Feminists have always tend to believe that the issue of violence and women’s rights could possibly unite women on same platform. However, the ways in which fundamentalists have been successful in mobilizing women in several communal riots need the serious attention of women’s movement and its future course of action as it affects our lives in lethal terms. During the 1993 Mumbai Riots,following the demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, hundreds of women aided in making of hand bombs and urged their male counterparts to attack Muslim shanties and blocked army trucks from rescuing Muslims. Lately, we could trace the involvement of women from Durga Vahini, the women’s wing of Vishwa Hind Parishad in the mayhem that was created in Jadavpur University by Sangha Parivar. This is neither spontaneous nor has it come out of blue. Hindutva Mobilisation is a strategic manifestation of systematic and well thought out strategy by which thousands of women are trained every year.
Unmarried women with leadership aspirations are trained for large scale confrontation at grass-root levels by RSS for its Women’s association. The concept of female teachers and preachers as used by Arya Samaj earlier to lecture upon female education and Arya Samaji way of thought that would call upon men to uplift the conditions of women is being employed here as well. The women preachers are given a thorough ideological, physical and military training wherein they are taught to speak and conduct meetings in public, learn judo, use of swords and guns, sing religious hymn, prayers and adhere to the RSS version of Indian history which glorifies Ancient Hindu Womanhood.
The women preachers are given a thorough ideological, physical and military training wherein they are taught to speak and conduct meetings in public, learn judo, use of swords and guns, sing religious hymn, prayers and adhere to the RSS version of Indian history which glorifies Ancient Hindu Womanhood
These women in turn are asked to set up new branches of the association and bring in new recruits. While they continue to glorify ancient womanhood and motherhood, there’s also a indication of ‘A New Woman‘ recognition which declares that Hindu Women are the sparks of fire as they have dedicated their lives to the struggle of building Ram Temple at Ayodhya. To them, their symbol eight-armed Durga with her weapons symbolizes all the qualities required for an ideal woman.
The anti-Muslim message is reiterated at every juncture.”Women lost all their glory and liberty in the dark period of history when India was invaded by barbarians” echoes at critical places along with holding all the Muslims guilty of the Mughal rule. Violence is considered necessary by the movement to establish Hindu Rashtra Hindu Nation) as they think people of religion distinct from Hindus deserve to die as this is what happened to them as well in the past.
Women are ready to sacrifice their lives for motherland as they are made to think that their bodies have been nurtured by motherland and hence should be given back to it in her service alone as and when required. When they are arrested or they chose to give their ‘bodies and limbs’ to the cause they are turned into martyrs instantly by the VHP-RSS machinery and pamphlets regarding the same is distributed outpouring sympathy and holding Muslims responsible for their death as they had no right to mosque in the first place only according to them.
Housewives are mobilized by validating their lives first and then systematically influencing and intruding in their daily lives. Women are always taught to uphold the dignity of womanhood and be faithful wives and good mothers to produce brave sons who would wage the battle against their enemies and even bear with abusive marriages but not speak against the patriarchal institution of family. It is also ensured that the ideas of Hindutva are spread through informal circles among women as they deal with their domestic and community chores.
It is also ensured that the ideas of Hindutva are spread through informal circles among women as they deal with their domestic and community chores.
The Rashthrasevika Samitis and Bhartiya Mahila Morcha which is the women’s wing of BJP which has full-time cadre of working women help the party make inroads among groups targeted for elections and Mahila Mandals are set up to bring in new recruits for Morcha as well as Durga Vahini. There is always positing of a mythical past where women were superior to men and were accorded the status of goddess.
However, RSS-BJP-VHP never intends to transform the social order and overthrow Patriarchy. The idea of an ideal woman who remains attached to Hindu culture and upholds the values of womanhood is intact. Women organization never provide legal counselling and are always ready to reconcile the matter of domestic violence through negotiation. The rhetoric of family is continuously reiterated as RSS calls itself a “parivar” and never a political organization legitimizing the institution of family and completely ignoring the instances of injustice and harassment within it. The strategy is even more complex than it appears.
Telling women to learn judo to be independent so that she can use it in her self defense and at the same time telling her to be tolerant and passive towards her husband reproduces the same patriarchal order we seek to overthrow and thus it is imperative on our parts to realise this and not simply dismiss it as something too casual to care about. Mobilization of women for violence and reproducing Patriarchy is way more organized and coherent than we deem it to be and what consequential threat it poses to women’s liberation is something we should start thinking right away.
- Women on the march: Right wing mobilisation in contemporary India by Sucheta Mazumdar
- The world before her documentary
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