Inability evolves to become disability in some cases where there is no effort rendered to change a particular action or situation over a period of time. The proof of the above statement can be known with reference to the current measures taken by the government to challenge the rate of crime against women in India. India remains a class and gender divided society with the three bodies (legislative, executive and judiciary) in power, empowered by the people to cast a haze upon this divide. But, the further we are ageing as a nation the more we are conditioning ourselves to deal with divide without attempting to create concoctions to fix them.
If we study the trajectory of events post independence i.e. the writing of the constitution, the partition, the separation of states, etc then one issue that should have cropped up should have been the problem of crime against women. It should have been of grave concern for people who were writing the constitution, much because the writing of the constitution was an exercise that was a part of the aftermath of the partition between India and Pakistan. The number of abductions, rapes, kidnappings of women that occurred during then led to great devastation among people. But, no measures were taken to curb such situations from harming our future. One would argue that the crime committed during that time was a product of rage that resulted from people’s mental conditions during war. If this argument is accepted then what is it now that is causing people to think the same way? Are we regressing back to the age where in people committed crime against women to show how a real victory was made by practically damaging the institution of humanity?
If not the law makers then, the media of today is trying to make a difference by creating awareness among the masses of this generation who are also trying to keep safe and some among them are even making new advancements in technology to ensure our safety, even if it is at a minimal level. But the actual inability-disability process is controlled by the legislation and judiciary of a country, their actions are a blue print of the psyche of any nation, they dictate the mentality of the masses, so let’s analyze the steps that the new government wants to take and also discuss certain sections of the IPC that deal with rape.
The pertinent and satisfying notes related to the issues of women in the otherwise banal manifesto of the BJP are; first, to create a welfare fund for victims of acid attacks and plan to bare all expenses related to their healthcare. Second, they plan on inculcating self-defense as a part of the curriculum in all schools and finally they assure that they will ‘transform’ the lives of rural women by providing electricity, tapped water, cleaner fuel and toilets in every home.
As for the first note goes, it’s a protocol that was much needed, however one cannot understand this deeply as of now because no work has been done on this as yet. The second idea is strong; however it could be challenged upon its practicality. We live in a nation where in it’s difficult to convince people to send their daughters to school, for them to be taught self defense is another challenge all together. But this idea could be successfully adapted in places where girls are getting proper education without much difficulty. The third one is a quintessential manifesto bullet, as far as I know, no one’s lives have been transformed since their arrival into the chairs of the PMO. My experience as an ‘urban’ woman has surely changed in the past weeks, as now there is hardly any electricity in most areas in New Delhi and more recently, there are no street lights functioning post sunset. So it’s become a tad bit more unsafe to walk on the streets of the nation’s capital where there were about 73,958 casesof rape reported last year.
What their manifesto has missed is the issue of proper sanitation for women in India (though they did mention ‘clean toilets’ as a sub part of the ‘life transformation’ point). Improvement in sanitation can help develop an environment for better health, better availing of education opportunities and could also help in improving the work environment for many unskilled as well as skilled women workers. The previous government had this issue on their agenda, but they never seemed to have bothered to concentrate on this matter. The ministry for drinking water and sanitation remains ignored, devalued and unimportant for all capitalist governments in India.
Now, if we are to look issues that have been bothering the society for many years then another one has to that of domestic violence against women and the provisions under section 376 of the Indian Penal code regarding it. A part of section 376 says that one could be entitled to a lesser time span of imprisonment/ exemption from paying a fine if the woman he rapes is his wife. In fact crimes like stalking, sexual harassment- physical and verbal, are bailable offences under the Indian Penal Code. There have to be more stringent laws dealing with this problem, currently the system is loosely held.
There are several problems that we can trace within these systems, there are even more problems that we can easily locate amongst ourselves. There are cures to these innumerable problems too. The issue mainly is about how to fix the puzzle correctly. The dynamics of our society are such that we do have scope for improvement because of technology, better quality of education, globalization, better quality and productivity of food crops leading to better conditions of nutrition, more and better means of media for creating awareness across the country and many more developments in various fields that could potentially aid the super power that India is aiming to become. My belief is that India as a super power could have the courage to empower its women justly. At this point, I know I sound like a utopist who is waiting for a fairy god mother to spawn her magic upon this nation and sweep patriarchy and violence off it. Its wishful thinking at its superlative best but it’s my version of ‘acche din’ and I sincerely hope they’re on their way.
About the Author
Priyam Mathur is a philosophy graduate, living in and out of Delhi and Mumbai. Her current focus is to build a ground of reconciliation for herself, modern politics and concepts in philosophy. The things that most interest her include existentialism, Indian myths, food and music. She is currently pursuing her internship with Alexis Centre for Public Policy and International Relations.