Every year 8th of March is celebrated as International Women’s Day with different themes to empower women, and save them from the crimes perpetrated against them. Seminars, symposiums, workshops and conferences are held to awaken the women for acquiring education, knowledge of science & technology, expertise in crafts and skills, confidence to take correct decisions independently to fight for the infringement of their rights, gender discrimination, advance their cause, ensure their proper upbringing, safe and secure future. Various steps like access to jobs, reservation quota, relaxation in academic merits, softness in physical tests, women policing, space reserved in public transport, representation in constitutional institutions etc, have been taken for their empowerment. Besides the usual grievance redressal machinery in J&K, a separate and independent ‘Commission For Women’ was also established during 1999. The commission was quasi-judicial in nature to work for promoting and securing welfare and empowerment of women. The commission was empowered to the extent that it could summon and enforce the attendance of any person from any part of India for examining him on oath and require discovery or production of documents. The commission would take up case of complaints of women’s abuse, non-implementation of laws protecting women and review existing laws with recommendations to the government. However, with the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35-A, the commission was abolished.
Despite numerous measures crimes against women have increased manifold horribly. It is a problem of pandemic proportions. One is wonderstruck to see various types of violence like sexual/cultural/psychological/emotional/religious/political and elderly/financial abuse etc, in the form of rape, abduction, domestic violence, dowry related violence/deaths, acid attacks, prenatal sex selection, trafficking, incest, female infanticide, femicide, pornography, forced & child marriage, forced prostitution, sexual harassment, female genital mutilation, deceit, stabbing, live pyres, eve-teasing, mental torture, kidnapping etc, giving an impression of life as crime and deriving sadistic pleasure as schadenfreude. As per National Crime Records Bureau data there were 3,29,243 cases of violence including 34,651 rape cases, 13,000 sexual offenses and 2,81,592 other criminal cases against women in India during 2015. Likewise during 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019, the number of cases swung from 3,38,954, to 3,59,000 to 3,78,277 and 4,05,861 respectively showing a continuous increase in crime. In J & K the number of reported cases was 3,539 / 2,929 / 3,363 and 3,623 during 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019 respectively. Those unreported for whatever reasons could be a definite addition to the shameful activity making the scenario macabre. The world scenario too is no better than this.
The violators & the violations are multiplying exponentially and Government’s oft repeated assurances of delivering speedy justice to the victims proves to be no more than a substance-less claim. In spite of curbs atmosphere has failed to stop nurturing devils. Without nipping in bud the fire causing factors the menace will continue. It has to be x-rayed why the holy womb is revolted by those who sprout from it. Why the womb that bears is torn asunder? Males have to be protectors to be endeared, and not feared from. Her coffin/pallbearers are not to trample her when alive. Statistically female- male sex ratio is 941:1000 presently. This tilted gender ratio is also due to human intervention through sex determination tests of the female foetus. This reminds of what we call period of ignorance. Facing shortage of females the most populous country China is said to have relaxed the one child policy. It is said women do 3/4th of work but own only 1/4th of the assets in the world. Non-implementation of laws of inheritance, absence of partnership or due return on capital investment and early & gainful access to employment may be some of the major causes fettering their betterment which need plugging. Albeit 100 percent equality with other gender is not maintainable yet the voids can be minimized or narrowed definitely to make a peaceful/progressive union instead of an army of warring groups; because they are partners and not rivals nor competitors. She too has to refine herself in right perspective of esteem, position, modesty to be complementary, and not revengefully competitive. Crown of creation is fighting for animal rights forgetting its own intra rights violations.
Real empowerment should spring from the social milieu to raise serenity as wealthy are not all happy. While abuse in any form at any time, or place, is not only intolerable but also highly condemnable warranting due corrective punishment, she too has to walk the golden mean so that any malicious heart may not feel suspicious of any ill-will. To add here empowerment and independence are not a carte-blanche to do anything anywhere incompatible with the just, peaceful and decent social order.
Where the laws are strict and punishment stringent, crime rate is low. Curative measures are welcome but preventive are better, stable and stronger solution. Curricula ingrained with teachings on moral and ethical values should be well devised and prescribed for study as a compulsory subject from primary to at least college level. I cap this write up with a verse of the poet of the east Dr. Sir Muhammad Iqbal:
“wajud0e-zun say hai tasveere quayenat mein rung,
useey kay saaz say hai zindagi ka sooze duroon”.
Which somewhat paraphrases that with the existence of woman the picture of universe has colour and with her music the life has its internal excitement and tranquility.
Should this life line be cut, is a question to all ?
The author is a former Sr. Audit Officer and Consultant A.G’s Office Srinagar.