Sunday, April 21, 2013

Justice delay is justice denied for women: Shruti Nagvanshi

We are living in such a society today in India where women are not in a position to oppose any act of violence, and misbehavior with her. She might be educated or may be living in a village the situation is the same. India’s traditional patriarchal system puts women at the lowest ebb of the community, whatever be the society but the dalit, minority and poor women are further pushed to the wall under the caste system and poverty.

Dalit, minority and poor women are subjected to discrepancies on the basis of the religion, caste, poverty by the patriarchal and caste based society. Women being subjected to violence, rape and inhuman behavior are a matter of shame for any society however progressive the society might be. But in India such attitude towards the dalit, minority and poor women is not only common and is at extreme. Even today the age old myth of a women becoming Dyan (witch) is followed and women are killed under this belief. The law is unable to act in such cases and, even does not lodge reports, forget action. If women raise a voice against such practice not only the women but her entire family and her advocates have to bear the brunt and is ostracized by the entire society/village. Atrocity upon women and children continues without even thinking what circumstances they face and what mental torture they have to bear or what kind of security they need. The society instead of helping the victim of such violence keeps mum and thereby extends a quiet support to the offenders. Similarly the ones who work for victim women, the human rights defenders are also attacked so that they may retract their support. By all means the women are forced to step back if she is resisting the violence and torture.

Women who manage to reach police station to lodge complaint and not behaved with properly and they are made to sit for hours together with the family before anyone listens to them. And later on the women is pressurized to take back her complaint. There have been many cases of custodial rape with women and girls child who went to lodge report and for protection with police. Women are blamed for any act of violence with them. The worst is those women victims are made to sit with her offender inside police station, which is another way of psychological torturing her. Presence of the offender beside gives shocks to mind and thoughts of that act often give pain to the victim, which is difficult to even understand.

The women and her family are made to feel down but the offender is not even once made to realize what offence he has done. Investigation in cases are started late hence the criminals get enough time to remove evidences and thereby the case becomes weak. Even the women officers are no less than their male counterparts and behave the same way with women victims as the male officers do. The support to women victim depends upon how much she can pay as bribe to the investigating officer.

Usually justice comes delayed as ‘justice delay is justice denied’ under the present judicial system. The judiciary itself has less number of women judges. But the court’s utmost delayed process in cases of atrocity with women is point to be noted. When justice is delayed often women victim are forced to make out of the court settlement on the conditions proposed by the offender itself. Delay in judgement given the entire benefit to the criminals. In many cases it has been seen that the lawyer appointed to fight the case for victim join hands with offender and delays the perusal of the case.

In the courtrooms the attitude of the lawyers towards cases of women rights is traditional based on patriarchy and they are themselves unaware about the rules that protect a woman from violence and make the case complicated.

Not even the national and state women commissions are taking steps that can help women positively. Women commission itself is governed with patriarchal mind set. The selection of women commission office bearers is totally political and only those women who are close to the ruling party are appointed here, which in unscientific and irrational. These appointed members lack even the basic of women rights which is reflected in the decisions they take. Of the cases brought before the women commission very less are taken up by the commission.

As far as social security and development is concerned dalit,t tribal and minority women have little access and are subjected to dual atrocity thereby. Those bodies that are responsible for women’s’ health services are engaged in money making from these women only and ignore their needs. At times women have lost their lives due to such an attitude.

A mother dies during child birth in India every eight minutes. For every maternal death in India, 20 more women suffer from lifelong health impairments that result from complications during their pregnancies. Worldwide an estimated five hundred thousand woman die as a result of pregnancy each year. Approximately one quarter of all pregnancy and delivery related maternal deaths worldwide occur in India. In Uttar Pradesh (Indian State), caste discrimination is an ingrained part of the medical system, doctors and activists say.

"Upper-caste health workers refuse to visit Dalit communities," said Lenin Raghuvanshi, a rights activist. "Because of that pregnant Dalit women do not get (nutritional) supplements and the majority of them are anemic."

It's not just mothers who died. Babies were stillborn and few of them were premature. Many of these children who survived, many are at risk without their mothers to take care of them.

Why Do Mother’s Die:

According to WHO,the major complications that account for 80% of all maternal deaths are:
                  Severe bleeding (mostly bleeding after childbirth)
                  Infections (usually after childbirth)
                  High blood pressure during pregnancy (pre-eclampsia and eclampsia)
                  Unsafe abortion.

There are 3 major reasons/delays for which even a well-educated mother is succumbed to death during child birth. If taken care of below delays caused, 90% of deaths can be avoided.

The First Delay: Pregnant mothers or their families often fail to recognize and seek medical help quickly enough, when a pregnancy related complication happens. This is due to illiteracy, not just in the family but also in the community that does not have adequate education or access to the right information necessary to spot the early warning signs. Women might also use ineffective home remedies due to traditional myths.

The Second Delay: Many mothers die at home or on their way to hospital due to lack of preparedness for any complication, lack of access to transportation or because they were referred from one hospital to another. The incidents of mothers dying because they cannot get to the right hospital at the right time is high because more than half of the child births in India still happen at home, and in most cases a skilled attendant or midwife is not available.

The Third Delay: Even if a mother gets to a hospital in time, there is no guarantee that her life is safe. The third delay happens when the right medical facilities, trained professionals, medicines and other critical inputs like blood are not available.The health care service system in India consists of three tiers. The facilities available, the expertise level of health care workers and quality of care differs widely at each level because of the lack of standards. For example, according to the National Family Health Survey II, less than 30 % community health centers had an obstetrician available; less than 10 % had an anesthetist.

Many rural and low income urban families first go to either a private nursing home or a primary health care facility. These centers are not equipped to handle complications that arise during a delivery. Some of them do not have access to basic services like a blood bank. The poorly trained medical staffs take a long time to recognize complications that occur during labour or immediately after birth.[i]

The need is that preventive steps from the government come. The government should identify the problem and find solution instead of waiting for accidents/incidents. The steps should be made in collaboration with social organizations and should be strong enough to support women.

By: Shruti Nagvanshi,Founder of Savitri Bai Phule Women Forum

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