March 8 is celebrated as International Women’s Day. By ‘celebration’ I mean, there will be exchange of greetings, SMS messages, and there will be special offers for women particularly from beauty salons and some other special programs on television and radio. They will all talk about the strength and will of the women. Some will celebrate the “sacrificing” nature of women, others will celebrate them as mothers, sisters and wives and also, of course, their struggle to have “ventured out”. Though, it is a reality that this day has also become another archies day, what is more important and ironical about this day is that it is for a particular set of women.
Owing to the fact that some men demand a “Men’s day”, it can be said that most people do not even know the origin of this day. Women’s Day commemorates the struggle, the movement against injustice and the goals of equality and justice. It had a proletarian angle to it. This is hardly celebrated or even recognized in this celebration today. But what is more striking to me is the concept of “justice”. Women’s Day is not only restricted to urban areas but to the class of relatively privileged women in political, social and economic sphere.
We celebrate Women’s day but what about women who, leave alone rights of women, do not even have basic human rights. What about women like Irom Sharmila, Soni Suri, victims of everyday torture in AFSPA-imposed states? What about women of the socially-underprivileged castes? What about the women on the lowest strata of the society? What about the women who are forced to engage in flesh trade?
The Government, the concerned Ministry, National Commission for Women, will introduce some scheme or will as a least send out a greeting to “respect” the power of womanhood. But what happens to this “respect” when they have all been silent on the torture and gang-rapes that take place each day in the AFSPA imposed states. Why have they never paid any form of respect to the victims of the Kunan poshpora incident? Leave alone respect, they amuse themselves by seeing the heart-wrenching condition of Irom Sharmila. They have honoured the police officer with medals who has dishonoured Soni Suri, an adivasi woman who has been implicated in false cases. So who are they really respecting?
The same question also goes to the International women’s organizations. It is not a hidden reality. Everyone knows about it but no one is speaking. They are all shamelessly preparing messages to be circulated on International Women’s Day. But besides them, the common or the relatively privileged people (women) are also the culprits. They support this torture in the name of “national security” and the bigger farce of “integrity of the nation”. Which integrity? Whose security? They allow the state and the army to perpetrate torture in these states and then they dare to go about celebrating women’s day.
Women’s Day seems to me in alienation with the other and horrifying reality. It disturbs me that most of us, belonging to this privileged section, will dare to exchange greetings when our sister is dishonoured by the state forces. It disturbs me that we will celebrate women’s day, avail offers, write articles about its importance because we are the “privileged” ones among the women community. It disturbs me that there will be special programmes on television, on radio where they will ask us, “what women’s day means to us”. To them, I would say, “it means nothing to me and it should mean nothing to anyone in this country where the state, the army and the judiciary allow the dishonor of women”.