Women Reservation Bill: Look beyond the Narrow Prism
In the last session of Parliament if something keeps our MP shouting along with issue like increasing inflation then it was the Women Reservation Bill. Those who opposed this bill for their own manufactured logic are crying foul on the introduction of bill in the Upper House. Few are selling the logic of million discrepancies in the bill. These sellers are no other than self-stayed socialist groups of this nation who never hesitated in dealing with Sahara’s and Ambani’s of the world, despite carrying the flag of socialism.
Hope that there are few buyers of their logic and the progressive gentry of this nation are more than happy that finally the bill came on the table, what will happen to it, still remain conspicuous. Keeping the present oppositions, nobody can predict the outcome but still accolades goes to those who bravely defended the bill inside the Upper House of the Parliament, with a hope that in future too they will show the same spirit when more hurdles to stop the bill is very much expected.
Citing the argument of inconsistency for differing on the Bill and call for a debate is one thing but rejecting it is not acceptable. Those who are opposed to the women’s reservation bill must understand that condition of women in this nation, by no scale is satisfactory.
Government needs applaud for its arduous effort in bringing the Bill on the table but there are some critical issues, which require efficient handling on the part of the government and by the women’s movement of our nation. If we just take the Gender Development Index of the World, the position of India is reprehensible.
United Nations Development Programme prepares this Gender Development Index. In last five years, that is from year 2000 to 2005 position of India dipped from 105 to 113. The sex ratio in India is nastiest in South Asia and has reached to worst from bad in the Census report of 1901 to 2001. As per the Census of 1901, the sex ratio in India was 972 women to 1,000 men, which in 2001 Census became 933.
Girl child is treated as a burden by our society and people find all possible and impossible mechanisms to stop the birth of girl child. Girl child are slaughtered, mercilessly in the mother’s womb and according to reports; around 50 million women are missing because of female foeticide in India. Apart from this, women are also subject to mental and physical torture for giving birth to a girl child.
In Indian society, women are treated as personal possession and are tagged with the honour of family and society. This patriarchal mindset restricts freedom of women and pressurises them to act according to the set paradigm of the society with no role of intervention in decision-making.
In majority of cases from the level of education to the choice of a life partner voice of family prevails leaving fewer scope for individual preference. In addition, also after the marriage, women face oppression, but she bear it for the sake of family the biggest institution of our society. Those who resist did rarely find a voice of support in both sides of their family.
Inside the locked doors of family prestige, many crimes against women have become a regular feature but majority of them go unreported. If we believe reports it is evident that most of the sexual harassment cases are reportedly done by the well acquainted person to the deceased women or girls.
In numerous cases culprits are, close relatives and family friends but women keep mum for the sake of honour and to avoid the social stigma, which is a product of this male dominated society.
A girl in a family is like an added burden, sometime if the girl try to break the traditional chain of society, then she has to pay a heavy price as in majority of cases the same chain become the death knot for them. From caste Panchayat to religious leaders, they only pronounce death sentence for such girl.
Dowry is another such social evil, which has crippled our society form history and with the passage of time demand for dowry, has increased. Law prohibiting dowry is in place from 1961, but this law is broken in the presence of Leaders to Judges in several marriage ceremonies.
In India it is very easy to do away with the anti-dowry law by using different terminologies like gift, offering, part of tradition etc. According to the National Crime Record Bureau, one dowry death reported in every 77 minutes. Domestic violence has direct correlation with dowry in our society. The increasing demand of dowry particularly in the middle class has made the life of women more vulnerable. Parents too sometime reflecting the same sentiment and do not prefer girl child.
These are some of the most visible ailments and there are other deep-rooted problems, which need immediate attention. Through women’s reservation in the Parliament at least it will be ensured that in important decisions of the nation this deprived gender will have a vital say. Many of those, who are opposed to Women’s reservations in Parliament, consider Mahatama Jyoti Rao Phule as their ideal. Mahatama Phule, the father of social reforms in India considered Women equally defenseless along with other deprived sections of the society. Mahatama Phule even started a school for women in which anyone can join. The visionary Phule was well aware of the fact that irrespective of caste and religion women are subject to oppression in the society. Taking the present women’s reservation bill on the path advocated by Mahatama Phule, we must support it unequivocally.
There are many battles where more strong fight is required and we have not been able to make any breakthrough till date. Women Reservation Bill is a step in right direction and those opposed to it for whatever reasons are only defending the age-old patriarchal mindset.
The scope for debate always exists and contentious issues must be resolved amicably but taking a position per say against women’s reservation is only helping those who want to retain patriarchal values by any means. Rome was not built in a day and much needs to be done, every bill have the scope of amendment and no one is averse to positive suggestions but stalling it, is wrong and should be condemned.
Keeping the poor record of our nation in World Gender Index, let us hope that the sense will prevail in some of our leaders and more efforts to ameliorate the status of women would be taken rather than maintaining the status quo.
*The author of this article, Dhananjay Tripathi is a Research Scholar & Ex- Student Union President, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), writing for socio-political interest. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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