Syllabus: General Studies Paper 4 (Ethics)
Case Study: Dedication to public service, empathy, tolerance and compassion towards the weaker sections.
A group of poor women belonging to a community that strictly believes that women are meant for only kitchen works decide to go to work in a nearby factory. They want to earn for their families and repay mounting debt. They want freedom from moneylenders.
But the village panchayat warns these women against working in factory. They also demand to get money from moneylenders instead. These women are also ostracised and humiliated in the village by the powerful panchayat members.
Imagine you are District Collector of the district where this village is located. An official from panchayat brings this issue to your notice.
Identify ethical issues involved in this case and explain what action will you take?
Constitution of India provides Right to live with dignity under Article 21 Right to work without discrimination under Article 15 and Right to freedom under Article 19 .In this perspective Panchayat banning women from work in in factory seems to be against the constitutional principles in the first instance. However it needs to be investigated before taking any action.
Women in the villages wanted to go for work due to following reasons
- To support their family and to become financially independent.
- To pay debt and come out of the debt cycle engraved by high rate of interest charged by money lenders.
Why Panchayat has banned women from taking employment?
- Patriarchal society: Giving freedom to women for work goes against this mindset who wants to bound women within the four walls of the house only.
- Money lenders don’t want to lose out on their profits from loans taken by people. So they put pressure on panchayat to stop women from taking employment and they continue being dependent on money lenders for finance.
Ethical issues involved in it.
- Protecting the dignity of women.
- Saving marginalized sections from the powerful persons in the village.
- Upholding constitutional values. Providing an environment so that people can enjoy their fundamental rights.
Course of action I would take as a District collector.
- I will initially investigate the whole matter and in the mean time I will order the nearest police station to protect the women against the panchayat illconceived decision.
- Once the investigation is complete if panchayat members and all those involved in it found guilty then necessary required legal actions will be taken against them. Also women who denied the panchayat order needs to be praised and can be projected as role models for promoting women employment.
- A committee can be set up to look into similar matters (if exists) in other parts of the district.
- Lastly the root cause of the problem was debt issue because of which all it started so awareness needs to be spread about the various employment schemes by the government like MGNREGA and other financial schemes.
- Also more awareness about Skill development related issues among the people will help those women who want to work. I will take help of social workers and govt employees and institutions to spread awareness among people.
- In order to provide women guarantee of their security a separate women police personnel can be designated in every police stations to look into such cases along with a helpline number who will be guiding the women required steps to get their grievances redressed.
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