With an aim of increasing sex ratio of State, the Maharashtra government has recently reconstituted a 15-member Inspection and Monitoring Committee to intensify effective implementation of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 2003. The committee is headed by Vijaya Rahatkar, Chairperson, Maharashtra State Commission for Women (MSCW). She was in the city for hearing cases filed before the Commission. In an exclusive interview with Sunil Pradhan, Rahatkar talks on issues of women and the way forward.
Q. While statistics of sex ratio are of concern in Maharashtra, which according to 2011 Census is 923 girls per 1,000 boys, incidents of female foeticide and female infanticide continue in the State. What are the plans to tackle the issue?
A. Indeed such incidents are of concern and so we have reconstituted the committee recently. We need to study cases of female foeticide and female infanticide across Maharashtra to identify the root cause. Female foeticide and female infanticide is almost equivalent to a murder case. I do agree we are lacking in terms of implementation of laws related to female foeticide and female infanticide. We need to undertake case studies where the police department has successfully solved such cases and then study these issues deeply to come up with a solution.
Q. Crimes against women are increasing which is a cause of concern for women in the society. So as a society are we going ahead in a positive direction when it comes to women’s safety and women empowerment?
A. Certainly, we need to travel a long mile but we are progressing. The recent success of Indian women in sports and other fields is a clear example of progressive women in India.
Q. Across the world there is a debate on ‘equal pay for equal work’ for men and women. However, sometimes women feel there is ‘gender inequality in pay’ and they get paid less compared to their male counterparts. What is your say on the issue?
A. I do support the concept of equal pay for equal work for men and women. We need to understand the role of women in society. I would only say that there are laws made by the government and society should abide by it. Also, they should look at it from a humanity angle too.
Q. How can women approach the Commission?
A. Our office is located in Mumbai. They can write to us or can come to our office. Similarly, for issues related to domestic violence and cybercrime, they should contact the women safety cell present at each police commissionerate. The Commission also has counsellors across the State and for any help or counselling women can get in touch with them.