BETI BACHAO OR THE FUTURE IS BACHA BADHAO?
Issue 18 | October 18, 2020
“The happiness of a nation lies in the dignity of the daughters.” This quote is the prima facie slogan of the “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao” campaign which was launched in 2015 to further the protection given to ‘women’. From the beginning of its inception, our Constitution has been protective for the rights of females in society to promote gender equality. Based on the provisions of the Constitution, the Parliament tried to enact various laws to empower a woman's ability and to protect their rights. For example, providing maternity benefits and reservations in seats for the institutions. Article 15(3) of the Constitution specifically empowers the State to enact laws for the betterment of women. Following this, the Supreme Court has been constantly managing the balance between rights of women and the interest of society, as in Air India Etc. v. Nargesh Meerza & Ors. (AIR 1981 SC 1829) case, the Court declared the provision which violated the fundamental rights of the petitioner-women as unconstitutional.
Looking at recent incidents of the last few years the question arises of how far the aim of protection of rights and strengthening of ability has been achieved. The slogan “Beti Bachao” has failed miserably. This is clear from the increase in criminal acts against women. After the amendment of 2013 and 2018, the provisions of offences against women including harassment and rape in the Indian Penal Code,1860 were made stringent but no result came to the level expected. The heinous act similar to that of the Nirbhaya case regularly surfaces in the news, including the recent case in Hyderabad, and the latest in Hathras U.P. The level of protection has fallen to the extent that the police forget the 2013 amendment wherein the Rape definition was expanded.
The issue is not limited to crime as “Beti Bachao” has to be read with “Beti Padhao”. However, the recent Annual Survey of Education Report (ASER) 2017 findings suggest, while on average the difference between enrolment levels of boys and girls at age 14 are declining, by 18 when the state doesn’t enforce compulsory education through the RTE Act, 32% girls are not enrolled—compared to 28% boys. So, is it the failure of the State? In reference to DPSPs, yes, it is the failure of the State as it failed to provide adequate living standards, economic stability and employment to earning members of the family.
The slogan is left merely to be cited and benefitted from when the TRP of a channel has to be raised or for electoral gains, it has been able to achieve the aim limited to reserve seats in metros. The presence of stringent laws is unable to lessen the crime against women, so the failure is in the execution of the steps. For example, in some rural areas, the girl (victim) doesn’t complain of any eve-teasing or harassment in the fear of reputation of the family, and in many cases, the police do not give any importance to the information given on the very first instance which lessens the fear of law and respect of women in the minds of the culprits. The similar situation goes in some urban areas. The aim of the slogan has been defeated, but following the principles of Justice Vivian Bose we need to find new ways in these laws. Henceforth first, we need to raise the standard of education, economic status and employment ratio. We should also teach our women the techniques of self-defence from a tender age and should also aim to achieve the slogan “Bacha Badhao''. Here ‘Bacha’ includes both male and female child, ‘Badhao’ means the development of the child, which will ensure the growth of the child in society, including the development of co-ed schools, conduct other activities to develop the overall personality of the child, this campaign will be common to both genders and there should be camps to spread awareness about gender equality.