Image: Denitza Tchacarova (detail)/Wikimedia
Jaya Bachchan’s and Swati Mahiwal’s outbursts, in Parliament and outside, may be understandable but they also show that our politicians have run out of ideas. They treat all incidents of violence against women as simple ‘law and order’ problems. Both of them have not spoken up against the culture which degrades women and makes them secondary to men. Why would they speak when they ‘celebrate’ so ‘joyously’ all the festivities where women celebrate their secondary status, like the Karwa chowth, Bhaiya Dooj,Raakhi,Sankat Chowth etc. Not only this, do read the ‘good books’ of Gita Press, Gorakhpur, written by Goyanka ji, which describe how a woman should live, views best known in his ‘Adarsh Bharatiya Naari’.
The seriousness of our Parliamentarians can be gauged from the fact that there were just a few, who wanted to speak on the issue of violent crimes against women – you could count them on your fingers. Where is the rest of the outrage?
Just asking for the accused to be handed over to the public for ‘lynching’ is the worst kind of response from a law-maker/legislator. Can those sitting in the Parliament and Assemblies really speak like this, utter words that promote and encourage the culture of mob-lynching?
Yes, we have failed to protect our people. We have failed to take action, not just in stopping crimes against women but in a host of other spheres, too. Or else, all those whose names are listed in the Panama papers would have been behind bars, but they enjoy not only popularity but also ‘respect’. Our criticisms and campaigns are very selective and targeted. When you speak about corruption, you name Lalu Yadav but will not utter a word against the Ambanis or Bachchans!
We need to devote some time to think on these issues. Professionalise your forces and law enforcing agencies. As long as these agencies are just tools of the ruling parties; to harass those who are opponents or civil society organisations, independent journalists and activists, they will never be able to look at these issues from the perspective of human rights.
Unfortunately, human rights became the ‘worst’ term in this country and the right wing men and women (I include Patriarchal women in this) have abused human rights defenders and feminists. It will be the Human Rights defence that we all will need, including those Hindutva champions who have often abused them.
Once we respect the individual and her autonomy over her body, we will respect her right. However, that understanding will not come unless our leaders and those who are in public services and institutions educate themselves and their children, tell students that the past is not always great and glorious. Times have changed. Women are not just family guardians or caretakers, but are leaders, too, and need equal space in all sphere of life.
All public spaces will need women’s representation. They will need to deal women’s issues not merely as a gender’s issues but as human rights issues. And the more women emerge from social movements into these structures, the better it would be. I wish more and more women, active on the ground, become our law-makers so that we are saved from the idiotic ideas of those who are symbolically brought out from the ‘powerful’ families in the name of ‘women’. We do not need people from the tinsel town to ‘represent’ us. In the last twenty years, more and more ‘brands’ are entering our Parliament, which reveals the deep antipathy of our political class towards people’s representation. Political leaders have made politics apolitical by bringing into public life people these ‘brands’, who have no interest except for ‘serving’ themselves and protecting their money and other business deals. If parties are so interested in women’s issues, let them give fair representation to women from all segments of life, including Dalits, Adivasis, OBCs and minorities, in these law-making processes but they will not do so. Tragedy is that parties like Samajwadi Party ensure that Jaya Bachchan is in the Rajya Sabha continuously for such a long period, but never ask her about her contribution towards the ideas that her party stands for. Either the party does not stand for socialist ideas or Jaya is not bothered about socialism and social justice, but her own self. But the problem is that once she leaves Samajwadi Party or the party is not willing to give her a ticket, others will be ready to embrace her. This is the biggest scandal. It will never allow people to come up from the grassroots or from the marginalised sections, to find a place in the power structure.
Indian law makers must come out of these lynch-mob ideas and encourage a gender audit of our laws and all the institutions in order to expedite the cases of violence against women. Fast track courts are important, as also the involvement of women in our police and other public services. As parliamentarians, they cannot show helplessness when they have been given all the power. It is a clear case of evading responsibility and accountability. Expedite the process, make your executive sensitive to the issue and fix a time frame for achieving the outcome, but do not jump to the idea of mob trial and mob justice. So many innocent lives have been lost to lynch mobs and mob trials. .It is time we focus on sharpening our laws and ensuring that police and other agencies do their work efficiently and take the cases to logical conclusion in a fixed time frame work.