Unknown Women of India: An Online Photo-Exhibition by Arif Siddiqui
CLICK ON THE PHOTO TO SEE THE SLIDE-SHOW
Do the women in these photographs look Indian to you? Well, they are Indian, and their oriental features are characteristic of millions of Indians from the North Eastern parts of India, as well as from sections of certain other Northern States, as in Sikkim, North Bengal, Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh. In numbers, they are by no means a minority, even if they remain conspicuously absent in media, films, and other prominent governmental and private posts in India.
However, even to many Indians they are not Indian because of their racial features!! And this racist perception has led to some violent consequences in India.
In August 2012, more than 500,000 Indians fled from the Western and Southern regions of India to their home-towns in the North-East, fearing for their safety and lives. It has been described as the largest internal exodus in recent times in India.
The reason for this exodus was a fear of escalating racist attacks, that others from the NE had already been subjected to, in some parts of India. The people who fled feared that they will be attacked only because they are not accepted as being truly Indian by other Indians, on the basis of their oriental features, and so they left their jobs and homes overnight and fled.
Mary Kom, who is from the North-Eastern state of Manipur, and who won a bronze medal in Boxing at the 2012 London Olympics, explains how even an athlete of her stature has to endure racism in her own country: “I tell them we are not Nepali, we are Manipuri, so don’t speak like that, this is very bad manners…Something ching ching ching ching they start speaking, I don’t know what. Even they don’t know what! We are feeling bad. We are Indian. Ya, the face is different. But heart is Indian.”
Furthermore, as dangerous as it is to be a woman in India (it’s what our campaign and blog is all about) it makes it that much more treacherous for women of minority communities when racism combines with sexism.
As veteran journalist Jug Suraiya points out, “North-eastern [Indian] women are deemed to be sexually promiscuous – because of their so-called ‘westernised’ ways, which often include the ability to speak English well – and are subject to physical and verbal harassment by landlords, co-workers and neighbours [as they live and work in other parts of India.]” Click here for our earlier post on ‘Faces Hidden by Racism’
To set the record straight we present here an online photo-exhibition by Arif Siddiqui, a member of The 50 Million Missing Campaign’s Photographers Group on Flickr which is supported by more than 2400 photographers from over 20 countries including India. Arif also has one of the most extensive photo documentation of the beautiful women, their clothes, and traditions from the 7 North-Eastern states of India.