Dr. Poornima Advani, Chairperson, National Commission for Women
“Let us resolve, over here, that we would never take money for the marriage of our sons, that we would never give money for the marriage of our daughters.” —Dr. Poornima Advani
“Altering the Image of Women in the Minds of Abusers”
“I bow down to the Mother of Universal Motherhood, the Mother of Universal Love, the Mother of Universal Language.
“Five minutes ago when I got Her divine hug, it transgressed the need of any language. It was a love which knew no language except the language of love.
“I bow down to all of you. The Saints and Sages here of Bharat…. the devotees of Amma, the torchbearers of love…. I bow down to my mother who is in the audience today. I bring greetings to you from the National Commission for Women, which is the apex body in the country with a mandate to safeguard and uphold the constitutional and legal rights of women.
“I welcome you to the territory which is the world’s largest democracy, the territory where the constitution has mandated equality, the territory where Gandhiji spoke of equality between men and women, the territory where Swami Vivekananda said that men and women are ‘two wings of the same bird,’ and the territory where Amma has known the real potential to transform and is on the route of transforming each one of us who are present here today.
“I have no written text. I did not want to be enslaved to the written word, so you will permit me some ad-hoc thoughts. The subject of my speech is ‘Alternating the Image of Women in the Mind of Abusers: Alternative Treatment of Prisoners and Route to Transformation.’
“From the Constitutional mandate of equality to the grassroots reality of equality, till now we live in a world of inequality, but to that grassroots perseverance towards equality what is needed is the divine teachings of what Amma has told us.
“While talking of the image of women and the word abusers, what comes to my mind is the need to change the minds of the families. While we talk of Universal Motherhood, let us not forget that girl-child in whom there is the divine presence. And if we decide to selectivity eliminate the girl before she’s born, if we decide to abort her before she’s born and deny her the right to life, it is a shame on all of us.
“I plead over here, first with the abusers of the unborn child, to go on the pathway of Amma’s teachings. Amma has said that there is no logic to love. If you bring logic in love, it cannot be love. There is no logic to love; you cannot analyze love. Love is a feeling, a deep feeling; you cannot see love. I plead to the sea of humanity, this sea who are sitting in the umbrella of love: love that girl-child, identify her as our own. She is the pride of the future world. And shower on her Universal Motherhood as Amma does.
“While talking of abusers in the prison, the population of abusers in the prison is very small. The population of abusers outside the prison is too large.
“We are living in a place where, at times, the first gate of the criminal-justice system refuses to open even F.I.R.s [First Information Reports] are difficult to lodge. We are living in a place where the conviction rate is only four percent, despite such a high crime rate. I plead with all of you, those who are present here, those who are blessed to ensure that we go out into the world and look into the abusers of womanhood, the abusers of the young girl. We have a penal court, the Indian penal court is quite a reflection of the Victorian penal court as it existed because it was drafted by Lord Macaulay Anderson. But what do we have there: dowry debt, dowry, cruelty, ear-teasing, outraging modesty. Look at the terms, look at the shameful terms. I would plead with all of you here today, who are the torchbearers of peace, to draft under Amma’s blessings a universal moral code, which shall remove from the world the need for any penal code.
“Let us resolve, over here, that we would never take money for the marriage of our sons, that we would never give money for the marriage of our daughters. There is a new kind of crime which says we will not take dowry or give dowry, but we want marriage to be in accordance with our status. I don’t know the meaning of ‘status.’ Status is linked to material riches, status needs to be linked to moral riches. I would like my brother and sister to be married to the one who’s morally rich with Amma’s blessings, not to the material riches in the world.
“When we think of abusers, when we think of the abused, let us think of those who are the victims of the tyrannies of globalisation without providing them social security. Let us think of the fisherwomen in the country. Let us think of the domestic workers. Let us think of the construction workers. Let us think of the handloom-weavers. Let us think of the plantation growers. Let us think of the bamboo-planters. They are all our sisters.
“It is important that policies which are discussed within the territory or outside our territory need to take into consideration the needs and the heartbeats of each one of these persons—and if we don’t look to that, we don’t care. We need to care.
“Look at what is happening in the movies. We see the villains, the vamp and the violence. I congratulate the persons who are making a movie on Amma’s life! I want to see more movies on the lives of devotees of Amma. From violence, villains and vamps, we need to proceed to devotion, divinity and dedication.
“We are talking about law-abusers, but let us also bear in mind it is important that the law-protectors should never become law-abusers. While talking of alternative treatment to prisoners, I remember in the old days there was the retributive theory of punishment, which was stoning, flogging. It is good that these are words which are relics of the past. But even today we are more focused on the deterrent theory of punishment. We need to progress now from the deterrent theory of punishment to the reformative theory of punishment. And in the reformative theory, the first necessity is meditation.
“What is needed to put the abusers on the path of transformation is not only food for the body but food for the mind and food for the soul. And this is where teachings of Amma are most powerful for mental empowerment, and once a person is mentally empowered, that only can lead to economic empowerment or any other kind of empowerment.
“What is the route to transformation? In one word it is ‘you.’ You, dear men and women who are sitting here, are the route to transformation. You are the ones who are blessed. Blessed is the one who knows his or her Guru. And if the Guru is also a ‘ma,’ the result is Amma.
“It is important whatever be the environment around us, that we must convert it into a reformative pathway, and that is the only route to transformation of the abusers in our society. We are today in the land of Kerala. Don’t forget Kerala is the land of the palm trees, the trees which are across the salty sea shore but the fruit is as sweet as ever. Let us all ensure that even in a salty seashore we can bring out sweet fruit—the sweet water of the coconut, the sweetness, the care, the concern within the hearts of each one. At the same time, don’t forget the shell of the coconut—the courage, the conviction and the strength of the exterior.
“What is needed today is a new memorandum of understanding. Many M.O.U.s have been signed, but I think we need to today, sign a new memorandum of understanding, an understanding with none else except our inner soul, except our inner Atma [Self]. Amma has said, ‘Forget what ought to be forgotten, embrace life with a renewed vigour.’ The renewed vigour should lead us to a path to bridge the gap between the haves and the have-nots. And this gap between the have and the have-nots can be bridged with the path of love, with the path of care, with the path of concern.
“We are living in a world today where there is trafficking of young girls. It is so pitiful; it is so shameful. Amma has been very concerned about the trafficking of young girls and has been trying to bring about a global equation to ensure that we can reduce such a pathology from our global order.
“We need to take stock of the pathetic struggle of our tribal women across the country. It is extremely important that we take out some space and time from our busy schedules and look into the lives of the have-nots and give them what is their concern.
“Sorry, time up.
“But as my time is up, let us all look up also and ensure that the victims of violence fall within our balance sheet of concern. The victim of violence before she’s born, the victim of violence after birth, and the victim of violence when she is a divine soul but we call her a widow, and we ill-treat her.
“I was reading Amma’s statement that, ‘The only answer is that we have to call to Him, but call to Him in a manner that he should listen to you.’ Yes, lets all join our hands at this moment and pray that we can really call to Him to bring out a new social order, a social order of love, compassion and peace, where true equality helps to, between men and women, bring about a change in the image of the women in the mind of the abuser.
“I look to all of you for bringing a social transformation under Amma’s leadership. Jai Hind! God bless you.”