“I lost my today’s earning, because I had to attend the award function,” said R Ratna, as a matter of fact, when asked how she felt on receiving the prestigious Kittur Rani Chennama award.
The 34-year-old auto rickshaw driver was presented the award by Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar in the ‘Veera Mahile’ category, for nabbing a chain snatcher near the Yeshwantpur railway station.
Ratna of Muthyalanagar in Mathikere, who is famous among auto drivers as ‘auto-madam’, says that though it feels great to have an award on Women’s Day, it is nothing extra-ordinary.
“These award functions are all the same – they give you a garland, talk about you, and then give you the award. The government should instead concentrate on doing something for poor people.”
Ratna is a single mother whose son is physically disabled and also suffers from epileptic attacks. “My son is aged 18, but he can’t walk or do anything on his own. I have to take care of all his needs,” she says and adds that she plans her work schedule according to his sleep patterns. “I start my day at 3 am, ferry passengers near the Yeshwantpur railway station area till 9.30 am. My son wakes up by that time.
So I head back home, give him a bath, prepare breakfast for him and do other household chores. I return to work at 3 pm and drive the auto till 9 pm.”
Ratna says that her son is her greatest support system. “I can go out and work till late only because my son says he will manage without me. If he had refused, then I would never be able to do anything. He is in fact the brave one,” she said. The courageous lady, who has been felicitated by many organisations, including the autorickshaw drivers’ union, said: “ Women should help themselves first and only then will there be change.”
Rallies, protests, pledges
In an expression of solidarity, women outfits, across the City, took to streets, and organising meets, to pledge support for the welfare of women fraternity and resolve to fight against rising number of crimes against their ilk.
The Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecological Societies of India joined forces with Bangalore Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, to renew their commitment to fight the issues of high maternal mortality rate and reduce the rising number of cases of female foeticide. Gathering at City’s Freedom Park, the new amphitheatre to spotlight on issues of public cause, they organised skits and street plays around themes such as Saving Mothers and Save the Girl Child.
All India Mahila Samskruthika Sanghatne (AIMSS) chose to launch its week-long protest against growing crimes on women by holding a demonstration at Mysore Bank Circle, hoping to shed light on the condition of women all over the world as also to emphasise the need to unite and fight against the crimes on women.
The youth brigade of over 1,000, drawn from various colleges in the City, on their part, took out a cycle rally to create awareness about women’s issues as also environment like rain water harvesting, conservation of ground water et al. The rally from GCFC grounds passed through Cubbon Road before terminating at Freedom Park.