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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Love,Sex And Jihad

FRight-Wingers are at it again, alleging a conspiracy called "Love Jihad" and I am not sure if I should laugh,  get irritated,amused, angry, indifferent, outraged, sympathetic or feel all of them at the same time. Both the words, "love" and "jihad" have beautiful connotations but now distorted into a grotesque shape. While the connotation of "love" is self-explanatory, the meaning of jihad has undergone changes, especially for those looking from distance. Jihad essential means "to struggle in the way of GOD", it can be an inner spiritual struggle called greater jihad  and fighting tyranny and persecution, through violent or nonviolent means, which is called lesser jihad.. Do note, the meaning of the word jihad is "struggle" which implies it is for self-defence and fighting against persecution. However, in context of this allegation of "Love Jihad", other political parties, members of civil society, journalists have exposed it as a lie but it perplexes me why women's rights organisations haven't launched  Jihad (non-violent kind) against those who manufactured this hoax. .    



Now I haven't mentioned the word "sex" just to make the title catchy, something like "Sex Jihad" has actually been floated in the Syrian media. First Tunisian interior minister said that girls from Tunisia were travelling to Syria to provide sexual relief to the militants fighting there. It has also been called Jihad Ul Nikaah but I fail to understand how the term Nikaah which stands for a social contract strictly between a man and a woman could apply in a case where the girl alleges to have had sex with 20 to 100 fighters! Syrian state TV showed 2 women narrate (separately) orgies they had with the militants but it later emerged the girls had been arrested by Syrian government. The Saudi cleric to whom the fatwa was attributed has denied issuing it. Der Spiegel has revealed it all to be an elaborate hoax by the Assad government. However,since the Iranian and Russian media picked it up, the stories keep turning out in western media too.  

Coming back to "Love Jihad", the idea of a campaign to incentivize Muslim youths to entice Hindu girls and convert them has been there since quite some time but given the environment it remained subterranean, spread through whispers and closed groups of Internet-based social communication services. But now that the political climate has changed, this perverse and  malicious propaganda has gone mainstream. The masses find it easy to accept since it is a fact that the number of Muslim males married to Hindu women is high. The reason is quite simple, members of minority communities don't have lot of options. The Indian Muslim population comprises mere 14% of total Indian population and many of them live below the poverty line or close to it. So around 90% girls a Muslim boy come across are likely to be Hindus and unless he makes a conscious  effort to seek out only Muslim girls. Of course, neither do we look at Muslim girls marrying Hindus, nor is the rate this high because, Hindus or Muslims, we Indians are a patriarchal society and becoming more so.

Why else would a BJP leader who alleges of this conspiracy also says Hindu men should marry Muslim women ? He seems twice guilty of insulting women by implying women don't really have enough intelligence to take decisions by themselves when he alleges Muslim boys entice Hindu girls and when advocating that Hindus marry Muslim girls, it seems difficult to understand if he is referring to women or cattles, which can be herded towards whichever direction the herdsman with the cane points to. Then why is it that when men of one community marrying women of another community, it is hurtful and is seen as a conspiracy by the latter ?

Primitive tribes have always considered women as the most prized possession, a symbol of collective machismo. The enemy tribe if victorious would take away not only land and treasures but also enslave women to inflict a crucial blow to the defeated tribe's masculinity. Although in civilized society like ours, women are supposed to be considered equal to men, the tribal view of women representing honour of the family, clan, tribe and the accompanying violence remain entrenched and rather magnified since tribe is now replaced by religious communities comprising millions of people. This is communalism in its naked form, gender inequality is a necessity for its existence. Feminists, women's rights activists may cry themselves hoarse but gender discrimination and gender-based crimes would continue unabated unless woman's identity is made independent. The "Love Jihad"  controversy may  help the BJP polarize and garner votes, Muslims would further withdraw into ghettos but it is women (from both communities) whose sense of identity and independence would be further undermined.


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