In another embarrassing incident, a woman activist, protesting against the ritual of ‘virginity test’ in Kanjarbhat community, was barred from taking part in the Navratri dandiya festivities in Maharashtra’s Pimpri Chinchwad.
The Kanjarbhat’s in Pune still believes in the virginity test and all women of this community undergo this after their first night post marriage. The appalling custom has been in practice for years now. So, when twenty-three-year-old Aishwarya Bhat-Tamaichikar and her husband opposed this ritual, there was backlash from the so-called guardians of these hackneyed traditions.
The couple has been spearheading the ‘Stop the V-Ritual’ campaign that makes it compulsory for a Kanjarbhat bride to undergo the test post the first night of marriage.
The couple had opposed this right after their marriage and then on, they have been tormented by the community leaders. As a part of the ritual, the panchayat leaders come and check the bed sheet that the couple slept on the previous night. As disgusting as it sounds, it is a norm with this community.
Post their marriage, the couple have been stopped from participating in many community services, the last being the Navratri dandiya that the girl was stopped from entering.
In a statement, Aishwarya said that she has “filed a police complaint in Pimpri Chinchwad after members of my community didn’t allow me to participate in Navratri dandiya.I was told that I had brought a bad name to Kanjarbhat community for opposing the virginity test which is common in our community”.
Recalling the incidents, she said, “The dandiya event was organised by some members of my community. While dandiya was being played, suddenly the music stopped and while everyone was looking clueless, my mother came to me and asked me to come home with her. However, when I resisted, she told me that the community members were not happy that I took part in the event.”
“I left the place. However, the moment I turned my back, the organizers resumed dandiya, which confirmed that they wanted to prevent me from participating,” she added.
Protesting against the incident, the activist’s husband, Vivek Tamaichikar, said, “We protested against ritual of virginity test which is still prevalent in Kanjarbhat community. Due to this, my wife was boycotted from taking part in cultural programs in by the community. This is unconstitutional.”
The police had earlier registered a case against eight members of the Kanjarbhat community under sections of the Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2016.
“She had complained that because she had opposed virginity test prevalent in Kanjarbhat community she was not allowed to take part in Dandiya celebrations. An FIR has been registered. An investigation will be conducted into the incident,” said DCP Pimpri-Chinchwad.