So much for women empowerment!

So much for women empowerment!

gender bender

So much for women empowerment!

You would think that this kind of an incident could take place only in a village panchayat. Not closer home, like in NCR. But happen it did and shamefully so.

Recently, at a session of the Ghaziabad Municipal Corporation, women councillors from reserved seats and their husbands abused the 72-year-old Mayor, assaulted him and forced him to wear bangles. They also poked him with a pin-like object which led to bleeding. The Mayor’s only fault: he had barred the entry of these husbands into the house calling it disruptive and illegal.

When Metrolife contacted the Congress City president Om Prakash Sharma, the party to which most of these women belong, he dismissed it as a “protest against tardy development.” However, the CCTV footage of the incident and the past conduct of these women tell a different story.

For a long time, the husbands of these councillors, also known as Parshad pati, have been accompanying their wives to the municipal sessions. Here, they project themselves as the ‘real councillors,’ hijack the work assigned to their wives and disturb the proceedings when objected to.

Earlier this April, when Mayor Teluram Kamboj banned the entry of these ‘hijack husbands,’ they raised slogans and disrupted the
executive meeting.

In fact as Mayor Teluram informed Metrolife, “Ye dalali karte hain. They take over tenders, get their pet contractors and earn commissions. They force me to sign these contracts and since I have refused, they are now targetting me. They have come down to such levels as to beat up a man their father’s age.” Surprisingly, all, with the consent of their councillor wives.  

Prominent women’s rights activist Shabnam Hashmi says, “We have battled this problem for a long time – in panchayats, municipal bodies, State legislative assemblies – wherever seats are reserved for women. I have seen in Mewat (UP), how men campaign on behalf of their wives, the hoardings carry their faces, they take the calls and eventually the government machinery deals with them only. It’s a skewed situation.”

Siddhartha Hazra, a college lecturer in Sociology remarks, “It’s a classic example of how not just men, but women take the patriarchal system forward. They happily give up their rights and duties to their husbands, sometimes, even becoming willing accomplice to their criminal acts.”

“When incidents like the December 16 gang-rape take place, we blame each other. The women blame the men, the society blames the police and the government in turn rues our society; but the truth is that no incident takes place in isolation. It is all a part of the system.”

Thankfully, the mandatory 33 per cent reservation of seats for women has also given rise to some sensible, independently-thinking women. Annapurna Mishra, former Mayor, East Delhi Municipal Corporation, says, “I understand that a woman with no past political experience may, initially, face difficulty in handling administrative work, but eventually, all of us learn. In fact, learning from your own mistakes is better than allowing someone to take advantage of your position.”

“However, when women councillors start indulging in such acts (assaulting a 72-year-old), it shows your quality of public service as well as sense of humanity. It is the lowest point in politics.” We couldn’t have said it better.