Saturday, August 06, 2005

Double Standards...This One Takes the Cake

The latest edition of Outlook magazine has a story about the West Bengal state fire services department planning to recruit 50 women as firefighters for the purpose of rescuing women trapped in fires. Wonderful!

But, read on.

This was precipitated by a recent incident in which, get this, a woman trapped in a fire died because the locals "refused to allow male firefighters to enter a blazing house to rescue her". According to the story, the fire services minister said that the "physical contact necessitated" during the rescue had been a bone of contention.

And apparently this is not the first time this has happened either.

That the woman died is a tragedy. That she died, not because of a lack of infrastructure or because the firemen did not arrive in time or because the blazing house was impossible to penetrate, but because her heartless neighbors were enforcing some kind of warped moral code of conduct at the expense of her life, a life, is a shameful, depressing commentary on the status of women.

The worst aspect of the story, and the one that riles me the most, is this. While those neighbors were letting a woman burn to her death, supposedly to protect her chastity, there were millions of women around the country being ogled at, groped, and generally subjected to lewd behaviour by men, including, I bet, those in that group of locals.


gawker said...

And the firefighters obeyed the wish of the locals? Why?

Sujatha Bagal said...

Although the story doesn't go into a lot of detail, I am sure the locals got pretty aggressive. May be the firefighters were even afraid of fomenting communal tension (the woman that died was Muslim).