‘Bonfire of oppressions’ by Dr Suchitra Dalvie
The history of oppression and exploitation is an old one but so is the history of resistance.
One could write reams about the structural violence that has been faced by women in a patriarchal system, indigenous populations under colonization, slaves and bonded labour under fiefdoms, so- called developing countries under global trade and finance agreements, minority religions under fundamentalist regimes and citizens under fascism.
Although structural violence is said to be invisible, it has a number of influences which shape it including ideologies, discriminatory laws and unequal justice.
When children still die of malnutrition, girls are married off at the age of 8, the number of incarcerated persons are more likely to be from poorer classes and minority groups, when most rape accused are acquitted, when police murder citizens openly, then it is not just the case of one or two rotten apples in the barrel.
We need to look at who has made the barrel.
Philip Zimbardo says it eloquently in his TED talk on the psychology of evil, based on the Stanford Prison Experiment and concludes that what is really evil is power. Power in the hands of a person or a structure that can misuse it or abuse it without any consequences to themselves, without any accountability and without any redressal for those they abuse.
This is why we keep coming back to all the clichés and the slogans –because they make sense! This is why we need to keep reminding ourselves that personal IS political, that injustice to one is injustice to ALL and that we MUST speak truth to power!
As we watch the protests against police atrocities in the United States of America, we stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matters movement.
Changing the status quo is extremely difficult because power will never be given away—it has to be taken.
Whether we advocate for women to take back the power to control their own bodies and fertility or whether we advocate for stopping female genital mutilation or sex trafficking, or stopping police brutality, citizen arrests and intrusive surveillance, we all speak for the same thing—a better world where we can all live as equals and fulfil our highest potential in the way that we want to.
A world where every government is held accountable to do their duty to respect, protect and fulfill the human rights of every citizen, irrespective of colour, class, creed, gender, ability or any other discriminatory criterion.
In a world reeling under the pandemic, every faultline and every shortcoming and every marginalization has been magnified.
Maybe the light at the end of the tunnel that is 2020 will finally be the bonfire of oppressions.