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Monday, December 14, 1998 Published at 12:45 GMT

World: South Asia

Indian parliament introduces women's bill

Supporters of the Women's Reservation Bill celebrate

The Indian Government has succeeded in introducing to parliament controversial legislation guaranteeing a third of its seats for women.

Delhi Correspondent Daniel Lak: "Scenes of mayhem are becoming all too common"
The debate was thrown into chaos after a group of politicians protested against a female colleague who was involved in scuffles with a male opponent of the bill.

MPs from the two largest north Indian caste-based parties that have been opposing the bill demanded that the woman should be expelled from parliament because of her actions last week.

But despite angry shouts, the parliament's speaker kept Monday's session open just long enough for the Women's Reservation Bill to be tabled.

[ image: The Indian parliament debated the bill for two years]
The Indian parliament debated the bill for two years
The legislation, proposed by the governing coalition led by the BJP, is meant to increase women's participation in India's democracy.

It was first introduced in 1996 by a previous government, but met with strong opposition.

Currently, fewer than 10% of Indian MPs are women.

Our Delhi Correspondent Daniel Lak says the bill has moved beyond the issue of the position of women in parliament into a question of the health of the government.

He says the fact that parliament has been held to ransom by a small group of MPs is a troubling issue for many Indian people.

It is not yet known when the Women's Reservation Bill will be voted on.

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