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BJP leader OP Dhankar made a sensation when he promised the men of Haryana that if BJP came to power, it would get girls from Bihar for men in Haryana to marry. Finding women to marry is a big problem in Haryana with its bad and deteriorating sex ratio, with over a hundred and fifty less women per thousand men.

It is hardly a secret that bride trafficking is one of the ways men in Haryana are able to marry. Traffickers "purchase" women from places suffering from adversity - for example, last year's drought in Maharashtra saw parched people who couldn't afford water "give away" a daughter for marriage in order to be able to sustain the rest, even as the drought caused many local marriages to be cancelled or postponed. The consideration for such marriages often is simple. Does the place have enough water?

Such "wives", locally known as "molki" - literally meaning purchased - are usually little more than servants with additional responsibilities and routinely suffer domestic abuse, marital rape and abandonment for reasons ranging from failure to produce a son to ill health and inconvenience. They are often married to others when original families tire of them or shared by multiple men and eventually pushed to prostitution. It is a human rights problem and a women's rights problem and human trafficking is most definitely illegal.

So it is very worrying when a political leader promises a male dominated society that it will "get" women for them all to marry if voted to power. The party that rants over "doles" apparently sees no wrong in distributing women like a commodity.

What is more alarming is that beyond an idiotic leader appears to be a party that does not see this as a serious enough problem to punish spectacularly.

At this point one really wonders what it bodes for the future of India if a party that rally has no ethics beyond religious supremacy and "whatever wins votes" does not have supporters abandoning them even after an obscene election promise like this.

Is it too late for Indian women? Can they be promised away as election goodies and bring victory? Would that even be a win for democracy?

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Diyar B K Gupta,

Your recent recommendation to women to not go out alone at night stinks of a part of the reason women are not safe at night in Delhi. It is called slutshaming. The idea that the existence of victim invites a crime. We cannot be a society of warriors and gangs and roam around with bodyguards. If we were, we wouldn't need the police anyway. That the Police Commissioner of the Capital of India recommends this is alarming.

I would like to bring to your attention Delhi's unique memory of Women's Day celebrations. A girl got killed outside her college in broad daylight. Women accompanied by another woman, or couples or even men on the streets are not necessarily safe by night, because of the free operations of criminals, and your police force is as much a danger on the streets at night as it is a security measure. Policemen are often drunk on their job, behave lecherously with women and threaten abuse if challenged.

Also, policemen being drunk makes me question their efficiency or interest in preventing crime. I accept that it isn't most of the police force, but at the same time, it isn't all men on the streets who are criminals either, is it? If a policeman can know that a colleague is drunk and not raise his voice, then he is as much as problem as the drunk one, because both are a security leak.

Even ensuring professional standards in the police force will make Delhi streets safer.

Crime in Delhi is rising. It isn't the women who are the problem on the street, but the rampant criminals. The rising rate speaks of ineffective policing and your statement speaks of a grave misunderstanding of the problem. Rape is a hate crime. Those criminals on the street are intoxicated on their own power and often alcohol and drugs and looking to get kicks by exercising that power to force people to do things against their will. Be it beating up people or raping. As long as there are people, there will never be a shortage of targets. Your recommendation is absurd.

I challenge you to find a woman in India who is over eighteen who hasn't been harassed on the streets by day or night. Crimes happen inside homes too. Should we just create large bank vaults for women?

Believe it or not, women know well how vulnerable they are. They are reminded of it every day. I don't think there is a single woman on the streets of Delhi at night who isn't hyper alert as to threats to her safety. They know well, but they must LIVE. They are a significant part of the country's population. As such, many of them have absolutely legitimate reasons for being out at night. Be it jobs like media and call centers or doctors on shift duty. Prostitutes. Vegetable vendors buying their produce for selling early in the morning. Cinema and pub goers returning home from leisure activities that are currently legal for women in India.

They cannot dematerialize from one place to another. Most women make arrangements for safety. Most men know the need and are happy to escort, but if you are depending on this to be able to show low crime rates in the city, then you should be distributing your salary to them too. This is a result of the lack of safety that you are asking them to accept as normal, and you feel no shame in speaking this in the form of a lofty recommendation to women. You don't even realize that you are making recommendations for how people should bear with the messes you are answerable for.

What are the improvements to security that you can claim? How are you even a good source of advice on security if crime is flourishing and you seem to in effect be accepting it as a fact of life that people must work around?

I can understand that you have the right to recommend people safety measures to deal with situations - it is the duty of citizens to support police initiatives for safety. But this is no temporary measure you are requesting. You are recommending an indefinite change to the freedom of a significant number of citizens. Is this constitutional? Do women have or not have or selectively have the right to be safe on the streets in the capital of the country at night? If it is their constitutional right, why are you speaking like a criminal - "you want to be safe, stay inside, or suffer"?

Delhi streets aren't safe by day or night for men or women, and you, the person recommending that potential victims give up their freedoms in order to keep themselves safe are the person accountable for this lack of safety. You are, in effect conceeding defeat to criminals and saying that nothing can be done of them, and that citizens must hide. I suggest you resign and someone else get the opportunity to tackle this urgent problem.

Yours

Pissed off woman.

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A look at modern urban women and the gender dynamics of a society caught between modernity and outdated stereotypes. Is there a better way?

 

Shy smile of a bride in a Hindu wedding by kunjan detroja
Shy smile of a bride in a Hindu wedding by kunjan detroja

As a woman in Indian society, I find that the world is changing a lot in terms of acceptance of the many roles of women as professionals, as bread-earners in families and as independent thinking individuals. The traditional Indian woman has evolved to prove herself equal in many professions as well as proved better suited than men in others. The situation for the changing role of women is improving fast.

On the other hand, female foeticide, dowry deaths and domestic abuse provide a macabre background of primitive barbarism. In the typical Indian Society, you find that there are still expectations and assumptions about women that are not so much relevant to their current status, but a clear hangover from our supressive past. This may be more obvious with traditional women or women in rural societies, but it is extremely prevalent in urban ones as well.

I am speaking of "running the home" kind of stuff. Regardless of how hard the man and woman of the house work, when it comes to women and society, there are certain areas of the home that are the woman's province in happy times and her nemesis in not so happy times.

"As the woman of the house, you should...." is a familiar refrain for most women in India." Indian Women's clothing is another externally imposed recommendation backed by vicious judgments. A pregnant woman is a public drop box for intrusive recommendations. I think, it is high time that we as citizens of modern India took a good hard look at our automatic assumptions and investigated which among these are still applicable today, and which ones we simply need to let go.

Typical situations we see include the woman bringing a cup of hot tea for her man returning from work, or the woman returning home after her husband and heading straight to the kitchen to cook dinner, and so on.

On an average, in any home where women are working, their income is also important to the well-being of the home and the living standards. Where it is not a question of money, it is generally possible to employ someone for the work in the house. So when we speak of a traditional role of a woman being responsible for the efficient running of her home, it is something we need to be aware of as an additional expectation made from her.

The traditional role of a man has been the one of earning the money for the running of the home. This has changed to a great extent. Working women contribute to the expenses of running their homes as well. However, there has been little contribution from men in terms of shouldering some of the responsibilities of women.

One interesting insight I received into this was from a friend. He said, "See, women find the outside world challenging and attractive. They like the freedom it brings to them. So they enter the world. There is no reason for a man to find the women's traditional role appealing, so he doesn't. No one has forced the women to step into the man's role, and no one should force the men to step into a woman's role".

[bctt tweet="There is no reason for a man to find the women's traditional role appealing, so he doesn't."]

On the surface, this seems to strike sense. However, the flaw lies in an assumption of curent roles that are the same as traditional roles and that the women are entering "a man's territory". This simply doesn't hold true in most cases today. Women are educated and often have their careers well before they get married and it is as much their right as the man's work is his. However, the other part, where the men don't find the house work appealing enough to invest effort in still holds true.

This is something that needs to be taken an honest assessment of. If we abandon the traditional perspective of division of responsibilities inside and outside the home (since it has already been broken in the outside the home area), we come to a situation where the couple are both inhabiting a home and earning and contrubuting toward its running. What we need to find is a sharing of responsibilities inside the home as well, that allows both some dignity.

This would also help resolve many situations where a man feels threatened by a working woman. Why wouldn't he. She earns, she spends, she invests, and on top of that, she is independent in terms of being able to manage her own existence completely, including running of her own home.

[bctt tweet="It does not empower men to be left incapable of managing the home they live in."]

There is no point pushing the women down. What needs to happen is the removal of the "un-machoness" associated with responsibilities at home and recognise it as the actions of a responsible and independent individual, whether male or female. This would actually add some power to the increasingly "lazy" image of men among women and empower them with some self-respect, while empowering the women with acceptance and support from the one source that matters the most.

Please not that I am not speaking of every man out here. There are many couples who are already on this journey and find themselves comfortable both inside and outside the home, and the mutual respect and closeness can be seen a mile off in such couples.

I sincerely think that this is an important adaption that is the need of today's times.