The foundation of women’s day was laid on 8 March, 1957, when several women working in a New York based Textile factory staged a protest against low wages and harsh working conditions. But today women’s day is reduced to some conferences on international basis discussing “equal” rights of women, their role in society and the age old problems related to it; exchange of short messages between friends, wishing women and with the clock striking 12 at night this all comes to an end. Life is again back on the same (and ugly) track. Women are again the weaker sex, even for that day, nothing did really change and what shall change after that, is again nothing.
This may sound too extreme and can be easily debated stating that Women have been to space, they are on the highest post, they are professionals and entrepreneurs, and they have a full fledged day to their credit. These all things are good till they feature on TV or newspaper. The numbers of such lucky women are numbered. The reality slaps hard. For long, women have been, in all society, considered lower to man and are denied of many of the basic rights. They are thrown to face all kind of discrimination, harassment and violence (in all forms). There has been serious lacking in our system for preventing such issues.
No doubt we have number of Acts for the “protection” of women like Anti Dowry, abatement to suicide, protection against the cruelty of husband and his relative and the newest Protection from Domestic violence. For some reason, the very problem in many of these acts is in their name itself. “Protection”, why cure and not prevention?? Why does our law always wait for a victim to suffer and then provide “protection”?? Why can’t we start from preventing of it? Well it’s irrelevant now, given that IPC is at least that lenient to provide protection to women. Prevention may follow. Let’s wait and hope for it.
The Protection from Domestic Violence act provides a woman protection against any act /conduct /omission /commission that harms or injures or has the potential to harm or injure, physically, sexually, emotionally, verbally, psychologically, and economically. Further it is more or less comparable to human rights. It provides a woman right to secure property and guarantees prevention of further harassment in course of trial and has a broader scope than precious acts.
It’s a good initiative like all others from the government’s side. But all said and done, the implementation is still pending and in a society like ours it shall always be the same. The fact is most of the cases of domestic violence or dowry or any other forms of abuse are not at all reported. Further, with 60 % of population living in rural areas, these acts fail to provide awareness regarding their benefits and do not reach to the majority of the victims. The effective (if at all) boundary of these acts are confined till the urban areas. Women are burnt, raped and abused in their own household and the cases go unnoticed as the victim fail to lodge a complaint against the same.
Family is considered as a sacred entity in India. In such scenario, the fear of breaking the bond prevents the victim to demand protection. As there is seldom any provision for rebinding given such issues make a hype in the society (Indian context) and the victim being a woman is look down throughout her leftover period of life. Moreover, most of the time, the victim being uneducated and unemployed, the funding arises as another hindrance. Though we have protection officer and NGOs but the question arises that what if the protection officers themselves are gender biased and corrupt (a normal scenario) and how the victim is supposed to reach to the NGO with all family pressure on oneself.
On the other hand, these acts with all other acts of women empowerment are more of a nature of pro- woman. They lack the provision of a detailed investigation so as to forcing men to suffer the consequences, no matter whomever fault it may be. There have been a lot of cases where women have taken undue advantage of these acts to benefit themselves. This largely happens because, as I said earlier, these acts do not reach to the actual victim, most of them being in rural areas. Where women are already educated and independent these acts have less use. Awareness is the only solution to the problem.
However, in unstable socio-political conditions as ours, domestic violence is just a small part of the story. The harassment at work and in society is another long separate subject to be discussed. We impart education to girls, make them confident of their skill and knowledge, employ them and then they are introduced to the new world of discrimination. They are sexually harassed by the superiors and male colleagues and often denied promotions, recognition and fundamental rights on the grounds of being women. There is a lack of strict laws regarding these areas.
The recent attack on pub going women in Karnataka is an added insult to the injury. Though this attack may be termed as more of a political nature, the victims are again women. The modernization is welcomed but then there should be a restriction on women again. A man can go to pub, which has a government license to operate, but women cannot. That’s against the (MALE DOMINATED) society. Why?? That’s beyond my understanding. Perhaps Ram Sene can give a better answer.
If this wasn’t enough, the new rule prohibiting girls to wear a dress with full covering in educational institutes, has again targeted women in between political fights. This rule being opposite to the above one lacks all kind of sane and insane explanation. Women here are being prevented from following one of the fundamental rights bestowed by constitution namely, the right to follow and observe one’s religion and culture peacefully.
Sadly, there are no acts or legal proceedings in these cases given the hands of politicians, higher authorities etc. in it.
With all these defects still prevalent in the system, at least I don’t see any good enough reason to celebrate women’s day. If we don’t have the freedom what is the celebration for? I agree the condition is still better than before and we can count in many things at our side, like equal right to education, work etc. But aren’t these things supposed to be ours only? Why are we begging for the things which we already deserve?? And then again why we are celebrating, when after much hue and cry, we all are imparted with what was always ours??
Still, if you want to celebrate this day, just for the sake of it, I wish all a very “happy women’s day”. *Sigh*