I was surprised to see news reports that the Women’s Right Commission (WRC) chief has written to the DGP and the Home Minister asking the State to discourage the Kiss of Love protest, because she felt it was uncivilised. In some ways, it shows how little she understands what her own job is.
The WRC is intended to be a progressive body. If all that is required in a commission like this is that it should merely reflect whatever is going on in society, we would not need it at all. Child rights, women’s rights, gender rights, dalit rights, minority rights, and other focal directions for the protection of rights of Indian citizens were identified through a long struggle, and in recognition of the indiginities many people suffer simply because of their identity. The very purpose of a Rights Commission is to steer society towards more and more respect for the equality of all persons.
In such a context, it is all the more important that the different commissions should support each other. Imagine if the chairman or one commission felt that the suppression of the rights of some other group (represented by a different commission) is alright. There would be no point in such a collection. It is this line that the WRC chief has crossed.
I have no idea if Kiss of Love is civilised or uncivilised, right or wrong, healthy or unhealthy, or any of those things. I also recognise that people sometimes clothe themselves in various garbs just to make claims. The Rampal incident this past week should remind us why we have to be wary of people preaching this or that in the name of culture and religion.
We all know, whether we admit it or not, that a very large number of incidents of unfair and even criminal treatment are endured by women in our society on a daily basis, and that the majority of people are silent about this. That is quite simply a matter of shame. And when a few people stand up to protest that, we are hardly qualified to sit on our high horses of culture and discredit the manner of their protest.
If the WRC really understood what is causing such protests in our country, it should redouble its efforts to be a reliable guardian of women’s rights. There are a million scoundrels to castigate first, before turning one’s attention upon a bunch of protestors, whose remonstrations may be unusual but hardly an earthquake on Indian culture.