Jagmati Sangwan is now known more for her battles against Haryana’s jaundiced Khap Panchayats than her unreturnable smashes as a former volleyball player.
Reason: Her fight against male-inflicted conservatism and oppression of women has now risen to a fullfledged war against honour killing.
No wonder pentagenerain Sangwan is fast turning into a Khap Panchayat’s latest nightmare.
Jagmati, the national vice-president of All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) is confident that the law against honour killing will be in place soon. She was here to address a seminar on the diktats of Khap Panchayats organised by the AIDWA.
“It all began when girls from rural Haryana could not join me to represent India in volleyball for Asiad as they were married off by their parents.”
What pained her most was the opposition of the Panchayats and families of those who dared to marry by their choice. She said, “ This is what propelled me to work against the oppression of women. I too had to undergo the objections when I decided to marry the person of my choice.”
A turning point came in 2000 when the khap panchayat had to take back its diktat of forcing a wife to tie rakhi to his husband as they married against the choice of the families.The khap panchayats that would never allow participation of women and dalits in their meetings could not push Jagmati out when she decided to attend the meetings with her group and be a part of the panchayat.
Her efforts paid when couple protection homes were set up in all districts of Haryana to provide safe shelter to the couples that marry by their own choice.
The Supreme Court also issued directives to hold senior police officials responsible in case of honor crime and killings. She says, “The honour killing bill is pending. Our focus is to form a law to deal with the crime as it can alone save the lives of many, not just in Haryana but all over the country where the cases of honour killing are very common.