Wednesday, Feb 08, 2023

When will women ever be allowed? Questions Renuka Shahane after burkini ban

Renuka Shahane has been publicly posting and tweeting about women's issues and human rights in the recent past. Her latest Facebook post on the burkini ban, which has gone viral, asks if women are always to be seen as underdressed or overdressed.

RenukaShahane759 Renuka Shahane speaks for many other women in her post on the burkini ban. (Source: Facebook)

Of late Renuka Shahane, the chirpy actress from Hum Aapke Hain Koun..!, has become quite vocal on social media, and we love it. She has been speaking her mind, no holds barred, on current issues – poignantly and pointedly. From Salman Khan’s rape comment to reaching out to Irom Sharmila, Shahane’s posts have created quite a stir, and justifiably so.

This time, she’s written about France’s burkini ban after photographs and video of two French policemen forcing a woman to remove her burkini-like outfit on the Nice beach while enforcing the ban went viral, evoking a lot of outrage across the world. The ban has since been suspended by the court, but the mayors have refused to lift the ban. This controversy regarding wearing of “religious clothing” in public has now involved women’s rights activists, human rights activists, designers, politicians and pretty much everyone, with the debate around what society’s notion of ideal women’s clothing is heating up.

Shahane joined the debate by sharing her opinion on her Facebook page recently. She asks: “Whether you are raping, or becoming militants or gunning down innocent people or spreading hate, is the root of it all the way a woman dresses?” This is the full text of her post, which has inspired and resonated with many other women, with the post having been shared widely and liked thousands of times within a few days.

“The ban on the Burkini set me thinking about how a woman is always seen to be either underdressed or overdressed. Women never seem to get it right. I have had a phobia of water as well as revealing clothes ever since I was born. Swimming was out of the question on both these counts while I was growing up. When I had children of my own I wanted to lead by example. I wanted to show them that a phobia is a state of mind that can be overcome. For eg. my phobia of water. I began learning swimming to prove to my children that when one has the will, there’s a way. But I wouldn’t have been able to overcome the fear of being under-dressed somehow. I was glad that swimsuits that had tights that covered your body till the knee, & had sleeves & also had skirts coming down to the knees over & above those tights, were available for women like me. Most people are surprised that I’m so modern in my way of thinking even though I am very conservative in my manner of dressing. I feel undressing is not the only sign of emancipation & neither is over dressing a sign of great virtue. I think what one wears is or should be a personal choice. It should not be imposed. Except if you are visiting a place of worship where you have to conform to the diktats of that place of worship. If you disagree with that diktat don’t visit that place of worship. Anyway to get back to my swimming, what I wear is the Burkini’s little sister; the only difference being that my neck is seen. I’m imagining if the freedom to wear this was taken away from me would I have been able to get over my phobia of swimming? I don’t think so. One less activity by a woman, who cares right? Whether you are raping, or becoming militants or gunning down innocent people or spreading hate, is the root of it all the way a woman dresses? Is it? If it is, then why is the “root” of all these menacing problems almost always also the biggest victim? It’s either interference or imposition by patriarchy, conservatism or now even extreme liberalism. When will we ever be allowed to be????

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Read Shahane’s Facebook post here.

What are your thoughts on the 51-year-old actress’ post? Tell us in the comments below.

First published on: 30-08-2016 at 12:03 IST
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