Burning of Thunberg’s images are symbolic warnings of possible fate that awaits woman seen as ‘too independent’ -Sanjay Srivastava

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published Published on Feb 17, 2021   modified Modified on Feb 17, 2021

-The Indian Express

If the sight of a group of men torching images and effigies of a young woman does not make our stomachs churn, then, perhaps, we have become completely habituated to the idea of violence against women and past efforts to address the issues have been in vain.

The arrest of climate activist Disha Ravi on the charge of sharing a protest “toolkit” and the burning of posters and effigies of Greta Thunberg carries ominous messages beyond the obvious ones relating to dissent and freedom of speech. One does not have to agree with the nature of Greta Thunberg’s environmental activism to conclude that reactions to her tweeted support for the farmers’ agitation reveal some deeply troubling aspects about gender in Indian society. You do not even have to be supportive of the cause of the farmers to think that our public culture has mutated to a particular level of toxic masculinity. If the sight of a group of men torching images and effigies of a young woman does not make our stomachs churn, then, perhaps, we have become completely habituated to the idea of violence against women and past efforts to address the issues have been in vain.

In the not-too-distant past, the so-called sati of 18-year-old Roop Kanwar led to the passing of the Rajasthan Sati (Prevention) Act of 1987. The Act was the end result of a great deal of debate, discussion and agitation that focussed on the forms of gender discrimination that normalised violence against women in the name of tradition. Eight months after her marriage, Roop Kanwar’s husband Maal Singh passed away and the young woman faced a horrific fate at her husband’s pyre. One of the key aspects of the Act was to make punishable activities that “glorified” the fundamental aspect of sati — setting a woman on fire.

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The Indian Express, 17 February, 2021, https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/disha-ravi-arrest-toolkit-women-activist-7191617/


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