Religious, caste or misogynistic prejudices are bred within the domestic set-up itself by a generation that is “damaged beyond repair”, said writer Bolwar Mahamad Kunhi during theMangalore University-level Literary Conference here on Saturday.
The Kendra Sahitya Academy award-winner said parents are to be blamed for the bias in a young mind which leads to prejudice in society. “Parents are the ones who tell their children that it is correct only to worship ‘our’ gods and not ‘their’ gods. Similarly, none of us know which caste we are because our forefathers have been converted and reconverted many times. And yet, we fight in the name of caste as it has been drilled into us to aspire towards a higher caste,” he said and added that the need to propagate caste superiority even sees ‘Bhootakolas’ being tinged with caste.
With religion being propagated fervently in the house itself, it wasn’t surprising that stereotyping women based on figures from religious textbooks is imposed upon society, said Mr. Kunhi.
“Our religious texts are the biggest hurdles in women’s empowerment. Women are expected to be the Sati-Savithri types, where they even feel ashamed to hang their undergarments in the balcony,” he said, and his point was buttressed by the noticeable giggle from the girls in the audience at the mention of the undergarments.
“Religion is written by man, and so, society naturally becomes a male-dominated set-up. Even language has a masculine tinge to it. Take the sign ‘men at work’, that is put in construction sites even though women work in them too,” said Mr. Kunhi.
Commenting on the ‘burqa’ issue which he said though many looked at it as a sign of misogyny, Muslim students wearing burqa should be treated delicately. “Those who wear burqa to schools are probably among the first women in their families to be educated. The families have had no exposure to education, and the parents do not know how it will be like for a girl. They force the burqa on the girls, fearing remonstration from the masjid. But I know that most of these girls, when they become parents may not force the burqa on their daughters,” he said.
He lamented the lack of representation of Muslims in literature, explaining that in texts written by those from other religions, Muslims are only transient characters and never the protagonists. “It’s like they’ve left these characters to Muslim writers. Or perhaps, they have a fear of repercussion for misrepresenting Muslims,” said Mr. Kunhi.