Emancipation, eh ?

women.jpgMarch 8th, International Women’s Day? What an irony!Elders often ask us not to get perturbed by such news, but it isn’t very comforting either. The most upsetting piece of news, I came across this week, was the torture and sexual abuse of a 12-year-old Nepali girl by her employers, and another about the rape of a 13-month-old in Dhanbad, by her own uncle. Scars on the body can still heal but those left on the mind?An 18-year-old Dalit girl was gang raped, class 5 girls were molested by their school Principal; what is this entire fiasco of women liberation about? The vulnerability of women, whether inside or outside the four walls of their house, is simply heart-rending. The most recent story is that of Para, a daily wage labourer in Shivdaspura, a suburb in Chaksu. There were about 150 of them, with heads covered in flaming red, and other shocking colours, to hide their faces. These women were shouting for Para’s rights at the police station. They echoed a sense of group and self-identity and sensitivity to another women’s plight.Para was gang raped by 5 men in a car, who raped her turn by turn for three days. When she protested, they beat her. She was dropped off in a wounded, unconscious state at a bus stand. Her husband tried to lodge an FIR, but the police refused to do so. It was only when the State Women Commission intervened that an FIR was lodged. Para belongs to a place where there are not more than 20 families living, all of who are severely challenged, economically, socially and politically. Dalit women are being subjected to layers of violence. The interface of caste, class and gender has created a mechanism where assault, abuse and violence is rampant. Their stories break the shroud of human violence and in partnering their liberation, we also liberate ourselves. Why should a Dalit girl be humiliated and slapped on greeting a Brahmin teacher? Why should a pregnant Dalit woman be thrown out of a hospital? The main problem lies in the taking up of these issues as based on caste rather than on humanitarian grounds. Para’s family and the women living around her are the support that she has. How can we make the police and the judiciary system a lot faster? We talk so much about women emancipation and even books like “India after Gandhi”, by Ramachandra Guha describes the finished product as liberal, and humanist, but Nehru and his allies have laid the grounds for a schematic political culture and greater discrimination towards the “lower castes”. It is important to take a more futuristic stand and really work towards the emancipation of women rather than just celebrating a day dedicated to it.Aditi Raman

[Image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/theredphotographies/414449045/]