By Saritha S Balan
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The gender factor is evident even within the so-called morality brigade, says Arundathi B, the Malayali student who led the ‘Kiss of Love’ (KoL) campaign on University of Hyderabad campus.
Life for Arundathi, a first year student in Political Science at the University, has not been the same after the KoL event. It has turned a classic example of how life could be for a woman or a girl who not just responds but actually protests against ‘moral’ attacks.The latest ‘threat’ to Arundhati are her morphed photographs which show her in the nude and shared on WhatsApp by those claiming to be ‘moralists’. She has been facing attacks from such individuals of all castes and religions stationed in several places over the last two days.
“At first, they used photographs showing me taking part in KoL and attacked me through obscene comments on WhatsApp and Facebook. Then, I myself shared the photos on FB, which shut their mouths. And soon they went to the extent of making over my photos, to morph them as nude and shared them. The comments were so abusive and vulgar. Is this morality?,’’ she asks.
“The fundamentalists were targeting me. Strangely, no one ever made any comment against the men who took part in KoL. They targeted only women. They were evidently attempting character assassination of women like me. Gender is evident even in this case,” Arundathi says.
Arundathi, a 21-year-old hailing from Ranni in Pathanamthitta, says that moral policing is not happening in Kerala only but everywhere in India. “The worrying part is that the police, by registering cases, attempt to frighten those who protest. There is nothing to worry if we are booked under section 294 of the IPC and that is what we are campaigning for now. The worst aspect is that the universities are taking action against the students. The suspension of students who took part in the ‘hug of love’ at Maharaja’s College should be read along with this,” she says.
Arundathi repeats that she organised and led the protest not as an actress but as an individual who has all civilian rights. “In my case, those who opposed me also tried to propagate the idea that actresses and anchors lead a life without values, which shows the highest level of intolerance. For me, my body and my kiss are political tools and not something obscene,” she adds.
Arundhati is optimistic that whatever she and like-minded people have to face now will change in the future.
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