Mumbai: Student who began movement against virginity ritual speaks at event

Feb 14, 2018, 09:20 IST | Pallavi Smart

This is not about Kanjarbhat alone, says founder of 'Stop the V Ritual' Vivek Tamichikar, who feels this movement should be taken forward in every community that practices such regressive rituals

Vivek Tamichikar (extreme right) takes the dais as other panellists listen in. Pic/Sameer Markande
Vivek Tamichikar (extreme right) takes the dais as other panellists listen in. Pic/Sameer Markande

Speaking up about the regressive virginity ritual in his community and starting a revolution against it earned student Vivek Tamichikar recognition from his alma mater, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). Tamichikar, through his movement 'Stop the V Ritual' has been working to create awareness against virginity tests of newlywed brides in the Kanjarbhat community. To discuss the issue, as part of Samvaad 2018, a talk on 'Community Struggles for Virginity Test Ban in the Current National Context,' was organised by the TISS Students' Union, in collaboration with the School of Habitat Studies, from where Tamichikar will graduate this year.

Also read: Kanjarbhat youths, leaders invite trouble over virginity testing ritual

Also present at the talk held in the amphitheatre in TISS's new campus were Mukta Dabholkar from Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti, Dr. Amita Dhanda, from NALSAR Hyderabad.

Starting a dialogue
"This is not only about receiving recognition from my institute but also about how such talks have led to more people starting a dialogue at different levels. More people from our generation should take the thought forward in whichever manner, if the problem exists in different communities. This is not about Kanjarbhat alone. To make the movement stronger, it has to receive participation from all castes and strata of the society," said Tamichikar.

Dabholkar said, "Such mass collaboration is required to make the revolution possible. From our groundwork of so many years it has been discovered how controlling a woman's sexuality is the panchayats' way to ensure purity of caste. Patriarchy and caste system go hand in hand because the panchayats, which define and govern these systems are formed by men who find different ways to guard women's sexuality."

Panchayat's stronghold
"These panchayats have stronghold that can be understood with the fact of not a single case being filed in the Kanjarbhat community, despite a law making ostracising illegal. This is why a higher legal intervention is required. It's a good thing is that the young generation is taking forward examples like Vivek's. To look at it positively, 13 castes have decided to scrap their Jaat Panchayats. But much more is needed to be done in this case in Maharashtra, which boasts of being a progressive state," said Dabholkar.

Adding a larger perspective, Dr. Amita Dhanda, expressed how even in communities without active panchayats, there are ways in which women's sexuality is always controlled. Archana Soreng from TISS Students' Union, talking about objective behind organising this event, said, "Other than it being an effort of recognising a movement started by our fellow student, we want to strengthen it by initiating a dialogue."

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