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PM Promised ‘Acche Din’ For Women: Here’s How Shelly’s Petition Brought Impact

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By Mayank Jain:

Life is no easy game for women in India. While patriarchy plays the devil and barriers stop them at every step of the way, safe existence is a consistent struggle with crimes waiting to happen at all places, and not just on the roads. A nurse was taking care of a patient in a 5 star hotel in Delhi when two attendants pushed her and took turns to rape her. The case happened in the same suite where the ailing woman was accommodated, on the night of Independence Day itself.

idayOn the eastern end of this independent nation, a woman was gang-raped, paraded naked and then hanged to death in East Midnapore district of West Bengal. Badaun, Bangalore, Firozabad, all became witnesses to heinous crimes against women which keep striking all over the country.  But all this while, a vicious silence from the Prime Minister ensued. His voice was nowhere to be heard and the hopes of a safer country for women were fast getting bleaker.

Amidst all these celebrations and no promise of a safer country, there were women being harassed all over the nation. In the wake of this sorry state of affairs, Shelly Mahajan decided to take a stand. She got along with Youth Ki Awaaz to start a petition on Change.Org. She petitioned the newly appointed, social media savvy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to promise ‘acche din’ for women in India in his Independence Day speech.

Explaining the appalling condition of women safety in the country and her own fear of going out on the streets, she said,

“Each morning when I leave for college, I feel scared of being stalked, sexually assaulted, and burned from an acid attack or getting murdered. I am a 23-year-old girl living in India and I am deeply worried.

I am not alone. Every woman in India has faced some form of sexual harassment. Last month, two girls were raped and hanged from a tree in Badaun, UP. Just a few days ago a 6-year-old girl was raped in her school in Bangalore. This needs to end!

We can no longer sit quietly and wait for the next rape to make news headlines. I, along with Youth Ki Awaaz started this petition asking PM Modi to promise ‘Achche Din’ for women and address women’s safety in the Independence Day speech.

The entire world watches the Independence Day speech of the Prime Minister from red fort. If the PM talks about ‘Achche Din’ for women and his plan for it, it will send a very strong message that India has put women’s safety as a top priority.

Even the number of tourists coming to India has declined because our country has been tagged as “unsafe for women.” Only our new Prime Minister can change this image by making women’s security a national concern.”

The petition garnered solidarity from over 31,000 people who reached out through the power of social media to sign the petition and helped amplify her voice. These collaborative efforts bore fruits and it turned into a mini movement in itself as Facebook and Twitter became podiums for the troubled populace of this country to make themselves heard.

The day finally arrived and Narendra Modi’s oratory weaved magic once again. Shelly’s efforts and your support turned fruitful as the PM finally took note of the state of women in the country. PM Modi in his first Independence Day speech said that increasing sexual crimes against women is a matter of national shame. He urged parents to put the same restrictions on their sons, like they put on their daughters. He also questioned the skewed sex ratio of the country and appealed to bring an end to female foeticide.

He even took up the issue of open defecation and went on to promise separate toilets for boys and girls in every school. By taking up the issue of women’s safety, Prime Minister Modi struck the right chord and brought us closer to victory. Highlighting the need to stop blaming girls for incidents, he said, “Our head hangs in shame when we hear news about rape. When such incidents happen, parents question their daughter, but does anyone dare ask their sons… after all, the rapist is someone’s son. As parents have we asked our son where he is going, what he’s doing?”

The cognizance of the situation by the PM is a good first step and victory for Shelly and all of us. What remains to be seen however, is the translation of these words into intent and subsequently, actions. The stage is set, expectations have suddenly soared. The onus falls on all of us to be vigilant and keep raising voices whenever the issue goes out of focus, but many times, the final efforts have to come from the PM himself.

You have spoken the right words, struck the right chords; the action remains. Honourable Prime Minister- the country is watching you; don’t let us down.

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  1. Jigsaw

    Mayank, you know very well that crimes are just the same against women all over the world; they are highlighted in India more often as it gets media attention. Over the months you chose to write on women’s issues vying the same attention while leaving out worthy causes, thus staining your soul.

    Will you continue writing for fame and recognition or will you benevolently speak on the many other matters worthy of people’s attention?

    Make a choice.

    1. Mahitha Kasireddi

      Jigsaw, Mayank has enough recognition to his credit as a writer. He does not write for fame, he will not stop writing on women’s issues until the message reaches and sits in the subconscious minds of people in the country, till people change their mindsets. And let me tell you, you cannot solve any other problem in the nation unless you ensure the happiness and safety of women and children of your society. Mayank is doing it the right way. And by the information in your comment, it shows that the freedom of media and its right to report is actually not that bad in India, thanks for enlightening us!

    2. Monistaf

      “Ensure the happiness and safety of women and children”. Either you believe that every man out there is overjoyed and brimming with happiness, or you simply do not care about half the population and that they too have “equal rights” to be happy.

    3. Mahitha Kasireddi

      How can you draw an inference that highlighting women’s issues would mean not acknowledging the rights of men?

    4. Monistaf

      I do not see how a sentence like “you cannot solve any other problem in the nation unless you ensure the happiness and safety of women and children of your society” acknowledges the happiness of men. It is not an inference, it is a fact based on your statement. You conveniently want to leave out men, or may be assume that it includes men. If you are a true believer in equality, you have to acknowledge BOTH sides of the problem. What I stated is that the vast majority of articles at YKA highlight women’s issues, and there are issues, but by choosing to not highlight issues related to the other half of the population, these articles simply propagates the myth that only women have issues.

    5. Monistaf

      Jigsaw – Thank you for highlighting the truth. It seems to me that Youthkiawaaz has a feminist agenda because I see plenty of articles here on crimes and violence against women, but very few, if any, articles highlighting the plight of men who are victims of violent crimes. The 2012 crime report from the National bureau of crime records tells me that a crimes against women is a little north of 10% of the total violations of the IPC. So, we choose to ignore the vast majority in favor of something that gets immediate attention, especially from the opposite sex. This is mediocre journalism at best because what really happens when you choose not to mention all the facts is you become a part of the popular media frenzy that distorts the truth to propagate the myth that India is most dangerous country for women. Also, it is time to stop ranting and blaming the “Patriarchy” for all the problems women face in India. The last time I checked, there was not a single law on the books that was unfavorable to women in India.

  2. Green Lantern

    Women should sit at home in order to be safe, instead of being on the streets wearing tight clothes, tempting men and becoming objects of lust, making a public show of their bodies becoming public properties in the process. At home women should serve their husbands by making tea and cooking delicious food.

    1. Jigsaw

      Green, for years you have been trying to help people without realizing that people need to help themselves.

      Will you continue working selflessly without realizing that you cannot save the world or will you learn to let go?

      The choice is yours.

    2. Babar

      We should not ruin women’s lives by telling them what to do, as they are already ruining it by having multiple transient sexual relationships and indulging in promiscuous behavior in the name of liberation and emancipation. Also, with the promotion of plunging necklines, spandex pants, miniskirts, short shorts, tight jeans, tops so deep that when girls bend down they reveal a lot more than they intended – girls today are bent on showing the world their rights

  3. Mahitha Kasireddi

    I can quote many such government and independent surveys which show vulnerable and deprived women are even today and that India is indeed not a safe place for women, but looks like you have already taken a stand. And how do we not blame patriarchy? Could you share your theory of explanation as to what lead to sexual offence, gender biasing and oppression of women in households and public places for all these years? If not patriarchy then who declared the place of women to be confined to the kitchen and at the feet of her husband, can you explain this phenomenon of female feticide which exists even today without blaming patriarchy? Do you have an answer to the falling child and adult sex ratio? Minimum choices of life such as how to dress, what to wear, what time to go out, whom to meet, when to marry, how much to study etc are not yet enjoyed by majority women in India, can you explain why? without blaming patriarchy? Thanks for responding on the article by the way, it is people like you who inspire YKA to constantly make noise on women’s issues.

    1. Babar

      Why don’t we show the other side of the picture? False cases of rape, dowry, and domestic violence take the lead, which never seem to be a subject of discussion among people. What’s worse is that there is no punishment for women who falsely accuse innocent men of crimes they have not committed. The draconian Indian laws have led to an increase in the suicide rate among men, where a woman simply has to accuse a man of abusing her, physically or sexually, with little evidence, if any, and land him behind bars. A man in India commits suicide every six minutes.

      http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-saw-135445-suicides-last-year/article4849710.ece

      Also, it is a fact that men are also victims of rape and face domestic violence at the hands of women. A woman’s portrayal as the ‘abla nari’ has not helped, for women’s cruelty can be seen in the violence they perpetrate on their domestic help and daughters-in-law, and of course, their husbands.

      Men were the ones who were victims of slavery and racism, and those being killed in war. Even today, men protect the borders of our country so that we can sleep in peace, and I believe that ‘we’ includes women. When the Titanic was sinking, it was men who said ” women and children first,” knowing they will be dead and could have chosen to leave. Men work in the army, men work as construction workers, men work as coal miners, and throughout history men have worked dangerous jobs to feed and support women, often losing their limbs and their lives. On buses, airports, and other public places, when one seat is available, it is the woman who is seated by her husband/boyfriend/brother. It is men who are asked to be ‘gentlemen’ and leave their seats for women.

      Horrifying incidents taken place with men daily, which no one talks about. Let me take the Nigerian case, for example. On Feb 25, 2014, 59 Nigerian school boys were killed by Boko Haram; some were shot, others had their throats slit, while the remaining were burnt alive, but there was so little international coverage it was almost as though the incident did not take place. Three months later, when Nigerian girls were kidnapped, the Obama administration, media, and feminists suddenly woke up, and there was an uproar and campaigns and what not. Violence against boys is the same as violence against girls, but those 59 innocent boys were not a subject of discussion because they were boys. Now imagine if the same has happened to 59 Nigerian girls – would we have been so silent? This is the same story with countless incidents in India and abroad.

  4. Maharshi Desai

    Jigsaw, Green Lantern & Monistaf…
    This issue is of so much importance that even our PM had to mention it in his Independence Day speech!!! It is a shame that on a day of happiness and joy, our PM is talking about females feeling unsafe in our country!!! The laws may be favorable for women…but the Men of this country aren’t!!!!

    1. Monistaf

      Maharshi, the PM had to mention it in his speech because of the volume of articles and airtime “dedicated” to women’s issues, not to mention the fact that it is “politically correct” to speak up for women. YKA joins the party in keeping the focus on women’s issues as if nothing else matters. Did you also ask yourself the question “Who made the laws that are favorable to women?”. May be a few “men” had something to do with that too.

    2. Shraddha

      And here we go again – “Women issues”. Do you see my point Templetwins?

  5. Babar

    Rape is a global epidemic not reserved for India alone. Of course, there are going to be speeches and articles on rape to grab attention, even though it is men who are at the receiving end of violence.

    According to the Canadian statistics on gender equality:

    Men commit suicide at 4 times the rate of women, live an average of 7 years less than women, account for more than 95% of all workplace fatalities, are murdered at a rate 5 times that of women, women receive physical custody of 92% of all children of separation, and men only 4%, women are acquitted of spousal murder at a rate 9 times that of men, men are sentenced 2.8 times longer than women for spousal murder, etc.

  6. Templetwins

    ‘Each morning when I leave for college, I feel scared of being stalked, sexually assaulted, and burned from an acid attack or getting murdered. I am a 23-year-old girl living in India and I am deeply worried.’

    Nervous apprehension… √
    Irrational paranoia… √
    Unreasonable anxiety… √
    Debilitating fear… √
    Male boogeyman… √

    The Onus falls on all of us to be vigilant. No, count me out. It is patriarchal to expect men to be a vigilant for the crimes against women, as it pushes them into the protector role which is the default role that gender roles destined them to be. So smash that patriarchal thought out of your mind.
    Crime against women is same as crime against everybody else. You are not a unique snowflake whose issues should be prioritized over others. This ‘gynocentric narcissism’ is an result of patriarchy you are fighting against, so don’t propagate it.

    1. Shraddha

      No one is asking you to protect us Templetwins. We are asking men to respect us and keep it in their pants. You can do it? Very good. Not everyone seems to do it though.

      Apprehension, paranoia, anxiety, fear (all different names to the same feeling) comes from the fact that we, the women of this nation, do not feel safe anywhere ever. The threat looms on our head every hour. Even in our homes we have to be cautious. Without resorting to gender bashing, with due respect, let me tell you – “Men do not know what we have to suffer because they do not have to be on their guards always”. Did you have to walk with your arms around your chest (or crouch) in crowded places? No? …..But we do. You can call it paranoia but then you haven’t been slapped or grabbed or touched the way we are subjected to. Don’t bemoan the paranoia/anxiety/fear. Bemoan what led to it. We hate it even more than you do. Because it limits us in every sphere of life.

      I agree that crime against women is same as crime against everyone else. But not everyone feels that way. Most of the time it is seen as gender issue and therefore liable to be brushed under the carpet. That’s why a horrific rape in Delhi, which for once mobilized the whole nation in making it a human right issue instead of gender issue, is terms as ‘small incident of rape advertised internationally’. The focus was not on the fact that grave injustice against women is turning the tourist away. Focus was on – “small things like rapes are spoken about and therefore we are loosing moolah”.

      We are not looking for priority. We are looking for equality. Yes I agree to the point that crime against women is same as crime against everyone. Do you?

    2. Monistaf

      “Men do not know what we have to suffer because they do not have to be on their guards always”. How would you know that? Have you walked the streets as a man? Is it just based on your experience? There are plenty of places where men have to be cautious not to be victimized and plenty of places where men too feel threatened. It is not the unique domain of women. Crimes against women are about 10% of the total reported crimes in India, which tells me that more men have to be worried about being victimized than women. Who says that men have not been grabbed, pushed around, beaten up and murdered in public places? Just because the vast majority of crimes against men go unreported, does not mean they do not exist. In case you think India is much worse for women when compared to the rest of the world, surprise yourself by looking at the the number of “Rapes per million” between India and any other country. Check out the comparison at http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/compare/India/United-States/Crime

    3. Templetwins

      You speak as though women are some sort of a collective unit and you are representing all of them but then all these incidents are indeed individual experiences faced by individuals, but your collectivist hive mind is trying to group such experiences just to prioritize on the issues that your gender face. It relies on societies inherent gynocentrism to pander your needs and the politicians does it for they are concerned about their vote banks.

      But then you say ‘Men do not know what we have to suffer because they do not have to be on their guards always’. You claimed that I, as a man wouldn’t know what women goes through in this society but somehow you could speak for every man out there in this society, in spite of being a woman. Who gave you the right to speak of all men or women for that matter? How can you know about the experiences of all the individuals?

      I called out the author when she said everyone has to be a vigilant. I am not going to be an unpaid body guards or a human shield for anyone. It is patriarchal to expect me (men) to be vigilant for women.

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