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Why Is The Left Silent About Shazia Ilmi Not Being Allowed To Speak At Jamia?

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The sole reason why the Indian Left has failed to gain people’s support is because it has failed to demand justice ‘at large’. The Left has been criticised for only catering to the demand of minorities and overlooking other problems.

Does the Left even try to support all the sections of minorities? Well, no. The Left only cares about the male section of the minorities.

Is justice only about providing privileges to Muslim males? The events that took place on Tuesday (February 28, 2017) with Shazia Ilmi of the Jamia Millia Islamia University has made this clear.

According to a report, Shazia Ilmi (an alumni of Jamia) along with Meenakshi Lekhi were originally invited to speak on “Social Relevance of Triple Talaq – Discrimination or Empowerment” on February 16, 2017. The talk was organised by the Forum for Awareness of National Security (FANS), a body affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

However, the event was postponed to February 28, 2017, and the theme was changed to “Muslim Women’s Empowerment: Issues and Challenges”. Meanwhile, the authorities advised Ilmi not to come for the seminar, citing the fact that there were people who wanted to stop her and that ‘the atmosphere would be vitiated’ if she appeared at the venue.

As Ilmi said, this exposed the hypocrisy of the ‘pseudo-secular leftist liberal’ who wanted to ‘propagate just one narrative’.

It has barely been a week since the students of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) made a ruckus at the Ramjas College where Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid were supposed to speak. Gurmehar Kaur has also been receiving rape threats and is being ridiculed by right-wing groups for her message of not being afraid of the ABVP.

Since then, there have been widespread protests by the left wing as the Freedom of Speech has been violated in both incidents. Undoubtedly, the Freedom of Speech is being severely threatened. Political factions like the RSS and the ABVP are trying to suppress the opinions of many in the name of nationalism. But the Left recognises this fact only when the speech is targeted at the right wing and their political agendas, while completely ignoring the issue when it involves the religion of minorities. This hypocrisy becomes apparent when the progressive and liberal Left rants about Muslim rights in India, but fails to see the importance of a discussion on ‘triple talaq‘.

Do political parties really matter when a Muslim woman comes forward to speak on ‘triple talaq’? Can it be denied that ‘Islamic patriarchy’ which endorses rituals like ‘triple talaq’ is, in no way, different from the ‘patriarchy’ defined by ‘Brahminism’? How is the Freedom of Speech not violated in this case then?

It seems that the Left doesn’t recognise any problem with the communities of minority religions. When it comes to women’s rights of the minorities, the Left ends up showing its true colours by portraying it as a ‘Hindutva’ agenda which indulges in ‘bhramanising’ the minorities. Hence, the issue of Shazia Ilmi not being allowed to speak has been neglected the Left, as it’s not a violation of the Freedom of Speech according to them. Rather, it’s portrayed as an ‘indulgence’ to amend the rituals of the minorities.

What has been overlooked by most of the liberals is that almost every religion promotes patriarchy. Hence, a consistent criticism is necessary to convince people of every religion and make them aware of women’s rights, even at the cost of hurting religious sentiments.

The situation and status of men and women in any religion are vastly different. Masculinity has always dominated – be it in the domestic sphere or in political circles. When it comes to women’s issues, the Left is no different from the ABVP and adopts that same regressive structure and mindset.


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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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