In a double bind, facing conservatism and politics
- The campaign of Indian Muslim women to occupy public spaces and protect democracy is a lonely one
- It has less to do with religious stipulations, and mainly related to deep discomfort from seeing Muslim women occupying public spaces in India.
- Muslim women: 6.9% of the Indian population
- 2019 report: only 0.6% representation in the Lok Sabha.
- Despite various personal Muslim laws Country’s Islamic leadership failed to treat the misuse of legal provisions as an internal matter.
Aiding a narrative
- Exclusion of women from spaces of prayer and community is a deep injustice
- Largest mosques claim: no room to spare for women.
- Spiritual and social needs of women play second fiddle to masculine comfort.
- These conditions are damaging to social fabric of Indian Islam as a whole.
As a target
- The situation is more complicated when Muslim women do occupy public and political space.
- With Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests, and others , visual of veiled Muslim woman stopped being synonymous with passivity.
- The consequence of this has been brutal.
- Women protesters at the site were described in humiliating terms.
- The Right section has turned to a hypersexualisation of Muslim women.
- Online campaigns have seen videos and songs encouraging the abuse of and violence against Muslim women.
- Prominent figures are often faced with barrages of abuse and hate messaging.
- This took a particularly crude turn with Sulli Deals (in 2021) and its successor, Bulli Bai (in 2022) where images of influential Muslim women were ‘auctioned’ online.
Affecting a right
- The hijab row issue is a direct violation of the girls’ fundamental right to education.
- Barring Muslim women from secular spaces unless they literally strip off markers of their faith and identity is vitriolic.
- Serves no purpose but to propagate a malicious narrative
- On one hand pretends to save Muslim women and on the other denies them tools to craft their own narrative.
- In this way internal fear that occupation of Muslim women occupying public spaces leading to shame has become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
- They are left outside the insular, safety net of the community and in turn face vilification by the growing Right.
- Lack of middle path here means that Muslim women are forced to occupy spaces on two ends of the spectrum:
- One that requires a compromise of political agency and second that requires accepting an exclusion from one’s own community.
- This sorry state of affairs bodes poorly for Indian democracy
- In a country with as many intersecting identities as ours, no issues or circumstances exist in silos.
- The campaign of Muslim women to occupy public spaces and protect democracy is a lonely one.
- However, in the current political climate, it remains necessary to fight this fight — and protect an equal, democratic India.