New Delhi, 21th February, 2014: Several women’s rights organizations demonstrating outside the parliament yesterday to demand speedy passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill, were violently pushed into police vans and arrested in the afternoon where they were made to wait till late evening. This shocking incident came a day after the Government announced that they were contemplating to extend the parliament session for getting the long-pending Bill passed.
Furious women’s rights activists were appalled at the way they were handled by the police and expressed their anguish over the Government’s non commitment towards passing the Bill in Lok Sabha when it has already got tabled in Rajya Sabha in 2010.
“The bill, which has been in the making since 1996, will again be pushed back if not passed in this Parliament session,” said Dr. Ranjana Kumari, Director, Centre for Social Research, who was leading the protest yesterday.
Women comprise nearly 50 per cent of India’s population yet continue to be under-represented in all aspects of politics including as elected representatives in the Parliament and Legislative Councils. The marginalisation of women from politics is clear as today women hold only 10.9 percent of the parliamentary seats and make up less than 1 percent of ministers and 4 percent of the negotiators in major development processes.
The Women’s Reservation Bill demands the political inclusion of women through a 33% reservation of seats mandate through Parliamentary elections. This has been a long-standing demand of over 17 years which has routinely been treated with little seriousness from the political leaders.
Yesterday, representatives from approximately 12 women’s rights organizations reached the gate of the Parliament, while it was in session, to sloganeer for the Bill which once again failed to be tabled in the Lok Sabha. The Bill had been listed to be taken up in the ongoing session and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Kamal Nath, had also expressed his intent to extend Parliament to pass crucial bills. Women’s groups staged a protest to ensure that this intent gets translated into effective action.
“When the Parliament can pass the Telangana Bill despite huge opposition, why can’t they do the same for the Women’s Reservation Bill? Why is the system so hostile towards women? The women of this country will not tolerate this anymore,” further added an aggrieved Dr. Kumari.
The protestors were roughed up by the Police, CRPF and RAF personnel who reached the spot immediately. The group courted arrest and were huddled together and taken to Parliament Street Police Station in Police jeeps &buses, where they were detained for over 3 hours.