She had no right to visit or care for her parents without permission of her in-laws. Only her dead body could return to her parental home. Man could have any number of wives. Women’s education was taboo. Women were encouraged to self immolate on the husband’s funeral pyre. A wife was a free domestic servant to cook and clean and a sex slave to be enjoyed or beaten up whenever desired.
The ideology of Muslim fundamentalists doesn’t spring from the Quran as such but from their interpretations of the holy book. Their present day ideologues are Wahabbis of Saudi Arabia and the Deobandis of Uttar Pradesh in India. They include the Taliban and the Salafis of Middle East as well.If given a chance, they will also make sure that the world returns to medieval age – courtesy their distorted interpretations and application of mind.
Fundamentalists suffered under British rule. Western influence brought rights to Hindu women. Hindu men could not have more than one wife. They cannot divorce their wives without paying maintenance. Hindu women got the right to parental property and education. Sati was banned. Child marriage has been banned. Women are now educated, liberated and work shoulder to shoulder with men in all fields. They have also become financially independent and less dependent on their husbands or families. Some of them are political leaders. Some head corporate houses.
Agenda and methods of fundamentalists
The growth in woman power has spooked both the Hindu and Muslim fundamentalists around the world. The other word that terrifies them is “love”, particularly between a man and a woman. Love does not recognize caste, creed or religion and threatens the authority of elders to regulate the lives of the younger generation. Hindu and Muslim fundamentalists want to end the women’s liberation.
The methods adopted by the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan to keep women under control are simple and brutal. Stop women from getting educated and going out to work at all cost. Kill women who do not fall in line. Indian Muslim and Hindu fundamentalists are unable to do so due to the legal system that is prevailing in India. So they want women to be covered from head to toe. They want to prevent men and women from mixing. Muslim fundamentalists use fatwas to control women and to prevent them from dressing trendily or using mobile phones. The Hindu fundamentalists like RSS are more subtle. They run over 30,000 Adarsh Vidya Mandir schools to encourage medieval values and lifestyle. Girls are not allowed to study in these schools after class 5. RSS affiliates like VHP and Bajrang Dal and religious leaders like Asaram Bapu use sermons and try to enforce dress codes. Khaps use ‘honour killings’, social boycotts and sanctioned rapes to discourage love marriages. The RSS prevents women leaders like Sushma Swaraj, Basundhara Raje and Uma Bharti from becoming prime minister or chief minister even at the cost of losing elections.
Fundamentalism, both Hindu and Muslim is on the rise. As the women become more assertive, the efforts of the fundamentalists to subjugate them will become more widespread and brutal. The future of the country and the problem of fundamentalism lies in the hands of youth. May youth have the wisdom to do the right things.
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