Status of Women in Free India
Rightly did Swami Vivekanand say, 'Just as a bird can not fly with one wing only, a Nation can not march forward if the women are left behind'.
Men and women are the two holes of a perfect whole. Strength is borne of their union their separation results in weakness. Each has what the other does not have. Each completes the other, and is completed by other. Etymologically, the word 'woman' mean - half of man. The relation of the male and female is very well illustrated in our Nyaya Darshan by the analogy of mind and matter, which means that man and woman are closely associated with each other, as the soul and body. Therefore the women ought to be respected.
According to Hindu Mythology it is wisely said, Meaning thereby 'God lives' where women are respected. Among the Four yugas,
had all the four pillars of Dharma and its history reveals that women then enjoyed a privileged position. They were, treated as better halves as - 'Graha Lakshmi'. There were no bar of veil system. Equivalent to men they used to participate wisely in the religious debates in the vedic era.
Then, with the advent of Tretayug, which had only 3 pillars of Dharma left and therefore the world witnessed the abduction of Sita, which resulted in tragic end of Ravana.
In Dwaparyug when Draupadi was publicly disrobed, it resulted in the world's biggest war of 'Mahabharat', it shows that slowly and steadily there were only a pillars of Dharma remained.
Finally, in the present era of Kalyug, the world is surviving only on the one pillar of Dharma and therefore the position of women has deteriorated from bad to worst. Then, during the Muslim rule, women were deprived of all their rights of equality. They became the object of lust and enjoyment. Muslim rulers had 'Harum' in their palaces. Afterwards, Hindu rulers followed the suit . In the wake of British Empire in India, a considerable change was felt. They threw up the pardha system and induced the Indian women to come forward. Thee were Catena of legislations passed by the Britishers through which a woman got liberty or ameliorations. Sati Pratha abolition Act, 1889, Hindu widow remarriage Act, 1929, Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929, Hindu women right to property act, 1937 were some of the examples from pre-constitutional era. With the spread of education, women began to realize their role in the national movement and reconstruction of New India.
Not only the Britishers but also Indian freedom fighters tried a lot for women empowerment. The contribution of Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Dayanand Saraswati, Mahatma Gandi, Annie Besant, Rani Lakshmi Bai, Swami Vivekanand and cannot be forgotten. Gandhiji once truly said 'when you educate a man you educate a family and when you educate a woman you educate whole nation or society'.
In the post independence era, the bundle of rights, immunities, privileges are conferred upon Indian women. All the three organs of State fully contributed in strengthening the status of women.
Legislative passed many Act, Statutes like:
# Protection from domestic violence act, 2005
# Hindu marriage act, 1955.
# Hindu succession act, 1956.
# Hindu adoption and maintenance act, 1956.
# Indian penal code, 1961.
# The Dowry prohibition Act, 1961.
# The medical termination of pregnancy act, 1971.
# Protection of women against sexual harassment at work place bill, 2010. etc.
These acts conferred bundle of rights like protection from any domestic violence, maintenance rights, dowery prohibition, protection from sexual harassment at workplace, maternity leave benefits, inheritance rights and many more.
Apart from the above, Our Grand norm i.e. constitution of India by inserting the articles like Article 15(3), 23, 24, 39(a), 39(d), 39(c), 42, 45, 51(a), 243D, which expressly talk about special provision for women and their protection. These provisions crystal clearly show that our legislative is Gender sensitive. Presently after the Verma Committee Report (2013) women are being provided protection from henious offences like - Rape, Voyeurism, Stalking, Disrobe in public, gang rapes etc., by passing a New law and making amendments in the year 2013.
On the legal front, Our vibrant Judiciary too delivered historic judgement of – Vishaka V/s State of Rajasthan ; which laid down guidelines for no sexual harassment at workplace against women. Also in the locus classics of - Chandrika Das's case, the apex court awarded examplary compensation to rape victim. The list is endless.
Notwithstanding these efforts from all corners, today as per the recent report of 2013 on "Crime Against women" by –Lok Sabha secretariat National Crime Records Bureau (2013) started the nation stating- Over 32000 murders, 19000 rapes, 7500 dowry deaths, 36500 molestation cases have been reported in the last year. There are many which are still unreported. The incident of Delhi Gang Rape on 16th Dec., 2013 by 6 boys was of the biggest shame for Indians.
At once, all 3 organs of state, failed when the girl died just because of lust of boys and their enjoyment. Witnessing such brutal crimes against women it has been aptcy said in the word of De Maistre that – "The great fault in women is to desire to be like men".
It is irony of our country's fate that we are unable to understand that - “injustice anywhere is threat to justice everywhere”. Even from time immemorial in our manusmriti it is quoted that - In Hindu society, women always lives in the protection of another. Thus her liberty is always violated. During her maidenhood, she is protected by her father, during her converture by her husband and during widowhood by her son. There is a yawning gap between the theoretical and practical status of woman in our society.
Despite numerous efforts regarding women empowerment and her protection from crimes we are not able to cope up with the present pathetic condition of women. The pace of empowerment is very slow which needs to be accelerated. This could be done through disseminating information about issues related to her development, fast and speedily trials of cases, delivering and executing decisions by courts on time to attain complete justice.
The slew of legislative acts currently in operation are mostly on paper. The grim relating is that the nation which passive a law at the drop of a hat is seldom governed by the law. That the Nation is best governed which has minimum of law! The Indian political system collective psyche has always suffered from paralyzing syndrome flog a problem out by taking log about it by making a law! This is not a correct approach. The laws are sufficient now, the only thing our country need is 'To watch the watchman' i.e. ... awareness, proper execution and implementation . Then that day is not far when Indian women will catch up with their western counterparts and regain their honourable status which they enjoyed in the distant past and satyug. People should also realize that - It is man who makes houses, but a woman makes homes.
Going through the present condition of a woman, the enlightened citizens could only pray to God that –
"God please give her courage'
to change the things
which she can change...
God give her power
to tolerate the things
which she cannot change!!
And, God give her wisdom
to differentiate between those two.”
SC allows Mumbai woman to terminate 24-week pregnancy due to life risk:
An ultrasound scan had revealed that the foetus had a serious defect. The Supreme Court on Monday allowed a 22-year-old woman from Dombivali to abort her 24-week foetus on medical grounds. The court had ordered a panel of doctors at the civic-run KEM Hospital to re-examine the case and submit a report after the woman moved the court last week.
The author can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org