NEW DELHI, SEPTEMBER 21: “We want rights. Women don’t want to be pitied”, Congress MP Ranjeet Ranjan kick-started the debate on ‘Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam’ or the women’s reservation Bill in Rajya Sabha, adding another dimension to the bill.
Unlike many of her peers, Ranjan did not talk about what the bill left out – such as sub-quotas for Dalits and OBCs, or even a date by which it would come into force – but focused on something more basic – the way it was named.
Ranjeet Ranjan objected to the way the bill was named – ‘Nari Shakti Vandan’ – which roughly translates to “Obeisance to Women Power”. She pointed out that such a dramatic-sounding name made the whole thing look like a token/display of worship on behalf of the society towards women.
She said the bill was being portrayed as a way of paying obeisance to women, while what was actually needed was a recognition of her right to participate in governance.
“Let’s not make a token of worship or respect from men to women, it is linked to a woman’s right to be represented in the Parliament”, the MP said, questioning the respect that the ruling party’s supporters show towards women.
The MP objected to the superior-inferior overtones and the patronizing nature of the name, “as if this was something that was extended out of the goodness of the rulers’ hearts”
“We don’t need your pity”, she said, speaking for women as a class. “We have never needed your pity, nor will ever need it. It’s our compassion, our love that we have allowed ourselves to be the object of your kindness”, she said, referring to the traditional morality that calls upon men to be kind to women.
Elaborating on her objection to being addressed in these terms, she highlighted several instances of mistreatment of women by the ruling outfit.
Among the instances she mentioned were the way the women wrestlers of the country were treated by the Government when they alleged sexual harassment by a high-ranking sports federation official, and how women in the State of Manipur were being mistreated and abused.
She then went on to question the Government’s intent and earnestness behind bringing a ‘women’s reservation law’ that made women’s reservation contingent upon several other, politically fraught agendas, such as redrawing Lok Sabha constituencies.
“Why are we waiting for delimitation to give women reservations…They don’t want to give us rights in the existing structure”, the Congress MP added.
Respect us as equals, STOP saluting us: MP Kanimozhi
Ranjan’s comments come a day after DMK MP Kanimozhi objected to the name of the law.
“This Bill is called the ‘Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam’. Stop saluting us. We don’t want to be saluted, we don’t want to be put on pedestals, we do not want to be worshipped. We don’t want to be called mothers, we don’t want to be your wives or sisters. We want to be respected as equals”, she said on Wednesday, adding that strong women with what society terms masculine characteristics are often termed the devil.
Kanimozhi further went on to quote the late BJP leader Arun Jaitley, when he had spoken about the women’s reservation Bill in the Rajya Sabha in 2010. “I quote Mr Jaitley: ‘The argument that men can also ensure justice to women has been weakened. Underrepresentation and discrimination stare us in the face. The time has come for equal representation. The politics of tokenism must now evolve into a politics of ideas”, she said to state her point on how paternalistic models of women’s empowerment were out of sync with society.