Saturday, July 13, 2024

Headless State Commission for Women


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Sexual violence in Meghalaya – a matrilineal society is on the rise. Over and above that there is domestic violence too but the aggrieved women find no relief since the State Commission for Women that was created with the intention of addressing their grievances and that of adolescent girls that are now being preyed upon, has been without a Chairperson to direct its functioning. When the Social Welfare Minister was asked why this position remained unfilled he first stated that his Department is on the lookout for an incumbent to fill the post. Later he cited the Model Code of Conduct. Now that the election is over, what’s the delay about?
The last appointee – Phidalia Toi was alleged to have placed her political loyalties above her commitment to the Commission and to have actively campaigned for the National Peoples’ Party (NPP) whose active member she is, during the run-up to the Assembly election in 2022-23. Toi was appointed to the Commission because she is a crd carrying member of the NPP. In Meghalaya there is no chance that the best person would be appointed to any critical position. There are always strings attached. Those affiliated to political parties are appointed irrespective of whether they fit the bill and are equal to the task. The list of appointees of the present MDA Government are enough indication that the word competence does not exist in its dictionary. These appointees – paid from the state exchequer eat up quite a substantial chunk of public money. The abysmal performance of the NPP-UDP-HSPDP grand alliance called the MDA, in the recently held Lok Sabha elections is also because the public that has been helplessly watching this nepotism have finally got their pound of flesh by defeating the alliance partners and electing both MPs from the opposition.
Why should it take so long to appoint a competent person to an important post unless the Government is trying to find someone that will toe their line? That is what most governments want and the women of this state are voiceless against this gross infirmity. It is a fact that in Meghalaya today there is no active and robust women’s organisation that can take on the Government. In the past the Synjuk Kynthei led by women of eminence and character such as Queenie Rynjah, Silverene Swer, EN Shullai, Sitimon Sawian among others would have taken on the Government for debilitating the Commission and rendering it effete. Those were the days when the Synjuk Kynthei challenged the then Chief Minister DD Lapang for hand-picking Dr Biloris Lyndem who was never known to have been a woman activist with any knowledge about the problems that ail women, as the first Chairperson of the Women’s Commission. The Synjuk Kynthei attended the meeting where Dr Lyndem’s name was announced and with one accord all the members walked out of the meeting. CM Lapang came out and requested them to re-enter the venue but they refused and gave him a mouthful. That’s what’s called women’s empowerment. Now the Synjuk Kynthei and other women’s organisations seem to have lost steam and the gumption to take on the Government. That’s what matrilineal Meghalaya is reduced to – a sham if there is one!

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