December 09, 2018

Pink skies

On my way back from work

Pink streak

Sunset looks stunning from my bedroom window. I'll try to capture it on camera next time.
Morning view from the window
Sky is orange after sunset - View from kitchen

November 19, 2018

Happy Men's Day

Yesterday was Men's Day. Do men need a day to celebrate themselves? Of course. Everybody has the right to celebrate their identity.

Do men have anything to accomplish in terms of gender equality? Read this amazing post by IndianHomeMaker:

What do men need liberation from - link

One of the biggest lies anti-feminists tell you is that feminism is about men Vs women. Which it is not. It's about Patriarchy Vs  Equality.

For every woman who is tired of acting weak when she knows she is strong,
there is a man who is tired of appearing strong when he feels vulnerable.

For every woman who is tired of being called “an emotional female”,
there is a man who is denied the right to weep and to be gentle.

For every woman who is tired of being a sex object,
there is a man who must worry about his potency.

For every woman who is called unfeminine when she competes,
there is a man for whom competition is the only way to prove his masculinity.

For every woman who takes a step toward her own liberation,
there is a man who finds the way to freedom has been made a little easier. 

// - link

So happy men's day. Cheers to equality!

October 10, 2018

Honorable Ms. Gandhi, You're not helping

Like the many other 'well-intentioned'  misogynists, who want to 'balance their acts' by sending contradictory messages which claim that they are in favour of women empowerment and then act or support actions which do the opposite, you seem to be confused. You sending these signals is a matter of concern, because you're the standing Minister of Women and Child Development.

You said you are happy that there is a Me Too movement in India. I don't understand what you are happy about, when at the same time you also said that the campaign shouldn't "go out of control" and women should refrain from "targeting those who have offended them in some way" (meant to be 'some other way then sexual harassment') (link).

While there is nothing technically wrong with what you said, the context in which it was said and the deemed necessity on your part to state it specifically are very problematic to me. What is the Me Too movement (link) about? It is a movement which stemmed from the need to enable victims of sexual harassment or abuse to come out in the open with their stories and flag their abusers. Abusers could be anyone, including powerful or popular personalities, and in a movement like this one, such names are likely to come up because there has been no forum for women to talk about powerful men who violate them till now.

Ms. Gandhi, you must understand, not just because you are a woman but also because you're in a position of power and responsibility which can actually impact women of India in a meaningful way, that it is very hard to come out in the open as a victim of sexual assault. And the sure shot way to stall women from coming forward is by casting suspicions at victims's stories before even they are out already! By telling them to exercise caution and restraint, like sexual assaults are not under-reported enough already! What you've done is take an argument which rape apologists or assaulters routinely make in their defence and quote it in this context to delay the process of victims coming out in the open.

And it happens with every narration of sexual assault. 

May be she is just making it up...

May be she was 'asking for it'...

May be she provoked him 'somehow'...

Especially with famous / powerful personalities. 

He doesn't seem like a rapist.

The trend to is call the victim a liar, till so many victims come out in the open that it becomes hard to deny the allegations (link). And lots of people ask this question - why didn't they come out before? The thing is - it is very common for abuses perpetrated by an assaulter to be mass reported, because the first incidence of reporting emboldens others to follow. It is a natural reaction, and there is nothing illogical in this pattern. Needless interrogations around this line from public are nothing but victim blaming and distractions from the real issue.

// Rape culture is pervasive insistence that false reports are common, although they are less common (1.6%) than false reports of auto theft (2.6%). Rape culture is pervasive claims that women make rape accusations willy-nilly, when 61% of rapes remain unreported. ...

Rape culture is the pervasive narrative that a rape victim who reports hir rape is readily believed and well-supported, instead of acknowledging that reporting a rape is a huge personal investment, a difficult process that can be embarrassing, shameful, hurtful, frustrating, and too often unfulfilling. Rape culture is ignoring that there is very little incentive to report a rape; it's a terrible experience with a small likelihood of seeing justice served. // - link

Those statistics above are based on US, but the situation in India is not any different. We all know how under-reported sexual assaults are, and how low the chances of conviction are. 

So the last thing I want is for the Women and Child Development minister to give unnecessary emphasis to false accusations when she is supposed to be speaking in support of a movement which helps victims of assault reveal their stories and assaulters. That's rape culture for you, served with a twist. Sick of it.

Related posts:
1. Shh.. Don't make a scene..... - link
2. Rape Culture 101 by Melissa McEwan (must read) - link
3. In response to 'What exactly happened on 2017 New Year's Eve in Bengaluru? What could be the causes of this?' on Quora - link

September 28, 2018

In more good news today...

// The Supreme Court in a majority opinion of 4:1 on Friday, lifted the centuries-old practice of prohibiting women from the age of menarche to menopause to enter the Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala in Kerala. // - link

// It said that exclusion on grounds of biological and physiological features like menstruation was unconstitutional. It amounted to discrimination based on a biological factor exclusive to gender. It was violative of the right to equality and dignity of women. //

And the best of all, for addressing the issue of celibacy, see the even better separate but concurring opinion from Justice Chandrachud:

// He said the logic behind the ban was that presence of women deviated men from celibacy. This was placing the burden of a men's celibacy on women thus, stigmatising women and stereotyping them. //


// Justice Indu Malhotra, the lone woman judge on the Constitution Bench, dissented from the majority opinion. She held that the determination of what constituted an essential practice in a religion should not be decided by judges on the basis of their personal viewpoints. She held that essentiality of a religious practice or custom had to be decided within the religion. It was a matter of personal faith. India was a land of diverse faiths. Constitutional morality in a pluralistic society gave freedom to practice even irrational or illogical customs and usages. //

Related posts:

1. Good job SC on scrapping adultery, let's criminalise marital rape too soon - link
2. Finally something right is happening! - link

September 27, 2018

Good job SC on scrapping adultery, let's criminalise marital rape too soon

Wow.... SC seems to be on form. First scrapping section 377 (link) and now scrapping adultery law (link). Something good seems to be happening in our country, finally.

Section 497 of the IPC:

// Adultery.—Whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offense of rape, is guilty of the offense of adultery, and shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both. In such case the wife shall not be punishable as an abettor. // - link

So what's the problem?

 // Only an adulterous woman’s husband could prosecute her lover, though she could not be punished; an adulterous man’s wife had no such right. //

// Her affair with another would not amount to adultery if it had the consent of her husband. “The history of Section 497 reveals that the law on adultery was for the benefit of the husband, for him to secure ownership over the sexuality of his wife,” Justice D.Y. Chandrachud wrote. “It was aimed at preventing the woman from exercising her sexual agency.” // - link

And this is what the court opined:

// Offense of adultery treats women as a chattel and dents their dignity. //

// How couples deal with adultery is absolutely a matter of privacy. //

// Adultery remains ground for divorce. //

Read more here - link

Looks like it's not long before marital rape is criminalised as well. Fingers crossed.

// In Thursday’s judgment, Justice Chandrachud noted: “Sexual autonomy constitutes an inviolable core of the dignity of every individual. At the heart of the constitutional rights guaranteed to every individual is a primacy of choice and the freedom to determine one’s actions. Curtailing the sexual autonomy of a woman or presuming the lack of consent once she enters a marriage is antithetical to constitutional values.” // - link

And what else is pending? Decriminalising consensual sex between minors is due, to add to list of scraping laws which criminalise consensual sex.

Where consensual sex is rape and forced sex is legal right - link

Related posts:

1. When a woman talks about her sex life as her choice, Patriarchy's control over female sexuality is challenged - link
2. In more good news today... - link
3. Finally something right is happening! - link

September 07, 2018

Finally something right is happening!

Thank God for small mercies! A much awaited victory for the LGBTQ community:

// In a unanimous 5-0 verdict, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra led justices RF Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra in declaring that a two-judge bench's decision in December 2013 in the Suresh Koushal case, which had recriminalised section 377, "was arbitrary, fallacious and retrograde. //

Read more heartening details here - link

Teaspoon by teaspoon, we will make progress... There's a long road to cover.... Someday, hopefully not too far in the future, we will stop giving legal sanctions to marital rape.

For now, let's celebrate and rejoice in this progress we made as a country towards implementing human rights. Cheers and happy weekend folks!

August 30, 2018

Shhh.. Don't make a scene.....

Why didn't I say anything - Don't make a scene...

I was travelling in an auto alone in Mumbai recently and all was well till we were 10 mins due to reach my destination: Hiranandani hospital. And then this conversation happened:

Driver:     'Madam, yeah itna bada building hotel hai kya?'
Me:          'Nahi yeah hospital hai'
Driver:     'Par itna bada hai - idhar aap rehte ho'
Me:          'Nahi main Vikhroli mein rehti hoon'
Driver:     'Idhar rooms nahi hote hain kya'
Me:          'Haan par woh patients jo admit hote hain unke liye hain. Yahaan koi rehta nahi. Shayad kuch resident doctors quarters mein rehte hai'
Driver:     'Aap phir Vikhroli jaaoge na?' (indicating if he should wait for return)
Me:          'Haan par mujhe time lagega. Atleast half an hour so aap chale jao' (indicating I don't want him to wait)

English translation:
Driver:     'Madam, is this big building a hotel?'
Me:          'No this is a hospital'
Driver:     'But it's so big. Do you stay here'
Me:          'No I stay in Vikhroli'
Driver:     'Are there any rooms here'
Me:         'Yes but those are for patients who get admitted. Nobody stays here. May be some resident doctors stay in their quarters that's all'
Driver:     'You'll go to Vikhroli after this?' (indicating if he should wait for return)
Me:         'Yes but my work will take time - atleast half an hour so you leave' (indicating I don't want him to wait)

This is when the conversation got weird:

Driver:     'Main rookta hoon aap ke liye'
Me:          'Nahi aap chale jao. Mujhe pata nahi kitna time lagega. Bahut time lag sakta hai'
Driver:     'Jitna bhi ho - ek ghanta chahiye to main ek ghanta rookonga'

English translation:
Driver:     'I will wait for you'
Me:          'No you leave. I don't know how long I will take. It can be very long'
Driver:     'However much - if you say one hour I will wait for one hour'

I was desperately trying to pretend this is a totally normal conversation.

Me:          'Nahi mera time ka mujhe idea nahi hai abhi aur kaam hai. Aap ko yaha passenger aasani se mil jayega. Wait karna waste hai aapko. Aap bas idhar rok dijiye' 
[English:  'No I am not sure about how long and besides I have some work. You can get another passenger very easily here. It would be useless for you to wait. Please stop just here' ]

We were entering the hospital now....

And here comes the most objectionable statement:

Driver:     'Par aap jaisa passegnger nahi milegi na' (with an extremely creepy expression on his face which I pretended to not notice. I really wanted to get out now.)
[English: 'But I won't get another passenger like you']

Me:         'Mil jayega aap ko passenger. Lo mil gayi...' [English: 'You will get another passenger. See there she is...']

Another woman who was almost my age was approaching the auto when she noticed I was getting down. I got down immediately and allowed her to get in.

On my way back, I felt very let down at what I did. I should have warned that other woman to not get into this auto - there were so many other autos available for her. In my desperation to escape, I just allowed her to potentially suffer. I can excuse myself for not doing anything when the auto was moving; But I should have warned or scolded the auto driver after getting down once I knew I was safe. That would have taught him that what he did doesn't fly. I didn't do any of that. My instinctive reaction when any of these things happened to me has always been to smother those incidents, like I did this time. Because nobody else should know that something ugly happened to me. I shouldn't make a scene and attract attention. Because deep down, at some sub-conscious level, I believe that these things happen to me because I did something wrong to evoke bad behaviour from the offender. It's My Fault theory has been ingrained in me so strongly. I can reason with myself later but the instinct cannot be overcome. The immediate reaction has always been the same. I don't want to admit even to myself that something wrong happened because it's ugly. Hence I don't want to admit it to anyone else, and I am more worried about others judging me rather than the offender for being wrong. So after all this, it mattered to me what people think, and that stopped me from not reprimanding any of the offenders.

This is not to say that I judge all the other women for not raising their voice when they've been offended or violated. I must know, by now, how hard it must be. I am doing this post to make people understand how hard it is for a woman to come forward and complain about assaults in a society which constantly tells you that it's your sole responsibility to ensure you're not violated and if you are, then you must have done something wrong. May be you have not followed the rules.  May be you shouldn't have entertained any conversation with an auto driver. Fear of social stigma is so real, that even in such a trivial incident where I really didn't have much to lose had I reprimanded him, I didn't do that. Along with the social stigma, it's the inner barricade that needs to be overcome...Again, I am not saying that it's the women's fault in not raising their voice. It's very important to understand part of my reaction was driven by the fact that if I did make a scene, I really wasn't sure whose side people would be on. 

It's just that..... When I started understanding feminism, I realised the exact same equation about how letting offenders get away encourages more offenders to commit more serious offences. I looked back at all the times I have been violated and felt the exact same inadequacy in my response. I told myself after analysing the past that I was younger, less confident and more vulnerable when those incidents happened so it was okay for me to react the way I did.  I resolved that if anything like it happens in future again, I wouldn't react so meekly. I've been through this curve now. But here I am, a 29 year old, financially independent feminist and a mother of twins, and I still didn't react adequately when I was offended. I am writing about this for salvation. Hopefully, if I encounter anything like this in future, I will overcome my inner instinct.

Related posts:

1. Fifty five word fiction: What did the girl learn? - link 

2. Understanding feminism, sexism and sexual assault series: Part I - link

March 08, 2018

A moment of gratitude and empathy: Celebrating the spirit of Women's Day

Here's how I want to celebrate women's day.

This is for all the feminists who broke the norms throughout history to achieve something like equality for us today. I cannot express my gratitude for you enough.

To all those inspirational names in history who have given the women of today someone to look upto, and to all those nameless, faceless spirits whose pages have faded away in history, to the conscious fighters, the suffragettes and the open rebels who fought for what was right and due, and to the modest movers who took small steps towards personal liberation without even knowing they were fighting for feminism....

Every small step you've taken has taken humanity closer to achieving equality. I may not have known you, I may not have seen you, the world or history may not to recognise your names or faces, but I am aware that even my basic rights like voting, financial independence and education are privileges hard-earned through your struggles in the course of your lifetimes. Everyone of you did your part, and you have all collectively made this world better in your own special ways.

I understand that the struggle has not ended, and this world still has a long way to go before it can be called a just world for people of all genders. In my own country, marital rape is a legal right, and as I write, I am aware that there are many, many women in this world who do not share the same privileges as I do because basic rights are privileges often denied for women. There are many who are deprived of education, and many who are denied the right to vote, and many who do not get paid as much as a man for doing the same amount of work, and many who are denied to be born. The right to live with dignity is a privilege in reality for many women.

I am also aware that there are many feminists in this world today, who are striving to make this world a better place, each in their own personal way. I want to express my solidarity to their cause and I want to tell them that I am one of them...

Even though I don't know each of you personally, each of you have touched my life and the lives of all the women in very special ways and have changed my life forever. Every small step taken by each of you to our collective cause sustains us all.

This is to the women of today and yesterday, who have persevered against discrimination to create a fair world. The world is far from fair when it comes to gender discrimination. A perfectly fair world for all cannot be achieved in a single lifetime. It takes a different kind of perseverance to fight for something which may not be attained in your lifetime, and to still persist for what is right and due. Your endurance is beyond inspiring. I too will try to endure. I too will try to do my part, and become a drop in the ocean.

Every woman in this world would have suffered discrimination knowingly or unknowingly sometime in her life. To everyone of you, those who are feminists and those who are not, those who are aware  that they are facing discrimination and those who are not... There are times when you suffer from discrimination and try to consciously or unconsciously oppose the injustice imposed on you. This is my oath to you, that during those times, irrespective of who you are and what you are as a person, you deserve my unconditional empathy. I want to tell you that you are unequivocally right when you question why you should be denied what is due to you purely because of your gender. Let the whole world tell you otherwise and make you question your sense of unfairness. I want to tell you that you don't / didn't deserve to suffer because of discrimination. Even if justice is unattainable to you, sense of righteousness is empowering. I am telling you - During those moments where your conscience guides you to question or oppose what is wrong, you are right. And you are a feminist whether you know it or not, even if it is for those few moments.

Now I want to express my special gratitude to all the bloggers who have opened my eyes by introducing me to feminism and making me understand what it means to be a woman.

Indianhomemaker - link

Melissa McEwan - link

The Belle Jar - link

And to the many authors whose posts enlightened me on many aspects of feminism and rape culture.

I owe you feminism :) May fairness prevail! Happy women's day to all!

January 22, 2017

In response to 'What exactly happened on 2017 New Year's Eve in Bengaluru? What could be the causes of this?' on Quora

Trigger warning: Rape apologia, Misogyny
Content note: Long post

By now, it is old news that the ugly colors of gender inequality have shown themselves in the form of molestation on New Year's eve in Bengaluru (link).  What is worse now is, that the ugly colors of rape apologetic attitudes and regressive notions on how women should cover / lock themselves up to 'prevent' sexual harassment (and thereby implying that those women who did not do so were / are responsible for crimes against themselves) have remained unchanged. Four years after Nirbhaya (link), not much has changed. The proof of it can be seen in the Quora post (link) which I am responding to which asserts that women locking themselves up is a solution to prevent sexual assaults, and the number of people who have up-voted it, and the number of people who empathised with the author's views in their replies (some replies rightly criticise the author but many more support or agree with him). The fact that this post features as one of the top results in Google search when I search for "what happened in bengaluru on new year's eve", and the number of up-votes means that many people seem to be taking these arguments seriously, and I want to express my disagreement as strongly as I can here.

Quotes from the original post in black italics and my responses in bold red.

// Clash of cultures. Something similar to what happened on New Year Eve in Cologne and other German cities last year. Or something that the 16 December gangrapists had planned. FUN, as they call it. //

It is not not 'clash of cultures'. It is a conflict between a regressive mindset which asserts that women who violate unspecified rules, such as coming out at night, enjoying at parties, and so on deserve to be violated, and expression of right to freedom by the women who directly challenged these 'rules' by engaging in 'unacceptable' activities. It is a confrontation to existing power-domination equation. The rapists of 16 December, or the attackers on New Year eve violated women because they couldn't stand women disobeying their 'rules' and believed that those women deserve to be punished for it. They couldn't stand their power and control over women being challenged and they violated their victims' dignity by assaulting them in an attempt to subjugate them. More importantly, they were aware that they could get away with their actions, because they knew that society would blame the victims instead by questioning them for disobeying 'rules', thereby making these women vulnerable targets. 

"The rapists often don't see their actions as crimes, the police said, and don't expect the victims to report them" - link to post by IHM
// Before the IT revolution, before the assimilation of Western culture in our lives, Bengaluru was also like a typical Indian city. For those, who were teenagers in 90s, New Year meant watching some crappy special TV shows on 31st, sleeping as peacefully as any other day, getting up on Jan 1, wishing your family “Happy New Year” and resuming your daily schedule. It is now that the New Year eve celebrations have become as big for Indian youth as they are for the West. Just like thousands of people wildly celebrate at Times Square, similarly, we too have started following them and started celebrating at city centres like MG Road in Bengaluru (which is used to have a casual gathering in 90s) or Connaught Place in Delhi. //
Women have been raped and molested in India before the IT revolution as well (link). Gandhiji famously stated that India will be free when the women feel safe to walk in the streets of India India in midnight. He said so because he was disturbed by the state of sexual crimes and lack of women's safety in the country.
Besides, where does one draw the line to define 'Western culture'? There was a point in time when even education and financial independence of women was seen (is still seen by many) as against 'our culture'. There was a time when widow remarriages and prohibition of Sati were seen as intrusion of Western culture into our society. Despite being illegal, child marriages are rampant in India to this day due to widespread cultural and social support. Recently, Indian government has issued a statement to support marital rape by stating that criminalising marital rape would weaken the institution of marriage (link). Does all this mean that we should advocate conduction of child marriages till the time all parents are educated about the perils of the same? How then are we going to educate parents about why child marriages are wrong, if we continue to advocate that we conduct them till parents are educated?! Advocating that women must lock themselves up or obey unsaid set of rules to prevent themselves from being assaulted, till the criminals are educated that they will be held accountable for assaults, is the same thing, it's the same argument, a non-solution.

Cultural differences do not and should not give anyone the right to violate human rights of those who are different from them. They must never be used to attempt to justify such acts as well.

// This is not wrong on part of the independent youth who get another opportunity to take a break from their mundane lives, roam around with their friends and enjoy a bit. But in eyes of people with older mindset, for the slum dwellers; these things have a different meaning. For them, all the woman who are partying with their friends have a loose character and will most probably get laid with their male partners tonight. // 
They need to be told that women have the right to consent or dissent to participate in sexual activities with (m)any partner(s) any time. They need to be told by every channel that it is a crime to assault a woman without her consent, for which they will be held accountable and punished. And this message needs to be instilled through strict implementation of the law. More importantly, we as a society need to tell them that the character of the woman in question is not relevant by holding the assaulters, and the assaulters alone accountable for the crime. Asking women to lock themselves up and laying down suggestions rules for women to obey (such as avoiding parties) would only encourage these criminals, as they realise that they find social support when they assault women who disobey those 'rules'.

// New Year celebrations, unlike Diwali or Eid, dont have any religious element associated with them and hence the concept of sin is easily forgotten by such hypocrites. // 

Men molesting women is mainly a function of how easy it is for them to get away with their crime. Their restraint is not caused because of their personal beliefs, but because they sense that social support is less likely when they assault women who are adhering to unspecified rules (read participating in 'socially acceptable' activities like religious ceremonies). When we as a society condemn their crimes equally strongly for assaulting any woman under any circumstances (party or not, drinking or not), they would refrain from assaults.

Besides, women and children are molested at cultural / religious gatherings such as dandiya (link), ganesh chaturthi celebrations (link), diwali parties (link), apart from a whole lot public spaces, including bus-stops, colleges, schools and trains. And many women are raped by their own husbands in India by virtue of the power granted to the husband through the cultural institution of marriage.

// Open consumption of alcoholic beverages also sends a message to these petty goons, who consider it a signal from womenAlso, public gatherings at night like these give them a mask of anonymity to attempt molestation, which if they tried on any normal day would invite severe retribution from public. //

Sexual crimes aren't perpetrated by one single social class of men against one single class of women. 
"Studies find 98% of India rape victims knew their attacker" - Link to post by IHM
"Home most unsafe place for women : A unique court-ordered study by Delhi police revealed" - Link to post by IHM

Men who are accustomed to being in the company of women who drink also molest and rape them (link), at times in private gatherings or at their own homes (link). Child sexual abuse is rampant in India (link). Many tribal women are raped due to social oppression (link, link).

And to what extent can public gatherings be avoided? It is a complete myth that the problem of street sexual harassment is prevalent only at night times. Molestation and harassment are common in every public space one can think of, including trains (linklink), buses (link), colleges (link), streets, parties, parks, queues, temples (link) and so on. I can speak from personal experience that I have been molested in trains, in buses, in an amusement park, at a house-party, at my own home by a random stranger, even when I was a minor, and I have also witnessed many cat-calls in my college.

//Bengaluru police has still not registered cases of molestation. They need to take suo motto and hunt each and everyone of those involved, just like police in Germany did. Otherwise, it will only bolster these criminals and then there will be nothing stopping Bengaluru to go down Delhi’s path.//

Completely agree. This is most important.

// All civilized people, especially young women should avoid attending such gatherings which have a history of hooliganism. //

All civilised people should actually respect human rights and stop molesting, assaulting and violating women or anyone else. They should also stop encouraging such hooliganism by strongly advocating for strict punishments to criminals instead of giving out a handbook for women to obey so that they're not violated.

//  And for the same reason you avoid going to ISIS controlled Iraq. //

India is not an ISIS controlled Iraq. If we want to claim that we are a civilised society and a functional democracy which values human rights, we as a society and a nation need to behave responsibly and ensure human dignity is not violated. So instead of advocating women to compromise on right to freedom, it is better to ensure those rights are not violated by giving out message to men that they will be punished for doing so. Also, avoiding going to Iraq which is a far-far away land is not practically the same thing as 'avoiding public spaces' in the country where you live. Women's daily movements are restricted because of molestation and sexual assaults.

// Before, all the feminist guns start blazing at me, let me clarify that I too support freedom of women. //

Feminism is not a dirty word. It is the idea that all human beings should have equal social, economic and political rights. Supporting freedom of women means supporting the idea that women's movements should not be restricted by threats of violence against them when they engage in certain activities (like celebrating New Year's eve). Advocating that women should lock themselves up, and thereby placing the responsibility for crimes against them back on themselves, is the opposite of supporting freedom of women.

// I too support that men, especially these uncultured feudal ones should be educated. //

It shouldn't stop with educating them. Men who violate women need to be told that they have no right to do so and be strictly punished by the law. Otherwise, when they get away with one assault, they realise that it is easy to get away and commit more heinous crimes.

// I too support that women should walk without fear. But do we have the resources to ensure so? We dont have enough police to take care of severe murder cases, let alone molestation. //

Then we need to work on building the resources to do so. It is not just about lack of resources, it is about the attitude of police. Complaints are not lodged and swift action is rare. Low conviction rates further demotivate victims to report an already much under-reported crime in the country.

"So how does Delhi - NCR Police define rape" - Link to IHM's post 
"When they don't even understand crime, how are they ever going to begin controlling it? - Link to IHM's post

Gender sensitisation is required at an institutional level, so that police start taking these crimes seriously. Police reforms need to be implemented to ensure authorities enforce the law.

'Murder cases first', cannot be used a justification to make police devoid of the responsibility with which they are entrusted. In this case, police did not lodge complaints till several days after news has been circulated.

I blogged about why eve teasing
 sexual harassment on the streets should not be taken lightly and how letting it go unpunished encourages rape apologetic social attitudes and emboldens criminals to commit more heinous sexual crimes (link).

// Can all these hooligans be civilized within a week, or month or fortnight? It will take a generation. //
So should half the population pay the price by giving up on their own rights and dignity? And how much locking up is possible? Women are routinely groped, molested, cat-called and jeered at in buses, trains, bus-stops, metros, colleges, workplaces, queues, parks, on the way to their workplaces (link), when walking on the streets for carrying on their daily activities. Should we apply Taliban rules and stop educating women, and stop 'allowing' women to be financially independent, "for their own good"? But even in countries where women are required to be covered from head to toe and follow all these rules, women are not safe (link, link). 

Suggesting that women stay away from the criminals will place the burden of responsibility on the victims, and would further embolden those hooligans, when they learn that women will be questioned and blamed for being assaulted. How are they ever going to be civilised if we continue to keep advising women to avoid the very same activities which make them deserving of assault in the eyes of those hooligans? Wouldn't those hooligans find validation of their pervasive notions when we extend passive support by suggesting women to be restrained, instead of punishing the criminals?

// How many of the ladies can hire security guards just like the ranting feminists of TV studios?  //

If presence of security force helps protect women's rights, the solution is for the administrative system to tighten measures to increase women's security, and not locking women up by asking them to not party or gather at public spaces.

// The simple thing is unite, become a woman vote bank and make women security an election demand. // 

Women's security is not the only objective. We're seeking empowerment. Even when women's security is made as a serious election demand, politicians and officials with confused understanding of what comprises right to freedom and security, like this author, may advocate even legally banning women from public spaces or night parties to 'prevent' sexual assaults. Even now, both the major national political parties have supported decriminalising marital rape, despite Nirbhaya case protests and recommendations of Justice Verma committee. They have criminalised consensual sex between minors and decriminalised marital rape to 'prevent rape'.

Where Consensual Sex is Rape, and Forced Sex a legal right - Link to IHM's post

"Protection and empowerment are two different things, and perhaps don't always go together' - Link to IHM's post

Pubs in Andhra officially Reserved for Men? - Link to IHM's post

// Till then, avoid walking in such filthy traps. I know, it violates zillions of your constitutional rights mentioned in Class XII political science textbook but in our country, these rights are only on paper. We dont have the will or manpower for their implementation. This is not a permanent solution but a preventaive measure to buy time till solutions are implemented. Till a cure of AIDS is not found, it is better to compromise on your right of having unprotected sex . Prevention is better than cure. Stay safe. //

Being infected with AIDS because of consensual, unprotected sex based on personal judgement is not a violation of one's rights. Whereas being assaulted for celebrating New Year's is a gross violation of one's right to dignity and freedom.

We are not seeking 'prevention' at the expense of violation of human rights. Asking women to stay at home or face threats of assault is as gross a violation of human rights as assaulting women. We are seeking empowerment to be able to move freely and securely without having to face threats of assault and risk being blamed for it. Prevention is not even practical in this case. If I were to avoid all the spaces where I could potentially get assaulted, I would never leave my house where my husband has legal rights to rape me under the current Indian law.

Slavery could never have been banned if slaves were 'suggested' to adjust and continue serving their masters till masters are educated about the wrong aspects of slavery. Likewise, if women are 'suggested' to stay away from public spaces to 'avoid' assaults, assaulters will never learn that they are wrong in assaulting a woman irrespective of what they think of the woman's character.

Author has added this Edit after some replies criticised his stance: //It seems from the comments that advising (and not dictating) people to have situational awareness, asking them to analyze and foresee hazardous situations is itself a crime. //

Women have been 'advised' since centuries to follow umpteen number of rules by patriarchal societies, lest they be assaulted or punished for their disobedience and be blamed for crimes against themselves. At the risk of sounding politically incorrect, I think it would be better for confused people such as this author to refrain from passing on their 'suggestions' till they fully understand the importance of uncompromisingly upholding human rights.

Recommended reads:

1. A response to: Why we think women activists should change their attitude of "Wear what you think - Link to IHM's post

2. Watch Satyamev Jayate episode on Fighting rape to fully understand how rape culture works in our country - Link

Related posts:

1. If every we dealt with every act of sexual harassment this way .... - Link

January 05, 2017

Aahista chal zindagi - A new year treat

As a new year treat, I am sharing this beautiful poem written by an anonymous poet. I actually came across it on Whatsapp during last new year when it was being circulated. The forward says it's written by Gulzar but I couldn't trace any source to confirm this, and any original source to link this to, so I am just pasting it here - It doesn't matter who wrote it. It is as beautiful as it is touching:

Aahista chal zindagi, abhi kai karz chukana baaki hai
Kuch dard mitana baaki hai, kuch farz nibhana baaki hai
Raftaar mein tere chalne se kuchh rooth gaye, kuch chhoot gaye
Roothon ko manana baaki hai, roton ko hasana baki hai
Kuch hasraatein abhi adhuri hain, kuch kaam bhi aur zaruri hai
Kuch rishte ban kar toot gaye, kuch judte-judte chhoot gaye

Un toote-chhoote rishton ke zakhmon ko mitana baki hai
Tu aage chal main aata hoon, kya chhod tujhe ji paunga?
In saanson par haqq hai jinka, unko samjhaana baaki hai
Aahista chal zindagi, abhi kai karz chukana baki hai

So how does the new year feel? To me, it feels like one of my favorite songs which soothes the mind, stirs the soul and gives hope. Music defines a language of its own and speaks differently to everyone, and somehow, I never found Phir Le Aaya Dil to be a tragic romantic song. Rekha Bharadwaj's voice captivated me first and the lyrics made me fall in love with the song. The lines make me introspect, seek hope and calm myself. The music and Rekha Bharadwaj's voice sound at once both reflective and hopeful, as though one is trying to seek lost memories and fulfil the past.

Enjoy listening to it here - I particularly love Rekha Bharadwaj's rendering of this song: link

Sharing my favorite lines in the long penned by Sayeed Quadri:

Dil keh raha use maqammal kar bhi aao woh jo adhoori si baat baaki hai.. woh jo adhoori si yaad baaki hai....
Dil keh raha use mayassar kar bhi aao woh jo dabi si aas baaki hai.. woh jo dabi si aanch baaki hai....
Dil keh raha use musalsal kar bhi aao woh jo rooki si raah baaki hai.. woh jo rooki si chaah baaki hai....

The heart seeks me to fulfil that unfulfilled matter, that unfulfilled memory....
The heart seeks me to unveil that suppressed desire, that suppressed flame....
The heart seeks me to complete that unfinished path, that unfulfilled desire....

Note: If there is any authentic source which establishes the original source for the poem I shared, please notify me. I would be more than happy to link it here or take permission from the author.

Related posts:

1. Happy new year - Link