How is the Present-Day Woman Oppressed?

 

Sweta Yadav

sweta yadavI have been a student of journalism; technically speaking, I hold a degree in Journalism and consequently have worked in many media houses, but had to resign every time. Sometimes because of the caste based prejudices, other times for not wanting to undermine my principles. In some of these places I also had a good working environment and a good salary but even in those places, many male coworkers and bosses treated me like a sexual object they were lusting after.

Believe it or not, but even today, men find it difficult to accept that there is world where a woman is not just a body, where women are not only successful but prove themselves as competitive co-workers. I remember that at one of these places I was undergoing such an experience and had become emotionally perturbed. Seeing my condition, a woman coworker, in an attempt to counsel me said, "Compromise, you have to lose something to gain something; if you want to live in Delhi and create a name for yourself in this bustling crowd you will have to compromise." My response was, "To lose something doesn't mean to lose dignity and conscience. And as far as recognition goes, the worst would be that I'll be one among the crowd ... that is acceptable to me! But I will never make any such compromise where I lose my dignified life itself!"

And all this was at a place where the culture was considered highly feminist. Here it is important to mention that in the whole organization, I was the only woman who came from the Dalit-Bahujan community. Many of you might disagree and many might get upset. Some might also say, "all this is talk from a bygone era. Where does this happen these days?" You may disagree with both the points I am raising: caste discrimination and gender discrimination. You can deny the existence of both. Please do. But in my eyes, your denial is an act of running away from reality, nothing else!

The greatest risk of sharing personal experiences on a public portal is that you become exposed to a lot of criticism. There is also the risk of character assassination. Not just that, people will bestow you with thousands of unsolicited advice on handling the situation: why didn't you do this, why didn't you complain to the police, you should have hit him back, if you didn't say anything back then why do it now, what did you do at the moment, etc. My intention is not to enumerate what I did or did not do. I'm writing today because there is no fear in me any more. So I thought of sharing with you the discrimination I endured for my caste identity and gender identity. Sometimes even if it isn't our own fault we end up blaming ourselves for it and even punishing ourselves for somebody else's fault.

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If You Can’t Help One Pulaya Woman, What of the Entire SC Community?

Chitralekha E 

 

chitra

To,

 

The Honourable Chief Minister of Kerala

 

Complaint submitted by Chitralekha, Kunjimangalam Village, Edat

 

Sir,

 

I am an auto driver belonging to a Scheduled caste community.  I and my family sat on strike (Raapakal samaram) for 122 days outside the Kannur collectorate protesting the casteism and violence that the CPI(M) has unleashed on us for the last 10 years. The district administration could not accept the demands we put forward. Later, after a meeting with the Honourable Chief Minister, he instructed the District Collector to allocate us a 5-cent plot of land in any panchayat near Kannur town. The sketch, plan and the land records of the plot identified for us were made available to us. Thereafter, we ended our strike. Although a year has passed since our demands were accepted, there has been no action whatsoever on the promises that were made. Meanwhile, based on a fake report by CPI(M)-affiliated government employees, the Honourable Chief Minister himself made the  baseless remark that I own acres of land in Edat. I understand this as part of an approach of untouchability practised by the government towards people of the Scheduled Caste communities. Apart from the land granted to my grandmother by the government as ‘hutment-dwelling’ (kudikidappu) rights, the report made by the Honourable District Collector has nowhere mentioned any ‘acres of land’ owned by me. 

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बाबरी से दादरी तक

Sweta Yadav

sweta

आज़ाद भारत जी हाँ आज़ाद भारत! सिर्फ आज़ाद ही नहीं बल्कि दुनिया का सबसे बड़ा लोकतान्त्रिक देश | लोकतंत्र का जश्न मानते हुए भारत के नागरिकों को लगभग 68 वर्ष गुजर चुके हैं लेकिन आज भी कुछ सवाल जस का तस हमारे सामने मुह बाए खड़े है | समानता का अधिकार देता हमारा संविधान यह सुनिश्चित करता है की इस देश में रहने वाला प्रत्येक नागरिक एक समान है सभी को सम्मानित जीवन जीने का अधिकार है और किसी भी कारण से यह अधिकार यहाँ के नागरिकों से कोई भी छीन नहीं सकता और यदि कोई भी ऐसा करने का प्रयास करता है तो वह दंड का अधिकारी माना जाएगा तथा उसके लिए संविधान सजा का प्रावधान करता है| भारतीय संविधान की सबसे बड़ी खासियत है, यह एक शब्द जिसे हम “समानता” कहते हैं| यदि इस शब्द को आइन से अलग कर दिया जाए तो हमारा संविधान प्राण विहीन हो जाता है| कुछ शब्द सुनने में जितने अच्छे लगते है उतना ही मुश्किल होता है उन्हें सहजता से जीवन में उतारना कुछ इसी तरह का शब्द है समानता | भारत विभिन्नताओं का देश है यहाँ अलग – अलग जाति, धर्म, बोली और संस्कृति के लोग रहते हैं जिन्हें किसी एक लीक में बांधना मुश्किल है | इतिहास गवाह है की जब-जब इस तरह की कोशिश हुई है तब-तब देश में अशांति फैली है| कुछ ऐसा ही हुआ अयोध्या में | अयोध्या एक लम्बे समय से विवाद का विषय रहा है जिसमें मंदिर -मस्जिद का मुद्दा विवाद का विषय है| भारत में मुस्लिम समुदाय अलप्संख्यक समुदाय है| जिसे कुछ तथाकथित हिंदुत्ववादी लोग इस देश का नहीं मानते हैं और बार-बार उन्हें नुकसान पहुचाने की कोशिश करते हैं| दरअसल यह ब्राह्मणवादी व्यवस्था के वह अभिजात्य लोग हैं जो किसी भी सूरत में अपने वर्चस्व को खोना नहीं चाहते | अपना वर्चस्व कायम रखने के लिए यह किसी भी प्रकार का हथकंडा अपनाने से नहीं चूकते| अपनी स्वार्थ पूर्ति के लिए यह धर्म, राजनीति, समाज, भाषा सभी का इस्तेमाल करते हैं |

6 दिसम्बर 1992 को विवादित स्थल पर कार सेवकों के नाम से बड़ी संख्या में भीड़ इकट्ठी होती है और जय श्री राम और हर-हर महादेव के नारे के साथ देखते ही देखते बाबरी मस्जिद को मलबे में तब्दील कर देती है| आखिर कौन लोग थे यह, कहाँ से आई थी इतनी बड़ी संख्या में भीड़ जो धर्म के नाम पर कुछ भी कर गुजरने को तैयार हो गई| और सबसे बड़ी बात इस विध्वंस के लिए 6 दिसम्बर का ही दिन क्यों चुना गया? इन सवालों के जवाब जानने के लिए हमें भारत की सामजिक संरचना को समझना होगा| भारत में जाति एक बहुत बड़ा मुद्दा है जिसे किसी भी सूरत में नकारा नहीं जा सकता ब्राह्मणवादी शक्तियों को यह किसी भी सूरत में स्वीकार नहीं की निचली समझी जाने वाली जातियों को बराबरी का दर्जा दिया जाए | सवर्ण जातियों के लिए शुद्र का मतलब इन्सान नहीं बल्कि जानवरों से भी बदतर स्थिति का एक ऐसा तबका जो उनके मुलाजिम बन कर रहें | ब्राहमणी सत्ता  के लिए दूसरा सबसे बड़ा खतरा मुसलमान हैं | ब्राह्मणवादी यह कभी नहीं चाहते की इस देश में अल्पसंख्यक और ओबीसी, एससी, एसटी एक हो क्योंकि वह जानते हैं की अगर ये एक साथ मिल गए तो यह बहुसंख्यक की स्थिति में हो जायेंगे, जो की यह अभी भी हैं | इनके एक हो जाने की स्थिति में ब्राह्मणवादी वर्चस्व का सत्ता और समाज में सर्वोपरी बने रहना मुश्किल होगा | जिसके लिए इन्होने विवादित ढाँचे को गिराने का विकल्प चुना | चूँकि 6 दिसंबर डॉ. भीमराव आंबेडकर का परानिर्वाण दिवस है इसलिए इन तत्वों ने इस दिन का चुनाव किया और धर्म के नाम पर हिंदुत्व के नाम पर ओबीसी और दलित लोगों को बाबरी मस्जिद के विध्वंस में शामिल किया | ऐसा कर के इन्होने एक पंथ दो काज किया पहला तो यह की मुस्लिम समाज और ओबीसी समाज में एक दूरी पैदा की और दूसरा यह की इसके लिए 6 दिसम्बर का दिन चुना जिसे दलित बाबा साहब के परानिर्वाण दिवस के रूप में मानते थे उसे बदल कर शौर्य दिवस का रूप देने की कोशिश की | इस विध्वंस के पीछे देश की एक बड़ी राजनितिक पार्टी और उसके सहयोगी दलों का खुला हाथ रहा इतना ही नहीं जिस समय यह शर्मनाक घटना घटी उस वक्त उत्तर प्रदेश में यही पार्टी सत्ता में रही | और आज केंद्र में यही पार्टी पूर्ण बहुमत के साथ सत्ता में है |

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Have savarna feminists rejected markers of caste and patriarchy?

 

T. Sowjanya

sowjiA dalit woman colleague of mine came to the university campus wearing a mangalsutra one day and this forms the context for my discussion. An upper-caste feminist professor was a little inquisitive about the reason for wearing the mangalsutra. In a lighter mood, the dalit woman professor responded, "My parents-in-law came to visit me. They insist..." The mainstream feminist said that, "we fought such a great struggle against mangalsutra way back! And you still wear it?!" The dalit professor felt offended by this comment since it implied she was somehow a "lesser" feminist. She realized that the mainstream feminists' construction of their body is hegemonic in many ways in that it leads to the exclusion of lower-caste/class women studying and working in the urban universities.

It is not uncommon to find in the urban universities, many upper-caste feminists clad in ethnic, handloom clothing (either a kurti or saree), wearing terracotta/wooden/metal jewelry and a crimson red bindi on the forehead. This construction of upper-caste feminist body is partly a post-modern assertion of native culture by upholding the aboriginal skills of weaving and jewelry making. Mangalsutra is opposed by many feminists since it is a signifier of marital status of Hindu women. At the same time, it symbolically conveys that the woman is the property of her husband. Hence, the feminists' rejection of mangalsutra is a rejection of a manifestation of patriarchy in the name of tradition. But the question here is whether the mainstream feminists have rejected all forms of patriarchy. A bindi on the forehead is a marker of Hindu woman. Constructing Hindu woman figure as the Indian/native woman figure leads to the exclusion of other women. Similarly, many feminists have neither rejected bindi nor the religious/caste position that comes from the patriarchal family structures.

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Silenced by Manu and ‘Mainstream’ Feminism: Dalit-Bahujan Women and their History

 

On Sharmila Rege's First Death Anniversary, a Satyashodhak Review of her Last Book

(First published in 'Miloon saarya jani', online Marathi magazine, in July 2014)

Lata P MLata P. M.

(Translated from Marathi by Minakshee Rode, Nidhin Shobhana)

Dr. Sharmila Rege was the director of Krantijyoti Savitribai Phule Women's Studies Centre, University of Pune. On 13th July 2013, Sharmila passed away, after a long battle with cancer. She was well known in academic circles for her engagement with Dr.B.R. Ambedkar's writings and thoughts. On the occasion of her first death anniversary Lata P.M. writes this Satyashodhak review of Sharmila's last book 'Against the Madness of Manu'. Her analysis emerges from an innate knowledge of the region and its struggles.

Dr Sharmila Rege's last book, 'Against the Madness of Manu', was published by Navayana with the consent of Adv. Prakash Ambedkar. The name of the book is a play on Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar's essay titled 'Riddle No. 18: Manu's Madness or the Brahmanic explanation of the origin of mixed castes'.

The cover page of the book borrows a popular image of Ambedkar and Ramabai. The image celebrates the marriage of this historic couple. One would find Gautam Buddha blessing them in the blue background. The image (cover-page) resonates with Ambedkarite literature one would read in Chaityabhumi. Babasaheb deeply reflected on the hold of Manusmriti and Brahmanism in Indian society. The ideology of Manusmriti had consolidated the systems of caste and patriarchy in our country. Babasaheb knew this well. On 25th December 1927, during Mahad Satyagraha in the presence of thousands of people, Dr. Ambedkar burnt Manusmriti. This incident was a breakthrough in our history. It marked a new beginning in our struggles for equality.

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From Victimhood to Power: Dalit Mahila Swabhiman Yatra at Hyderabad

 

Pradnya Jadhav

pradnya-jadhav 1Dalit women's battle to survive with dignity and security is extremely challenging. Dalit Mahila Swabhiman Yatra has been initiated by All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch (AIDMAM) as an attempt to bring to the notice the realities of Dalit women; it is a quest for justice. It is a broad set of coordinated actions against caste-based sexual violence. We confront perpetrators, stage mass protests and expose the culture of impunity perpetuated by individuals and social institutions. The violence against Dalit women involves not only perpetrators from upper caste communities but also practices of state institutions at large whose justice and support system have failed. The Dalit Mahila Swabhiman Yatra has been actively engaged in interacting at multiple levels to address this state of affairs. This article is an account of the process of Dalit Mahila Swabhiman Yatra and an event organized at Hyderabad Central University and English and Foreign Languages University where we reported back on the Yatra.

The first phase of Dalit Mahila Swabhiman Yatra was organized in February 2014 and covered various districts in Haryana, Bihar and Orissa. We emphasized on the silence around the issues of Dalit women who have been under constant threats and are facing physical, sexual and mental assaults, who are being victimized by the dominant caste Hindu forces who violate their rights to access resources and snatch away their opportunities and means to survive.

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