Naari Nyay – Till we get our right to justice

  • Alka Lamba

I assumed my charge as National President of Mahila Congress on January 10. Within 60 days, I got the opportunity to connect with half of the country’s population through ‘NaariNyay’ conferences in more than 30 cities in 20 states of the country and discuss their issues at the grassroots level. The biggest issue of women is their economic empowerment. Most of the women believe that if they get financial assistance, they will be able to fight against poverty, inflation, unemployment as well as domestic violence.

Congress President Shri Mallikarjun Kharge and former President Shri Rahul Gandhi also realized this in women’s dialogue during both of their ‘Bharat Jodo Yatras’ that it is imperative for women to be completely empowered. Congress reiterates its resolve towards the economic, political, social, constitutional and legal rights of women.

As a result, Congress has given financial assistance of Rs. 1 lakh every year to women in the Mahalaxmi Guarantee, the first guarantee given under ‘NaariNyay’. Under the second guarantee i.e. ‘Aadhiaabadi, Poorahaq’ (half the population - full rights), women will get half the rights in appointments of the Central Government. The third guarantee is of ‘Power’ - Under this scheme, the central government’s contribution to the monthly salary of Anganwadi, Asha and mid-day meal employees will be doubled. Fourth Guarantee: AdhikarMaitri - Under this, a legal assistant will be appointed in every Panchayat as AdhikarMaitri to make women aware of their rights and provide necessary help to them. Fifth Guarantee - Savitribai Phule Hostel - The Government of India will build at least one working women’s hostel in all the district headquarters across the country thereby doubling the number of these hostels across the country.

On one hand, during the Congress rule, many laws were brought to empower women, while on the other hand, the 10 years of BJP rule will be known in history as the decade of injustice against women.

Starting from the beginning, Congress has always taken concrete steps for the safety and respect of women, such as law against the practice of Sati, important labour rights for women, law against child marriage, minimum wage, protection of women from untouchability. Law for the Emancipation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities Act 1989). Later, Congress passed many important laws in favour of women such as against dowry system, child adoption law, law to get rid of bonded labour, legal protection against women from crimes related to rape and kidnapping, legal protection of women from prostitution, rights of women related to police, right to education for women, right in husband’s property, law to protect women from sexual harassment at workplace, Protection of Women against Domestic Violence Act-2005.

The 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments were passed during the time of the then Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi, under which 33 percent reservation was provided for women in Panchayati Raj and local bodies, thereby making an effort to provide important status to women, socially. This was increased to 50 percent by Smt. Sonia Gandhi during UPA-2, due to which half of the country’s population got a lot of strength to become politically empowered.

After the Nirbhaya incident in 2012, under the leadership of our leaders Smt. Sonia Gandhi and Dr. Manmohan Singh, ‘Nirbhaya Fund’ of Rs. 1000 crores, was started in 2013 to help such women. It has been 10 years since this fund was created, but it is the failure of the BJP government that even after 10 years, even 30 percent of the Nirbhaya Fund has not been utilized, while such incidents are increasing in the country. The protection of rape victims has remained limited to papers only.

Modi government has not done any big favour to women by reducing the price of cylinder costing Rs. 900 by a mere Rs. 100 on Women’s Day. Modi Ji’s guarantee was for the Rs. 450 cylinder available during the Congress rule - what happened to Modi Ji’s guarantee? Today, which state and which sister of the country is getting domestic gas cylinder worth Rs. 450?

By not implementing the Women’s Reservation Act, BJP has brought it down to a mere ‘Jumla’. On the other hand, while Congress gave political empowerment to 14 lakh sisters by giving reservation to women in Panchayats and Municipal Corporations, today it has reiterated its resolve to provide equal participation to the sisters of Extremely Backward Class (OBC), along with implementing the Women’s Reservation Act, after coming to power.

BJP’s slogan was ‘Enough of the attack on women’ and ‘Save the daughters’. After a decade, the truth of which today is that under the double engine BJP governments, atrocities and attacks on women have increased - attacks and atrocities which are mostly done by the leaders in power or the criminals who get the protection of power. Today, there are not just one but multiple examples of this and this is the reason why justice continues to elude daughters and the criminals are getting emboldened day-by-day.

Sakshi Malik from Haryana, BilkisBano from Gujarat, Ankita Bhandari from Uttarakhand, tribal sisters from Manipur, IIT students studying in BHU, minor daughters from Unnao, Hathras, Kanpur, all these are those whose culprits are either BJP MPs, MLAs, ministers, leaders and some criminals have been getting general protection from those in power.

Mahila Congress assures that till the time these and many other victimized daughters and their families get the right to justice, we will join them shoulder-to-shoulder in their fight and also assure them of all possible help and on International Women’s Day. I wish you all the best. Bharat Mata ki Jai - Jai Congress

(The author is a member of CWC and President of Mahila Congress)