Women’s agenda has clearly been short-changed by the Delhi government. Even at their best, they are only paternalistic guardians of women’s modesty.
Shivangi Narayan | January 31, 2014
The AAP government in Delhi refuses to ban khap panchayats. It condones search and assault of African women in Khirki extension in south Delhi. The chief minister and his cabinet colleagues even sit on a dharna demanding suspension of police officers who refused to obey the orders – unethical if not illegal – of law minister Somnath Bharti to raid homes of the African women in the locality.
The minister even calls the African women “these people” who spread “drugs and prostitution” in the area. Finally, the chief minister refuses to stand up against the khap panchayat, stating that the khaps are an important part of the village make-up.
A couple of days back, I got into a Twitter spat with journalist Shivam Vij (@Dillidurast) who said that those opposing Kejriwal and his dharna against the police were essentially supporters of BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi; that the opponents of Kejriwal’s dharna are against his popularity and consider it a threat to Modi’s popularity.
It was surprising to see that someone who writes on a blog like Kafila and has all the discerning powers in the world couldn’t see the whole issue for what it was: a women’s issue.
Not the women, who lived in families in Delhi and by all or most standards, conformed to the ‘good Indian girl’ stereotypes in the city. Not the women who, even if single, had enough agencies to fight against patriarchal powers. But the women, who were single, middle class, worked late, mingled with boys and lived on their terms in the melting pot of a capital that is Delhi.
It was the issue of the girl who fancied calling her friends home for a beer some Saturday night. Who probably smoked. Who did not care much about her neighbours and complained about those who leered at her. Who was living the life of an individual, trying to cut herself from the patriarchal ties that bound her.
It was the story of every other girl who irked her neighbours and who wanted to teach her a lesson. Somnath Bharti has set a dirty precedent – call him on any pretext and he will do you bidding. Especially when it is a girl involved in “spreading prostitution” he will leave no stone unturned in doing your bidding.
It will also condone the doings of khap panchayat, which has, amongst others, ordered the most brutal killings in recent times for crimes that should not have any bearing in a modern, emergent India.
Dear Aam Aadmi Party: as a woman, I don’t want paternalistic guidance from you like extra commandos and better policing and men protecting women. We need an understanding, a dialogue, and a stand against the social structures that bind women.
Take a stand.
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