Men, Women and Other People: Understanding Sexualities #Sundayreading


breaking1

From left to right  ( Nine members of the research team ) – Hasina Khan , Kranti  ,  Shruti, Shalini Mahajan, Smriti Nevatia , Raj, Sabla , Meenu pandey, and Chayanika shah

Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Women Feature Service 

The concept of gender needs to be transformed. That was the central thrust of a recent study entitled, ‘Breaking The Binary’, released by the queer feminist collective, Labia, at an event organised in Mumbai’s well–known SNDT University.

Questioning the male–female binary, the study concluded that there can be no uniformity within these identities. Even when people use the same term like ‘man’, ‘woman’, ’transgender’ to define themselves, their lived realities may differ greatly. Such categories, therefore, should necessarily be less rigid because when the boundaries between them get blurred, individuals are enabled to exert greater agency and choice in moving across them. According to the study, gender needs to be consensual; it needs to get transformed from a hierarchical discrete, binary system to a porous, multiple–gender one.

‘Breaking The Binary’ was based on 50 life history narratives that explored the circumstances and situations of queer PAGFB (Persons Assigned Gender Female at Birth), who were made to, or were expected to, conform to existing social norms pertaining to gender and sexuality.

The research team for the study comprised 11 members, with Chayanika, Raj, Shalini and Smriti from Labia anchoring the work. Explained Chayanika, “Through this study, we looked at the experiences of our subjects within their natal families and while at school. We charted their journeys through intimate relationships and we attempted to understand what happened to them in public spaces, how they were treated by various state agencies, what were their sources of support and refuge when they came under the threat of violence or faced discrimination.”

The people interviewed came from a wide cross–section of society in terms of location, age, caste, class, and religion. These variations were critical, according to Chayanika, as the intention was to reach those living at the intersections of many marginalised identities. But achieving this was difficult, even impossible. As she put it, “The silence and invisibility around individuals who continually transgress gender norms meant that we were able to approach only those individuals who have some contact with queer groups.”

The 50 respondents were spread across north, east, west and south India – living in cities such as Bangalore, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Delhi, Pune and Thrissur. The representation of individuals living in rural areas was low, but two persons – one from rural Maharashtra and the other from rural Jharkhand – were interviewed, and 11 of the respondents had grown up in rural settings. Of the 50 individuals who participated in the study, 30 were from the dominant castes, 11 people were from the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes/Special Backward Classes, three were from Other Backward Classes (OBC) and six identified themselves as Others.

‘Woman’ as a biological category was one of the subjects that figured in the interviews. Persons whose biological sex did not correspond with their psychological sex, were branded as gender “variants”, even though women do not constitute a homogenous category and could belong to many different categories – including a category as unfamiliar as ‘working class lesbian’ or ‘dalit lesbian’.

According to Raj, a member of Labia, “We found that being from an upper class background was no guarantee of privilege. There was a 20–year–old from a business family. Because of family dynamics, she was unable to get the education she had wanted and was forced to support herself by earning small sums of money playing cricket. Another respondent, identified as upper class, was also deprived of a meaningful education.” Clearly, a privileged, upper class background does not protect queer persons, especially if they happen to challenge gender and/or sexuality norms.

The study identified three levels of violence the respondents had faced. The first is at the individual level, where harmful acts are perpetrated against people and property. This can range from taunts to forced marriage and even murder. The second is at the institutional level, where damaging consequences are perpetrated by social institutions with the idea of obstructing the spontaneous expression of human potential – as, for example, when an office denies promotion to an employee on account of sexual orientation. The third is at the structural – cultural – level as, for instance, when religious or political beliefs rule that homosexuality is immoral or illegal.

A woman’s sexual orientation can, among other things, determine her access to resources as well as her social status, according to the study. Women suffer severe material loss when their families desert them and many experience emotional and psychological trauma in their struggle against discrimination and ostracism. Mis–recognition and non–recognition can become a very perverse form of violence as it seeks to naturalise the power enjoyed by dominant groups over non–dominant ones.

For instance, families, friends and teachers could refuse to recognise the need of lesbians to be acknowledged as they are and treated with dignity, leading them to experience a severe loss of self–esteem. This constitutes a form of violence imposed by the majority on a minority. As Shalini, one of study team members, put it, “Every society has its own notion of what is normal and what is assumed to be normal. Going beyond that construct could invite violence on the individual. Many of the respondents felt that the gay rights movement was crucial precisely because people cannot hide behind identities that are not their own. Therefore, just as women defied patriarchy through the women’s rights movement, queer persons defy heteronormativity through the queer rights movement.”

This study, the first of its kind, has helped shed light on how queer persons have addressed the challenges of life and how they continue to search, negotiate, and challenge multiple boundaries. It has attempted to answer some important questions. Where, for instance, are the points at which gender binaries rupture? How are the normative gender lines being reinforced? What situations help to create varied gender identities? Most important of all, the study has helped to capture the experiences of Persons Assigned Gender Female at Birth and their negotiations with families, friends, communities, social structures, as well as the health and legal systems.

The team hopes to take the study forward to highlight areas of concern and conceptualise effective interventions. As one of the team members put it, “We are aiming to convey its insights to the more general category of people, at least those who are interested in taking proactive steps in addressing violence against any human being in any form and also for those who would like to understand the root causes of homophobia. We also want to take it to educational and governmental institutions, so that they can also help usher in change.”

The study was released not just in Mumbai, but in Kolkata, Delhi, Bangalore, Thrissur and Chennai as well. A Hindi translation of it is also on the cards. (WFS)

 

#India – Young Love, old moralities #moralpolicing #ageofconsent #adolescentsex


Kamayani Bali Mahabal | March 23, 2013, Times Crest

The whole debate around the age of consent is clouded by foolish misconceptions, some of them legal and many of them cultural.

Do Baba Ramdev and others know what the implications of reducing the age of consent are? They have been crying themselves hoarse that the move will lead to a rise in the incidents of rape.
‘Age of consent’ does not imply the age at which you are allowed to consent for sex. It is a legal concept which means that this will be the age below which ‘consent’ will not be considered a valid defence against a rape charge. So if a 16-to-18-year-old boy is charged with rape, he will be convicted even if the girl tells the court she had consented.

There is also another misconception at work in this debate. The age of consent is not being reduced – in India, the age of consensual consent has always been 16. Consensual intercourse with a girl under this age was construed as “statutory rape”. The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, enacted in 2012, increased the age of consent to sexual intercourse from 16 to 18. The Verma Committee recommended that the age of consent in the Indian Penal Code should revert to 16.

Where does the age of consent stand in other countries? Britain, 16, France, 15, and in Spain, 13. In the United States, the age ranges from 16 to 18 years, depending on the state in the question. People need to understand that it is quite normal for people to have sexual relationship at 16 or 17.

The reason feminists are asking age of consent to be kept at 16 years is that we do not want to criminalise and send off young boys to prison when they are in a consensual sexual relationship. As Judge Kamini Lau in her judgment last year said in the absence of what she called a “close-in-age reprieve, ” the increase in the age of consent “would become regressive and draconian as it tends to criminalise adolescent sex. ” If the age of consent is raised to 18, any sexual contact between teenagers will be considered rape, period. And all big brothers who want to control their sisters’ freedom will use it to accuse any boy/male classmate/friend who befriends their sisters, strengthening the patriarchal stereotypes which the women’s movement has been fighting to eliminate for decades.

According to the apex body of child rights in the country, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, children’s homes are full of boys who have eloped or had consensual sex with young girls whose disapproving parents have filed cases of kidnapping and rape against them. This means that a later age of consent is widely used as a weapon by protective parents.

Then there is the other question: Would pegging the age of consent at 16 encourage trafficking and rape? How can it? Trafficking and rape are a crime, no matter what the age. If it is raised to 18, young boys, especially from Dalit and tribal communities, will face rape convictions for consensual relationships with upper caste/class girl.

We need to amend the law whereby a man who is 4-5 years or more older than a 16-to-18-year-old girl can be convicted of statutory rape, irrespective of the consent of the girl, as he can sexually exploit a young girl.

The issue here is not if teenage sex is good or bad but if consensual sex between teenagers is to be defined as rape or not. We are drafting a criminal law, not a moral or a social code like the Manu Smriti.
The various babas, religious groups and the khap panchayats believe that young persons, particularly girls, should not exercise any sexual freedom. They view marriage, as determined by their families, as the only destiny for young women. The decision to have sex or not is personal. The law cannot decide when and where a person should have sex, it can only frame laws to prevent crimes.

We should understand the difference between consensual sex and marriage. A marriage is not all about sexual gratification. It is a big social responsibility, which ties a person not only to his or her partner but also to the family and kids. So the age for marriage and consensual sex should be looked at differently. Are child marriages held with the consent of children? No, they are thrust upon them. The argument for keeping the age of consent at 16 years is to prevent the criminal law from interfering in the rights of young people to exercise sexual autonomy and agency. This will curb societal control along conservative lines of caste, class and religion.

While drafting the new law, there are some contemporary realities that government appears to have forgotten. It is medically accepted fact that the age of puberty has been coming down across populations around the world. Biologically, therefore, youngsters are starting to feel the effects of sex hormones raging around their bodies much earlier. According to the third National Health Survey, 2005-06 nearly 43 per cent of women aged between 20-24 had engaged in intercourse before they were 18.

Do we have anything close to sex education in India to allow young people to make informed choices? We need to equip teenagers so they can understand their bodies, and respect sexual attraction, not despise it, and deal responsibly with it. We should not criminalise that attraction. If we do, young men will only end up fearing and hating women, and developing a distorted perception of sexuality and women. This will only make them more violent towards women.

Is this the way we want to deal with violence against women? The criminal law should take into account a teenager’s ability and maturity to make decisions about sex. It should help them deal with their sexuality in an informed and responsible way. Law should strengthen our rights and freedoms and not be an instrument of social control or moral policing.

Now that the government has passed the Bill with the age of consent at 18, we have opened avenues for the prosecution of young boys and girls. We have acknowledged that the Indian society wishes to treat its young boys and girls as immature individuals incapable of making a responsible decision about their sexual lives. Now let us think, is this one step forward or four backwards?

The writer is a lawyer and human rights activist.

 

#India -Sexual Violence, Consumer Culture and Feminist Politics #Vaw # Sexuality


 – Rethinking the Critique of Commodification : Sreenanti Banerjee

FEBRUARY 3, 2013

Guest Post by SREENANTI BANERJEE

I will begin with the by now well-known interview of author and social activist Arundhati Roy, conducted by Channel 4 (a British Media House), about the widespread protests after the horrific December 16th incident of the brutal gangrape of the 23 year old medical student in Delhi. Permit me to quote Roy at length as I do not wish to take bits and pieces from her talk, and pluck them out of their context.

We are having an unexceptional reaction to an event which isn’t exceptional […] But the problem is that why is this crime creating such a lot of outrage is because it plays into the idea of the criminal poor, the vegetable vendor, the gym instructor, the bus driver actually assaulting a middle-class girl. But when rape is used as a means of domination by upper castes, by the army or the police it’s not even punished.

Question: Is there any chance that this protest is going to lead to genuine change, that the political class will accept that this is not what modern India is all about?

Answer: I think it will lead to some laws perhaps, and increased surveillance. But, all of that, I repeat, all of that will protect middle class women.

Question: This is such a contrast from the image of modern India that is being potrayed by the film-making industry in Mumbai, by the whole sort of new tech India. I mean as if there are many worlds competing here [……] So you are suggesting that this new India is fuelling disrespect for women?

Answer: The feudal India has a huge history and legacy of disrespect and violence against women, I mean, any accounts of partition or what is done to dalit women contains that. But, now there is a sort of psychosis. First of all the army and the police are using rape as a weapon against people in places like Chattisgarh, Kashmir and Manipur and so on [……]

But, the other thing is that there is a widening gap between the rich and the poor.Earlier atleast the rich did what they did with a fair amount of discretion. Now it’s all out there, on television, all the sort of conspicuous consumption, and there is ananger and a psychosis building up. Women at the top, at the middle and the bottom are going to pay the price for it, not so much at the top but certainly the dalit women are continuously going to be subjected to violence, and young urban women like the one to whom this happened are very very vulnerable to this kind ofpsychotic rage.” (emphasis added).

Now, although the interview appears to state the ‘real’ conditions of Indian democracy and how the state always permits only a particular class to vent its grievance against violence, here I would urge you to read with me in this interview something that appears to be a central conundrum of cultural politics in what we come to know as the “Global South” today.

The anchor of the programme here speaks in his generic Orientalist “civilizing” tone of a “new and a modern India”, accompanied by a commonplace bewilderment about a supposed “clash of civilization” (in the Hutingtonian sense), about how a “modern” country can exhibit such entrenched misogyny (as if women’s emancipation is always and already another synonym for ‘modernity’) – a country which in fact was supposed to have ‘transcended’ its erstwhile ‘uncivilized’ past and by now gotten rid of its taint of being a “fallen civilization”. And this amazement on the part of the anchor is nothing unusual since this was typical of the whole of Western media after the ghastly event of December 16th when it was always poor “Indian men” raping its modern civilized ‘other’ (in the form of urban women), not being able to cope with rapid processes westernization and globalization.

However, it is interesting to note Arundhati Roy’s response to these questions, especially her notion of “conspicuous consumption” leading to anger and psychosis amongst the urban youth, and women “paying the price” for capitalism’s “pornographic” seductions with its obnoxiously rising concomitant gap between the rich and the poor.  Now, for quite some time, we have seen a continuum in terms of taking positions on westernization and its supposed effects on women and their ‘safety’. From Mohan Bhagwat, the RSS chief to the Supreme Court Judgement criticized by the Justice Verma Committee Report pp. 80 – 83 (which claimed that in India women would seldom falsely “cry rape”, as sex here is generally not for sale and hence women are more protectionist about their sexuality compared to the West where sex is used for pleasure and economic purposes), to Kakoli Ghosh Dastidaar of Trinamool Congress asserting that the “context” of the Park Street rape incident of the “pub-going woman” was qualitatively different from that of the bus gangrape as in the former (“false”) case it was a mere squabble between a prostitute and her client (as opposed to the more ‘authentic’ gangrape in the bus), to Abhijeet Mukherjee’s lament about painted and dented, non-intellectual, consumerist women’s frivolous protests – all of them (although from different standpoints) seem to be commenting on the ghastly effect that capitalism and its twin associate commodification has on the urban Indian woman. While the article published in The Hindu (quoted in the Verma Committee Report) as well as Arundhati Roy seem to be engaging in a much more nuanced analysis of how women venturing in the public sphere for work, education or leisure ‘unfortunately’ become the targets of the wrath of men who are “victims” of an ever-growing individualist consumption-oriented culture, as opposed to Kakoli Ghosh Dastidaars or Mohan Bhagwats who engage in a much more blatant eulogy of the woman who maintains all the ‘lakshman rekhas’ and is not ‘utstrinkhal’ (a term recently used by the Hindi columnist Raj Kishor in an article to describe the ‘licentious urban women’); the underlying assumption is the same. And, that is, the striking opulence of consumer capital leads to sexual violence of urban women.

Fear of the ‘Inauthentic’ Female that predates Capitalism

Although I do understand where Roy is coming from and her concerns about the injustice that global capital has been giving rise to in recent times in terms of erasing any public discourse on state-sponsored sexual violence against women and sexual violence perpetrated by the upper class and upper castes on Dalit and tribal women, the assertion of women (of all classes) “paying the price” for the pornographic exhibitionism of wealth of a particular class, I believe, is certainly problematic.

Here, I do not wish to give the elaborate and rather painstaking (although much needed) inventory of misogyny predating capitalism. However, I do wish to give one particular instance which perhaps would take us to the heart of the matter, and somewhat help me to articulate my theoretical disagreement with Roy and certain other significant social commentators who consider “mindless flaunting and display of wealth” as the “root cause” of sexual violence against middle class women, and a “paying  of price” in terms of them being brutally violated and their intestines being pulled out as a direct and inevitable outcome of the hubris of global capital. This I believe, is a classic case of the much talked about notion of “justifying” sexual violence, something that directly informs what we conceive as “rape culture”.

Here, the notion of male ‘anxiety’ demands further exploration. One of the significant instances of this vulnerability gets demonstrated in the Laws of Manu, which is commonsensically renowned for its misogynist claims. But since commonsense by definition impedes criticality, it is significant to say that it is quite possible to refrain from any crass reductionism of Manu as far as his interpretation of women is concerned. In Laws of Manu, chapter 9, Manu says,

“[14] Good looks do not matter to them (women), nor do they care about youth; ‘A man!’ they say, and enjoy sex with him, whether he is good-looking or ugly. [15] By running after men like ‘whores’, by their ‘fickle minds’, and by their natural lack of affection these women are unfaithful to their husbands even when they are zealously guarded here. [16]. [……] women, who have no virile strength and no Vedic verses, are ‘falsehood’ […]”  [i]

What we need to do here is to read Manu against Manu himself. What is interesting is that the notion of control of women’s sexuality does not stem in Manu from the assumption that women are ‘naturally’ passive and weaker. Neither, does the desire to control emerge from an understanding that women are ‘essentially’ treacherous, unaffectionate and malicious. Rather, a different reading would help us realize that one of the primary sources of men’s anxiety and vulnerability about women’s sexual excess is the notion of the ‘masquerade’, the capacity to feign ‘originality’ and ‘authenticity’ on the part of women, only to prove the fictive nature of that very notion of an ‘authentic’ uncorroded pure womanhood’; in other words, the capacity to ‘mask’ or ‘mime’ oneself, only to show that there is no ‘referent’ of a ‘real self’ behind the mask. Thus, patriarchal disgust emanates from an inherent fear.

Is Commodification and Objectification Bad for Feminism?

From the above analysis, we realize that a culture of misogyny which certainly predated the advent of capitalism, already had a deep-seated fear of the ‘inauthentic fake open feelinglesss promiscuous whore’, whose sexuality in effect had to be controlled. With the advent of capitalism, new patriarchies got introduced which denied women’s household labour, gave rise to unequal wages so on and so forth. But, along with that, the already existing culture of misogyny became all the more ingrained as the apprehension and fear about the ‘inauthenticity’ of the ‘exchangeable’ woman became all pervading now. This is because like everything else, the woman also got translated into an ‘unnatural’ fetishized commodity, got ‘reduced’ to an ‘object’ of exchange under the capitalist order.

However, it should be noted that here the words objectification and commodification are necessary phenomena (as Thomas Keenan points out in his Reading ‘Capital’ Rhetorically), used strictly in the (non-orthodox) Marxist sense of being rendered ‘abstract’ for the purpose of exchange, so that everything is made ‘equal’ (alike) in the eyes of the bourgeouis law (or in other words, rendered ‘human’). Objectification here is a necessary and determining trait of social constitution of individuals as proprietors where the notion of the ‘object’ presupposes a consciousness of ‘difference’. Thus, here the agent is constituted as a discrete ‘self’ (individual), posessing ‘natural rights’, different from ‘others’, and yet ‘equal’ to ‘others’ (since as proprietors the agents should be able to see the others as “subject to the same laws, rights, calculations”). Thus, the ‘equality’ which objectification gives rise to is certainly not false consciousness in this context (as orthodox readings of Marxism would read it), since such a misplaced Marxist reading of objectification as false and hence bad reduces the meaning of the word to a banal Rightwing moralistic cry over a sovereign ‘wholeness’ getting ‘reduced’ to a mere ‘part’.

It is significant to note the pejorative connotations that words like objectification, commodification, consumerism and alienation have assumed in Indian feminist circles, where feminism has almost come to imply a kind of politics of asceticism, bereft of an ambiguous engagement with notions like that of desire and consumption practices. Here, desire of non-westernized women is assumed to be always and already more real, ethical and hence democratic than that of their westernized counterparts. And, I believe that it is precisely under such a climate of an uncritical collapse of rightwing and leftist critique of commodification, that the dissemination is possible of the opinions  that conspicuous consumption is the reason for sexual violence against women.

It is interesting to observe here that the Justice Verma report, along with all its commendable suggestions, makes one similar observation. It endorses the view that, “[…] the large-scale disempowerment of urban men is lending intensity to a pre-existing culture of sexual violence.” [ii] What is significant here is that, a mere stating of the ‘fact’ (as if it is self-evident) certainly does not explain the fact. It rather reifies the ‘fact’ as inevitable or ‘natural’. Hence, in my mind, in order to engage in a full-blown analysis of the ‘causes’ of sexual violence, this observation needs a qualification. And, that qualification is that neo-liberalism along with all its dissemination of social inequity across classes, in the process of commodifying people, alsomakes them ‘inauthentic’, that same inauthenticity which was much feared by Manu and his other patriarchal cohorts of those times.

And discourses on ‘teaching the promiscuous woman a lesson’ originate from an inherent fear of this very ‘inauthentic artificial’ woman, who chooses to objectify and commodify herself (although certainly “not under circumstances of her own making”). This choice, in my mind, needs to be respected, rather than dubbing it as mere false consciousness (just like we have learnt to respect the ‘choice’ of non-secular women adopting the headscarf, the hijab or the veil, by now a well-recognized aspect of postcolonial interrogation of Western Feminists’ ethnocentric spree to “Save the Other”). Hence, we need to ask the all important question that under what circumstances women’s commodification (starting from sex work to Bollywood item numbers) becomes the worst kind of objectification?[iii]

Thus, what we should keep in mind is that a real ‘critique’ of political economy should never get reduced to a mere ‘criticism’, since then our interrogation of capitalism becomes a banal moralistic one, bereft of the mentioning of the possibilities that processes of commodification give rise to, something that certainly impacts our subjectivity as well. In other words, a critique of global capital should not get reduced to a mere rightist and in turn a protectionist sob story ofcultural degeneration in terms of what capitalism does to the ‘unharmed’ body of the nation (the idea of the ‘nation’ already being a gendered concept, marked as feminine), a ‘sovereign’ body which is in need of ‘protection’ and ‘recuperation’ from the onslaughts (read harm, corrosion and injury) caused by globalization.

Now, although the larger point that the Justice Verma Report was trying to make here was that rape is not a ‘crime of passion’ but rather an “expression of power” and also how different subcultures use rape as a weapon against women to assert their collective identity, and all this can easily pass off as a mere ‘depiction’ and a resultant ‘analyses’ of ‘reality’,[ivi] it is significant to point out that this underlying assumption of the article in The Hindu about consumerist abundance and “showing off” as the root cause of sexual violence was indeed troubling. This especially becomes problematic in a climate where precisely the same words (although devoid of any sociological nunace) are used to “teach them” that this is the “price that they pay” for being brazenly commodified.

Now, the point is where do we draw the demarcating line if we are to build this continuum between sexual violence and pompous modernity? How do we intellectually separate the claims on capitalism made by thinkers like Roy with respect to sexual violence against urban women and that made by Mohan Bhagwat of RSS for instance, for whom, westernization is to be ‘blamed’ for the increase in crime against women in cities, or in other words ‘Indian’ women are more ‘rapeable’ than the auspicious ‘Bharatiya Nari’ (And Bhagwat, let me remind you, before hurling such lunacy, infact had already demanded severe punishment for the rapists and even called for their death penalty, something that can easily be used in his favour as a disclaimer to this terrible claim). Furthermore, this argument was later backed up by none other than Ashis Nandy, the eminent sociologist, for whom urban anomie and severe individualization is yet again the cause behind the increasing amount of sexual violence against women. Push the logic, and we shall easily be reminded of the words of the Toronto police officer for instance who remarked that, “woman are extremely fashionable these days and are constantly “showing off”, they should stop dressing like sluts to avoid rape”, something that triggered off the Slutwalk movement in Toronto, or for that matter someone like Abhijit Mukherjee’s contempt towards “painted and dented women”, intellectuals and protestors by morning and disco-goers by night!

Rape, Shame and Consumption

While the Justice Verma Report tries to undertake the mammoth task of addressing sexual violence as a structural problem rather than an aberrant individual act (and thus engages in a resultant critique of inequitable economic policies for giving rise to urban violence and quite rightly so), and quite commendably recommends a separation of notions of ‘honor’ and ‘shame’ from the act of rape, the language of the continuing emphasis on capitalism curbing options of recreation for migrant men and hence such “prospectless” men taking recourse to sexual violence as an articulation of their pent up frustration on urban women frequenting pubs, lounges or discotheques is certainly problematic. It creates an aura of scholarly empathy (for the lack of a better word) for the ‘deprived’ victimized men who are thought to become “psychotic” for the surrounding bourgeouis profligacy and hence engage in ghastly gangrapes as their last resort to gain some identity. Thus, it becomes a viscious argument which creates a moral, linguistic as well as an intellectual atmosphere where if the rape happens in and around what gets connoted as ‘hubs of consumerism’, since conspicuous consumption of the rich by now is already located as the indirect ‘cause’ of rape, the raped woman is judged as guilty for her ‘offence’ and hence is supposed to be ashamed for her habits of consumption, feel apologetic for a structure which “creates rapists” by ripping lower class men off their fundamental rights. This logic also at times gives rise to the age-old public spectacle of the vamp of Bollywood pleading for mercy, saying she is no more “like that” (consumerist, open and unrestricted).

Thus, conceiving capitalist exclusion as a cause of rapes in the cities creates an ambience of shaming the “slut” by claiming that such pomp-exuding ‘looseness’ furthers capitalism’s brutality of alienating the urban youth (which also strenghtens the implied logic that ‘she deserved it’). Thus, unless we put a vehement period to this perceived cause and effect chain of consumption habits of the rich and its resultant repercussion of poor optionless anxious migrants raping, we shall never be able to remove ‘shame’ out of rape, especially when the rape is that of an upper-middle class woman. It would perpetuate an atmosphere of the much talked about slut-shaming and “victim” blaming (as a ‘predictable’ outcome of ‘ugly modernity’) if not in the langauge of provocation, but certainly in the language of apparently sanitized social science ‘analyses’ of cities and urbanity leading to a culture of anonymity (devoid of community and kinship ties) which is then perceived to strengthen a culture of sexual violence against upper-class women (something that Nandy diagnoses as “anomic rape”). Here, a politically motivated continnum is established between modernization, urbanization and rape.

The point which I am trying to bring home here is that shame (for being loose, available, commodified, consumerist, accessible, frivolous and all other such cuss words) would continue to get associated with rape if we emphasize consumption practices of either the rich (as the Leftist position seems to be doing) or the woman herself (as the Rightwing generally does) as the cause of rape, and not a general culture of hatred towards the non-normative woman (consumerist or non-consumerist), who in turn needs to be “kept in place”. We cannot under any circumstances say that neo-liberalist exclusionary mechanism is one of the causes which manufacture rapists, since that would politically be as fatal as saying dress is “one of the causes” that lead to rape. We cannot and should not under any condition “justify” in the name of “analyzing” the root cause of rape, since otherwise just like demonizing the “criminal poor” or the “vegetable vendor”, the “pub-going loose and inebriated woman” would continue to be easy targets of Rightwing vengeance and Leftwing scorn. It will reinforce the view that “some women” ignite if not provokethe pent up anxiety caused by the lack of recreational options under the capitalist order, and give rise to a kind of ‘violent working class jealousy’, which when pushed to its logical and inevitableextreme causes a psychic collapse and hence ends up in rape. That would be suicidal for Feminist politics, especially at a time when detractors and digressors are all around, looking for an opportunity to hijack Feminist issues to further their own political agenda. The six rapists also perhaps thought that the woman in the bus was a non-abiding, permissive and consumeristwoman and hence needs to be punished and put to shame. Thus, let us not embellish the self-worth of rape culture and not justify sexual violence with the garb of finding ‘root causes’ of such heinous acts (in our misplaced spree to curb the self-worth of global capital).

Does the Hindu Right and the ‘Critical’ Left merge on notions of Women’s Sexuality?

Here, it is important to mention that the larger political impulse of this article is to point out that the intellectual Left should certainly be more critical and tentative about its critique of conspicuous consumption and the homogenization of its effects, to keep its theoretical distance from an atavistic nativist criticism of consumer culture of the Hindu Right or even the nationalist political project for that matter. Ruth Vanita, in her insightful article published in Seminar 2002 hinted at a similar problem where she pointed out how there is a strange congruence of the secular left and the Hindu Right (what she calls the “Hindu Left”), no matter how theoretically distant they are, as far as taking ‘positions’ on cultural debates concerning depiction of sexually explicit materials in postcolonial India was concerned. (She here cites the controversy around the Miss World contest and around such songs as “Choli ke peeche kya hai” as instances to illustrate how both rightwing as well as leftwing women’s organizations condemned such ‘degeneration’, although in different parlances, by demanding a state censorship to ban such phenomena).[v]

Towards a Defense of Painting and Denting: Can Commodities seek Citizenship Rights?

At this juncture, it is significant to point out that women in recent times have assumed this very political identity of a conspicuous consumer to get human rights against sexual violence, be it in the form of the Slutwalks, the Consortium of Loose and Forward Going Women (in the case of the Pink Chaddi Campaign) or the more recent broaching of the Society of Painted Dented Ladies of India (as a result of Mukherjee’s comment about the perceived ‘frivolity’ of the protestors in Delhi). Tired of listening to cynical leftists about capitalist inequity being the foundation of gender violence, as it is thought to put sex out there in the open, make it marketable and devoid of restraint (along with the perennial infliction of rightwing violence), these women seek human rights and seek to defend the notion of ‘bodily integrity’ against sexual assaults ‘as’ sluts, ‘as’chaddis (the pink branded female underwear in this case i.e. ‘objects’ or vendible commodities), ‘as’ painted and dented women (or in other words, ‘impure’ and ‘contaminated’ beings), only to show the performative and fluid nature of this much abused notion of ‘integrity’ and how the oft-cited idea of “non-commodifiable purity” informs rape culture (Remember the essentalist assumption based on which women are given loans under the system of Microfinance, the assumption that women are ‘essentially’ good, not money-mongerers, and hence more reliable in terms of paying back loans on time, unlike the greedy ‘materialist’ men? Doesn’t it sound strangely similar to the Supreme Court verdict derided by the Verma Committee Report which said Western woman are economically motivated and hence more likely to falsely “cry rape” for material reasons as opposed to Indian women who are ‘good’, less materialist and hence more reliable?)  [vi]

Does the ‘Postcolonial’ Collapse with the ‘National’ when it comes to Women?

Now, even for an eminent Subaltern Studies Scholar like Dipesh Chakrabarty, the Indian Feminists of today (and he actually gives the instance of the Pink Chaddi campaign)[vii], critique the hypermasculinity of the Ram Sena by a kind of ‘uncivilized’, neoliberal class-war (which, in his mind, excludes the poor), precluding any dialogue between the supposed sacred and the secular,  which, as he tries to show, erases and symbolically “gags” the ‘other’ in the name of female empowerment (what he calls a kind of “in your face Feminism”, punctuated by an undertone of superfluousness and intolerant individualism, which for him is ‘uncivilized’ in the sense that it does not offer room for self-reflexivity and self-criticism). In other words, the protestors against sexual violence (the Pink Chaddi campaigners) and the ones who perpetuate sexual violence (the Ram Sena), for Chakrabarty, occupy the same moral space, where political claims like that of ‘looseness’ and ‘forwardness’, for him, deserves vehement criticism for being significant cohorts of what he calls “economic globalization”, devoid of a kind of self-criticality that the legacy of ‘civility’ (something that he found in the nationalist political project) taught us. Now, the moot point is, does perpetration of sexual violence by the under-class or the non-secularists (a category that at times gets denoted by the postcolonial scholar as an idealizedhaven of ‘faceless crowd politics’ exhibited by global modernity’s ultimate ‘other’, a section of the society who are not only citizens and voters but also perceived as significant subversive players of Indian democracy and cultural politics), here get patronized as a mode of enraged ‘resistance’ (no matter how psychotic) against globalization’s hegemony?

At this juncture, it is important to recollect that the two categories of women that Shilpa Phadke, Shilpa Ranade and Sameera Khan pointed out in their thought-provoking article on Loitering, Gender and Public Spaces (the ones who appear in urban public spaces without an “apparent purpose”, as they call it), are the window shopper and the street walker (or the sex worker). Now, while the window-shopper is idealized as shopping is considered as a respectable act in the global city (as the authors minutely illustrate), the streetwalker is conceived as “undesirable and illegitimate.”[viii]

However, for the purpose of my argument, I would like to introduce a third category of women (although all the three are certainly overlapping each other and I draw the demarcating line solely for analytical purposes), where the buyer or the consumer woman also ‘behaves’ like a street-walker. Now, what happens when this ‘particular’ category (women in the cusp zone of window shoping and sex working), the primary one which pink-chaddi campaings, slutwalks or the feminist assertion of being painted and dented end up representing, seek ‘universal’ entitlements for protection against sexual violence? A category of women who do not feign the empty rhetoric of ‘universal sisterhood’, who are respectable on the grounds of class and their ability to get access to spaces of consumption, yet they thwart the liberal discourse and hence become ‘unrespectable’ as they, precisely in and through the tools of consumerism, violate the normative bourgeouis markers of femininity as well? Do we read the gestures of these women as mere ‘assimilation’ to the discourses of global capital, or do we read them as further ‘democratization’ precisely with the aid of the ‘tactics’ of assimilation? Moreover, are all class-marked assertions necessarily classist? What is interesting to note here is that the notion of subversive unrespectability and logic of impropriety gets instituted precisely through the discourse of consumer-driven respectability and propriety. And, we can never engage in any serious analysis of such instances of resistance by a blanket en masse debunking of phenomena like that of conspicuous consumption and an unanimous lament for its aftermaths.

To me, such women act as a ‘spectre’ which ‘haunts’ and breaks open the very limit of the normative subject ‘woman’ of human rights, i.e. the image of the ‘bhadramahila’ (a mixture of the Victorian bourgeouis emancipated mother and the Brahminic image of the ‘pure’ nationalist woman, as Chatterjee put it), a spectre that needs to be recuperated and not dismissed as ‘middle class’ and hence ‘exclusionary’. And, most significantly, they denounce a “politics of assimilation or inclusion” where the spectre is merely “integrated” into the whole (the image of the chaddi or the slut does not say that I represent a non-commodified ‘real’ woman and hence give me human rights. Remember the Park Street rape survivor asserting repeatedly that she might be an escort but that certainly does not give anyone the right to violate her? Remember her statement when she said that just because she did not choose to be a ‘victim’, and in fact carried on with her dailyconsumerist chores from the next day even after the ghastly attack, did not mean that the state could deny her justice?).

Thus, a serious critique of the eulogy of consumer imperialism getting packaged as Feminism (something that the new Feminist assertions are accused of) can never be plotted in the language of commodification as a ‘curse’, something which “alienates” women from their “authentic”native selves. This is because, adherence to such notions of reactionary nostalgia of non-consumerist lifestyles and uncritical assumption of ‘good’ and ethical national/local or working class culture (garland bedecked “innocence” of tribal women so on and so forth) leads to the dangerous assumption that westernized woman are less “authentic” and hence more condemnable (and even rapeable in certain arguments).

Welcoming the Spectre

Hence, the larger question is, can we recuperate this ‘hollowness’ and inauthenticity that capitalism gives rise to for Feminist ends? A commodified woman is an inauthentic “monster” (a term that Marx himself infact used to describe commodities in Capital), a monster who is feared across all political positions. Thus, we need to defend this present moment in Feminist politics where such abstracted spectral artificiality and monstrous frivolity are used as political ‘standpoints’ which certainly help us in our struggle against patriarchy. Although these ghosted creatures scare and haunt us, and we can never know with adequate certitude what kind of violence and exclusion embracing them would entail, nonetheless such spectres should be welcomed for Feminist politics to survive. To believe in them is a practical necessity. Commodification here is pushed to its logical limit. Thought, after all, as Althusser once put it,must be pushed to its extreme.

Thus, to me, this moment of women claiming to seek rights as ‘impure materialist reduced commodified alienated objects’ should be respected, rather than dismissing it as middle class, elite or exclusionary. This is because it is just not an emotional response to the kind of brutal violence against women that we are experiencing in urban areas in recent times, a mere unreflective ‘enough is enough’ kind of deliberation. Rather this has an intellectual underpinning. And that unsaid subtext is that, let the spectral inauthenticity caused by consumer capital be pushed to its limit, or be celebrated in order to break open that same consumer capital’s logic of manufacturing feminine respectability. It strives to create a transformation of the very meaning of personhood, of humanness, or in other words changes the very meaning of what kind of a woman ‘deserves’ human rights and state protection against sexual violence.

Sreenanti Banerjee is an M.Phil student of Social Sciences and a Junior Research Fellow at Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta (CSSSC).

References:

[i] Manu, The Laws of Manu, ‘Chapters 3 and 9’, trans. Wendy Doniger and Brian K. Smith, (New Delhi: Penguin Books, 1991), pp. 43-73, pp. 197-233

[ii] Praveen Swami, “Rapist in the Mirror”, The Hindu, Jan 11, 2013

[iii] This is a point which Shohini Ghosh raises in “The Troubled Existence of Sex and Sexuality: Feminists Engage with Censorship” in Women’s Studies in India: A Reader (ed. by Mary. E. John), Penguin Books, 2008.

 [iv]Justice Verma Report, Pp. 220.

[v] “Whatever happened to the Hindu Left” by Ruth Vanita, Published in  Seminar, 2002.

[vi] Shilpa Phadke had raised some key questions around these issues in in her nuanced 2005 article on Middle-Class Sexuality, “Is there a Feminist way of being a consumer?”

[vii] Shilpa Phadke, “Some Notes on Middle Class Sexuality” in Geeta Misra and Radhika Chandiramani (eds.) Gender, Sexuality and Rights: Exploring Theory and Practice, New Delhi: Sage, 2005.

[viii] Dipesh Chakrabarty. From civilization to globalization: the `West’ as a shifting signifier in Indian modernity.  Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, Volume 13, Number 1, 1 March 2012, pp. 138-152(15).

[ix] Shilpa Phadke, Shilpa Ranade and Sameera Khan, “Why Loiter? Radical Possibilities for Gendered Dissent” in Melissa Butcher and Selvaraj Velayutham (eds), Dissent and Cultural Resistance in Asia’s Cities, London: Routledge, 2009.

 

Dear Parents, Have you told your son about rape? #Vaw #Sex #love


January 11, 2013

Following the sensational GS Road molestation case in Assam last year, blogger Local Tea Party wrote a blog post about what to tell your son on rape. 

You do one thing. First you grow up. Because, if you grow up means, automatically your son will grow up. And when your son is growing up, give him a pack of condoms. Now don’t give that confused look and all. Seriously, give him a pack of condoms. Along with that, give him a lot of free advice. Don’t think that he won’t take it. Give it anyway, he will eventually take it.

Tell your son to go out with the girls. Tell him to give them hugs and high-fives and ask them to go out on day trips and have fun. Tell him that it is not important to get married before having sex and that if he feels like it, ask him to use that condom you just gave him. Tell him that the Health and Glow shop anyway has lots of varieties of them near the cash counter itself and that he need not be embarrassed to go buy them if he has to. No one will notice.

Tell him that he can talk about sex in your presence. And that you will not feel embarrassed about it.

Tell your son that it is okay to watch pornography. Don’t ask him to watch it when you are around and all, that will be indecent, but still tell him that there is nothing wrong in watching two adults in action.

Tell your son to read erotic fiction and have some fun. In fact, if possible, you only give a copy of the Kamasutra to him. He won’t understand any of it anyway, but still give it to him. Or try Harold Robbins.

Ask him to log on to Chatrooms and have sex chat with a random girl on the other end. It could be a guy pretending to be a girl, but still that and all doesn’t matter. Ask him to have it nevertheless.

Ask him to do sexting with this girlfriend, but tell him to do it discreetly. Tell him it is ok to have phone sex with her and that even if you overhear something from his room, tell him that you will pretend you have not heard anything. Promise him you won’t embarrass him.

Tell him to fall in love with a woman (or a man). Tell him to go head-over-heels (or something like that) about her. Tell him to admire her beauty. Actually, tell him to admire the beauty of all women. Tell him that they are single most source of joy on the planet and that without them the world is nothing. Tell him to make love to a woman in a manner that they will remember for the rest of their lives.

Tell him to relax and enjoy sex.

But before you do ANY of the above,

Tell him what they show on National Geographic Channel. Tell him that male animals don’t have sex without the permission of the female animal. Tell him that it is a shame to touch a woman without her permission. Tell him that it is a failure on your part and on the way you have brought him up. Tell him that it is a failure to his manhood.

Tell him that real life pornography requires her permission. Tell him that if a woman agrees, no amount of erotica can match a woman’s passion. But ask him to wait for the woman to agree first.

Tell him that a woman is a human being. Just like him. Not a piece of object. Tell him that while it is ok to admire her beauty, grabbing her body parts without her permission is worse than stealing food from rabies-ridden street dog. Tell him that just because he possesses a penis, it does not give him the right to mate with every vagina in the vicinity automatically.

Tell him that even broken hearts can be mended but he cannot break a woman’s dignity at any cost.

Tell him that raping is a sin for which man will have to pay a heavy price. A very heavy price.

Courtesy: The Local Tea Party

 

Jerrit John of No Nonsense production house throws Chemical/ Acid on a friend #VAW


( IF YOU SEE THIS MAN DIAL  100, HE IS ABSCONDING- REFER CASE DADAR POLICE STATION )

By- Kamayani Bali Mahabal

Who is Jerrit G  John?

Unfortunately, I know Jerrit G John, as I was part of India‘s first cycle flash mob which ran into controversy.   India’s first bicycle flash  mob was at bandra on  May 19, 2012.  I was introduced to the cycle gang through a  common friend,  in the First week of May when we all used to gather in the evening for  our dance rehearsals  in Juhu. There I made new friends, and among them were Aryanka and Jerrit.

Jerrit John’s, is the owner of  No Nonsense Production House  and he was in charge of the whole flash mob. Every evening dancing on the tunes of ‘ Jo jeeta whai sikander “, laughing and exchanging notes and having great time.

There after the flash mob can into controversy, and mys elf and jerrit  and others worked closely to sort out the issue as a person with  so called NGO called recycle initiative  , made revenue in the name of the cause . In the flash mob we had a lot of poor BMX riders who weren’t even fed water on the day of the event. Many more cyclists were  upset with the conduct of the event and feel absolutely cheated when a cause has turned out to be an personal event . Anyway, I gave them all legal advise I could, being an outsider, and a human rights activist, I would plunge into anything if there were human rights violations.    The Flash MOb was supposed to be an official  tie up with  Sa Re Ga Ma and they pulled it off their official you tube channel after the controversy.’

About himself he says

Back in the day when I was goofing off in front of a camera at Rhythm House, I didn’t think I’d be making a living out of it when I’m into my early 30s. It turned out that our antics were seen by the producers of a show called Philips [V] People. And soon, Channel [V] came calling. At first I’d thought I’d do it just temporarily, but soon I’d dropped my plans of becoming a combat pilot as I got used to the 15 hour workdays. 

Two years at Channel [V] with Udham Singh & Channel [V] awarsd and a stint with (ad film-maker) Shameen Desai’s assistant happened. TV Commercials for Live-In Jeans, Clorets, Carrier Air Conditioners and Citra followed. After which I decided I’d like to be my own boss, so I cut the ribbons to NO NONSENSE PRODUCTIONS. I then went onto work with MTV, UTV (Hungama) and Disney, I was called Creative Consultant, but I went the whole nine yards – directing, producing, editing – everywhere I worked.
Although Channel [V] is where I learnt the ropes, my passion always lay in films. Thanks to some luck and a bit of hard work, No Nonsense is one of the leading names in shooting behind-the-scenes Docu. action on movie sets. And being a part of the crew on Slumdog Millionaire, Delhi-6, My Name Is Khan, Don, Rock On, Wake Up Sid, Sarkar Raj, Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai…and the like was not only a great learning experience but also a great pleasure. 
My progress in the industry has been gradual, but I don’t believe in taking short cuts. I want to make human stories – something realistic – there has to be a take-home value,.’ve tried to reflect that in my short films, all of which are close to my heart. And it’s the greatest feeling in the world to have your work appreciated, and to be able to share it at places like the Berlin Film Festival or Cannes or having your film included in the Official Selection of Short Films for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. If you ask me to pick a favorite, I’d honestly struggle to come up with a name. Be it Loo Tales or Rolling or S8 or Mumbai Local, being able to say that I like this one more than that has always been close to impossible for me.
The journey has been a bit up and down so far, but that’s what’s made it exciting and worthwhile. And the best part of it is: I’m nowhere near the end.

 

Today when I read TOI, I was aghast

WOMEN IN CITY UNDER ATTACK

‘Old friend’ hurls chemical on young physio’s face

Mateen Hafeez & Sumitra Deb Roy TNN

Mumbai: Aryanka Hozbetkar, a 26-year-old physiotherapist, had a hazardouschemicalflung ather face in her Worli residence on Wednesday morning. The assailant,whois absconding, is said to have been her good friend in the past. The incident comes in the wake of several other attacks in Mumbai on women at home and mirrorsthe growing trendof attempts to disfigure women’s faces either with acid or by slashing.
The attack took place at Hozbetkar’s home at Adarsh Colony at around 5am just after the physiotherapist had returned from one of her cycling expeditions. She was in the presence of her friends when Jerrit John, 45, carried out the cowardly attack.

Worli girl’s eye may be severely affected after chemical attack

Dadar Police Hunt For Absconding Vashi Suspect

Mateen Hafeez and Sumitra Deb Roy TNN

Mumbai: While Jerrit John, 45, has been booked for theft and wrongful confinement, the Dadar police are investigating a case in which the Vashi resident is suspected to have hurled a chemical at the face of 26-year-old physiotherapist Aryanka Hozbetkar at the woman’s Worli residence. Senior inspector of the Dadar police, Prakash Patil, confirmed that John, who was absconding at the time of going to press, has been booked by the cops for theft and wrongful confinement.
TOI has learned that the chemical attack has severely affected one of Hozbetkar’s eyes, although officials at P D Hinduja Hospital, Mahim, where she is being treated, refused to comment on the extent of the damage. A family friend said, “There have been injuries to the face and an eye may be badly affected. But she is out of danger now.” Neither the hospital nor the family would confirm if the attack had disfigured Hozbetkar’s face. Police said that one of her friends, Shammi Sharma, who was present when the attack took place, has also sustained injuries.
Hozbetkar met John, who is employed with a private firm at Bandra-Kurla Complex, soon after she joined a cycling group. Sources close to the investigation said that Hozbetkar and John had been going on cycling trips together. “They were very good friends. But after a point Hozbetkar did not want to continue with the friendship and she made that clear to him,” a source said. On Wednesday at around 4am, Hozbetkar had just returned from one of her trips with her friends when John called her. “He came over to her place and before anyone could realize anything was amiss, he hurled some liquid at her face. She started screaming and saying that her skin was burning,” said the source. The source said that John had stopped going for cycling trips lately.
Before either Hozbetkar’s parents, who were in the next room, or her friends could react, John fled the scene and bolted the Hozbetkars’ door from outside. He also took her cell phone, said a source. John was a frequent visitor to the Hozbetkar house and was known to her parents. The victim’s relatives, who stay next door, had to unlock the door, following which she was rushed to the hospital.
The Dadar police stopped short of saying acid had been flung at the girl. “It did look like some corrosive material but it is difficult to say whether it was acid,” said the source. The police have collected samples from the house, which will be sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory at Kalina.
Patil said that a team was sent to John’s Vashi residence, but it was locked. He confirmed that John had run away with the victim’s cell phone. “We are investigating the case,” he said.

Jerrit G  John SHORT films  to his credit shown @ Berlin Film Fest – 2003,2005,2006, Cannes – 2004,Stockholm – 2004
Indo British – 2004.

THIS CASE WILL BE SOLVED

There are six eye witnesses in the case and they know the perpetrator and the victim both.

Usually, we don’ t  usually get eye witnesses in acid throwing cases

Jerrit,  has been  asking friends to say that they did not hear anything or see anything,.

JERRIT, seriously, you think we will be QUIET.

You may have deleted you Facebook PROFILE, but you cant be on the run for long.

SHARE THIS WIDELY MAKE THIS MAN SURRENDER 

 

 

Maldives girl to get 100 lashes for sex #Vaw #WTfnews


 

 Male-A COURT in the Maldives has ordered a public flogging for a 16-year-old girl who confessed to having premarital sex.

The unnamed teenager was convicted on her confession under sharia law after her family complained she had sex with a 29-year-old man in July.  The ruling triggered widespread criticism from rights groups.

The man was given 10 years in jail during a court hearing on the remote Raa atoll on Sunday.

A court official said the girl could refuse the flogging and would then instead be subjected only to eight months house arrest. Should she agree, the lashing will be carried out when she reaches the age of 18.

“In most cases, the offenders would accept the lashing as part of penance,” the official, who declined to be named, said.

The ruling came 10 months after UN human rights chief Navi Pillay urged the Maldives to stop publicly flogging women for having extra-marital or pre-marital sex.

Pillay noted during a visit that the Maldives had progressed in safeguarding the rights of its 330,000 Sunni Muslims, but more needed to be done to protect women.

Flogging, carried out with a cane, is normally handed down as a punishment by village chiefs who also act as local judges.

Rights activists slammed the judgement and called for it to be overturned.

“Degrading and inhuman punishments should find no place in a democracy,” said Aruna Kashyap, women’s rights researcher for Asia at Human Rights Watch.

“Maldives should immediately halt the execution of the punishment and take action to amend its discriminatory laws.”

Suhas Chakma, director of the Asian Centre for Human Rights, said the sentence reflected the government’s intention to consolidate its support among sharia law followers, in the face of serious political opposition.

“This could be used by the government to say they’re committed to Islam,” he said. “Courts are not independent in the Maldives so the government will have a hand.”

He said the lashes were also a breach of the UN Convention against Torture.

There were mixed reactions in comments posted on the local news website Minivan News.

“This is ridiculous, and hypocritical,” said one reader, identified as Mariyam.

“How many people over the age of 18 are having sex outside of marriage every day in this country. Why not flog them. And why not flog the 29-year-old man. If the girl has to face public humiliation why not the man.”

Another, identified as Dhivehi Hanguraama, volunteered to administer the lashing.

“I myself would volunteer to whip this creature, as would any of self-respecting, esteemed, members of the ulama (religious scholars).”

Police said they began their probe after receiving a complaint from the girl’s family.

“We investigated and forwarded our findings to the prosecutor general. The man was convicted of having sex with a minor,” police spokesman Hassan Haneef said.

Official sources said the girl had been tried under sharia law which prohibits girls between the ages of 13 and 18 having pre-marital sex. Sex with a girl under the age of 13 is considered rape.

She was convicted on the basis of her confession.

Her lover, on the other hand, was tried under common law and convicted of having sex with a minor, an offence punishable with a sentence of up to 15 years in prison.

The pair had intercourse on the Raa atoll, about 200 kilometres north of the capital island Male.

There was no immediate comment from the Maldivian government, which includes the ultra conservative Adhaalath Party, whose supporters follow a strict brand of Wahhabi Islam.

The country’s first democratically elected president, the Western-educated Mohamed Nasheed, resigned in February saying he was forced out in a coup backed by Islamic extremists along with elements of the police and the armed forces.

However, a Commonwealth investigation declared last week that the transfer of power was constitutional and ruled out a coup.

Mr Nasheed’s fall was followed by the Taliban-style destruction of pre-Islamic era Buddhist statues at the country’s main museum.

According to statistics revealed by the Gender Department in April this year, between December 2010 and October 2011, 1,138 cases of child abuse were reported from atoll family and children service centres. 1,005 of these cases involved minors while 133 of these cases involved victims aged older than 18, the report said.

 

Indian vagina now caters to a broad spectrum of consumer taste #Vajazzling


Gird Your Loins

AUGUST 11, 2012

A new product ’18 Again’ has hit the Indian market. A vaginal tightening gel, the advertisement left us mildly confused.

 

With her newly tautened privates, the saree-clad lady seems in remarkably good cheer, given she apparently ‘feels like a virgin’ and ‘it’ (it presumably being sex), ‘feels like the very first time’. Namely awkward, painful, inexperienced fumbling? Ah well! There’s no accounting for tastes, not least the fantasies of the Indian man.

Regardless, we think this is a step in the right direction. Virgins being a scarce commodity these days, a handy at-home converter for any sacrifices you may have planned is a thoughtfully designed product indeed. (The makers of ’18 Again’ are unclear on what to do with those of us who escaped the wastelands of virginity before 18, but there you have it. You can’t please everyone, especially not those sluts who didn’t even wait till they were legal). The makers of 18 Again are hoping for strong revenues on the back of exponential domestic demand.

As this article details, the Indian vagina now caters to a broad spectrum of consumer taste and preference. Backed by a strong commitment to product diversification, the Indian vagina is set to enter the 21st century  with applications and appliances, room fresheners and Christmas trees. Needless to say, we are delighted; our only grouse being that the products are somewhat limited in scope and vision. And so with an eye to the future we present a small list of potential uses and a plea that we all broaden, rather than tighten, our imagination.

The Vagwig

From Salman Khan to Amitabh Bacchan, male pattern baldness is a ubiquitous affliction of the modern Indian man. A good hair weave can set you back several thousand rupees. But why  waste your hard-earned shekels when the solution lies literally under your nose? Instead of letting this font of cornocopic abundance go to waste in brazilians and such like, we present the Vagwig: For pates of every persuasion and dimension.

Fig 1.1

For those nostalgic for the lost era of glamrock, this handy dye will take you right back to David Bowie.

Vagriculture

It is true; the vagina has limited functionality. But it is, however, particularly skilled at reproduction. But with characteristic lack of foresight, output is currently restricted to the propagation of merely our species. Instead, to fully harness the fecundity of which woman is capable we present Vagriculture: a kitchen garden in your kitchen! No added chemicals, pesticides or fertilizers. Locally produced, organic, artisanal production.

Fig 1.2

Valtoid

A company called ‘Linger’ recently offered a minty fresh solution to the problem of vaginas tasting like vaginas.Here at Kafila we present a novel new product, aimed at the discerning consumer: Vaginal flavored mints. Keep your breath sweet-smelling all day.

Fig 1.3

VCloud

Speaking of agriculture,with its unerring foresight the Met department has now announced what the nation already knew. Things are bad folks, a drought is nigh. But, if properly treated, the vagina is a constantly renewable source of moisture (See Fig 1.4). No more anxious waiting for the rainclouds to darken our shores. With the correct care and attention the VCloud will insure the monsoon need no longer be an annual event.

Fig 1.4

VID

Under the able guidance of Nandan Nilekani, we are eagerly awaiting the advent of the information revolution in everyday life. Sadly the UID has run aground. Never fear, a workable alternative is at hand, the VID. A fully electronic, biometric, informatic card: a single swipe determines if you’re an asshole.

Fig 1.5

Vajraa-Vahini

Male plugs are universally in need of female sockets. We present the Motherlode of Voltage:Yoni-Yamini, Vajraa-Vahini, Vidyut-Tarang-Tatini, Apalachapala Chanchal Chudamani.

Fig 1.6

Monkey Wrench

To tighten the screws of nuts everywhere.

Fig 1.7

And finally,

The Vaginocular, the camera so lucida so obscura, all-seeing eye.

Fig 1.8

When most I wink, then do mine eyes best see,

For all the day they view things unrespected;

But when I sleep, in dreams they look on thee,

And darkly bright are bright in dark directed.

Then thou, whose shadow shadows doth make bright,

How would they shadow’s form form happy show

To the clear day with thy much clearer light,

When to unseeing eyes thy shade shines so!

—Sonnet XLIII

So there you have it gentle readers. A catalog of ideas for small medium enterprises and our humble contribution to the Indian entrepreneurial spirit that the Newsweek so admired. Instead of uselessly hanging around ejecting infants, inhaling penises and contracting yeast infections, the vagina can now earn its keep. Not being product designers ourselves, we are sure you can do better than our modest effort here. Send us your ideas (accompanied by  drawings) and we will feature our top favorites. We eagerly await your submissions.

From our drawing board to yours,

K.L.P.D

[Kafila Line of Product Design]

Sex workers cannot be mothers – says Satara police #WTFnews



Anu Mokal, a pregnant woman was beaten up by Police in Satara, Maharashtra. She was so severely beaten  that she had a miscarriage and lost her baby. No Law in the country allows Police to physically assault a women. This case is worst because male cops have assaulted a female victim.

Her fault, being a sex worker

Actually, i feel very demoralized because if the police had done this to a non sex worker everyone would be up in arms. NO body reacted after it appeared in the papers in Satara, too. When they met me Durga said, if it was a `gharguti’ [wife] woman everyone would protect her womb, [ vanshacha diva - heir] but because it is a sex worker her fetus is not considered sacred or that she has a `vansh’, as a `bad woman’. That is what the police and society think, in any case.- Meena Seshu of SANGRAM
On 2nd April, around 7:30 PM, Anu Mokal accompanied by Anjana Ghadge were taking dinner for her friend Jaya Kamble who was undergoing treatment in the local civil hospital. When they were passing the Satara bus stand area, senior police inspector Dayanand Dhome started yelling at them using abusive language. When they told him that they were only taking food for their friend, he called them liars and without any provocation, Dhome and his subordinates started beating Anu and her friend Anjana Ghadge.

Dhome repeatedly said that women like Anu are a ‘shame’ to him while he continued to kick her. Anu fell down and pleaded that she was four months pregnant but they continued kicking and beating her. She was then forcibly taken to the police station. Anu and Anjana were detained and put in a lockup from where Anu and Anjana were routinely taken to civil hospital for treatment. Anu told the doctor she was pregnant and he prescribed medication, but the police didn’t allow her to buy nor did they give the medication to her.

On 3/4/2012 they were produced before the magistrate and were released after a payment of Rs 1200 fine for an offense not known to them or specified. They were taken to the civil hospital again by members of Veshya Anyay Mukti Parishad [VAMP], a network of sex workers and Anu received medication.

But on 5/04/2012 night, she suffered a miscarriage. The miscarriage is quite likely to have resulted from the trauma of the thrashing by Dayanand Dhome and his subordinates. She has filed a complaint against Inspector Dhome and his colleagues with the Superintendent of Police K. M. M. Prasanna. However, her complaint and visit to the SP have been in vain.

SANGRAM the organisation that runs the Maharashtra State AIDS Society HIV/AIDS prevention project with women in sex work and sexual minorities in Satara District also sent a written complaint to Home Minister R.R.Patil, DSP Prasanna, Satara and Regional DIG Tukaram Chavhan, demanding that action be taken against Dayanad Dhome and others, but to no avail. DSP Prasanna told a delegation from VAMP on 30/04/2012 that an enquiry is instituted but would not commit as to when we can expect a result.

Anu and Anjana are are asking for justice and their right to get a hearing. Anu feels that the miscarriage due to severe beating and the subsequent trauma are not taken seriously because she is a sex worker. In fact, the police had the audacity to tell these women that sex workers cannot be mothers.

We Demand

1. The Inquiry in the case be expedited and the report be made public

2. Inspector Dayanand Dhome be suspended with immediate effect.

3. A Grievance committee be set up by the Maharashtra Government, which includes members from the field of sex work, women rights, police, law, so that such incidents are not repeated and they get speedy justice.

4. The Maharashtra Government which runs the HIV/AIDS programmes with sex workers have a policy on Police violence against sex workers male/female and transgender.

PLEASE SIGN THE ONLINE PETITION AND SHARE WIDELY

Having Sex: Mythbusting


Mythbusting

‘To be human is to be sexual’ Winder, 1983

Sexuality External Website that opens in a new window is often equated with just sex. Actually, it’s much broader and also encompasses gender identities and roles External Website that opens in a new window sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, intimacy and reproduction. Sexuality is experienced and expressed in thoughts, fantasies, desires, beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviours, practices, roles and relationships. It is influenced by psychological, economic, political, social, and biological factors. Sexuality is a natural and healthy aspect of living, and it’s a part of who you are.

Women with disabilities are rarely seen as sexual beings, however. This leads to a range of myths and misconceptions around their sexuality, which are debunked below.

Question1 Myth: Women with disabilities don’t need sex.

To most nondisabled people, sexuality and disability seem to be unconnected terrains – disabled women’s sexual desires are by and large assumed to be non-existent. However, the reality is that women with disabilities are sexual beings with sexual fantasies, feelings and aspirations like anyone else. They are unable to express their sexuality fully not so much because of a disability but because of the assumption that they are not sexual. Other barriers include restrictions on their mobility, negative societal attitudes and the lack of educational, entertainment, social and health services and rights that other people have. (Source: ‘Sexuality and Disability in the Indian Context’ TARSHI working paperExternal Website that opens in a new window)

Women with disabilities – particularly those with physical disabilities – are often seen as childlike, and thought about in terms of ‘care’ or ‘protection’, thus rendering them sexless. However, all human beings are sexual, no matter if, when, how, or with whom we choose to express or not express it.

Question2 Myth: Women with disabilities are not sexually attractive.

Sins InvalidExternal Website that opens in a new window, a performance on sex, beauty and disability, poses many powerful questions: ‘Who is sexy? Who is sexual? Who is sexually desirable? Are the people that society designates “beautiful” really sexier or more sexual than people who get labeled “plain”? What about older people, heavier people? What about people with disabilities? Are these people fully sexual human beings even though they don’t show up in movies, on TV, or in advertising? What happens to all of us when we write off huge sections of the population as non-sexual or sexually undesirable?’

What attracts someone is unique to each individual, and is caused by an unpredictable mix of things, including personality, looks, timing, sexual fantasies, etc. However, because we’re surrounded by false ideals of beautylike models with impossibly thin and upright bodies, it can be hard to start thinking of people who don’t fit into that category as ‘beautiful’. Attraction is, above all else, a connection between two people, and imposed beauty standards may actually have nothing at all to do with it.

Question3 Myth: Women with disabilities are ‘oversexed.’

Since women with disabilities are seen as ‘childlike’ and aren’t supposed to be sexual, any sexual desire they express is seen as perverted or ‘too much’. This doesn’t mean that they have disproportionate sexual desires compared to nondisabled women, but that because they are not meant to express this aspect of themselves, when they do, it’s seen as a problem.

This myth is especially strong when it comes to girls or women who are mentally disabled. Since people living with mental disabilities may not have been taught sexual norms – masturbation is a private thing, your sexual body parts should remain covered around other people, etc – they may express their sexuality in socially inappropriate ways. However, this is more likely a result of a lack of information than that of an ‘oversexed’ mind or body.

Seeing girls and women with disabilities as oversexed is dangerous because it exposes them to sexual abuse under the guise that they ‘enjoy’ it. No one deserves an unwanted sexual encounter, and this includes people with disabilities.

Question4 Myth: Women with disabilities have more important needs than sex.

We tend to see certain needs as more basic or fundamental (eating, bathing, sleeping) than others (communication with others, sexual desires, intellectual development). This divide is sharper in the case of girls or women with disabilities. If a woman needs help to have her ‘basic’ needs fulfilled, her ‘other’ needs are seen as irrelevant.

In reality, any person experiences various needs at the same time. For example, the desire to eat when you are hungry may not be any greater or less than the desire to talk to someone when you are lonely. Similarly, sexual desires cannot simply be seen as ‘secondary’ to more ‘fundamental’ needs, whether or not someone has a disability.

Question5 Myth: Girls living with disabilities don’t need sexuality education.

This myth is a branch of a much wider one – that no one needs sexuality education. Sex Ed is often misunderstood as teaching children how to have sex or ‘permitting experimentation’. In reality, sexuality education encompasses a lot more than the mechanics of sex. Age-appropriate sexuality education looks at how teenagers feel about their bodies, love, sex, relationshipsExternal Website that opens in a new window, and protection from abuse and violence.

Some people also believe that sex education goes against Indian cultureExternal Website that opens in a new window The reality, however, is this: as long as human beings have sex, we need sexuality education no matter what culture we belong to. Culture, in any case, is dynamic and evolving. Practices that have previously been upheld as part of ‘Indian culture’ – such as sati and child marriage – are now seen not just as harmful cultural practices, but as criminal offences.

Girls with disabilities are most often denied the little bit of sex education that their peers receive. This is embedded in other myths- that women with disabilities don’t have sexual desires, that no one will want to have sex with them (so they won’t be subjected to abuse), and that they can’t have ‘real sex’ anyway (so there’s no point in showing them how). In reality, sex education can empower all young women with the knowledge and information to have safe and pleasurable sex, prevent STIs including HIV, stop unwanted pregnancies, and protect themselves from abusive sexual partners.

Question6 Myth: Women who live with disabilities can’t have ‘real’ sex.

Many people think that sex takes place only when a man puts his penis into a woman’s vagina. In reality, people have sex in many different ways that aren’t generally shown in popular media or frequently discussed. Kissing, touching, masturbating and oral sex are all sexual activities, even though they aren’t included in the ‘standard’ definition of sex.

The myth of a ‘real’ or ‘correct’ way to have sex might lead women with disabilities to believe that because they can’t see, feel, or move their bodies in certain ways, sex isn’t for them. But sex is for everyone, even though the mechanics of it can vary. There are no rules governing what sex can or cannot be, except that it should involve consent External Website that opens in a new window and safety. Sexual acts don’t have to look, sound, smell or feel like anything apart from what works for the people who are involved.

Question7 Myth: Sex must be spontaneous.

Sex is often depicted – in movies to books to pornography – as two people naturally falling into each other’s arms within seconds of making eye contact. This leads people to feel that any amount of planning means that it’s no longer ‘natural’, so it doesn’t count as sex. But in reality, sex often does not happen in a completely unplanned way. Whether the build-up involves flirting with someone in a crowded room, ‘setting the mood’ with some music and candles, checking if the object of your desire shares your sexual orientation, or discussing how your disability means you may need a few extra pillows or specific positioning, sex is always a process of communication. And the idea that it can happen without thinking, talking or planning is questionable. Women with disabilities may need to take some extra factors into account before having a sexual encounter with someone. She may need to think about the times of day when pain or tiredness are less of a problem, put a waterproof cover on the bed in case her bladder leaks, or may simply need to ensure that she has the privacy she desires. However, this doesn’t make the sex women with disabilities have any less ‘natural’ or ‘real’ than those who don’t have similar considerations.

Question8 Myth: Women with disabilities should not have children.

Since women with disabilities are not expected to be sexual, neither are they expected to reproduce. A report entitled ‘Women and Girls with Disabilities: Defining the Issues’External Website that opens in a new windowstates, ‘Keeping us genderless by discounting us as women and as sexual beings helps to prevent us from reproducing, which keeps us harmless to society. And, once we are categorized as non-breeders, we are discarded as socially useless.’

It is believed that ‘disability breeds disability’, and that a disabled woman will give birth to a disabled child. However, only a small percentage of disabilities are hereditary, and these don’t always pass on to the next generation. External Website that opens in a new window. In most cases, a disabled women and a nondisabled woman both have an equal chance of giving birth to a disabled (or much more likely, a nondisabled) child. It is also believed that a woman with a disability will be unable to care for her child. This is merely a perception. Women with disabilities can raise children-like everyone else, they may need a little help at times. Look at this websiteExternal Website that opens in a new window for parents with disabilities for more information

Check out this ROCKING WEBSITE

Your Vagina Isn’t Just Too Big, Too Floppy, and Too Hairy—It’s Also Too Brown


by- Lindy West

Good news, ladies! Society has discoveredanother new thing that’s wrong with you, which means another opportunity for you to make yourself more attractive for your man. Score! Turns out, the color of your vagina is gross and everyone hates it. So bleach that motherfucker. Bleach it right now!

In this commercial for an Indian product called Clean and Dry Intimate Wash, a (very light-skinned) couple sits down for whatwould have been a peaceful cup of morning coffee—if the woman’s disgusting brown vagina hadn’t ruined everything! The dude can’t even bring himself look at her. He can’t look at his coffee either, because it only reminds him of his wife’s dripping, coffee-brown hole! Fortunately, the quick-thinking woman takes a shower, scrubbing her swarthy snatch with Clean and Dry Intimate Wash (“Freshness + Fairness”). And poof! Her vadge comes out blinding white like a downy baby lamb (and NOT THE GROSS BLACK KIND) and her husband—whose penis, I can only assume, is literally a light saber—is all, “Hey, lady! Cancel them divorce papers and LET’S BONE.”

Needless to say, certain citizens are troubled by this product—which, in addition to just being fucking insane, brings up painful issues about the hierarchy of skin tone within the Indian community. As if it isn’t bad enough that darker-skinned people are encouraged to stay out of the sun and invest in skin-bleaching products like Fair & Lovely, and that white actresses arebeing imported to play Indian people in Bollywood movies, now everyone has to be insecure about the fact that their vaginas happen to be the color that vaginas are??? Splendid! God, I was just saying the other day that my misogyny didn’t have enough racism in it.

So what are the pro-vadge-bleaching people thinking? Here’s a hilarious explanation from a male ad exec:

It is hard to deny that fairness creams often get social commentators and activists all worked up. What they should do is take a deep breath and think again. Lipstick is used to make your lips redder, fairness cream is used to make you fairer-so what’s the problem? I don’t think any Youngistani today thinks the British Raj/White man is superior to us Brown folk. That’s all 1947 thinking!

The only reason I can offer for why people like fairness, is this: if you have two beautiful girls, one of them fair and the other dark, you see the fair girl’s features more clearly. This is because her complexion reflects more light. I found this amazing difference when I directed Kabir Bedi, who is very fair and had to wear dark makeup for Othello, the Black hero of the play. I found I had to have a special spotlight following Kabir around the stage because otherwise the audience could not see his expressions.

See? It makes perfect sense. We just want our vaginas to reflect more light—is that so wrong? I mean, WHAT IF MY CAR BREAKS DOWN AT NIGHT AND I DON’T HAVE A REFLECTIVE ENOUGH VAGINA? Really, the ultimate one-vagina-to-rule-them-all would glow in the dark like one of those deep-sea fishes. I need my vagina to attract more krill so my husband will fuck me again! (My husband is a whale.)

Basically the idea is to get as far away as possible from any color that vaginas actually come in. Because that’s what’s at the heart of this type of thinking—the perfect vagina would be something that’s not a vagina at all.

Contact Lindy West:your-vagina-isnt-just-too-big-too-floppy-and-too-hairyits-also-too-brown