Let the Indian woman rise and assert
The Rg Veda invokes in worship the power of the female. She is the heat in the fire, power in the wind, coolness in water. There is a sloka in the beginning of the Rg Veda, when Shakti challenges Agni Dev to burn a dry grass without her assistance and Vayu Dev to blow it, if he can without her help. They both lose the challenge. It is then that she is revealed as the all-powerful.
In fact, in Sanskrit, the root (dhatu) of the word Dev is div, which is a feminine gender. The word ?God? originates from the female. Such is the position accorded to the woman, the female, the Shakti in our religion, culture and tradition. And yet, today, women in India are physically, mentally, intellectually and culturally exploited, tortured and abused. The society remains a mute spectator, if not a silent participant.
Cutting across religions, castes and social and economic strata, women in India suffer atrocities which are too gory to discuss. Even the urban-rural divide has vanished. Earlier it was believed that though women in the rural areas did not enjoy economic empowerment, there were no crimes against their dignity. But now, the stories coming from a remote village in Jabalpur and a mega city are the same?violation of modesty, domestic violence, forcible marriages and divorces. One wonders if women in India have become too insensitive or voiceless!
An Imrana in Uttar Pradesh left in the lurch by her religion and society, a 13-year-old kid in Chhattisgarh already mother of a child from criminal offence being forced to live with the offender, the rapist offering to marry the victim in the court, a nurse who was pushed into a life of a comatose by her junior colleague, unsuspecting college girls abducted and violated upon by human predators, a foreign dignitary physically humiliated in the Delhi street?there is no pattern or reason to explain these away. These are manifestations of a society that is fast losing its values.
Crime against a woman is not a crime against an individual. It is a crime against the society as it affects her, her progeny and her family. We have the great illustration in Mahabharata, where Krishna tells Draupadi that he takes the abuses on her as heaped on him and the society. A crime for which he said the Kuru lineage would pay dearly. And pay they did.
For some time now, reports have been appearing in the media about the lack of girls of marriageable age in Punjab and how men are going outside to fetch brides, obviously at a price. Similar stories of a pathetic male-female ratio are emerging elsewhere in the country too.
Dress codes for women will not do. Nor will it help to post four extra police personnel in road corners. While there is a dire need for safeguards inside and outside the home, the law and judiciary would have to be seen to be delivering justice within a reasonable time-frame of crime. And the punishment should be eye for eye, tooth for tooth. Not just that. It is high time that the government evolved a comprehensive policy and workable solutions to the enormous problems of female abuse. Voluntary organisations, women'sgroups, teachers and parents should get together in small effective groups to campaign, to bring about an attitudinal change in the society, especially in men towards women. Unless we start now, we would be contributing to the growth of another generation which has no concern for the fellow human being, the woman.
A society is measured by the status it gives to the woman. Not for keeping her in wraps or under the thumb; but by the fearless freedom, both physical and intellectual, she enjoys. One remembers the definition of an ideal society envisioned by Mahakavi Subhramania Bharati. He said that he would consider that society ideal where an extremely beautiful maiden, heavily bejewelled, walks without fear, unescorted, in a moonlit night and comes to no harm. What he considered ideal sounds Utopian today!