Tuesday, August 3, 2021
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Addressing women’s status

India is a source, destination and transit country for women being trafficked for the use of forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation. Women are being held in debt bondage and are very vulnerable to forced labour working in rice mills, brick kilns, and agriculture and in embroidery factories. Interestingly, a television debate concluded that divorce rates and women empowerment is directly proportional. Empowered though, women’s status has not been any better, thanks to honour killings, call-centre atrocities, female infanticides and you name it. Imagine a world without it! The world of work is changing, and with significant implications for women. On one hand, we have globalisation, the technological and digital revolution and the opportunities they bring, and on the other hand, the growing informality of labour, unstable livelihoods and incomes, new fiscal and trade policies and environmental impacts all of which must be addressed in the context of women’s economic empowerment.

It has rightly pointed out that “Single means much more than living life your way”. It is found that a single woman faces many psychological and emotional hurdles because of the traditional views of society. The class of single women with a new status may be the direct result of the new concept of women’s development. One would find that facilities in our country to welcome this new trend are still inadequate and young women will have to be trained for such a possibility. There are many single women who are self-confident and have a positive self-image. Women prefer to stay single because it gives them the right to live the way they liked and utilize their income the way they wished. In India, a good number of women have begun to remain single and they have valued their independence regarding physical matters and decision making. Our society needs to change, to help the single women to stand on their feet with dignity and pride. The phenomenon of being single either by choice or by circumstances is a deviation from traditional expectations but both the families as well as the women themselves need to redefine their concept of the suitability of a marriage partner. Inter-cast or inter-religious marriages could be encouraged as this would broaden the range of choice of partners. Society should stop exploiting them and respect their right to be happy and independent.

Crimes rates against women are much higher in big cities than in either small cities or rural areas. Time has helplessly watched women suffering in the form of discrimination, oppression, exploitation, degradation, aggression, humiliation. In a country where women and girls are traditionally revered as the Mother and the Goddess, this is simply unacceptable. A society that is unable to respect, protect and nurture its women and children loses its moral moorings and runs adrift. The major lacuna in the laws is that they are not gender neutral. Many women and their family members, therefore, misuse them to settle scores, intimidate and harass the husband and his family. It is not uncommon to project self-inflicted injuries as an assault by husbands. Sensitivity training and knowledge of the rights of women and children are another vital need and must be made mandatory for all law enforcement agencies. To increase the reporting of such cases at first we need to empower the women and children. They must be educated on their rights and encourage them to come forward to register the cases. There are many violent cases but due to stigma in society very few are reported. The problem cannot be solved by the government alone but by a national awakening involving the entire country and civil society. A nationwide campaign is needed to reignite India’s core values and traditions that respect and nurture women.

(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)
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