In spite of sending in 119 athletes, India found it difficult to compete with trained and highly motivated players from around the world. Every news related to their losses came crashing down upon us, reminding us of the harsh reality over and over again, the Indian state did not provide the necessary facilities and infrastructure to our athletes. But that doesn’t mean that our men and women haven’t given their best. Abhinav Bindra managed to finish 4th, K Srikanth earned respect with his performance. Sania and Rohan Bopanna gave India a shot at bronze and Saina played the best she could in spite of a knee injury. Dipa Karmakar won our hearts with her spectacular vault and finished world no 4th.
When the going went tough, Sakshi Malik emerged victorious after pinning down her opponent, thus keeping the dream alive. In real life, Aarfa won the medal. The next day PV Sindhu won her silver medal. Ironically, it is our women who have excelled, hailing from a country that is still in an inertia phase in terms of encouraging women in sports.
Sakshi Malik belongs to a state that is notorious for its abnormal low sex ratio and an abundant number of honor killings – Haryana. While people celebrated her victory, the fact that they were equating it with ‘women = talent, so don’t kill them’ cringed me. It is great that we are openly talking about gender-biased sex selection, however, this is not the way to do it. One of the very first tweets was made by Virender Sehwag and then many memes, tweets, WhatsApp messages followed which had a even more cringe-worthy tone.
#SakshiMalik is a reminder of what cn happn if u don’t kill a girl child.When d going gets tough,its our girls who get going &save our pride
— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) August 18, 2016
Like really, Sehwag?
Gender-biased sex selection is indeed a disease that’s been choking the nation. Except Kerala, Pondicherry and some of the states in the Northeast, every other state has low sex ratio. It simply means that misogyny have gulped down humanity in people. Human life is nothing compared to the socially constructed customs and traditions that have been sprouting up various means to pressurize parents into terminating their pregnancy based on the gender of the foetus.
If you read Nobel prize winning economist Amartya Sen’s work, concluded after years of research, this practice has been ingrained in the mindsets, whether urban or rural population, probably since the day gender was treated as a binary. Several reasons like dowry system, liability in terms of raising women (for eg: seeing her as a burden), daughters are seen as “paraya dhan” and most importantly, sons seen as support in old age are major factors leading to this draconian practice. However, wanting to raise awareness against female foeticide, do people really have to wait for athletes like Sakshi Malik or PV Sindhu to win medals for their country to bring this issue to limelight?
For the first time, India sent 119 athletes, out of which 54 were women. Imagining for a minute that none of them won a medal, would people still consider crying out loud with agony every time a girl is born? Would people prioritize marriage over her education and career?
Female foeticide is a crime against humanity and if people are talking and taking steps against it, that is a good thing. But the fact that, two women had to “prove their worthiness” by winning Olympic medals for you to give attention to the abnormal low sex ratio in our country is an extremely problematic narrative. Not to mention, while rejoicing Sindhu’s medal victory, this news came across about a new-born girl child murdered in Chennai. The evil of gender-biased sex selection prevails wherever hate and misogyny resides. Not to mention, while our athletes are hailed as heroines, a section of women who dare to live on their terms that are different from the norm, are continued to be tagged as sluts, whores, and bitches. Memes like below is a classic example.
Women, who have an opinion, are still deemed as low-life, whether we agree with them or not. Women like Sakshi Malik should be seen as a symbol for those to let their daughter chase her dreams and to let her live on her terms, not necessarily to save the girl child who should be allowed to live no matter what role she will perform in future.