When will the women of India break free?

The Chieftain of Samajwadi Party Mulayam Singh Yadav’s sexist comment on women created hullabaloo when he mentioned that the rural women would not benefit from the Women Reservation Bill because they are not as ‘attractive as women who are from the affluent classes’.

Hindustan Times quoted Mulayam saying:

“bade bade gharon ki ladkiya aur mahilayan kewal upar ja sakti hain…yaad rakhna…apko mauka nahi milega..hamare gaon ki mahila me akarshan itna nahin.”(Only girls and women from wealthy class can go forward. Remember this. You (village women) will not get a chance. Our rural women do not have that much attraction).”

At Barabanki, Lucknow Yadav had played off the Bill in a meeting, saying that it was only “going to benefit the richer women and the weaker sections would further lose their hold.” This is actually a farce. How long women can be blindfolded like this? Mulayam is sadly mistaken that his aura would still influence these village women and they would not insist for the Women’s Bill.

Mulayam argues that if the Women’s Bill is passed, only women from well-heeled class will profit from this while the rustic women, unfashionable and from the backward class will be further suppressed.The Bill, proposes 33 per cent reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies, was passed by the Rajya Sabha in 2010 but SP, RJD and JD (U) had opposed the bill. He has been opposing the long pending Women Reservation Bill, on Friday said his party would think of supporting it if Dalits, Muslims and backward class were also taken care of in its compass.

He further said, “If our viewpoint is considered on the OBCs, minorities and dalits, we will certainly reconsider our stand on the issue. Women have suffered for long, and have been discriminated against. I am of the opinion that society should give an equal chance to them to work for the progress of the country,” the former chief minister of UP later told IANS. He turn tails here since he was attacked for his irresponsible comment earlier.”I would be happy if men and women work together,” he added.

We have witnessed enough of hypocrisy concerning women particularly in the Northern belt. On one hand the Yadav triad (Mulayam-Laalu-Sharad) oppose the bill and on the other hand they try and portray a reformist image. I fail to understand on what base Mulayam said that high class women would be more benefited rather than the women from the villages? Does the bill segregate women on such a basis? All classes of women in India have to struggle and being affluent does not make the battle less fierce for them.

The solution to this problem of suppression of women would stop only when girls are sent to school for education, they become financially independent and are not married off at a small age. The educated women of India should come forward to this cause so that politicos should not advantage by creating a fear-psychosis among the rural women over the bill.

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