Sacred Trust: Protesting The Indian Policies That Put Cows Ahead Of Women – Forbes

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Sujatro Ghosh

A woman and a cow have a stare-off

Imagine living in a society where a rapist and a murderer get away scot free, but eating beef results in death by stoning. Most of us couldn’t imagine living under such a dysfunctional bureaucracy, but if you are a woman living in India, you might have asked yourself at some point, “is it safer to be a cow than a woman?”

In 2012, the gang-rape and murder of a Delhi student, Jyoti Singh – posthumously known as Nirbhaya – sparked an international conversation about violence against women. Now, almost five years later, statistics demonstrate that reported rapes and sexual assaults have not significantly fallen in the country’s capital, with at least six rapes and 12 assaults being reported daily.

The issue of sexual violence isn’t unique to only India –&nbsp;far from it –&nbsp;but the problem gets compounded by the utter irony that, in India, you could get killed for hurting a cow.

A surge in incidents of vigilante violence against religious minorities and low-caste Hindus have swept the nation in the name of protecting cows, an animal considered sacred by many. And whilst people kill one another over the differences in their choice of dinner, they are ignoring the plight of an entire community; one that includes their wives, daughters, sisters and mothers.

Several states in India have banned the slaughtering of cows. In Gujarat, the crime can lead to a&nbsp;sentence of life imprisonment. Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has also campaigned to ban cow slaughtering. But although he has condemned the mob killings, a member of his political party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, recently introduced the Cow Protection Bill, which would make the crime punishable by death.

Kolkata based artist and feminist, Sujatro Ghosh’s latest project encourages women to wear cow masks to protest the sexism that exists for women in his home country, proving to the government and extremists that women and men alike will not cower down to such double standards (no pun intended).

Sujatro Ghosh

Women in India wear cow masks to protect themselves as men look on.

“The core issue is women’s rights and protection,” said Ghosh. “I’m not against protecting cows, I love animals. But I’m concerned about my country’s socio-political scenario.”

In a humorous juxtaposition of the two trends, Ghosh effectively mocks the idiocrasy of the whole system, while showing solidarity with the victims of both, sexual and mob violence, and highlights the abysmal depths of our flawed society. A society which believes that women should be set alight if caught engaging in pre-marital activities, and individuals should be beaten to death for eating beef.

For all its symbolism of extolling the virtues of womanhood, there is a widespread violence engrained in Indian culture. A culture where girls are groomed to be good wives and dissuaded from having a career. They are seen as procreators, built for preserving Indian culture. And it is this very mentality that allows men to treat women as objects, easily controlled by their fathers and husbands. This cultural epidemic has made its way to a male-dominated parliament, where most politicians have other priorities, and many have charges of assault against women pending themselves.

Sujatro Ghosh

Sujatro Ghosh’s latest project is a silent protest against the Indian government.

As a result, we see men like Vijay Rupani, the Chief Minister of Gujarat, make incongruous claims in a bid to capitalize on Hindu nationalist fervor and get more votes by alienating the minority. It is then debatable whether the outcry is for the well-being of cows, or their own political gain.

“The protection of cows is the single-most important principle towards saving the whole world from both moral and spiritual degradation.”

– Vijay Rupani, Chief Minister of Gujarat

India is a nation where cattle are worshiped but the cattle class is forgotten about. If the same energy and legal attention towards cows was given towards women, perhaps we would see less rapists and fewer assaults. But it will not be until the mentality of men in the country is challenged to its core, will we witness progressive and positive change. Until men accept a woman’s increasing assertiveness and equal role within society, our rights will not be protected and our bodies will not be respected. In the meantime, we will have to resort to stirring up more beef to get our point across.

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Sujatro Ghosh

A woman and a cow have a stare-off

Imagine living in a society where a rapist and a murderer get away scot free, but eating beef results in death by stoning. Most of us couldn’t imagine living under such a dysfunctional bureaucracy, but if you are a woman living in India, you might have asked yourself at some point, “is it safer to be a cow than a woman?”

In 2012, the gang-rape and murder of a Delhi student, Jyoti Singh – posthumously known as Nirbhaya – sparked an international conversation about violence against women. Now, almost five years later, statistics demonstrate that reported rapes and sexual assaults have not significantly fallen in the country’s capital, with at least six rapes and 12 assaults being reported daily.

The issue of sexual violence isn’t unique to only India – far from it – but the problem gets compounded by the utter irony that, in India, you could get killed for hurting a cow.

A surge in incidents of vigilante violence against religious minorities and low-caste Hindus have swept the nation in the name of protecting cows, an animal considered sacred by many. And whilst people kill one another over the differences in their choice of dinner, they are ignoring the plight of an entire community; one that includes their wives, daughters, sisters and mothers.

Several states in India have banned the slaughtering of cows. In Gujarat, the crime can lead to a sentence of life imprisonment. Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has also campaigned to ban cow slaughtering. But although he has condemned the mob killings, a member of his political party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, recently introduced the Cow Protection Bill, which would make the crime punishable by death.

Kolkata based artist and feminist, Sujatro Ghosh’s latest project encourages women to wear cow masks to protest the sexism that exists for women in his home country, proving to the government and extremists that women and men alike will not cower down to such double standards (no pun intended).

Sujatro Ghosh

Women in India wear cow masks to protect themselves as men look on.

“The core issue is women’s rights and protection,” said Ghosh. “I’m not against protecting cows, I love animals. But I’m concerned about my country’s socio-political scenario.”

In a humorous juxtaposition of the two trends, Ghosh effectively mocks the idiocrasy of the whole system, while showing solidarity with the victims of both, sexual and mob violence, and highlights the abysmal depths of our flawed society. A society which believes that women should be set alight if caught engaging in pre-marital activities, and individuals should be beaten to death for eating beef.

For all its symbolism of extolling the virtues of womanhood, there is a widespread violence engrained in Indian culture. A culture where girls are groomed to be good wives and dissuaded from having a career. They are seen as procreators, built for preserving Indian culture. And it is this very mentality that allows men to treat women as objects, easily controlled by their fathers and husbands. This cultural epidemic has made its way to a male-dominated parliament, where most politicians have other priorities, and many have charges of assault against women pending themselves.

Sujatro Ghosh

Sujatro Ghosh’s latest project is a silent protest against the Indian government.

As a result, we see men like Vijay Rupani, the Chief Minister of Gujarat, make incongruous claims in a bid to capitalize on Hindu nationalist fervor and get more votes by alienating the minority. It is then debatable whether the outcry is for the well-being of cows, or their own political gain.

“The protection of cows is the single-most important principle towards saving the whole world from both moral and spiritual degradation.”

– Vijay Rupani, Chief Minister of Gujarat

India is a nation where cattle are worshiped but the cattle class is forgotten about. If the same energy and legal attention towards cows was given towards women, perhaps we would see less rapists and fewer assaults. But it will not be until the mentality of men in the country is challenged to its core, will we witness progressive and positive change. Until men accept a woman’s increasing assertiveness and equal role within society, our rights will not be protected and our bodies will not be respected. In the meantime, we will have to resort to stirring up more beef to get our point across.

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