Let us take the Lead: Realise the ‘shakti’ within
This is 21st century and we are looking at a fast developing India. And yet, half the population faces serious security issues all the time! Sounds weird, doesn’t it? But it’s a fact.
In 2011, much before the terrible Nirbhaya case, a Thomson Reuters Foundation global survey found India as the fourth most dangerous place in the world for women. Just this week, government released data revealing that crimes against women such as rape, dowry deaths, abduction and molestation increased by 26.7 percent in 2013 compared to the previous year.
Our ancient scriptures about women:
“The teacher who teaches true knowledge is more important than ten instructors. The father is more important than ten such teachers of true knowledge and the mother is more important than ten such fathers. There is no greater guru than mother.” (Mahabharat)
Can society really prosper if half the population is oppressed in one way or the other? Clearly not!
When theory doesn’t work, it’s better to focus on practical. Instead of getting entangled in the why and how of it, let us try out the ‘what we can do’ solutions. Surely we will strike rich with one or maybe a combination of simple solutions.
Strength and weakness are perceptions that can be easily changed. We all have heard stories about the ant and the elephant. Recently, I read an interesting article that began: “A David and Goliath story is playing out on the African savanna, where tree-loving ants are fending off herds of tree-hungry elephants, proving that – in nature – size and strength don't always triumph.”
Nature teaches us this lesson in many different ways. It’s a lesson our ancestors understood thousands of years ago, when the Vedas identified woman as ‘shakti’. If women are kept suppressed, this shakti will be denied to the family and the society, thus weakening all of them. The female is caught in a vicious vortex right now. With traditions such as dowry and concerns regarding safety, certain families prefer the male child. This results in the horror of female feticide, infanticide and girl malnutrition, which leads to a skewed sex ratio.
India's child sex ratio has declined over the years and, according to the last Census (2011), the ratio dropped to 919 from 927 girls for every 1,000 boys in 2001. Haryana was found to have the poorest male-female ratio among all states with 879 females per 1,000 males, followed by Jammu and Kashmir (889) and Punjab (895). The other two worst-performing states are Uttar Pradesh (912) and Bihar (918). Skewed sex ratios convert into increased instances of sexual violence and human trafficking.
When a woman is the victim – be it of rape, molestation or trafficking – she has to shoulder the social stigma as well! Either her ‘character’ is put on trial forever afterwards, or else she is deemed ‘stained’ for life.
We need to change all this. The present state of affairs is generating a lot of negative energy in the society. If we are proud to be Indians, let us do something to make India proud of us. Let us modify the social systems and create a society where everyone’s energy is engaged only towards nation building.
First and foremost, we have to shrug off the tag of being ‘weak’. It’s a myth and a fallacy that women are weak, powerless and defenseless. Next comes, self-respect. Every woman must respect herself, only then she can expect the same from others. And most importantly, a woman must similarly respect other women too. Remember the old adage: United We Stand, Divided We Fall.
And then, we need to figure out how we can tackle everyday issues of safety. No doubt the government needs to address the problem with better law and order. But, it’s most urgent that women equip themselves – both mentally and physically – to identify dangers, deal with them and defeat them. It’s time to take charge.
-Abha Khanna Gupta (The writer is a senior Journalist and SocialWorker)