Women Driving

A road sign attempts to discourage drivers fro...

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The story dominating the news channels this weekend was the horrific accident caused by a drunk woman driver killing 2 persons , one a cop, and injuring 4 others.

Nooriya Haveliwala (27), a beautician by profession, rammed her car into a police van, because she decided to take a swig from a beer can , as in her own words ‘ she was in full control of her vehicle’. Mind you, this was when she was cruising at over 100 kms/hr. Excuse me, ma’am but when it is advised to get off the road if you , as the driver, wish to take a mobile phone call in your car, how can taking a swig from a beer can, driving at 120 kms/hr (way above the speed limit), be considered permissible?  This after you have consumed liquor much above the alcohol level permitted at a party and have been reckless enough to take the wheel, instead of arranging for an escort/designated driver or a taxi home?

In two other separate incidents, an airhostess in Kolkata ran into a signal post on Sunday morning, and another drunk driver ran over a vegetable vendor at India Gate, New Delhi.

Though this post highlights 3 incidents of drunken driving or DUI (driving under the influence of alcohol or any other narcotic substance) , I prefer to highlight the following statement by noted lawyer Shrikant Bhat in the Mumbai Mirror “With women committing offences as grave as men do, it is high time our laws are amended on such disparities and made gender-neutral”. I concur with this statement whole-heartedly.

India is a male-dominated society. However with progress and education, women are making their mark in all spheres of life. But with the greater freedom afforded, comes responsibility. In the workplace, by definition, men and women are to be treated equally. Discrimination on the basis of gender, can be ill-afforded there.

Similarly, it is time to recognize the changing face of cosmopolitan India and acknowledge that public transport must be revamped to allow for the increasing no. women in the workforce. In my opinion, having separate train compartments for women is an indicator of a nod backwards. Obviously the current infrastructure cannot accommodate the humongous no. of people travelling by rail and separate compartments acknowledge that women are physically challenged, but with increasing investment in infrastructure, this policy of separatism (?) should be revisited and in my opinion, abolished. Bending over backwards to please women smacks of appeasement and seems more like condescension  (again, IMHO).

Whether Nooriya Haveliwala is guilty or not (that is for the court to decide; everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty and not the other way around!), her story (and that of her victims) throws up some important questions, that need to be raised, weighed and answered.

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