Still in the 21st century, some parts of India are yet to respect girl child. Yet, we are living in a male chauvinist country. Female foetus is aborted before birth or if she any how manages to take birth then evil waits for her to grow and get raped, molested and murdered. Two days back, in Sangli district of Maharashtra, a homoeopathic doctor was arrested from Belgaum, Karnataka, in connection with an abortion racket case. Nineteen aborted female foetuses were found dumped near a stream at a village. Many places new-born baby girls have been thrown into rubbish dumps to be gnawed by rats; or given an overdose of drugs, sometimes opium. Education and wealth has only meant that richer families now go in for in-vitro sex selection, and choose boys.
Every day, many rape and molestation cases are registering in our country. Some are even registered against the priest in the church, maulana in madrassas and pandit in temples. Even we have seen that the one we give high values and regards – Godmen—they are involved in this epidemic. Initially, we get surprised and condemn the incident but later some interval of time we forget everything. The real culprit for this is our legal system. This beast’s lawyers find out some ways to secure bail and he won’t lose anything for killing the woman except attending court hearings once or twice a year. For hearings too, he can get exemptions if he is influential. This is what is happening in all rape and molestation cases. We lack sensitivity towards such incidences. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, many messages and wishes are circulated all over but with a pinch of womanhood. I need to confess that still this society is not safe for children, where kids are picked up and sold by our very own politicians, who’s election campaign was “Beti Bachao” (save Daughters). Whenever some disaster happens towards girls, many political leaders escape by giving various reasons for why rape happens but no one understand its girl’s life and dignity is at risk and here verbal talks are not enough. With great faith, people elected PM Modi and BJP government to power, but nothing has changed, so far. Every day, newspapers are grabbing the headlines of brutal assaults on girls.
In a society where economics and hunger drive most decisions, the girl child becomes a dispensable commodity. In the long run, it is still believed, she will provide the family little financial gain – not only will she go away and live with another family after her marriage, an often ill-affordable dowry will have to be gathered for her. Despite the growing GDP and modernity, India still have a spiralling rate of honour killings, dowry deaths, acid attacks, and trafficking – and why do these crimes go unpunished, including the horrific offence of female infanticide? Vast majority of women are divided by caste, class, region, language, religion, even dress, and by illiteracy and poverty. And while strong Indian women have struggled to create a social consciousness about individual rights, India still needs a charismatic female civil leader or politician who will address these terrifying inequities, and turn its women into a force to reckon with.
The political class does not recognise how much women can contribute to development. The women’s representation bill, which would ensure that one-third of parliamentarians are women, has been delayed for decades. Even though four powerful women lead their own parties – Sonia Gandhi, Sushma Swaraj(sort of), Mamata Banerjee, Mayawati – no gender equality exists within their party ranks either. The breakdown of law and order from increasing corruption can only mean things will become even more difficult for women in India. The reality is that they are beginning to raise their voices. The tragedy is that no one is listening.
After the declaration of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) election results, women politicians have started receiving obscene messages on their mobile phones. Congress MLA Varsha Gaikwad has become the latest victim of lewd messages after Shiv Sena spokesperson Dr. Neelam Gorhe and BJP spokesperson Shaina NC had complained about receiving such messages. Thus, a question which arises here is women leaders being targeted in politics? Who is responsible for committing this offence? Sending obscene messages is punishable under the IT act. When these so called powerful mid-age women are suffering with harassment, you can imagine the plight of a common woman. Many times, they don’t even report whatever wrong happens to them, because there is no guarantee of justice.
In the days since that attack, such outbursts from men and women alike have become common. And they have been part of a much broader collection of discussion and debates about women’s safety. There are several concurrent threads to these debates: How can we teach our men to respect women better? Is violence against women an expression of social faults, if so which ones? How can these faults be alleviated? How does the portrayal of women, women’s issues and violence against women in mass media play a role in making things better or worse? Should minors involved in sex crimes be treated as adults? What can we do to make our neighbourhoods safer? More recently, there has been substantial debate on the trivializing of the idea of rape in the form of jokes and in other contexts not directly related to sex crimes.
Let us take the case of Mumbai, arguably India’s most commercially important metropolis. The government has sanctioned police strength of approximately 45,000 officers. Around 3,000 of these posts are currently vacant. The effective number of police on the streets is even lower.
It is in common knowledge that Indian judiciary have millions of cases pending at any given point of time. Yet another Right to Information request, filed by the same applicant in June, found 49,170 cases of crimes against women pending in courts across the state of Maharashtra (Mumbai is its capital). This number has increased by 40% between 2008 and 2012. Of the 14,414 rape cases tried in Maharashtra last year, 13,388 remain pending. Political system has no will to address such serious issues, they just use these incidences to their political advantages saying police is overburdened, and judiciary is overloaded. Who will do justice?
Just by celebrating International Women’s Day, how one can assure her safety and better future here?
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