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India - How The 'Restoration' Of A Sikh Woman Reveals The Voicelessness of Women

jamahir

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How The 'Restoration' Of A Sikh Woman Reveals The Voicelessness of Women

Sherina Poyyail
MAKERS India
Thu 1 July 2021, 8:50 AM

The right to marry a person of one’s choice is integral to Article 21 of the Indian constitution, guaranteeing the right to life for Indian citizens. But the country has time and again chosen to bypass that, especially for women.

Earlier this week, the alleged abduction, forced marriage and conversion to Islam of a young Sikh woman named Manmeet Kaur from Srinagar sparked local protests and raised concerns about the security of minorities. Led by members of the Shiromani Akali Dal, they claimed that Kaur was forcibly converted and demanded that she be married off in her own community, said media reports.

The family first claimed that Manmeet was mentally unstable but proceeded to force her into marriage immediately.

The family first claimed that Manmeet was mentally unstable but proceeded to force her into marriage immediately.

Many fell prey to the rumours that Kaur was 18 and the man was 60. However, reports revealed that they were 26 and 29 respectively and that they desired to be together. With conflicting information emanating from different sources, the chaos resulted in the woman being ‘handed’ back to her family. Her partner is currently in police custody.

The crime of being in love

This case is one among the lakhs of similar situations occurring in India each year. The popularization of the phrase ‘Love Jihad’ stands testament to people’s reaction to it. The threat against interfaith and inter-caste couples is so high that the Delhi government recently ordered round-the-clock security for a safe house meant to protect such pairs.

The law also does not make the process of marriage easier for such couples. People who choose to get married under the Special Marriages Act must file a notice with the district’s Marriage Registrar stating their intention to marry each other. They can only marry 30 days after this notice is published. In the past, we’ve seen that the publication of such sensitive data is used by people from different communities to locate lovers who may have fled from home. In Kerala, after many were put in direct danger, the government ceased to publish Special Marriage Applications online.

It is truly unfathomable that in a country touted as the ‘world’s largest democracy’, two consenting adults cannot enter a marriage without being hoarded and harassed.

It is truly unfathomable that in a country touted as the ‘world’s largest democracy’, two consenting adults from different communities cannot enter a marriage without being hoarded and harassed.

It is truly unfathomable that in a country touted as the ‘world’s largest democracy’, two consenting adults from different communities cannot enter a marriage without being hoarded and harassed.

As outrage over the incident swept the internet, social media stood divided over Kaur’s case. Many Sikh people expressed that they were elated to see her being ‘restored’ to the community. This kind of language completely ignores the agency of a woman and exposes her as an inanimate object who needed to be ‘returned to its original owner’.

Other Sikhs were of the opinion that the scenario exposed the less than subtle Islamophobia that exists within the community. The
strengthening of this attitude can be attributed to many factors.

Perhaps the most crucial would be a strong anti-Muslim sentiment being propagated by the ruling party. In the state of Uttar Pradesh, the ordinance for ‘Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion Bill 2020’ was approved by chief minister Yogi Adityanath to deal with cases of ‘love jihad’ and make them punishable offences.

These kinds of legal provisions provide easy armour for those who fall on the extreme end of the spectrum that wish to restrict people from leaving communities for whatever reason or voluntarily converting for personal reasons.

Perhaps the most controversial comments came from Amaan Bali — who claims to be an author and entrepreneur — who first stated that Kaur was mentally unstable and hence needed rescuing. He later went on to say that the woman agreed to marry Sardar Sukhbir Singh “in the presence of police as well as family.”
Surrounded by powerful male members of her family, the community and the police, one need not think too much to guess what the mental state of the woman would have been. As always, most Indians would rather have their children forced into a marriage that reflects well on their family rather than one of their own choosing.


Women as pawns of patriarchy

If indeed it was a case of ‘abduction’, perhaps the woman’s body language would’ve been far different from what was seen from recent images. The family claims they 'rescued' her out of concern and could’ve still allowed her to choose a partner of her choice from the community. Instead, a wedding was conducted in a matter of days just to appease the sentiment of the larger society that was worked up over a personal matter.

“Girls will not marry Muslims. Live with it. Deal with it. This is the line we have drawn at the community level,” Bali wrote on Twitter. With that statement, he has laid bare the attitude that has pervaded the Indian society from time immemorial — that we can eat and do business with other communities, but we will never mix as families.

At the end of the day, marriage continues to be a tool to propagate caste and faith endogamy. In a country that seems to take a step forward and multiple steps back, the separation of state and faith continues to blur, overstepping secular rights promised by the original nation builders.

(Edited by Amrita Ghosh)

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Jamahir's comment : South Asian families, especially Indian and Pakistani pat on their own backs about how wonderful their family structure is but do not acknowledge that most of that structure is oppressive. Any person who steps away from the traditional elements of school-college-job-marriage-children-cycle'repeat finds that his or her own family is the first opposition. Student suicides are a manifestation of this. And psychiatrists and police are another element in the oppression. The first one cooks up some mental illness like for the girl in the above story and the second hunts down eloped lovers like they were criminals. If I was the leader of India or Pakistan I would punish honor killers with a firing squad in a stadium with live TV and internet coverage.

It is rare for a desi family, especially the middle class, to support their children if the children were to desire to go to a non-traditional career path, like business or music.

And yet desis dare to shamelessly acknowledge festivals like Mothers Day.

Down with this oppression I say !

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@padamchen : I hope you will support inter-religion marriage.
 
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-=virus=-

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Just awful if true, poor woman.

All I saw was a small clip on the news, they were reporting she was held at gunpoint and married to some 60 year old muslim man.

Was that fake news ?

However, reports revealed that they were 26 and 29 respectively and that they desired to be together.

where is this 29 year old lover of hers, has he made a public appearance ?

they could fight it out in court, and will probably win given that both are of legal consenting age.

all seems a bit fishy.

care to fill in the gaps, @jamahir ?
 

lightoftruth

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Not an inter Faith marriage if the girl convert's.

One cannot shrug conversions in the name of marriage as interfaith marriage.

Why can't they marry under special marriage act ?

If religion is more important than your partner then don't marry as simple as that.
 

jamahir

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Why can't they marry under special marriage act ?

Perhaps security reasons :
The law also does not make the process of marriage easier for such couples. People who choose to get married under the Special Marriages Act must file a notice with the district’s Marriage Registrar stating their intention to marry each other. They can only marry 30 days after this notice is published. In the past, we’ve seen that the publication of such sensitive data is used by people from different communities to locate lovers who may have fled from home. In Kerala, after many were put in direct danger, the government ceased to publish Special Marriage Applications online.
 

jamahir

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why is he in police custody, on what charges ?

From reading the article, alleged Love Jihad / forcible conversion perhaps. And below is a significant related thing :
The threat against interfaith and inter-caste couples is so high that the Delhi government recently ordered round-the-clock security for a safe house meant to protect such pairs.


@jamahir

Jamahir sb,

Looks like the Sikh Muslim unity forged during the CAA-NRC-Farm Law tamasha has snapped!

Regards

I wonder if in Jammu and Kashmir were the Sikhs and Muslims ever united. Jammu has a sizeable right-wing populace.
 

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From reading the article, alleged Love Jihad / forcible conversion perhaps. And below is a significant related thing :
All seems a bit suspect.

We are not that much of a banana republic either that people can be wrongfully accused when completely innocent.

If the pair were truly in love and decided to get married, the families could object but this amount of national drama would not be possible.

Wait for more details to be confirmed, shall we ?
 

jamahir

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We are not that much of a banana republic either that people can be wrongfully accused when completely innocent.

And there is the thread today written by Rana Ayyub which describes her being unfairly targeted by the police and other elements just because she wrote about the assault on that elderly Muslim man.

Wait for more details to be confirmed, shall we ?

Remember that Hindu-Muslim couple in Uttar Pradesh who were separated by Yogi's Hindu Yuva Vahini and the police colluded with HUV to the extent of being violent with the Hindu woman ?

If the pair were truly in love and decided to get married, the families could object but this amount of national drama would not be possible.

Remember that BJP leader's daughter who married a Dalit man and both put out a social media vid asking for government help because their lives were in danger through the girl's father ?
 
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And there is the thread today written by Rana Ayyub which describes her being unfairly targeted by the police and other elements just because she wrote about the assault on that elderly Muslim man.
read my reply there.

Remember that Hindu-Muslim couple in Uttar Pradesh who were separated by Yogi's Hindu Yuva Vahini and the police colluded with HUV to the extent of being violent with the Hindu woman ?
Remember that daughter of a BJP leader who married a Dalit man and both put out a social media vid asking for government help because their lives were in danger through the girl's father ?

nope, didn't come across these, can't say
 

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