If this editorial had been published on Valentine’s Day, with most of urban India indignant at those self-appointed custodians of culture who protest women’s pub-going, it would have been timely. But it would have also been dismissed as a knee-jerk reaction, which it is not.
The pink-bloomer war against the moral police managed a victory of sorts, but failed to raise the issue that gender injustice in India goes beyond pub-going and Valentine’s Day. The sex ratio is skewed in favour of men, dipping to 766 women per 1,000 men at Sirhind in Punjab. If, in the British regime, it was neglect and infanticide that led to high mortality rates, it is sex-selective prenatal abortions in modern times.
These myopic sex selectors don’t realize that the implications of this adverse ratio will be visible only by 2030 when, by conservative estimates of the UN, the female deficit in the marriageable age group (20-49) in India will be at least 25 million.
Why only sex ratio? The literacy and primary school dropout rates, health indicators, higher education and employment statistics, domestic violence and daily molestation numbers, percentage of women taking up careers in engineering, sciences or the army—all tell a sorry tale. While 75.96% men are literate, only 54.28% women can claim literacy; 48% boys of primary school age are out of school, but 54% girls in this age group are denied education.
Optimists like to think reforms in the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act of 2005 may reverse the intra-family gender inequality. But it’s more a matter of mind over money.
The speed of the Internet let the campaign “Consortium of Pub-Going, Loose and Forward Women” spill into the real world. It’s a pity that nobody thought of such measures when a management student in the National Capital Region was gangraped a few months ago. How about having a “Consortium of Rape-revolting, Angry and Ambitious Women” that would Twitter through the year against gender injustices rather than just support sporadic sentiments?
Did the women-in-pubs controversy grab headlines at the cost of more pressing gender issues? Tell us at firstname.lastname@example.org