A Glance at the Life of Sex Workers in India

A Glance at the Life of Sex Workers in India

By guest contributors Kanika Chugh* and Srishti Ray*   With the advent of COVID-19 we all turned to the safety of our homes and accepted the culture of work from home, but the daily wagers of the informal sector didn’t have that choice and were the worst hit. While the work for most of them resumed with several precautions once the lockdown ended, sex workers in Red Light Areas are still struggling to get their lives back on track. On March 26, 2020 government of India announced Rs.1.7 lakh crore as a relief fund for migrant workers, rural and urban poor, and frontline health workers. There are over 800,000 sex workers in India who could not avail that benefit because sex work is not recognised as legitimate work in India. National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on October 7, 2020, issued an advisory requesting that states recognise sex workers as informal workers for protection of their rights in the wake of COVID-19, but it...
Read More
Plight of Sex Workers During COVID-19: A South Asian Perspective

Plight of Sex Workers During COVID-19: A South Asian Perspective

By Atika Chaturvedi, a third year law student at National University of Study and Research in Law at Ranchi, India.  As the world came to a standstill, the shock of the lockdown rippled through the various strata of society. The proliferation of COVID-19 in 2020 left the daily wage earners around the world scraping for money and struggling for survival. One such group was sex workers. Albeit, various South Asian governments formulated covid-relief packages, most of them left out sex workers out of the ambit of such packages. Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which affirms that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, and Article 3, that guarantees everyone the right to life, liberty and security of person, were denied to the sex workers as they were not only curtailed from earning their livelihood, but were also rendered ineligible for the relief packages. They were stripped off of the chance of continuing...
Read More
The U.S.-EU Summit: Next Steps for Human Rights

The U.S.-EU Summit: Next Steps for Human Rights

By Ali Cain, RightsViews staff writer. President Biden’s summit with European leaders on June 15, 2021, was an important step in rebuilding the United States-European alliance. Contrary to former President Trump’s belief that the European Union (EU) is a ‘foe,’ Europe remains one of the United States most important allies, especially in promoting human rights and democratization. Biden’s statement that “Europe is our natural partner…we are committed to the same democratic norms and institutions, and they are increasingly under attack” summarizes why the U.S. and Europe must persist in using their shared values as a platform for cooperation. Despite the summit’s optimism, many challenges lie ahead in a renewed transatlantic relationship, especially in promoting human rights.  The COVID-19 pandemic remains the most pressing issue for all countries. However, geopolitical concerns present the largest obstacle to an effective transatlantic response to human rights abuses. The U.S. and EU face a combative China that utilizes investments, technology, and trade as successful foreign policy carrots...
Read More
COVID-19 in India: Violation of the Right to Health and the Collapse of Healthcare Infrastructure

COVID-19 in India: Violation of the Right to Health and the Collapse of Healthcare Infrastructure

By guest contributor, Ayush Kumar is a law student at Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, India.   On the 13th of March, as a gesture of accountability, Jordan’s health minister resigned after six Covid-19 patients died due to lack of oxygen at a hospital ward. Accountability is the linchpin of a functional democracy as it compels a State to explain what it is doing and how it is moving forward in times of crisis. In the past few weeks, India has faced a massive oxygen shortage as the healthcare infrastructure collapsed like a house of cards due to exponentially rising cases of  Covid-19. Alone in the capital city, twenty-five patients died due to the shortage of oxygen on 24th April. The government’s inadequacy in providing healthcare facilities to its people is a serious violation of their human right to health. Patna High Court’s division bench expressed strong displeasure over the deaths due to oxygen shortage and further stated that lack of adequate...
Read More
COVID-19 in Africa: Responses and Prospect for Recovery

COVID-19 in Africa: Responses and Prospect for Recovery

By Lindsey Alpaugh, staff writer, RightsViews, Human Rights MA student.  On Wednesday, January 27th, Columbia University held an event examining the impact of COVID-19 on the African continent. Panelists included Belinda Archibong, an Assistant Professor of Economics at Barnard College, Pedro Conceicao, the director of the Human Development Report Office and lead author of the Human Development Report, UNDP HDR office, and Dr. Wilmot James, Senior Research Scholar in the Institute for Social and Economic Research Policy. This event followed a series in the fall looking at COVID-19 in Latin America and was sponsored by the Economic and Political Development concentration at SIPA, the Institute for African Studies at Columbia University, Center for Development Economics and Policy, and SIPA Pan-African Network. African countries were able to have a significantly smaller first wave than predicted due to the dramatic measures that countries took to prevent the spread, such as closing schools and limiting travel. While this had a very successful impact on combatting the...
Read More
The Will To Work: Women’s Labor Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

The Will To Work: Women’s Labor Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

By Kelly Dudine, a staff writer at RightsViews and a graduate student in the Human Rights MA Program   Globally, girls and women are simultaneously among the most overworked and most impoverished populations. Entire economies thrive due to the unrecognized and undervalued labor of women, including household work, care work, and informal and low-wage labor.  During the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic, girls and women stand to lose even more. Women in varying levels of employment are now struggling to maintain dignified work, and many fear the loss of income more than the pandemic itself. “During the first lockdown, all the artisans were tense about not having enough orders to work and feared not getting paid,” said Rosna Kafle, Chair of the Kopila Valley Women’s Cooperative in Surkhet, Nepal.  The Cooperative employs some of the most vulnerable women in the community with work as tailors and weavers. Before the Cooperative, many of the artisans were unemployed, or performed hazardous work, like breaking stones or...
Read More
The Year of COVID-19 with Dr. Anthony Fauci

The Year of COVID-19 with Dr. Anthony Fauci

By Noah Smith, RightsViews staff writer and a graduate student in the human rights MA program  On December 10, the Dean's Grand Rounds on the Future of Public Health had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Anthony Fauci to discuss the year of COVID-19 and the future of public health. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown a sobering light on unequivocally broken, systematically racist and unequal health systems which have done little to support communities of color, the vulnerable and the elderly. It has also starkly illuminated our nation's absence of a public health system charged with protecting the health of all citizens. The Dean’s Grands Rounds sought to examine these challenges as well as deepen our understanding, research, teaching and action on this topic, through examining the year that changed everything and the very future of public health.     The Dean of the Mailman School of Public Health, Dr. Linda Fried, moderated the event and asked Dr. Fauci predetermined questions sent in by students...
Read More
“It’s Not Living, It’s Surviving:” Venezuelan Refugees in Colombia and the COVID-19 Crisis

“It’s Not Living, It’s Surviving:” Venezuelan Refugees in Colombia and the COVID-19 Crisis

By Larissa Peltola, a staff writer for RightsViews and a graduate student in the Human Rights MA Program The political and economic crises which have plagued Venezuela since 2014 have resulted in the mass exodus of over 5 million Venezuelans, the largest migrant crisis in the history of the Western Hemisphere. Of the over 5 million people that have fled their home country of Venezuela, over 1.6 million have settled in neighboring Colombia, resulting in a refugee crisis made increasingly worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Milena Gomez Kopp, Visiting Research Scholar at School of International and Public Affairs, engaged with students during the October 28, 2020, Food for Thought speaker series and discussed her analysis of the growing refugee crisis. Background  Venezuela was once considered the wealthiest and most resource-rich country in Latin America. With the largest oil reserve in the world, the economy grew rapidly, and Western countries looked for ways to engage in trade with Venezuela. This changed with the...
Read More
Suffering , Grievability and Covid-19 – An Indian Nightmare

Suffering , Grievability and Covid-19 – An Indian Nightmare

By Guest Contributor Yash Karunakaran. Yash is an alumnus of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign College of Law and the National Academy of Legal Studies and Research (NALSAR). He is currently an advocate practicing before the Supreme Court of India and the Delhi High Court. He is also involved with a civil society organization that helped arrange for travel, food and medicine for migrant workers stuck as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown in India. This organization has filed Petitions before various Courts challenging state restrictions placed on the return of migrant workers. The primary weapon used to counter epidemic outbreaks within the Indian subcontinent has, for the past 123 years, remained the 1897 Epidemics Act. The legislation grants special powers to State Governments, allowing them to make their own regulations to counter the spread of disease. This piece analyses the colonial history of the Indian response to epidemics, highlighting how it colours the manner in which the Indian...
Read More