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?
We have all heard that India is a sex-negative country but it also has the much more dangerous distinction of being a love-negative country. The right to fall in love in India is shrouded in constrains of religion, caste, lifestyle and wealth, and even when we aren’t forced to marry within the norm, we do it. Why do we do it?
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?
Growing up in India, most of us never saw our parents express any physical affection to one another and very few of us are comfortable displaying affection to our partners in public. This may seem like a personal choice but it speaks to a much deeper culture of shame, taboo and violence.
As a country we a have curious tendency to distract from all crime against women by turning it into a minefield to further our communal or political agendas. The same factions of the misogynistic patriarchy that led to Nikita Tomar’s death are out fighting love jihad in her name on the streets, but are women getting any safer because of it?
What is a “shared household” and how does it matter to you if you are a victim of domestic violence? A quick explainer on the recent Supreme Court judgement that reinterpreted the term “shared household” with regard to the right to residence for women in abusive relationships.
Arranged marriages still compromise over 90% of marriages in India, while this is often ascribed to women trusting their parents or just Indian culture, the truth is likely less rosy. Socio-political conservatism and the online dating meat-market often create an environment that is so hostile to and unsafe for dating, that arranged marriage still remains the safest and most reliable choice.
Every few months we hear of a brutal case of gangrape that involves a gruesome level of violence and we leave our houses to protest the injustice of it. Ultimately the nature and timing of our outrage creates this monolithic image of a rape victim and abandons the majority of rape survivors. Ranjhana Kumari of CSR weighs in on how outrage might be part of the reason why we are losing the fight against rape culture.