Women are leading the charge with protests against India’s new Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which provides a path for citizenship for many “persecuted minorities” – but specifically leaves out Muslims as one of those minorities.
People are upset that India, an officially secular nation, is singling out Muslim people and not providing them the same opportunities for citizenship as other groups with this law. There have even been comparisons to President Trump’s Muslim ban. Legal experts and opposition argue that the CAA violates the 14th article of the Indian constitution, which guarantees the right to equality.
Women and other protesters have been sitting in since mid-December – and they don’t plan on stopping soon. Saba Khatoon, one of the protesters, said that “We are protesting for justice, for our rights and we will not move until this law is revoked.” The non-violent sit-in held at Shaheen Bagh began after police stormed and assaulted students at Jamia Millia Islamia University who took part in a protest against the CAA.
Women have been at the forefront of these protests since they began. From all walks of life in India, women are coming out to protest the new law because they feel that they have no choice. 82-year-old Bilquis had never taken part in any protest before this one. She goes home “only when I have to change my clothes of take a bath” she stated. Another woman, Ruheena Khan, 35, comes to the protest every day with her five-month-old, staying sometimes until midnight. She echoes the sentiments of many protests past as she asked “If not today, then when. Will we begin protests when they [government] start putting us in detention centers?”.
“This protest doesn’t belong to Muslims only but to all those people who believe in the Indian constitution and want to protect it” Shyama Khan, 24, stated. The protests continue, as the show of solidarity throughout India grows.
Aljazeera 1/15/20; Aljazeera 12/16/19; Washington Post 12/16/19; National Portal of India 09/01/15.