"Agreed Nirya Sharma, a student, who said that it is unfortunate that women face such heinous crimes."
New Delhi, June 10 - In the recent past, horror tales of rape, sexual assault and molestation have plagued the country. At such a time, women, who have been shaken to the core, welcome government proposals like zero tolerance for violence against women, a mass campaign for saving the girl child and enabling her education, and a commitment providing 33 percent reservation to them in parliament and state legislatures, albeit with skepticism.

Young women and activists, however, assert that all these promises will only make sense if they are implemented.

They are the need of the hour, said Ranjana Kumari, director, Centre for Social Research (CSR), a NGO working for the empowerment of women and girls.

We tend to think that where laws are in place, there is a less possibility of violence against women. However, such is not the case. Almost 90 percent of women still feel unsafe in our country and we should have stringent laws and an implementing machinery in place to reduce violence against women, she added.

The government Monday declared its zero tolerance of violence against women, and said it was committed to providing 33 percent reservation to women in parliament and the state legislatures.

Addressing a joint session of parliament, President Pranab Mukherjee said that the Narendra Modi government will strengthen the criminal justice system to provide for effective implementation of laws in tackling crimes against women.

Twenty-six-year-old Pooja Raman, a lawyer, said that it is high-time such promises see the light of day.

It is about time promises become more than just assurances and I am convinced that the new government will fulfill its promises. But, we as the public should also play a proactive role to helping them implement these programmes, Raman told IANS.

However, Nidhi Gupta, feels that unless there is greater understanding of social mindsets which is the root cause of such atrocities against women, none of this can be seen as anything more than lip service.

It is critical to change the way people think, the 27-year-old Mumbai-based journalist asserted.

The president also said that the government is committed to Beti Bachao - Beti Padhao (Save the Girl Child, Teach the Girl Child), and will launch a mass campaign for saving the girl child and enabling her education. It will structure a comprehensive scheme, incorporating best practices from states in this regard.

Ruchira Gupta, founder and president of NGO Apne Aap Women Worldwide, says that it is a good step, but added that women parliamentarians need to be educated to be females not just biologically, but also politically, and address the issue of inequality between the sexes.

In the recent past, there have been women leaders like Mamata Banerjee, Mayawati and J. Jayalalithaa, but they have not done anything on the issue of rape. It is to be seen what the next generation of women leaders do, Gupta told IANS.

Gupta further questioned the purview of zero tolerance and said: I want to know if they (government) will also include things like stalking and marital rape.

Ranjana Kumari, who hailed the commitment to ensure 33 percent reservation for women, expressed the hope that parliament would soon pass the much-delayed bill on this. The bill, which had been cleared by the Rajya Sabha, lapsed as the 15th Lok Sabha could not clear it. It will now have to be reintroduced.

Ranjana Kumari, who is also the chairperson of WomenPowerConnect (WPC), a coalition of nearly 1,400 women's organisations and individuals, suggested a few appointments which will strengthen women's agencies in India.

These include a strong woman Lokpal, a woman commissioner in the human rights commission, a strong and fearless chairperson to head the National Commission for Women (NCW) to protect and further the cause of women in India and also a permanent woman member in the Planning Commission to look after gender issues.

However, there are a few like freelance writer Tanushree Bhasin who feel that such promises have been made in the past, and what matters is whether they are delivered.

Several governments in the past have expressed their desire to pass the women's reservation bill but have failed to do so. It remains to be seen if this BJP government, which is committed to an ideology of patriarchal Hindutva, does actually translate its promises into action. For in essence, the Hindutva ideology runs against women's empowerment and equality, Bhasin told IANS.

Agreed Nirya Sharma, a student, who said that it is unfortunate that women face such heinous crimes.

Violence against women is a matter of grave concern. The recent cases of rape in Uttar Pradesh reflect the condition of women in our country. On the one hand, we say that women are ahead of men in almost every field, on the other you need programmes to safeguard their integrity, Sharma, 18, said.


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