‘Water Cannons Don’t Scare Us Anymore’: Women Farmers at Protest
“We are farmers too. We own land and can drive tractors,” women participating in farmers’ protest told The Quint.
(This article was first published on 7 December 2020. It has been republished from The Quint's archives over the SC's remarks on women at farmers' protest.)
Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana and other parts of India are camping at the borders of Delhi to protest the new farm laws passed in September. Among these farmers are also women who have walked miles from home to be part of this agitation. The Quint spoke to these women farmers to understand their struggles and demands.
‘Farming Isn’t Just About Men; We Own Lands & Drive Tractors Too’
Harinder Kaur has come all the way from Amritsar with her son to participate in the protests. She told The Quint that contrary to popular perception, women play a very crucial role in the agricultural sector. “I agree men are central to farming. They plough the fields, drive the tractors, water the fields at night among many other things. But a woman has bigger role to play here,” she said.
“If women don’t share the workload with men, then it becomes difficult. We work both inside and outside the house. These days women do not hesitate in stepping out and helping the men in the family. We know how to drive tractors and use fertilisers.”Harinder Kaur, Amritsar
Gurmeet, also a farmer from Amritsar in Punjab, says that it is an extremely unpleasant experience for women to be out on the streets. However, this fight is such that they had to come.
“Women are an integral part of the farming process. We are all farmers. This isn’t just a man’s job. Women do it too. The message being delivered across Punjab is that everyone should reach the national capital. The women who are still at home should also join this movement.”Gurmeet, Amritsar
‘We Don’t Fear Water Cannons and Tear Gas Anymore’
When asked about the use of force by the cops on farmers on their way to the national capital, Hardeep from Sangrur in Punjab said that she doesn’t fear the water cannons and will not go back until the government repeals the three farm laws.
“They used tear gas shells and water cannons, but they don’t know that I used to swim in the river Satluj. Their tear gas shells and water cannons cannot intimidate someone who has lived around the river Satluj. I am not scared.”Hardeep, Sangrur
Adding to this, Harinder Kaur said that they anticipated these difficulties when they were leaving from home. But they are determined to not let go of the fight. She also told us that several people have come forward to help the farmers in their journey.
“When we left home, we felt that we will face many difficulties and that has actually happened. But as soon as we crossed Haryana, we received lots of love and help from our brothers in Haryana and then when we came here and camped in Delhi, people here helped us. At the Kundli border we received timely help from Khalsa aid and Bangla Sahib Langar and others helped,” Kaur said.
‘Won’t Move Until The Three Farm Laws Are Repealed’
These women told us that despite the difficulties, they will not go back until the government agrees to roll back the new farm laws.
“We don’t have any problem in sitting here. We have not been facing any difficulties. The only problem we have is with the black laws introduced by this government. We are here to force the government to roll back these laws. If they do so, we will go back home, but if that doesn’t happen, we won’t go home. Not even in a year or two years. We will keep sitting here.”Hardeep, Sangrur
“Women are facing more difficulties than men. But this is an experience of a lifetime and when we return after our victory, we will tell women back home about our experiences and the fight we’ve fought,” Gurmeet added.
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