Monday, February 4, 2013

Women, don’t go the Anna way….don’t complain all the time

I must say this. I was really really surprised by the reaction of certain women’s activists to the UPA government’s decision to enact an ordinance to put into immediate effect most of Justice Verma’s recommendations on rape laws. For once, and we know how rarely that is, the government was moving at the same pace as the people; and yet, the people were complaining. There is a striking similarity between this and the conduct of Team Anna last year when the Lokpal bill was being discussed. That attitude took them no where. I wish and pray that women activists will not make the same mistake as Anna made.

There are many similarities between Anna’s constant tirades against the government and those of the women activists:

1)    Anna thought his ideas were the best. He insisted that only his points be included in the law. There was an obvious hint that anyone who did not agree with him was corrupt. It’s appearing to be the same with the women activists. It appears that they believe only their views are perfect. That gender equality is wrong. That marital rape must be included. That army personnel must be punished under civilian laws. Etc etc. This is childish at the very minimum, and truly sinister at the maximum. Excuse me, but we are a democracy, and there are other voices that must be heard too. I for one believe gender equality is a must. Women needn’t think that only they get sexually abused. There are a lot of boys, and young men who get abused as well. Not by women, but by other men. Surely they need protection? And marital rape is a complicated subject. Do women want to first discuss how 498(A) – the dowry-harassment-protection provision was abused by women? If they don’t want to, they have no right to be part of the law making process. And army matters are best left to their own rules.

2)    Anna never appreciated anything the government did. Even when the government insisted on enacting the Lok Ayuktas along with the Lokpal, and the BJP opposed, Anna criticized the government. This made Anna look anti-Congress, rather than pro-Lokpal. Women must also appreciate the speed with which the government enacted an ordinance; even while continuing with the pressure to do more. Too much of criticism saps the energy of those working at making our women safe. A little pat on the back goes a long way.

3)    Anna failed to understand ground realities. He wanted Group D workers included under the Lokpal’s purview. He failed to understand that that would necessitate creating a monster of a Lokpal machinery; one that would most likely suffer from the same corruption that it was being set up to remove. Likewise, women must understand the ground realities. Marital rape is unfortunately a reality, but making it illegal without having a better investigative mechanism will be futile. In India, suicide is considered a crime, but does that not stop or reduce suicides. We already have a domestic violence act, but that hasn’t stopped domestic violence. The anti-dowry act makes dowries illegal, but that has hardly reduced the scourge. Women must realize just making marital rapes illegal will not solve the problem by itself. Focus on the police mechanism ladies.

4)    Anna failed to appreciate the complex law making process this country has. He failed to understand that political parties make one kind of statements in public, and another in the standing committees, where the bills are discussed. Women, please don’t make that mistake. Allow the laws to go through the process. Be patient. Challenge political parties when they do the debates in Parliament. Don’t go by TV statements alone.

5)    Anna assumed all politicians are corrupt. He started off with this cynical attitude. Remember Kiran Bedi’s “ghoonghat” act. That tipped the scales against Anna. Women, please don’t make the same mistake. I still want to believe most men are decent in this country. They are on your side. So also many (if not most) politicians. The seniormost in all parties are liberal and on your side. Have a little faith in the system.

6)    Anna couldn’t stay the course. In hardly no time, his movement dissipated into chaos. It broke up. Half of it went political; the other half is ridden with contradictions and ego issues. Women, please stay organized. This is a long haul. Not the making of the laws. That will happen quickly. But changing the society. Please stay firm on course. The women of this country expect that from you. Don’t let them down as Anna did. We still don’t have any Lokpal and for all I know, we may not have one for another 40 years. Sometimes, it is better to be smart, than try to be perfect.

7)    And lastly women, don’t rely on the TV news channels. They are fair weather friends. They will exploit you for TRPs just like they did Anna last year. They will look for masala, when you are looking for justice. They will appear to walk with you, but they will walk away the moment another story tempts them. Use media, but be aware of its failings.

The real truth is that the ordinance is a good positive move. We must appreciate that the government has learnt its lessons and is moving fast. Let’s not be cynical. This does not mean that we must be less demanding. All I am saying is that cynicism never wins the game. Positivity does….

No comments:

Post a Comment