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Indian Women Win Medals Daily, Surviving Violence & Abuse

In their life-long hurdle race, Indian women are let down by many. Doesn’t that make them worthy of medals?

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Video Producer: Mayank Chawla

Video Editor: Mohd Irshad Alam

Yeh Jo India Hai Na, Yahan Olympic medal mila hai PV Sindhu, Lovlina Borgohain aur Mirabai Chanu ko, but there are many more women in India who deserve a medal. Lets meet some of them.

RUKMINI DEVI 

Rukmini Devi from Harayana's Sonipat is a gold Medal winner in a 25-year long hurdle race!

Hurdle #1, an alcoholic and violent husband whom she left. Hurdle #2, poverty, she worked in factories to make ends meet. Hurdle #3, with almost no support, she backed her daughter’s hunger to play hockey, even if it meant using torn PT shoes and shorts stitched from old clothes.

That daughter grew up to be Neha Goyal, part of India’s amazing Women’s Hockey Team! But surely Neha’s champion mother, Rukmini Devi, deserves a Gold medal of her own!

BALLIA DISTRICT'S 18-YR-OLD 

On 30th July, as PV Sindhu beat Japanese player Yamaguchi in her Olympic Badminton quarterfinal, another gold medal was won by an 18-year-old from East UP’s Ballia district! A Hindu, she chose to marry a Muslim man, but when the couple went to record their marriage in court, they were stopped by members of radical Hindu group Karni Sena, who called the marriage a case of “forced conversion” and “love jihad".

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On video, in court premises, these goons harassed the woman with questions about her age, her religion, her caste. Even after she told them she was an adult and was marrying her husband Danish of her own free will, these goons forcibly took her to a police station.

Even after accepting it wasn’t a case of forced conversion, the cops handed the girl over to her parents, not to her husband! Her family too, reportedly didn’t respect her choice, and had filed a missing person complaint. Surely this brave young woman is another medal winner!

But, what’s the point we’re trying to make? Yeh Jo India Hai Na, yahan, how can our women dream of Olympic medals, when they can’t even marry a man of their choice?

Let down by the cops, the local administration, her own family and community, harassed by religious fanatics, when will she, and thousands like her, ever have the freedom to choose a sporting career, and have any chance of winning any medal at any Games, anywhere? Unfortunately, not any time soon.

INDIA'S NORTH-EASTERNERS

Next, yes, it’s true, Assam’s Lovlina Borgohain won a boxing Bronze, Manipur’s Mirabai Chanu won a weightlifting Silver, and Manipur’s Mary Kom has been India’s champion boxer for years, but what about our other fellow Indians from the North-east - from Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Arunachal, Sikkim, Manipur, Assam, Tripura - when they are called Chinki, when they are beaten up, even killed, as young Nido Taniam was, in Delhi, when they are asked - ‘Tera rate kya hai?’, when people refuse to rent them rooms or flats?

Surely, for handling all such disgusting abuse with dignity, they deserve medals!

Yeh Jo India Hai Na, yahan jab Lovlina aur Mirabai ko medal milte hain, tab unhein milti hain taaliyan! But rest of the time, hum dete hain unhein, gaaliyan!

VICTIMS OF SEXUAL ASSUALTS 

Next, lets drop all talk about medals, and talk about Gangrape - a 9-year-old Dalit girl from Delhi just a few days ago allegedly gang-raped and killed, her body forcibly cremated. In September 2020, a 19-year-old Dalit woman was gang-raped in Hathras, UP. She died two weeks later. In January 2018, 8-year-old Asifa was abducted, gang-raped, and murdered near Kathua in Jammu & Kashmir. The Unnao gang-rape case, June 2017, where even the survivor’s father was murdered in judicial custody - the list is endless.

These are not only cases of extreme sexual violence and murder, in each of these cases, but there’s also the stench of the police or administration or local community or local politicians or all of them, colluding to cover up the crime. Meaning, not only are these crimes committed, but those whom the victims, the survivors, and their families, would look towards for justice - in case after case, they let them down.

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Yeh Jo India Hai Na, if this is where we are stuck as a country and as a society if this is the violent, regressive reality that millions of Indian women face every day then how can we even start a conversation about Olympic medals for them?

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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