[Guest Blog] The Second Class Citizen

Anushka Gole

I was raised in a middle class home where the question of gender equality or the lack thereof did not arise. That I belong to a privileged group is not something I take lightly, at least not consciously.  Growing up in a protected bubble however limited my definition of gender discrimination to favouritism displayed by parents towards the male offspring.

That this was just the tip of the iceberg was apparent to me only after my reading list evolved through my teenage years. Memoirs such as “Daughters of Iraq”, “My Feudal Lord”, “Blasphemy” and  “Not without my Daughter” brought stories of women subjected to abuse coloured by different shades of brutality into my consciousness.

Listening  first hand to Mona Eltahawy’s account of abuse suffered at the hands of the so-called-guardians of law during the Arab Spring, 2011, brought back those feelings of outrage, betrayal and disgust that I first  felt when the bubble, I so comfortably inhabited, burst. The inequity was summed up beautifully yet painfully when Mona said that she has been fighting jails all her life.

Time immemorial the woman has been relegated to being a second class citizen. The fact that we do not seem to have made any progress on this front, makes all other kind of progress inane and pointless.  Whether it is the Khap Panchayats of Uttar Pradesh penalising women for inciting rape or chauvinists who commit atrocities on women under the garb of religion, the woman continues to be ravaged.  Disillusionment comes easy given this backdrop, but what also needs to be taken away and appreciated is the fight that these women put up.

Although I wonder if there ever will be a day when no woman will be punished just because she is one, it is the Monas and Fowzias and Malalas who fight with every fibre in their body that give me a sense of hope.  I hope that my daughters will live in an age where gender discrimination will not exist in their dictionaries.

(Anushka Gole is a pilot by qualification and a writer by aspiration. She works with Atma, an NGO in Mumbai as a Communications coordinator)

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