(This is the text of the open letter from leading women’s studies scholar and renowned feminist intellectual, Prof. Samita Sen, to the Chief Minister of Kerala on the Hadiya case)
The Hon’ble Chief Minister
Please Help Hadiya
It is a great disappointment to the wider community of left-inclined activists that a LDF government in Kerala has been so unsympathetic and insensitive to Hadiya’s tribulations. It is of course not within the purview of the government that the judiciary appears to have abandoned constitutional principles in favour of patriarchal and communal rhetoric. However, the administration has the means—through the Women’s Commission, for instance‑ to ensure Hadiya’s well-being and to allow her to speak.
As a historian I have read about (and even written about) romance conversions at the turn of the twentieth century and the communal politics of abductions in Bengal in the 1920s and 30s. It is inestimably shocking to see the same patterns repeat themselves a century later. And one can only be dumbfounded that an LDF government is lending itself to a communal polarization on the bodies of women. An adult woman needs nobody’s custody, not even her father’s. The constitution of India allows her to choose her marriage partner. An adult woman has the right of the choice of religion, a choice not subject to the discipline of the community she exits. To say anything else is to abandon the basic foundations of the rights of citizens on which democracy rests.
The SC has already made a few statements in the right direction. We can only hope that this will lead it to the only logical and legal path possible under the circumstances, which is to uphold the right of a citizen of India to her own decision in pursuing her religion and undertaking a marriage contract. It is incumbent on the LDF government, we believe, to support this decision and not to detract from this by spurious arguments about family and community.
We demand that Hadiya be restored the dignity of an adult and be allowed to speak.
4 thoughts on “Restore Hadiya’s Dignity as an Adult: Prof. Samita Sen to the Chief Minister of Kerala”
” It is incumbent on the LDF government, we believe, to support this decision and not to detract from this spurious arguments about family and community”
Will the government prove that it is really different???
Certainly ,the Left Democratic Front Govt of Kerala shouldn’t and can’t look the other way, when an adult woman’s constitutional right to choose a faith other than the one in which she was brought up and the right to marry against the wishes of her parents seriously face the threat of being forcibly taken away by virtual khap systems.
Nevertheless, it might not be out of place to cite an example which shows the attitude so far from the govt of Kerala is neither supportive of Hadiya’s assertion of choices as an adult nor basically much different from that of the Hindutva forces who raise the bogey of love jihad with each conversion or inter religious affair of love . In a press meet convened by a group of women activists in order to explain how they were booked for unlawful assembly by Kerala police after being chased away by a group of RSS supporters in their unsuccessful attempt to meet and talk with Hadiya , a media person from Janam TV (a pro- BJP channel ) repeatedly tried to heckle them asking whether they had not been doing all such things at the behest of the Islamist organisation PFI . As though proving his point , what he read out as part of an affidavit filed by govt pleader in the Kerala High Court in a related Habeas corpus case by Hadiya’s(Akhila’s) father was even more embarrassing :
“Miss Akhila had been influenced by feeding her with graphic details of hell and the torments that sinners are subjected to in their life after death .She has also been made to believe that in order to escape the torments of hell acceptance of Islam was the only way. According to the report dated 15-12-2016 it was stated that Miss Akhila believed that Islam would help her to reach heaven after death. According to the learned senior govt pleader also, this is a case of forced conversion of Islam.. “
Samita Sen is right in pointing out that in that in this case the constitutional rights of an adult woman is being violated in a blatant manner. The LDF government must do everything in its power to restore her rights. It is it its legal, moral and also political duty.
Reblogged this on Venukmwpb’s Weblog.