A first big step: Khaps and women’s groups start talking

Whenever we read or hear the word ‘khap’, the immediate thought that comes to mind is that another khap leader has made another preposterous statement on women’s rights and crimes against women.

Therefore, when we hear about Haryana khap panchayats and the National Commission for Women (NCW) coming together to find a solution to deal with growing crime against women in the state, it’s more than just welcome news.

“Khap leader Om Prakash Dhankar told TOI on Monday that NCW chairperson Mamata Sharma has agreed to participate in a meeting on the issue,” says Times of India.

A first big step: Khaps and women’s groups start talking


“Khap leader Vinod Bala, who is a teacher by profession and is from Dhakla village of Jhajjar district, said: “We expect a number of women from rural areas, activists and student representatives to attend the meeting. They will deliberate upon a strategy to fight crimes like female foeticide and honour killing. A drive to awaken society would be initiated later”, The Times of India article continues.

It’s not just about Harayana. The issue of women’s rights and crimes against women, the attitude of conservative sections of society, politicians and the police forces is one that has been reported extensively. Views have been aired, but, almost in every instance, media and women’s rights organisations have taken positions that are diametrically opposite to those of politicians and village elders. Crimes have carried on unabated (and, in the case of female foeticide, have reached alarming proportions.

That’s why this initiative in Haryana bears close watching. If the Haryana khaps (those of whom do attend) and the NCW can make even some headway and arrive at a partial consensus on the way forward, it will be a pointer to how other parts of India with similar problems can address the vexatious issue.

The first step is half the battle won – that stakeholders are discussing the issues that vex society and have decided to discuss and debate them. And the fact that such a debate is being held in a state that has been ravaged by crimes against women, and that the debate has been agreed to in an air of cooperation is cause for optimism.

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Updated Date: Oct 23, 2012 10:31:50 IST