It's a sort of pervasive, long-term mob behaviourism that underlies the collective legitimization of treating women and girls like deviant contaminations to be tolerated in society only for the value of their reproductive capacities. The lies that uphold a belief system that women are the property of men, to be traded like commodities with their chastity incessantly fretted over, have to be widely adopted in order to become firmly entrenched, and thus almost immovable, in a society. When the masses participate in perpetuating an idea, however fallacious, it takes a great deal of courage to go against the grain. And so it happens all too infrequently.
But that status quo changed in Birbhum, a district in India's West Bengal, where 16-year-old wage labourer Sunita Murmu took a tormenting experience of victimization and became a maverick for justice.
Sunita fell in love with a boy from outside her tribe. Her romance with the boy was discovered in June 2010 by her tribal panchayat (an unelected caste-based assembly, sometimes self-proclaiming themselves to the 'moral panchayat', distinctive from authorized, elected panchayats in India). The panchayat members sentenced Sunita to be stripped publicly and forced to walk around her village for...More >>