Indian women have seen many phases through the ages where their dignity and self-respect have been tainted. There have been times when the ‘rituals’, ‘traditions’ and the ‘bringing up’ have clashed with what is morally just and right. The recent wave of #MeToo and Sabarimala is that washed over the country is very much an example of that.
Yet we have a reason to believe that it’ll turn out good.
Because in many occasions the people of India, irrespective of their gender, have stood up to restore the dignity of women and attain justice for them. Most of the time, they joined forces and revolted against the evil through the rebellious path of movements. These movements have always proved to be successful in getting justice. Here are some of the successful movements in Indian history which brought justice to the voiceless:
- Sati Pratha
Sati Pratha was a practice prevalent in India for centuries. According to this custom, a widow sacrifices herself by jumping into the pyre of her dead husband. This custom was practised in most of the Hindu households till 19thcentury. Social reformer Raja Ram Mohan Roy in early 19thcentury stood up for the rights of women and protested against the Hindu customs like Sati, child marriage and polygamy which demeaned the dignity of women in Indian society. His efforts to abolish Sati system proved fruitful when the practice was banned by the British government in 1829.
- Widow Re-marriage
Another foul practice which existed in India during the British rule was Widow Remarriage. Widows of upper caste Hindu families were not allowed to remarry after the death of their husband irrespective of their age. They were expected to lead a life devoid of colours and luxury. Bengali scholar Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar stood firm against this practice. He along with few of his contemporaries introduced widow remarriage. This movement led to the Hindu Widows’ Remarriage Act, 1856 under which widows were legally allowed to remarry after the death of their spouse.
- Gulabi Gang
Gulabi gang is a group of women who reside in Uttar Pradesh and fights for the rights of women in the region. The group was initially formed in 2006 to tackle widespread domestic abuse which was prevalent in the society. The gang fights against the government and the police if they do not take proper action.
- ‘Indian Army, Rape Us’ Protest
A unique protest was staged by women at Imphal, Manipur in 2004. This protest was in response to the killing and rape of a young girl, Thangjam Manorama. Allegedly she was taken by members of Assam Rifles and raped and killed by them, There were bullet wounds in her vagina. The women came out on the streets to protest against the murder. They were naked and carried a sign which read ‘Indian army, Rapes us.’ They staged this protest to highlight the atrocities the women faced due to the army in the area. After several other protests, armed forces were withdrawn from the area.
- Protest for Change in Rape Laws
16th December 2012 will always be ingrained in the history of India due to the painstaking incident that took place in Delhi. A woman was brutally raped by a gang of men in a bus and was left on the streets to die. The 2012 Delhi gang-rape case triggered a wave of protest in India. Silent protests were staged in many cities by thousands of people in memory of the victim. This silent uproar resulted in the arrest and ultimately death sentence to the rapists. Due to the protests, several new laws were made and many fast track courts were set up to hear rape cases.
- #MeToo Movement
The recent movement which has gained attention is the #MeToo movement. It is an international movement which is against sexual harassment in the workplace. The campaign gained momentum in India after actress Tanushree Dutta took the bold step to accuse veteran actor Nana Patekar of sexual harassment. Many men and women have come out in the open with their own story. The country has come together yet again to stand against the offenders and bring justice for the victims.
- #ReadytoWait Movement
#ReadytoWait movement was a social media campaign initiated by a group of women devotees of Lord Ayyappa who demanded entry of women into Sabarimala temple. Sabarimala temple is a Hindu temple in Kerela where women aged 10-50 was not allowed to enter the temple premises. #ReadytoWait movement gained a lot of support in social media ultimately leading to the historic judgement of Supreme Court which lifted the ban on 28th September, 2018.
The history of Indian movement proves that India has always stood up for the right. Indian Women have always fought their way to successfully achieving what is rightfully theirs and will continue to do so in future because no patriarchal mindset is as strong as a woman’s willpower. We have fought through marital injustices, rapes and religious prejudices and will continue to stand strong in future.