By Arré Bench Oct. 21, 2020
National Commission for Women chief Rekha Sharma has sparked a row for raising “love jihad” with Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari. But this isn’t her first offence. In the past, she has been accused of being misogynistic, casteist, and communal.
The National Commission for Women probably has a lot on its plate, considering crimes against women have been on the rise during the last few months of lockdown. Instead, however, the group’s chairperson, Rekha Sharma has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Sharma has sparked off a massive debate after she met with Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari and discussed the rise in “love jihad” cases with him. Apart from general conversations on women’s safety, a report said the two discussed the distinction between consensual interfaith marriages and love jihad, with both stressing on the need to prevent the latter.
NCW Chairperson Rekha Sharma told the Governor there was a rise in cases of ‘Love Jihad’ in the state and highlighted the distinction between consensual inter-faith marriages and Love Jihad, stating that the latter required attention.https://t.co/NVdkK2HHRN
— The Indian Express (@IndianExpress) October 20, 2020
“Love jihad” as we’ve learnt from the Tanishq ad row, is a conspiracy theory that alleges Muslim men marry women from other religions with the sole purpose to convert them to Islam. As per the central government in February, there have been no cases of “love jihad” reported in our country so far, and the phenomenon is not defined by Indian laws.
The term is often used on the internet to disparage Muslims. However, the fact that the chairperson of the NCW and the Governor of a state would make such claims, was reason enough to outrage. Several called for Sharma’s resignation soon after.
Hey @sharmarekha – what on earth is a "love jehad" case? Any case in which a Muslim man and Hindu woman are in love? How dare you remain in your chair as @NCWIndia chief & use a term that a) treats women as property of communities b) hates Muslims? You bring shame to NCW. https://t.co/MYmSSTPN59
— Kavita Krishnan (@kavita_krishnan) October 20, 2020
— Rohini Singh (@rohini_sgh) October 20, 2020
Her conduct both now and in the past only prove that @sharmarekha does not deserve to be heading the @NCWIndia. It is incredible she was appointed in the first place. India’s women deserve better, beginning with an overhaul of this organisation and its mandate
— Nidhi Razdan (@Nidhi) October 21, 2020
A spokesperson from the Azad Samaj Party said it was just one example of how casteist and communal Sharma was, and alleged that she was openly serving hate in society.
This is an example how casteist and communal Rekha Sharma is. 'Rise in Love Jihad?' You are openly serving hate in society. Disgusting. You've no right to remain as chief, @NCWIndia. pic.twitter.com/OOpWH9dsWS
— Suraj Kumar Bauddh (@SurajKrBauddh) October 20, 2020
Hi @smritiirani ji:
Will you be taking action against @sharmarekha & dismissing her under Sec 4(3)(d) of The National Commission for Women Act, 1990 for the communal dog whistle of “love jihad” & for her past misogynist tweets?
Or does one have to approach the courts for this?
— Saket Gokhale (@SaketGokhale) October 20, 2020
Hours later, the issued had snowballed into a massive controversy, with several prominent social media users digging out the chairperson’s past tweets, many of which were misogynistic and Islamophobic in nature.
Sharma later locked her Twitter account, and was accused of deleting a number of tweets overnight, but not before social media users got access.
Numbers can be verified using the following links:
1. Before protecting account: https://t.co/TmHBX7bzQe (16,937)
2. Latest archive: https://t.co/nuaYcrNP78 (16,727)
— Pratik Sinha (@free_thinker) October 20, 2020
Good morning. While you all were deep asleep, Someone had to be awake the whole night to delete 350+ old and controversial tweets. pic.twitter.com/ceyFEWFXim
— Mohammed Zubair (@zoo_bear) October 21, 2020
NCW Chairperson Rekha Sharma has locked her account but don't worry here are the google sheet of her archived tweetshttps://t.co/G81IxRMwyH
— kalim (@akhmxt) October 20, 2020
What's the point of hiding your tweets now? Cannot believe that the Chairperson of India's National Commission for Women is so deeply misogynistic and regressive! What action will NCW take against Rekha Sharma's vile tweets? #SackRekhaSharma pic.twitter.com/k9IDPM2mLE
— Ruchira Chaturvedi (@RuchiraC) October 20, 2020
In a number of these tweets, Sharma is seen criticising other women, bashing feminism and making personal and political attacks. As calls for her to be sacked grew, several screenshots of her various biting remarks were doing the rounds of the internet.
Still can't believe she is chairperson of National Commission for Women. pic.twitter.com/o8uFmhGimZ
— Mohammed Zubair (@zoo_bear) October 20, 2020
I am glad the nation is now demanding #SackRekhaSharma.
I was blocked a few months ago by @NCW and Rekha Sharma for demanding action against raising rape cases in UP and the misogynistic remarks about women by bjp leaders
It’s a shame women like her are heading NCW pic.twitter.com/xV5cs2XpzG
— Lavanya Ballal | ಲಾವಣ್ಯ ಬಲ್ಲಾಳ್ (@LavanyaBallal) October 20, 2020
— Swat_Eye 🇮🇳 🌸 (@swat_eye) October 20, 2020
As the controversy picks up steam, chances are we’re going to hear a lot about Rekha Sharma in the next few days. Hopefully, at this point, better sense will prevail and the NCW’s focus will shift from the “love jihad” conspiracy theory to more pressing issues.