Monday, January 09, 2012

Women and Voting? Shut Up!

Four more weeks and India's largest state Uttar Pradesh (UP)will go into election. But in a village called Sehruwa under UP's Lakhimpur -Kheri district, only half the population will cast its vote; the other half  - all of them women - will stay away from the polling booths. Why? Because in this village voting by women is forbidden.

Yes, crazy it might sound, but in Sehruwa village women have never voted. And I mean NEVER.  It is said that soon after 1947, men of the village got together and decided that women need not vote - which has been in practice even today. And guess what! Sehruwa is only 144 km away from Lucknow where Mayawati - the state's (woman) chief minister resides and rules.

By size, Sehruwa isn't very big. Home to 193 families, it has a population of 1278 people, of them  576 are women. 324 of these women (this is the number of women above 18) are illiterate.  None of the women work outside their homes, even in the rural employment schemes, its only the men who take part.

Now, the question that one comes up with is obviously 'why don't women of Sehruwa vote?'  And here is your answer:
Because, they don't have a voter ID card.
And why don't they have a voter ID?
Because, to get that, one has to get photographed. The Sehruwa, 70% people belong to the Muslim Pathan community (the rest are Dalit- just like Mayawati herself is). The men of the community won't allow their women to remove their veils (violates the 'tradition', they say) which makes it impossible to get a photo taken. No photos, no voter id, no votes. Things don't get any simpler - and idiotic - than this, do they? But this has been in pactice since 1847.

If you have any more question, maybe these should be directed to the state Election Commission or,  the political parties, each of which talks of women empowerment?

***This isn't a blog against any religious community, but against injustice and ignorance***

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