“Can the likes of you call yourself a woman?”
How does it feel to be at the receiving end of that?
That was how that video started. Listening to that, I was irked and was curious to see that through. Naturally that was expected of you. That was the point of that question and it worked.
This whole write up, its contents have been simmering inside my mind for quite some time now. It started with a video, and it got strong with an illustration I happened to see and a tweet that made me snap.
So, the video – a few minutes of speech that made me cringe for the humiliation that my fellow human had to stand through.
A GENDER TEST! Now the Olympic fever has subsided, but we all were quite into sports column more often than ever when it was going on. No matter how far you are from sports in your day to day life, there is this interest we can’t shake about athletes at this time of the year when Asian games, Olympics are on.
Santhi Soundarajan – an Indian track and field athlete. But, she was in news for all the wrong reasons. Not for her achievements but for her humiliation, her gender test!
Imagine the horror of going through something like that. Having made to stand without your clothes on to be probed and examined by a group of Doctors, not for your health but to be validated for who you are. I don’t want to go into the gory details of it all but I’m sure you all would have had to undress yourself to be examined by your doctor at least once in your life time. Is that a comfortable memory? Even though it was all strictly professional and for the betterment of your own health, wasn’t that something you’d avoid if you could help it? Well, she had no choice it seems. Or did she? Was she denied of that courtesy?
She wasn’t the first female athlete to go through this scrutiny, of course not. But unfortunately, she was one who was left to her own devices to figure it all out once she was slammed by the gender test. The people, authority and community that should have stood behind her to fight that war suspended her in mid air.
She was the first tamil woman to win a medal in Asian games for India in 2006. Soon after, her silver medal was stripped off of her due to her gender verification test results. She was the proud person who had 11 international medals and 50 medals to speak for her home state Tamil Nadu. A record holder till this moment, her track record has not been beaten by any. All those were dusted off the table so quickly after she was slammed with her gender test results.
She hails from a village, a struggling family, naturally malnourished and been putting herself through strenuous workouts and practice. She is short, more than one-third of Indians are. She is not curvy, of course not, she is an athlete. Her hormone levels are amiss? there are ‘n’ number of things that initiate such imbalance. You are telling us she is not a woman based on what?
Hormone imbalance can be corrected. Today’s youth have one big concern above their heads and that’d be hormone imbalance because we rocked our lives out of balance with everything that is possibly a factor. What’s with our sleeping, eating habits and sedentary lifestyle?
Now, she has been fighting this for a while. Her medal is gone, she has been banned and Government didn’t set her up with a stable job or anything for her livelihood. Why do you think she took her sport so seriously besides her passion for it? A hope, she must have seen it like a silver lining. A chance to get her family up and stable with a decent place to stay and food to eat . She must have been driven by so many things and among that poverty must have been one for sure. She is pushed to square one, and she isn’t allowed to do the one thing she perfected . She has no government support or a sport committee support to help her. Alone and battling through it all legally with the help of few good-hearted people by her side, this is how her days are going on now. What’s next for her?
That said video was full of questions about why she wasn’t given an importance in spite of her achievements. Why she wasn’t supported by the government like how the other girl from Odisha was supported, Dutee chand- 20 year old Indian Professional sprinter. Or the one for whom South Africa went all out to protest and get back her medal, Caster Semenya – 25 year old South African middle distance runner. Both these athletes were extended a supporting voice by Santhi Soundarajan and both of them are still on their run but Santhi is not. She was side tracked, all because of a gender test, whose details they won’t even reveal to her, even after a RTA( Right to Information Act) the reasons behind her disqualification remain a mystery to Santhi.
Moving on, all those questions listed in that video.
I’d like to ask, why should she have to list out her achievements to get the government to listen? Why do the court of justice and authorities need a list of things she did to the Country to even look up and notice her struggle? She is a citizen of this nation, shouldn’t that be a reason enough to step up and defend your own!
Imagine a man out with his Daughter and somebody rips her dress off her in the middle of a road, will he stand around to think on what all she did for him and his family? How will another father react in his shoes before going to her aid? Protecting her should be his instinct, a reflex right? Why was Santhi denied of that protection? How callous of us all to stand around and watch a sports committee rip her off her medal , dignity and worse, question her true self! Slamming her with a gender test and closing the door for her dreams once and for all.
Soon after I saw that video, I happened to see an illustration that depicted an Indian women’s violation and safety, in that order – yes.
Now, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t give me a tinge of pride to see that soldier’s hand stopping the other man. In fact, that sent a vibe of safety across and that is something everybody will feel comfortable with. But then it is not practically possible to appoint a single soldier to every girl/woman in India.
That sense of safety vanished so soon, because I do read and listen. And lately, there isn’t a thing that doesn’t spook a girl on the street or inside her own house for that matter. Politicians and leaders still reap applause on women who achieved and passed on, they don’t talk about the women who are living in the now. It is still all about Kalpana chawla, Indira Gandhi, Jhansi Rani and so on.
I can give a name of a woman who died because of the atrocity that has been unleashed on womanhood to every name they take for success from old memoirs.
Miss. Priyadharshini Mattoo, 25 yrs old a law student – raped and beaten to death, mid 90’s- killer is living off in parole, married and all.
Aarushi Talwar ,13 yr old kid , slit throat and murdered in her own bed. May,2008 – killer is potentially off to Nepal for his next quest.
Miss. Nirbhaya, medical student , gang raped and thrown off the street in December,2012. Killer is released with life support.
Recently, adding to the list Miss. Swathi, IT professional butchered in broad daylight in a railway station in head quarters of Tamilnadu state. Her case was messed around and the convicted died under mysterious circumstances himself. We don’t even know what to make out of that, honestly.
Nobody is spared, an 65 year old man chopped off his 60 year old wife’s head because she wasn’t swift enough to provide him his lunch. And he killed himself after that.
Another man stabbed a girl whom he claimed that he was very much in love with (which she didn’t reciprocate), she died on the road, on the spot with multiple stab wounds in her own pool of blood and he walked off to dance ten foot away from her dead body. No ..No do not fret, you read it right, he danced and it was recorded in the camera. And all these criminals will somehow get to breathe and live. Human rights and all, please!
I can respect your decisions/opinions on principle or by choice. I get it, but that doesn’t mean I accept/agree to that. And, oh, I’d like that courtesy back. Thank you!
People here who point hands at other countries for random shooting crisis should actually turn around to look at the destruction caused by men with bare hands here, to their country’s woman and children.
And before you term me a feminist or something, let me tell you I’m not one. I’m a simple girl. I don’t think half the population that holds the feminism flag today actually understands that term correctly, true feminists aside that is. Also, getting toe-to-toe with a man and besting him seems to be the belief of this fake feminists. But, that is their call.. this is mine.
Women empowerment.. freedom..feminism..etc..etc.. In quest of searching and defining all this terms we as a community have lost Humanity and compassion along the way I fear. All of them had a potential future ahead of them, all of them had dreams that were theirs, all of them had equal rights to lead their life and just because some men opted to play judge they all lost their lives to brutality and all of them were framed with stories that sprouted love affairs, character shaming and so on.. I suppose the situation begs a question..
TO WHAT END WE GIRLS NEED TO RUN TO LIVE OUR LIVES LIKE WE SEE FIT?
To what end really?
Let’s not forget about the acid attacks victims who lost lives or their face and career to those acts. Domestic abuse that won’t even make it past the closed doors, Marital rapes, dowry deaths. And , oh, the army.. Irom Chanu Sharmila, she protested for years refusing to take food to get their village women free of molestation by the army. I’m so ashamed to even write any further about this. Guess no organization is pristine!
This was the final blow, the reason I’m writing this whole article. The fire spark that lit it all.
Listen to this,
Indian army is attacked by terrorist on 18th September, 2016. 17 soldiers lost their lives, 17 families lost a son/brother/husband/father/uncle. The whole country went into a state of restlessness and despair. It was out of nowhere and it sure shook the people badly. But India strikes back, on 29th September conducts a surgical strike in retaliation and succeeds in it. Again, out of nowhere and point blank avenging it’s soldiers, the whole country is now feeling grateful about the retaliation.
Hold that thought…
The day that surgical strike happened, 19 Pakistani girls were in the capital city of India on delegation. For the eyes of people in their country, there were in the eye of a cyclone. All those 19 families had their hearts in their throats for the safety of their girls. Completely acceptable fear, considering the India – Pakistan history and the moment of tension on that day.
Those girls were shown their way out safe and sound, respectfully, says one of those girls. All 19 girls reached their home land and the families sigh a relief. But one girl, so happy was she with the way she was treated in India, she tweeted about it.
And soon later, a currently sitting minister replied back to her.
It says “ I was concerned about your well being because daughters belongs to all ” Despite everything I gathered. You’d know whom I’m talking about if you have been following news but then wait. Was that then the media was so busy flashing news about Pakistani actors ban from Indian movies? Yeah right, they’d rather do that than let us in on what was happening to those soldiers family. Way to go!!
Now, I’m so immensely happy for those girls, and proud for the honorable way they were treated in my homeland. I’d not expect any less from my land. Nicely done.
But with all due respect, aren’t the girls and lives I listed above one after the other, a tragedy, belonged to all as well, why? They were daughters after all? Weren’t those girls daughters of India? Who were they then?
So many lives lost, so many traumatized for life..why is it still happening if by her words and I quote “daughters belong to all”. Are we Indian daughters averse to that safety net?
No, I’m genuinely confused. Why is that? What happened to all those who ruined lives and walked off unscathed? What did India do? Neither did it safeguard her daughters nor bring them justice.
It pains me to ask this, but why are we treated so badly in our own homeland. Why is these true situation is being suspended easily as a rare occurrence of violence when it is clearly not. When will this change? It is not so late now, at least now pick up the pieces and support the girls in need. Pass acts, train girls, teach your boys, ingrain some sense of goodness in our men. Stop pretending about woman doing great with age old references. I mean, the country rejoiced to have a woman elected as a president. If women were that supported that shouldn’t have come across like an achievement but a usual win. Many could not get past their kitchens even today, accept that!
Have the back of your girls, India.
Santhi ran so far for this country, at least raise a finger in her defense?
Lost lives are lost, but find a way for those acid attack victims, save women from domestic abuse, children from getting raped and murdered. Do something now, start now!
We all have our differences with our countries, but that doesn’t mean we love it any less. I’m an Indian and I take pride in saying so, despite all I still have got my hopes and trust upon my country, we all do. I just want the moles to be removed swift and clean.
This is an anguish of a daughter for what her sisters’ had to go through. My vision for my country to be free of weeds and be a peaceful place like it should be. Not like an abyss for womanhood!
If this is going to reach through to a few people, even if a single girl is spared of domestic violence or any abuse because you raised your voice against it. Or if Santhi or any athlete may be spared of the humiliation and be accepted for who she is and given her due respect and life back, that’d be all.
I wish, I wish for a better, safe India. I wish for it to stand tall, proud and be worth it all.
– A Daughter of India, anguished but proud, faithful nonetheless. JAI HIND!
The post A VIDEO, AN ILLUSTRATION AND A TWEET! appeared first on Xpress Thoughts.