Judge a nation by studying the status of its woman. This statement stands true in all times, as woman represent the standard culture of any age. Their social status speaks of the social spirit of the time. In our country India, woman for the longest time have been worshipped as ‘idols’ but in the real world, they are neglected, suppressed and exploited. Ideally, a woman is called the embodiment of ‘Shakti’, a symbol of ‘Purity’, ‘Religiousness’ but in practice, they are deprived and denied of equal rights in family, marital, social, educational, economic and political sphere.
The condition of woman has not always been the same. Looking back at Vedic period the position of woman was glorious on account of freedom and equality. They were educated and participated in every walk of life. They wore the sacred thread (Upavita-Dhaaranaa), underwent through Brahmacharya and carried study of the Vedas. Lady sages Gosha, Apala, Lopamudra, Indrani, Maitreyi and Gargi stand as a cross-reference to this.
The condition of woman deteriorated in the Mughal period, i.e., 11th century onwards. The main reasons responsible for this were the patriarchal joint family system, polygamy, Sati system, forced widowhood i.e. denial of the right to remarriage after widowhood, denial of the right to divorce, child marriage, prostitution, devadasi system the purdah system.
They were restrictions on her rights and freedom and her resultant hardships were aggravated. During this period the role of women conformed to the dictum laid down by Manu, that ‘a woman does not deserve freedom’ and that she should, throughout her life, be dependent on the man. She should be subservient in all stages of her life – ‘in childhood to the father, in youth to the husband and his elderly kins and to the sons when widowed.’. During this dark period, the position of women reached its peak of deterioration which continued till the 19th century.
There was an improvement in the position of girls, women, and widows during the British period. Female education was introduced and promoted which also brought in Child-Marriage Restraint Act in 1929 or the Sarda Act. The act restricted the evils of early marriages by not only prohibiting the solemnization of child-marriages but also raising the minimum age for marriage of girls to 14 and of boys 18 years. The Hindu Women’s Right of separate Residence and Maintenance Act of 1946 enabled Hindu wives to claim maintenance without having judicial separation under certain circumstances. Women acquired a new social status because of social legislation called the Civil Indian Marriage Act, 1872. Indian Association formed in 1917 by Mrs. Annie Besant also looked after women’s rights and education. The was an all-around improvement in the status of during the British period, in stark contrast to the Mughal period.
Seeing the progress made in giving woman deserved equality it may look like the present status of women in India is pleasing and satisfying but, it is only one side of the coin. The actual position is somewhat different. Woman are still victims of ancient forms of evils like child marriage and premature consummation resulting in early and dangerous pregnancies along with more evils like female infanticide, illegal abortion, female foeticide, dowry deaths, rape, eve teasing and various other forms of molestation of women.
With rapid urbanization and industrialization of the country, exploitation of women in recent years has been a serious menace to our society. Even after 72 years of Independence, the life of women in India is surrounded by violence, neglect, and exploitation. According to the 2011 Census, the sex ratio of India is 943 females per 1000 males. The female literacy rate is alarming low at 65.46%, which is 16.68% lesser than the male literacy rate of 82.14%. There are still 726,169 women who are houseless.
Apart from being denied the basic rights, women in India are still being exploited. According to the 2016 statistics published by Nation Crime Records Bureau, the rate of crime against women–crimes per 100,000 female population–was 55.2 in 2016, up from 41.7 in 2012. ‘Cruelty by husband or his relatives’ was the most reported crime against women, accounting for 33% of all crimes in 2016. Rape accounted for 11% of all crimes against women with 38,947 cases reported in 2016 which means four cases every hour.
What made it worse was that in 2016 the conviction rate in which trials were completed by the courts–for crimes against women was the lowest, i.e., 18.9%. According to the 2016 report, as many as 2.5 million crimes against women have been reported in India over the last decade. Reported cases of crime against women increased 83% from 185,312 in 2007 to 338,954 in 2016.
It is soul-wrenching to witness this vicious times where women have to worry about their safety everywhere, be it inside or outside of their homes. Recently London based Thomson Reuters Foundation published a report in June 2018 stating India to be the world’s most dangerous country for women due to the high risk of sexual violence and being forced into slave labour based on a poll of global experts.
The time has come for the nation to be held in hands and shaken up so that it can see the condition of women of its country and to make this possible a woman would have to stand up for a woman. Our National Women Party germinated on the same idea of a woman for woman. We looked up to the inspiring idols like Chand Bibi, Rani Laxmibai, Kittur Rani Channamma, and Rani Abbakkar and started the groundwork of our National Women Party in 2016.
The main motive behind the formation of National Women Party is to get 50% reservation for women candidates in Lok Sabha Election. We will attempt to eradicate the present challenges and work towards women empowerment with full force. NWP currently has the support from 1.45 Lakh women members of Telangana Mahila Samiti and the numbers are persistently increasing across India.
Our party welcomes and supports every woman and man who wish to support our cause and this party irrespective any cast creed or religion.