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Two recent news articles about women’s plight in this country compelled the author to wonder if women empowerment in India is truly a reality.
Like many other times before, it’s the news in circulation that got me to pen (rather type) this down. There are two news items which inspired this write up or should I say necessitated this write up – it depends on your perception.
The first news was about a special course for becoming an ‘Adarsh Bahu‘ (ideal daughter-in-law) to be started by a university in Madhya Pradesh and them saying that it’s for the sake of women empowerment. The second one is the case of a school topper from Haryana being gang raped.
By now you must be curious to know how on earth are these two news pieces connected. I will explain that eventually, but to get there it would take some time. So, let’s get started…
The 19 year old girl who was brutally gang raped in Haryana, was a state topper in Class 10 board exams and was a promising baseball player according to TOI news. She was the perfect role model for the ‘beti bachao beti padhao‘ campaign of the central government. Her home state is reeling under a dismal gender ratio of 940 women per thousand men. In such a scenario the governments usually take extra efforts to project young achievers like her in the fore front.
But that is it, this campaign created supposedly for empowering woman has been relegated to a mere advertisement campaign. Is just celebrating the laurels of the beti enough? Isn’t it the government’s responsibility to ensure her safe journey towards her goals? Before somebody starts shouting that everything can’t just be the government’s job alone, let me remind you that ensuring people’s safety in public places is very much their job, enforcing law and order is again their job.
It is appalling to read how the family members of this young girl were made to run from pillar to post to register an FIR. But should we really be shocked with this scenario? because it isn’t the first time that this is happening. As of now no intelligent neta or public personality has come up with a statement like “Choriyon ko itna padhne ki ke zaroorat?” (what is the need for girls to study so much?). If somebody does come out with a statement on those lines, then I won’t be shocked, because in our country, the norm is to blame the victim.
While the perpetrator is portrayed as the poor guy who had no control over his hormones and a politician aspiring to be the Prime Minister of the country shamelessly put it across by saying that, “Boys will be boys.” This is the reason why a member of the Legislative Assembly can continuously shame and defame rape victims. However often he does it, no action is being taken against him.
What do you think is the reason for this attitude? Of course its the untoward level of entitlement given to just one gender. This entitlement and position of power has been enjoyed by men for generations. Now when women, in their own way, want to call out the unfairness, seek their equal share or refuse to take any kind of brutality in silence, the most effective way sought by these men is to brutalize and shame them along with their character assassination, in the process to instill fear in others. The perpetrators here are evil but the people supporting and justifying their deeds are more evil than them.
Now those who rise up would be the #NotAllMen campaigners, shouting that you can’t generalize about all men. In that case why don’t you all raise your voices against such perps and stand with the woman? Contribute towards building an equal society; mere shouting that you aren’t one among them will definitely not work, prove your words with action.
Now let’s come to the other piece of news – a government funded Barkatullah University is set to introduces a course on being an ‘Adarsh Bahu‘. In the words of the Vice Chancellor of the university, the aim of the course is to “make girls aware so that they can adjust to the new environment after marriage.” So an educational institute uses government funds or rather the tax payers money to start a course which aims at making women abide by norms.
In a country where equality in marriage is a myth, rather than improving that scenario, an institution for learning is further trying to propagate the idea of adjustment, compromise and indoctrinate false notions of sanskars. All this in the hope of keeping the power reins in the hands of just one gender. If the aim was really to improve family dynamics and betterment of the society as claimed, then the university should have introduced a course on improving relationship dynamics. This could have helped people understand the opposite gender’s emotional needs better. This definitely would have contributed to bettering the society as claimed.
The course can definitely be counted as a part of women’s oppression but definitely not empowerment. A few days back I read this news article in The New York Times which talks about Norway conducting courses to teach migrant men how to treat women. I cannot confidently talk about the scenario in Norway, having never visited the country or lived there. But our country is definitely in need of this course for its very own citizens. So it’s not the Adarsh bahu course that we need, but an ideal purush course is definitely the need of the hour.
By now most of you would have figured out how both these news articles are connected. For those who haven’t, the connection between them is the strong sense of two ugly elements deep rooted in our society – patriarchy and misogyny. What else can make men fearless about being brutal to women or for others to confidently and shamelessly support this brutality?
Further introducing such courses which would propagate these deep rooted evils, only shows how strongly a major section of the society wants to hold on to them. Now I wonder did the government really mean Beti bachao Beti Padhao? Is this fight for an equal and safe society never going to end? Like many women out there, I too have wished for a better society for my daughter and nieces. But with repressiveness penetrating further I fear it will remain just that; a wish.
Image Source via Flickr credits Jordi Bernabeu Farrús used under a Creative Commons license
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A dreamer by passion and an Advocate by profession. Mother to an ever energetic and
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