Friday, December 29, 2006

Whither civil rights: Jewellers ban veiled women's entry, Adult lovers can't marry

'We are not just beard & burqa'
Meena, 36, a tribal woman and Peter, 38, a rickshaw puller, are in love but they can't marry. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad's local arm Dharm Sena doesn't allow them to marry.

After all, Meena, is a tribal, and the Sena feels it would lead to a tribal's conversion to Christianity. They applied for marriage at the Collector's office but  the permission has not been granted because the woman is not Christian.

Madhya Pradesh has BJP government in power and Assembly has passed a bill that will make such marriages even more difficult.

The Governor has sent the bill to President. Meena's brother Radhey refutes allegations of coercion. 'Peter is a daily wager and can't lure us with any money", he says. Isn't a peculiar situation that two adults, who are in love can't marry?

Check this Link


Meanwhile, jewellers in Pune have banned entry of women wearing veil in their shops. The jewellers' association has taken the step after incidents of thefts. They have written to Home Minister for permission to put up a notice outside their shop that 'Veil-wearing customers would not be allowed'.

Maharashtra Minorities' Commission chairman Naseem Siddiqui says, 'We ask every community to condemn this decision. A woman has the right to wear anything she wants. She should be given the choice whether to wear a burqa or a jeans to shop,'.

'Today they are saying that burqa-clad women robbed a jewellery store, and stop veiled women from entering the shops. Tomorrow they will say burqa-clad women robbed a bank, so veiled women will not be allowed in banks too. This is not only absurd but dangerous too,' she said.

Many of us would call it xenophobic and see it as a serious breach of citizens' civil rights. Some would even appreciate the security concerns of jewellers. However, I see more such demands coming from different quarters in future.

With Hindus and Muslims living in separate areas in each City, denial of house to person of other community causing increasing ghettoisation, the gulf between communities has widened a lot in the recent decades [years].

Can you imagine a neighbourhood shopkeeper imposing such a ban? Yes, spic and span showrooms can surely afford that because of the feeling that Muslims don't go to such expensive showrooms where branded jewellery is sold.

Malls can also impose similar bans in future. After all, a burqa [like a bearded Muslim] would appear unfashionable [even grotesque] in such modern environment. This is one of the fall outs of 9/11 that has seen rise in prejudices.

This happened all over the world. Alas, this attitude towards Muslims and burqa in Europe would not affect much but surely it does hurt when it happens in India, a country where Islam is religion of the soil for over a thousand years.