Guest Post by URVASHI SARKAR
Until June 20th 2014, if you visited the Wikipedia entry on Bhanwari Devi — a women’s rights Dalit activist who was raped for taking on child marriage in an upper caste community in her Rajasthan village— you would have been in for a nasty surprise.
The following lines from the biography section of the article would have stood out starkly:
“Bhanwari, the young, illiterate potter woman…strutting about the village giving gratuitous, unctuous advice to her social superiors made attempts to persuade the family against carrying out their wedding plans. Standing unveiled in the street outside the house of the brides-to-be she loudly berated the elderly patriarch… flaunted her government appointment…and threatening them that she would stop at nothing to ensure their public disgrace by stopping the planned marriage.”
The citation for this paragraph was provided as ‘Bhateri Rape Case: Backlash and Protest’ by Kanchan Mathur published in the Economic and Political Weekly (EPW).
Not a single sentence from that paragraph features in the EPW article; but a preceding paragraph in the Wikipedia entry, which describes Bhanwari Devi’s work as a sathin or grassroots worker with the Women’s Development Project of the Rajasthan Government, is correctly attributed to the EPW piece. Continue reading Wikipedia, Bhanwari Devi and the need for an alert feminist public: Urvashi Sarkar
Bhanwari Devi (right) with her daughter Rameshwari, in Mangalore
This is a guest post by LAXMI MURTHY: “Only justice can fill my belly, not awards,” says Bhanwari Devi in response to a question from the audience about whether or not she had been recognised by international awards. She was speaking at a meeting organised by the Alternative Law Forum, Bangalore. The previous day, along with other leaders, Bhanwari had roused a massive rally in Mangalore with her fiery calls for solidarity and action against violence against women. The Mangalore March 8th program itself was phenomenal, from all accounts The unprecedented coalition of women’s and progressive groups (almost a hundred groups) to raise a voice against the saffronization of Karnataka’s coastal belt and increasing attacks on women, has been the outcome of dedicated work by the Forum Against Atrocities on Women (the Mahila Dourjnya Virodi Vedike, Karnataka). With delicious irony, Bhanwari, Urmila Pawar and other invited activists were accommodated at “Morning Mist’, the homestay that was ransacked by right-wing goons who broke up a private celebration there last June. That none of the events, which saw the mobilization of more than 5000 women, made it to even the Bangalore editions of the dailies (can’t even dream of the national media bothering!) is a matter of dismay, but won’t go into that right now. Continue reading The Irony of Iconhood – The life and times of Bhanwari Devi: Laxmi Murthy