Society and Culture

Dear Khattar, Haryana’s pride is not in putting women behind veils

The Manohar Lal Khattar government in Haryana desperately needs to get its communication right. The March issue of Krishi Samvad, a government magazine, carries a photograph of a veiled woman carrying cattle feed.

Jun 30, 2017
The Manohar Lal Khattar government in Haryana desperately needs to get its communication right. The March issue of Krishi Samvad, a government magazine, carries a photograph of a veiled woman carrying cattle feed. The caption on the cover reads: “Ghoonghat ki aan-baan, mahra Haryana ki pechchan” (Pride of the veil is the identity of my Haryana). Reacting sharply to the description, former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Congress leader and party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said it reflected the regressive attitude of the ruling BJP government. The BJP ministers, however, defended the state government, citing that the Khattar administration has taken numerous measures taken to empower women, and so it is not fair to call it “regressive”.
 
The truth is — the Khattar government may not agree — the photo and the caption shows State support for a patriarchal practice that has no place in a modern society. The Khattar government must realise that such depictions go against the pro-women programmes that it has launched and that the depiction could be seen as an extension of several misogynistic orders made earlier either by the government or local groups such as a ban on wearing jeans and using mobile phones.
 
For decades women from Haryana have broken stiff patriarchal barriers to win laurels, especially in sporting events. The State could have used any of those achievements to showcase its identity. That the women of the state don’t agree with the government’s depiction is evident from 28-year-old freestyle wrestler Geeta Phogat’s response. “We have come from a place where girls should be kept behind a veil, would not be allowed to come out... go to school (sic),” Ms Phogat, whose story inspired Dangal, told NDTV. “My father pulled us out from such a state... helped us reach where we are,” the free-style wrestler who won India’s first ever gold medal in wrestling at the Commonwealth Games in 2010 added. Does she sound all too supportive of what Haryana calls its proud identity? 
 
Hindustan Times, June 30, 2017

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