Friday, April 27, 2012

Women, violence and religion.

Article in Foreign Policy Magazine WHY DO THEY HATE US by Mona Elthawhny

how many times is it that issues of violence against women are ignored in the midst of obfuscation created by questions of 'culture', 'safety' and 'propriety'.

practically every civilisation in the world over the course of history has placed maximum value on the 'purity' and 'safety' of the women of the society as the benchmark for the 'safety of the Culture'. from foeticide to locking women in the house to laws denying rights to women to dowry to the earlier practices of jauhar and Sati, women have somehow  been the bearers of the responsibility to uphold social virtue.

These slogans, used during the Delhi Slutwalk covers my response and the frustration that women worldwide have with this patriarchal attitude

Monday, April 09, 2012

have mercy your honor!

its their questions i fear the most
coming at me from all sides as i cower into the corner.. the darkness in my mind unravelling, rivalling the darkness that surrounds the room
did you?
are you?

i want to scream out loud but my own voice refuses to cooperate.. my own self rebelling against the other, self righteous bitch that rules this corner most times
why shouldn't i?
why do i hold back?

why not do what THEY think i already have done.. 
its the days when 'being right' doesn't matter worth a damn because the only person judging you is yourself and i have the angel and demon inside my head telling me i'm wrong no matter which path i choose
no matter what i do, i'll end up backed into this very same dark corner

my lord the accusation is wholly unfounded and unjust!!

but is it really?
the snide cynicism is so clear in the voices

Saturday, April 07, 2012

so just what are they teaching the police in the so called "sensitization sessions"

Here is a quick reckoner. In 2010, as many as 414 rape cases were reported in Delhi, the highest among 35 major cities in the country. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the conviction rate in rape cases in the capital was a dismal 34.6 percent.

In a two-week long investigation, Tehelka undercover reporters posing as research scholars, visited 23 stations across the NCR and spoke to more than 30 policemen with experience of 20-30 years.

cover story in TEHELKA magazine

NDTV report

Seventeen senior cops of over a dozen police stations across Gurgaon, Noida, Ghaziabad and Faridabad were caught on spy camera blaming everything from fashionable or revealing clothes to having boyfriends to visiting pubs to consuming alcohol to working alongside men as the main reasons for instances of rape. 'It's always the woman who is at fault' was in essence the argument offered by a majority of the cops. Many of them believe that genuine rape victims never approach the police and those who do are basically extortionists or have loose moral values. Others believe that the women from Northeast could never be victims of forced sex as they are invariably involved in the flesh trade. Even more shockingly, some of them are of the view that if a woman has consensual sex with one man, then she shouldn't complain if his friends also join in. If a woman is doing late hours at the office then she had it coming... and the arguments keep coming.

misogynistic and completely ridiculous arguments from people who would rather blame the victim than do their actual job.
Yes i agree that there are a shocking number of false cases filed as far as sexual crimes are concerned.. but that doesn't mean that one dismisses real concerns out of hand, and it REALLY doesn't mean that a woman out of the house alone is "asking for it"

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

You aren't a 'woman' here.. you're the "Vakil Madamji"

Child marriage is an accepted, if outwardly hidden norm for a large section of Indian Population even today. despite the various warnings and "social awareness"  about the detrimental effects of child marriages on the children, the family and society. Having an express Law banning child marriages doesn't seem to have worked very well because people are still stuck in the "lets get them out of our hair and to their 'own' family as soon as possible" mindset. 

infact, i recall having a major argument with someone recently about child marriages and the impact they have on the girl. shockingly, this guy was a "social worker" employed at one of Delhi government's 'Gender Resource Centres', which are run by NGOs in the city and provide employment, education, self help aid, legal and medical aid to poor women.This man has been working there for over a year, raising awareness about education and social issues such as gender based violence, population, sanitation etc. he's a graduate from IGNOU and belongs to what passes as a 'well off family' in the area, roughly as lower service class family. 
and despite the fact that this man is employed by an NGO that seeks to empower women., his outlook is set firmly in the tiny little box that his 'community' allows. 

The first argument he gave in favour of child marriages was a very cliche'd "why bother educating girls when all they have to do is take care of the house?" this while more than half his co-workers are women. 

the second was "these people are poor, they cannot afford to feed and take care of girls". This when his co-workers are active contributors to the family coffers and he himself is working with women's financial self help groups.

third- "madamji people say bad things about women who roam around outside the house and tallk to strange men" THIS when i was sitting in the office of the NGO with him alone and having this discussion.. so did that  mean that according to this man I and all teh wormen working in his pffice were not worthy of his 'respect' because we were out of our houses?? 
he apologised for the last remark though when he realised that i had taken serious offence to al his arguments. He stubbornly refused to take back his arguments though, and as a last word, his closing argument was "madamji you belong to a different society. Here people respect you because you are from a different social strata and are educated. No one sees you as a 'single young girl' here. You are the "Vakil Madamji".

so when the society refuses to give these girls and boys any identity beyond their membership of the family, when their aspirations, their very existence as a rational being is denied, is it really a surprise that the government needs to take seemingly weird, drastic measures to ensure that laws are complied with?

This is the news item that prompted this post:

Bharatpur admin makes DoB of bride, groom must on wedding card

PTI | 06:03 PM,Mar 31,2012
Jaipur, Mar 31 (PTI) To check child marriages, Bharatpur district administration in Rajasthan has taken an unique initiative of making it mandatory to print date of birth of the bride and groom on wedding invitation cards. A circular was issued on Thursday, directing all press owners in the district to print the cards only after taking age proof of bride and groom. "Legal action will be taken against such press and registration would be cancelled if they fail to do it...To check that they are following the guidelines, we will conduct surprise check," Bharatpur District Collector Gaurav Goyal said today. "The step is aimed at ensuring that no child marriage takes place on the upcoming occasion of Aakha Teej," he said, adding that the order is for two months now and may extend further. Child marriages are rampant on the occasion of Akshya Tritiya particularly in rural areas in the state.