Anyone who witnessed the rage that spilled over on the streets of Delhi following the gang-rape and death of a medical student last year would be foolish to treat the issue of women’s safety lightly. This is especially true if you happen to be a political party competing for Delhi’s vote today.
Women comprise 44 per cent of Delhi’s 1.19 crore registered voters. No wonder then that all major political parties have zeroed in on women’s safety as an election issue. However, women’s safety is a ‘key’ issue in their manifestos while priority is given to other issues including full statehood for Delhi, good governance and a Jan Lokpal Bill.
Parties would be wise to study the results of an Avaaz/MDRA/HT opinion poll that showed that a majority of voters in Delhi want the new government to prioritise policy on violence against women.
But it’s never too late to commit to that. Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit was one of the first to endorse the ‘Womanifesto’, a 6-point plan to tackle violence against women in Delhi that is backed by over 50 prominent civil society leaders and campaign group avaaz.org. In the event of being voted to power for the fourth time in Delhi, “our government will work tirelessly to implement it within the next year,” she said.
Asked whether the BJP supports the Womanifesto, its chief ministerial candidate Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “As the father of a young woman myself, I am acutely aware of the harassment faced by women in Delhi. In my party’s ‘Dus Din Dus Irade’ programme, one of our ideas outlines the BJP’s agenda to ensure safety for women. I welcome all initiatives and suggestions that will help make Delhi the safest city in the country for women and remove the tag of Rape Capital of India.”
“Rape, molestation, domestic abuse are manifestations of a sick society. As a doctor, I will strive to cure this disease permanently,” said Dr Harsh Vardhan.
AAP leader Yogendra Yadav too came out in support. “Womanifesto is a great idea! In line with AAP manifesto and vision. I endorse it,” he said.