It’s not enough to talk about feminism only through hashtags. When countries like Canada have taken the battle out too far and leaders like Trudeau have set by an example, why is India lagging so far behind?
An overwhelming majority of Indian women lack access to sanitary napkins and other menstrual hygiene products. They are often compelled to use alternatives like sand, rags, ash, hay which only increases the risk of cervical cancer. In many cases, girls drop out of schools on reaching puberty due to the lack of toilets and sanitary facilities. But still, why are our politicians so embarrassed to talk about our bleeding vaginas?
According to the NCRB data, 3,27,394 cases of crime against women were reported in 2015. Cases of child sexual abuse are mounting up every day. Schools are not safe. Homes are not safe. But still, why do our politicians choose to blame the victims instead? Why does India have leaders who say “Boys will be boys, they make mistakes” when a gang rape happens? Instead of condemning the perpetrators and taking action against them, why do they say women should not go out at night, should not wear clothes of their choice?
In India, the defining features of statutory rape, in my opinion, have critical exceptions due to which a man cannot be charged with rape if his wife is over 15 years old. Why does our Women and Child Development Minister feel that it is more important to protect the sacred institution of marriage than to save a woman from getting raped every night? Why does our system keep teaching women to not do the things they want to, instead of making men accountable for their actions?
The present government might proclaim its achievements, which, for them, are evidently measurable by the GDP growth rate. But why does the political agenda of India include the Ram Mandir fiasco while ignoring the rapes happening every hour? Why is it that our politicians obsess over illusory concepts of religion, buildings, temples and mosques, rather than the lives of women? It’s high time we question this.
GDP growth is not the only yardstick of measuring development. India is far away from including feminist ideologies as a part of our mainstream political agenda. If things stay this way, the Indian youth shall have to keep admiring Justin Trudeau every time he proudly calls himself a feminist and shows it through all of his actions amidst the trail of the bizarre, misogynistic and chauvinist comments by Indian politicians.
India shall remain socially backward for a fairly long period (years, if not decades) if we do not make our people understand the meaning of feminism and how it is essential for the acquisition of equal rights by both men and women. India shall remain socially backward till we make it clear that it is unlawful to discriminate under the name of gender – and that human rights are more important than other inconsequential debates.