A prominent figure in women’s rights activism, a feminist and a poet, Kamla Bhasin took her last few breaths in the early hours of Septemeber 25. Kamla was diagnosed with cancer a few months ago and had been receiving treatment for the same.
Activist Kavita Srivastava announced Kamla's last breath on Twitter. "Kamla Bhasin, our dear friend, passed away around 3am today 25th Sept. This is a big setback for the women's movement in India and the South Asian region. She celebrated life whatever the adversity. Kamla you will always live in our hearts. In Sisterhood, which is in deep grief," Kavita wrote.
Brought in Shahidanwaali town in the Gujarat area of Punjab – presently in Pakistan – in 1946 Kamla alluded to herself as one of the 'midnight generation’. Subsequent to finishing her graduation and post-graduation from Rajasthan, she won a fellowship to study ‘sociology of development' at the University of Münster in West Germany.
After her time in Germany, she began working at the Seva Mandir in Rajasthan, where she met her future spouse, the late columnist and lobbyist Baljit Malik. Bhasin was hitched to activist and writer Malik for around thirty years and separated from him on grounds of domestic violence.
Bhasin wrote various notable books in South Asian and Indian women's activist development, including Understanding Gender, What is Patriarchy, and Borders and Boundaries: How Women Experienced the Partition of India. Kamla, a candid hero of women’s rights in India and South Asia since the 1970s, was most popular for her work with Sangat: A Feminist Network and her sonnet ‘Kyunki main ladki hoon, mujhe padhna hai’.
Following a four-year stretch working with the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization in Bangkok from 1975, Bhasin got back to India where she assumed a significant part in the women’s activism that emerged after the terrible Mathura assault case, where two cops assaulted a Dalit woman in a police headquarters. The development prompted critical changes in the law on rapes in India. She would keep on working with the UN till 2002.
Kamla has championed her voice in feminism and has strongly denied patriarchy. She has participated in several protests and rallies and shown her resilience. Her aim was to educate men and women about feminism being against patriarchy and not a war between genders. Today, the country mourns the loss of a strong, outspoken woman who has inspired many women’s rights activists to come forward and create a change like she intended to.