Grim reality of women emancipation
What is the International Women's Day all about? Is it about whacky parties and swinging on the dance floor to commemorate the freedom of modern women or a symposium where leaders deliver long lectures on women emancipation and empowerment? But what about the remaining 364 days, when women are left to bear a `WOE'men status.
It is true that with the changing times, the women are walking in strides with their male counterparts, be it in the corporate sector as managers or in the rural sector as `mahila sarpanch'. However, the growing incidents of dowry deaths, female foeticide, s*xual harassment, rape and domestic violence speak volumes about the grim reality and the so-called women emancipation.
A few women are in true sense working for the upliftment of the women at the ground level. Therefore, on this International Women's Day, TOI tries to bring into focus such women who are playing their part for the upliftment of the fairer s*x.
Every year, thousands are girls are forcibly pushed into flesh trade. In order to help such women, Vijay Lakshmi, HIV/AIDS counsellor at Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi Memorial (GSVM) Medical College deals with the victims and try to make them aware about their rights to freedom.
Working as a counsellor from past 12 years, Lakshmi believes that women empowerment has just remained confined to speeches and there is practically no support for the downtrodden sections. "The upliftment of fairer s*x remains confined to podiums, where politicians and social activists give long speeches and pin-point the lackadaisical approach of the opposition parties," said Lakshmi, who mustered courage to give a helping hand to the s*x workers of the city.
Motivation and right suggestion by this 35-year-old-counsellor had played a crucial part in saving the lives of many young girls, who were on the verge of getting drowned in the world of lust. "There are many young girls who are least aware about the place they are thrown into. They get infected with HIV/AIDS. While counselling them, we try to understand their problem and accordingly give suggestions," said Lakshmi.
Claiming to have saved the lives of four families through her counselling, Lakshmi narrated an incident where a girl was being tortured to work as s*x worker. She said: "After studying the case study of the girl, we asked her to leave the place where she worked as a labourer. She followed the suggestion and left the place for few months. Now, after a months, she is working as a salesgirl. Though she has faced tough times and is HIV positive, we encourage her to fight with the world."
Apprising about the plight of the s*x workers, Lakshmi said that the administration plays a crucial role in safety of such women. But they sometimes get involved in the trade and exploit the girls.
Another issue is the the rising cases of female foeticide, where the unwanted daughters are being abandoned to beget sons. Baby girls are murdered in wombs.
Thus, to create awareness about the social evils, there are ASHA workers in the rural areas, who playing their part to decrease the maternal and infant mortality rate. Poonam Singh, an ASHA worker from Patara and Nidhi Verma from Kalyanpur believe that nation cannot grow until the health of the women is attached importance. Giving the example of vasectomy and tubectomy operation, Nidhi said: "In rural areas, only women are forced to go for tubectomy. Hardly any man goes for vasectomy. This in itself explains that a woman's health is least important. In villages, the women remain deprived of basic health facilities. The family members are least bothered about the pregnant woman who needs immense care."
Hundreds of ASHA workers like Nidhi and Poonam are working at the ground level to help the women as they are an essential part of the `Shining India'.
Know your rights:
Act against eve-teasing: Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code says that whoever assaults or uses criminal force against any woman, intending to outrage her modesty, is liable to be punished with an imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years with fine.
Domestic Violence Act, 2005: The law extends protection to women or female live-in partners from violence at the hands of husband or male live-in partners or his relatives. Domestic violence under the Act includes actual abuse or the threat of abuse whether physical, s*xual, verbal, emotional or economic. Harassment by way of unlawful dowry demands to the woman or her relatives would also be covered under this definition.
Anti-dowry Act: Any person, who gives or takes or abets the giving or taking of dowry, is punishable with imprisonment for a term not less than five years and with the fine not less than Rs 15,000 or the amount of the value of such dowry, whichever is more.