A weak and feeble ‘Hello’, on the other side of the receiver, is what I get to hear when I called Mrs. Aneeza Begum (name changed) for the first time. Well, that gives me a good understanding of acquiring something informative that would be qualitative to introspect. She is a Muslim woman who wears a Hijab. Though being a Muslim woman could have given her the liberty to enjoy equal rights (until her name is revealed), however, wearing a Hijab, which appears to be her personal choice, demarcates her from the very instance within the society.
She is 28 years of age, recently married to Mr. Akhtar (name changed) who is an electrician by profession and stays in the chawl of Kanhaiya Nagar, a place in Delhi. The heat is still on the verge, even though many parts of the country are experiencing heavy pours, and while we started our conversation, it appeared she was evacuating water, which was entering their house from nearby sewage. Their Community majorly occupied the area where they put up, which probably turns out to be the reason why no proper sewage was being attended to their locality. They were looking for relocation and continuing with the conversation, she shared an incident. Her husband almost finalized a well-built 1BHK in Keshavpuram (a decent locality situated nearby), which was primarily denied when his husband exchanged the Aadhar Card for rent agreement. The owner felt it as an act of disgrace, to have let-out their property to a Muslim family. Is this depicting the picture of humanity? We should rather be ashamed to have such demeaning people in society. She went on sharing that it is not the only time when she has felt to be left out, but it was soon after the Pulwama attack when she was traveling in the metro, and suddenly found people staring at her with hatred and anguish. Quoting that it was for the first time she felt to have attacked at any moment. Some funny, rather insane questions, which she has faced in the past, were:
Do you or your family members belong to Pakistan?? OR Suddenly asked by random people to say I love India..!!
She added on saying, and this time in a trembling tone that ‘No one would even dare to ask such questions to majorities but being evident with our Burkhas and Hijab, that we tend to follow Islam, we have been targeted from every corner, especially being a woman’.
It is an untold fact that they have always been subject to judgments and the onus to prove their love towards the country lies on their shoulders. While she shares her incidents quite casually, it gave me a sense of torment that she underwent, to be felt- Secluded. She has not only been traumatized by the society but within the four walls as well, as I could hear multiple orders of her husband (ranging from demanding 3 cups of tea.. to filling water in the cooler), in a blaring and commanding tone, during our 12 minutes of small conversation, which portrays the picture of female harassments at home. Consequently, she had to disconnect our call on an abrupt note (as if she was glared with dominant eyes to follow the same).
We have many such Aneeza Begum in our ruthless society, who are supposedly the discarded victim, for the beliefs that their religion demands them to follow, and that is where the concept of intersectionality in religion comes. Caste and Gender inequality in India is a multifaceted issue that concerns men and women, both. Although the constitution of India grants men and women equal rights, gender disparities still prevail. A quotation from UNICEF which unfold the reality at large goes as “Particularly disadvantaged are the women and girls from lower caste groups, who face double exclusion by being both a Dalit and a Woman”. While, the secluded and oppressed women belong to various caste, creed, and religion, but one thing that they all have in common, is ‘their want to be treated equally in the society’.