Recently, they saw her in a protest picture. “‘You did exactly what we were scared of. What about our honour now?’ they told me,” she says.
Although the number of women in higher education in India has risen in the past few years to comprise 47.6 percent of the students currently enrolled, the societal expectation is for women to remain, passive bystanders, when it comes to political protest.
Swati Sinha, 24, a student from Lucknow who has attended every protest march in New Delhi since December 12, the day after the citizenship law was passed, says: “My parents want me to get married soon. First, this country needs to stay worth having a family. It is now or never.”
Break the Cage
Fighting for an education
Atmosphere of security
But pictures of women at the forefront of the protests have helped create an atmosphere of security that has inspired other women to keep returning – and more to join.
Subhashini says: “In the past few years, women’s participation in all mass movements has also increased because there have been consistent women-led movements to make the public domain more accessible.”
“Women are not just protesting for their rights,” she says, “but for the rights of everyone, in the hope that others will stand up for our rights too.”
Some names have been changed to protect the identity of the students. Salma Khan, Swati Sinha and Najima Begum are pseudonyms.
Published by Al Jazeera on December 23, 2019