Even when India has emerged as a bright spot globally as the favoured investment destination with an ambitious goal of achieving $5 trillion economy by 2025, the empowerment of women in its true sense continues to be a distant reality. The situation is quite alarming.
The committee appointed by the union ministry of women and child development in its report in 2015 had said that on one hand women are worshipped as goddesses, while on the other they are burnt for dowry. ”Boys are more desirable and seen as a support for parents in their old age as necessary to continue the family lineage. Girls are considered an unwanted burden yet used to support their brothers and men and suffer in silence as atrocities such as abuse, violence, rape and early marriages. When and if they break their silence, the repercussions are immense,”sad the committee in its report.
Further, the committee pointed out that women have been targets of a strong backlash with increased violence in and outside the home, acute wage differentials and discrimination and continuing commodification in society. Migration, skewed sex ratio, environmental degradation have added to the women’s vulnerability.
The situation is far from changed in fact becoming grave in various states. Political parties though expressed their commitment to transform the situation, they are unable to implement it in true spirit. This is despite India celebrated its 72nd Independence Day on August 15 last year.
The Human Rights Watch (HRW), which is an international non-governmental organization, headquartered in New York City, in its report released last year said several cases of rape across the country have exposed the failures of the criminal justice system. Girls and women face lot of hurdles to report such crimes despite the government has amended laws and released gresh guidelines and policies which aimed at at justice for survivors of rape and sexual violence.
”Victim-blaming is rampant, and lack of witness and victim protection laws make girls and women from marginalized communities even more vulnerable to harassment and threats,” said HRW in its report. It recommended that the government needs to fully implement on a priority basis the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act of 2013, which prescribes a system for investigating and redressing complaints in the workplace.
The Supreme Court’s ruling in September last year to lift the ban on entry of women of menstruating age—between 10 and 50—to a temple in southern India, on grounds of nondiscrimination, equality, and women’s right to practice religion, has led to agitations. Ironically, women have to struggle to enter the temple as protests continue.
Similarly, the hatred and discrimination continue against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. This is despite the Supreme Court’s historic and path breaking order delivered in September last year to decriminalise homosexual sexual relations and struck down a colonial-era law. It has given a full constitutional protections to LGBT people but some forces with the support of certain political parties and their ideological patriarch are making all efforts to keep LGBT at bay.
Further, the Lok Sabha in December last year passed the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2018. Although the government incorporated several amendments in the revised bill, experts believe that it failed to adequately protect the community, including transgender people’s right to self-identify.
The government in September last year had launched a national registry of sexual offenders, which would store the name, address, photo, fingerprints, and personal details of all arrested, charged, and convicted of sexual offenses. The database, available only to law enforcement agencies, raised concerns regarding data breaches and violations of privacy protections, including for individuals never convicted of a sexual offense. The implementation is quite crucial.
On the occasion of Valentine Day today let us resolve we Indians will stop hating love but sincerely work together to practice it. Love, togetherness and brotherhood are key for empowerment of all sections of the society.