Across the nation, the CAA-NRC protests are showing no signs of slowing down, and it is women of India who are leading them from the front. Be it Shaheen Bagh or Jamia Millia, women, young and old, have shown how age, gender, religion and socio-economic standing are never a barrier when you are willing to take a stand. However, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath alleged during a rally that men are making women and children sit in protest while they themselves are sleeping under the quilt. As if women don’t have a mind of their own?
- Women have been the focal point of many CAA-NRC protests across the country.
- But are these women on the streets because their husbands have outsourced their activism to them?
- Do women not have a mind of their own?
- Isn’t it possible that these women are on the streets because they want to be and not because they have been forced to?
There are certain issues that affect us beyond the barriers that society binds us in. These issues, in fact, bring us together and make us realise what gender equality actually means – when men and women champion each other.
Participating in a rally in Kanpur to support the Citizenship Amendment Act, CM Adityanath said, “These people do not have the courage to participate in the protests themselves. They know if they indulge in vandalism, their property will be seized. Now, what have they done? They started making the women sit at roads. The children have been made to sit. It’s such a big crime that the men are sleeping under the quilt and the women are made to sit at roads. It is shameful,” reports Firstpost.
Adityanath’s statement is unfair not just to women, but to thousands of men who are thronging rallies across India, and expressing pride for the way women have emerged as leaders during these protests. I see numerous men post tweets of admiration about women of Shaheen Bagh, or female students of JNU, Jamia Millia and AMU. I see men and women holding banners, walking shoulder to shoulder for a cause they believe in. Because there are certain issues that affect us beyond the barriers that society binds us in. These issues, in fact, bring us together and make us realise what gender equality actually means – when men and women champion each other.
Must women always be seen as puppets?
Now coming to women, this statement is the perfect example of how patriarchy tries to belittle women’s achievements and struggles. Went to a protest? Must have been goaded by the men in her family. Why? Don’t women have a mind of their own? Must they always be seen as puppets? Isn’t it possible that these women are flooding the streets in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru, because that is exactly what they want to do? And that perhaps they have men in their lives, who either stand by them, or mind their own business? That some of them may have even fought at home to have it their way?
Women who are staging protests and taking an open stand against CAA-NRC have risked their identity, security and social standing. Be it on social media or in the news these women are openly targeted and often subjected to humiliating comments. This isn’t about whether you agree with what they stand for or not. This is about making this country an inclusive space where every person can protest against what they believe is wrong. Of admiring the courage, resilience and stamina of these women and men who aren’t deterred by threats, shaming or alienation.
The least politicians can do is to show some respect towards persistence and determination that the women protesters of this country are demonstrating.
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.