Saturday, July 31, 2010

Reconciliation difficulties

There are times, I believe, when there can be no reconciliation. None that I can imagine.

People use that word so easily: reconciliation. Reconciling with the Taliban. With people who encourage people to stone women to death if they attempt to find love outside their miserable marriages, and cut off their noses and ears if they decide to walk out of an oppressive marriage. How does one reconcile? By saying - "Okay, now we're not enemies any more, you can go home and resume your lives. We aren't going to fight you." Is that it?

How do women reconcile themselves to that sort of reconciliation? I know there are horrors enough in my own country, democracy or not. But if there is nothing else, there is the constitution. What would I do if someone physically damaged me and I knew there wasn't a damn thing I could do about it? No filing of complaints with the police, no access to gender-neutral courts, no resolution through the local religious leaders. I keep thinking of that teenager who tried to run away from abuse and whose nose and ears were cut off. I don't know what I would do if I lived next door to her, or slept in the bed next to hers at some secret shelter for women. I might want many things from the world, but I don't think 'reconcile with the Taliban' would be one of them.

Someone has said that to watch oppression or to know that your friends, those who you considered your own, stood by and silently watched while someone else went about the business of oppression, is unforgivable.

We have more than enough evidence of growing intolerance in our backyard. If its not religious fundamentalists (any religion's fundamentalists), it's political extremism and linguistic chauvinism - all driven home through a combination of actual violence and the threat of losing your livelihood if you don't toe the line.

In a state that has a government led by a party prides itself on its secular credentials, its championing of the rights of minorities etc. A woman who refuses to wear a burqa or hijaab in an environment where everybody else does wear one is a minority. She has the right to wear what she likes. Just like a minority educational institution has the right to exist. If one right is lost, the other deserves to be lost too.

I just wish the Aliah University would remember that. And the government of West Bengal. It has no business reconciling itself to economic and social blackmail of this sort.

1 comment:

Banno said...

As usual, the social and economic blackmail pertains only to women, and how they dress, and behave. It's shocking to know that this is a UGC institute.

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