By YKA Staff:
Sabika Naqvi, a member of Pinjra Tod, an autonomous feminist collective comprising of women students and alumni in Delhi gave a speech at CONVERGE 2016 which smashed patriarchy for almost half an hour. It put many to shame for the way women have been treated throughout history. Sabika in her speech described herself as a poet, alternative educator and teacher. She has been teaching ever since she was 14.
Pinjra Tod organises debates, discussions and protests against gender discrimination and moral policing at university hostels in Delhi as well as other parts of the country. The struggle isn’t just limited to sexism in hostels, but also brings into forefront issues of misogyny that women face in university campuses across the country.
She asked a question millions of chained and oppressed people around the world want to ask. Why is freedom restricted to a very small part of the world?
The best place to change the world is in the classrooms. Sabika said, “You can smash the stereotypes which exist.” She reminded everyone that colleges claim to be liberal spaces but aren’t exactly that.
Sabika spoke in detail on the discrimination women face in college campuses in a tone which was mocking, sarcastic and humorous. She shared a fact which should make us question how far we have developed as a society almost seven decades after independence. She illuminated the audience with the fact that curfew times in DU hostels for women in 1956 used to be 9.30 pm. Today, it is 10.
In the speech, she never once shied away and said how ‘safety’ is used as a tool to control women. “Curfew is a system,” she said. DU libraries are open till 12 am but women can’t go out of their hostels from 10 pm onwards.
These unwarranted and unnecessary curfews on women hostellers cause major inconvenience. It becomes almost impossible for them to get emergency tickets to travel out of the capital city by train, when required. She also mentioned how the women are unable to withdraw money from the ATMs when de monetisation has put an uncomfortable halt to the life of most Indians.
Clothing is a tool which has been used by patriarchy to wreak havoc on the lives of women from the most conservative societies to the most liberal ones. She spoke about how women hostellers are constantly told to not wear revealing clothes and come to the mess. Sabiqa said, “Your character is judged on the basis of what you wear.”
Sabika’s speech wasn’t just restricted to the issue of sexism in hostels. She spoke about patriarchy in general and how women from different class, caste, religion, etc. have different needs from the society. She spoke about intersectionality. Men belonging to the same community turn as oppressors. Differently abled women are even more oppressed. She said, they are ‘doubly oppressed’. Intersectionality of women’s issues are not understood. Women are not a homogeneous group either.
It wasn’t just Sabika who gave it back to patriarchy. The roars and the applause of the crowd as she spoke indicated full support to her cause. Yet, the most powerful thing she said was that in India a woman is considered responsible enough to get married at the age of 18 but not go out of her hostel after 10 pm, laying thread bare the hypocrisy of a patriarchal society which is unable to explain itself by logic. The most poetic line by Sabika in the speech was,“Claim the night, the stars are yours.”