One more gruesome case of rape has been reported from Delhi. One more round of protests by citizens, and another round of promises from the administrative officials. The circle goes round and soon all these will be forgotten until this happens again.
This time, there is one change though. I looked at the photographs of the protests against rape and I saw many placards which had ‘death for rapists’ written on them. Even those who were silent when it was about terrorists like Kasab or Afsal Guru, have now come out in open to advocate the death row, regardless of the gender, religion, and locale. That somehow made me uneasy. Yes, the same me who thought that death row for Kasab was justified (but the discussions that followed after the Kasab hanging incident made me think about the issue of capital punishment again). So basically there are three things to discuss here. One is about rape and other such sexual crimes, the second is about social/gender inequality and the third is about capital punishment.
Rape and other such sexual crimes are committed against the ‘weaker’ section of the society (‘weak’ as in not physically or in a derogatory tone but how the society and the world order has made it). When we talk about rape, we usually refer to women alone but this category would involve women of all ages, boys, financially under-privileged (and thus less influential in the social strata) and dalits. All of them are easy preys for the culprits and a combination of any among these could make it even more dangerous than the individual parameters. For example, a lower-caste young girl stands a bigger chance to be sexually assaulted than a higher-caste urban woman. Or a financially under-privileged boy would make an easy prey compared to a boy from an affluent family. The culprits are looking for the weakest, and the weakest of them all are, generally saying, women and children.
When we dig deep into the roots of this issue, keeping the above points in mind, we would find that the problem lies in the social order of equality. A part of this social inequality is complimented by caste-ism which is why it doesn’t take to many candle-light vigils or death row calls and N number of public protests when we hear the news of a dalit girl from a rural area was gang-raped by a group of men. And among that social inequality lies an even bigger issue – of gender inequality. This is everywhere (though the world has moved forward a lot compared to the older times); right from the family, culture, community, religion, anything.
So to fight this problem, of not just rape but all such sexual or other crimes against the weakest is to standby and support the weakest and give them an equal space and rights. And one major thing to start doing in that direction is to change our attitude towards the powerless and that has to start from the family and the responsibility is on men as they are the major culprits in these cases.
When it comes to capital punishment, we can see that it hasn’t curbed crimes. If that wasn’t the case, we wouldn’t have to order capital punishment again and again. Hanging is more like a federal state taking revenge on behalf of the individuals. A lawful and civilized state doesn’t have to take care of personal revenge. It’s duty should be to curb crimes, ensure a civilized justice is offered to the victims and the criminals are punished. So the best way to punish a criminal would be to give him a life-sentence and ensuring that he serves his time in full. While in jail, his labor could be made use of for the betterment of the society. I understand that many people wouldn’t be supportive of this because we believe that the criminals would use the loopholes in law and would skip the full term and get back to society. But that is why we have to demand a stricter law and order that ensures a convicted serves his full punishment period. Instead of calling for blood and death and still call ourselves civilized.
There is one thing that I am happy about the proposal being considered by Women and Child Development ministry in India that the husbands should pay salary to their wives. The for and against (mostly against) discussions have made men in India see something that they have ignored for long – that their wives do work and this work in the name of family system, culture and blah blah blah is actually WORK. That is the best outcome of the whole proposal and the debates followed.
I thought it was a weird and impossible proposal (I still think it is, but) mostly because I was looking at it from my own situation and perspective. Most of you men who are reading this may also be looking at it in the same direction. I do help my wife with the house chores. I never let my wife wash or iron my clothes even if I was on a hurry. I do all the house chores when my wife isn’t at home, that includes cooking and cleaning. I help with looking after our child. Apart from this, we have a maid who comes twice a week to do the larger washing and cleaning tasks which I pay for. So why should I pay my wife and who will pay me for my job in the house?
The answer to that question cannot be generally applied. In many families the husbands often do not pay attention to their wives except when they need them for physical needs. The wives have to take care of the family expenses AND the savings from the meager budget set by the husbands themselves. Wives have to do all the house chores and looking after the children but their hard work is ignored by mostly everyone in the family – including the husbands and children. So the proposed law might work in this section of the society (considered that the husbands would still continue to pay for family expenses and this salary is just another part of it).
But again, the law cannot be applied in general and scrutinizing it to ensure a fair use of it would be a difficult task. I think strengthening the existing laws for the crimes against women and raising social awareness about the equal responsibility and gender equality alone can make a difference to women in this country. But still, I think it is good that this proposal has made news. Like I said in the beginning, this has made men realize that the whole house chores is something that you get for free at your lady’s kindness.
Indulekha is a brand that has been churning out so many TVCs recently for their product range. The first series of their advertisements featured popular mini and big screen actors, which was followed up by another series that had ‘reality TV’ sort of feel to it. Their latest series even has a theme and name – uLkkarutthu – and contrary to the direct selling strategy, they have adopted a model that is ‘seemingly’ progressive and feminist in the outset but is pushing certain politics which seems to be the trick of new age marketers and advertising gurus to keep them in business. More on this advt in Kafila and Nalamidam. And do watch the first video of their series here before you read further.
I was thinking what would happen if other businesses have started adopting the Indulekha model. Imagine a barber who cannot afford to have men who do not cut their hair. This will certainly threaten his regular business. So what he really needs to ask for is business but in the new age, he cannot be too direct with it so he has to push certain politics to market his service. And here is what happens when he adopts the Indulekha model.
How do you judge a society’s morale and progress? Is it possible to judge them by taking a look at how the society treats it’s women and children? If so, Keralam has shown an example of it’s morale and progressiveness by the incident of a minor girl being sexually abused. The incident took place in the coastal village Mangalam in Alappuzha district. A 12 year old girl was sexually abused by her neighbor who is a father of two children. The girl did not feel well after the incident and was afraid she could get pregnant so she shared it with her friend in the school.The friend shared it with her family.
The friend’s parent went to school the next day with other parents but here is the shocker. The friend’s family did not go to school to ask for justice to the abused girl but to threaten that if the sexually abused girl continued to study in that school, they would not send their children there. Some of the lady teachers in the school also said that they wouldn’t take lessons in the class if the girl continued. The headmaster then sent the girl out with a transfer certificate.
The story doesn’t stop there. The girl joined a Sanskrit school nearby but the school administration received a phone call saying that it is better for them to show the door out to the girl. The girl was put out again on the same day. The next option for the girl’s parents was another school in Punaloor, but again the moral police in the area intervened and the girl was out again.
This news story is an example of why women are still not daring to come up to the forefront to report domestic/sexual abuse or rape. The society treats the hunted as the culprits and the hunter walks scot-free. “Why didn’t she protest” is the question we always hear. “She could have resisted”, “looks like she asked for it”, “she might have enjoyed it” are the brutal comment we pass on such incidents. And not a comment on the ‘family man’ who took advantage of a young girl of 12 years for his perversion.
Wondering what happened to the man who sexually abused a minor girl? The people, police and media have no intention to question the injustice because he is a ‘family man’.
Today will be marked in the history of Keralam as the first queer pride parade in Keralam is happening at Thrissur today. It starts from Regional Theatre, Thrissur at 4 PM today and will come back to a public meeting at 6 PM. Why today, July 2nd? Their blog says, “July 2nd of 2009 is the day when the Delhi High court decriminalized homosexuality by rereading section 377 of Indian Penal code. We celebrate pride on this day as we see the judgment as a historical moment in the lives of queer people.”
I think it will be really interesting to see the response of common public to this event, particularly in a conservative society like Keralam. It wouldn’t be so surprising but still, the shock treatment would begin today.
Checkout their blog here.
I’ve just gone through a series of videos by Unreported World and two of them struck me so much because it was shot here in India. You MUST checkout their series of reports from world over and particularly the following:
The Broken People
“We’re forced to eat rats, because we cannot afford to buy food”
The Land of Missing Children
I don’t know if it is because you guys are past your age of “getting jiggy with it” or worried about the rising number of young people in India and taking your old-vs-young revenge on them, but what the local news papers have been reporting about the thing you have done with the IT amendment act is quite horrible. I mean, how fair is it to arrest somebody even without a warrant for browsing porn online? Considering that Internet is the best possible medium available for youth to please themselves, this new rule is mostly going to affect the youngsters. If you curb the youth’s virtual sexual adventures like that, wouldn’t they get even more curious to sneak into the lives of the real people and seek real sex out of them? Or is it your way of telling the youth to “go out, have some real sex, time to stop the single tennis game“? But even then, you guys haven’t yet legalized prostitution here and the sexual abuse/crime rates are increasing in the country! I mean, the law enforcement is most of the times silent about those old politicians, top officials who are accused of raping minors using their flesh trade connections but you can arrest an ordinary person for just browsing porn online without causing anyone any harm?! WTF is that?
I came to know about Savita Bhabhi just about a month ago, when the ban on Savita Bhabhi and the announcement of the site being shut down made news in the media. I Googled for more information on Savita Bhabhi and saw that the banned contents were available in many blogs. I must admit that the graphical images of Savita Bhabhi’s sexual adventures were well enough to satisfy my single sex life. Because, if the “girl-next-door” was a symbol of teenage romance, the “aunty-next-door” was one of the many teenage sexual fantasies for us guys and Savita Bhabhi made me nostalgic all the way and fed those teenage fetish very well.
It is then I read the whole crap that was going on in the name of Savita Bhabhi. Deshmukh, owner of the website who shut down the website following the ban, said that he made the website to prove that Indian women too have sexual desires. His point was that he was contributing to the liberation of Indian women. Very cleverly said, I must say (especially after revealing the identity behind an anime porn site). I have never had a chance to browse through the original SB site (it was banned by the time I could reach there) and so I don’t know if they have had any revenue model from the website. If they indeed had a revenue model (or was planning for one), Deshmukh displayed the qualities of a modern businessman who could rationalize his commercial interests.
And then I read Pritish Nandy’s piece in Times of India, titled “The assassination of Savita Bhabhi“. He see Savita Bhabhi comic as having some harmless fun spoofing the way we Indian men treat our women. He also see Savita Bhabhi as a symbol of freedom, of empowerment, of the sexuality our women can wield and of defiance against male chauvinism.
I mean, come on Mr. Nandy! Savita Bhabhi does not represent the liberation of Indian women. Her sexual adventures were mostly confined to her household. She did not dare to go for a Gigolo. She did not file for a divorce if she was unhappy with her sex life with her husband. She did not even go for a job to support herself financially. Is that whom Pritish Nandy calls a liberated Indian woman?
And is this really spoofing the way Indian men treat our women? Take the bra sales man or the domestic helper boy for example. The bra salesman has had an eye on her and Bhabhi’s seduction came as he wished. The domestic helper boy is an expert in ‘treating‘ his madams well and he too had his way with Bhabhi. The teenage boys who had sex with Savita Bhabhi said “let’s fuck her” and it almost turned out to be a rape. So is this the classic example of a free, empowered woman’s defiance against male chauvinism as Pritish Nandy calls it?
To put it simple, Savita Bhabhi had no other purpose than serving the sexual fantasies of people – men and women alike. With her graphically perfected body, she served the sexual fetish of mostly the men – old and young alike. Rest, including Pritish Nandy’s piece in Times of India, are all plain bull crap in order to rationalize their sexual fantasies (why don’t they simply admit that they liked the porn element?).
NOTE: If Pritish Nandy or any others want to read about a woman who used sexuality as a weapon to fight the oppression and an unjust social system, you don’t really need to search in the comics. Just dig a little bit into the history or read the story of Kuriyedathu Thathri in Maddy’s blog (read from paragraph # 6).
In a historic judgment, the Delhi High Court has passed a ruling that recommends section 377 of IPC should be amended and any sex between two consenting adults should be legalized. This comes as a big solace to India’s homosexuals as it opens up the way to legalize consensual sex between two adult homosexuals. The Court has said that section 377, if not amended would be a violation of Article 21 of the constitution which states that every citizen should be treated equally before the law. I am happy that the Court has upheld the values of human rights and the right to live with dignity and equal opportunity (at least in the eyes of the law).
Chief Justice Shah and Justice Muralidhar said, “We declare Section 377 in so far as it criminalizes consensual sexual acts of adults in private is violative of articles 14, 21 and 15 of the Constitution. The provision of Section 377 will continue to govern non-consensual penile non-vaginal sex and penile non vaginal sex involving minors.” [Legally gay: historic court order makes it possible – CNN IBN]
The new ruling however will not be immediately implemented because it is now up to the parliament to take a decision to amend the law. And I am not sure whether the politicians would take a positive stand on the matter because there is strong protest from various religious groups including Christians, Hindus and Muslims (which also means “vote banks”). I have only one thing to ask them. You have time and again taken pride in saying that your respective religion has revised it’s teachings and text according to the times. Each of you claim that you are the most modern religion. Now is your chance to prove it. If you think that a supreme force like God(s) cannot be inclusive, what kind of love and tolerance do you preach?
As for the LGBT community, they have many challenges lying ahead. For the starters, they should begin educating people on homosexuality rather than keeping people off with the explicit symbols of sexuality. The homosexuals need to let the heterosexuals know that other than their preference in love and sex, they are not a sex-hungry group but normal people, just like the rest of us. They should also help others identify whether they are truly Gay or not. (I read an excellent post on this topic in Sam’s blog where he answered someone about the differences between feeling Gay and being Gay).
Anyways, the Indian society cannot live in denial. Homosexuality and homosexuals are for real. Our denial only makes the whole situation worse, adding up to the failed marriages, sexual diseases and suicides. So no matter what an individual thinks of homosexuality, the Government and Law should uphold the rights of every individual. The Court has done it’s part. Will the Government follow?
I’m clueless as to why the Israeli arms dealer Rafael’s defense video isn’t inviting protest from the people of India – both in a patriotic sense as well as through a gender point of view. Instead, if we are to believe the spokesperson of Rafael Advanced Defense Systems (as quoted by Wired’s Noah Shachtman), the video is said to have been received with much acclaim in India. I am confused, because the video shows India as a dancing doll, singing Dinga Dinga Dee and begging the man (representing Israel) that “I need to feel safe and sheltered“. The man then sings out to her, “I promise to defend you, Fulfill your expectations“. Oh yeah, that masculine man promising to take care of the vulnerable girl begging him to take care of her. Am I the only one or has anyone else felt weird watching this video as an Indian? And it is all in the backdrop of Rafael missile mock-ups and the images of Goddess Durga and Hanuman.
Every element of the promotional film is just plain wrong. The sari-clad, “Indian” dancers look all too ashkenaz and zaftig. The unshaven, hawk-nosed, leather-clad leading man appears to be a refugee from You Don’t Mess With the Zohan. Then of course, there’s the implication that the Indian military is somehow like a helpless woman who “need(s) to feel safe and sheltered.”
Oh yes, strong Israeli man! Where can I sign up? Then again, he also asserts that “we’ve been together for so long, trusting friends and partners,” suggesting a really bad case of amnesia. India and Israel did not establish full diplomatic relations until 1992.