The coronavirus continues to hunt, and haunt, people. A lot of us are having difficulty sleeping, while many have fallen asleep permanently because of it. As this pandemic rambles and takes lives, there are a number of groups that are less often considered by us. I am trying to ring a bell for some of these groups, chiefly for myself as all of what is on this blog goes into darkness.
Democracy: yesterday, the parliament of Hungary passed a bill that hands extra powers to Viktor Orban for an unlimited period of time. The rising stars of populism over the past few years, are seizing the occasion to obtain what they have been longing for: power. With the Hungarian parliament virutally short-circuiting itself, other populists around the world, many of whom currently in power, can follow Orban’s lead.
Southerners: we have been hearing a lot over the past few weeks about social distancing and the urgent need for it facing the dire ongoing situation. Many of us have been staying indoors for days, if not weeks and in cases a month, and those of us who take it more seriously often advise the people we know about how social distancing can help, and indeed it does. In the meantime though, our minds are being gentrified because those without a home, inside which they could practice social distancing, are being thrusted to the back of our minds. Moreover, due to the global gentrification over the past decades, the thought of those living in places where social distancing is basically not feasible has totally left our minds. We rarely think about India, Nigeria, Brazil or Caribbean countries, where the roaming poverty that is the result of economic shift in these areas — from a sustainable local production to an extremely unsustainable role in the global chain of supply — has made social distancing totally unfeasible.
Workforce: A lot of businesses have switched to working from home which is now viable thanks to the technological boom that we have been witnessing over the past few years. Universities are holding their classes online and virtual meetings are now common practice. Companies are asking their employees to work from home and some people are feeling alarmed that this is going to be part of the new reality that we are going to face in the post-coronavirus era. Working from home, makes companies more liable to exploiting their workforce and in the long run can lead to severe personal cuts given the uncertain economic future that is ahead of us.
Meanwhile, as smart working seems to be the arm against the slowed-down economy, the professions which cannot work from home, oftentimes with difficult working conditions, and little, if any, protection is granted to the workforce, are basically left out of our concerns. Many of these working environments cannot even be secured against the spread of the disease.
Victims of Domestic Violence: as more people are now home and they do not have the means to leave, people who were subject to domestic violence are finding it difficult to distance themselves from their abusive partners . Furthermore, as the judiciary power has ceased to work in many countries, these mistreatments are less liable to being investigated and impeded.
The Unprotected: two days ago, Portugal announced that the hospitals of the country are open to everyone, including to undocumented immigrants. Since poverty is a crucial part of the undocumented immigrants’ life, they are more likely to get sick and less likely to receive the adequate treatment.
This category is also broadened by those who don’t have access to a decent healthcare for a number of reasons: those who can’t afford one or are not entitled to one are just a small portion of this group.
Prisons: More than 11 million people around the world are behind bars. Prisons often have low hygienic conditions, which make inmates exposed to a huge risk. What makes the matter worse is that many prisoners are incarcerated for unjust reasons; political dissidents, those imprisoned for minor crimes, those who could not afford a bail, or those who have not been charged under a fair trial.
Refugees: People who have left their homes behind in order to seek different living conditions are often forced to live in camps for some time. Refugee camps are another spot where the disease can roam without the possibilty for the inhabitants to implement necessary preventive measures.
Sex workers: needless to say, sex workers are among the groups who have lost their jobs. They are usually not included in the unemployment stats. In most parts of the world they are not offered unemployment supports. In many parts of the world, they are not considered to be holding a job.
This list can go on for a long time. However, I believe what matters is not an effort to make a list of the invisible categories hit by the coronavirus; we need to start thinking beyond the common picture that is depicted for us rather than abiding to it. The injustice league is always more crowded than we think.