I will remember October 7 for a horrifying co-incidence as far as women’s rights go.
It is a day when three outstanding women activists – Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, activist Leymah Gbowee of Liberia, and rights activist Tawakkul Karman of Yemen – shared Nobel Peace Prize “for their nonviolent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”
Closer home, it’s also a day when Vijayalakshmi, wife of Kannada film star Darshan Toogudeepa – first bashed up, tamed into submission, and then forced to withdraw her complaint – goes public, seeking pardon from Darshan fans after he walked out on conditional bail.
“I am extremely happy about this development. I will assure all the fans and friends of Darshan that such things will not occur in future…. I will seek their pardon. It was a bad time and both of us never realised that things will go to such extremities. I am too eager to invite my husband to our residence,” she told a section of the media.
The fans once again went berserk celebrating their star’s ‘freedom’ although it is a conditional bail and investigation has just begun.
How are we to stomach these developments when the fact that a woman’s right to a safe married life was violated in the most heinous manner is indisputable? How are we to put up with this jubilation in the midst of serious human rights violations? How are we to believe that the guilty will be punished when we know how influential and powerful people can tamper with evidence and weaken the case to a point where the very act of filing the FIR would seem utterly meaningless? How are we to continue to believe that it will not set a bad precedent for those who have already mastered the art of wife-beating and those who nurse such tendencies? Most importantly, in what way will this episode empower those women undergoing similar torture from their husbands?
It’s time to analyse this incident beyond the equation between a film star and his fans and producers and in fact, Kannada filmdom itself. Those who heard the loud cheers of Darshan fans would sure have figured out why they got so raucous and celebratory. It’s less about the pain of seeing their favourite star behind the bars, but more about suppressing the rights of a woman. More so if she is a wife of a star whose films revel in exaggerated masculine pride.
(For more articles on this scandal and other issues, visit ‘Candid Comments’ category)