By Palak Bhambri:
I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning to sail my ship. ~ Louisa May Alcott.
During World War 2, women came out of their sheltered surroundings into the world of men. They took over the businesses mostly of their husbands who had left to fight the war. We are not unknown to the Suffragette Movement and its repercussions which provided equal voting rights to women. Women world-over continue to prove time and again their ability and skill, then why is there a need to get special bills and provisions for them? It is because of the society that we are brought up in. We were bred into gender roles which were never equal from their very nature. And so we built a skewed society, and thus came the need for special provisions to protect its women against people who thought they ruled the roost.
In India the scenario was not the same but more intense. Women have sacrificed at every step from the Sati Pratha, to the recent Assam incident, where the woman was molested in full public view. The Indian Constitution provides women with certain laws which try to keep them at par with men in the society.
The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 (39 of 2005) came into force from 9th September, 2005. The Government of India has issued notification to this effect. The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act was to remove gender discriminatory provisions in the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. The two basic rights given were-
• The daughter of a coparcener shall by birth, become a coparcener in her own right in the same manner as the son.
• The daughter has the same rights in the coparcenary property as she would have had if she been a son.
Before the amendment to this law, according to the Hindu Succesion Act, a son had the right to claim the property of his deceased father. The daughter had no such right. This approach gives the idea of “Beta humara naam roshan karega” and “Beta humara vansh aage badhayega.” What is worse is, although there is a law present but the mindset of people has still not changed. A common example is that of address boards of offices which mention ABC and Sons Ltd. Have we ever come across a board saying, ABC and Daughters Ltd.? We could even do with, ABC Sons and Daughters Ltd. But the prejudice against women remains steadfast in a society like ours. Another common example is of home addresses, where only the names of the male members of the house are mentioned. Example- A2/78 Rk Duggal , Ramesh Duggal, Rajiv Duggal. Are there no women present in such houses, more so where did the Duggal clan come into existence if there was none ? Such acts are of a disillusioned society.
Another policy upheld by the government recently was-The National Plan of Action for the Girl Child (1991-2000)
The plan of Action is to ensure survival, protection and development of the girl child with the ultimate objective of building up a better future for the girl child. This plan seeks to prevent female foeticide and infanticide, eliminate gender discrimination, provide safe drinking water and fodder near homes, rehabilitate and protect girls from exploitation, assault and abuse.
Such a plan sounds sour when we are the nation which tops the female foeticide rates worldwide. The doctors keep operating and doing such heinous acts. The dropout rate of girls after primary schools has been surging mainly because they go through puberty and its conditions which make them dropout of school. The schools which operate only for girls have meagre facilities. Women still travel miles in search of drinking water. Mostly in Rajasthan, where this problem is huge and women die because of fatigue and excessive exhaustion. Women’s safety has been a major concern especially in a place like Delhi which is declared the worst city for women to live in. Women are not safe in public transports, on the road, parks anywhere. Are we supposed to remain inside our cocoons all the time ?
What is needed is specificity in targeting the problem, reasoning the correct solution and effective implementation. A major part of it lies in changing the mindset of the society. The government needs to target the lowest strata first and then make generic plans for improvement. We need to employ specific trained personnel who look into the implementation only. The future of a country is made by its women. We have made enough policies and plans for the betterment of women, it is time for some action now. This action, not only comes from the government and its servants but from the common citizens and from women themselves. Women are dominated because we let ourselves be dominated. The laws are made to serve a purpose, and with the variety that we have in our constitution, by now, ideally India should have been the country which respects women with dignity and honour.