mid-day editorial: Give women the gift of safety

There are a slew of events in the city today to mark International Women’s Day. While many of these women-centric events are well meaning initiatives, a good number are simply aimed at courting publicity. The day itself is on the public radar because of slick packaging, huge hype and the media mileage from using women’s causes as a platform.

It is very fashionable to root for women’s rights and make all the correct noises about empowerment. Yet, cutting through all the spiel, one still sees media rife with reports of women still facing assault and abuse all over the country.

On Sunday, a woman in West Bengal’s Howrah district jumped off a three-storey building to escape a rape bid, sustaining injuries to her head. Though she seems to be out of danger in hospital now, the trauma is going to stay with the 20-year-old for a while, and she will need courage and support to battle her demons. In another incident in the past week alone, ‘honour’ killing reared its ugly head once again.

A 30-year-old woman was burnt alive in public by her brother and relatives in Dungarpur district when she went to meet her family for the first time since her marriage with a man of another caste eight years ago. She was burnt alive in a village called Pachlasa, by her brother and cousins who disapproved of the alliance.

Good intentions are all very well, but when there is no let-up in crimes against women, Women’s Day events seem cosmetic at best. On this day, let us not just offer lip service but gift women a safer environment and, most of all, a sense of security in public places, all of which seems to have taken a real beating in Mumbai of late.

Let Women’s Day not be a mere platform to be used to get two minutes of fame and photo opportunities, but a day that calls for a reality check amidst celebrations, even if it involves uncomfortable introspection — only that will eventually translate into action.

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