Thursday, July 29, 2021


All forms of crimes against women are as old as Time itself ~ and committed across the globe cutting across racial, religious, cultural, political, ideological, social, education and economic backgrounds, etc. The very ideology and ethos of patriarchy is the foundation of crimes against women but unless we fully understand the anatomy and pathology of patriarchy, we wouldn’t be able to appreciate how multi-dimensionally deeply entrenched crimes against women are in all spheres of human family, community, society and State and activities thereof. Therefore, human family, community, society and State ~ being perpetrators of crimes against women ~ safety, security and dignity of women will always be vulnerable to violence of all forms. So, till the time the world stops being male-centric and male-dominated, crimes against women will continue unabated, especially in a world that is now post-capitalist and corporatized, which makes breaking the glass, or any other, ceiling harder. India itself has seen drastic reduction of women in the workforce ~ even of educated, skilled and highly qualified women. On top of this background, the pandemic has worsened the situation for women across the globe since last year when women are stuck at home in abusive family eco-systems and the avenues for help have been limited. However, none of the above should stop us ~ as individuals, collectives, communities and society ~ from calling out against crimes against women and the perpetrators on whatever way we can. Ergo, it is encouraging that the Nagaland State Commission for Women (NSCW) has appealed all citizens to ensure and secure safety and dignity of women in Nagaland ~ as it must, because the very raison d’être of the NSCW’s existence is to do that. It is a fact that domestic violence, sexual, mental, psychological harassment and violence against women have been on the rise in Nagaland in the past few years but the numbers have risen phenomenally during the pandemic period since 2020. Phenomenally ~ because ours is a society that prides itself of being classless and “traditionally democratic” where women are held in high respect and status ~ but it stops short of mentioning “equality” and equity” ~ and that says it all. Classless means many things including the absence of the classes of men and women. The above-said “the numbers have risen phenomenally during the pandemic period since 2020” must also be qualified with the fact that Naga society and Nagaland actually never had ~ and still doesn’t have ~ the exact number of crimes against women committed at any point of time because most were and remain unreported. And then the regressive and unconstitutional custom and culture of “settling” such cases “out of court” persist. So, this is where all constitutional bodies ~ the legislature, executive and the judiciary ~ can exert their powers and forces in tandem to address and redress this horrific reality. It is also imperative for our Church, tribal bodies, NGOs, other collectives and individuals to make a stand against crimes against women and children ~ because their silence sends message of condoning such crimes. It is never enough to issue statements of condemnation in the media ~ what would make a real difference is when these bodies prove their democratic credentials by including women in their decision-making bodies thereby emphatically and unambiguously attesting that they actually believe that men and women are equals. So, while it is encouraging that the NSCW has appealed all citizens to ensure and secure safety and dignity of women in Nagaland, it is also time for this body to go beyond “appealing”. Indubitably, the NSWC is doing all it can for women in the State but now it is time for it to soul-search what more it could have done but have missed out. For one, has the NSWC ever called out the State Government on crimes against women and made it a co-accused in case of crimes against women? Understandably, this is difficult because the State Government selects and appoints members of this Commission ~ so the State Government is the Commission’s boss, so to speak. But because the State Government is morally and constitutionally obliged to safeguard and secure the lives and limbs of all citizens ~ which means women too ~ there probably aren’t any legal impediments to stop the NSWC from naming the State Government in such cases. The Right to Life is multi-dimensional and shouldn’t be perceived from a narrow perspective. The will and the way always walk together.