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Dhaka Tribune

OP-ED: When quarantine is normal life

The girls in our country were in lockdown even before the pandemic 

Update : 02 Oct 2020, 08:44 PM

What changed? The world surely has. The world has been modernized and socialized throughout all the years humanity has been in existence.

But that was soon put to a stop. We all believed with the way the world has progressed, nothing could stop us. That was until Covid-19. The cluster was initially reported on December 31, 2019, when the WHO China Country Office was informed of a new type of coronavirus, which was isolated on January 7, 2020. 

Despite the initial warning, it soon spread like wildfire. It was hard to decipher how we would tame a beast whose existence is fueled by the very thing which allows us to live, air. 

We came to the only possibility, prevention. In this case, through quarantine. Since then, the pandemic has spread day by day over the whole nation and the number of affected people has been increasing. 

On March 16, the government decided to keep all the educational institutions closed from March 17 to 31, aiming to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus. The time was extended and, even now, schools are yet to reopen. 

As a result, the streets that were once busy with people joining for a cup of tea or teenage boys occupied by cricket, the clinking sound of rickshaws as people headed for their destinations, became subdued. Leaving the once narrow buzzing streets wider and calmer.

The ending date of this catastrophe is yet to be known. We being the social creatures that we are, find it hard to stay cooped up in a small space, with very limited exposure to social life. Still, we humans never cease to amaze as we bend the rules and precautions. 

When the possibility of spreading was at its peak, neighboring boys were out in the streets playing cricket, tongs were brimming with men. 

One of my acquaintances who has two teenage boys for kids shared her opinion on the matter. She said, “How long can I keep them locked? They are boys! Teenage boys can’t be cooped up!” It was deeply expressed how unjust it would be to keep her son at home. 

I bet the thought never occurred to people what it’s like to stay at home all the time before covid-19 came. This monotonous routine she doesn’t want her children to have is the regular routine of our girl children. 

She has emphasized how a teenage boy shouldn’t be cooped up. It shows the acceptance of society towards teenage boys, whereas teenage girls are not given the same privilege. How teenage boys get more access to socialization and girls are confined and the much-needed socialization gets cut out. 

An average teenage girl’s routine consists of going to school, back home, tutor, study, eat, sleep, and then repeat the next day. This is normalized, expected without question from the young female population of this country. 

Even before Covid-19 came, girls always stayed at home except for a few weddings here and there. Girl children confined to their homes is usually excused by citing safety precautions. But who are they taking shelter from? Societal acceptance is the key. 

Is this even a solution? Well, is living in quarantine all our lives a solution for Covid-19? Gender doesn’t lessen our work by any means. But it somehow deters our leisure, responsibility, expectations, chores but mostly, it deters freedom. We live in a sovereign where the citizens have freedom. Yet, there’s this unspoken rule that hovers over us.

Covid-19 has raised many questions and uncertainties about the future. 

It has shown that, despite living in a modernized world, we are nowhere near as prepared as we should be for modern issues that will rise in the future. Covid-19 has also brought to light things that make me question myself. 

How healthy is the life we make our girl children live in? 

Faeeza Tasmeem Neera is a student of class 10 at Shaheed Police Smrity College.

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