How safe are women in India?

Published Jun 16, 2014, 12:12 pm IST
Updated Apr 1, 2019, 12:55 am IST
Picture for representational purpose    (Photo: DC archives)
 Picture for representational purpose (Photo: DC archives)

Chennai: While the state and Central governments have been trying to outbeat one another by announcing scheme after scheme for the welfare and safety of women and children, statistics indicate that these are not really impacting the cause. Activists working for women’s welfare in the state point out that while the intention of governments might be good, no real thought has been put into setting up effective mechanisms to translate theory into practice.

The previous UPA government had come up with a Nirbhaya fund following the brutal rape and murder of a Delhi-based physiotherapist and even allocated Rs 1,000 crore in two successive budgets. Unfortunately, the funds remain unutilised as state governments and recipient organisations did not have clear plans to use the money towards the safety of women.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also put the safety of women at the top of his government’s agenda and is expected to roll out a slew of measures as promised in the BJP election manifesto.

“But none of those efforts are going to make any change on the ground,” says noted lawyer and rights activist Sudha Ramalingam. “We already have several commissions, made laws more stringent, increased the number of all women police stations and so forth. But crimes only seem to be on the rise,” she says.

The problem, according to Ms Ramalingam, is that there is no easy solution to handle the situation. “It is a gradual process and has to start with a drastic change of mindset. It can only happen in school,” she says. The veteran activist claims that there should be a change in the education system.

“During our school days, there was a subject Moral Science where young children were taught the right way of living. The fact that such a subject has vanished from our curriculum reflects our mindset where only material success matters. Gender equality and co-education should start from kindergarten. It is our only hope,” she says.

Activists working in the field of women and child abuse point out that knee jerk reactions by governments in announcing funds for victims, etc., are only superficial and do no really help. “A vast majority of the victims don’t come into the media limelight and do not receive any such funds,” says a city-based child rights activist.

She points fingers at the Union HRD ministry. “If anything can be done, it should start in the schools. Gender studies should be made mandatory where boys and girls should debate in schools on crimes and violence against women. It should be openly discussed among children at a young age with guidance from experienced professionals. Merely adding gender studies in text books does no good either,” the noted activist says.

Good habits start from school

Subject like Moral Science, where young children were taught the right way of living should be introduced.

Gender equality and co-education should start from kindergarten.

Location: Tamil Nadu


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