• The Feminist Times

SADDA HAQ

Updated: Apr 18, 2021


Before the pandemic, citizenship was the hot topic. While some of us

were swinging in fun at home while others were out on street protesting.

Didn’t the first category of people feared that their rights would be taken away

or they were just being apolitical?

This whole scenario points to the notion of privilege. Lets understands this

through an example. A girl named Kiran lived in an urban slum in Mumbai. Her

parents met their ends by doing household work. Kiran is the second child out

of four brothers. She left her studies at the age of 13 to look after her younger

siblings. She was married at age of 15 despite of having an elder brother. Soon

after the marriage she got pregnant at a very young age, mother of three

children at the age of 18. Her husband was abusive and never gave her the

needful things. He tortured her physically and left her in pain. This is just one

example. There are many girls like her in India. What they have in common is

that they are disadvantaged in many ways. Girls like them are vulnerable

because they are poor and uneducated. Being a woman further adds on to the

more disadvantageous position.

Her being a citizen of India has not been able to extend her rights that she was

entitled to. Citizenship has always been viewed as an egalitarian idea that

extends rights to each person and groups and removes any kind of

discrimination and subordination. But there is a wide gap between formal

extensions of rights and exercise of it. Feminism considers both classical and

modern notion of citizenship as inimical to women. Feminism as a concept

always seeks justice for women. It is an awareness of the oppression and

exploitation women face in society, at work and within family and deals with

the conscious action taken by women and men to change the situation.

The development of citizenship can be traced back to ancient Greece. It

included rights to participate in city life but failed to include women, children,

slaves etc. Aristotle considered women as irrational creatures. This continued

even in the medieval period. St. Thomas Aquinas considered woman, “as an

imperfect man and an incidental being.” I can quote many such theorists who

considered woman as greedy, impure and vain beings. French Revolution saw

massive participation of women but ironically women were denied of

citizenship rights. In 1791, Olymphe de Gouges, a French playwright published

a pamphlet entitled ‘Declaration Of the rights of women and citizens ‘which

was response to the famous Declaration of Rights of women. She said that

woman was not simply same as man, she was his equal partner. Women are

rational, can actively take part in politics and can bring change.

Only 33 of seat is reserved for women in lower house of parliament and all

state legislatives. People question the need for reservation for women in but

often ignore the cause behind it. Women have long battles before they can

claim their rights. To even fight for those basic amenities that was and is easily

available for men, is a privilege for many women. Being a man naturally makes

one inheritor of all benefits. Feminists never demands for some luxurious

things. They simply want those things that is rightfully THEIRS; without

violating someone else’s rights.

- Anjali Kumari

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