NEW YORK: Indian women farmers protesting against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s agricultural laws at New Delhi’s borders for over three months have been featured on the international cover of renowned American TIME magazine’s latest edition.
The article – ‘I Cannot Be Intimidated. I Cannot Be Bought’ – talks about how women have been on the frontlines of the protest against the three farm laws. The Indian Supreme Court had told “elderly people and women to leave the protests.”
“In response, women farmers – mostly from the rural states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh – scrambled onto stages, took hold of microphones and roared back a unanimous “NO!”, according to the article.
“Why should we go back? This is not just the men’s protest. We toil in the fields alongside the men. Who are we – if not farmers?” Jasbir Kaur, a 74-year-old farmer from Rampur in western Uttar Pradesh, was quoted as saying.
Jasbir Kaur, who is mobilizing farmers at the Tikri protest site, said women were often not seen as farmers. “Their labour is immense but invisible. Women are changing women here. They are claiming their identities as farmers,” she added.
“This law will kill us, will destroy what little we have,” said Amandeep Kaur, a farmer from Talwandi in Punjab. The women also stated they were disappointed that they were considered to be “mere care workers providing cooking and cleaning services at these sites”, and not “equal stakeholders”.
The cover page, titled ‘On the Frontlines of India’s Farmer Protest’, shows women holding children while raising anti-government slogans at the protest site.
Women’s rights activist Sudesh Goyat said she was the only woman from Haryana during the first few days of protests in Tikri. But after the court’s comments, more and more women joined. “They came with their families,” she told TIME.
“They came with other women. They came alone. It’s no less than a miracle.” Tens of thousands of farmers have been camped outside Delhi for over three months, demanding the withdrawal of the three legislations that they say will hurt them and benefit large corporations.
The farmers believe that the new laws undermine their livelihood and open the path for the corporate sector to dominate the agricultural sector.