Chennai: “God gave women freedom. We don’t need the permission of men to live freely,” says Lankan Muslim writer-activist Sharmila Seyyid, on her Facebook account. Many men from her community, indulging in moral policing like many Hindu outfits in India, do not think so, and have constantly hounded her for her free views on the purdah system, prostitution and Talibanisation of the Muslim community. She now lives in Tamil Nadu after being forced to leave her native land.
According to sources close to her, it all started in 2012 when on BBC’s Tamil service she said she backed legalising sex work to help protect sex workers, while answering a question about her debut collection of poems Siragu Mulaitha Penn (Women with Wings). One of the poems was about sex workers. Fundamentalist groups in Sri Lanka got furious about her views, which they termed ‘anti-Islamic’ and started attacking her in all forums. She started getting death threats. A single mother, she was forced to flee from her home in Batticaloa in the island nation and now shuttles between TN and Colombo with her small child. After she left her native country, her sister who ran a school, was targeted by the same groups.
Even after leaving, the hate campaign on cyber world never stopped. The online smear campaign against her continued with certain groups in Tamil Nadu posting her images online, alleging links with different sleazy crimes. She was linked with the audio of a lewd tête-a-tête between a male police officer in Chennai and a female subordinate. The online posts said the woman in conversation was Sharmila Seyyid with a view to harass her. In another incident of online harassment, some groups posted her picture, after altering the image graphically, saying that she had been ‘raped’ and ‘murdered’.
Many forms of Moral policing
Moral policing among Muslims is not limited to Sri Lanka. It has happened in Tamil Nadu as well, according to some social activists. Last year, a Muslim girl from Pudukkottai, studying law in Coimbatore, was travelling with a Hindu guardian to her hostel by bus. She was stopped by a group of Muslim men, asking her why she was travelling with a man from another religion. The group refused to believe them that her aged parents allowed her to travel with him.
The girl filed a police complaint. Later, the group had to tender a written apology.In another incident at Sholinganallur on the IT highway, a college student wearing rudraksha beads was beaten up by a group of Muslim men for chatting with his Muslim girl classmate near the bus stand. The group beat him up for ‘trying to lure’ a Muslim girl. He had to run to his college for safety....
Tags: current affairs
Location: Tamil Nadu