(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
October 21, 2012
Malala, All of Us
I HAVE recently seen a photograph of Malala Yousafzai. She reminded me of myself in my childhood. Surprisingly, that is what many of my friends – girls – also felt. It is not the physical resemblance that made us all feel that we too were Malalas to an extent. It is the travails that had made us all feel Malala.
Malala Yousafzai is a 14 year old girl, studying in the Swat Valley of Pakistan. Just like many of us in our younger days, and like our children now, she too is a school-going child. And that was not a small crime. And even more bigger crime that she committed was encouraging her fellow girls to study. Crimes don’t go unpunished. Particularly in those lands where fanatics tread. Punished she was. Shot. Along with her, two more girls were injured. But she was the target. And she is struggling for her life.
phenomenon is not confined to a
particular religion or society. Girls’ education is always
a challenge. Have we
not experienced it in
There was a girl in Andhra Pradesh. A brilliant student she was. She was in her tenth standard. And she needed money for paying her examination fee. Her mother was a domestic help. It was above her means to give her daughter the money. The girl tried mobilising money in her town, but in vain. She thought her aunt might help. Walked for over 30 kms and walked back disheartened. The next day, she left all of us disheartened. It’s a question of 100 rupees and she paid it with her life.
And we know of the two girls in Kerala. They were a bit more lucky. They cleared their plus two. Joined engineering colleges. The banks who pester us with pesky calls offering car loans, refused them educational loan. Banks wanted collateral. The girls didn’t have any. The only collateral that they could offer was their life. They offered it, jumping down from the multi-storeyed buildings.
These are not the only odds that the girls had to endure. They are all Malalas. And there are many more who are fighting sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is one crime ie, beating the inflation rate in its growth story. Some of our netas have the audacity to speak gobbledygook. A ‘firebrand’ woman leader committed to ‘poribortan’ says it is because girls and boys are intermingling freely nowadays. Another of her brethren says, it is because of eating chowmein. The other one, not to be left far behind, chips in with the suggestion to marry off girls early. And all of them agree that it is girls who were and are responsible for all the crimes that are committed upon them. Be it their dress or their attitude. They simply refuse to see, if at all they have eyes that can see, the rapes of months old babies and octogenarian grannies. Blame it on girls. So kill them even before they are born. Punish the victim. Spare the criminal.
In buses, metro, train, auto, walking, standing, in the classroom, in the work place, and even in the house – no place it appears to be safe. Lewd comments, obscene gestures, unwarranted touches, unleashing the beasts... that seems to be the norm. And blame it all upon the girls. And where is the ‘safe’ place? Neither the womb nor the world! This patriarchal society assigns a single safe spot for girls/women – grave. All of us are Malalas.
It is braving all these odds that girls are coming out to study. Their fight is against fundamentalism of all hues – caste and religion included. Fundamentalists help imperialism and imperialism helps fundamentalism. They feed on unemployment, poverty and economic inequalities. It is only by fighting all such vices can the world be made a more just place. Malala is an example. She fought the fundamentalists. And she is now fighting for her life.
Malala’s life might be saved by giving her the best medical attention and treatment. But how will the society she dreamt of will be built? It’s an emergency. Join. Rush the patient – the society – to the operation theatre. Perform a surgery, ensure a systemic change. We are the doctors and nurses. We are all Malalas. We can cure this malignant tumour – with medicines and scalpels.