How long should we be fighting for an equitable space for girls?

By S.N.Surajbhan

International Day of the Girl Child, celebrated worldwide on 11 October, focuses on amplifying the voices and rights of girls everywhere. The theme for this year, “My voice, our equal future”, re-imagines a better world inspired and led by adolescent girls, as part of the global Generation Equality movement.

The growing violence against women in our country is time and again testing us if at all humanity prevails and how far we provide space for our girls and women to prove that undertaking. If we are in 2020, and concerned about our daughter’s safety while they are stepping out of home, then this means that we are not yet ready towards building up a gender-equalled society and especially when our agenda focuses on re-imagining a better world with inter-generational equity for women in the society. Crime against women, deep rooted patriarchy as well as gender based violence cannot go along with our efforts in nurturing an equitable society.

As a nation, we failed our daughters

According to reports provided by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in 2018 about 109 children are sexually abused each day in India, totaling about 39,827 cases the same year. Such numbers have clearly outcast the heinous side of mankind creating an environment completely unfit for a girl child.

But that is not it, as NCRB has also released the number of rape cases which is about 21,401 in 2018, which have surged to top in no time. The highest number of cases being registered in Maharashtra at 2,832 followed by Uttar Pradesh at 2,023 and then by Tamil Nadu at 1,457.

Odisha fares barely better

Despite the state government’s various path-breaking decisions to place women in better positions both in policies and their social lives, safety and security of girls and women go for a toss.

Further report of 2018 revealed by the NCRB, Odisha has 37 rape cases under 18-years of age.

And when we talk about crime against girl children, child marriages are also not far from the scene as 1,785 cases were registered between 2014 and 2016.

By now, our society should have grown older from the orthodoxical superiority of male counterparts to the modern and vibrant society of equal rights but still the things are not on the table as envisaged.

Are our laws backed by actions?

Across the globe, laws are the front-line barriers that protect every citizen from the acts of crime. There are several laws in India that protect our daughters from violence and abuse and ensure their equitable and rightful position in society. Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act or POSCO Act specifies justice to children against crime like sexual assault, sexual harassment and others.

The Ministry of Women and Child Development has also devised other policies like The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act of 2006, The Commissions for Protection of Child Rights Act (CPCR), 2005 which provide subtle protection to our daughters in a society wrapped in drama of inequitable space.

Despite legislation that has ensured safety and security for our girls, the growing violence against women in our country is a cause of concern. According to the NCRB report. According to NCRB every fifteen minutes one rape is reported in India, then per day about ninety-six rapes would have been registered.

Strengthening the community level child protection system would be the key to reduce the number of cases being registered.

Bolstering efforts to make a justifiable and equitable space for women

Despite the government’s efforts to promote gender equality and ensure equal participation and representation to build a more cohesive and equitable society, our patriarchy mindset has been the major bottleneck to progress in this line. The government actions that followed the recent Hathras gangrape incident are a sheer example of our historic negligence for women’s rights and dignity in our society.

Better policies provide avenues for policymakers and our legal system to give justice for women but this alone cannot keep our daughters safe on this planet. What is needed is a more sensibility towards their equitable space and even more importantly that they should be treated as a human being above the gender tag-line.

Our daughters have never down-performed whenever they are provided an opportunity but we hardly break any barriers whenever equitable space for them is in discourse. Therefore, we still need to recognize their potential to bolster our efforts to think beyond the stereotypes so that our daughters can become the voice of social transformation and can lead the way to make a society where social injustice, patriarchy and overcome the challenge that come their way to excel.

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