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)

 

#Kerala – Petition to Chief Minister condemning false charges against Kerala activists #FOE


12h June 2013

To

Chief Minister of Kerala

Oommen Chandy.

We the undersigned strongly condemn the blatant attempt by the Kerala police to intimidate five colleagues from the field of film and media by filing fabricated cases against them for ‘rioting’, ‘unlawful assembly’ and ‘public obstruction’ (IPC Sections 143, 147, 149 and 283 ).

These five individuals- K.P.Sasi, noted filmmaker and activist, I. Shanmukhadas, film critic, Prasannakumar T.N., film activist, Shafeek, journalist and Deepak, filmmaker and film society activist- were participating in a peaceful protest on February 11 at Thrissur, Kerala, along with many others, outside the venue of the Vibgyor Film Festival 2013 against the concept of capital punishment and the summary execution of Afzal Guru.

The peaceful protest which lasted for an hour, in no way disturbed public order or caused communal unrest. For this act of democratic expression, these fraudulent and trumped charges have been filed against them.
It is indeed shocking that the Kerala police should deny citizens their basic right to peacefully protest against the death penalty, which 97 nations across the world have abolished. As per Amnesty International data, over 2/3 of the countries of the world (140) are now “abolitionist in law or practice”. In India, there has been an alarming resurgence of the death penalty, which needs to be questioned and protested against by all those who stand for social justice and human rights. This crude act of intimidation by the state needs to be condemned by all and we appeal to the Chief Minister of Kerala ensure that the Kerala police to withdraw these false and malicious charges immediately.

Anand Patwardhan, Filmmaker, Mumbai
Anjali Monteiro, TISS, Mumbai
K.P. Jayasankar, TISS, Mumbai
Nivedita Menon, JNU, New Delhi
Rahul Roy, Filmmaker, New Delhi
Saba Dewan, Filmmaker, New Delhi
Shilpa Phadke, TISS, Mumbai
Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Human rights activist, Mumbai
Shohini Ghosh, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
Amar Kanwar, Filmmaker, New Delhi
Ajay Bhardwaj, Filmmaker, New Delhi
Anivar Aravind, IT Engineer, Bangalore
Bishaldeb Halder, TISS, Mumbai
Charu Gargi, Filmmaker, Estonia
Lynne Henry, Filmmaker, Mumbai
P Baburaj, Film maker, Trivandrum
Pankaj Rishi Kumar, Filmmaker, Mumbai
Rakesh Sharma, Filmmaker, Mumbai-Goa
Sanjay Mohan, Journalist, New Delhi
Shoba V. Ghosh, Mumbai University
Suhasini Mulay, Filmmaker, Mumbai
Suma Josson, Filmmaker, Mumbai
Vivek Monteiro, Trade Unionist, Mumbai
Yousuf Saeed, Filmmaker, New Delhi

( If you agree add your endorsements in  comment section )

 

Uphold #FOE, Condemn Fabricated cases against Film and Media persons in Kerala


ViBGYOR Film Collective condemns the fabricated charges leveled against five reputed Cultural, film and media persons of Kerala. Kerala police has charged cases against K.P Sasi, the renowned Film maker and activist, I Shanmukhadas, a well known Film Critic, Prasannakumar T N, a film activist, Shafeek, a young Journalist and Deepak, a Filmmaker and Film Society activist for ‘rioting’, ‘unlawful assembly’ and ‘public obstruction’ (IPC Sections 143, 147, 149 and 283 ) for participating in a peaceful protest which occurred on February 11, 2013 at Thrissur, Kerala. These citizens along with a few dozens of writers, Film makers and activists were protesting against the very concept of capital punishment and the surreptitious manner in which Afzal Guru was accorded Death Penalty.

Inline image 1The Crimes that the Kerala police are ascribing to these distinguished personalities of kerala are totally false and trumped-up.

The entire protest had happened during ViBGYOR Film Festival, 2013.  The peaceful protest with speeches and recitals of renowned cultural personalities is organized near the entrance gate of the festival venue and lasted not more than an hour. It did in no way amounted to an unlawful assembly, public obstruction or did cause a communal riot that day or later. ViBGYOR Film collective shares the firm opinion that death penalty is a fundamental violation of the right to life as recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. We assert the right of citizens to dissent and express their opposition towards capital punishment in a peaceful manner.

ViBGYOR Film Collective and ViBGYOR Film Festival, during its eight years of existence and functioning, have always stood for the Rights that are enshrined in the Constitution of India, and have always come out openly to defend it. We, as the citizens of this democratic nation, believe that such attempt to silence democratic protests and stifle freedom of expression in any manner is a violation of our basic rights enshrined in our constitution and we demand that the false charges against these five Cultural film and media personalities of contemporary Kerala should be withdrawn immediately.

We also urge our friends and democratic forums and organizations to voice their protest in unequivocal terms against such undemocratic ways of fabricating false cases against the citizens who have all rights to exercise lawful means of protests in public space.

In solidarity,

ViBGYOR Film Collective

http://vibgyorfilm.org

 

Kerala Government sanctions 99 new posts in three mental health centres


_

K.P.M. Basheer
5-Apr-2013, The Hindu

KOCHI : The much-neglected mental healthcare sector in the State is likely to get a boost with the Cabinet sanctioning 99 posts of psychiatrists, nurses and supporting staff for the government mental health centres.

The Cabinet on Wednesday okayed creating these posts at Kozhikode, Thrissur and Thiruvananthapuram mental health centres. The posts include five psychiatrists (one senior consultant, two consultants, two junior consultants) one assistant surgeon and ten nurses at each centre. Each centre will also get ten nursing assistants and six Grade II employees.

This is in addition to the recently created posts of two junior consultants and 20 nurses for each centre. This would mean that each of the three mental health centres would get an additional eight doctors and 30 nurses, apart from the supporting staff.

Recommendations
There was widespread criticism that the 2013-14 State Budget had neglected the mental health care sector in spite of urgent measures sought by the Estimates Committee of the Assembly. The committee, headed by V.D. Satheesan, MLA, had called for substantially increasing the medical and paramedical staff at the three mental health centres, better infrastructure and security, a new master plan for their development, and a plan for mental health rehabilitation. It had also recommended decentralisation of mental healthcare with all the district hospitals providing care and the three mental health centres as referral centres.

Mr. Satheesan said a meeting of legislators and policymakers would held in the presence of the Chief Minister next month to address the issues in the mental healthcare sector. The government would be coming out with a mental healthcare policy soon. The infrastructure at the centres would be developed in two stages. Master plans for the buildings, with innovative architecture, would be formulated.

Decision hailed
Welcoming the sanctioning of the new posts, Dr. Jayaprakashan K.P., State general secretary of the Indian Psychiatric Society, told The Hindu that the increase in the staff strength would improve the mental health care in the State. He, however, said infrastructural needs of the three centres should be taken care of urgently, too.

A senior psychiatrist, however, said finding qualified psychiatrists for the new posts was a tough task as there was heavy shortage of psychiatrists in the country.

 

Film fete provides platform for Koodankulam protesters


STAFF REPORTER, The Hindu

100 short films, documentaries to be screened

Xavior Amma, leader of People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy, addressing the 8th edition of Vibgyor International Film Festival heldin Thrissur on Saturday.

Xavior Amma, leader of People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy, addressing the 8th edition of Vibgyor International Film Festival heldin Thrissur on Saturday.

Nothing can dampen the spirit of the protesters against Koodankulam Nuclear Plant, said Xavior Amma, leader for People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy, a group which is fighting against the nuke project.

She was addressing a discussion session at the 8th edition of Vibgyor International Film Festival held here on Saturday.

“We will fight till the end even if we are branded as traitors by the State,” she said. Xavior Amma has been the leader of the agitation ever since it began in 1988. People came to know about the sufferings of the Koodankulam protesters through the narrative of her struggles.

In September, 2012 she was arrested as part of effort to suppress the agitation. The police had booked several cases against S.P. Udayakumar, the leader of the movement, during the last lap of the agitation.

“They booked false cases against many of us to dampen the spirit of the agitation. But the people knew that the protesters were right and hence they never withdrew their support,” said Xavior Amma.

She alleged that the nuclear power plant will affect the biodiversity in the vicinity.

“Our struggle is for protection of human rights and conservation of environment. But the protest is being branded as the one taken out by ‘ignorant’ fisher folk who have come under the influence of the U.S. government. We are being branded as traitors and American spies,” she said.

The Vibgyor Film Collective donated books to the library set up at Kudankulam for the children there.

More than 100 short films, documentaries and animation films are being screened at the five-day festival. The theme of the festival is “Stolen Democracies.”

Addressing the inaugural function at the K.T. Mohammed Memorial Regional Theatre, Marcia Gomez Oliviera, academic from Brazil, said that youth apparently did not want to fight for democracy.

“They want to struggle only to earn money. Money means everything to them. As an academic, when I teach about democracy in class, I face a question from students: is democracy worth fighting for? Democracy, in this sense, is not stolen. It does not exist at many places,” she said.

 

Kerala a State with a speedily ageing population- issues and concerns #sundayreading


Shades of grey

 R. KRISHNAKUMAR

in Thiruvananthapuram, Front line 

 

Kerala faces difficult and politically inconvenient policy choices on issues linked to its final-stage demographic transition.

K.C. SOWMISH 

AN ELDERLY WOMAN with her grandson. In Kerala, the continuous decline in the number of births has been accompanied, among other things, by a rapid increase in the number of the elderly. 

IF population trends and hesitant statements by State Ministers are a clue, Kerala is set to face difficult and politically inconvenient policy choices in the near future on issues linked to its final-stage demographic transition, marked by low fertility and mortality rates.

Signs of new dilemmas are already evident in the State. It has one of the lowest population growth rates in India. Its fertility and mortality rates have fallen to very low levels. An average Keralite would live beyond 70 years. All this is leading to a situation making Kerala a State with a speedily ageing population.

At an international seminar on “Emerging Fertility Patterns in India: Causes and Implications” organised recently by the Centre for Development Studies (CDS) in Thiruvananthapuram, participants were calling attention to the “profound demographic transformation” taking place, indeed, all over the world. As a result, more than half the world’s population is now living in countries or regions where birth rates are “at or below the level needed to ensure the replacement of generations” (or 2.1 children per woman, a number known as the “replacement rate of fertility”, which denotes a stable population).

“Nearly one-third of India is witnessing a trend of below replacement level of fertility today [see box]. Our estimate is that by 2021, two-thirds of the districts in India will have below replacement level of fertility,” S. Irudaya Rajan, a professor at the CDS who has been studying demographic and migration issues in Kerala for over two decades, told Frontline.

Within Kerala, one of the first States to reach an advanced stage in demographic transition, the continuous decline in the number of births has been accompanied, among other things, by an increase in the proportion of the working population, the highest unemployment rate among educated youth in India and problems associated with their migration in large numbers in search of job opportunities, and a rapid increase in the number of the elderly within the State.

From the mid-1990s, questions were being raised on the economic implications of low fertility and mortality and on how the development achievements of the State could be sustained in the wake of such population trends and in an environment of poor economic growth. Researchers have been saying that the socio-economic implications of the reversal of demographic trends would be far-reaching in a State like Kerala.

A collection of research papers from the CDS titled “Kerala’s Demographic Future: Issues and Policy Options” released at the seminar foresees, among other things, “significant changes in the age structure” in Kerala, including “a decrease in school age population, decrease in proportion of the labour force in about two decades from 2001, decline in young working age population, a doubling of older working age population in two decades ending in 2021 and more unemployment among the older age groups than among the youth in the foreseeable future”.

Unique ageing scenario

A paper on the unique ageing scenario in Kerala estimates that the size of the population in the age group of 60 years and above in the State is expected to increase from 33 lakh in 2001 to 57 lakh in 2021 and to 120 lakh in 2061. By 2061, the proportion of the elderly would constitute 40 per cent of Kerala’s total population. Of this, 6.7 per cent would be in the age group 60-69 years; 23.8 per cent in the age group 70-79 years; and 9.1 per cent in the age group of 80 years and above.

Another study by the State Planning Board, published in 2009 as part of a United Nations Development Programme-Planning Commission project, also makes similar projections, that the number of elderly persons (60+) is set to increase from 3.62 million in 2001 to 8.93 million by 2051, an increase of 166 per cent. The study estimates that the growth rate among the elderly will be the highest during 2011-21 and will decline thereafter to a low of 7.5 per cent during 2041-51.

K.K. MUSTAFAH 

AN ELDERLY MAN returning home after a day’s work in an agricultural field near Thrissur. The proportion of households in the State that do not have aged persons has been decreasing. 

The CDS studies report that the cost of “dependency burden” of Kerala households will also rise quite rapidly in the future. While the young dependency ratio (defined as the number of persons aged 0-14 per 100 persons in the working age group of 15-59 years) is expected to decline from 41 to 16, the aged dependency ratio (the number of persons above 60 years of age per 100 persons in the working age group of 15 to 59 years) is to increase from 17 to 76 during the period from 2001 to 2061.

Kerala would also have more women than men in the old-age group; also, more aged widows than aged widowers. The proportion of households that do not have aged persons has also been decreasing. Among Kerala’s 14 districts, there are variations in the proportion of the elderly to the total population, with the highest percentage of elderly population (21 per cent) found in Pathanamthitta, followed by Alappuzha, Kottayam, Ernakulam and Thiruvananthapuram.

The older working age population in the State is estimated to double in number in the 20 years from 2001 to 2021, “creating an atmosphere of unemployment more among the older age groups than among the youth in the foreseeable future”.

However, unemployment among Kerala’s young working age population is set to decline in the coming decades, and “educated young workers will be able to virtually pick and choose the jobs they want”, according to the editors of the collection, Irudaya Rajan and K.C. Zachariah, an honorary professor at CDS. They also believe that the reversal of the demographic trends will ease the pressure on Kerala’s education and health care systems and offer opportunities for quality improvement of such services.

Migration

It is well known that migration from Kerala to other States in India and abroad had been one of the means by which the State coped with the ill effects of rapid demographic transition in the last 50 years and which helped it realise its human development achievements. Questions are raised on whether migration will continue at such high rates in the future too and contribute to the well-being of Kerala’s economy. Meanwhile, the State is also seeing a new trend of “replacement migration”, an increasing flow of migrant labourers from other States into Kerala.

The authors say that Kerala is now experiencing the secondary effects of migration of its people during the past decades, which are not so beneficial as the primary effects were. They include (a) the creation of educated youth unwilling to take up low-paid or unskilled jobs, and thus leading to a high unemployment rate; (b) the inflow of migrant workers from other States who are willing to accept low wages and poor working conditions and thus make a significant impact on unemployment and wage rates within, and “nullifying some of the potentially positive spin-off effects of emigration”; (c) the divisions caused by the “increasing economic and political clout of the newly rich emigrants”; and (d) rising resentment in Kerala society as a result of unequal opportunities in the emerging migration market.

The recent phenomenon of “replacement migration” is a result of a rapid decline in the number of workers in the young working ages caused by fertility decline to below replacement level, emigration of a large number of young persons to the Gulf and other destinations, and economic improvement in the State economy “which have fostered an aversion to low-paid and unskilled jobs on the part of the youth in the State”.

As a result, “the potential spin-off effects of remittances on employment are benefiting workers outside Kerala more than workers within Kerala”, with much of its remittances being drained off to other States, according to Irudaya Rajan and Zachariah.

C. RATHEESH KUMAR 

PENSIONERS WAIT AT the sub-treasury in Thiruvananthapuram. Nearly 20,000 State government employees retire every year in Kerala. 

Read more here

 

Custody Deaths in Kerala: A Study from Post-mortem Data in Thrissur Medical College


By: Hithesh Sanker T S, Praveenlal Kuttichira
Vol XLVII No.12 March 24, 2012

Though there are reports  pointing to the magnitude of the  problem, there has been no study  conducted on the nature of deaths that have taken place in police   custody. This article is an attemptin that direction, and studies 23   autopsies related to custodial deaths that were conducted in the Government Medical  College, Thrissur

http://beta.epw.in/static_media/PDF/archives_pdf/2012/03/CM_XLVII_12_240312_Hithesh_Sanker_T_S.pdf

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