News / Asia

    India's Upper House Passes Bill to Reserve Parliament Seats for Women

    Anjana Pasricha

    India's upper house of parliament has passed a landmark bill to reserve one third of seats in parliament and state legislatures for women.  The bill was passed following unruly protests by several lawmakers who oppose the controversial legislation.  The bill will have to be passed by the lower house of parliament and state assemblies before it becomes law.  

    The chairman of the Upper House of Parliament, Hamid Ansari, announced the passage of the Women's Reservation bill with 186 out of 248 lawmakers voting in favor of it.

    Lawmakers from the ruling alliance and opposition benches called it "history in the making." 

    The first significant step in passing the legislation has taken 14 years.  The bill was first introduced in 1996, but it was never voted on due to political opposition from several quarters.  

    But this time it has been supported by all major political parties, including the main opposition Bharatiya Janata and Communist parties.   

    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called it a "momentous development" in the long journey of empowering Indian women.

    "Our women have faced enormous difficulties even when we talk in terms of the benefits of processes of economic and social development," he said.  "Our women face discrimination at home, there is domestic violence, they face discrimination and unequal access to education and healthcare.  All these things have to end if India is to realize the full potential."

    But passage of the bill still has not been smooth, with two small socialist parties - the Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal - disrupting parliament repeatedly to block the bill since it was introduced Monday.      

    Seven lawmakers from these parties were suspended, but refused to leave the chamber.  They were finally taken out by marshals after they continued to shout slogans to drown debate.  These parties want the bill to include quotas for lower-caste women and Muslims.

    A leader of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, Arun Jaitley called the chaos witnessed in parliament "another kind of history."    

    "We have seen some of the most shameful incidents of India's parliamentary democracy," said Jaitley.  

    The bill will now have to be passed by the lower house of parliament and by state assemblies before it becomes law.  At the moment, women occupy roughly 10 percent of seats in parliament.

    The Congress Party's decision to press ahead with the legislation carries political risks because the two socialist parties who oppose the legislation have threatened to withdraw support from the government.  This could reduce the comfortable majority the ruling alliance has in parliament.

    You May Like

    Pentagon: Afghan Hospital Bombing Not a War Crime

    US Central Command's Joseph Votel says probe found tragedy was result of 'extraordinarily intense situation' that included multiple equipment failures

    US Minorities Link Guns with Other Social Ills

    New study finds reduction in gun violence could help lower America’s incarceration rate – the world’s highest - and improve relationships between police, citizens in minority communities

    US Millennials Beat Baby Boomers as Largest Living Generation

    America's young people are about to take over and here's what we can expect from them

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora