Author: Rimli Bhattacharya
“If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman”.
– Margaret Thatcher
The discourse of women empowerment in India is absolutely reliant on numerous disparate variables including scholastic stature, casteism, topographical whereabouts (rural/urban) and age. There are policies laid down on paper pertaining to women empowerment at both national and local (panchayat) levels in sectors pertaining to health, fiscal policies, edification, political association and gender – based violence. But the eternal question lies – are we following them? The answer is; there are consequential hiatus between the policies laid and the actual practice followed by a faction of people.
We reside in a patriarchal misogynistic society which is one of the key reasons for this hiatus in actual execution of laws and strategies which addresses nepotism, budgetary disadvantages and sadism against women in India.
We inhabit in a world where female deities are revered and the ordinary woman is subjugated, harried, ill treated, raped, and abducted every single day. To keep a control on the rising violence in women related cases the government has implemented certain rights which every Indian should know. From a feminist bird’s eye view here are those eleven laws which every citizen should obey:
- Discrimination in payment has been abolished.
- Females have right to decorum and gravity.
- Workplace harassment to be dealt with the aid of legal recourse.
- Domestic violence is criminalized.
- Anonymity is granted to women subjected to sexual violence.
- Women cannot be arrested in the night.
- Female rape victims and also sufferers of domestic abuse have the right to avail free legal aid.
- Women can lodge virtual complaints by email or posts. There is no need to be physically present at the police station to lodge a complaint. On receipt of the accusations the SHO should send the cop to record her statement.
- Indecent conduct towards a woman calls for punishment.
- A women stalker is a criminal and is subjected to punishment as per the books of law. Stalking in any form is an offence and needs to be dealt with iron hand.
- Women have the right to file an FIR at any police station. It is a landmark judgment which has been passed by the Supreme Court to save the victim’s time and enabling arrest of an offender immediately.
The figures are always appalling when we witness the number sexual or physical savagery against women in India at any given hour, day or year. There are various independent establishments that work towards assisting women to fight out this constant threat of violence. Their goal is to work towards making the nation a safer place for women by commencing changes in stratagems and orchestrate recognition manoevours that aim to enlighten the masses.
Their objectives are:
- Extricate women and children from perilous or berserk domains and revamping them at a safe interim or perennial shelter.
- Making a woman financially solvent by either monetary support or suitable education trainings so that she can be financially self – reliant.
- Provide legal recourse to assist the sufferer of sexual or physical barbarism. Discern her rights and instigate the judicial procedure for proper justice attainment.
- Bestow admonishing and psychosomatic convalescence.
But there is a hiccup. Our patriarchal society creates a direct impact on empowerment of rural women which is much less as compared to the urban populace. Bucolic women unlike the citified ones are subjected to inequalities at much higher rates and in all domains of life. An urban educated woman enjoys adequate access to fiscal adequacies, vigor and pedagogy, and often encounters less domiciliary barbarity. Females (both bucolic and citified) who have attained certain level of education have higher problem solving skills and also proves as a good decision maker in the household and the social coterie. Moreover female education also has a direct insinuation on mental illness, nourishment and also contributes to the well – being among children.
There are further hindrances on the life of a rural woman. As I cited in the beginning of the essay – education, casteism and class divisions are some of them. The lower category, i.e. the scheduled caste, scheduled tribes and other backward castes suffers maximum maternal volatility and female feticides. Unable to bear the medicinal expenditures and also with little or no exposure to education these women aren’t allowed to participate in decision making and also faces higher level of sexual abuse which often goes un recorded. Societal severance amongst the urban females also has a direct impact on women accreditation. Upper class and scholarly females are preferred in areas of healthcare, education and remunerative opportunities. The lower class, less educated females in urban milieu are at a lower access to such facilities. The brisk urbanization and financial upheavals has given rise to illegal slums and slum dwellers. They are unorganized, subjected to frequent raids and demolition, and the dwellers face other form of abuses and insecurities. The women and children are worst affected and are also deprived from the basic human rights.
The above scenario has enforced woman activists to stem in feminism and feminist movement (women’s movements) which refers to a series of political campaigns for reforms on issues such as reproductive rights, domestic violence, maternity leave, equal pay, women’s suffrage, sexual harassment, and sexual violence, all of which fall under the label of feminism and the feminist movement. The movement’s priorities vary among nations and communities, and range from opposition to female genital mutilation in one country, to opposition to the glass ceiling in another. There are certain misconceptions surrounding the word ‘feminism’. Many people believe it means hating a man or wanting a woman to rule over a man or everything. No.
Feminism1 simply means believing that men and women are equal, neither is better than the other and neither should be treated with more respect than the other – everyone should be equal on all levels, simple as that.
In closure I say though in spite of so many hardships the women in India have excelled in sectors like medicine, engineering, aviation, civil services, army and teaching the number is still limited. India has still a long way to go. Forge ahead in long strides women. Let these men not over power you. Unite yourselves and put an end to female feticide, educate a girl child and empower a woman. That’s how a nation can progress. Enough said!