Sania Mirza

the rising Indian Tennis star , is more than a sports personna ...... This blog is an attempt to track her highs and lows ....her pros and cons .... people that build her and the thoughts that she made to cross through the millions .

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Sex, Skirts – and Sania

By Jasmeen Dugal
22: Already under Islamist ire for wearing a short skirt and
midriff-baring top on court, Indian tennis sensation Sania
Mirza’s reported comments that she supported Tamil actress
Khushboo's views on pre-marital sex stirred a hornet’s nest.

Due to her candid endorsement of pre-marital safe sex, the
19-year-old Muslim then came under attack from both
Islamists and Hindu fundamentalists and was forced to
retract her opinion when an irate mob burned effigies of

Sania reacted to a question by a journalist at a recent
press conference in Cochin, and walked out of it after she
was questioned on premarital sex, a subject that has already
gotten her in trouble with orthodox Islamic clergy in India.

Earlier this month,
while speaking at a leadership summit in Delhi, advocating
safe sex, Mirza had said, "You don't want me to tell you
that you have safe sex, whether it is before or after
marriage. Everyone must know what he or she is doing."

With affronted Muslim clerics issuing a fatwa against her
dress code and insisting she "covers up" and keeps her mouth
zipped on touchy topics – and the contemporary generation
supporting her freedom of speech and the right to wear what
she deems fit – the debate seems unlikely to end anytime

In a statement to the media, Women's WORLD (India),
expressed grave concern over the vicious public crusade
against these women: "Personal opinions on the existence or
non-existence of premarital sex cannot be taken as insults
to communities or cultures. This kind of culture policing
and mob censorship has serious implications for freedom of
expression … this trend towards targeting women for speaking
their minds is a retrogressive step … It is a sign of the
bankruptcy of our political action that a remark like this
is blown out of proportion to generate hate and rouse public
anger when far more important issues of injustice,
corruption, livelihoods, and survival are not touched upon
... Forced apologies … should be seen as a blow to a
democratic culture of freedom of thought and expression."

a recent interview, veteran Indian actress Shabana Azmi told, "The Jamiat-e-Ulemai Hind and the Muslim Law
Board have both distanced themselves from this. Why should
every utterance of a non-entity be projected, as the voice
of the Muslim majority? … A fatwa is only an opinion that is
sought from a mufti who is considered so well versed in the
Shariyat that he should be able to give his opinion. A fatwa
is not a diktat, it's not binding."

And so the controversy ploughs on … We conducted a straw
poll cutting across age, region and strata and asked people
across India and Pakistan for their opinion on the whole
sordid controversy.

Here’s what they said:

Emmad Irfani, supermodel, Pakistan: "She [Sania
Mirza] has the right to say anything she feels like because
it is her point of view. After all, we have the freedom of
speech. I cannot comprehend the double standards of mullahs.
They are okay with Muslim girls like Tabu and Nigar Khan
dancing in minis in movies. But they aren’t okay with a
professional tennis player in a sports kit."

Chandna, student, Pune:
"Well, she is in trouble because
of a few idiots in Hyderabad and that is sad. That said, she
is a celebrity and celebrities have to be careful as to what
they say publicly. She being a brand ambassador for leading
brands cannot afford to let her public image down. So I
guess if it makes people happy, her retracting the statement
is fine. On the short skirt controversy, as long as she can
playing well and keep winning, she can keep their mouth
shut! As far as their protests are concerned, she needs to
tell them that bombing the whole damn world is unislamic
too. Her skirt is not destroying the world!"

Ashwin Sokke, web consultant, Bangalore: "She is
Indian first – and a Muslim later – and all she said was
‘practice safe sex.’ AIDS is on a high note in India. I
think she should continue to speak her mind! At least the
drama around this issue and the media hype will get enough
attention on ‘safe sex’ per se and send the message across
to the youth."

Sandhya Chhib, television actress, Mumbai: "It’s her
[Sania] personal belief, and just as you can have a radical
view on anything from sex to Superman, the same should apply
to Sania Mirza too. Being a celebrity does not mean you lose
your right to express your thoughts! As for people being
‘allowed’ to have pre-marital sex, well, nothing can stop
them anyways! It is these stingy, hypocritical norms of
society, which encourage people to covertly go to
prostitutes, watch porn and create MMS scandals. Did the
punishment stop the MMS brigade? No! It only worked to
enhance it!"

Shridhar, legal transcriber, New Delhi:
self-appointed morality brigade may be objecting to Sania
Mirza's wardrobe, but there's nothing in the Indian law that
prohibits a woman from dressing the way she wants. It is
entirely up to the individual. A woman should use her own
discretion to decide whether she should wear a salwar kameez,
jeans, miniskirts or shorts."

Yatin Malik, fashion stylist, Kolkata: "Are we still
living in the Dark Ages that women are taking such treatment
lying down? And why are religious bodies interfering in the
sports arena? If the rules say that you must wear a skirt
while playing tennis, then what is one supposed to do? Sania
Mirza is a national level player and cannot go on court
wearing a salwar kameez! This is ridiculous! If she caves in
to pressure, it is only a matter of time before someone
prohibits swimmers from wearing a bikini."

Amin Kuttir, student, Bangalore: "I am appalled by
the media's obsession to turn a non-issue into an issue. I
personally feel Sania’s opinion was not wrong. If India
calls itself a developing nation, one has to move along with
the changing times and accept such things."


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