Renuka Chowdhury is a woman to admire
I admire Renuka Chowdhury (the Minister for Women and Child Development) mainly because she has a lot of enthusiasm for her job. This is rare amongst our politicians. And I also admire her outspokenness and her sincere desire to change things…Right from the time she took over as minister of state for women and child development, she seemed determined to make a difference in the lives of Indian women. She talked of formulating new laws, not just to improve the status of women, but also to improve their employment prospects. She also talked “about bridging the gap between urban and rural women in terms of overall development.”
Certainly she had a formidable goal in mind. Yet, for her these were not just goals. She has actually done things. In a conservative society like ours she has spoken out in favour of sex education. She has also said that those who are against sex education are hypocrites…I couldn’t agree more. In fact I would go one step further and say that many of those who oppose sex education have a wrong idea about sex…
Even when she released the report on child abuse in April, she spoke out strongly for the need for sex education and talked about the new law her ministry was formulating to curb child abuse.
She has also been instrumental in formulating the bill aimed at preventing exploitation of children – a bill which will help curb juvenile delinquency and help the setting up state-level Child Protection Units. She is also making efforts to “induct more women in the police forces to implement laws relating to women and children.”
Another one of her recent statements (just yesterday in fact) concerned the punishment that should be meted out to child abusers:
The ministry for women and child development (WCD) has proposed death penalty for offenders who force children into acting as couriers for drugs and narcotics, begging and human trafficking…
Some might see her suggestion as extreme, but the fact is that perhaps this is the only way to throw the fear of God into these criminals. Half of India’s kids are abused in some way and some drastic measures need to be taken. Her suggestion can perhaps be implemented in extreme cases…for those who traffic hundreds of children – year after year.
Her ministry is also working on a legislation called the Offences Against Child Bill that will bring into it’s ambit sex tourism – where children are pulled into the child sex industry. This bill will also curb of children for sexual purposes, violence against children, emotional abuse, unlawful sexual contact, exploiting children for purposes like begging, pornography etc.
I know Ms Chowdhury has been involved in personal controversies, but as far as I know she has not been involved in any corruption case. That is very important to me…this lady is not corrupt and she is a doer…at the worst she has been accused of being outspoken, aggressive, and high-handed. She has also been accused of being a man-hater, but really I don’t think she is.
Her latest statement has got her embroiled in a controversy as she has apparently labeled Indian men as “untrustworthy” when it comes to protective sex. She advised women to carry condoms themselves as men “could not be trusted.” Well, I heard her speak on television and to me at least it did not seem as if she were talking about all Indian men. She never said ALL Indian men…I can’t explain it actually, but anyone who heard her speak would realise that she did not mean to label all Indian men. For one thing she was talking to group of HIV positive women (at the meeting of the National Women Forum of Indian Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS) who were infected by their husbands…she probably meant men like those…
What our media and the people need to see is that Renuka Chowdhury is the best thing thats happened to Indian women and children. She is doing something to help control HIV/AIDS in India, particularly amongst women and innocents (children). She recently launched a national forum for HIV positive women. I may not agree with all of her methods (Her latest idea is to monitor pregnancies to stop abortion of the female foetus which I think is an unworkable idea). But I cannot deny that the woman is on the move. And the reason I am writing this is because I feel that she is being dragged into controversies unnecessarily. It takes away focus from her achievements.
No one can forget that she has pushed through the amendment to the old Sati law (Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987). Under this new amendment, “the entire community will be held accountable for any incidence of sati.” I think this is absolutely fantastic…catch and jail those evil people who want to get rid of their daughter-in-laws after their sons die.
The problem is that when an individual starts doing things, people start to take notice…there is no shortage of people who want to pull that individual down. What I see is that the woman is intense and as a result she has made some strong statements which have been easy to misinterpret. Our media simply loves sensational stuff, and unfortunately gullible people actually fall for it.
The bottomline is: India needs Renuka Chowdhury. It is ministers like her who can improve the lot of women in our country.
We need to support and encourage people like Renuka Chowdhury who are fighting for the rights of women.
(Photo credits: The Telegraph India)