Editor’s Note: Patriarchy works in many ways, cutting across class, caste, and religious borders, and is often invisible. And it is especially important that we find and call out incidents of patriarchal oppression in conflict zones like Kashmir, where they are even more likely to go unnoticed. While Kashmir’s long fight for self-determination has gained renewed prominence in recent years, what is far less talked about is the patriarchal stifling of women that no doubt still occurs in the state, as in all other places, and is also facilitated by the unrest there.
Shah Faesal, the Kashmiri IAS officer and Director of School Education who was prominently featured by the Indian media in July in an attempt to shame militants like Burhan Wani (a comparison he emphatically denounced), has written the following Facebook post which illustrates just one such aspect of patriarchy, and how men seek to control women because of their own insecurities. The post, which has received over 600 shares and over 400 comments, could be the start of a very important conversation.
[su_box title=” ” box_color=”#c6cec9″ radius=”0″]Resignation from life.
The resignation letter had reached me by post, in a neat yellow envelop tagged personal, and addressed to me by name. It was typed in English. The Lady official had not given any specific reasons but just remarked that she didn’t want to continue in government service anymore. In an age of job crunch someone quitting a government job came as a big surprise to me.
So as we do with all dak, I marked it to my next officer who marked it to next and as expected the letter went six levels down the bureaucratic value chain, to follow the same return path one day if it was so destined.
A few months passed and one day I received the file back, matter duly scrutinised, notes firmly numbered and correspondences indexed. But at the very moment while I was running through the pages, a lady crashed into my chamber pushing the door keeper aside and lunged straight towards me. I was frightened. She was yelling loudly and like a hawk she dived straight onto my table, gave a quick look at the file, and snatched it from my hand. I resisted but not to mess with a woman, I let go.
She snatched the file, tore it’s pages and trampled upon it while I kept calling my assistants in. Then she sat on the floor and started crying over the shreds of paper.
I asked her to stop crying as I was unable to understand whatever she was saying, her sobs mixed with her speech. We got some water for her. I was angry and annoyed that she destroyed an official document but such was the swiftness with which it all happened that I couldn’t do much. So we let her cool down and then she said.
“I have not filed this resignation. The letter was sent by my husband in my name without telling me. He is not having a job and he doesn’t want me to have one. I want to work and earn for my children”.
It shattered all of us. Most of us were men around and our heads dropped with shame. We knew that somewhere all men have this insecurity that they do not want their wives to outgrow and outshine them. But here was a great lesson to learn. The lady had been lucky. She got to know about it at the right moment.
Then we talked about our schools where these days girls are outperforming boys in every field. Girls schools are far more disciplined, clean, better managed than boys schools. You visit a juvenile home you will see boys only, you visit a drug rehab most of the inmates will be boys. You visit a jail, young boys are in charge. You see the mobs who are creating indiscipline on streets, it is the boys. You think of someone who is throwing stones at street-lights or spitting at the bridge-railings, it will be a boy and more often a boy with a rather awkward haircut. Boys are completely distracted. I’m talking about Kashmir but it applies to other places also.
I wonder how many fake resignation letters our future husbands will have to write on behalf of their wives, if things go on like this around us. We need to do something about it.
PS: She had been informed by my office staff about the resignation letter in her name.
Read the original post here.