Gehlot's time's-up for ghoonghat is praiseworthy

Published: Nov 09, 2019, 05:12 IST | The Editorial | Mumbai

While releasing a book celebrating the spirit of single women and how they were bringing change in the country, Ashok Gehlot categorically stated that women could not progress till there was ghoonghat in the country

Ashok Gehlot. Pic courtesy/Ashok Gehlot's Twitter handle
Ashok Gehlot. Pic courtesy/Ashok Gehlot's Twitter handle

It is not often that you hear politicians mouth inconvenient, uncomfortable truths. Yet, this is just what Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot did. Talking on the sidelines of the 20th anniversary of an organisation that works for women, Gehlot expressed his disappointment over the continued practice of women covering their faces with a 'ghoonghat.' He said the practice must be eradicated as the times have 'changed'.

While releasing a book celebrating the spirit of single women and how they were bringing change in the country, Gehlot categorically stated that women could not progress till there was ghoonghat in the country.

We need a round of applause for the CM. The ghoonghat has no place in contemporary times. It renders a woman faceless and voiceless. It is an effective barrier against communication. It is stifling and a negation of identity. It deprives a woman of the chance to engage with others. Thus, it is a real obstacle to her progress. While this may be more prevalent in smaller towns and villages, there are a handful of women who are still coerced to observe it in cities, usually while meeting older relatives.

While Gehlot is referring to the specific ghoonghat, we must extend this argument to urban milieus. There may not be veils but there are ways to make women voiceless. Restricting their access to certain spaces. Stopping them from speaking to strangers. If not physically, keeping them bound citing intangible rules. In this way, female agency is narrowed, or obliterated altogether.

This is a refreshing change from politicians who have generally spewed archaic and derogatory comments about women or spouted platitudes. When a person in political office speaks, he does influence a sizeable number of people. May we hear more in similar vein and see less of the ghoonghat.

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