Women need to exercise their voting rights to make their voices heard
Abhishek Choudhary | March 11, 2014
Women’s issues have taken a forefront with the governments of many states taking several measures to tackle women’s security, sexual harassment at the workplace and discrimination. At the event, ‘Fundamental duty of a citizen: protect and respect the dignity of Women’ organised by Mumbai district legal services authority along with National College, Bandra and Aan Foundation Susie ben Shah, chairperson, Maharashtra state commission for women (MSCW) said, “MSCW has established a panel to look into complaints of cases of police refusal to file an FIR on crimes against women and sexual harassment of woman at workplace.”
Assuring a hearing within one week of registration of complaint Shah said girls must exercise their right to vote and regretted that despite many girls being academic high achievers, less than 20 percent join workforce. Responding to an objection by a student on reservation for women, she said that reservation makes sure that women oriented policies are taken up by the government so that women are included in mainstream.
Strongly in favour of 50 percent reservation for women in parliament, Nirmala Samant Prabhavalkar, member, national commission for women (NCW) said, “presence of women brings discipline amongst those around her and it will result in discipline in legislature too. This will automatically result in more laws for women and bringing them into the mainstream. A woman deserves reservation otherwise she will keep getting sidelined.”
Prabhavalkar said that equality of women is enshrined in our Constitution as per Articles 14,15,16 and directive principles of state policy. This was not the case 50 to 100 years ago. It is because of sacrifices of Savitri Bai Phule, Jyotiba Phule and others that women started getting educated. Regretfully, now political parties are dividing people for their personal agendas. Because of patriarchal mindset, key position’s like that of prime minister, chief minister and police commissioner are not given to women. In the name of superstition women in rural areas of the country are branded as witches by Khap and jaati (caste) panchayat’s and deprived of basic needs. While on one side literacy is increasing, discrimination against women is very rampant.
Exhorting young educated people to take up larger responsibilities against primarily prioritising their personal interests in the present capitalist era of globalisation she asked them to become a part and particle of society. “Please think of 60-70 percent of the population who are actually struggling so that we get basic comforts. It is because some farmer has given up his land that we are getting a railway track and an aerodrome. Paying tax to the government is our duty. While we expect the government to do everything for us we also need to reflect on what we are doing for government.”
Coming down heavily on portrayal of women as commodities and traded off as art she said that audiences have become consumers. “If the mentality of people is to watch porn what respect they will give to women. Future generation will blame us for not preserving women’s dignity,” she said.
Speaking on crimes against women Prabhavalkar said, data has revealed that 80 percent of time, perpetrator is known to the victim. Post Nirbhaya case and Verma Committee recommendations, laws for crime against women have become very strict and strong, widening the ambit of crime. In Delhi, she said, pre- Nirbhaya, there were 530 yearly cases of recorded crime against women in all 180 police stations which rose to 1500 and above registered cases post Nirbhaya. This is because women have started reporting crimes and police officers could be prosecuted for refusing to register complaints regarding crimes against women.
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