Dr Chayanika Shah, women's rights activist, queer feminist, educator |
Hasina Khan started Bebaak Collective in 2013 to give women the courage and strength to speak up without fear of retribution.
A Muslim feminist, Hasina Khan started her journey of social work right before the 1992 riots struck Mumbai. The violence that erupted across the city, she recounted, shaped her understanding and her logical reasoning to work with marginalised communities.
The founder of Bebaak Collective, a feminist organisation working for Muslim and other marginalised women, Hasina Khan has extensively worked against violence of all kinds towards women. “We want Muslim women to come forward and speak about their own rights. We want to not only make women aware of their rights but also work on providing a social security network to all women so that they can exercise their rights,” she said.
A resident of Bhendi Bazaar in South Mumbai, she was the sixth of her siblings. “Our mother and all of us used to work as daily wage labourers. We were all born to provide for our existence,” she recounted. However, with access to several social organisations, Khan managed to grow her understanding and independence, eventually informally starting Bebaak in 2013.
“It was important to me that women and other marginalised communities can talk about what they want without the fear of retribution. To be frank, one needs to have courage and security,” she recounted, about the idea behind naming the collective Bebaak. Khan has worked not only in spreading awareness and educating women but has also been party to the judicial debate around triple talaaq and other issues.
“It is interesting that when we talk about issues of Muslims, we become darling daughters but when we try to talk about Muslim women, we are not tolerated,” she said. “The country has been through a lot of twists and turns. As religious orthodoxy grew in the country, they have always tried to control women by claiming their vulnerability and stating that they will protect us. Women’s agency is always taken over first,” Khan said.
She said they unless the state guarantees and protects the rights of the marginalised, the society won’t follow suit. "Unless the marginalised are taken out of the margin and given a respectable position in the mainstream, we will continue to keep fighting and get sidelined easily.”
Queer feminist, activist and teacher Dr Chayanika Shah said that at a time when this country is besieged by religious intolerance, it is important that women raise their voices. 'Hasina Khan is an ardent activist and a secular voice who has always raised issues of those on the sidelines. Her activism is a ray of hope in these dark times," she said