India: Claiming the right for females to live "securely" from womb to tomb Print E-mail

Thursday March 8 2007

Need for safety

Women have a right to live free from violence.

As always the International Women’s Day is an occasion for reflection on the year gone by and the achievements or the lack of them. Although globally gender equality has been recognised as central to human development, it is still not a reality in many corners of our country. The UN finds that in many countries, law and policies have been adopted to strengthen women, specially in the areas of land, property and inheritance rights. We too can take comfort in the fact that there is now a law in India guaranteeing inheritance rights from the parental home to a married woman. Among other achievements that the country can be proud of are that registration of marriages has become compulsory and now there is a law against domestic violence too. This is of special interest, as the theme for the International Women’s Day this year is to end violence against women. However, violence against women continues to plague her in various forms ­ foeticide, infanticide, gender inequality against the growing girl child, domestic violence and violence in the form of rape and murder.

We need to welcome the arrival of more and more women in the workplace and their growing awareness of their rights in the matter of equal wages and equal opportunities. They are able to break the glass ceiling more easily now than in the past but they still have to guard against the ever present danger of violence . They may now be working night shifts in BPOs, or in purely men’s domains like bars, petrol bunks, driving auto rickshaws, or even flying out to space, yet safety and security is still an issue for women in dynamic professions. The tragic and violent rape and murder of BPO employee Pratibha in Bangalore, or the shooting down of Jessica Lall in the bar she worked in at Delhi are terrifying examples of violence against women in their workplaces.

Unfortunately, these dangers continue to remain and this is where a safer society is no longer only an option but a must. And it is here that all individuals and institutions, whether they be the police, employers, NGOs, the government or the larger society, must commit to providing this security to women going out of their homes to work and earn a living for their families. A woman has a right to live free from violence and we must guarantee her that.