Zubaan Poster Women Archives: Religion & Communalism

A major challenge to the Indian women’s movement has come from what is known as identity politics, that is, politics based on the question of mainly religious identity. “Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian – all religions keep women in subjugation.”

In a country like India where people are deeply religious, the politicizing of religion, and its instrumental use to target minority communities and gain votes, has led to several complex realities. As parties of the religious right have gained ground in India, they have begun to recruit increasing numbers of women. And women, in turn, have eagerly embraced the party ideology, no matter that it may be patriarchal, and indeed regressive for them. Thus, when the campaign on religion and communalism began, one of its key messages was that all religions are patriarchal. Also, women activists within the movement have been concerned at the increasing participation of women in violent sectarian campaigns that target men and women of the other religion. Similarly in areas of armed conflict and political violence, women have often espoused causes that have no space for them in their ultimate goals, but that make use of them as actors in the path towards achieving these goals.

This poster uses a poem by Faiz Ahmed Faiz to raise the issue of polarisation on grounds of religious identity.

“Why do people harass other people, stab them and burn them alive?
Because they are divided by caste, religion, money, work and gender
Children and women constitute the larger section of victims of violence because women are a property of men, caste and religion.
We do not want violence, we want peace. We do not want discrimination, we want unity.”

While the participation of women in the violent politics of religion has been a cause of concern, the campaign has also focused on demanding egalitarian and gender- inclusive laws.
This poster shows how religions and religious texts all weigh women down.

Lines from a popular song sung by political activists that bring attention to the exploitation of religion by political forces.

A poster on the communalisation of Gujarat and the need to work for peace.

A poster from Gujarat that vividly captures the horror of communal violence. People suffer many hardships to build their homes from scratch. But you don’t show any mercy when you burn down hundreds of these homes.

“Communal riots condemn women to a life of silence, suffocation and bondage.”

“Take our temples, take our mosques, but don’t play with our blood.”

Poster positing humanity against religion.

“Down with communalism”

Zubaan is an independent feminist publishing house based in New Delhi with a strong academic and general list. It was set up as an imprint of India’s first feminist publishing house, Kali for Women, and carries forward Kali’s tradition of publishing world quality books to high editorial and production standards. Zubaan means tongue, voice, language, speech in Hindustani. Zubaan publishes in the areas of the humanities, social sciences, as well as in fiction, general non-fiction, and books for children and young adults under its Young Zubaan imprint.