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In the state elections of 2015, women turned up in great numbers, exceeding men by 7%, and a big ask on their agenda was a ban on alcohol, which they felt was a key factor in the state’s high crime rates.
The state of Bihar has always been notorious for crime and violence. It has been grappling with poverty, illiteracy and corruption for decades now. It seemed the dark ages for this state will never end – but the women of this state are making their voices felt.
Prior to the 2015 state elections in Bihar, women put across a clear message to the government – ban alcohol. They demanded a ban on the grounds that alcohol abuse was responsible for domestic violence, crime against women as well as a drain on most households.
Instead of cowering and letting life take its course, the women of this state stepped up and decided to better their lives. The then Chief Minister not only listened to this plea but also implemented it.
Almost two years since this ban, it appears that things are looking up. Petty crimes, robbing, molestation and rape cases have gone down. The sale of farming equipments such as tractors have gone up and more men are gainfully employed, as mentioned in the link above.
This case proves when women are galvanised into action; they can bring about a revolution. There are many other examples of positive changes bought about by Indian women in recent years as well.
The horrific ‘Nirbhaya’ case brought thousands of women onto the roads and forced the government to strengthen the existing laws against rape. It also made the courts relook at the leniency being given to juvenile criminal delinquents. Then, #metoo exposed the grimy side of the media and entertainment industries and threw up the names of influential men who had been exploiting women because of their power.
Women have had enough, and they have realized that they have to be the harbingers of a new and safer world. More and more women are now coming out to vote and ensuring that the government that comes to power listens to them. In the coming 2019 general elections there is going to be a ground breaking trend. The female turnout is expected to be more than that of the men. It is clear that the political parties too are beginning to make the right noises to entice women voters. Women in turn are ensuring that their votes count and the government listens to their issues and works towards solving them.
Complete gender equality is still far away, but this is a definite start. Let us all pledge to vote in the coming election not only as a responsible citizen but as a woman who wants to live in a safer world.
Image credits Leocardio Sebastian, used under a Creative Commons license
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