Feminism and the Family – Thoughts on International Women’s Day

March 8, 2012

by Nivedita Menon

Excerpts from my forthcoming book Seeing Like a Feminist (Penguin India/Zubaan Books

Have you heard of ‘nude make-up’?

This is what it is:

‘Nude makeup looks are all about your skin looking fresh and dewy, without looking like you’re even wearing any makeup. All you need is eyeliner, mascara, nude lipstick, and a highlighting blush that will give your skin a natural-looking glow.’[1]

The whole point of nude makeup clearly, is to spend hours painting your face in order to make it look like you never touched it at all.

The maintaining of social order is rather like that. It requires the faithful performance of prescribed rituals over and over again throughout one’s lifetime. Complex networks of cultural reproduction are dedicated to this sole purpose. But the ultimate goal of all this unceasing activity is to produce the effect of untouched naturalness.

When one ‘sees’ the world like a feminist though, with the gaze of a feminist, it’s rather like activating the ‘Reveal Formating’ function in Microsoft Word (what an earlier generation of WordPerfect users knew as ‘Reveal Codes’). The feminist gaze reveals the strenuous, complex formatting that goes on below the surface of what looked smooth and complete.

What do I mean by feminism? A feminist perspective recognizes that the hierarchical organizing of the world around gender is key to maintaining social order; that to live lives marked as ‘male’ and ‘female’ is to live different realities. But simultaneously, to be a feminist is to imagine occupying the marginal position with reference to every dominant framework. For instance, any possible female reader of this post would be in a relatively powerful position with regard to working class men she interacts with daily – the auto rickshaw driver, the janitor, the domestic servant; and if she is an upper-caste Hindu in India, or white American anywhere, with regard to men who are not. At the same time, she would experience her relative powerlessness as a woman if faced by a man in a position to attack her sexually, regardless of his class or caste position; or when she compares her life choices and autonomy with those of a man of her class. Needless to say, it is not only ‘women’ who can adopt feminism as a political stance and way of life, but men who choose to do this have to be taking a stand against the privileges that they could otherwise take for granted.

Read more at Kafila

IPS officer killed by mining mafia in Madhya Pradesh

March 8, NDTV
Morena: An Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Narendra Kumar Singh, posted in Madhya Pradesh’s Morena district, was killed today, allegedly by members of the mining mafia.

The incident occurred this afternoon when the officer, who was on patrol in his official jeep, noticed a tractor-trolley loaded with stones following which he overtook it and signalled the driver to stop it, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Chambal Range, DP Gupta told reporters in Gwalior.

However, when the driver did not budge, he again crossed it and this time stood in front of the vehicle in order to bring it to a halt on the spot.

But the tractor driver, identified as Manoj Gurjar, instead of stopping the vehicle, sped and hit the 30-year-old officer, crushing him under the wheels.

Following the incident, the officer was rushed to a hospital in Gwalior, where he was declared brought dead, the DIG said adding prima facie it appears that the mining mafia active in the area is behind the incident.

Gurjar has been arrested and a case has been registered under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against him.

Mr Singh was a dynamic officer, who had seized many vehicles carrying illegally mined stones and sand. Police sources say his killing may have been planned.

The state government has promised a thorough inquiry. “Our preliminary investigations say that the stones were illegally mined. And we are looking at whether the murder of the IPS officer was planned or not, it will come out in the investigation,” said state Home Minister, Uma Shankar Gupta, who had rushed to Gwalior to take stock of the situation.

Soon after Mr Singh was transferred from Ujjain in December last year, he took on the mining mafia in Bamor in Morena district. Sources say he had complained about rampant loot of sand and boulders from the Chambal region, but he was not getting any support.

The 2009 batch IPS officer is survived by his wife Madhu Tewatiya, an IAS officer, who’s pregnant and is in Delhi right now.

Illegal mining has been rampant in Madhya Pradesh for many years now, but this is the first time a senior police officer has been killed, creating a sense of fear among IPS officers in the state.

(With PTI Inputs)

Immediate Release-Reading Soni Sori’s Letters from Prison – Video Montage Marks International Women’s Day

Wednesday, March 8, 2012
Press contacts:
Vinay Bhat
Cell: +1 412.527.7985
Kamayani BaliMahabal
Cell: +91 98207.49204

Reading Soni Sori’s Letters from Prison

Video Montage Marks International Women’s Day

In a global show of solidarity marking the International Women’s Day, concerned citizens from around the world today released a video documentary based on letters written by imprisoned adivasi school teacher Soni Sori, currently held in the Central Jail in Raipur, Chhattisgarh.

Soni Sori was arrested in New Delhi on October 4, 2012 and accused of being a Maoist supporter. Despite her appeals to courts in New Delhi, she was handed over to the Chhattisgarh police and taken to the state where she was beaten, sexually assaulted and given electric shocks by the police. Soridocumented her torture in letters she wrote to her lawyer.

“On Sunday October the 9th 2011, I bore the pain quietly, all by myself. Whom could I tell? There was no one on my side out there,” she wrote in her letter which was read in the video. A subsequent independent medical examination found two sizable stones lodged in her vagina and another in her recturm.

Participants in this video project joined hands to draw attention to Sori’s case by reading from Sori’s letters on camera, supplementing the video with additional materials including photographs, news footage and Sori’s medical
reports. As Sori said in one of her letters, she is only one of dozens of women in her prison who say they have suffered torture and sexual assault in police custody.

Sori’s lawyers have filed an appeal in the Supreme Court of India to transfer Sori to Delhi or another state where she would not be under the control of the Chhattisgarh police. Despite the severity of the torture, the hearing on the final decision on her appeal has been repeatedly delayed. Today marks the completion of five months since Sori was tortured.

Amnesty International has termed Soni Sori a Prisoner of Conscience (http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA20/047/2011/en) and demanded that she be freed immediately and the charges against her dropped. Human Rights
Watch has appealed to the Prime Minister to investigate Sori’s case (http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/03/07/india-investigate-sexual-assault-police-custody).

Sori is in urgent need of medical treatment for the injuries that resulted from her torture. In another letter to her lawyer, she stated that the doctors in the Raipur jail have denied treatment, on grounds that she is a “Naxalite prisoner.” Protesting this, Sori went on  hunger strike, for about 20days, till Feb 27th, and now her health is deteriorating everyday.

The video documentary also highlights the need to hold the responsible police officials accountable. Instead of investigating the police officials involved in Sori’s torture, Ankit Garg, the Superintendent of Police who ordered and oversaw the torture according to Sori, was given a national award for gallantry last January 26, the Indian Republic Day.

The video may be viewed and shared from this link:


It’s a women’s world: Dedicated activists who are raising awareness of social issues

Daily Mail By Monalisa Das and Harsha Chawla , on 8th March 2012

The power of blogging to draw attention to social issues became apparent some years ago, when the blog, Blank Noise, started by Jasmeen Patheja succeeded in raising awareness about street sexual harassment.

A student of the Srishti School of Art Design and Technology in Bangalore, Patheja decided to post pictures of the perpetrator every time she was harassed.

This move gave rise to many public campaigns by her such as Blank Noise Blogathon, I Never Asked For It, Y R U Looking At Me and Action Heroes.

Today, this volunteer-led project has four blogs, two Facebook groups, a YouTube channel and a Twitter account.

More recently, the Pink Chaddi campaign on Facebook was highly successful in raising people’s hackles against the moral policing being faced by women.

Both campaigns serve as examples of new age activism that has moved from street demonstrations to posting tweets, blogs and scraps on different social issues.

This unique kind of activism is quick to reach out to different groups of people and effective in facilitating real social changes.


It was a single note posted on facebook that turned into a full-fledged campaign against eve teasers in Delhi’s metro. Please Mend the Gap is a volunteer-led initiative to promote gender equality in public spaces, the brainchild of 26-year-old Rosalyn D’mello.

A writer by profession, Rosalyn was well aware of the perils of living alone in the city, especially while commuting in public transport.

She was deeply shaken when a female friend of hers was harassed by a drunk man while travelling in Delhi Metro a year ago.

Read daily mail article here


India: Release Soni Sori on International Women’s Day

The Indian authorities must release Soni Sori, an activist and school teacher imprisoned and allegedly tortured for speaking out against human rights abuses, Amnesty International said in a call to mark International Women’s Day on 8 March.

The Amnesty International prisoner of conscience was arrested after she criticised Maoists as well as state forces for human rights violations in the armed insurgency in central India.

Her father was shot in the leg by Maoists, while her husband has been in jail for one year on charges of having collaborated with the left wing group.

“On International Women’s Day, Indian authorities should be applauding the work of brave women like Soni Sori, who dare to speak up for human rights,” said Amnesty International’s India researcher Ramesh Gopalakrishnan.

Indian activists have criticized the authorities for their treatment of Soni Sori and, in collaboration with Amnesty International, have launched a video campaign featuring activists holding up symbolic garlands with the words “shame” on them.

“Activists in India are sending the government a clear message: Soni Sori’s treatment is shameful – hence the garlands of shame.” said Gopalakrishnan.

Arrested on 4 October 2011 in New Delhi, Soni Sori was charged by Chhattisgarh state police with acting as a courier and transferring funds of 1.5 million Indian rupees (US $300,000) from a corporate mining firm, Essar, to the Maoists as “protection money”, to ensure mining operations could be carried out unhindered. She and five others including her nephew Lingaram Kodopi, face trial on 13 March.

Following her arrest, she was held in police custody for two days on 8 and 9 October and intensively questioned. In a letter to India’s Supreme Court, Soni Sori alleged that she was tortured.

A police official, she alleged, forced her out of her cell, stripped her and gave her electric shocks, causing acute pain all over her body, head and spine.

By the time of her appearance in Dantewada court on 10 October, she was unable to walk.

On 29 October, the government medical college hospital in Kolkata examined her under court order, reporting back on 14 November that two stones had been inserted in her vagina and one in her rectum, and that she had annular tears in her spine.

On 2 December the court asked the Chhattisgarh authorities to respond to allegations of torture, and ordered her transferred from Jagdalpur prison to Raipur central prison where she is currently held.

“Soni Sori must be released unconditionally and an independent investigation mounted into allegations of torture. Those police officials responsible including those at the highest levels of command should be prosecuted, in line with international law,” said Ramesh Gopalakrishnan.

Meanwhile, a senior Chattisgarh police official, accused by Soni Sori of ordering her alleged torture while she was being interrogated, has been awarded a gallantry award by authorities.

“Awarding gallantry medals to people who should be investigated is insulting,” said Ramesh Gopalakrishnan.
Soni Sori is an Adivasi and an advocate of Gandhian peaceful protest. Her case will be heard again in late March 2012.

To watch Soni Sori’s campaign video

Bajirao in Maharashtra and Eliminators in Chhattisgarh torture in Police Lock ups- Arun Ferreira

Arun ferreira , who was inside prison for more than four years talks about his experience of torture in the police custody and police lock ups in . He speaks our that there is difference of torture in police custody which is much harsher than when one is in prison, but levels might be different , degree might be different but torture is omnipresent , its high time India ratifies Convention against Torture .  In another video he talks about torture in the prison  and human rights violations inside the jails and prisons available  Torture inside prisons. He was speaking at Human rights education seminar, at Mumbai

International Women’s day March – Women raise voices against violence and for freedom in Mumbai

More than 500 women associated with various, women organizations  trade unions, health and human rights organisations came together at VT station to celebrate International Women Rights day, by raising their voices against all forms of violence against women and vociferously raised slogans on true democracy and freedom , they demanded freedom for all including- workers,laborer, dalits, minorities, adivasis and all of us vociferously demanded FREEDOM FOR SONI SORI AND PUNISH MENT FOR ANKIT GARG, We demanded she should be immediately given medical care, Soni sori who has been on hunger strike in Raipur jail for 20 days, needs o be realeased NOW, we hope Supreme court will take notice of her health condition and release her on MARCH 13, 2012



Kractivism-Gonaimate Videos

Protest to Arrest

Faking Democracy- Free Irom Sharmila Now

Faking Democracy- Repression Anti- Nuke activists


Kamayaninumerouno – Youtube Channel


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