In the context of the International women’s Day, Nandini Voice for The Deprived, a Chennai based NGO ,organised a debate amongst visually impaired women at Chennai on 10th March,2013. on “ARE THE SAFETY THREATS FACED BY VISUALLY IMPAIRED WOMEN DUE TO LACK OF GOVERNANCE OR LACK OF LAWS?”
17 visually impaired women from cross section of society including teachers, students, government employees and self employed women participated in the debate.
The three hours debate was very lively. The visually impaired women poured out their thoughts, described several case studies and spoke with emotion and conviction. Considering the quality of the presentations , all the seventeen visually impaired women were presented with awards.
Highlights of the observations made by the visually impaired women are given below.
Many of the incidents of harassment faced by the visually impaired women are not reported in the media and when unpleasant incident takes place, visually impaired women keep the frustration and humiliation to themselves and suffer silently. A sense of loneliness and helplessness amongst the visually impaired women , in the face of harassment in public places and in families , are clearly evident.
When someone happens to be a woman, a visually impaired and belong to lower income group, all the adverse conditions together make their life miserable.
The consensus view was that enactment of more laws would not solve the issues , as even the existing laws are not implemented in letter and spirit. There is lack of will on the part of the authorities to give protection to visually impaired women in appropriate manner , as most of them belong to lower income group and lack ”fighting strength” due to their visual disability.
In such conditions, where poor law enforcement in the event of teasing and harassment in public places are grave issues facing them, it was said that every visually impaired woman should derive inspiration from the teachings and writings of Subramania Bharathi (a Tamil poet of great distinction and who fought for women's cause and had a striking
moustache ) and imagine themselves to be a “moustache less Bharathiar” and start protesting .
All women agreed that the ultimate solution for the problems is to assert their rights and make demand that they should be treated with dignity by the authorities and the society. If and when this would not happen , they should relentlessly fight instead of bending low and bearing the insults silently. Every visually impaired woman should go to the rescue of other visually impaired woman in case of any adverse conditions faced by them , as only they can understand each other’s problems.
The choice is for better quality of governance and not for more laws.