Back to the basics of the law
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It was Independence Day eve. I was sitting late in office listening to a young software engineer whose e-mail ID has been misused to send obscene messages to her colleagues. She works for a reputed software giant. The girl is distraught. She is well-bred, intelligent but uncomfortable with herself. She had been physically abused by her husband in the past and her parents had approached me on this issue when I was posted in Mumbai. I had heard with disbelief her story of torture by her husband, an equally well-qualified boy. She suffered it all in silence and dared to approach the police only after her parents accompanied her to meet me, coming all the way from Bhopal. They were shattered, to say the least, to learn that the daughter they had married with such fanfare, and after paying such a hefty dowry, had to suffer so much.
I have given up on this generation, which is also my generation. In fact, I sometimes lose my cool when parents approach the police only after their daughter commits suicide. But what disturbed me about this particular case was the girl's own lack of confidence despite being highly educated and earning a good salary.
Which brings me to the crux of the issue. After the spectacular appearance of women like Kiran Bedi and Aishwarya Rai on the scene, middle-class families finally started opting for careers for their daughters which were earlier considered unconventional. But education and specialisation alone do not help. We have to make children aware of the other facts of life too. One such essential requirement is basic legal awareness. When I asked the young engineer why she had not complained earlier, she replied that she had indeed gone to the nearest police station but the man on duty there just laughed away her complaint that someone was using her e-mail ID for obscene purposes. I asked her what rank the officer was, and she did not know. She has no idea about police functioning.
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