A demeaning and outrageous remark by a Kerala professor has caused an uproar on social media. The professor had said that Muslim women in his college show their breasts like "slices of watermelon".
The women in the state wouldn't have it, and rightly so.
A three-month old video of social science professor Jauhar Munnavir T at Farook Training College in Kozhikode went viral a couple of days ago. In the speech, the professor said, “I am a teacher of a college where 80% of students are girls and a majority of them are Muslims. Though they wear the hijab, they expose some part of their chest defeating the very purpose of wearing them. They expose, you know like how we cut a slice of melon to see whether it is ripe or not.”
Days after the video went viral, a bunch of women started sharing their topless pictures, with cut watermelons against their breasts, on Facebook. A campaign began and a hashtag 'Maaruthurakkal samaram', that translates to 'stir to bare the breasts', was started.
According to a report in Onmanorama, when Thiruvananthapuram-based social activist Diya Sana posted two nude pictures of her friend, holding watermelons, Facebook removed her post and thereafter, restricted access to her own account.
This was Sana's way of protesting against the 'abusive' remarks of the professor. "Women should have the liberty to wear what they want. When will our society stop objectifying women?" she asked.
Arathy SA, too, posted nude pictures of herself as a sign of protest, which were also shared by her husband.
She captioned it, "I am upset with hypersexualization of breasts by people. Whether it be professors in college or social media users seeing a model breastfeed and pose for a magazine. So I and my husband posted pictures of me nude."
"Just because people may find my breasts attractive, doesn't mean they are entitled to violate me or my body," NDTV quoted Arathy as saying.
The college principal has now said that the teacher made the statement during a counseling session three months ago outside the college and it was unfair to whip it up now. Incidentally, the same college had made headlines back in 2015 after suspending a student, Dinu, for raising his voice against gender-based segregation in classrooms. Dinu was admitted back into the college after the Kerala High Court stayed his suspension.