Vaishalli Chandra , oneindia one news : Friday, May 10, 2013,
Bangalore, May 9: With Congress getting a clear lead in the recently held Karnataka Assembly Elections 2013, they are busy deciding who will be the next CM. There is one issue that takes centre stage for women – that of their safety. An open letter to Congress – on what women expect out of the government: To Congress, Congratulations on your win. I am sure, it will feel good that finally you have come to power in a state that was beginning to turn saffron. Now, let me not beat around the bush and put forth my wish list (actually it is more of a demand, but I will try a polite approach, for now). Under the last government, I did not feel safe
Wish #1: NO moral policing, no deadlines, whatsoever. Yes. The last government, tried it and see where it is now. Do not judge me by the way I dress, speak, company I keep, places I visit (pubs et al), time of the day (or night). Do not make it a basis to refuse to help me in distress. It is my right to freedom, provided by the Indian Constitution (Article 19 (1) (a) Right to freedom of speech and expression). It doesn’t help if you curb my movement either. Therefore, even before you think of coming with any brilliant ‘deadline for women’ ideas, I’d humbly request you to put them away. Actually, throw that thought out completely, burn it, if possible. Let’s understand that a deadline is NOT a solution you can provide to make me feel secure. (Remember, most stats point at violence at home – so) Try instead to 1. Light up – dark alleys and by-lanes. 2. Public transportation – provide better last mile connectivity. 3. Police patrolling – presence of the cops can keep trouble-makers at bay.
Wish #2: Gender Sensitisation Top cops in the past have pointed fingers at women, saying it is there fault crimes happen to them. Therefore, you really need to get the police task force ‘gender sensitised’. What would really make me feel secure and safe is that when I approach a cop on the road, he listens to me and acts on my complaint, instead of making me feel guilty of my choice of clothes, company I keep, location I choose or the time of the hour (repetition of wishlist #1). Moral policing by the police is NOT acceptable. Really. No-lip service, put a feedback mechanism in place, so when you do spend money and time into the sensitisation of the police force, you know that it was spent well. Encourage feedback from the people to access how well your policemen behave. When you get scathing feedback from us, work on it feedback. Don’t get angry and/or get preachy. Incentivise (monetarily) the good behaviour of the policemen. You will be surprised how far that can take you. Also, since I commute by the public transport that the government provides, I’d really appreciate if there is a helpline number in all the buses that: (a. functions; (b. functions even past 6pm (life goes on after sunset, you know).
Wish #3: Fix the ‘headlessness’ of the Karnataka State Commission for Women (KSCW): Your manifesto under the section Women Welfare, reads very vague. Here’s what it reads: ‘Undertake programmes in schools, colleges and industries for gender sensitisation and prevention of sexual harassment by involving NGO’s and voluntary organisations and giving them financial incentives.’ Without a preamble then. You do have an uphill task when it comes to providing a sense of security to the women in the state. Your immediate job responsibility should be to fill the vacant post of Karnataka Women’s Commission’s post, that has been vacant ever since C Manjula resigned to join politics early this year. A report in an English daily, pointed out that even the counselling sessions that are held every Tuesday and Friday have become less frequent. That is sad. The counselling sessions were helpful because the chairperson could give oral instruction to the police to help the women in distress. Once a chairperson is appointed, ensure that the KSCW’s website is re-vamped. Look at it yourself. You will not find anything of use to women in distress, apart from brochures that date back to 2012. Wake up it is Mid-2013. As a web-savvy woman I can tell you this, this website is offering me no help. It doesn’t even tell me what the KWC is all about. The ‘About’ page describes the commission in Kannada only, what about an urban population that cannot read Kannada? Is the Commission selective, in who it will help? Shouldn’t the website have information in Kannada and English. The team has a table with names and numbers. With C Manjula still listed as the chairperson of the commission. Think it is time to update that too.
Wish #4: Implement the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Law: This law is still in a nascent stage. It will be up to you to direct the concerned department to ensure it is followed. Maybe, a good starting point would be to ensure that all organisations have an in-house committee. Without these committees in place the law is of no use to women. Do, you think you will be able to get these in place along with your ‘gender sensitisation’ programs in schools, colleges and the workplace? Undersigned, A woman, who loves this city to bits.