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August 22, 2012 / Man in the Mirror

Hindustan Times: Nothing in it for women

A commission which has outlived its utility value should be wound up without delay. More so when the outfit in question, the National Commission for Women (NCW) had little utility in the first place. Even the token support it could give to women’s rights and dignity seems to be singularly lacking going by recent events. When some college girls were brutalised by a bunch of moral vigilantes in Karnataka recently, the state women’s commission chief C Manjula came up with the statement that home stay parties are misleading young girls. Right, she’s nailed the problem there. Not a word about the unspeakable behaviour of the miscreants.

Rather an endorsement of the male chauvinist explanation that the girls must have been asking for it. Similarly, NCW chairperson Mamta Sharma has not covered herself in glory on women’s issues. Referring the ghastly Guwahati incident in which a young girl was molested by a mob of men, the dear lady said that women should be careful ‘in dressing themselves’. So short of wearing a burqa, women are fair game and the NCW gives its stamp of approval. Earlier Mamta Sharma told us that women should not take offence at being called sexy, rather she said in her own interpretation of the English language, it means beautiful and, therefore, is in the nature of a compliment.

A commission set up with statutory powers to look into the problems women face in India has been reduced to this farcical level of what the meaning of the word sexy really is. Earlier chairpersons too did very little to further the lot of women, confining themselves to fact-finding in exotic climes. The several suggestions made by the commission over the years have not been taken seriously by successive governments.

In short, the NCW is nothing more than a sinecure for those with political connections and not really an effective body which can fight for women’s rights. Instead of having this token commission, it would be better to strengthen laws on issues which affect women and ensure their effective implementation. An earlier chairperson had taken it upon herself to stamp out rave parties. This makes us wonder what the priorities of the commission are. We have a situation where female foeticide is prevalent, many women have little right over resources, access to literacy and healthcare and are subject to all forms of degrading violence. These are the real issues which many women live with. If the commission could make an iota of difference to these women, it would be worth continuing with it. It has not so far and the honest thing to do would be to wind it up and save the exchequer the money spent on keeping it afloat.


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  1. world clock / Aug 23 2012 12:48 am

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