The Jalgaon incident in which women were allegedly stripped and made to dance at a government hostel has sent shock waves across the country. The government has ordered a high-level probe in the incident. But it has also highlighted the apathy of the authorities in this matter.
Several women have experienced that their voices in public spaces are either ignored or trivialised. One such example was seen in the Maharashtra Assembly today.
The Jalgaon incident was highlighted by BJP MLA Shweta Mahale. She brought up the issue on the floor of the House in the Assembly today. “A horrific incident is being reported from Jalgaon, where brutalised women who were supposed to be given protection by the State are kept in a government hostel. There the police along with the hostel staff have been harassing some women inmates. These girls are made to strip and dance. Those who refuse to do so are beaten up. The police, who are supposed to be the protectors of the people, have turned into perpetrators of such heinous crimes. The government should take immediate note of this and should suspend the involved police persons,” she said.
But when such a severe incident was brought to light by the woman legislator, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh responded in only one word. And it was, “Noted”.
“I was shocked that the Home Minister gave such an insensitive reply,” she told CNN News18.
Senior BJP leader and former cabinet minister Sudhir Mungantiwar also spoke on the same issue. He highlighted how the women in the State were being brutalised by the police. “If such high-handedness of the system continues, this calls for imposition of President’s rule in the State of Maharashtra. The dignity of our mothers and sisters is being ripped off in the state by the police. And the home minister only says, ‘noted’. Strict action should be taken against the perpetrators of such a crime. It is not that the incident happened just now. It happened a few days ago.”
“We had expected him to announce strict action against those responsible for this. Instead, what we get is only a one word reply. This is not acceptable,” he added.
Home Minister Anil Deshmukh then announced the formation of a four-member committee to look into the matter. He said that a report will be filed by the committee within the coming two days.
But even for this action declared by the Maharashtra government in such a serious case, women MLA’s voice had to be backed by a male legislator. This adds a small chapter to the never ending tales of everyday sexism in public life.