International Women’s Day marks protest, determination, struggle, sacrifice

Dreaded Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc over the entire capitalist world, still lurking on the horizon. Yet another ‘virus’ continues to haunt mankind to no less an extent. This pertains to the onslaught on the life and security, dignity and honour of women which is, so to say a world-wide phenomenon. International Women’s Day on 8 March occurs this year on this backdrop.
It is a pathetic tale, more so for India. Well known as a country where a host of goddesses, varying in name and prominence from state to state, are recipient of ardent worship with devotees bowing their heads in veneration before Devi Ma that is, Mother Goddess. But not a day passes here, when in one part of the country or the other the fatal cries of a girl child, a young woman or one old violated, assaulted, raped and brutalized are not throttled down : be it in rural or urban set-up, involving the poorer section of the womenfolk or the better off; the educated and those without it, a minor or a septuagenarian: it can take place anywhere to any female. Narratives of gory incidents fill pages of print media almost daily, it is superfluous to reiterate. But what needs mention is that all these take place where and when, the BJP-led Union government, led by its prime minister Narendra Modi, have made ‘Empowerment of women’ a catchword in common parlance, has turned Beti bachao (Save the daughters) and Beti parhao (Let daughters study) into almost a parrot-like rhetoric.
Those are revamped louder when there is some election on the cards, as it is evident right now. With several states going to the polls, the prime minister goes in his favourite ‘digital’ mode to comment on the occasion of the Women’s Day : “…..saluting our indomitable Nari Shakti (women’s power) on International Women’s Day! India takes pride in the many accomplishments of the women of our nation. It is our Government’s honour to be getting the opportunity to work towards furthering women empowerment across a wide range of sectors.” He continues: “Women are playing a leading role in India’s quest to become ‘aatmanirbhar’ ” (self-reliant) (Times of India-09-03-21). Yet not a word did he spare on the atrocities on women which go on unabated nor did he express his concern over the safety and security of women! He felt no compunction at all. But can this silence gloss over the facts?
Reports are revealed late. So we have to be content with India recording as many as 4,05,861 cases of crime against women in 2019 with an average of 87 rape cases reported daily and figure recording a 7.3 % rise from 2018 to 2019 (PTI and the Wire, 29-30 September 2020). While 20 women die, murdered or compelled to commit suicide, every day on infamous dowry issues, other crimes range from domestic violence, stalking and abduction, harassment at work place, ‘honour-killing’, ‘love-jihad’ etc. comprising a list, never to end! In keeping with these, India presents 32.1% of the total number of 142.6 million missing females in the world, nearly 45.8 million females missing in the year 2020 alone. How efficiently daughters are being saved! And then over 30% of girl students drop out of schools when they get to just class/ grade IX and the number rises to 57% in class/ grade XI – according to the report Children in India 2018, released by union Ministry in last December. An equally efficient drive for letting daughters study!
Facts also betray typically patriarchal misogyny underlying brutalities meted out to women, in the spread of obscenity on the media, or in undeterred sale of drugs-liquor etc., that drive men towards barbaric acts and all the more in the influential personages of the ‘Saffron Brigade’ making public comments that add fuel to the fire. While the RSS Chief declares that peace to prevail in society, women should keep to their homes, the UP chief minister, a Yogi by name, makes aspersions, in an election meeting in West Bengal, about the miserable state of law and order there, alluding also to the plight of women in the state. On the same date, his own state was experiencing a fresh ghastly incident of gang-rape, latest in an unending series of worst crimes as reports galore in media and even in the records of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) working under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The point is, what makes such a galloping rise of atrocities against women possible during the BJP rule and despite the prime minister advocating women’s empowerment etc. One needs not go far. It is implanted in the philosophy of RSS-BJP itself. Golwalkar, their mentor , the Guru himself spoke against women enjoying right to property and education as that would deprive men of their mental peace. In the chapter ‘Call to the Motherhood ‘of his book ‘Bunch of Thoughts’, he unambiguously asked women not to be modern, because if they become conscious of concepts of women’s liberty and equality with men, they will be eager to make a display of their body! And when Yogi Adityanath, the UP chief minister comments that women should not be given freedom, if they are not kept under control of men, they turn into destructive forces Indian Express.com17-04-2017), he simply harps on the same tune of Golwalkar.
So the International Women’s Day address is no more than an election gimmick, chunaoi jumla, from the prime minister, which the BJP is quite apt in dishing out. But the Day stands out in human history as a mark of women’s struggle, well above this petty gimmick. And that fact is also borne out even this year.
The more women’s struggle, part and parcel of toiling people’s struggle grows in intensity, the more the rulers, the ruling monopolists, the ruling capitalist class become panicky and desperate. How heartless and nonchalant to humanity can they become are again evident from the more-than 100 days of protests by peasants on the roads and highways at the borders of the capital of India, Delhi. Hundreds of thousands of kisans, the peasants, of all economic positions, speaking different languages, coming from different states, holding different religious beliefs have stood like rock-wall against all oppressions, atrocities, criminal indifference, from the BJP-led Union government, demanding repeal of three nakedly pro-corporate farm laws which are sure to spell doom in the life of not just the peasants, but the common people of all sections across the country. And this huge mass of people include a remarkable section of children and women, from infant to nonagenarians, who stayed firm on their stand of protest on equal footing with their men, with fullest safety, security, honour and courage. They braved all odds, of nature from chilling cold to the scorching heat that threatens to usher in a few days. They braved all odds coming down from the government. It is the united well-guided people’s movement that has proved once again that the battlefield of protest is the way that upholds humanity even higher than the height the prevailing system may allow for.
On this 8 March, the International Women’s Day, this message of struggle is highlighted against the gimmicky election pledge for women’s empowerment. The message is conveyed to the humanity by the hundreds of thousands of unnamed fighters who did not and do not hesitate to give out their voice of protest all through the human history, without caring for life, in the past, at present or in future. They are venting out this message at the borders of the Indian capital. It was vented out by Kyal Sin 19 years of age and popularly known as Angel, who, among others, was shot to the head and dead by the security forces, read Myanmar army while taking part in the protest demonstration against the unwarranted military coup in Myanmar that overthrew elected government. With millions of others, they make their place as the icon of protest and hold high the banner of women’s struggle.
Long Live International Women’s Day!

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