Women’s bodies are the battleground where political agendas are explored and social values are determined. Various colleges in Karnataka are currently denying entry to female students in Hijabs in response to “Saffron Shawl” protests by male Hindu students. Our leaders say religion has no place in education, but why is that limited to just one religion?
The Delhi High Court has challenged the marital rape exception in Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, and while the centre deliberates, the debate online is raging. The legal debate is complex, and warranted, but the social debate is horrifying in its purview. Understand the issue better here.
While I was growing up, I was taught a national identity, I was taught what it means to be Indian. I learnt from the documents that founded our country that I was a secular, tolerant, humanist who respected the rights of all citizens and performed the duties of a member of a democracy. Somewhere along the way, the meaning of being Indian changed to something else, and somehow today a Caucasian woman with a Bindi who fasts on Karva Chauth is more Indian than I am. The distortion of the Indian identity is more prevalent and sinister than we realise, and the feedback mechanism to those that do not conform is violent and punitive. When did this happen? When did the term “Indian” become so exclusive? Do I still qualify? Do you?
The Court in Goa acquitted Tarun Tejpal of all charges in an 8-year old case of sexual assault. As part of the proceedings the victim was put on trial, her sexual history and lifestyle choices were all put on trial. To be a worthy victim in India, you must be immaculate or dead, and I wonder, what is India telling its victims with that?
Two days ago an officer of the Indian Army committed suicide in Pune while in the midst of a Court of Enquiry over allegations of sexual harassment, ever since then the endless hate and unverified information directed at the alleged complainant has varied from shameful to just pure disturbing, and a lot of it has been disseminated by the same people who won’t let their daughters out at night because India is not a safe place. Read how this dichotomy is at the heart of why we don’t believe victims in India.
Last week the Chief Minister of Uttrakhand criticised mothers for demeaning our culture by wearing ripped jeans, and at the same time India saw the opening of its first brick-and-mortar sex-toy store in Goa. These two pieces of news do not belong in the same country, is it possible we’re all living in two countries at the same time?
The Mumbai High Court recently overturned the sexual assault judgement of a sessions court in Nagpur stating that under the POCSO Act sexual assault must entail skin-to-skin contact. Expectedly this has led to outrage across the nation, but how is this judgement any different from the lessons we teach our daughters about what sexual assault is “serious enough” to merit noise?
This week alone we’ve had the Chief Justice question women’s roles in farmers’ protests, a brutal gang-rape resulting in the death of a woman, a minister suggesting all women be tracked and another insinuating that women are only baby-making machines, but somehow any time I complain, I hear people tell me that women are goddesses in this great country. Well, I’m a tired goddess, and I don’t have the energy to pretend anything is great anymore.
You killed journalism. Over the past decade, journalism has become a dirty word and journalists the easiest targets for everything that is wrong in the world. The last year saw the highest number of attacks on journalists in years as our credibility was slowly replaced by Google searches, sponsored content and WhatsApp. It’s convenient to blame journalists for all that’s wrong, but I argue that it’s you, the consumers of news, that killed journalism. This is how.
Any person who has ever bought a menstrual product knows they are sold in black plastic bags as if they are things that need to be hidden. Women are taught to apply shame and discretion to bodily functions and parts, and that is not free of impact. Here is why it would be better to be able to talk about tampons openly at the dinner table.