On 8th March 1857 thousands of women working in Garments and textile factories in New York hit the street demanding 12 hour work hours, suffrage, rights of women and children and against oppression of working women. Police acted brutally to break the strike injuring many women. Inspired by this historic struggle by women 8th March was declared as women’s day. In 1910 an International Women’s conference was organized to precede the socialist Second International in Copenhagen. In this meeting German socialist Luise Zeitz and Communist leader Clara Zetkin proposed establishing 8th March as International Women’s day. The day was to mark the struggle of women for equality. Subsequently the day is widely celebrate all over the world as ‘International Women’s day’
Well, that is the history of the day, but what about the present? Despite an enduring and such a long history, the struggle is far from over. Even till date the rights of women are trampled each day and even in the best of the circumstances their life is still like walking over a tight rope. They tell us about Indian becoming superpower by 2020 while lives of millions of women are reduced to servitude. They speak in high esteem about the great culture of the land that worships women as goddess; probably they are deaf and blind not to see brutal atrocities against females. And yes, they always eulogize the great role played by women in ‘family’ as mother, daughter and sister. Where does this goddess vanish when innocent girls as small as 5 to 6 years are raped? Why don’t they remember this great role of mother, sister when women are set alight for dowry or worse, killed in uterus even before they are born? Thus hypocrisy is all pervasive in the today’s India.
Article 14 of the constitution referring to fundamental rights of women confers upon equality to women and equal protection by law. Article 15 forbids any discrimination based on caste, religion, race as well as gender. They can’t be prohibited from any public participation and must be treated equally. Notwithstanding such provisions, this great country with its great culture continues to witness ever increasing crimes against women. Of the total deaths by suicide in individuals aged 15 years or older, women 56% in women occurred in individuals aged 15-29 years. In Delhi between 1st Jan and 15th Feb of this year, 181 incidents of rape have been reported. So how can any women be safe in this country? Those who are raped vary from 4 year old girl to 60 year old woman. So how is that we women have equal rights? On an average 4 females are raped each day. And such incidents have shot up by 23.43%. Of these 207 cases involved close relatives while 200 a close friend. And those who dare to raise their voice against such atrocities are not supported even by their families.
Thus ‘Indian woman’ is yet to have her own independence or allowed to lead her own independent existence. She is still languishing in servitude. She is still looked upon as a commodity or an individual’s property. It is father in the childhood, husband in the youth and son in the old age that rules over her life. Any attempts by her to escape this are firmly dealt with. And then she herself is held responsible for all crimes against her. Be it domestic violence, insecurity at workplace or even rape, it is ‘her’ fault always. Her stepping outside the four walls of home in itself is enough justification for all these crimes. Neither the system nor the rotten rituals, customs are responsible but it is only ‘she’. Our existence, right from what we wear, what we do, how we walk, how we talk and everything else is still decided by the society at large and family in particular. And that’s what the reality is.
As a young woman, it makes me sick and am ashamed to be born in such a society. Ruling class of India would like to wish away such things and still talk feverishly of the shallow growth and prosperity. But millions of women of this country and worldwide would relentlessly continue their struggle against such sham and pretentious claims and work to make it a better society livable for all humans including women.
New Socialist Alternative – Pune