Monday, August 12, 2013

How free are Indian women? Why an issue about women? , Women, Women News, Women News update, Indain Women, Indian Women News updates.

How free are Indian women? Why an issue about women?
Rape, gang rape, acid attack, harassment, dowry deaths, female infanticide, abandonment, eve teasing—routine incidents in 2013. In 2012, the nightmares were stingingly close to us in cities. In February that year, Park Street, Kolkata, irrefutably one of India’s most liberated downtown spaces, became the crucible for a brutal gang rape.

The woman was a single mom, and she decided to party late into the night. She could barely walk inside her home the following months. She became a silhouette flashed on news television— “the Park Street Rape Victim”. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee labelled her rape a “sajano ghatana” (a manufactured event).
This year, she revealed her identity at a protest march against a girl’s death following a gang rape on the outskirts of Kolkata. This is the West Bengal of Raja Rammohan Roy and Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar. In the early 19th century, these two men signalled the beginning of the women’s movement in India by writing and organizationally rallying against Sati, polygamy, child marriage and for women’s education, women’s property inheritance rights and widow remarriage.

Acid attacks on women continue, the sex ratio has dipped further and more of the same crimes against women have been registered. Irom Sharmila is eating through her nose to stay alive. The 41-year-old Manipuri woman who has been on a fast since 2000 for the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, in the North-East, faces a trial later this month for attempt to commit suicide. This Act has allowed unspeakable brutality by the army upon women in the seven North-East states—most of it unreported and unchronicled.
In December 2012, the gang rape on a Delhi bus led to mob uproar and hysteria. It told us again that we are not safe on our roads, in buses and in restaurants. That we are eternal hostages. In this Independence Day issue,
we wanted to ask:
What are our freedoms? How free does the Constitution make us? Does being able to wear a bikini or create brilliant art make us free?
The essays and reportage reveal some singularly triumphant stories and some discouraging truths.
It has been two centuries since the two Bengali men began the dialogue about the Indian woman’s emancipation. Women played important roles in our freedom struggle.
The movement was carried forward by the Prarthana Samaj in Maharashtra and Gujarat by visionaries such as Narayan Ganesh Chandavarkar, Madhav Govind Ranade and Mahipatram Rupram Nilkanth, among others. Feminism found modern voices in the works of Vina Mazumdar who died recently, Devaki Jain, Vandana Shiva, Urvashi Butalia and others.

We live in an age without overarching idealistic umbrellas. In the globalized world, like everyone else, women are consumers and citizens. But the gap between the seeming equality of all citizens and real freedoms is huge. Women are still a ‘minority’, in every sense of the word.

We need more feminists. American theorist and women’s studies professor, Cheris Kramarae, creator of the muted group theory which says communication was created by men and allows them to have an advantage over women, once said, “Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings.”


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