Sub: Men and Women opposing the 85th Constitutional Amendment Bill (Women’s Reservation Bill)
All India Forgotten Women’s Association (AIFWA) and All India Men’s Welfare Association (AIMWA) are holding this Press Conference to voice their opposition against the 85th Constitutional Amendment Bill (Women’s Reservation Bill).
What does the Women’s Reservation Bill Propose?
- 33% of all seats in Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies shall be reserved for women.
- This Reservation shall apply in case of seats reserved for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) as well (reservation within reservation).
- The seats to be reserved in rotation will be determined by draw of lots in such a way that a seat shall be reserved only once in three consecutive general elections.
Why is the Women’s Reservation Bill necessary when women already have 50% reservation in local bodies?
- Advocates of the Bill say that it is essential for ensuring active political participation of women.
- They claim that increased political participation of women in Parliament and legislatures will help them fight the alleged abuse, discrimination, and inequality prevalent against women.
- They believe that unless reservation is provided, it would not be possible for more women to join politics in our supposedly “male dominated society”.
- They tend to see women as a “weaker section of the society” and claim that Affirmative Action should be introduced so that women can be empowered.
Why are AIFWA and AIMWA opposing the Women’s Reservation Bill?
We believe that public representatives in a Democracy should be those who have everyone’s welfare in mind and not promoting a specific gender, caste or creed.
Having said that, the proposed Women’s Reservation Bill is not meant to actually empower women, but it represents the innocuous face of a hidden agenda to make the situation of Indian men miserable. The Women’s Reservation Bill (which has been pending for the last 12 years) is a tool of blackmail used by anti-male women to make more and more biased laws, to fuel a gender war and disrupt harmony in the society.
The Women’s Reservation Bill is not only unjustified in the present circumstances, but it is also in violation of the basic principles of Democracy :
- Passing the Women’ Reservation Bill is undemocratic because male citizens will be forced to withdraw or prevented from contesting in reserved constituencies solely because they are male. It takes away the democratic right of about 11 crore men to contest in the elections. This is against the fundamental rights of 11 crore men. It violates the right to equality guaranteed under the constitution.
- Passing the Women’ Reservation Bill is undemocratic because women are not an oppressed class who need their own representatives in the Parliament to address their specific issues. Many laws and provisions have been passed in the last 60 years by the so-called “male-dominated” Parliament.
The following are a few examples of pro-women policies made in the last 60 years due to Article 15(3) of the Constitution (special provisions for women):
- Financial Privileges: Women are accorded many financial privileges e.g. through a variety of Self-Help Group Schemes; whereas men have to borrow at a high interest and end up committing suicide when they are unable to repay the loans;
- Health Privileges: National level surveys are conducted and funds are allocated for women’s health and wellness; whereas not a single survey is done or health scheme implemented, nor single rupee of tax payer money spent on men’s health and wellness.
- Tax Rebate/ Relief: – Earnings by women are subject to liberal Tax Rebates; whereas men, who perform some of the most difficult and hazardous jobs to support the family and the society receive no Tax Rebates on their earnings.
- Anti-male laws: Women have been armed with many laws like Indian Penal Code Section 498A, Protection of Women Against Domestic Violence Act, adultery laws, laws against rape and sexual harassment, and family (divorce, maintenance and child custody) laws, all of which specifically favour women and penalize innocent men and their families.
It has to be noted that the Ministry of Women and Child Development, in collaboration with the National Commission for Women, has miserably failed to make policies which truly empower women and enhance their self-esteem. Instead, they have drafted laws which promote misuse of protections and privileges granted to women and encourage parasitism, perjury, adultery, and extortion by women.
- Passing the Women’ Reservation Bill will cause bias in the democratic process because of the following reasons:
a) Powerful male members of parties will be tempted to field female relatives to “reserve” the seat for themselves during the following cycle.
b) Parties will be forced to field women whether or not the women identify with the overall party agenda and the rest of the issues concerning all citizens, as opposed to just women’s issues. There are no provisions to prevent discrimination against men because of fielding women who are inclined towards women’s issues alone, or, in other words, biased against men.
c) Parties will be forced to field unsuitable female candidates or those of lower calibre just to fill the seats and treat like them puppets, which will defeat the purpose of increasing representation of women in the Parliament.
d) Women capable of earning a position and respect by their own hard work will not be able to become MPs or Chief Ministers.
- Passing the Women’ Reservation Bill will create a bias in the minds of voters and cause them to start voting or stop voting on the basis of gender and not based on publicized agendas of parties or issues related to all citizens.
- Passing of the Women’s Reservation Bill will take away the democratic right of 33% of the electorate (22 crore people) to elect their representatives. It restricts the choice of both men and women in the reserved constituencies. The state has no right to limit the pool of representatives available to the public to choose from. This is against all democratic principles of free choice.
In a Democracy, there should not be any discrimination between women and men in any area, including standing for elections. Citizens should be able to choose between candidates based on their relative calibre and commitment to public issues. Citizens’ rights are violated when their choice is restricted to a specific gender as calibre or commitment is not gender-specific.
Commonsense dictates that if the representation of women in politics is not sufficient, it is the fault of political party heads. Advocates of the Women’s Reservation Bill are insisting on needlessly penalizing citizens of a democratic country, instead of taking action against political parties which are preventing women from or failing to provide opportunities for women to contest in the elections.
AIFWA and AIMWA demand that the Government NOT pass the Women’s Reservation Bill. Instead, the Government must take the following measures in the interest of democracy and for the welfare of ALL citizens:
- Require political parties to provide 33% tickets to women to contest in the elections.
- Ensure 33% representation by women in the Rajya Sabha , and then increase it to 50% before tampering with the constitution and making reservations to increase women’s representation in the Lok Sabha.
- Establish National Commission for Men for conducting surveys and studies on mens’ issues and for formulating measures, policies and laws for welfare of men;
- Establish Mens’ Welfare Ministry with Cabinet rank;
- Amend the People’s Representation Act to include “all recognized political parties to reserve 33% for women with a staggered time frame e.g. 33% in year 1 to zero in year 30.”
- Amend Article 15(3) by deleting the word “women” ;
- Amend Article 51 (E) to include the word “men” ;
- Implement Women’s reservation in judiciary, bureaucracy, defence etc.;
- Implement Women’s Reservation in Panchayats and Municipality in all the States and Union Territories.
Uma Challa – Media Coordinator – All India Forgotten Women’s Association, Contact – 9704683163
Swarup Sarkar – Media Coordinator – All India Men’s Welfare Association, Contact – 9818789236