When will political and religious leaders stop using women as guinea pigs?

Even after years of numerous social and religious reform movements, women in India keep facing some or the other scorch of patriarchal structures in forms of burqa, purdah, polygamy, dowry, discrimination, etc. Social reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy (also known as “The Father of the Indian Renaissance”), Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Kandukuri Veeresalingam, Mahatma Gandhi, Jyotirao Phule were successful in abolishing social unfairness related to women like sati, child marriage, widow discrimination, but still, it will take us a few more decades to remove the pride of inequality from our social DNA.

When Sakshi Maharaj made this bizarre comment – “all Hindu women in the country must produce four children to protect the religion”, he actually said much more than just fantasizing himself as a “protector” of Hindu religion. The postulation that a woman should have “n” number of kids states how these social and political leaders indirectly objectify women as children producing machines. A leader of such political stature impacts many people and any absurd statement like this statement have a long influence on the society. While the government is putting lots of emphasis on women empowerment, women education and women equality, people like Sakshi Maharaj attenuates the overall efforts and gives the opposition and social critics an easy window to drill their foundation.

The power game to establish religious supremacy is dragging the social reformation in an opposite direction. On 5th January 2015, Asaduddin Owaisi, head of the MIM said, “Everyone is born a Muslim, and then he is converted to other religions. Ghar wapasi is for these people to return to Islam”. In recent times, some of the BJP ministers have also declared priority of “Hindu Nation” over education and development. Most of these statements are not thoughtful, but are irrational responses to statements made by conflicting communities, political parties and religions.

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The statement made by Sakshi Maharaj will give opportunities to many Muslim and Hindu leaders to further preach “production of child”. Between the justifications and arguments like “if Hindus can have, why can’t we have or If Muslims are not questioned, why are we questioned”, women are objectified as just another tool to fulfil the goals of men.

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