New Delhi: Despite India celebrating its 67th year of freedom on this Independence Day, the women in the country are yet to know the true meaning of freedom.
The recent case of gang-rape of a para-medical student in a moving bus in Delhi outraged the entire nation, and once again highlighted the issue of women`s safety in our country.
The programme ‘Ek Naari Aisi Bhi’ of the ‘Bharat Bhagya Vidhata’ series attempts to raise such issues of utmost concern, including the safety of women, and find a possible solution to those problems as well as aims to find ways to make women free from fear.
Instances of crime against women, including cases of rape and acid attacks, have been on the rise in recent times. Zee Media’s Bharat Bhagya Vidhata team discussed the concerns of Indian women with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national vice-president Smriti Irani and tried to find amicable solutions to the problems faced by them.
Referring to the brutal gang-rape of the para-medical student in the national capital, Smriti Irani felt that issue of safety of women should not be compartmentalised. "The safety of women is not merely a women-centric issue, but affects the entire society," she said.
“In Nirbhaya gang-rape case, fathers used to come with their daughters to protest against the brutal gang-rape. So, let`s not make it a gender-based issue," Irani said.
When asked whether a state with a woman chief minister should be safer for women, she said that that though one tends to expect more in such a scenario, the issue should not be made gender-specific. "Solutions cannot be gender-based," she said.
To a question that the feeling of respect for women is slowly waning in the society, the BJP leader said, "The change in this attitude will come through education. Apart from education in school, education should be imparted at home as well."
Commenting on existing laws to deal with heinous crimes such as rape, Irani said that the extent of crime is such that no one can gauge the exact punishment that would be fit for a rapist.
"I am a mother myself. Being a mother, I can never say that the punishment for such a ghastly crime will ever be enough. However, the punishment being meted out should be so harsh that it should deter others from doing the same thing," she said.
Getting swift justice is another issue that women face, she feels. "If a woman raises her voice she does that thinking that she will get justice swiftly and in a time-bound manner," she said.
The BJP leader also expressed concern about the shortage of funds to ensure smooth functioning of Fast Track Courts in the country. "In how much time a victim gets justice also makes a difference. However, with dearth of funds, how can law be enforced swiftly?" she asked.
Forensic laboratories also play a crucial role but they don’t get sufficient budget, and have several cases pending, she said.
Referring to instances of eve-teasing, sexual harassment of women and criticism of how they dress, the BJP national vice president termed the mentality as ‘unfortunate’ while stressing on the need for the society as a whole to deal firmly with such issues.
"The society should be prepared to deal with such a situation. Bystanders should come forward and help if a woman is being harassed," she said.
Acid attack victim Shonali Mukherjee, whose face was disfigured in an acid attack in 2003, said that perpetrators of such crime should be ostracised not just from society but from their home as well.
"The family members of such people should boycott them instead of protecting them," Shonali, who also appeared on the show, said.
(The episode will be telecast on Aug 21 at 8:30 pm on Zee News)