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2009 March 5 [Thursday]

Sexual assaults in public spaces

I've changed the title of this post thrice because I refuse to dilute sexual harassment and assaults by calling it eve-teasing -- sounds frivolous and trivialises crimes against women.

India in the 21'st century is definitely unsafe for women, even if she is accompanied by a man and nobody seems to care enough about public sexual harassment to act on it. I've had to warn many female (and male) friends visiting India to NOT travel alone or even in groups of 4-5 women as they dont know the local language and without men in their group its inviting trouble. Saying that about your country sucks big time.

On Monday after a protest was held outside the police commissioner's office, Shankar Bidari, the police commissioner of Bangalore said :

"Bangalore people are so cultured people they will never tolerate any indignity, harassment or assault on women. Even without police and without government, the dignity of women in Bangalore city is perfectly safe and protected,"

I wish !!  One of the women who was attacked describes her ordeal and after reading this article, its deeply disturbing that the PC who is responsible for the safety of the city's citizens has trivialized the issue with insensitive press statements but didnt the Home Minister Dr V S Acharya and District In-Charge Minister J Krishna Palemar called the pub attack and MLA’s daughter’s abduction as ‘small and common’ incidents and scream at the media reporter to "not waste his time with silly incidents" ?! There was a photograph of the Police Commissioner (check out "After hrs" last page of Bangalore edition of DNA newspaper dated 2009mar05) calmly enjoying the Mysore Maharaja's birthday bash on Tuesday at Palace Grounds Palace because : None of the women noted the assailants bike numbers, hence NOTHING can be done.

WRONG, Mr. Bidari, Bengaluru is not safe...... INDIA is not safe for women. I can narrate my experiences too BUT do you even want to listen to women like Archana and others who were attacked ?!

Join us :

Women in Bangalore are facing serious violence and attacks - for wearing jeans, going out in the streets, fighting back the moral police etc and we need to stop these attacks. This is a letter to the police commissioner/home minister/press release regarding the recent attacks on women in bangalore,

Endorse the petition at : http://www.petitiononline.com/petition.html


FRI, Mar06 :
Please come to ALF [Phone : 080-2286 5757] on Friday anytime between 2-6pm to make posters for the protest at the DGP'S office on saturday.. Charts and colours will be provided but feel free to bring your own and you can bring money you would like to contribute. Alternative Law Forum, 122/4 Infantry Road, (opposite Infantry Wedding House), Bangalore 560001, (nearest bus stop- Shivajinagar Depot)

SAT, March07:
1. Gather at Nrupathunga Road at 15:30.  (Parking available at YMCA, DG's office compound, etc.)  Stand on either side of the road, outside DG-IG's office, holding placards, silently.
2. Either the DG-IG comes out at 16:30 collects the memorandum and addresses the audience, or a small representative group goes in to his office when called and present the memorandum.
3. If the latter, then the representatives will address the gathering, when they come out.
4. Gathering shall disperse at 17:30.

SUN, March08:
0. On Sunday 2009March08, International Women's Day,members of the group and other citizens will walk down various prominent roads of the city. Its called "Take Back the Night Walk" and is being held by women to reclaim our lawful right to be safe at night across India. It starts at Indiranagar, Ulsoor and the other two places where the women were attacked
1. At 18:00, people will gather at the five locations as designated by the area coordinators.  They will interact with the audience (in as many languages as possible), and spread awareness about the various goals of the Fearless Karnataka campaign.   This will involve spreading of information flyers and testimonials, conducting bystander polls, and other such forms of interaction with the people on the streets.  This can go on till 20:00.  (Volunteers for poster-sticking will do so around this time.)
2. At 21:00, people gather at the designated spot in Majestic, bringing along with them necessities such as food, water, and community spirit.  There will be further performances, video projections (if possible), songs, and other such activities there.
3. This will go on till 23:00, when people will disperse in their vehicles (pooling as much as possible), in public transport, tempos (which are currently being investigated), etc.

[updated, from FKNK]

2009 February 9 [Monday]

Pink

I've always had an intense dislike for pink, "red" being a favourite but this post is not about my colour preferences. My last blog post on women being assaulted and the Sita Sene, elicted a response on irc from HBD that a women's gang already exists. Calling themselves the Gulabi Gang, these women form a co-operative of sorts to help suppressed women like themselves in UttarPradesh. Back home, our local chakkiwala is from UP so I must ask his wife about the GulabiGang. Gosh, the video with lathi-wielding lessons are cool but someone should teach these women better self-defence techniques, especially sans weapons. Women can but its inconvenient to walk around with a lathi always.... but I digress. If the lathi delivers results for them, it stays :)

Moving south, as if the assault on the MLA's daughter was not enough, now the RamaSene plans to send hooligans to spy on Bangaloreans on 14feb. These thugs will be armed with turmeric (yeah in their excitement the culture-vultures forgot the difference between kumkum and turmeric) and anyone found celebrating Valentine's day, would be forced to marry each other. Huh?....right there on the road? So what will the sene-thug do if they find : two men are holding hands, a brother and sister are holding hands, two women are holding hands or an already married couple are holding hands? ...Erm... Will they be forced to apply kumkum turmeric and marry each other? On a pedantic note, between two men holding hands, which man gets to be the man(?), since its usual practice for a man to apply the kumkum on the woman's forehead. Now the Taliban-Sene has to use this body part (instead of brawn) to realise that the religion they (mis)use does not discriminate .... Nature is cruel, but ..wait, isnt nature feminine...?... so its all the loose woman's fault. Yeah, right !!

Renuka Chowdhary's threat to send roses to Muthalik on a day which very few celebrate was too simple so Nisha thinks he needs pink chaddis and if you are reading this, spread this message, by blogging, tweeting, etc.. and do your bit.

<Update> Since the Alternate Law Forum office in Bangalore was flooded they have requested that contributions be sent directly to the Taliban-Sene addressed to : Pramod Muthalik, Sri Rama Sene Chief, #11, Behind New Bus Stand, Gokhul Road, Near Lakshmi Park, HUBLI - Karnataka. </Update>

I'd rather see the police and judiciary react with more spine and keep these criminals behind bars but heck that seems like a remote possibility in India. These goons have never been to temples or noticed the idols of Durga and Kali, each of who carries multiple weapons and are especially known for their war-like ferocious nature. Someone should enroll these jokers for literature and history lessons and parcel them a copy of the Kamasutra with tickets to Khajuraho in MadhyaPradesh so they can get better acquainted with the real Indian culture. On the other hand, the truth about Vatsyayana being an A(ryan)merican Westerner out to corrupt the pure bharatiya nari (indian woman) might be revealed now.

2009 February 8 [Sunday]

Sita in an ice cube

Indian women are indeed blessed !! We now have a convict of the 1993 Bombay blasts contesting elections for a parliament membership, who opines that every Indian woman should give up her identity and take her husbands name after marriage. Pearl's of wisdom indeed ... from a man who has had multiple adulterous relationships whilst being married (thrice if you must know), an ex-drug addict who never bothered to care for his young daughter Trishala or wife Richa Sharma, both of whom were conveniently abandoned although he knew for years that Richa suffered from cancer. Morally inspiring for all those women in his life who hanker for dutt (pun intended) lastname, provided they manage to stick around dutt long.

Dutt may have munnabhai'ed the media and even ruffled Renuka Chowdhary's feather's, but it was definitely not enough masala for the media spotlight to dwell on him for long. The confused-plastic-faced-ac(h)tor-wannabe-politician was quickly upstarted by the street-thugs "Shri Rama Sene" in Karnataka.  India now has its very own homegrown wannabe "Taliban-Sene" who orchestrated and videotaped the molestation and attack of women in Mangalore in the name of god. Apparently physical violence and a public molestation of women is the easiest way to be in the news. Tsk-Tsk ...dutt's what happens if you wash Pri(vate)ya Dutt(y) linen in public, Sanju baba. Politics is gonna be a steep learning curve for you. If the Muthalik-meets-Dutt scenario had occurred some years ago, how many times would Dutt have been married off on Valentine's day ?? :-D

All in a Go(o)d days work, given that Indian politicians have certainly run out of issues to solve in the run up to elections, where the mastermind of the Mangalore attacks is known but yet is allowed to abscond. Targeting 49% of your population is good enough to get eye-balls, never mind that politicians dont have the balls to address important issues like eradicating corruption, ensuring proper supply of electricity, proper public infrastructure, good primary education, water and so many other social issues which jostle for attention...but none of these silly issues are as important as women visiting a pub.

Any woman who visits a pub instead of making rotis at home, feeding her husband and pressing his tired legs at night, is fit to be called a prostitute according to the Rama Sene while enlightened souls (in the NCW too) went a bit further to justify the attacks in the name of stemming immoral activity in the Mangalore pub. Since the police and judiciary have outsourced their work to local thugs and hooligans its high time the government stopped wasting the tax-payee's money on maintaining a police force and judiciary, both of who cannot ensure law and order nor keep justice. Well if India can be the outsourcing manna for the world why cant we outsource the police's work to these self-appointed custodians of Indian culture ?!? Think of the Tax benefits!!

Fundamentalist Hindu bigots == fanatical Islamic radicals ?! If there is a logic to the methodical madness being unleashed across each state one has to give credit to their inspirational idol, the Taliban. Nothing less will do. If the ShivSena and MNS in Maharashtra can rail and rant against the South Indians and then drive away the North Indians, then why should the wannabe-power-grabbing-southern-politician be left behind. He can jump onto the "lets control the corrupt Indian woman" bandwagon which is a problem that has taken on global hues today, with gullible Indian woman being lured by the foreign hand... what sacrilege!!

  • Mytholog(icall)y

Not to be left behind, some women feel they should form a Sita Sene to counter the increasing attacks on women and the debate on "Indian culture" is ferociously raging on the idiot box and in the print media. Every person I have met thus far, has an opinion (or two or three) by which time my grey cells stop parsing the string "indian culture" correctly. The word "culture" tickles my phunny bone (and I've been told I have f3w of those) enough to delve into some mythology since religion is the thread that binds retrograde chauvinists across the world masking their selfish desire for control and power.

Kalpana Sharma summarized it more eloquently :

The Sri Rama Sene is a fringe element. But lurking under the skin of many men, irrespective of caste or community, is a similar view of what women should and should not do. Men fear women’s autonomy, for, it challenges their power. And they fear women’s sexuality even more. Hence, the desire of fundamentalists of all types to control women’s sexuality.

Is that why every river has a feminine name and Earth is called MotherEarth and the country is called motherland and not FatherEarth and Fatherland respectively !? Culture-vultures never miss an opportunity to letch on mytholog(ical)y to explain that women should be frozen into this ice cube of patriarchy, certainly fit to be seen and admired, but she can never stir or voice herself.

Were the women of yore beautiful icy figurines trapped in an ice cube?

Not Sita, Rama's wife, who left her husband when he asked her for an "agnipariksha" (trial by fire) to prove her chastity. She epitomises the courage (that many Indian women lack) of leaving her twin sons with her husband Rama and returning to her mother's (Earth) after around 20+ years of marriage. 

Draupadi practised polyandry, perhaps the only woman with 5 husbands at a time when it was more common for men to practise polygamy. She is the only woman in mythology over whom a war, the Mahabharata, was fought to avenge an insult to her. In that epic, she refused to tie her hair until her insult was avenged.

Mirabai had no compunctions about leaving her husband for Krishna and would the brainless religious fundamentalist idiot dare to brek the idols in the Radha-Krishna temples(?), since Radha was never married to Krishna and left her husband for Krishna. Its called  adultery in English, but for millions of Indians the name Radha-Krishna is synonymous with love, bhakti and devotion.

Wendy surmises the position of women in Vedic literature, especially the Chandayoga Upanishad where Jabala asks her son to take her name so he calls himself "Satyakama Jabala (the son of Jabala)". Interestingly, dutt (pun intended) may have been completely missed instances in Indian mythology where the children take on the mothers name and not that of the father (who was sometimes unknown, or got just a passing reference....).

Gowriputra (son of Gowri, an epithet for Parvati, Ganesha's mother who is supposed to have sprang from the scurf of her body) ;

Krishna was called "Devakiputra" (son of Devaki) ;

Skanda, one born of 6 mothers ;

Pandavas were called Kuntiputra's ; ... so on...

The Sene has surely not seen this aspect of Hinduism.  Moving on to the men who are commonly addressed with the prefix Sri/Shri which is the feminine subjunctive in Sanskrit. It is also an epithet for Lakshmi whose husband (Vishnu) is commonly referred to as "Lakshmipati/Shripati" (the husband of Lakshmi) as is Sitapati (Husband of Sita).

Shiva's epithet is "Umapati", the husband of Parvati or Shakti (the female energy) without whom he is considered to be a shava (corpse). Are there instances of Parvati/Shakti being addressed as "Shivapatni"? Not that I know of.

There may be more but I am not inclined to dig out lores of yore when I can blithely snore away the night, sans the pita-pati (pun wholly intended).

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