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SITA: 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!
KALI: 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.
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.
On 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?
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…
by Mallika Sharma
A gender review of the film Ek Baar Phir (Once Again)
My penchant for old Indian art films and parallel cinema knows no bounds. One of the lesser-known Indian films of the 1980’s, that I enjoyed watching recently was –“Ek Baar Phir”. With a deeply engaging and bold story-line, along with stellar performances and excellent cinematography, it surely is one film that I would recommend every cinema lover to watch!
Mahendra (Suresh Oberoi) is a superstar, married to Kalpana (Deepti Naval) who is a housewife. Kalpana accompanies Mahendra to one of his film shoots in London. Mahendra is a haughty and conceited fellow, who is extremely unprofessional and cannot get over his starry tantrums! He is a night owl, a womanizer and a borderline alcoholic. Kalpana on the other hand is aware of his womanizing ways, but can do little to change his ways. She has more or less become his shadow, and at one point feels so ensnared in her dull/purposeless existence, that her life seems to have reached a stalemate!
Despite all the luxuries at her disposal, Kalpana’s stifled individuality and an absence of passion and love in her marriage continues to sting her- until one day she bumps into a street artist, Vimal (Pradeep Verma). Their mutual love for contemporary art draws them towards each other, and from here Read more…
by Rita Banerji
The 2011 census data for India shows that 18 million girls were exterminated from the population before the age of 15 years. People often assume that this is primarily due sex-selected abortions. However, the age-wise analysis of India’s latest census data not only reveals that most of the girls are killed after birth, but that the killings actually increase with age!
For last 7 years I have consistently argued, that the government uses an extremely obscure and strange age range, 0-6 years, to determine child sex ratio. What constitutues 0 age? Fetuses? And why would the government put aborted female fetuses and girls killed after birth till the age of 6 years into the same ‘age’ category? Moreover, why is 6 years the cut-off age for the child sex ratio age? Why not 0-2 years or 0-10 years to determine child sex ratio? Is this a deliberate attempt to obscure the data of how many girls are actually killed after birth?
When I began to research journals and different studies that looked at the killing of girls after birth in India, what I discovered was that ALL THE STUDIES that I was looking at were establishing 5-6 years as the age up to when girls born were most vulnerable to being killed. More so, where data was collated or analyzed there were clear indications that the numbers of girls killed after birth in India was in the millions. I then wrote an article collating this data for the Women’s News Network, which we’ve also published on this blog. You can read it here: What’s Killing India’s little girls?
My fear, unfortunately, has now been validated by a recently released census report, that determines the sex ratios for each succeeding age year, for the recent 2011 census data. It establishes that up to the age of 15 years, at least 18 million girls are exterminated from the India’s population. However it makes a series of even more shocking revelations. It reveals that the bulk of these girls were not eliminated via sex-selection, but were killed after birth! More shocking, is the fact that the killings increase with age.
THIS IS WHAT THE ANALYSIS OF THE 2011 CENSUS DATA REVEALS:
Up to the age of 15 years, there are 18 million girls exterminated from India’s population.
Up to the age of 1 year, 955,000 (less then 1 million) girls are eliminated. This shockingly means the 17 million others are killed after the age of 1 year.
In the age group 1-6 years about 7 million girls have been killed (7 million more boys than girls.)
In the age group 7-15 years, about 11 million girls eliminated (11 million more boys than girls. My estimate is that in this age group many girls unaccounted for might have also been sex-trafficked)
Furthermore the analysis also reveals that the number of girls killed in urban areas are far higher than in rural areas. This establishes another argument that I have persistently made about the India’s female genocide. I have argued that this is not an outcome of poverty and illiteracy, but that this genocide, like all genocides, is an exercise of power. This is the fundamental change in our perspective of female genocide that we will have to make, if we want to bring it to a halt! For more, see this article: Why Genocidal Violence on Women in India increases with wealth and education
ABOUT THE WRITER
Rita Banerji is an author and gender activist, and the founder of The 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 is www.ritabanerji.com She blogs at Revolutions in my Space and tweets at @Rita_Banerji
Thank you to everyone who has supported our petition demanding that the ‘Women Deliver’ organization apologize to the Suryanelli Rape Survivor. Below is a copy of the letter we sent to ‘Women Deliver’ along with the nearly 20,000 signatures.
The petition will stay active online till Women Deliver posts a direct apology to the Suryanelli rape survivor. If you haven’t yet, you can still sign this petition on Change.Org click here/ or on Causes.com click here
To read about the Suryanelli case click here
To read a statement by the Suryanelli survivor click here
To read what activist Arundhati Roy says about the Suryanelli case click here
To: Women Deliver
From: The 50 Million Missing Campaign
Re: Petition Demanding a Direct Apology for the Suryanelli Rape Survivor
We are a global campaign working to end genocidal violence on women in India. This letter is to convey our outrage at your inviting P. J. Kurien, an accused in the high-profile Suryanelli gang rape case in India, as speaker to your 2013 women’s conference, and to submit to you a petition on behalf of 19,572 signatories from around the world, demanding that you release an official and direct apology to the Suryanelli rape survivor.
As outrageous as your invitation of Kurien was, we were further appalled by the insensitivity of the statement you later released, saying you were not aware of what you dismissively refer to as “the controversy.” There was no empathy, no support or direct apology to the victim. This is the kind of language and attitude towards rape victims that women’s groups all over the world are still fighting. It is all the more unacceptable from an organization that claims to be working to empower women.
The Suryanelli victim and her family are from a small village, and have to struggle day to day to survive financially. Despite that, they have shown tremendous courage in continuing their fight for justice for the last 16 years, in the face of various forms of harassment from official quarters and the social segregation that rape victims are subject to in India. She recently asked if the public would have been more supportive of her if Read more…