Hadiya’s Case Unravels the Many, Many fathers, Father-figures Young Women Have to Navigate in Life

Meena Kandasamy

Hadiya case and the way the state apparatus has handled it so far shows how much islamophobia is institutionalized and how widely young women are infantilized. She has a freedom to choose her religion why can’t that be respected?

On the one hand, I can only breathe a sigh of relief to know that Hadiya no longer has to remain under the house arrest and preventive custody of her father–which is painful in her position, to say the least. On the other hand, this talk of making the dean of a medical college her guardian smacks of an absolute paternalistic approach, apart from reinforcing the idea that the college and hostel are prisons of a special kind–set in the outside world, but bound up by their own rules of control.

As a medical doctor, Hadiya will someday be deciding if someone is braindead or not–she literally has other people’s lives in her hands–but today, there is a mockery of judging her capability, judging whether what she did is informed, rational, and so on.

I think Hadiya’s case (the way it keeps progressing)–unravels the many, many fathers, father-figures young women have to navigate in life.

Her own father, the default, unappointed conscience keeper of Hindu society, who has been conditioned by society to believe in the anti-Islam propaganda that abounds–a father who cannot digest his daughter is an individual, his daughter can make choices, that she can embrace any religion.

The father figure of the Kerala high court–which deems that a marriage requires parental permission, which decides to get the imaginary Syria angle involved, which annuls a legally valid marriage because the elders are upset.

Then there is the Supreme Father, sorry, Supreme Court–which after all these mini-fathers have run their course buys time and puts her under another guardian-figure. All this while, we are talking about a twenty-something woman who is treated like this! Yes, Marx can write a manifesto to change the world when he is only thirty–but women at twenty-five cannot decide how they want to live their life.

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