The story about Hindu and Sikh girls being forcibly converted by Islamist fundamentalists on university campuses, so carelessly thrown around in the media last week, has a whiff of urban myth about it.
Apparently, as reported by a number of papers yesterday including The Metro, Hindu leaders want their own “security force” to protect these vulnerable, empty-headed girls who are being targeted by sinister Muslim radicals and are paid “up to Â£5,000 for each success”.
So where is the evidence of this mass targeted campaign? Having researched around this area I understand there is some nail-biting among some Hindus and Sikh in ‘the communities’ that there are genuine cases where women have converted out of their faiths. But whenever I asked for evidence of these so called malicious campaigns there was always a “well it’s someone, who told someone, who knows someone that this happened to”.
I remember when I was around 14, a letter was circulated by an organisation called Khilafat in our local area warning Hindu/Sikh parents to look after their daughters because they were the prey of Muslims. It caused a huge amount of panic and for months we were house-bound and banned from doing any after-school activities. But no one found out who produced it.
The fears of conversion seem to be played upon by a number of different communities because it is highly emotive and it will get people’s backs up about the “demon other” and is the perfect justification for asserting aggressive religious identities.
We only need to look back 60 years when India was being carved up and the disgusting use of this weapon “converting our women” to see how Hindu, Sikh and Muslim (men) turned this fear into an ugly reality. An estimated 75,000 women were physically abducted and brutally assaulted by pople – in the name of what? Women’s bodies have always been an easy target in these struggles to define and defend communities and the fear of conversion is being abused to play communal cards in the UK once again.
On top of that, how patronising is this to Hindu and Sikh girls who have obviously been successful in their education to be in University to be told that they need to be protected because they obviously can’t think for themselves and make choices about their relationships and identities?
We’re not Sitas in the jungles who need circles of fire drawn around us to protect our divinity because the evil Ravan is hunting us down to get back at Ram. Take your chauvinist ego battles somewhere else, we’ve got better things to fight for.
This is a guest post
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Filed in: Hindu,Media,Muslim,Organisations