' Behenji to Memsahib - It's All About Power!

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Behenji to Memsahib - It's All About Power!
By Florine Roche

March 8, 2012
International Women's Day

It is often said that “the greatest enemy of a woman is another woman” and there are enough examples to show there is truth in this statement. As we are celebrating 101st International Women’s Year this year, it is but appropriate that I talk about this rather pejorative term of ‘one bitch not tolerating the other one” (pardon me for this). Here, I am not talking about the jealousy factor usually attributed to women which must have prompted this above phrase. It is about how insensitive women can be especially those in power to an issue like rape and other heinous crimes on women and find political alibis for everything that goes awry when in fact they can move mountains if they really desire.

I am referring to our Behenji (Mamata Banerjee) who has demonstrated that she is a politician above all when she termed the recent Park Street rape case of Kolkata as a “concocted story” and try to obfuscate it as a handy work of her political opponents. One expected Mamata Banerjee to show some concern and empathize with the victim rather than dub the entire incident as stage managed. One cannot merely term it as a rare outburst on the part of Mamata Banerjee because just a day before that she had the cheek to term the Falta complaint, in which a 13 year old school girl was allegedly held hostage and raped by 5 men, as a ploy by her opponents to discredit her. She was forced to retract her statement as the police arrested the culprits involved in both these incidents. And if we thought a woman would be more sensitive in responding to the atrocities committed on them, then this response of Mamata Banerjee has proved it all wrong.

Take the example of Uttar Pradesh ruled by another woman chief minister for the last five years Maya Memsahib (Mayawati), who has now been eclipsed the by the ‘son’rise of Mulayam Singh’s SP. In fact during her rule UP accounted for 18.5 per cent of the total cases of abduction of women in India and I think the trend has not changed much whoever is the Chief Minister of this state. Being a woman Chief Minister it was natural to expect some improvement in the condition of women of this state. Alas! It only got worsened.

In fact Uttar Pradesh tops the list of cases of violence against women as per the National Crime Records and is second in the country in cases of rape of women belonging to SC/ST. One had expected the lot of women to show considerable progress under the rule of Mayawati in five years but she was too busy constructing her statues and setting her wardrobe right. It can be only said that improving women’s lot was an 'elephantine' task for Maya. Though Mamata has assumed the gaddi of Chief Ministership just a few months back her contradictory statements and rather nebbish approach to the two rape incidents show that we cannot expect miracles from her either. It is but clear that both Mamata and Maya have been insensitive and even lacked the killer instinct to do something to improve the dreary condition of women in their respective states and show the way for others.

For eons on women are subjected to discriminating, apathy, violence and subjugation and most of than not their tormentors are their own family members with MIL (mother-in-law) and now DIL (daughter-in-law) playing a key role in torturing the other woman and men have been equally willing participants in this sordid saga be it female infanticide, dowry or violence against them. History is also replete with examples to show that it is men like Raj Ram Mohan Roy, Swami Vivekananda, Mahatma Phule, Dayananda Saraswati, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar and Mahatma Gandhi who fought for their emancipation by making them a part of the political, social and economic struggles when women were busy with their age old beliefs and dogmas.

In our country women have made successful inroads into predominantly male bastions demonstrating that given an opportunity they are second to none (including men). This is something to be proud of and to cheer about, no doubt. Such euphoria or ebullience is short-lived because it showcases only one side of the story, a skewed one. For every woman who has shown she is capable of standing tall side by side with men there are hundreds of women who are confined to their homes, subjugated to violence, sexual abuse and often are deprived of the basic needs of life.

The 2011 census figures reveal a rather gloomy scenario of declining girl child sex ratio in our country. These latest census figures show that number of girls fell to 914 for 1000 boys from the previous 927 and this is said to be the worst child sex ratio since independence. It is even more upsetting and deplorable to note that this skewed sex ratio is noticeable among the better educated and richer households as compared to the poor and the rural populace. It means that education alone is not going to change our narrow-mindedness and chauvinism.

A progressive district like Dakshina Kannada which also boasts of a high literacy rate has witnessed declining child sex ratio in the last few decades, which is a cause of concern. As per the 2001 census the child sex ratio of 952 which declined to 946 in 2011. The causes attributed to this trend range from female foeticide to increasing preference for single child by parents and this single child happens to be a male.

The skewed child sex ratio against girl children is fraught with serious danger to the society as a whole and we the people should assay and come out with tangible solutions to set right the flawed system which is always prejudiced against women.

It means that despite gloating over our economic progress and the rapid strides we have made in IT and ITES sectors, our economic growth is gravid with flaws especially the foundation on which this growth is based. Our clichéd response to empower women has not yielded desired results and it must be noted that financial independence does not mean women are better off and enjoy the benefits of such independence.

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is “Empower Rural Women – End Hunger and Poverty”. While this is required to improve the lot of women in our rural areas, what we need in India is a change of mindset in our attitude towards women’s issues. Needless to say this change of attitude is also required for our women leaders apart from an iron will to do something tangible to deal with atrocities committed on women.



Comments on this article
A. S. Mathew, U.S.A.Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Hardly we have any statesman but
a boatload of politicians who are
fighting with tooth and nail to
undermine their political enemies.
On the other hand, working too hard in a very high speed to hoard
more wealth for themselves and their children. These politicians
jump into the chair using religion and many other factors which will
easily trigger the passions of the
blindly following electorate.
Comment on this message     

R.Bhandarkar, MWednesday, March 14, 2012
'Behen' n 'Didi'(Duet)

Ek Prem Diwani
Duji 'dard' na jaani
Donno ne 'Gaddi' ko chahaa
Antar kyaa donno ki Chaha mein bolo....
EK Didi , Ek Behenji.....
Comment on this message     

Salvador Noronha, OMZOOR/MumbaiTuesday, March 13, 2012
Most of our political frerternity men or women without going deep into the  details of those incendent they will put the blame on the opposition. Wake up this is the right time or will perish like yeddy
Comment on this message     

Raviraj, MangaloreSaturday, March 10, 2012
@gomez D'souza good thinking.. Perfect unbiased matured comment.
Comment on this message     

Gomes D'Souza, belmanSaturday, March 10, 2012
It is the foolish concept developed by the press and politics in India that if a person belonging to a particular caste, religion or gender rules, that segment of the society will benefit. No christian benefited from the Line of christian Congress CMs of Goa. They only looted the state to benefit their families. Same with the congress at the center. Just because a dalit ruled UP, dalits did not fare any better. It is only when a person of integrity, dedication and visionary rules, can we expect some change like in Bihar with Nitish and Gujarat with Modi and to some extent Orissa with Panaik. The rest are all interested in family rule and corruption. Lalitha, mamatha or maya will never make any difference to the position of women. In fact even the press should stop looking at politics through these narrow prisms. Greater participation of women in politics will only strengthen family rule and corruption. what we need is men and women of integrity, dedication and visionaries to rule us, not man or woman, dalit of muslim, obc or brahmin. India was far better under Lal Bahadur Shastri than any other PM in its last 60 years.
Comment on this message     

ramesh nayak, mangaloreFriday, March 09, 2012
Get your facts right. Mamata is called 'Didi' & Mayawati 'Behenji'
Comment on this message     

Dr Prakash Harischandra, Surathkal / GalvestonFriday, March 09, 2012
One More addition Behenji to Memsahib to Amma to 10 Janapath Madam ( madam ) cannot be missed she too is the stories of one biggest power struggler. Oh what a miss Margaret Alva ( createda ruckus since was not given Governor post. Our Akka Shobha is no exception , Rajani akka (dugganna) from Surathkal clean sweep any place of living existence. These too are women. Tejaswini.K a female goonda, seems like intoxicated almost at most times.
Comment on this message     

vijay prabhu, Kundapur/CanadaThursday, March 08, 2012
Mr. Vazir, you are wrong in blaming the writer for her gender. It is absolutely not necessarily true that “the greatest enemy of a woman is another woman”, jealosies apart. the writer has just expressed the general trend I personally know a lot of 'MILs' who love, respect and treat their 'DILs' much more better
than their own daughters, who are married and thus adhere/serve their in-laws more than their parents/kith or kin. So let us not generalise this issue. It is a case by case happenings.
Comment on this message     

Dexter Britto, Mangalore/AucklandThursday, March 08, 2012
Dear Florine,
Your headline is apt "Its all about power". I would go one step further in saying "Retaining Power". With regards to your other statement that " the greatest enemy of a woman is another woman" - this might be true in cases there is a direct threat to her position. Though more often than not women sympathise with the plight of other women.
Your article is well written and based on facts. Power leads to ego and irrespective of the gender people in power succumb to their ego.
Comment on this message     

Vazir, BangaloreThursday, March 08, 2012
The writer, who began the article by saying ``It is often said that “the greatest enemy of a woman is another woman,” obviously forgot her gender!

I rest my case.
Comment on this message     

Jimmy Noronha, Bellore, LucknowThursday, March 08, 2012
Of course it was wrong of Mamta to deny what actually alleged to have happened and as for Mayavati, she was concerned with glamour and glory and self gratification. Her assumption of being high and mighty never went down well with the public and matters that you pin pointed were mostly left in the shelf to languish and the result is what is there for all to see. Women mostly ignored her,they were angry, and no wonder they say Hell hath no fury like the woman scorned.
Comment on this message     

Zahoor Ahmed, Karkal / DammamThursday, March 08, 2012
Quite informative. Thank you for this article
Comment on this message     

tapas chakraborty, kolkata/barrackporeThursday, March 08, 2012
v.v.good. no doubt about ur skill. but, needs 2 be careful. this much only.
Comment on this message     

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