Nagpur: Newly appointed Maharashta Women’s Commission Chairman Vijaya Rahatkar has devised an effective plan to reach out to the last woman of the society and deliver them their fair share of justice. Straight forward and full of guts to fuse fresh energy into her staff, she appears to be no holds barred when it comes to sensitizing the departments towards the cause of women.
Talking to Nagpur Today, Vijaya Rahatkar reveals her style of functioning and her take on the present social status of the women. She is the President of All India BJP Mahila Morcha. Rahatkar had earlier served as the Mayor of Aurangabad. She has worked tenaciously in the State Women Cell in Aurangabad Municipal Corporation.
Departments must respect women
Rahatkar viewed that that it is imperative for departments like Police Department and other departments where women have to interact with officials to be sensitive. She said that she has received many complaints from women who had gone to Police Stations to lodge a complaint and police personnel misbehaved with them. She now looks forward to holding seminars and conferences to sensitize police officers of the rank of deputy commissioner of police followed by assistant commissioner of police, police inspectors, police sub inspectors and others. She intends to undertake a similar exercise in other departments and offices too so that they can be sensitive to the women staff. She claimed that she has already directed her staff to coordinate this action soon. However, she added that women can always lodge a complaint with the Rajya Mahila Ayog (Maharashtra State Women’s Commission).
Winds of change
When asked if there was urgent need for some Policy changes. ‘Yes’ was her reply. There is an urgent need for some policy decisions at State Government level and at the Central Government level. She said that even though the women’s emancipation is prominent and evident in today’s society, yet the treatment meted out to women by many officials and staff working in various government and private companies is partial or inappropriate. Many women who are in dire need of a job and income bear with injustices, sexual harassments meted out to them by officers and bosses. Lodging a complaint will definitely ensure that they do not get a job anywhere. She said that the State Women’s Commission is doing a research and carrying out studies and then they will suggest the changes to the State Government.
Depiction of women in advertisements
While speaking about the depiction of women in advertisements in a manner that is inappropriate, Vijaya Rahatkar said that unless women lodge a complaint against these advertisements and depiction of women in a wrong manner, it is not going to stop. Vijaya Rahatkar opined that unfortunately women are depicted as a consumable good. This is definitely saddening. However, the activists of State Women’s Commission will start objecting to depiction of women in an inappropriate manner.
Against male chauvinism!
While speaking about the behavior of many men who display a Male Chauvinistic attitude, she said that there is still a need for a change of attitude. There is still a need to go beyond the need for enforcement of a rule or law to ensure equal treatment and justice to women. There is a need for all men to change their attitude towards women. Gender equality is only in books and in speeches of leaders. It has to become a reality in everyday life in our society. She claimed that in many households, the male progeny is still preferred and receives more benefits and facilities including freedom than the female progeny.
Vijaya Rahatkar claimed that awareness programmes are already on many social media and newsprint, but the activists of State Women’s Commission will intensify the awareness programmes for creating gender equality. She claimed that the gender equality should start at homes and inculcated by the parents.
She said that State Women’s Commission is planning to organize programmes and competitions in schools like essay competitions, street plays, dramas, articles etc in schools so that the concept of gender equality is learnt from the school. The children will learn to respect each other and treat each other likewise.
When asked about the need for more Counselling centres and counselors who can counsel women in distress or victims of domestic violence, rape and molestation etc, she said that they are trying to organize Counselling centres with trained psychotherapists in every police station so that they can counsel the victims. She added that with the new law, one of the parents of the victim has to be permitted to accompany the victim when the statement is recorded. She said that an activist of women’s cause Dr Monali Deshmukh is working on the introduction of psychotherapists in every police station and recording of statements and complaints on in-camera.
Crime against women needs more severe punishments
While speaking about the crime against women especially against minor girls, the law needs to include many more sections including that of a habitual offender’s act which will ensure that the punishment is more severe and his escaping with a minor punishment of a few years in jail. Vijaya Rahatkar claimed that all the cases of crime against women should be conducted in fast-track courts to ensure speedy trials and exemplary punishments.
However, Chairperson of the Maharashtra Women’s Commission Vijaya Rahatkar said that a lot needs to be done. She claimed that at individual level too many women activists are mobilizing funds and taking up programmes for women.
As told to Samuel Gunasekharan