BY AUGUSTO RODRIGUES
“I would have expected more women to have come out today. My appeal is to the women of Goa. Whether you are from Goa or you have made Goa your home, it doesn’t matter. If you are in Goa, behave like a Goan and respond to my appeal to come out with us. It is not just activists who need to come out…
“If there is a party anywhere, you find hundreds of women going for the party, whether there is rain or hot sun. But, when it comes to showing solidarity with those two ladies who were paraded naked ...” said former Panjim councillor Patricia Pinto during a meeting of solidarity with the women and people of Manipur.
Manipur is burning, and after the news coming out in the open, India should be taking action. Unfortunately, we aren’t, and it is nothing to be ashamed of because that is the path many Indians have decided to tread.
Zero FIRs is the new term that has cropped up since the violence in Manipur.
It means a zero FIR can be filed at any police station by a complainant, regardless of their place of residence or location of occurrence of the crime. Afterwards, it is transferred to the relevant police station for investigation.
Based on a report in The Indian Express, 202 zero FIRs have been filed at the Saikul police station. The objective of filing these FIRs is to aid victims in getting a complaint registered without running from pillar to post.
Despite claims of equality, women in India are looked upon and treated as second-class citizens. They know it as much as we know it. We need more than education escape this morass of gender bias.
In many parts of India, that is part of the culture, and culture just cannot be radically altered overnight. The effort has to be gradual, supported by sanguine demeanour.
That women are looked as objects of use and abuse was evident in Gujarat, and the story is continuing in Manipur. An equally terrifying aspect is the disdain shown towards children.
Women are looked upon as weak and powerless, though this is not true in most parts of India. There is research, and not just anecdotes, that reveals regions where women wield power in many ways. Manipur is one such place. However, when mob mentality takes over, there is little women or men can do.
The women, men and children in Manipur are bleeding, and the world has just begun to wake up. Nevertheless, however loud the alarm raised by the world, it will not reach or will not be heard in India because our leadership decides what is best for itself.
In that sense, what is the relevance of what Patricia Pinto said in the meeting a few days back?
It was evident from her speech that the women who gathered to show solidarity with the people from Manipur were not happy with the response from women in Goa.
The number of non-Goan women choosing to live in Goa is growing and, at least until now, not much can be expected from them.
And, there is a truth in what Patricia is saying, because there have been occasions when women staying in Goa have tried to project themselves as saviours of our heritage.
That women of Goa decided to come in support of the people of Manipur itself deserves an applause because that is what being a Goan is all about and will definitely not be understood by outsiders.
Women in Goa party, but the way they party is easily differentiated from the manner others party. Therefore, Patricia and her group should focus on Goan women. If others join, take it as an aperitif.
Women in Goa can be vocal but that sound can be heard loudly only when they are pushed to the brink. Otherwise, at least in Goa, they let the men do the shouting while they keep to the coaxing. This is an observation that may require course correction.
The need of the moment is for all Goans to stand up for the people of Manipur, and when one says all Goans – Hindus, Muslims, Catholics and people of all religions – because we pride ourselves as being united – a society that lives together.
There is no better way to show that other than by all of us coming together, irrespective of the political party we are affiliated to, because this is the time to show our humanity.