Women Safety Takes Backseat for Parties - The New Indian Express

Women Safety Takes Backseat for Parties

Published: 11th April 2014 07:56 AM

Last Updated: 11th April 2014 08:06 AM

During the fag end of 2012, the country witnessed an exhibition of mass anger with protesters laying siege to Rashtrapati Bhavan following the infamous Delhi gang-rape.

Sadly, just 16 months down the line, the ‘national’ outrage has failed to stir leading political parties to take proactive steps to safeguard women and children. How else would one infer the absence of any reference to a policy to ensure safety of women in the Lok Sabha poll manifestos of many national and regional political parties? While manifestos unveiled so far by parties speak about building temples and defence expenditure, they hardly devote any attention to critical issues that concern women and children, who constitute about 60 per cent of India’s population.

Only the Aam Aadmi Party, the Communist Party of India and the All India Trinamool Congress have included women’s safety in their manifestos.

Activists are worked up over this. “Though crimes against women and children make headlines almost every day, politicians are only addressing issues such as farmer welfare, basic amenities and transportation,” said P Manorama, former chairperson of the Child Welfare Committee in Tamil Nadu.

She added that various committees for anti-trafficking and child welfare, and helplines for women and children had only resulted in registering of more criminal cases and nothing beyond. “There have been cases of fathers sexually abusing daughters, but such incidents mostly do not come to light because of the fear of society and poor legislation,” she added.

No steps have been taken to trace missing girls and women even after complaints had been filed at police stations. Of about 2.34 lakh cases of crime against women, one lakh related to cruelty, 38,000 cases had to do with kidnap, 25,000 relating to rape and 38,000 about other types of domestic violence.

“Women need to be made aware of manifestos and realise that no political party has worked for their safety and their children’s, hence is it really worth casting their votes for the candidate,” she added.

Going forward, more women-friendly legislation and committees should be formed or existing committees should be monitored to check if they were serving their purposes.

Recently, two women’s groups — the Centre for Social Research and the Women Power Connect — had urged political parties to take an active role in addressing issues of women’s safety; health and nutrition; work opportunities; education; and equal participation in society.

“Manifestos merely demand to address discrimination against women, who are only used as voting machines. Political parties know women’s vote can be decided by men and feel that women cannot participate in all fields,” felt Ranjana Kumari, director, the Centre for Social Research, New Delhi.

“The Delhi gang-rape case received the attention of the nation but no steps have been taken to curb such incidents. Manifestos are discussed only during elections, but women should be first treated as citizens and be respected in our society,” said Bimla Chandrasekar, director of EKTA, a resource centre for Women, Madurai.

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