This column follows up on last week’s column on the Sikh Awareness Society (SAS). Let’s first look at definitions.
A Sikh according to the Sikh Rehat Maryada (SRM) is someone who beliefs in The One, in the teachings of the Gurus/the Guru Granth Sahib and in the Khande di Pahul given to us by Tenth Guru. We are not Sikh girls, boys, men or women because we belong to the Sikh ‘tribe’, but because of our beliefs and practices.
A girl according to the dictionary is a ‘female child’. The issue here is not about children, but about young women of Sikh background.
Sikhs (as defined by the SRM) should be the servants of all, and extend their care to all people of whatever background who live and work in Southall and surroundings without having the required visas. Because of where most of us come from we can speak and understand the languages of those that come from the subcontinent, which makes it practical to mainly work with them.
But let us not denigrate young women by calling them girls and let’s recognise that all, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, faith, nationality have a right to make their own mistakes.
If a ‘Sikh’ woman wants to have a relation with somebody from a different community it is none of our business. If a woman, regardless of her background, works as a prostitute we can offer help, but we have no right to force her into anything.
If ‘Sikhs’ and others, male or female, are addicted to drugs, alcohol or gambling we should offer help (Guru has the perfect cure !), but if addicts are not committed to change even Guru can’t help.
Sikh parents should show by example how blissful it is to be with God, how God gives us strength and happiness. But when adult children decide to follow a different path, even Guru Nanak had to let his sons live according to their own lights.
We do not own our family; we do not own our daughters, sisters, wives. Respect means that if they do things that we think are wrong, we can talk to them in a loving manner, but if they insist we have to accept it.
Real Sikh young women can, with the help of God, look after themselves. Real Singhanís and Singhs will make mistakes, and should be given all help and comfort when they realise that they did make wrong choices. Bad people have power over our ‘Sikh’ women because they rightly belief that after making bad mistakes they cannot go back to their family, their friends and their Gurdwara. Shame on us for this lack of compassion, shame on us for our lack of true respect for our sisters !