Biker’s ride for a cause

Tabassum Ali is a feminist on-the-wheel who rides motorcycle to take women-related issues to every nook and corner of the country, writes SHAMSHAD ALI

She is tough, determined, dedicated and sees life from a different perspective. Tabassum Ali has dedicated herself to the cause of women and chosen to ride motorcycle to reach every nook and corner of the country. Her only aim is to free women from the shackles of anxiety and domination. She thinks women are born equal in rights to men and being single means the woman is strong enough to wait for what she deserves.

While speaking to a group of professionals, students, and activists in Delhi’s Hauz Khas, Tabassum said she has undertaken several motorcycle journeys across the country with the sole intention of helping stressed women to live a comfortable life. Daredevil Tabassum has travelled nearly five states so far to educate people championing the cause of Single Woman. For her, a single woman has abundant time for herself to pursue her ambitions more easily and work for the all round  development of the society.

When it comes to visiting places, she prefers to ride a Royal Enfield as the heavy bike matches her work profile. On being questioned about her tryst with Royal Enfield, Tabassum said, “It was my dream to travel the whole country on a motorbike which gives me enough pleasure to see the beauty of nature while doing my job. She said bike is a cheaper and more convenient option than the rest.

Speaking about her risky journey, the woman biker said, “I travelled throughout Bihar, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Punjab for the cause of women. During my stay in the states, I found the opportunity to interact with several traumatised single women who bore the agony in silent indignation due to the atrocities committed by their families against them.

This is travesty of justice that people who do good to others also face the wrath of the society for no satisfactory reasons and Tabassum was not immune from it. Recently, the Uttar Pradesh Police intercepted her and asked her to produce all valid papers of her bike in the state’s Bijnor district. Speaking about the stereotype that is still prevalent in the society, Tabassum said, “It seems as if the UP cops have never seen a woman riding a bike. They stooped me inside the police station and asked few random questions including how my parents allowed a single woman to travel to satisfy their pride”.

“Why the life of women is steeped in misery and subjugation for being single? Shouldn’t a woman, who remains single throughout her life, deserves social and cultural recognition like the rest of the society?” she continued, “In India, our society has accepted Single men, not single woman. An unmarried woman is seen as a problem and people suspect her character.”

Tabassum is also a tale of grit and determination. Like other women of the society, she was also subjected to humiliation and torture by her husband — a common scene witnessed in most of the Indian families. Narrating her ordeal, the woman biker said, “I was disturbed, depressed as my husband was torturing me every single day. I somehow mustered courage to get out of this hell-hole but the task wan’t that easy as it seems. For a divorcee, pursuing dreams was difficult but perseverance and social involvement gave me strength and courage to walk solo”. 

While taking about the life of single woman, she said in era of freedom and development, it is not astonishing fact that women, both married or unmarried, should wish to breathe the pure fresh air of emancipation like men. “The single women are defenceless and life for them has become tougher these due to the biased view of the patriarchical system. I am getting messages from unknown people for being single as they want to know my status including marriage, children, husband, relationship, and others”.

Like Tabassum, Jyoti Kiran also feels the same pain but she thinks it’s better to be single than get married. “It may be difficult to live a lonely life but not impossible at all”, the Delhi-based journalist said. Jyoti, who got her inspiration from her aunt who was a former civil servant, said being single, one gets enough time to work for the society while a married woman shoulders many responsibilities and he hardly gets enough time to fight for the cause of the society.

Talking about a particular incident, Tabassum mentioned how she helped a woman from Bihar to get separated from her husband legally. The husband had abandoned her without filing for a divorce as a result the woman was running from pillar to post seeking justice. Now she works at a private company while her children and parents are supporting her to live happily.

Lauding at the efforts of Tabassum Ali, Executive Director, ActionAid Association, Sandeep Chachra said she is standing like a pillar to help the single women who gave difficulties in patriarchal societies. “We need a national initiative and policy for single women that redefines the definition of a single woman and includes widow, unmarried, separated and divorced. Single women must be given priority in all the state welfare schemes,” said Sandeep. ActionAid Association through its 12 regional and 2 field offices have supported 6537 single women to get ownership of homestead land.