teachers act as a support system in villages during the pandemic. Terre des Hommes Netherlands’ partner organization for the Girl’s Advocacy Alliance project, Shramika Vikas Kendra influenced these departments to act as supporters in the villages.
The health workers distributed educational and information materials that provide details about the rights of children, prevention of gender-based violence, and other forms of violence against the children. Furthermore, they educated people about potential effects of the social and economic lockdown on children’s protection which could in the form of child marriages and trafficking.
Through this activity, community members especially people from poorest of the poor understood the problems of gender discrimination and began following precautions to protect women and children. This was prioritized by engaging with their local village level child protection committees in identifying and reporting on incidents of abuse.