Maneka wants ‘pradhan patis’ in jail

Minister tells Governance Now she wants more women in police force

sweta-ranjan

Sweta Ranjan | August 21, 2014



Though the panchayati raj system originally envisioned empowering women, over the years the husbands of elected women and sarpanches have made a mockery of the rules. Now women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi wants put an end to it, by putting such men in jail.

“I have said in parliament that we are looking for ways to do it (to change this functioning). If a woman doesn't exercise her rights as pradhan she should be removed. The ‘pradhan pati’ should be jailed and completely barred from any kinds of decision making,” the minister told Governance Now in an exclusive interview (to be published in the September 1 issue).

Gandhi has criticised the way the vision of women’s empowerment in the panchayati raj system has been given a short shrift. “Thirty years ago when Rajiv Gandhi announced it, the idea was to get women into the mainstream. He said 33 percent of all sarpanchs would be women. That was a brilliant idea. But women allowed themselves to be used as tools. New institutions like 'pradhan pati' and 'sarpanch pati' came up. They even became legitimised as district magistrates allowed husbands to sit in panchayat meetings. Pradhan patis would run the show while women stayed in ghunghats.”

The minister was responding to a query on the rising number of crimes against women and the ways to empower women.

Gandhi said the problem stems from two factors. “One is overpopulation. In an overpopulated society violence does increase and it's always aimed at the weaker. So, it is always going to be one caste against other, one class against other. Our job is to empower women rather than change the mindset of men which is not possible at this point.” What the government can do in this regard is empower the women, she said.

In this regard, she added, “I have written to all the chief ministers to have more women in the police force.”

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