Deputy Director for Women and Child Welfare K Radha needs no introduction. Always wanting to do something for the society, especially for widows and widowers, Radha knows what exactly needs to be done to help their cause. Under the women empowerment programme in her department, Radha has been in the forefront to help widows and widowers find suitable partners. The initiative by any government department, it seems, is first of its kind.
With 30 years of experience in the department, she spends most of her time in the field and knows the kind of mental trauma widows face after losing their partners. Looking at their ordeal, Radha thought of doing something for them. Though the initiative is still in its infant state, the Deputy Director is confident it will click.
Hailing from Mysuru, she pursued masters in science in food and nutrition. She worked as a lecturer in Maharani College before joining the government service in 1985. The veteran has done many progressive works in her department. That she was bestowed with Champion of Child Rights from an NGO is a testimony to her undying spirit to do something for the society. Her husband G Anand serves as a Deputy Director in veterinary department.
Many officials have reportedly expressed displeasure against politicians for their opposition to progressive policies in their departments. Have you ever come across such a situation, while trying to stop a child marriage or trying unfair practice against women?
Nothing as such. While implementing some of the initiatives, I would go according to the procedure. I have always got support from the police and the public. I think no political power or higher authority creates obstructions when we have the goodwill to serve the society. Regarding the issue concerning women and their children, I approached Deputy Commissioner C Shikha and Police Commissioner B Dayanand for constructing children friendly park in Juvenile Police Unit at Lashkar police station. They accepted my appeal and granted permission. I think the way we approach also matters. Children friendly Park is my dream project and I am proud of its implementation. Though there are challenges to take action against violators of child and women’s rights, it is our responsibility to handle the situation in an effective manner in accordance with the law.
As a women’s welfare officer, when you are out to look into a family conflict, whom do you support _ husband or wife?
Though it is a matter of justice, I give more prominence to protect women’s rights. It doesn’t mean that we ignore men’s rights. Recently, in a family dispute witnessed in Mysuru, we extended support to husband while some of the media houses supported the concerned woman. She was allegedly trying to fix her husband in a dowry harassment case. When such a thing happens, we collect information from localities and family members. Also we call for them for counseling to understand the exact reason behind the conflict before taking a stance. The ultimate objective is to solve the issues early before further damage is done.
Can you recall any unforgettable incident that you faced while trying to stop a child marriage?
Yes, there are many. I recall an incident in Chamarajanagar when a lady was trying to marry her 14-year-old daughter off to a transgender, who happens to be her brother. I never witnessed such incidents in my career. When I came to know about the incident, I rushed to the spot along with police to stop the marriage. During enquiry, the girl told me she was not interested to marry a transgender and that her mother was coercing her. We convinced girl’s mother to drop the idea. Incidentally, the girl is now studying in a school. This has given me immense satisfaction.
What is the inspiration behind introducing a matrimonial platform for widows and widowers?
Yes. I have heard a lot of tragic stories of many widows. There are many young women who are left in the lurch due to untimely death of their husbands. They don’t have any option or share ideas closely with someone. In the present context, a widow or widower probably needs a partner with future in focus. But they are not in a position to express their desire in the so-called traditional society. It is our responsibility to understand their situation and take steps to provide a better platform for them. I personally took interest to introduce this programme. Appreciating my initiative, a widow from Nanjanagud said, “I think you understand the ordeal of a widow better than their parents. Women feel insecure in the event of their husbands’ death. Don’t they have the right to lead a happy life thereafter?”