Once again, International Women’s Day is upon us and there are, of course, a slew of events in the city to mark the day dedicated to women. Slick packaging, hype, the media mileage one gets from using women’s causes as a platform all means this day has great visibility.
Consequently, many organisations public or private, including a lot of corporates have a number of events revolving around the day. Many of these are not simply for publicity, but well-meaning, welcome initiatives to put the spotlight on women. Several are very creative and enterprising, from car rallies to inauguration of more facilities for women traffic cops; it is a day which has a mix of the prosaic and initiatives that make a statement.
Yet, one cannot help thinking that these events are, at times, a trifle cosmetic, especially when violence against women is on the rise. As a simmering debate on the film about the Delhi gang rape case gains traction, it is also sickening to see that molestations and rapes are continuing in the city.
Today, we have instances when women are being molested or raped by public transport drivers. Mumbai’s most robust public transport arms are now dangerous for women, and as transport is the heart of a commuting city, it is evident that all these rousing cheers on Women’s Day are cosmetic at best. First, it is the crowded over- bridges and train platforms where women are often victimised and groped. Now, we see women forcefully being taken to secluded spots, where they are molested. Safe, public spaces for women are shrinking rapidly.
We have also had several shameful reports of women being groped and molested inside medical facilities. If a woman cannot trust medical staff, then we really have reached the lowest point. This Women’s Day, Mumbai needs to reclaim its reputation as a safe city for women. Hearts, minds, and laws need to change; introspection and action is the need of the hour. Women’s Day celebrations must have an undercurrent of seriousness as well.