New Delhi , June 1: A public interest litigation (PIL) seeking pan-India guidelines for protection for women against all forms of violence, discrimination and lack of essential health services during COVID-19 lockdown was withdrawn from the Delhi High Court on Monday.
The petitioners, advocates Prateek Kumar and Arushi Jain, decided to withdraw the PIL after it was heard by a bench of Justices Rajiv Sahay Endlaw and Asha Menon through video conferencing.
The petitioners submitted that it is necessary to ensure that all human rights are upheld during this time and said that all legislations formulated by the central government in consonance with the state governments must be gender-sensitive and guarantee protection to all vulnerable groups, including women.
"During the time of emergency, it must be ensured that the rights of women to live free of violence and discrimination must be guaranteed. Access to essential health services including sexual and reproductive health services must be ensured to all women," the plea said.
It said that the violations of the rights to life and health, particularly the sexual and reproductive health rights of women, in situations of heightened vulnerability due to circumstances such as humanitarian or health crisis, are forms of gender violence that may constitute torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
"The failure by governments to provide these essential services is a form of discrimination against women because it places their lives, health, and physical and psychological integrity at risk," the plea said.
"In India, for much of the poor and more vulnerable women who work in the informal sector, the pandemic and the ensuing lockdown has led to a complete loss of livelihood and robbed them of their dignity," it added.
The plea said that the diversion of attention and critical resources away from these provisions may result in exacerbated maternal mortality and morbidity, increased rates of adolescent pregnancies, HIV-AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases.
It said that due to the excessive movement of migrant workers to their native villages because of lack of livelihood and ability to sustain in urban areas during COVID-19, migrant women workers across the country are forced to give birth at railway stations and on roads.
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