24 year old Hadiya continues to be in house arrest without any explanation. Her marriage nullified by HC without any reference to marriage laws. How is this legally possible is a puzzle to me. The dangers that Article 226 of the Constitution can pose, if the courts collude with powers that be, was by far unknown to me. Everything about the Kerala Love Jihad case is a dangerous mystery. Hadiya is an adult Indian citizen and her rights have been taken away and most of us are not doing anything about it. A group of brave women across India came together in Kerala to fight for her, to question her confinement, but there is nothing on media. At this point, I increasingly feel a moral responsibility to go and do that in-depth analysis as planned few weeks ago. No other case has moved me to this point, I have no money to take flights or pay hotel bills but still, I feel I must go to Kerala to understand this case in-depth. I have found one editor who agreed to pay for the story but almost nothing for the travel and accommodation. I think I am going to literally beg for crowd fund now to do this story.
Way back in May, when Kerala HC had nullified Hadiya’s marriage and gave her custody to her father, a decision seeped in patriarchy, in an opinion piece published The Wire, I first brought the feminism angle in this issue. Now, many more opinion pieces have appeared in the media, asking the same question, on what basis can courts decide that a 24 yr old adult woman with full mental capacity be given in any kind of custody, or how her marriage can be nullified.
I am most disappointed by the Indian feminists who have not come out with strong vocal support for Hadiya. On 1st October, a statement, ‘Feminists Say ‘NO’ To Recent Rape Judgment: And There Is Nothing Feeble About It’ was released signed by around 18 feminist organizations and over 50 individuals, registering their protest against the Delhi HC judgement that acquitted Mahmood Farooqui of rape charges. While this was a great move, fact remains that women organizations are still focused on rape and violence issues in isolation without understanding the need to vehemently enforce women’s individual rights as full citizens and active political beings.
It is sad that most of these organizations and individuals are silent over Hadiya’s case. The attack on Hadiya’s individual freedom by a deeply patriarchal system, starting from her father, a patriarch, to the political ammunition supplied by Hindutva groups, to the court that treated an adult person as a child due to her gender, questioned her intelligence, gave her morality lectures and what not, is a litmus test for feminists in India. If we do not come together and put all our energies in giving Hadiya justice, then we should all go back to kitchens. A feminist who cannot stand by Hadiya today, has no right to call herself a feminist or activists or anything for that matter.
I would continue to follow this story, keep following this blog.