The article, “Selling women’s rights short” (Jan. 24), was an enlightening read. It brought out the negative and parochial side of citizen policing, neighbourhood watch and patriarchal protectionism. With alarming regularity, discourses on gender equality have concluded that growth and development can bring about a positive change in the patriarchal mindset and in gender equations.
This point of view has now been belied, at least in the case of the National Capital Territory of Delhi. With enormous cultural diversity, sprawling geography and vast economic disparity, India requires a unique solution arising from careful introspection and encapsulated by a “structural change”.
The article raised the issue of women’s rights at the right time and expressed it in a cogent manner. Clearly, khap panchayats are by no means worthy of being considered as the wise guardians of public morality. If the founding fathers of India’s Constitution subscribed to localised platforms of democracy, they would have structured the country as a loose federation rather than as the strongly-centralised one it is at present. A fractious and diverse nation needs a stabilising leadership.
Women across the country are subjected to suffering on the grounds of honour and purported adherence to traditional values. The very idea that a khap panchayat was empowered to order a gang rape of a woman simply because she happened to have had a love affair is gruesome and troubling — especially so that such an act was sanctioned by local justice authorities amid all the contemporary reforms in the wake of the Delhi gang rape.
For how long will women’s safety continue to be an elusive ideal?
While the article rightly exposes the false rhetoric deployed by the AAP to defend the abrasive behaviour of its Law Minister Somnath Bharti, it ignores the fact that a large amount of violence against women does take place under the influence of narcotics, as Mr. Kejriwal observes. Police apathy, patriarchy, delay in the delivery of justice, drug and sex rackets, all in tandem, perpetuate violence against women and the danger posed by every one of these factors should be considered to be significant.
Dr. Abid Rizvi,