We must find ourselves to be greatly privileged to have taken birth in a nation-state which is not ruled by any other state. And at the same time, to be a part of the society which is a mix of those who have held onto their roots and those who wish to be set free, or those actually believe themselves to be free.
Before moving ahead lets clear the definition of being ‘free’. Being free is not just the physical state of not being under the control of any external force, but the state of not being psychologically, spiritually or morally enslaved. So, the question is, are we really free?
The next question that might intrigue you is probably why I am writing this. What made me sing my ‘I am not enslaved’ tune. Well, it’s my rightful anger at being deluded into believing that we are free. We, claiming ourselves to be free, but do not realize that we are still captivated by the age-old notions of the patriarchal society.
The society today has become a constant battleground for those who have always been denied their rights. And fortunately, the judiciary these days has turned into a djinn, granting those rights. The society we inherited, believed in the fortification of females within the four walls of home: irony being, though she was called homemaker, she wasn’t even given the respect that could match the tasks she did. She was not treated like fellow human being, much less be treated equally to the opposite gender. The idea of protecting them was abused and turned into an act of restrictions. So the revolution was destined to come.
With the recent incident that happened at BHU campus, the concept of equality is brought to shame. Reverting to the complaint of sexual harassment by shaming the victim and asking her for the reason to be late in the campus, if not differential treatment, then is what. It is like blaming the deceased for getting murdered. What can be more comical than protecting the herd by only confining it, and not dealing with the danger that threatens it? To what extent can women be protected by constraining and limiting them only?
Another issue that is gaining the limelight is the misogynist attitude of the varsity by the differential hostel rules. And not only BHU but a majority of other colleges in and around Delhi have such rules, where girls cannot move out after a specified time and to add to this, cannot eat the food they like on the campus while the boys can do.
At the BHU campus only, girls have to be back in the hostel by 8 PM, they cannot have non-vegetarian food in the college hostels, cannot use their mobile phones after 10 PM and even cannot read in the library in the night. Besides, BHU, in the University of Delhi, Jamia Millia University and Aligarh Muslim University have different rules for boys and girls. What is happening at BHU might again cause another Pinjra Tod campaign to reach headlines like it did in 2015.
The question is that if the idea is to safeguard or discipline the students why discriminating between the two sexes. Do boys need no protection? Is discipline not meant for them?
And mind it, while all this is done, it becomes a blatant violation of the right to equality guaranteed under our Constitution viz a viz. Article 14 and 21 and many international human rights conventions, to name a few,
Celebrating a particular day as Women’s day or Daughters’ day cannot make any difference if the respect for them doesn’t arise from within. And if people really call this discrimination their culture, then they have to be taught that the need is to hold onto the roots that do not bind you to any particular caste, creed, sex, race or community but to the principles of humanity, that makes you human before a part of any particular religion or community.
So, for the sake of a society worth living, ask yourself:
Can we help erasing the image of India being a hypocrite?
Can we adopt the practice of being liberal in substance and not in form?
Can we let it not to bother ourselves whether a Hindu lives the next door or the Muslim?
Can we stop squishing their dreams in the name of our pristine culture?
Can a Hindu father give his daughter to a Muslim boy in marriage?
Can we set ourselves free from the patriarchal shackles and live with a more gender-neutral approach?
Can we please start our life with a clean slate?