Sakshi Mishra is just one of the many daughters 'owned' by Indian families
Families decide marriages for adults, grown-up enough to decide which government should be in power. Daughters who protest often end up paying with their lives.
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On a day a couple reached the Allahabad High Court seeking protection citing a threat to their lives for marrying against the wishes of their family, the man was reportedly beaten up in the court premises.
This could happen despite the couple hitting national headlines after the woman in question made a video alleging that her father, a BJP MLA no less, was threatening her, her husband and his family through his men.
As the video went viral, Sakshi Mishra and her husband, Ajitesh Kumar, appeared on TV delineating the threat they face, how they had been intimidated and how Sakshi's father, Bareilly BJP MLA Rajesh Mishra, was not ready to accept his daughter since she married someone outside her caste.
Sakshi came out in public against her family and father in the hope that would deter the family from harming her and her husband. Her fears weren't unfounded. What reportedly happened in court on July 15 is proof.
Sakshi Mishra, daughter of BJP MLA Rajesh Mishra, whose viral video gripped the country, made an emotional appeal to her father.#ITVideoMore videos at https://t.co/NounxnP7mg pic.twitter.com/tfU6nJlYFK— India Today (@IndiaToday) July 12, 2019
While support poured in for Sakshi with many applauding her strength of character that allowed her to name her father despite the position of power he holds, there were some who launched a smear campaign, going to the extent of saying that the couple's marriage was fake.
Sakshi, meanwhile, isn't the only woman fighting for a right to life on her terms, a life that allows her to choose her partner. Many in India are battling traditions that allow parents to own their children and deny them the right to choose their partners.
On July 15, the Allahabad HC was witness to some horrifying stories. While Ajitesh was beaten up by unidentified men, another couple, reportedly in the court to seek protection after marrying according to their wishes, were abducted.
This is India in 2019.
Families decide marriages for adults, grown-up enough to decide which government should be in power. When families find that their control over their children is loosening, they do not blink before killing them in cold blood.
There were a shockingly high and enduring number of honour killing cases in Indian between 2014 and 2015. As per the latest available published information with National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), a total of 28 cases in 2014, 251 cases in 2015 and 77 cases in 2016 were reported with motive as honour killing.
News stories of people getting killed for daring to follow their hearts are routine. It is for this reason that couples are knocking the doors of courts, seeking the right to live with who they want and how they want.
The custodians of cultures and traditions who want to control women's bodies and minds are hounding women even in places where laws are meant to be enforced.
Sakshi's tears that have been flowing incessantly since she came out with the video are a cry for help and an appeal to our conscience that she has a right to live her life.
Sakshi Mishra's crime? She married a person she liked. (Photo: TV videograb)
Rajesh Mishra doesn't seem to care about any of this. It doesn't matter if he belongs to a party that is reaching out to women with slogans of Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao. His party leadership is quiet. You can dismiss it as a family matter. But making our daughters the custodians of family honour has seen many daughters killed by the very families to which they were born.
Sakshi and Ajitesh may live because they have managed to hit headlines. Many other couples won't be able to do so because an MLA may not be involved, or the victims may belong to the strata of society nobody cares about, or just because we don't find a story sensational enough.
Those daughters are in danger — and it is 2019.