It took 13 years for her to get justice and the decision to be made. When she was shot by three masked gunmen outside her Delhi bungalow on 25th July 2001,it was not just the death of a soul but the death of a legend. Because she was not an ordinary woman, she was someone whose name is a symbol of woman power and dominance even today. A woman who did break every mold and went to extents no one can imagine. She is the epitome of woman power.
By this time I’m sure you would have guessed who we are discussing about.
Phoolan devi it is, whose murderer was finally brought to justice on August 8th 2014. Her life is an inspiration to every woman who has ever lived or will ever live on this planet. Surviving in the midst of the caste discrimination and struggling in a man’s world, she lived a rather remarkable life.
Born in a family of mallah, or boatmen as they are also known, she was brought up in a conservative family. She but possessed a fire within that would not let her succumb to anything that such a society like ours bestows a woman with. People would say she was unladylike but the truth is she was just like any other lady without a veil that would hide all the anger and frustration seething inside of her.
The turning point
It once happened that her cousin brother proposed to cut down a tree, which was the major asset owned by the family, to which her father agreed. She felt because she had no brothers, her cousins were trying to sideline her father and acquire his share. She protested against it, which also led to her being jailed at a later stage. This was the turning point of her life, a point when she developed hatred for men like her uncle and cousin. She was also abandoned by her husband who would not accept such a girl as his wife.
Raped and abused
This society time and again tries to force a woman to fall into her rightful place, b trying to outcast her and make her feel ashamed of herself, but Phoolan was different she never succumbed to these pressures. She instead chose a different path and fell in with a gang of dacoits. However as could have been expected in a society filled with lust of a woman’s body, the leader of the gang tried to rape her. However she was saved by Vikram who also belonged to the same cast (mallah). He killed the leader and assumed the position as a new gang leader. However it did not last long as two upper caste brothers returned back to the gang and avenged the murder of their leader. This lead to the Vikram’s death and Phoolan fell into the hands of the Thakurs, who gang raped her for three weeks.
However the courageous woman she was she did not give up she escaped the captivity from the Behmai house with the help of two men. One of them was Man Singh Mallah, who later had a love affair with Phoolan. She left the village with all the anger bottled up inside her only to return back and seek revenge few months later, though she could not find the men who had raped her but instead ordered all the Thakurs to be shot dead. The incident sent shock waves through the government.
The end of a legend, the beginning of a legacy
It finally led her to surrender in front of the police. She remained in jail for 11 years and in 1996, when she was released, stood for elections as a member of the Samajwadi party.
On 25th July 2001 she was shot dead, with three shots to her head and two to her body.
The coming generations would not believe that a woman like her ever walked on this earth. May be she never stood for women empowerment, deliver high speeches or held a public rally for women but her life in itself is the example that any woman can look up to. She stood for what she wanted and never gave up. Every woman need not be like her, to shoot down men and become the bandit queen. But every woman needs to have the power and the courage that Phoolan possessed, to stand up for what you deserve. To never let someone make you feel ashamed of who you are. To seek people who would accept you as you are and not force you to align yourself with the stereotypes.
To break the mould, to let the world know that women are not objects to be characterized and to be used, only then will this world consider women as individuals who have their own wants their own desires. The world cannot move on by continuing to ignore women and her rights.