Women are constantly having to fight for their rights. Whether it’s at work, where women do not receive the same wages as their male counterparts – in India, women on average are paid 34% less than men. Or where they have to fight for something as basic as the right to education.
In the country, the female literacy rate is a low 65.46% compared to male numbers at 82.14%. Along with the low figures, it is common knowledge that many of these women who do go on till the senior level of education will not be joining the workforce. Instead, they will be married off, with dowry.
Dowry prohibition act came about in 1961, yet it is a practice that still lives on – one that still makes many families shudder when they have a girl child and one that has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of women.
The Delhi police had said that in 2017 till July, there were 71 cases of deaths related to dowry while in 2018 it stood at 86. According to the National Crime Records Bureau female dowry deaths accounted for 40 to 50 per cent of all female homicides recorded annually in India, representing a stable trend over the period 1999 to 2016.
This abysmal statistic also brings us to the next fight a woman has to take – to being respected as individuals. Instead what many are left with is the sole responsibility of getting married and looking after the household. They have no right to choose what they do with their lives.
What the world tells them is that it is a place for men, belonging and dominated by their wants and needs. This thinking is something that boys are raised with, making them the perfect vessels to then carry out eve-teasing, and sexual assaults on women.
The fact remains that while the country may have many laws in place to assure justice and equality to women, its implementation is not justifiable. Women are still not believed to be equal which ensures crimes against them remains constant.
Even our parliamentary system is unable to portray what our society needs to reflect, by giving representation to women at the Lok Sabha. Women’s representation in the lower house in 2014 was 66, making up just 12.15%.
The current scenario that the bill for reservation of 33% seats has not been able to pass, and has instead lapsed since being introduced in 2008, should be reflective of the country’s complacency.
In the present day, with the 2019 Lok Sabha elections only two state leaders stepped up to give women their due. Odisha’s chief minister Naveen Patnaik announced the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) would field 33% women among its candidates while the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced her party Trinamool Congress at 41%.
By Sashikala VP
Sashikala VP is a Reporter with Patriot.