Women’s welfare is a collective concern

Women’s welfare is a collective concern

We need to uphold the dignity of every woman

Woman – a term very common, name-wise and role-wise, but not much valued. While every Hindu household worships Durga, Laxmi, and Kali, every Muslim household resonates with the recitation of Surah Nissa. But the question remains: Does society actually value women? I tried to come up with an affirmative answer but couldn’t!
While a considerable change is visible overall, regarding valuing the work and general contribution of women in offices and at workplaces, there are other areas where negligible or no improvement is seen.
There is always a strange feeling while traveling alone in cabs, responding to unknown doorbells, or answering calls from unknown numbers. In fact, an overflowing block list is a mark of recognition of a female’s phone! These are not just instances but a few of a whole lot of struggles-cum-worries that every woman is subjected to all through her lifetime.
Further opening up the box, we can find women facing much more torturous and grievous acts. Eve Teasing could just be a way of looking cool or brave (disgusting in reality) for a boy but for a girl it can prove ruinous given the mental trauma and the resulting loss of confidence. Acid Attack for a boy could be a way of venting out anger or a mere moment of frustration due to rejection or heartbreak, but for a girl it ruins her entire life from appearance to her very survival. Rape, an unpardonable act, does to a woman something that cannot even be formed into words. Trafficking, Selling, and what not happens with women?
Talking about numbers, the National Crime Records Bureau (2016-2021) reports that crimes against women rose by 15% in 2021 alone. The data makes clear that something is wrong somewhere.
Let’s try to understand the underlying reasons:
Lack of access to resources and systems: Although India’s literacy rate has risen from 18% in 1950s to 74% as per the Census of 2011, the bad news lies within this average. Women remain the disadvantaged ones with a gap of almost 20% between male and female literacy rates. Moreover, the female literacy rate in India stands at around 60% which is 22% lower than the global average. This gender disparity is wider than in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka. This is the core reason for women lacking the know-how of legal provisions and security systems against any kind of violence. This ignorance plunges them further into this vicious circle of tolerance and torture.
No fear of law and sluggish justice: Although our Constitution has requisite provisions for women safety and ensures to take into cognizance every kind of wrong done to a woman, there is slack in the implementation of these provisions. The slow pace of providing justice adds to the problem. Simply put, men think they can do anything to a woman and get away with it. So, what is needed is implementation as well as the strengthening of the legal provisions.
Patriarchy: In any average household, particularly in rural India, a man holds the central place. This would be fine if women were provided their part of respect and value. Instead, they are hardly left with any space to breathe. This suppression never lets a woman come to the forefront, let alone seek the assistance of security systems.
Social norms and practices: Honour killings and early marriages (mainly in rural India) always occupy a major portion of the daily news reports. Who is to blame for such heinous crimes? Women pay for family or business rivalries when they are neither responsible nor involved in any of this.
On the other hand, we also need to appreciate the efforts of the government. The IPC does provide laws for the safety of women. Section 354 defines all acts of “outraging the modesty of a woman” and its subsequent sections also provide for the related punishments. Section 354(A) lays down a minimum imprisonment of 3 years for sexual solicitation and other such acts and 1 year for merely passing comments/ eve teasing. Section 354(B) regards disrobing as a non-bailable offence. Section 354(C) considers voyeurism and 354(D) regards stalking as non-bailable offence upon repetition. In totality, there are 5 sections for crimes against women and all are cognizable (arrest without a warrant).
This article may seem to some as biased, as they would argue that slowly but surely the change is coming! But wait.
Women in India account for 48.04% of the total population but our Parliament has only 78 female members out of a total of 542 members. Participation in this law-making body is 14.39%. This is a meager increase from that at the time of independence. When women are not even involved in law-making processes, then the “slow but sure” change is under a huge question mark. The Hindu (31 Aug, 2022) reports that 86 rapes are lodged daily and 49 offenses (against women) per hour. This is gruesome and serious.
Another aspect is that of Biased Justice. Partiality and misuse of state machinery in cases like the Hathras Gang Rape Case and the Bilkis Bano Case just for the sake of vote bank is nothing but shameful.
Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Sukanya Samridhi Yojana, and other such schemes are for the girl child and all girl citizens of India irrespective of caste, creed, colour or religion, as they are all the daughters of Mother India. After all, a daughter is the treasure of a mother! We need to uphold the dignity of every woman.

The writer is a student of BSc Forestry at Faculty of Forestry, SKUAST-K. [email protected]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.