India – No country for women ?

While I had been thinking and also done quite a bit of work on some of the issues we are already facing and the new Government will face, for e.g. in the areas of –

1. Employment
2. Agriculture
3. Petrol prices
4. Woman Safety
5. Women empowerment
5. Cow vigilantism
6. Telecommunications
7. Indian Railways
8. IT industry
9. Make in India
10. Startup India
11. Toilets
12. Aadhar privacy
13. Crop loan
14. State of Economy
The list is not exhaustive by any means but is the only way to make some sense of things.

Instead of using the list I had prepared in the order I had wanted to share, had to go to 4. and 5. because of a viral video which has been doing the rounds lately –

A few friends had shared this video yesterday, I saw some partial clip but without audio so couldn’t get any context about what was being shown. Then some other friends shared couple of articles, one from wire and the other from newslaundry which shared slightly different aspects, takes on the same story. Then I saw the video and was truly shocked. Just to make sure I didn’t mishear anything I saw the video a few times. It is and was possible that I misheard or misunderstood something. Just to recap what happened in case the video is not seen, taken off the web or whatever ( the video is of a middle-aged women who is being jostled and questioned by young women for a statement she makes.) While the video is of 14:40 minutes, I will start at the beginning so it’s easier to figure out what happened.

Apparently the middle aged lady, a Mrs. Soma Chakravarthy, a teacher from Mumbai went to Delhi and in a restaurant saw two young women wearing short dresses and claimed that it is because of women like you that women get raped. Apparently, she not only stops there but goes to some men who are in the restaurant and tells/asks them to rape the women. Some other women who were in the restaurant overhear the conversation, take the two young women with them along with the elderly lady to some mall nearby and ask her to repeat what she said few minutes ago. After trying to dodge for a few minutes, she again says that the girls who wear short dresses or those who are rebels should be raped. When a woman asks the elderly lady to apologize to the two young women she doesn’t relent. In fact, when a young woman asks the elderly lady as to why 2 year old babies are raped (which was in national news, happened in Unnao some months ago) , and 80 year old women, the elderly woman reply that probably because they wear nighties instead of sarees. As if sarees some hidden quality. If such were the case, then none of the women who have been raped should be the ones who wear sarees, but this is not the case.

I do have to point out that after the video went viral, the elderly lady, nicknamed ‘Aunty’ has also been harrassed online which also shows how complex the issue is at some level.

The episode however also throws quite a few uncomfortable questions in the air –

a. The women is a teacher in some educational institution in Bombay/Mumbai. So doesn’t it raises questions as to what kind of values she may be imparting to impressionable minds in Bombay/Mumbai ?

b. While I’m perhaps one of the most fashion illertrate persons on the globe, even then I know that Bombay/Mumbai is the fashion capital of India. All the Indian top-most fashion designers have their boutiques there. Even Parsian fashionistas have their designer boutiques in Mumbai. If you see any of the collections on a ramp walk in Paris, you are sure to get same or a similar thing in one of the top boutiques soon. If you are on a lower budget and a design or two become popular, you may have to stay for some more time but you will get on some on the roadside stalls within a few weeks at probably 1/10th to 1/100th of the price at the boutique. In such a scenario does not she not see what people are wearing in Bombay/Mumbai ?

c. The third thing – Then I guess all women from outside India, women tourists should not be allowed or should be told, sorry we cannot protect you. Also ban all the beaches, ban swimming also because women will come in one peice or two-piece swimsuit which could also be alluring.

Apart from breach of a person’s fundamental rights it also contravenes another idea which was being germinated in light of Sri Lanka’s attacks.

Ban the Burqa

And this contravens another set of ideas that an Indian right-wing party called for ‘Ban the Burqa’ or head covering worn by Muslim women. While later they backpeddaled a bit calling it ‘Personal Opinion’ . This episode was particularly illustrated by a twitter user who goes by the name SardarPatelbannedRSS

Message to Women of India by men in politics:
1. Cover yourself up if you don’t want to be raped (‘coz we suck at stopping the men from raping). 2. But expose yourself to prevent terrorism (‘coz we really suck at stopping terrorism).

In fact there are and were many threads in twitter which tried to say how Hinduism is great and trying to whitewash how the Hindu Code Bill came. While I didn’t go to all the threads, at least in one I shared that it wasn’t as easy as being shared or told. It took Dr. Ambedkar and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru took 15 years and the issue came to such a head that Dr. Ambedkar resigned from his post . In fact there is an Oxford scholarship book which examines the whole thing in much detail. I don’t have much info. on it apart from the URL .

The CJI Sexual Harrassment Case

In the last few days this has also been shaking the judiciary. From what I could understand of the case/suit filed, apparently a junior to the CJI filed a sexual harrasment case. The judiciary instead of using the Vishaka guidelines which were formed after the Bhawari Devi Gang rape case became a media sensation. While the guidelines has been superseded by POSH the highest judiciary in the land chose to not even use Vishaka guidelines. Due to this the complainant was forced to take back her complaint . She was supported in her decision to take back the complaint by around 300 women who are part of the legal fraternity .

At the end, one is pressed to ask the question, is India not a country for women 😦 ?