Skip to main content

Sabarimala and #MeToo: Cases of sexual abuse of marginalised women remain largely "unaddressed"

By Sheshu Babu*
This is a rare phase in history where women are fearlessly voicing their rights despite the obstacles raised by male chauvinists. While many people are applauding the movements some are either deriding or expressing some apprehensions. The movements have not only brought out tales of exploitation of women but also exposed caste contradiction and communal discrimination to the fore.
As the movements progressed, fragmentation in society also became evident.
According to a report, a 42 year-old woman from Kollam district returned from the base camp without visiting the temple after the police said that it would be difficult to give escort due to inclement weather(?).
The woman, SP Manju, who was associated with the Kerala Dalit Maha Foundation, left Pamba but said that she has not abandoned her attempt to enter the temple as Supreme Court has given permission to enter the temple for women of all ages.
The reason cited by police may indicate bias and discrimination against Dalit women. Rain may be a genuine cause but if the authorities feel that they should sincerely try, rains may not pose much difficulty. State Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran stating that the government cannot provide protection to 'activists who come to prove their power in Sabarimala' , further strengthens the notion that Dalit women face discrimination even on the entry of the temple. It is regrettable that there has been very little condemnation of the matter by upper caste women. The Sabarimala movement may not have succeeded on the caste front. This needs to be addressed.
A 31 year old engineer from BSNL, Rehana Fatima who attempted to climb has been transferred from Cochin to Ravipuram. The company also started internal investigation. Though she claimed that it was a request transfer, some reports in media like the New Indian Express said it was a punitive measure. Her house has been reported to be broken. Police have registered a case on her social media posts citing them as ' communally divisive'.
Here too, there has been very little reaction from other women or feminist organizations or activists. The communal divide is palpably visible, unfortunately.

MeToo and elite

While many cases of sexual abuse have been courageously disclosed by women, the cases of scores of Adivasi women or marginalised women remain largely unaddressed. Political leaders, police or army personnel involved in rapes, molestation and atrocities are still getting away with impunity especially in states like Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand or Manipur. These poor women do not have accessibility to social media platforms like Facebook to air their sufferings. Their woes have not been taken up.
Both the movements have exposed many other contradictions that exist in society. The problem is deeper than just exploitation of women. A deeper malice prevails which must be taken into account. The present protests against male hegemony should also include annihilation of caste and religious and social discrimination among women. They should unite and make the movements successful in all respects. They should not allow divisive fundamentalist forces to weaken their unity and dissipate the power of activism built up so courageously against all odds.
Some undesirable forces are trying to wreck the movements from within by pitting women against women. Hence, all women should be alert to such malicious powers and thwart their taking control. As Frances Hargraves expressed  "...for many women, including those living in stigmatized Dalit ( untouchable) communities in postcolonial India, this sort of platform remains largely unavailable... Raising awareness of the historical context behind contemporary discrimination is vital. However, more needs to be done to make international women's movements and the contemporary human rights discourse inclusive for those facing violence and persecution under vastly different circumstances."
One hopes the movements address the social contradictions and achieve higher levels of women empowerment and work towards dismantling male hegemony and brutal exploitation as well as restrictions imposed in matters like entering temples or places of prayers for women irrespective of castes or religion.
---
*The writer from everywhere and anywhere supports equality for all

Comments

TRENDING

#MeToo moment in Hyderabad Urdu varsity? Two girl students seek action against authorities

Counterview Desk
Has the #MeToo movement reached Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MAANU)? It would seem so if a recent letter by newly-appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed to MAANU vice-chancellor Dr Aslam Parvaiz is any indication. Seeking reinstatement of two girl victims of “sexual harassment and humiliation”, the letter specifically names head of the department of the Media Centre for Journalism, suspecting, the problem could be much deeper.
Text of the letter: It is a matter of utmost perturbation for me to receive the two representations from the girls studying in the MCJ (Media Center for Journalism) regarding their sexual and subsequently, mental and social harassment at the hands of Prof Ehtesham Ahmad Khan, the HOD, MCJ.
We do not know, how many girls have been exploited by him and preferred to be silent for saving their family’s honour; however, there are two brave girls who stood to the depraved advances and misuse by Prof Ehtesham and came up with written complai…

"Ineligible" funding of Sardar Statue in Gujarat: CAG tells Central PSUs, it's not a heritage CSR activity

By Our Representative
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, in its recent report on Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSE), has qualified public sector undertakings’ (PSUs') funding the 182-metre world’s highest Sardar Statue, currently being constructed in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam as an “ineligible” corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity.

Gujarat BJP MLAs, youth leader "incited" attack on North Indians: Cong releases video

Counterview Desk
Senior Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil, currently in charge of Bihar and national spokesperson, All-India Congress Committee, has sent a legal notice to chief minister Vijay Rupani threatening criminal case and civil defamation suit for accusing him with "baseless statement" that he was responsible for attacks on north Indians in Gujarat.

29th "NRC-related" suicide in Assam, as Nirod Baran Das takes his life by hanging on a fan

By Our Representative
Reporting 29th case of National Register of Citizens (NRC)-driven suicide in Assam, one of India’s human rights campaign sites has said that, on October 20, tragedy struck Kharupetia town in Darrang district of Assam, when a retired school teacher and advocate Nirod Baran Das “took his life by hanging himself to a fan in his home.” The report adds, “The NRC process has so far claimed over two dozen such lives in the past four months alone.”

"Highly irregular" for PSUs to fund Sardar Statue under Corporate Social Responsibility

Counterview Desk
In a letter to I Srinivas, secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India, former secretary (economic affairs), Ministry of Finance, EAS Sarma, has raised questions on the funding of the Sardar Patel statue in South Gujarat by Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSUs) relying on the Comptroller and Auditor General report (No 18/2018).

Murder of Tamil Nadu teenage Dalit girl: "Stoic silence" despite #MeToo movement

Counterview Desk
Brinelle D'souza, who is with the Centre for Health and Mental Health, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, has prepared a strong statement to protest the brutal murder of 13-year-old Rajalakshmi. "Other than a few media reports, this gruesome killing has not caught national attention despite a very vibrant #MeToo campaign currently underway", regrets D'souza.

Post-MJ Akbar resignation: #MeToo movement and fears of backlash

By Sheshu Babu*
For the last few days, #MeToo movement has picked up momentum and many women are coming out with horrific tales of severe harassment in their past lives. They are not afraid anymore to expose famous persons including those at ministerial levels. As a senior journalist Neeraja Chowdhury opined (“An exit, a beginning”, October 18, 2018, indianexpress.com), "The #MeToo revelations are like the eruption of a volcano which was imminent, given the journey working women have covered. It was not easy to make public what they had gone through,and take on powerful men.”

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Bank account frozen, raid on Amnesty office: Govt of India "treating" human rights NGOs like criminal enterprises

By Abhirr VP*
Amnesty India’s bank accounts have been frozen by the Enforcement Directorate, effectively stopping its work. Amnesty India is thus the latest target of the government’s assault on civil society in the country. The accounts of Greenpeace India were frozen earlier this month.

60 ex-civil servants seek release of CAG reports on Rafale, demonetisation before 2019 polls

Counterview Desk
As many as 60 retired civil servants have asked President Ram Nath Kovind to expedite the release of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reports on demonetisation and the Rafale deal. The letter, signed mainly by former Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service and Indian Police Service officers, regrets that the status of the audit is "unclear”. According to them, “An impression is gaining ground that CAG is deliberately delaying its audit reports on demonetisation and Rafale deal till after the May 2019 elections so as not to embarrass the present government”.