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Shouldn’t the #CBI Director be Fired for This Remark on #Rape?

November 19, 2013

In country where violence on women has reached epidemic proportions, what does it say when a top government official responsible for law enforcement trivializes rape? What does it say, when the government turns a deaf ear to this? Ranjit Sinha, the Director of the CBI (The Central Bureau of Intelligence), India’s top most intelligence agency while arguing for the legalization of betting in sports said this:

“If you can’t enforce it, it is like you can’t prevent rape, enjoy it.  It is better to legalize it and earn some revenue rather than throwing up your hands.”

Please Support Students and Professor Under Fire for Protesting #Gender #Discrimination at VIT #University

November 13, 2013

Are you one of those people who believes that education is the most important tool to fight gender inequality?  How would do you feel if educational institutions themselves aggressively endorse gender inequality?  The Vellore Institute of Technology ( VIT University), one of India’s top-ranking private universities, recently dismissed two female students for doing a survey about the University’s gender and safety policies.  Prof. Ted Moallem from the University who supported the students was also fired from his job.  Although both students are now back on campus,  there is concern that VIT’s clemency may fade along with the public spotlight on this issue.  Below read a personal and courageous account of what happened from Spandana Cheruvu, who is in her fourth year at VIT and is one of the students who was dismissed.

The goal of this post is to rally support in India and worldwide for VIT and other private academic institutions to: 

  1. Commit to uphold students’ rights to free speech and peaceful dissent
  2. Prioritize student equality and empowerment over concerns of reputation and financial gain
  3. To promote gender equality in VIT and other colleges all over India.  PLEASE ADD YOUR VOICE TO THIS MOMENTUM.  TO SIGN THE PETITION CLICK HERE

If you represent student unions, media or other campaigns and organizations who would like to help please contact Spandana at

To read the results of the gender survey the University found objectionable click here

By Spandana Cheruvu:

spandana cheruvuVIT ranks among the top Universities for Technology in India.  It has a beautiful campus and excellent facilities.   So I was very proud and excited when I got admission in VIT’s Electrical and Electronics Engineering B. Tech program (Bachelors degree for Technology).  Yet, as a female student in VIT, I have felt constricted. Certain campus rules are discriminatory against female students, mainly those relating to hostel “in-times” and the procedures and permissions for exiting and re-entering the campus.  I feel that these rules put us at an unfair disadvantage in terms of our scope for academic and professional progress.

One such rule is that we, female students, are allowed out each weekend only on either Saturday or Sunday, for just a few hours with prior permission from the warden [the dormitory supervisor].   This permission is granted arbitrarily, depending on the warden’s whims, and it applies only to female students; males have no such constraints.  Furthermore, female (not male) students on exiting the campus must undergo fingerprint scanning and submit to the security guards a special “hostel ID card”, issued to women only.  Upon re-entry to campus, their fingerprint is scanned again as they collect Read more…

5 Important #Advice for Women Being Blackmailed for #Dowry

November 7, 2013

by Rita Banerji

The wedding season just started in India.  And like every year, this year too The 50 Million Missing Campaign  has received frantic emails from young Indian women about to get married. They tell us that their groom-to-be and his family are blackmailing them for exorbitant dowries in cash or kind, and as the wedding date draws near the demands get bigger.  Last week we got an email from a young woman who said this:

“I am a 28-year-old school teacher and I am about to get married to an army officer whose parents though haven’t directly asked for dowry have said that their son has bought a new car worth Rs.10 lakh (U.S. $16,500.00) and they want my parents to give half of the price which my parents are going to. I have already given a hint to my mother that I won’t get married to such a family if they keep demanding things. Now they say that we are to give only branded gifts to their guests. I am really worried and don’t feel right about this and neither do my parents but because they have publicly announced my marriage, my mother says it would be foolish to back out considering there aren’t other good marriage offers. I haven’t spoken to my dad who is equally frustrated about the whole attitude of the in-laws but he feels they have a good family background. I love my parents, can’t hurt them or insult them in public neither do I want to ruin my life by marrying such a family. Pleeezzzz tell me what to do? Should I get engaged next month?”

bride skeletonThis is insane! Why do parents think that families who make unlawful demands and blackmail them for dowry even before the wedding, are “good” families for their daughter to marry into? Millions of educated, professional middle-class families marry their daughters into families that begin to show their criminal tendencies before the marriage.  And their daughters are subject to worse blackmail and torture for dowry after the wedding, and eventually thousands of women like this are killed.  After all the news we read and hear every day in India about the abuse and killing of women for dowry, how do these parents even think about forcing their daughters to marry into these families? Do they absolutely not care for the safety of their daughters?

This year one of the biggest public fights in India was about removing criminals from government – men convicted of extortion, larceny, rape and murder! But do we realize that as individuals if we continue to marry criminal-minded men or marry our daughters into families that behave criminally, we are embracing criminals in our personal lives and families? Then with what faith do we expect to clean criminals out of government and have a system that ensures the safety of women?

If you are reading this and are in this situation, or have a family member or friend or colleague in a similar situation, this is my advice:

1. Say a total “no” to any marriage proposal that makes even one dowry demand

Treat any dowry demand (whether in cash or goods) as a death threat! Do not marry into this family. And do not trust them. Do not agree to any negotiations. If they seem to be changing their mind, they are only looking for another way to continue doing the same.

2. Get out immediately of any situation of blackmail and abuse for dowry

Sometimes the in-laws wait till after the wedding to start blackmailing and abusing for dowry. We’ve found that this is often true in “love-marriages.” My advice to all women in this situation is — Get out immediately! Do not delay! Anshu was a bright, young woman, working with a multinational who married a man she was in love with. Within days of the wedding as her in-laws demanded and extorted money from her, she realized what criminal people they are. Just 6 weeks after her wedding as she planned to leave the marriage she was killed. To read Anshu’s story click here.

3. If you have daughters, you need to protect them and yourself

Studies and my campaign’s cases repeatedly show that families that abuse and kill for dowry are also the ones that force women to abort girls and also kill or try to kill the infant girls after birth. In middle and upper class families – babies have unexplained ‘accidents’ on staircases or in the bathtub. The father of Pooja Chopra, who was crowned ‘Miss India World,’ had tried to suffocate her with a pillow (her story here). The reason is, they are greedy for dowry, but don’t want to give dowry for the girls born into their family. They are a danger to both the woman and to her daughters. Click here to see one of these cases from our campaign. So women being abused for dowry need to save themselves and their daughters.

4. Know the dowry laws

If you are planning to get married soon make sure you know the dowry laws, what your rights are and how you can protect yourself. Click here for a post that gives you all this information.

5. Speak the truth about your safety to your parents directly

Finally, if you are in a situation like the school teacher in the letter above, you need to speak the truth to your parents directly. Do not beat around the bush with excuses and explanations. You need to tell them directly, that they are gambling with your safety and putting your life in danger. And that no parent who loves their daughter can do this! Make sure they know that even if they do not understand this, you will not marry this man. Your parents cannot force you. If they do, it is illegal. Get out of the house immediately, and find a friend who will understand and support you. If your parents persist, file a police complaint against them.

But whatever you do, please do NOT marry men or stay married to men who demand dowries! Dowry is illegal, and these people are blackmailing you, which is also illegal. These are criminal minded people who will continue to extort more dowry from you after your marriage.  And they are violent! We don’t want you to end up dead like thousands of women who are murdered or driven to suicide because of dowry!

In December 2012, the women of India came out on to the streets demanding protection from rape and violence. When women are tortured daily for dowry, the violence is not just physical and emotional. It is also sexual! Most sexual violence on women and girls happens within the homes and families. The women of India need to understand that our fight for our right to safety has to begin with our own families first!

© The 50 Million Missing Campaign. All Rights Reserved. To cite, please see ourcopyright guidelines.


Rita Banerji is an author and gender activist, and the founder ofThe 50 Million Missing Campaign to end India’s female genocide.  Her book ‘Sex and Power: Defining History Shaping Societies, is a historical and social look at how the relationship between gender and power in India has led to the ongoing female gendercide.  Her website She blogs at Revolutions in my Space and tweets at@Rita_Banerji

If You Must Assume the Goddess : Be Kali! Not Sita!

November 2, 2013

33064-sita.jpgSITA:  She’s the conventional woman and wife all Indian women are told to be like.  She is a husband-worshipper.  She follows and obeys him passively.  She accepts his rejection and injustice.  Follows his orders blindly, embracing loneliness, poverty, sacrificing her self and her life for him.  She even jumps into fire for him!

Puja-as-KaliKALI: She assumes her power in full, and refuses to take injustice and abuse from men.  She is not afraid to actively fight for her own protection and that of others who are oppressed.  She is not afraid of challenging the wrong, of standing her ground.  She looks the ugliness of repression in the face, and responds to it with the might and glory of her own powers.  she does not care if the expression of her powers frightens the world that has come to expect women to take oppression like Sita does, sweetly and passively.

Dare to Dissent: Here’s your Loaded Gun

October 25, 2013


How far will Universities in India stoop to promote sexism? You must read to believe!

Originally posted on The Fire Breathing Feminist:

Sekar Viswanathan, the dynastic Vice President of VIT Univesity, has among his ‘Core Values’, as posted on the university’s website, “No discrimination based on race, language, caste or creed”. Interestingly, he missed gender- an omission that becomes more and more glaring when one tries to contextualise the recent happenings at the university.

The self-proclaimed #1 private university in India is probably not too far from the number one spot with respect to gender based discrimination. With a moral code as complicated and illogical as a religious text, the university administration makes no apologies about blatantly using ‘Indian Values’ and ‘the Institution’s Reputation’ as an excuse to prevent girls (and sometimes boys) from living an enriching university life, or at the very least, exercising the basic rights guaranteed to every citizen of this country.


Recently, two girls from the university have been asked to go home. Why? Because they dared to…

View original 2,081 more words

Ask Why Giving Birth to Girls Gets Women Killed in India

October 25, 2013

girl hateOn October 18, 2013, in the town of Gurdaspur, a young woman, Sandeep Kaur who had been married for barely two years, was tortured to death by her husband and in-laws.  The reason for this was she had given birth to a girl!

One day later, on October 19, in one of India’s holiest cities, Varanasi, 27-year-old Aarti, who had been married to Sanjiv Kumar Singh for 8 years, was locked inside a room, beaten, her head battered in with an iron rod, was doused with kerosene and set on fire.   Aarti had refused to cave under pressure from her husband and in-laws to abort the female child she had been carrying and had given birth to a girl.  The neighbors broke in on hearing the baby cry and took Aarti to the hospital where she’s still fighting her life.

These are just two incidents on two successive days in October 2013!  How many women are killed in India for giving birth to  girls?

The general response to this is that “men are responsible for the sex of the child.”  Of course men know that.  But they still kill!  Do you wonder why?

Because Your Husband is Your Supreme God!

October 22, 2013

Photo by Lady Tetsu

by Rita Banerji

Today all over India, married Hindu women merrily starve themselves of food and water, from sunrise to sunset, to ensure that the gods will give their husbands a long and healthy life.  At sun-down the women view the moon through a kitchen sieve before they break their fast. This is the festival of Karva Chauth.

And here’s the reason behind this festival in a nutshell:

 A married woman is called Sumangala [The fortunate one; the bringer of good luck].

A widow is called Amangala [the unfortunate one; the bringer of bad luck].

In fact the widow is considered such bad luck that she’s shunned from wedding and other ceremonies, barred from certain temples and places, just in case her ‘bad luck’ rubs off on other people.  Till a few years ago, the families would just do away with this ‘bad luck’ by burning her alive on her dead husband’s funeral pyre – a custom called sati.  There still are occasional incidents of ‘sati.’ But by and large, the families just throw the widows out onto the streets after usurping their property.  There are two towns in central India where more than 40,000 such widows live in conditions of absolute poverty![for more click here]

Yet what perhaps is more amazing is the great excitement with which women – even modern, educated, professional women, continue to embrace this festival! In fact it is like a fashion statement among the high profile celebrities with Bollywood actors sending out wishes on social media!

India’s modern, gizmo crazy market is happily marketing this misogyny.  There’s Read more…


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