Jisha – Not Another Nirbhaya

Another shameful incident has shown our country the mirror – Jisha’s brutal attack and end in Kerala. 

An alleged rape that is being likened to Jyoti Singh's case, now immortalised as Nirbhaya in Indian consciousness, we are inadvertently painting this as ‘yet another rape’ by doing so. It took us so long to react to the horrifying end she met, because it had happened before and it lacked shock value. 

What else had lulled us into indifference? No one moved for 5 days after the crime. Not the authorities and not the media. 

It was the distance from the Capital and social hierarchy. The incident happened in Kerala in a small town called Perambavoor, which is 216 kilometers away from Thiruvananthapuram. That is far away from Lutyen’s Delhi and headquarters of most Media conglomerates. And our apathy once again became a victim of physical distance. 

And finally, she was a Dalit – always at the receiving end of violence and discrimination. A regular day in her life involved fending from people who threw stones at her for existing amongst them. 

So, no. We cannot box her in with Nirbhaya. We cannot separate her Dalit identity from her womanhood. We cannot let her be filed away as the Nirbhaya of Kerala.

She was Jisha. And she deserved an equal life and a natural death. 

We robbed her of both.

Girl Child Education Second Chance Program Campaign

For most of the men I’ve had in my life – from my father, uncles, brothers, most friends and boyfriends – there has been one thing in common with them all. Strangely enough they’ve tried to inculcate this one emotion into me – fear. No matter what the situation has been, they’ve always asked me to be scared or have a problem because most often, according to them, I’ve been too fearless for a girl. Whether anyone believes it or not, the only person in this world, who has taught me to be myself and do/react however I want to, has been my mother.

I don’t understand how and why, most of the men who have meant something to me, have tried their best, in whichever way possible to imbibe this emotion that I truly don’t relate to. I am not stupid, I definitely don’t do things that are not practical or harmful, but minus that, I do not understand why I should or shouldn’t react to situations the way I do because I am not a boy! From getting off on the road and regulating traffic to giving a piece of my mind to a tenant who’s torturing my mother – if I think something is wrong, why should my gender stop me?

It hit me yesterday, again, when I was asked by a certain very important man in my life, to fear the situation I was in. “That’s no way to talk to him… you’re a girl!” and that’s what got my blood boiling. I’ve never understood why me, a girl, needs to be afraid of people just because I don’t have more testosterone in my body.

As a child it was my father who didn’t let us do quite a lot of things because ‘we’, my sister and I, were girls – and I grew with this constant fight at home, where my mother was the pillar who managed us permission for doing it because she didn’t consider us any less than sons. Stupid things like joining HPS in my 11 th  and 12 th , or going out for a party after sunset, with boys – were issues! And all this was coming to me from the most important man in my life – and why?? Because I was a girl! He didn’t think I could manage myself in a co-ed school or take care of my character at a party.

My argument has never been about why I can’t do it – my only question is: If you can, why can’t I? Things that shouldn’t be done by either of us are the valid ones. But if you’re allowed to do something because YOU were born a boy and I can’t because I am not – is what I’m against.

It was only because of these men in my life that I actually realised what a hero my mother has been in my life, and I am truly grateful to her for being herself. She brought me up just like she would have raised her son, with the assurity of being there by my side, through everything. And of course, for not putting this demon called ‘fear’ in me only because I am a ‘girl’. 

Beat your wife, saudia says. Where is the outrage, america?

At a time when our collective fight for equality of women in India is gaining gradual acquiescence albeit with frequent setbacks, out comes a video to shock us out of our insularity to the state of women in other parts of the world.

The video that we are talking about is this:

To put into words, the video features a self-styled Islamic therapist who is propounding the “right way to beat your wife”.

The video was released on the national channel of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, after clearance from the Kingdom’s government.

The highlights of this video are that after forsaking your wives in bed, women need to be disciplined and some women provoke their men to beat them. The video suggests that wives should be beaten with toothpicks and handkerchiefs to make them feel ashamed of themselves and get them back in line, so to speak.

Now this video has caused an uproar in most parts of the world. We can rave and rant, but on a diplomatic policy level, we have no control or clout over a kingdom that brazenly flouts human rights on the back of its oil reserves. Because the one country that can influence change continues to remain quiet.

The video was released in the United States of America through the DC based Middle East Media Research Institute but has failed to invite any comment or criticism by the government.

This is not the first time the U.S. has put blinkers on Saudi Arabia. 47 people were beheaded on January 1 st , 2016 for protesting against the dictatorial policies of Saudi’s ruling class. But not a single statement was passed by Uncle Sam who is the self-proclaimed custodian of peace and equality around the world.

So then of what use is our voice that is being raised but finds no resonance in change-makers?

We must keep on talking about this. Till it reaches and echoes in the corridors of power. We must not forget that the fight is also for women beyond borders. That the fight will be long. And hope that the fight will be taken forward by generations of women and men who are growing up with ideals of an accessible and equal world.