“National Trauma of the gang rape”- 8 January 2013

The psychological impact on the minds of working women looks similar or resembles a post traumatic stress syndrome. Only, the trauma is not at all personal but societal. Almost like what society would experience after a terrorist attack or a Tsunami. Although the entire society felt haunted and aggrieved and continues to feel so, the women of Delhi feel traumatised to such an extent that they do not mind risking their jobs by lowering their productivity and also some of them resign from their economic positions entirely. What an unfortunate impact! It does not stop there however.

The report by the Economic Times is revealing. The effect on the productivity of working women in Delhi has been disastrous after the December 16 gang-rape it says. This is a telling symptom not only of the economic status of women but the mental status of women of Delhi, the capital of India.

The report has quoted a ‘random survey by industry body Assocham’s Social Development Foundation (ASDF), which said that IT and BPO companies in Delhi-NCR have been affected to the extent of 40 percent ever since the Delhi rape incident. The industry body surveyed 2,500 women form Delhi, Noida, Faridabad and Gurgaon. It highlighted that around 82 percent of the women respondents said they have started leaving early after the sunset. The anxiety is more among those women who travel by buses, chartered buses, three-wheelers and metro’. This specific report emphasises that the incident has also impacted the productivity of the women workforce in other major cities like Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Jaipur and Dehradun.

‘According to an earlier Assocham survey of about 2,500 women and men in various cities just after the Delhi incident, 92 percent of working women said they felt insecure, especially during the night, in all major economic hubs across the country. Most of the respondents felt that it’s high time the quality of governance should be improved and the obsession of the police “bandobast” for the VVIPs should be changed. The survey had said majority of respondents felt that the deployment of more police personnel would be there for few days and after that everything will be back to usual.’

According to DNA, ‘Bangalore has seen a drop of 35% in work productivity. There are about 1,800 ITeS-BPO units in the city, with over 1.5 lakh women working in the sectors. Almost 82% of the women surveyed said they started leaving soon after sunset; and about 89% women said they have started leaving office immediately after working hours. Majority of respondents from Bangalore said the working atmosphere in the ITeS-BPO sector was not up to the mark. Around 67% of them termed the atmosphere bad, while only 8% termed it very good.

In a nation of 1.2 billion people, official crime statistics say a woman is raped every 28 minutes. We all agree that the law enforcement and prosecution measures are abysmal in such cases. Even if fast track courts are set up, lot many procedures would need to be revamped for them to function effectively. A human individual considers the State its guardian and custodian. At home parents are the natural custodian but as soon as we leave home and move onto the streets for work, the State is the natural guardian. We pay taxes not only for water and good roads but for our personal security.

If the Indian state cannot function effectively, and the mindsets have decayed beyond human levels, then another alternative would be to push the women back into homes. Stop educating women, keep them illiterate, make them good service providers at home, rape them at home, make them pregnant every year. Better still would be to kill them in the womb. There would be no headache for regressive men. Those who talk that ‘the sale of duppattas have dropped’ and hence rape has gone up, or ‘women have lost their modesty’ so rape has gone up etc, will be happy to do away with women from the face of the earth.

What could be more regressive than this? One of worlds’ largest democracy cannot provide security to its working women who contribute to the national income significantly. The institutions of governance have become hollow, corrupt, decayed and impotent. It is up to the citizens to decide and plan their future, so it seems. And they are doing it by way of protests. The protests should not stop till systems are in place. Meanwhile, we have some good initiatives by industry. The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) and FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO) have decided to set up an Industry Task Force on Safety of Women, which would look at developing a National Safety Policy for women. More such initiatives would be imperative.

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