Legal Marriageable age for women in India is 18, there has been enough sensible talk about it being 18 for men as well. In Pattali Makkal Katchi’s country of ‘Utopia’, however, it is 21 for men and women. Wikipedia describes Utopia as a ‘perfect place designed to have no problems.’ In PMK’s land of Utopia, adults under the age of 21 can only marry if their parents consent – because otherwise, women would be led astray.
The manifesto of the PMK states that it will strive to make parental consent mandatory for marriages between two adults under the age of 21. The manifesto also says that by doing so, young women ‘would not be led astray’ and the institution of family will be protected. By which they of course mean, the institution of caste.
What if the women are ‘led astray’ by their own families into forced marriages when they are under 18? Well, as long as the institution of family is protected and caste ‘honour’ upheld, it really doesn’t matter in PMK’s country of Utopia. According to a recent study, 95% of child marriages in Tamil Nadu take place to thwart ‘love affairs.’ It doesn’t matter that the child marriages lead to increased risk of cervical cancer. In PMK’s country of Utopia, the ‘institution of family’ comes before anything else.
It doesn’t matter that districts in the Western Belt in Tamil Nadu including districts like Salem continue to practice female foeticide. It can never be an issue of serious concern in the land of Utopia, oh unless it becomes so bad that it leads to a shortage of brides. A couple of years ago, there were reports about shortage of brides in the dominant Gounder community, following which some caste organisations took it upon themselves to campaign against female foeticide.
In the same vein, PMK’s manifesto suggests that a fixed deposit be made in the name of every girl child soon after her birth, in a way that it would yield Rs 10 lakh when she reaches the age of 18. If you are convinced that this is out of ‘concern for girls and women’, you qualify to be an eminent citizen of Utopia.
But if you are from the same caste as Ilavarasan or Gokulraj, even such noble thoughts cannot grant you access to the land of Utopia. Accused of luring ‘young women astray’ by sporting sunglasses and jeans, the young men will be awarded mysterious deaths as ‘punishments.’ Well, sanctity of this institution called family is more important than the lives of young men, you know – especially if the families are upper caste, and the young men are from lower caste. The families of Gokulraj and Ilavarasan cannot have the luxury of even being a complete family. They are condemned to live an oppressed life and die if they bypass any ‘Utopian’ law.
In the country of Utopia, ‘honour killing’ need not necessarily be a crime, you could be treated as a hero. Remember the reception Yuvaraj got when he came out on bail after allegedly killing Gokulraj?
In PMK’s country of Utopia, the ‘sanctity of family’ is invested in a woman’s ‘honour’. Hence it becomes an ‘object’ that needs protection. By extended logic, the women who carry that honour too ‘need the same protection.’ It doesn’t matter that the women find the ‘protection’ suffocating.
‘Education’ could have probably ‘led them astray.’ Remember that age-old adage in Tamil which wondered why women blowing on stoves need education at all? (அடுப்பூதும் பெண்களுக்கு படிப்பெதற்கு?) I wouldn’t be surprised if the PMK goes by the adage, in its Utopia. All it needs is a Utopia where it could implement such laws without the fear of election or revolt.
If you don’t trust this one too, check online for generous doses of advice on how to bring up women in the wake of the Pollachi horror. It is difficult to not draw a parallel to the ideological affinity of those voices with parties like the PMK or the BJP.
Among a few other meaningless adages in Tamil, one goes like this: Silence is a form of consent (மௌனம் சம்மதம்). Well, if you tie my mouth and construe my silence to the violence unleashed on me as a form of consent, I know I have arrived at your Utopia.
Kavitha Muralidharan is a journalist with two decades of experience, writing on politics, culture, literature and cinema.
Source: The News Minute