Friday, June 16, 2006

Thwarting women in power

India Thwarting women in power
Thousands of women in Madhya Pradesh were elected in the last panchayat elections; since then, the story has taken a dismal turn. More than 1,300 women sarpanchs face false charges of corruption. About 50 have been removed from office through forced no-confidence motions. They have been threatened and humiliated.
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Most women sarpanchs are not allowed to work freely. They are either forced to sign on papers prepared by influential lobbies or become part of their husbands' politics.
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Radha, forced to quit the post, and unable to handle the humiliation they heaped on her routinely, consumed poison. Fortunately, she was taken to the hospital on time, and two persons - Chhatar Singh and Lala Singh (the former sarpanch and his relative) - were arrested. Lying on the hospital bed, with both anguish and anger evident in her voice, Radha said, "They used to openly tell me to come to their house at night. My dream was to work for my village. But the power of my opponents and the corruption of bureaucrats shattered that dream."

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