Author and human rights campaigner Saurav Dutt has written a short story focused on the murder case of Neha Paswan as part of his new collection of short stories entitled ‘By the Shadows and the Sunlight’. The book shines a spotlight on reports of girls and young women being brutally assaulted by family members in India.
‘By the Shadows and the Sunlight’ highlights how unsafe girls and women are within their own homes and the case of 17-year-old Neha Paswan, who was allegedly beaten to death by the men in her family in Savreji Kharg, a village in northern Uttar Pradesh, for wearing a pair of jeans, is just one example of the heart-rending stories.
Neha’s body was found hanging from a bridge over a nearby river after being allegedly beaten black and blue by her grandfather and uncles over a protracted period. Her family were apparently dismayed by her wearing of western dress, her desire to educate herself, leave the village to become an independent woman, and to train as a police officer.
Dutt hopes the collection, particularly the tribute to Paswan, sheds more light on how and why young women are being beaten by family members and relatives in the country. He spoke to NGOs on the ground in Uttar Pradesh to research to case to aid the writing of the tribute.
“Neha’s awful case highlights a number of incidents, which are only now managing to surface, where girls and women are continually humiliated for making their own choices,” Dutt said.
“Patriarchy remains an incredible problem in India to surmount,” Dutt added ” and misogyny continues to set a truly terrible example there, whether it’s through Bollywood movies, leaders, influencers, and of course politicians and their often deliberately violent language. These perpetuate a gender imbalance that filters down to the community and family.”
“There’s no point in India saying how much it cares for ‘our girls’ and prioritising them when there’s no change on the ground” Saurav says “it is only by tackling misogynist mindsets among men and women and dismantling the patriarchal aspects of society that we can truly tackle violence, sexual and otherwise.”
The book follows up Dutt’s recent memoir of Meera Dalal, co-written by her mother Daksha, which chronicled the domestic abuse and violence a woman from Leicester, UK had to deal with before taking her own life.
‘By the Shadows and the Sunlight’ will be released on December 15, 2021.