We are living in the 21st century, still some parts of India are yet to respect a girl child. We are living in a male chauvinist country. Female foetus is aborted before birth or if she anyhow manages to take birth, then evil waits for her to grow and get raped, molested and murdered. A year back, in Sangli district of Maharashtra, a homoeopathic doctor from Belgaum, Karnataka was arrested in connection with an abortion racket case. Nineteen aborted female foetuses were found dumped near a stream at a village. In many places, new-born baby girls have been thrown into rubbish dumps to get gnawed by rats; or given an overdose of drugs, sometimes opium. Education and wealth have only helped 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 after an 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 the accused 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 on March 8, 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 girl children, where kids are picked up and sold by our very own politicians, whose 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 understands that the dignity and lives of girls are 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 modernity, India still has 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. 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 Reservation Bill, which would ensure that one-third of Parliamentarians are women that 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 2017 Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) election results, women politicians were receiving obscene messages on their mobile phones. Along with Shiv Sena spokesperson Dr Neelam Gorhe and BJP spokesperson Shaina NC, Congress MLA Varsha Gaikwad also became the victim of lewd messages. Thus, a question which arises here is that, are women leaders being the target in politics? Who is responsible for committing such offence? Sending obscene messages is punishable under the IT act. When these so called powerful mid-age women suffered the 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.
There are several concurrent threads to the debate of gender equality — How can we teach our men to respect women better? Is violence against women an expression of social faults? If yes, which are the 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?
It is in common knowledge that Indian judiciary has millions of cases pending at any given point of time. Number of pending cases has increased by 40 per cent between 2008 and 2012. 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?
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