Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Education, Prudence & Literature Must For Women Empowerment: Vaidehi

The President of the Students' Union of a college was asked to address a huge gathering during a function. The girl was so scared and shy that she did not stand up and the crowd laughed at her. Seeing the embarrassment of the President and unable to bare the fact that the girl did not make use of the opportunity given to her, the Joint Secretary wrote an article to 'Sudha' magazine about the incident. When she realised about the sensitive nature of the President and that she had made a mistake in writing the story, the girl requested the Editor to not publish it. It was however published, but with a different name – Vaidehi. This pen name stuck on to the girl who has earned a prestigious place in modern Kannada literature.

Janaki Srinivasa Murthy, well-known as Vaidehi, is a native of Kundapur taluk in Udupi district. She was into writing right from her high school days. Her writings depict the plight of women and she uses this weapon to fight for women and towards social transformation. She has won various awards including the Kendra Sahitya Academy Award in 2009 and the Kannada Sahitya Academy Award in 1993 & 1998.
Vaidehi was in the city on March 21 to inaugurate the Kannada Sangha of Maharani's Arts & Commerce College. She spoke and interacted with young girls of the college after which she shared her views with us.
Come Women's Day, everybody is giving speeches. Girls applaud the speech but continue to bare the harassment; men who nod their heads in agreement with the speaker go home to torment their wives. Then what is the point of these speeches?
Vaidehi: First and foremost, nobody has the right to harass you, physically or mentally; be it your parents or anyone else. Unless permitted by you, nobody can touch you. If a girl is harassed even by her parents, she has every right to protest. There is no need for her to quietly bare the pain fearing society. But how does the girl become aware of these things?
Here is where education comes in. It makes the girl aware of her rights. It enlightens her about the rights and wrongs of society. I personally found my inner strength through constant reading. It makes you aware of the world.

There are Laws and Acts to aid women who are victims of various crimes. But how do you prevent crimes against women and will they get justice?
Vaidehi: By bringing strict laws into force, we can create a fear in people that if they commit a crime, the system will punish them. Once they are warned, obviously people will think before committing a crime. Also many cases have been successfully fought by lady advocates who put their heart and soul into the case to get the victim justice. It would be wrong to blindly conclude that cases of harassment won't stand.

People, without a second thought, point a finger at the girl’s character in situations where a person is being accused of misbehaving with a girl. How can girls defend themselves?
Vaidehi: It is this fear of 'name getting spoilt' that men misuse. The society may pair a girl with others but once the girl strongly opposes and says she is not wrong, no one can do anything. The society always points out saying 'You are a woman' but we never hear the same for men. Once a woman stands up and says 'Yes I am a woman, so what?' everyone will be forced to keep quiet.
We are physically distinguished as women, but in the end we all are humans. Then why discriminate? Also, girls should know the joy of being a woman, of motherhood and at the same time they should also be aware of their rights and the harassment they are made to face. Education, prudence and literature are a must for women empowerment.

What is your advice to budding women writers?
Vaidehi: Be patient. In the beginning, your work may get rejected. But never lose hope or become disheartened. Keep trying until your voice is heard and don't give up. 
(Published in Star Of Mysore dated March 22, 2011)


Post a Comment