Published On : Wed, Mar 8th, 2017

Women’s Day Special : City’s two leading ladies speak in contrast but voice similar concern

Nagpur: Not many may know this, but the genesis of the International Woman’s Day is in the Socialistic/ labour movements of USA , Europe and surprisingly Australia, of the early 1900 years.

As Australian Author Joyce Stevens writes – In 1910 Women’s Day was taken up by socialists and feminists throughout the country. Later that year delegates went to the second International Conference of Socialist Women in Copenhagen with the intention of proposing that Women’s Day become an international event. The notion of international solidarity between the exploited workers of the world had long been established as a socialist principle, though largely an unrealised one. The idea of women organising politically as women was much more controversial within the socialist movement.

Since the theme for IWD 2017 is – #BeBoldForChange, we tried to find out what ‘Woman’s freedom’ meant for two prominent working women of Nagpur – one a Police officer and the other an Advocate whose tireless zeal has seen many offenders punished.

We begin with what Saamrthana Patil, DCP, traffic ( in charge of all Nagpur traffic police) had to say:

N.T. – Smarthana, the motto of the International Woman’s Year 2017 is – Be Bold for Change. What is your view on this?

Smarthana Patil – Change has been accepted by women and society at large already. Women are getting bolder and bolder these days. Women are coming out to work in all sectors and spheres. When anything is wrong or against their well being, they are speaking up!

I do not think crime against women per se is increasing. It is just that since more ‘victims’ are getting bold enough to complain and take action, it seems that violence is on the rise.

N.T. – Is their a flip side to this? What is your observation as DCP, Traffic?

Smarthana Patil – Yes, what I would strongly discourage is young girls playing the ‘weak female card’ when they are pulled up for traffic violations!

If you want equality, you have to respect laws and rules equally too. If you violate traffic regulations, are pulled up for it, and you start alleging Discrimination against women loudly, the poor traffic constable is trapped! He does not know how to deal with the situation. Some girls are masters at manipulating others by using the ‘weaker sex’ card smartly.

I would advise them to use your smartness for your growth and progress, not negatively like this! Be bold – for a cause.

As far as struggle and strife goes, people of both sex face challenges equally. A man with a working wife, has to contribute to home chores too, and more and more men are doing so willingly.

Personally, when I look back on my journey in the Police Department I do not think I faced extra difficulties because of my sex, my challenges were the same as my male colleagues’. We had to give the same tests and acquire same proficiency.

“This is the golden age for girls, when every opportunity comes their way normally. Make the most of it!!”

Nagpur Today next turned to Advocate Jyoti Vajani who is a well known and much feared Government Attorney and has put many criminals behind bars successfully.

N.T. – This Woman’s Day how do you see the situation of women?

Jyoti Vajani – Women are coming out of their homes and working shoulder to shoulder with men, but much still needs to be changed in Indian people’s mindsets.

The change needs to begin from the Home which is still often an unequal place for daughters/ girls. Indian families still hanker for male offspring and girls are considered a burden. Daughters are often not treated as equal to sons.

As a Govt. Pleader, I have seen the worst cases of exploitation of girls at home. Sorry to say, it is not so much on the streets, as in her own house that a girl faces exploitation and violence.

I see a sickening number of cases, where fathers, even brothers and uncles sexually exploit girls with mothers remaining silent witnesses.

There was this case where a daughter was raped by her own father for 6 years – from the age of 13 till the age of 18. Finally, when she had turned 18,she got the courage to go to the police and register a complaint. When investigations proved her allegations, the father was arrested,charged and put on trial.

Shockingly, in front of the judge the girl turned hostile! She said she had never complained against the father and was being forced to testify against him. We suspect the mother had warned her to not speak up in court. Such situations are very disheartening, to say the least.

On a everyday level, working women have to face the brunt of looking after the home too. When both husband and wife come home tired from work, it is still the wife who has to go into the kitchen and make tea! She who has to cook, and keep the house clean.

I wonder when the day will come when a woman can sit down, lay her feet up and ask hubby for a hot cup of tea!

Though I think among the younger generation things are changing. There is more gender equality. I hope this change percolates to every level of society soon.

So WHAT is the situation for Indian women really like? Is it a case of ‘the more things change the more they remain the same?’ We know that is a Paradox, but sometime change comes slowly and things can get worse before they get better.

As a journalist seeing society at close quarters, from the eyes of the social worker working for sex workers of Ganga Jamuna to wives of prominent politicians, I can say one thing:

Women will have to be Bold and decide what they want for themselves. Whether it is safety at home or outside, equal working conditions to breaking the glass ceiling, as Gandhiji famously said – You have to be the Change you wish to see!

Happy Women’s day….#BeBoldForChange!!!

Sunita Mudaliar (Associate Editor)