Women shaming rears its ugly head

Deccan Chronicle.  | Naveena Ghanate

Nation, Current Affairs

Messages portraying activists in bad light being circulated on social media.

Sabarimala Temple

Hyderabad: Character assassination of female activists has surfaced on social media yet again. Pictures and videos of Ms Trupti Desai, Ms Rehana Fatima and Ms Mary Sweety have been circulating in various social media portals, stating that they are alcoholics, smokers, wear bikinis and are anti-religion. These messages are being sent out in languages like Hindi, English, Telugu, Malyalam, Tamil and shared on Facebook, WhatsAapp and Twitter. These messages read, “So this is the woman that Supreme Court has empowered to “pray”? Her right to equality is superior to our right to faith under the Constitution?”

Ms Desai was arrested for threatening to block the convoy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Shirdi to lobby for women’s entry to the Sabarimala temple. Ms Fatima and Ms Sweety, women’s rights activists, were forced to return from the Sabarimala temple.

Some of them were even termed as porn stars. A quick look at the #saveSabarimala campaign showcases the shaming of the women taken up by some netizens. Some believers are circulating fake images extensively. An image which earlier claimed to belong to a journalist consuming alcohol is now being shared as that of Ms Desai. But, it is not her image.

However, women noted that judging a person based on smoking and drinking portrays the shallow mindedness of the people and such things wouldn’t stop activists from fighting for their rights.

Ms Tejaswini Madabhushi, who is part of the support group Hyderabad for Feminism, said, “Shaming of women activists is completely unacceptable. There is no saying that any of the men who visited the shrine have not consumed alcohol or are non-smokers. If any of those rules do not apply to men, why should it apply to women? It is misogynistic that such shaming of women is happening and such forwards are going around. People need to respect the Supreme Court’s decision.”

Activists pointed out that all these personal attacks are happening because people are raising their voices against traditional conventions and are questioning their outlook.

Progressive Organisation for Women (POW) leader Sandhya said, “All this time, people never cared about personal choices of women. But when it comes to culture, their voices are higher than the women’s. Only when women raise their voice, they make such narrow-minded comments which are clearly discriminatory. Our politicians are well-known offenders, but for these people it never mattered because they are men. But, in case of women, men have an opinion and it centres around the fact that women should have certain specific characteristics, which is unfair.”