Prominent women rights activist, poet and author, Kamla Bhasin passed away in the early hours of Saturday, September 25, after fighting against cancer. She was diagnosed with it a few months ago.
The stalwart's loss has hit the country like a storm. Bhasin's demise was confirmed by activist and friend Kavita Srivastava via Twitter.
Bhasin was born in 1946, Shahidanwaali village in Punjab's Gujrat district (now in Pakistan). The Quint reports that Bhasin referred to herself as the 'midnight generation'.
She pursued her Masters's degree from Rajasthan and won a fellowship to study 'sociology of development' at the University of Münster in West Germany. After completing her fellowhsip, she started working at the Seva Mandir in Rajasthan. She met her husband, late journalist and activist Baljit Malik, but later divorced him owing to several domestic violence complaints against Malik.
Bhasin had been a strong voice of women since the 1970s and was best known for her work with 'Sangat', a feminist network founded by her that worked towards the upliftment of vulnerable women of rural and tribal communities.
She used art in several forms as a tool to convey strong messages to the communities and the society, including songs, poems, Nukkad Natak (plays), etc. The renowned activist is also an author of over 19 books, including Exploring Masculinity, Understanding Gender, Border and Boundaries: How Women Experienced the Partition of India, and so forth. Her books have been reportedly translated into more than 30 languages.
She worked with the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation in Bangkok from 1975 and continued her work till 2002, post which she returned to India.
She was one of the strong voices against the horrific Mathura rape case of 1972, where two policemen sexually assaulted a Dalit girl in a station. It was a significant movement of the time and also enforced changes in the judiciary.
Her work towards gender equality, understanding of gendered roles and stand on patriarchal ideologies answered many difficult questions that stay put in the society.
She is also best acknowledged for her famous poem Kyunki main ladki hoon, mujhe padhna hai. Her interview with actor Aamir Khan in the show Satyamev Jayate was widely appreciated.