‘Women should take their Indian culture along when they go out’

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Mamta Sharma, 62, spoke to Revati Laul about why women should be ultra-cautious

National Commission for Women Chairperson Mamta Sharma says what women wear can’t be discounted.

Mamta Sharma, 62
Mamta Sharma, 62

When a rape victim comes to the NCW, do you start counselling them immediately?
The first thing we do is to check if they have filed an FIR. If they haven’t, we ensure that it is done. If follow-up action is not taken, we demand a report from the police. Counselling is given in whichever cases it is necessary.

In which cases is it deemed necessary?
It is up to them. Some women resume normal lives almost immediately. Some do not and we have a shelter home for those who need it and also counselling.

Some say that what a woman wears or how she lives or carries herself is a factor in the violence committed against them.
I believe that what a woman wears is secondary.

But you believe it IS a secondary issue?
It is a secondary issue because people believe that certain kinds of men get provoked when women wear a certain kind of clothing. But I don’t agree. Women and men have equal rights. But men should change their attitudes towards women and not focus on what women wear.

People also talk of how women who venture out after 8 pm are putting themselves at risk.
I don’t agree. In fact, there was a survey conducted in Delhi 3-4 months ago that showed that the maximum number of rapes occur between 6 am and 2 pm. And the data also revealed that neighbours and family friends are more often the perpetrators. So women also need to be ultra cautious. And they need to take their Indian culture along with them when they leave their homes.

Revati Laul is a Special Correspondent with Tehelka. 
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