This is what india’s medal tally displayed before sakshi malik finally opened our account late on the 12th day of rio Olympics. This was followed by a stupendous performance by shuttler P.V. Sindhu who bagged a silver, the highest feat achieved by a Indian women in Olympic history. All this, came after what we would call as a heartbreak as both dipa karmakar and sania mirza finished fourth in their respective events.
The nation was dully praising its daughters. And why not? They had made the whole country proud. Carrying the pressure of hopes of 1.25 billion people is itself an achievement.
But there were still something agonisingly wrong in these praises and wishes. Something that reflected what was wrong in our country. Something that needs to be corrected, and that too very soon.
P.V. sindhu and more so sakshi malik, because of the state which she belongs to, were being made the face of the ‘beti bachao’ campaign. All was in good faith, but this faith was misleading.
After coming from the shadows of a male dominated society, taking up sports as a profession in a country where even education for girls is considered as a waste of money, keeping aside the ‘beauty standards’ set by the society and taking the field in scorching heat, overcoming the lack of sports infrastructure and facilities, through an atmosphere in which female athletes are required to give sexual favours if they want to surge ahead, and finally pinning down their opponents.
Does that lady that teaches hundreds of students every year and shapes their future requires a medal so that her upcoming generation is allowed to live? Does that lady who works day and night as the sole bread earner for her family need a medal for her daughter to be allowed to live? Does my mother, after bringing up two children and fulfilling every duty of hers inspite of several obstacles created by this sick society of ours, require a ice of metal to show that she is worthy enough to breathe the same air as we do? Does your mother and sister require any certificate or approval to be allowed to be born and live their damn lives?
The very core of our mentality is wrong. Even when parents are proud of their daughters, they say ‘ye hmari beti nhi, hmara beta hai’. Read this again and you will know what is wrong with this statement. After all that she has done for you and made you proud, you compare her and say she is like a son. Because it not only about the money, there is also a thinking that its the boys who take the family name forward. This ‘ like a son’ reference is what is pulling our society down.
Our athletes have done great. Excessively great to win medal at such an auspicious event. They deserve every ounce and inch of respect and credit for their efforts.
Our female athletes as the face of women empowerment, Yes.
As the face of the need and subsequent prospects of sports development,Yes.
As the face of the entire country and its pride,Yes
But as the face of a campaign which asks for a girls right to live. It might not really work.
You might argue that its just a reference and there is nothing wrong in it. But think of those people who you are actually targeting with this campaign. People who go to the extent of female foeticide for the sake of money or society ‘laurels’.
By making these athletes as the face of the ‘beti bachao’ campaign we are actually trying to make realize a person, who doesn’t value a life, the value of piece of metal hanging by a thread. by doing this we only adding fuel to that evil social fire that objectifies women by saying that they have right to live because they might bring you fame an riches. Think about it.