This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Anuradha Kumari. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

एक तीर से दो निशाने: The Love Jihad Bogey Is Also Against Hindu Women

More from Anuradha Kumari

The recent lynching of a Muslim labourer by people claiming to fight ‘love jihad’ has once again reminded us of the times we live in.

These are times when the Indian society, collectively, is marching backwards, culturally and politically. Socially conservative elements have defeated the dream of the modern, progressive India which many of our freedom fighters envisioned for our country. Of course, these traditional elements come in every shade, from orange to green to white. After all, the imagination of Jamaat-e-Islami is not very different than that of the RSS when it comes to women making choices.

However, what threatens all the women coming from my social location and me is the RSS brand of conservatives. While the RSS had seen a rise in their membership, and their political assertion can be seen almost parallel to the coming of the LPG reforms in 1991, never before have they been so assertive. The arrival of the BJP in power has definitely given a boost to their legitimacy and has aided their propaganda machinery to a significant level. While these are related and important issues to discuss, this article is written on a product of their propaganda – love jihad.

The bogey of love jihad is one of the many tactics of the RSS machinery to serve their agenda of uniting the Hindu community, and more importantly uniting them on an anti-Muslim plank. While it is the common understanding among many of us, I want to underline the special importance of this weapon.

While the others are important tools in the hate machinery, the bogey of love jihad, along with the gau rakshak phenomena hold a special place in their bag.This is because love jihad not only develops hatred among the Hindus against the Muslims (and generally against other religious communities), but it also serves the idea of women being second-grade denizens. This is a significant agenda when we realise how the ‘izzat’ of the Hindu community rests on the shoulders of the Hindu woman. Otherwise, why do the RSS and its hydra-organisations take up campaigns appealing to Hindu men to marry Muslim women in response to ‘love jihad’? Clearly, there is more to this than what meets the eye.

Love jihad, in my opinion, rests more on the patriarchal mindset of the Hindu-rightwing. One of the underlining assumptions in the idea of love jihad, is that Hindu women are pea-headed, and can be easily manipulated by anyone. This is the reason why the Hindu Samaj (read Hindu men) needs to protect us from the men of other communities, who apparently have the power to lure us through their Casanova-like abilities.

This is clearly in line with the understanding of women and their abilities by the plethora of rishis, gurus, and leaders of the various sects within the Hindu Samaj. The opinions of the great lawgiver Manu, held for women are what is providing the philosophical base for fundamentalists like the RSS. Manu Smriti tells us that “Pita rakhshati……….” – 9/3. Since women are not capable of living independently, she is to be kept under the custody of her father as a child, under her husband as a woman and under her son as a widow.”

Due to such ‘incapacity’ of women to live independently, the right to autonomy and to choose her own partner becomes a myth at best and an anti-Hindu move at worst. After all, the ‘izzat’ of the samaj rests in the vagina of the woman. She has to bear the izzat because of her ability to give birth to the future generations of the ‘samaj’. Moreover, a woman in control, helps these fundamentalists to maintain their agenda of political Hindutva. If the women of the samaj start to marry people from other communities, then can the Muslims community be shown as our enemy?

The alliance started by marriage in India as elsewhere is not only an occasion of coming together of individuals, but also of families. This created a strong culture of interaction and acceptance between different communities, and as a result, provide a hindrance to the sectarian agendas of the RSS and others. Moreover, the cumulative biases against a woman that our society holds, make it easier to paint cases of inter-faith marriages as love jihad. After all, even today, people, including my family, believe that it is much easier to manipulate women than men.  This is, of course, is linked to the feeling of the society that women are the weaker sex, and need protection and guidance from male members in their affinity to make sensible choices. Hence, love jihad is not only against Muslims, but also against Hindu women’s right to choose.

In my opinion, the citizenship rights and the autonomy of the Hindu woman are perceived dangerous for the Sangh Parivar. The modern assertive woman is a slut, a product of western propaganda, and a detriment to the holy intuition of family, and the Hindu social order. In short, the view of viewing women as equal residents of the community is an evil beyond acceptance for the fundamentalist.

These can be seen playing out in both thought and practice of the Sanghi-dominated institutions of the country. For example, the BHU Administration which has been under the control of the Sangh for quite some time now, professes that the girls should be inside the prison they call hostels much before the boys. The protests which recently erupted in BHU were against such discriminatory practices.

In that incident too, the administration underlined that the women students ‘were manipulated by anti-nationals of JNU’, and the evidence given to support such baseless claims was that ‘girls of the Hindu Samaj do not protest’. This is proof enough of the imagination of the women in the minds of the fundamentalists.

It is important for a woman like me, coming from the Hindu community, to recognize this as an attack on us. It is essential for us to stand against hate mongering, not only as humans standing for humanity, but also as women who want to defend their right to choose their partners.

My boyfriend comes from a non-Brahmin caste, while my closest friend, who is a Muslim, found a lover in a Hindu woman. I have decided to defend my right to choose my partner, and that girl’s right to choose hers. Feminist and women rights organisations should take up these issues on the ground and on social media highlighting the patriarchy playing out in this campaign against inter-religious marriages. It’s the need of the hour to attack the RSS not only as anti-minorities at every step, but also as anti-women. It is time to expose these fanatics for what they are.

The lovers of ‘Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity’ have found an ally in me, and I am sure I will find allies in the multitude of Hindu women if they are involved in the campaign against hate.

नफरत के खिलाफ, हम सबकी एक आवाज़! Lets all raise our voice against hate.

You must be to comment.

More from Anuradha Kumari

Similar Posts

By Accountability Initiative

By Suneel

By Bashiruddin Faruki

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

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.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

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.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

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.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

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.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

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
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below