Some would argue that the nation doesn’t need feminism. Some others would say, ‘No way, we are a tolerant nation.’ When anybody, especially a woman freely expresses her experiences and thoughts, she is ridiculed and shut down.
This time it was a journalist. A woman called VP Rajeena, working as a sub editor with a Malayali newspaper called ‘Madhyamam Daily’ based out of Kozhikode, Kerala. Her Facebook account was locked down followed by a series of abuse reports. It has now been restored. The reports came after she updated a status sharing her experiences of childhood abuse by an ‘Ustad’ at a Sunni Madarassa. She said that the teachers at the religious teachings’ school used to “inappropriately grope” both boys and girls. Of more than 60 years of age, the ‘ustad’ sexually abused minor girls, she recalled. The boys were asked to unzip their shorts.
She also received threats and indecent messages following her status update. Her ‘religious motives’ also put to question.
Incidents like these are no more than a measure of rising intolerance in the country. Only yesterday at the second edition of Feminist Rani, we were discussing how women’s status updates, if found offensive by a particular group, are often a source of disgrace and verbal sexual violence. On the contrary, if the same happens with men, they receive insults that place on them the ‘characteristics of the female.’
It is the beginning of an era where women’s participation in the digital space is on the rise and incidents like these only act as impediments to pacing up the process. The measure of a society is how it treats its women and the weak. With the recent ridicule of the feminist movement and rise in internet misogyny, we need to reconsider where our society currently finds itself positioned.
Schools need to be made safer spaces for children, so that they may blossom. Such incidents of abuse lead to damaging, often irreversible effects on a child’s mind. Each parent must try and communicate with their children and make sure they are not being threatened or abused in any manner. Schools need to devise compulsory discussion groups, where students sit in small groups with other students from beyond their comfort zone and discuss each other’s issues. This might help in avoiding an ‘offensive’ situation like this one for the fundamentalists.