How this JNU professor became a powerful figure of dissent against the Hindu right
While the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 was in place, there were sustained demands in the late seventies to further strengthen the law and to stop offences of cruelty by the husband or his relatives against the wife.
After the police complaint was filed against her, news channels which had earlier floated doctored videos of JNUSU president, Kanhaiya Kumar, from the February 9 event, dug out an earlier lecture by Nivedita where they claim she “disrespected” Indian culture by kissing a fellow speaker on the cheek. This was during a ‘Kiss of Love’ talk, where Nivedita was advocating the right to love.
The Samiti counsels women facing marital discord. They are told that “after marriage, a girl will have many responsibilities in her new home. It is not advisable for her to bring disquiet by refusing to compromise. If ordained by her fate, her husband will permit her to study.”
When I asked another pracharika from Jabalpur in the same training camp, “What advice would you give to a victim of wife beating?” she answered, “Don’t parents admonish their children for misbehaviour? Just as a child must adjust to his/her parents, so must a wife act keeping in mind her husband’s moods and must avoid irritating him. Only this can keep the family together.” Divorce is not an option. She says, “Our task is to keep the family together, not (to) break it. We tell the women to adjust. Sometimes, we try to counsel the husband too.”
(Some names have been changed)
Published by the Wire on April 19, 2016.