China’s ‘Leftover Women’ fight bullshit with humor #Vaw #Womenrights


By DIDI KIRSTEN TATLOW
Published: April 23, 2013, NYT

BEIJING — For years, single Chinese women in their mid- to late-20s have endured being called “shengnu,” or “leftover women,” by relatives, by the state-run media and by society. The message is : Marry, ideally by 25, or you’re on the shelf.

Some are starting to push back.

“I don’t accept that definition,” said Li Yue, 34, who works at a nongovernmental organization in Beijing. “It’s really ridiculous. Who says I’m leftover, and by whom? I don’t feel I’m leftover, I feel I’m living the life I want.”

“It’s really annoying,” said Wang Man, 31, an employee of a poverty relief N.G.O. in Beijing. “By now though, I don’t care, as I think there’s a plot behind it. It’s an admonishment to women, it’s telling us what to do, where and when. Everyone is trying to get us to sacrifice ourselves, to look after children, husbands, old people.”

China has about 20 million more men under 30 years of age than women, according to official news reports — largely the result of gender selective abortion, with many parents preferring a son to a daughter. So why is the phenomenon of “leftover women” apparently so widespread? Aren’t desperate men snapping up available women?

Not exactly. Traditional attitudes demand that a man earn more than a woman, meaning that as women earn increasingly more they are pricing themselves out of the marriage market.

But as a result, partly, of the increasingly defiant attitudes of women like Ms. Liu and Ms. Wang toward a term that many still find terribly hurtful, a riposte to “leftover women” has been born — and it’s a clever one. Yes, they’re saying, we’re “shengnu.” But that’s “sheng” as in “victorious,” not “leftover.”

The pun that turns the tables on the prejudicial description is made possible by the fact that “sheng” has different meanings in Chinese depending on the written character: either “leftover” or “victorious” (or “successful,” as some prefer). Chinese is filled with homonyms, making punning a popular pastime.

The redefining of shengnu has been abetted by a television series, started last July, that translates as “The Price of Being a Victorious Woman.” It’s an exploration of the romantic life and career of the fictitious, unmarried Lin Xiaojie, played by the Taiwanese actress Chen Qiao En. In the series, the quirky, pretty Ms. Lin has troubled romantic encounters with attractive men. But along the way she builds a successful career.

While some consider the series overly sappy, it has had the effect of spreading the concept of “victorious women” as a morale-boosting alternative to “leftover women,” and delivering unmarried Chinese women more self-respect.

“In the series, the perfect metamorphosis of Lin Xiaojie from a ‘leftover woman’ to a ‘victorious woman’ shows you that in the working world too, it’s better to be strong and in charge of your destiny than to let other people control your future,” runs a summary of the series on the Web site of iQiyi.com, a major Chinese film and TV portal. It offers 10 pieces of practical advice to young women, including: Don’t be bad but don’t be too good, either. Learn not to be influenced by your colleagues. Don’t fall in love with your boss.

Even the state-run media, which have long issued lugubrious warnings to young women on the perils of becoming a “leftover woman,” are — slowly — joining in.

The official microblog site of People’s Daily recently displayed a post suggesting that “leftover women” needn’t despair.

“Leftover women, don’t be tragic,” it said. “There are 20 million more men under 30 than women in China. So how can there be so many ‘leftover women?”’ It provided a common explanation: “Isn’t it because they’re not ‘leftover’ but ‘victorious’, and their requirements for partners are very high?”

But it continued, in a less judgmental vein: “They’re free, and can stand on their own feet. As China modernizes fast, ‘leftover women’ may turn into a positive term.”

It’s better to be “victorious” than “leftover,” said Ms. Liu, the N.G.O. worker. But overall, she’d rather not have to choose.

“I think it’s a very positive word,” she said. “But it’s also kind of odd because I never thought of this as a victory or some kind of a struggle.”

“We should have the right to choose what we want to do. So do we really need such a power-filled word as ‘victorious’ to describe something so normal?”

Ms. Wang agreed. “I’ve heard of it and I think it’s O.K., but I don’t think it’s a question of victory or defeat,” she said. “It’s just a way of life. If I had to choose, though, I’d tend toward ‘victorious’ for sure. Still, it all feels a bit tiring.”

Meanwhile, there are still many over-25-year-olds, fretting under strong societal pressure to marry, who have internalized the cultural and social values that they are “on the shelf.” China’s minimum marriage age for women is 20, so the window of opportunity for those who want to escape labeling is small.

For them, “shengnu,” with its double meaning, is, at best, neutral.

“I’m not completely proud of it,” said Zhou Wen, 27 and unmarried, a secretary at an American marketing company in Beijing, “but it is at least a neutral word. Not bad at all.”

Petition to Union Health Minister- ” Abortion is not murder” #vaw #womenrights #reproductiverights


 

Respected Sir,

We strongly protest against the letter sent by the Maharashtra government to the Centre to amend the PCPNDT Act, 1994 so that sex selection can be treated as murder, punishable under section 302 of the IPC.First of all abortion should not be referred to as foeticide, which had anti-abortion implications. Women had the right to decide when and whether or not they should bear and give birth to children. Making sex-selective abortions (wrongly referred to as “female foeticide”) a murder charge, would only increase illegal abortions and also make access to safe abortion difficult.

All these years, women’s groups were fighting against sex selection not abortion. Now after Census 2011 and a huge dip in child sex ratio, the government has gone on the other extreme by trying to equate abortion with homicide.Womens movement has always demanded the continuous and strict monitoring of sonography centers, hospitals and nursing homes and strict action against all unlicensed centers. Instead of concentrating on this issue and doctors who misuse medical technology, the discussion in the letter focuses on abortions.

According to the PCPNDT Act, sex selection (the correct legal term) itself is a crime and the doctors involved should be punished as per the provisions under the act. The pregnant woman on whom sex selection is performed or undertaken is not an offender according to the act. This should be upheld in Maharashtra.

Safe and legal abortion is a woman’s right and abortion is legal in India. Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP Act) spells out the conditions under which it can be carried out. Sex-selective abortion, however, amounts to discrimination against a particular sex, in most cases, female sex. Sex-selection in favour of the male child is a symptom of devaluation of female lives. It is important to remember that those who want to use abortion for elimination of the female foetus have to first determine the sex of the child. Rightly, it is this process of pre-natal selection which is a crime, and it is being regulated and monitored through the Preconception and Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex selection) (PCPNDT) Act.

Unless we are able to deal with all those social and economic factors that are going into the culture of son-preference and daughter-aversion, the child sex ratio will go on plummeting. But the solution is not to curb the legal right to abortion. Rather the PCPNDT Act should be enforced, and clinics that offer prenatal sex testing should be weeded out.

We condemn the demand to make abortion a crime and urged the government to stop using anti-abortion stand for curbing the plummeting child sex ratio. Checking pre-natal sex selection required the proper implementation of the PCPNDT Act and monitoring of sex-selective procedures by the government. It could not be achieved by introducing such draconian measures that curb women’s right to safe and legal abortion.

We demand that the law deals strictly with those who perform the crime of sex selection. The political protection to erring doctors is a serious problem in Maharashtra and the state government should take steps to put an end to political interference in implementation of PCPNDT Act, rather than focusing on abortion.

We do not endorse the view that abortion is homicide ,even as we fully agree that sex selective abortion is a crime that must be punished as per the PCPNDT Act. We demand the Centre to rejects Maharashtra Goverment’s recommendation to treat sex selection as homicide under Sec 302-IPC

Forum against Sex Selection ( Akshara Committed Communities Development Trust, Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Population Population first,Stree Mukti Sanghthana, Savitribai Phule Gender Resource Centre , Women Networking )

I support FASS ,in their demand and urge you to reject Maharshtra Governments recommendation to amend the PCPNDT Act, 1994 so that sex selection can be treated as murder, punishable under section 302 of the IPC

Sincerely,

 

Acid attacks: Haryana women face new form of assault


 

Deepender Deswal, TNN May 28,

ROHTAK: Acid seems to have become the new weapon in the hands of criminals in Haryana. Already infamous for its skewed sex ratio and high female foeticide rate, the state has seen a wave of acid attacks against women, even prompting the Punjab and Haryana high court to order a CBI inquiry into one of such case involving three schoolgirls.

Unidentified accused had thrown acid on three schoolgirls — two of them class 10 students and third in class 12 — when they were returning home from tuition classes in Sector 1 in Rohtak last year. While the accused are still to be identified, the HC has handed over the investigations to CBI.

Saturday’s daylight attack on a budding volleyball player in a bustling Rohtak street is 5th such incident in Haryana in a one year span. The motive in all the five incidents — in Rohtak, Sonipat, Kelram village of Kaithal district and Ambala — seems to be similar as the accused resorted to this brutal form of assault to take revenge on girl who had “dared” to snub him. According to police officers, in most cases, acid attacks have been used as revenge on girls who spurned advances of friendship or marriage by the accused.

Two victims had succumbed to acid burns. Paramjit Kaur, 30, was attacked when she was asleep, in Kelram village on May 23 and had succumbed to burns in a Karnal hospital on Friday. Another 17-year-old girl, Kiran, of Sonipat town, died of acid burns inflicted on her by two youths, including one who had been stalking her and pressurizing her to marry him, on July 13, 2011.

“It’s a reflection of the brutal male mentality where the accused took rejection as an insult. They found a soft target in the girl and attacked her with acid to deface her,” said Sandeep Kumar, a psychologist at Guru Jambheshwar University in Hisar. A mixture of psycho-social and sexual factors, like negative feelings, bias towards females, mental sickness and peer pressure could be the driving force behind the accused taking such extreme steps, he said.

Prof Promila Batra, head of psychology department at Maharishi Dayanand University, Rohtak, said the accused are impulsive and aggressive and unable to think about the consequences of their act.

Police failure to effectively tackle such incidents is also responsible for the repeat of such attacks. “The accused in such cases should be tried under stricter law and punishment, too, must be exemplary,” said a police official. “Easy availability of acid and even easier use (throwing it while driving) is alluring for such accused, who take a sadistic pleasure by leaving a permanent scar on their victims while taking the revenge,” he added.

Timeline

May 27, 2012: Two biker youths throw acid on volleyball player Ritu Saini, 18, in busy Prem Nagar Chowk area of Rohtak and speed away

May 23, 2012: Paramjit Kaur, 30, attacked by a man, stated to be her relative, while she was asleep in her house in Kelram village of Kaithal, along with her two children. While she succumbed to her injuries, her 10-year-old son is struggling for life with 35% burns

July 13, 2011: Kiran, 17, dies in Sonipat after two youths on motorcycle throw acid on her. She had rejected the marriage proposal of main accused, Sanjay

June 18, 2011: Unknown assailants throw acid on three schoolgirls when they were returning home from tuition classes in Rohtak

 

Dil Se Nahin Dimaag Se Dekho – Thoughts on Satyamev Jayate


Guest post by SHOHINI GHOSH

 

The first episode of Aamir Khan’s much publicized TV show Satyamev Jayate telecast on May 6, 2012 dealt with “Female Foeticide”. The following is a reflection of the show’s line of reasoning. Since only one out of 13 episodes has been telecast, what follows should not be taken as a judgement on the series but a response to the first episode. For reasons that I will explain later, I will use the term Sex-Selective Abortions (hereafter SSA) instead of `Female Foeticide’.

 

Satyamev Jayate (hereafter, SJ) takes inspiration from the format of the Oprah Winfrey show. In this format the celebrity host is as important as the issues being discussed and the issues of “human interest” are narrated through a number of `affective’ tropes that include cathartic revelations, shocking testimonies, interviews with experts, cutaways of shocked or tearful studio audiences and a host who is both emotive and inspirational. The show’s attempt to mobilize affect is reflected in its many promos and tag-line that reads:  “Dil Peh Lagegi, Tabhi Baat Banegi.”  Shows with such formats usually end on a feel-good note where a “solution” to the problem is proffered.

In SJ, the “solution” is the “jaadu ki chhadi” (magic wand) which the host explains is the collective strength of “me” and “you”. The episode ends with Aamir Khan (hereafter, AK) promising to write a letter to the Chief Minister of Rajasthan on behalf of all of us demanding strict action against doctors who practice sex-selective tests and procedures.

Unlike most talk shows on TV, SJ has high production values. Despite a certain preachy sanctimoniousness reminiscent of his role in Taare Zameen par, AK is a respectful and competent host who helps to keep the conversations on track without being rude or abrupt. On the first episode, he speaks to three women who provide moving testimonies of how they were forced to undertake sex-determination tests and sex-selective abortions against their will. The testimonies show how sex-selection and son-preference is not a problem that plagues the rural backwaters as is commonly assumed but prevails within the educated middle class. AK punctuates the conversation with `useful’ information. For example, he rightly points out that the sex of the child is determined by the sperm of the father and not the egg of the mother. There was an important intervention made by a lawyer representing one of the three women who describes how the judge declared that there was nothing wrong in desiring a “kuldeepak” (the son who will carry forward the lineage) and upbraided the policeman who had dared to arrest the in-laws who had forced the woman to undergo forced SSA. The show included interviews with a reputed gynecologist as well as two journalists who had carried out a sting operation on doctors in Rajasthan who were carrying out SSA’s.

On the surface, the show is “pro-women” but as the arguments unravel, it becomes increasingly evident that “all is not well’. Let me explain. In describing the “consequences” of a skewed, women-unfriendly sex-ratio, AK takes us (through Airtel “3G link”) to Kurukshetra, Haryana where in one village women have practically disappeared. AK speaks to a group of men who claim that they are unmarried because SSA’s using “ultrasound” had ensured that there were no women in the village. Earlier in the show AK had linked the declining sex-ratio to SSA and the Kurukshetra example was being produced as a perfect example. Even if we were to set aside our skepticism about this easy explanation, what follows’ is worse. Back in the studio, AK extrapolates from this example to expound on a simplistic and dangerously flawed prognosis according to which the shortage of women will result in “two crore men” remaining “unmarried” thereby creating a “shaadi ka bazaar” (marriage market) with buyers, sellers and “dalaals” where women will be bought and sold like commodities only to have unbelievable atrocities visited upon them.

This idea is seconded by a member of the studio audience who says that the marriage market had already begun and that women in the all-men village had to face harassment from the “kunwara fauj” (army of singletons). (Of course, by now you are wondering who these women are since we were just told that there were none!) The other suggestion being made seemed to be that if (heterosexual) men were not provided partners in heterosexual matrimony, they would explode in a libidinous frenzy and commit atrocities on women! (Thanks to SJ, on those rare occasions that they are brought to the courtroom, sex-offenders could now take refuge in the “singlehood-made-me-do-it’ argument and ask for their sentences to be mitigated.) Another question is to ask is whether equal numbers create gender equality and prevent violence against women.  If yes, then how do we explain atrocities against women when the sex-ratio was better as recorded by say the 1961 census?

What falls by the wayside in the paradigm that AK proposes is a central tenet of women’s equality: her right to choose. If we believe in equality then the women born in Kurukshetra should have the right to decide when, who and where they want to marry. They cannot be burdened with the task of having to marry men in their village in order to maintain the sex-ratio and thereby prevent violence against women even if this thesis were true. At the risk of detonating the libidinous ire of the `kunwara’ fauj, it may be said that the women in Kurukshetra – like women everywhere – should have the right to decide what they want to do with their life and body and this includes their right to reject both heterosexuality and matrimony if they so desire.

By locating the declining sex ratio within a paradigm of `female foeticide’ and `violence against women’, SJ replays a problematic logic; one that links declining sex ratio to violence against women and the elimination of women through `female foeticide’ using the key act of abortion.

In India, the women’s right to abortion emerged not from feminist struggles but as a by-product of family planning policies. Abortion has been legal in India under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act since 1971.  Despite its default origins, it is an important right for women and all campaigns against SSA must ensure that a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy is never threatened. The Right to Abortion is vital for gender equality and there can be no doubt that women are safer when abortions are legal and their mental and physical well-being is not threatened by having to obtain unsafe and illegal abortions.  While SSA gets a high degree of publicity what is less publicized is how difficult safe abortion still is for large numbers of women.

The makers of SJ might argue that women’s right to abortion and forced SSA are not the same thing. Certainly they are not and the three cases presented in Episode 1 of SJ demonstrate that. But unfortunately, not all cases of SSA fall into this category. There are innumerable instances where, for a number of complicated reasons, women are complicit in choosing SSA which then muddies the demarcation between oppressive villains (husband/in-laws) and oppressed victims (wives). The reasons why a woman will opt for SSA can range from her own son-preference to a desire to survive safely in a hostile household. How women should be discouraged from sex-selective practices without jeopardizing her right to take decisions about her life and body, have long agonized Feminists. An important lesson that Feminist Activism has taught us is that the inevitable fallout of empowering women to take their own decisions may well result in her choosing a path that many of us would regard as anti-feminist or regressive.

“Pro-choice” Feminists (as Abortion Rights Activists call themselves) have always privileged the personhood of the mother over that of the foetus which they argue is a `potential person’ and not an “actual person”. The “Pro-life” Lobby (as right-wing, anti-abortionists call themselves) does just the reverse. By using terms like the “unborn child” and the “death of the girl child”, they privilege the personhood of the child over that of the mother. Similarly, the term “female foeticide” carries connotations of both personhood and murder through its association with words like homicide, matricide and regicide.

Read more at Kaafila

 

Does the truth prevail in Aamir Khan’s Satyameva Jayate?


Satyen K. Bordoloi , http://www.sify.com

aamir
Aamir Khan in the very first episode has shown society the mirror, but perhaps we also need to investigate what lies behind the mirror, says Satyen K Bordoloi

The most surprising thing about Satyameva Jayate is Aamir Khan. The star who is otherwise so inaccessible, has suddenly become someone you cannot escape even if you want to.

What with his program being shown at the same time in eight channels and viewers being subjected to a countdown as if something earthshaking was about to happen.

To begin with, one has to give in to the marketing genius of the man, the star… who in his quest to brand himself as the “socially conscious star” has finally nailed it.

Yes, Aamir Khan indeed shows the society the mirror, exposing the hypocrisies of the educated middle class. Yet, to get the true picture we will have to see the other side of the mirror.

First, however, let’s look at what Aamir Khan wants us to see.

New gender detection technique: gift or curse for girls in India?



By Reuters Staff January 27, 2012

By Ariana Wardak

Researchers in South Korea have developed a blood test that can determine the sex of a foetus as early as five weeks but not everyone may be gung-ho about the discovery, fearing it might be misused for sex selection in South Asian countries such as India where boys are prized over girls.

While the ability to determine the gender of a baby through a simple and cheap blood test may be seen as a blessing in the scientific community, the technique might prove lethal to baby girls in India where there is already a great difference in gender ratio with 933 females for every thousand males.

Until three decades ago, female infanticide — the killing a newborn baby girl — was widespread in India but due to advancement in technology, it is now possible to determine the gender in the womb itself, leading to a higher number of abortions.

The ultrasound test is currently the most commonly used procedure for finding the gender of the baby but it cannot be done before five months of pregnancy whereas an invasive test that carries a one to two percent risk of miscarriage must be done after 11 weeks.

“(The new test could) reduce the need for invasive procedures in pregnant women carrying an X-linked chromosomal abnormality and clarify inconclusive readings by ultrasound,” lead researcher Hyun Mee Ryu said.

The scientists said the method “might promote the potential for sex selection” and warned “there should be careful consideration about the use of this analytical tool in clinical situations”.

Thanks to female foeticide, high rates of violence and economic discrimination against women, a recent poll done by Reuters Foundation ranked India among one of the worst countries for women.

(Interact with Ariana at @arianawardak )