KOZHIKODE: Who are they to decide where I have to cast my vote? Who gave them the right to dictate that a married woman should cast her vote at the husband’s LSG body against her wish? The notion that a woman’s home, native place and address would change to her in-laws after marriage is not law,” fumes Hiba Haroon, a research student at Jawaharlal Nehru University.
A native of Karassery here, Hiba received a notice from her Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) that the office has received a complaint asking it to remove her name from the voters’ list as she has been married off.
The notice said if she has anything to say against the plaint, she has to be present herself at the office with proper documents.
The practice of political parties intervening to remove the names of married and adolescent girls from the electoral roll which they think are votes of rival parties is nothing new.
But Hiba’s anger, which was expressed in the form of a social media post, has exposed the anti-constitutional and patriarchal mentality of the society.
TNIE has learnt that this happens because of a loophole in the electoral law. Hiba could not attend the hearing as she was in New Delhi. Hence, she sent an affidavit to the ERO requesting him to retain her vote.
“The complainant could be a local person, who is known to all. He believes that I, as a woman, have no individuality to decide on my vote, but will go only according to my family’s political leanings,” said Hiba.
Shirin Thasneem, a house surgeon in Kozhikode, as another young woman who received the ERO’s notice citing the same reason.
“The complainant is our neighbour. When I asked him, he told me that he was not aware of it,” told Shirin’s father Mohammadali.
The marriage of another Karassery resident, Shana Shukur, took place just a month ago but a complaint has been filed to remove her name as well. Hiba’s unmarried sister, Ayisha Najiya K C, has also received the ERO’s notice.
Someone has also complained against Sarada M, a 60-plus woman in Keezhariyur panchayat, saying she is living in the nearby municipality.
“My all official records including my ration card are in Keezhariyur address. How come these local political workers deny my existence in my native place?” she asked.
Advocate Sapna PP of Punarjani women’s lawyers’ initiative in Kozhikode, said such complaints require grave attention as it is unconstitutional as well as patriarchy driven.
Kozhikode Corporation secretary and ERO Binu Francis told TNIE that the voting right is given to a person who is an ordinary resident of the ward concerned.
“Normally, we give the residence certificate to a person who lives in the address for over six months in the area. If the ERO finds that a person is living elsewhere despite having all records in the present address, his/her name could be removed from the voters’ list. But above all, a citizen’s voting right cannot be denied,” he clarified.