In the national capital, harassment of girls and women is rampant. They face sexual abuse during their daily life and the menace is such that girls come home everyday, traumatised.
This active harassment triggered mass outpouring in Delhi and the images of old and young braving police assault have woken up slumbering India.
Reports of public protest against harassment have been coming from all over the country and this report from East Coast is very encouraging.
A public outcry has forced the Puducherry government to drop its plan to introduce a mandatory dress code for girl students in the Union Territory to prevent sexual crimes. The government wanted girls to wear an overcoat in the coastal heat. The government was also preparing to ban cell phones in schools.
A release from the Director of School Education on Thursday (Jan 10) said although the government was considering the plan suggested by a government school principal at a meeting on Jan 5 to discuss various issues concerning students and introduction of a dress code, there were strong protests from various organisations to the proposal directing girls to use overcoats.
Considering this protest, government has dropped its plan. Various student outfits, political parties and other organisations had protested against the plan and students in some colleges also went on a day's strike recently to protest the proposed move.
The decision also drew flak from women's forums and human rights activists. All India Democratic Women's Association general secretary Sudha Sundararaman said, "It is shocking to note that the Puducherry government is unaware that the dress has nothing to do with the crime. It is trivializing the issue without addressing the problem. The government must take steps to ensure safety of women and girls. Providing overcoats is not an answer. By evolving a dress code, the government has made women answerable and accountable for the crime."
The Puducherry government plans to operate exclusive buses for girl students from the next academic year. Though she welcomed the introduction of special buses for girl students, Sudha Sudararaman said segregation cannot solve the problem. "Women cannot be segregated forever. We need to launch campaigns to enlighten all sections of people on gender-sensitive issues. Women, who have equal right to public places, must not face violent attacks," she said.
The Puducherry government was forced to eat its words in just five days and retreat as the public made them see the folly of enforcing measures that do not address the real problem - the mindset. This is the effect of Delhi protests and we should thank the students and housewives of the capital, who took on the government, the lathis and cold water in winter.