Hindu Nationalist Agenda of Asserting Control Over Women’s Bodies Continues in ‘Partly Free’ India – By Mrinali Dhembla
…. A century ago, Hindu nationalists constructed their masculinity in response to colonial conceptions that regarded the Hindu male as effeminate and physically incompetent. Physical power and strength, therefore, became inherent to male-centred Hindu nationalist movements through the 20th century, with communal battle lines between the ‘strong Hindu’ and the ‘lustful Muslim’ drawn across women’s bodies.
In the 1920s, propaganda swirled in the state of Uttar Pradesh through pamphlets and posters that Hindu women’s pure bodies were being violated by lustful Muslim men.
The Hindu nationalist agenda of asserting control over women’s bodies continues till date. One politician recently commented, “Women wearing ripped jeans can’t provide [the] right environment at home for children,” while one of the party’s most high profile leaders has said in the past that “women [are] not capable of being left free or independent.”… Last month, global democracy watchdog Freedom House downgraded India from a ‘Free’ to a ‘Partly Free’ country. For women, the deterioration of India’s democracy is a grim reminder of their plight.