Editorial

Misreading the Bible and Constitution

It is bad enough that women and children don’t exist in the peripheries of our individual and societal conscience, much less crimes against them because they remain hidden from public space. But it is worse when no societal conscience is stirred even when these crimes are fore-fronted. Within a week, the media front-paged the abuse of two children, yet we hear only silence from the Government ~ particularly the State Commissions for Women and Children and the Minister/Advisor of the Department of Women Development. It is not enough for the two Commissions to merely conduct “awareness” programmes on women’s rights across the State. Awareness is pointless without the shield of legal and law-enforcement support to prevent and punish such abuses. Good and bad things happen but how do we deal with the bad that happens more often than we like to believe? Some of the main responsibilities of these State Commissions are to educate society on the prevention and healing remedies, shake the Government to act against the violations of such constitutional, human and legal rights and to involve the judicial system towards this end. In fact, these State Commissions for Women and Children are also empowered to take the Government and/or its concerned agencies to court for dereliction of duty by not protecting women and children, which create the possibilities for their physical, sexual, mental and psychological abuses ~ and, as an extension abetment to rights violations. Everyone knows that across the globe there is an increase in all forms of abuses against women and children since last year, as the lockdown has created the ecosystem to perpetrate such abuses. Besides disseminating information about women and child help-lines, what other administrative, legal, political, economic and social measures has our Government undertaken to safeguard and secure women and children from such abuses within and without the home? What tangible measures has our Government put in place for victims of such abuses to heal their physical, mental and psychological wounds and to provide them the rehabilitative economic and other support system to live in society and state without being shamed and stigmatized? How much pressure have our Commissions for Women and Children exerted on our Government towards these vital rehabilitative and compensatory measures? What about our Department of Women Development? What exactly is its brief ~ just to distribute sewing/knitting machines and impart tailoring lessons? If any beneficiary of this Department is abused, what sort of support system does it provide to the victim? Does this Department believe that it has nothing to do with these crimes and victims? Is that why we never hear from the Minister/Advisor of the Department when such abuses are reported? What exactly is his brief? And, what exactly does “women development” mean? Can women or anyone be “developed” simply by some economic measures that separate income-generating activities from the totality of a person? Seriously, what exactly are this Department’s contributions to women’s “empowerment” in the larger scheme of women’s existence in the State? So far, it is mainly women’s non-governmental organizations at various levels that take up the cudgel against crimes against women and children, which is positive because women have none to speak up for them ~ the Government and other constitutionally-mandated agencies clearly prefer silence and distance. And add the fact that even at such times as these, women and children are doubly victimized by crimes against them. It makes us wonder where the Church is. By its silence at such crimes, we can surmise that the Church also believes silence is the best part of valour ~ like the Government and other constitutionally-mandated agencies? By its silence on, and distance from, such crimes, can we assume that the Church has done the Pontius Pilate on women and children of Nagaland a very long time ago? Clearly somewhere we have misread both the Bible and the Constitution ~ hence women and children don’t exist in the peripheries of Naga Society and State’s conscience. And it shows ~ in so many other aspects too. For instance, the statistics of gender gap in the COVID vaccination process. News agencies report that more men than women have been vaccinated and Nagaland has the second widest disparity in the country ~ only 714 women were vaccinated for every 1000 men here. Reasons could be many, which our Government needs to confront and eliminate. Only then it can bridge this disparity and all abuses ~ thereby disprove its patriarchal and discriminatory persona.

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