February-March  2004 
Year 10    No.96

Cover Story


What the other half want

As politicians and political parties shamelessly woo sections of the electorate, no party articulates the demands and rights of Indian women

Health

All government run health facilities, which include hospitals, PHC and village level units must provide all people, specifically women and children with free medical facilities and medicines.

All women must be provided with free prenatal and antenatal care.

It has been observed that women affected by HIV do not get any family or community support and are left to fend for themselves. Taking this social situation into account, all women affected by HIV must be given free health care and provided rehabilitation.

Education

Free school education must be provided for all children. All government run and aided schools and schoolteachers need and must be provided with adequate funds and facilities.

All women should be provided with free education until graduation.

Encourage and establish technical schools to train women in male dominated work areas. These include maintenance of electronic equipment, driving, carpentry, plumbing, computers, printing, motor mechanics etc.

Guidelines to be framed to avoid gender, religious and caste biases in school and college textbooks. These guidelines should be binding on all schools and colleges.

All government aided schools and colleges should be free from any religious symbols or prayers.

Development

All assets provided by or under government control, which include land, house, means of livelihood, animals, should be registered in the joint names of men and women adults in the household (which must include married, unmarried/divorced/separated women).

Womens Collectives must be given access to institutional credit, leases for cultivation on wastelands and common lands, contracts for the collection and sale of minor forest produce and other collective activities.

Establish Single and Working Womens Hostels, Short Stay homes.

Work

Womens Collectives in rural areas should be allocated funds and given facilities to promote collective activities leading to regenerating natural resources, enriching bio-diversity, protecting indigenous seeds, plants, fertilisers.

Provide employment or work opportunities to women with skills that fall within male domain in government run establishments. (These include bus, car driving, electric maintenance, building maintenance etc.)

In all employment guarantee schemes, the work to be undertaken must be in consultation and agreement with the village community, wherein women have equal representation.

Provide security for elected women sarpanch or panchayat members so they are able to exercise their rights of free will.

Justice

Legislate a Bill addressing the issue of sexual violence against women during communal and caste attacks, which would hold responsible not only the direct offenders but also the State authorities and non-State organisations involved. The Bill should also address issues of reparation compensation, rehabilitation as a basic right of citizens.

Enact the following legislation in full consultation with and endorsement from womens organisations from all over the country.

1. Prevention and redress of Sexual Harassment at Workplace.

2. Matrimonial Property Rights for Women.

3. Equal Inheritance Rights.

4. Prevention and redress of Domestic Violence.

5. Bill preventing harassment of Sex Workers by State and non-State actors

(This Bill must be discussed with organisations of Sex Workers).

6. Adoption and Guardianship Rights

7. Prevention and redress of Child Sexual Abuse.

8. Divorce and Maintenance Law

(Any woman irrespective of religion or community will have the right to ask for remedies/relief under these laws)

Protection from discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation should be made a right guaranteed by the Constitution.

Constitute Womens Committees from each respective community, where women are governed by personal laws of the community. These committees should be empowered to suggest reforms in each personal law.

Human rights and citizens rights

Ratify the accord for International Criminal Court (ICC) to emphasis on justice, human rights and rule of law in global and local politics.

Repeal anti-democratic draconian laws like POTA.

Make all State sponsored functions, institutions, establishments free from any religious symbols or prayers.

Government should not through its bodies or any non-State organisation indulge in social moral policing, enforcing dress code, codes of moral behaviour. (These include examples like the Gujarat government monitoring inter-religious marriages.) n

(Forum Against Oppression of Women, Mumbai).

 


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