What is India doing for its pornstars?

porns in India, pornography in India, HIV, HIV AIDS india, HIV in northeastern states, HIV mizoram
Blog 2
Around 2.1 million people in India live with HIV. (Image Source: A porn site)

Nothing.  India’s legislative is not doing anything for its porn stars. The legal system protects its sex workers but it is failing to do anything about the booming porn industry of India, the real losers being, the porn stars who have not yet even found a mention in the constitution.

Who are pornstars?

Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus in the documentary ‘Hot Girls Wanted’ documented the lives of girls who are lured by green bills in the industry only to realise that the industry is patriarchal, feeds to the patriarchal mindset and is demeaning.

The documentary explains that porn stars are people who want to earn to be able to sustain themselves, who want to assert themselves and some look at this industry as any other industry and want to earn a name.

Are Pornstars Prostitutes?

No. Pornstars want to be filmed expressing their desires; at least that is the expectation they come in this industry with. And prostitutes want to earn money in exchange for sex.

But the fine line between pornstars and prostitutes in a situation where the legal system does not protect the pornstars leaves them more vulnerable.

Why do pornstars need protection?

1. The lack of legal framework for any industry adversely affects the freedom and rights of people involved.

Just like in economics a new base year is chosen every now and then to include the value added by recently invented commodities, the legal system of India also need to keep evolving in order to remain relevant. And it does. But some industries where human rights are at stake, such an issue requires desperate attention.

2. India has the third highest HIV epidemic in the world. Around 2.1 million people in India live with HIV.

A Lok Sabha reply revealed that the two major reasons for rising of HIV patients and the emergence of three Northeastern States as ‘HIV Hotspots’ are- Injecting Drug Users and Unsafe Sexual Practices.

India has a 90-90-90 target under the UNAIDS programme which has its deadline in another 2 years. Its target says,

  • “By 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status.
  • 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy.
  • 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression”

But the ground reality is nowhere near to the target. Mizoram’s Aizwal district itself has the HIV prevalence of 24.68% as compared with 1.6% for other sites in the country.

Once the production of porn is recognised as an industry and once the workers are protected, India can regulate the industry and more effectively work to combat the spread of HIV.

3. Pornography is prevalent but is still a taboo in the society, many in the industry are exploited and find it impossible to get out of the web.

A Pornstar must be treated with the same dignity as an engineer. And why not? What is the rationale behind treating people differently for their profession? However, there is a long way for the Indian society to reach that point. But, a set of exclusive rights for them is the need of the hour.

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A case for Ministry of Men and Social Development

MEN AP

A good thing about classrooms is that they are mostly full of thinking people. Here, one is constantly encouraged to challenge its own notions, acknowledge the problem and find a solution. But, unfortunately not many like to go to schools, even less like to attend classes and others simply do not get a chance.

A recent survey ASER revealed that although 86% of students are enrolled in a formal education system and there is no gender gap between male and female enrolment until the age of 14. However, at the age of 18, 32% of females as against 28% males are not enrolled, the predominant reason for girls being ‘Family Constraint’.

Needless to say, ‘Family Constraint’ could mean being forced to take care of younger siblings, cooking while parents work, child marriage and even being sold into prostitution.

Not surprisingly enough, reason always boils down to being asked to do or to not to do something by the patriarchal household and since this situation is not limited to rural, poor or uneducated households, I would like to bring to table a systematic way of managing patriarchy, boosting economy and most importantly combating gender-based crime where, though men and women both fall victim, women are most likely to be adversely affected, given the historical reasons.

And with this, I establish men here are the reason for the low rate of development among women, their dependency, and their lack of employability.

India slips 21 spots in the WEF Gender Gap Index

Social media exposes people to all kinds of audiences and I have been exposed to some really filthy ones where talking about feminism has been looked so down upon that it feels I am being buried under atmospheric pressure itself. I have been shut up and ridiculed but thanks to my classroom, I have learned to be a patient listener.

Dropping the F-bomb: Feminism and why we need it

The Argument

Feminism means equality and if women are the victims of gender biases, so are men.

If men feel that it is okay for them to assault a woman to punish her, to scare her, to laugh at her, and to control what she does all her life, then it is mental problem and men are the victims and this stands true for men across the borders.

Questions about why boys are dropping out of schools, why are they becoming alcoholics, drug addicts, can they earn for themselves, can they take care of their children, are they capable of being single parents in India or abroad [Protecting children from ‘abduction’ ], why are they raping women, who is educating them, what are they taught, are we educating them right, why are they becoming criminals- are often left unanswered because the government is focussing only on one part of the society i.e the women.

General Inference

Most men, on failing to impress their patriarchal heads, build up anger. They hide their feelings and it disturbs them, which ultimately turns them into anti-social elements.

Think teenage boys who are bullied, or even raped, would they protect their pride or would they report the crime?

Think men who are assaulted by their wives.

Think men who are harassed in the name of anti Dowry laws.

The need for Ministry of Men and Development

I would like to further substantiate my argument by quoting Ajaz Ashraf, a Delhi based journalist who explored Nathuram Godse’s personal history and his idea of sexuality in his article Why did Nathuram Godse kill Mahatma Gandhi? Ashraf quotes Ashis Nandy who in his book At The Edge of Psychology, wrote, “Perhaps it was given in the situation that Nathuram would try to regain the lost clarity of his sexual role by becoming a model of masculinity.”

And with this argument, I establish that centuries of feeding dirt of patriarchy into today’s men have not only worsened the situation for women but also for their own selves. If it is the men who are the reason and if it is they who are the victims, I believe there is no need for a ‘Ministry of Women’ to survey the situation of women when the situation can single-handedly be tackled by Ministry of Men and Social Development.

Why treat the symptoms and not the disease?

Now, am I right or am I right?

 

Somya Khera

 

 

From Syria to UNICEF, a not so blank statement

A man carries the body of a dead child, after what rescue workers described as a suspected gas attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in rebel-held Idlib
A medical worker carries a child victim of gas attack on Khan Sheikhun, Syria. (Reuters)

If there is anything that can be incurred from the 5-year long Syrian ‘Civil’ War is that it has a false name and that it is going to continue to commit crimes, murder one child after another, one woman after another, one youth after another, under this false identity until International institutions call the bluff and unveil the horrendous reality.

What is it?

A fight for black gold in the city of darkness by the people with rotten hearts.

What happened?

470,000 Syrians have died by now and the wings of death are only spreading.
It began as a conflict between the people and their government and soon became a bait for the superpowers to feed on the country and hoard in its nest as much as it can. Like a vulture it picked and it picked and it will continue to pick until the worms in its stomach are full, except, that is never.

Why now?

UNICEF on 20th February issued a statement, a blank statement which did not say anything because they were ‘out of words.’

Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s words brought French Revolution. Simone de Beauvoir, Doris Lessing, Jonathan Swift, Harriet Jacobs, nobody would have known these writers, these thinkers, their struggles if they, like UNICEF, were ‘out of words.’

The blank statement issued by the UNICEF, sounds like a blank cheque, a permission to Bashar al-Assad ‘government’ to continue the manslaughter.

For many, it must be symbolic, but to some it the weakest statement an organization made to empower children could issue. To those who think it is futile to say a few words and criticise what is happening because it is beyond anybody’s control, to them it is to be reminded that these words mean the world to children gasping for their last breath, it is these words that their breath is looking for, it could be the reason for them to be alive and by not saying anything you are robbing them of their hope.

To think that the war is out of anybody’s control is to think that war made people and that is anything but the truth. If people made war, they can end it too but the question is not about can or cannot, the question is about the want.

The Geneva Convention which bans the use of Chemical weapons was violated thrice in Syria between 2014-2015 with the use of banned nerve agent sarin and with use of mustard gas. Not to any surprise, the incident of chemical attack repeated itself for the nth time on the intervening night of 25th-26th February 2018 in ‘rebel’ held Ghouta district near Damascus where it killed a child.

And the child’s death would not even be recorded by UN because it stopped updating the figure in 2015.

As an organization many of these children look up to, it is a matter of immense shame that they ‘have no words’.

Way Ahead:

  • Transportation of any kind of explosives in the country must be seized permanently.
  • United Nations, notwithstanding other factors such as involvement of permanent and non-permanent members, must adopt a zero-tolerance policy towards countries encouraging atrocities on civilians in Syria by selling armaments.
  • Bashar-Al-Assad must be asked to prove majority in Syria if he wishes to continue to hold office.
  • Massive reconstruction and preservation missions must be undertaken by International peace institutions from their independent fund.
  • Gradual and smooth transfer of power to the next elected member.

Or, one could wait for Syria’s own Emma Gonzalez to stand up for basic human rights but who knows if the budding leader of Syria survived last night’s Chemical Attack or not.

-Somya Khera

Rohingya crisis: How Myanmar manipulated Bangladesh with its ‘deal’

A Picture and its Story: Rohingya grieve after baby dies in border crossing
The plight of a Rohingya mother. (Source: Reuters)

Myanmar’s agreement with Bangladesh is not what the former says it is, it is not a win-win situation for Bangladesh and when we read accounts of people of the Rohingya community we realise how deep this conspiracy goes.

Who are Rohingyas?

Former farmers, fishermen/women, carpenters, students and even traders who had to work as landless labours, stay in the same locality and bear the atrocities of the Army in order to stay alive.

Fleeing of Rohingyas is not the problem, it is the outcome of a long drawn planned out strategy of Myanmar, and it is one of the most distasteful things the country could do, in my understanding.

The agreement signed between Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abdul Hassan Mahmud Ali and Myanmar’s Union Minister for the Office of the State Counsellor Kyaw Tint Swe, according to a report in The Hindu says that according to diplomatic sources, Bangladesh wanted a time frame for the beginning and the end of repatriation, a demand Myanmar did not agree to.

Another important demand that Myanmar did not agree to was that of the involvement of UNHCR.

6 lakh people left ‘their’ country because they were threatened, assaulted, and systematically raped.

Accounts of young girls collected from different villages had a striking similarity. A Reuters report read “…International organisation for Migration (IOM) Medical officer Dr. Tasnuba Nourin had seen incidents of vaginal tearing, bite marks and signs that seemed to show a firearm was used to penetrate women”.

They were denied the basic human rights- Right to get healthcare, the right to move outside of their state and the right to education.

And yet, Myanmar did not want the involvement of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

By signing the agreement, Myanmar has at least agreed to the repatriation of Rohingyas but the catch is, the term ‘Rohingyas’ is not used anywhere in the pink identity card issued to them, they are termed as ‘Banglas’, implying they belong to Bangladesh. All of them.

Bangladesh’s infrastructure, even today, is not in any position to support these more than 6 lakh Refugees, showing how desperate and vulnerable Rohingya are and how desperate Myanmar is, to get rid of them.

This is a perfect example of the corrupt, evil and dark side of the government. This is what a government is capable of, stealing from a person, his/her identity.

The agreement offers absolutely no security to Rohingyas, in fact, Myanmar has very strategically made for itself a way out of the entire deal.

The text of the agreement says:

“Myanmar will take all possible measures to see that the returnees will not be settled in temporary places for a long period of time and their freedom of movement in the Rakhine State will be allowed in conformity with the existing laws and regulations.”

The phrase Conformity with the existing laws and regulations” further deepens the problem, because the ‘existing’ laws do not give Rohingyas citizenship rights, meaning no education, no job security and no way to climb the ladder out of the situation.

The way ahead:

1) India needs to stop tagging the Rohingyas, a threat to national security. Being the biggest nation in Asia, it has to extend a helping hand to Rohingyas, like it did to Tibetans, Afghans, Bangladeshis, Nepalis and Sri Lankan Tamils.

2) Bangladesh has to provide them with all possible help, it is their turn to show strength in these times of crisis and it has to ultimately harness from Rohingya, the potential to contribute to the economy and set an example to the world.

3) Myanmar not only has to accept and address that its army has violated human rights but it also has to amend its constitution to accommodate those living in the state for several years as ‘non-citizens’. It has to provide state sponsored education to this section of the society for at least next 50 years, include them in civil services and gradually uplift the Rohingyas.

Most importantly, the people must realise that the time in Myanmar is just right for a real democratic setup and major constitutional amendments.

-Somya Khera

Handbags, Hats, and Sanitary Napkins: The absurdity of GST

The group of three items- Handbags, hats, and sanitary napkins is as absurd as the GST levied on the third item.Now since, according to a study by Microsoft Corp., adults have average attention span of 8 seconds and because just sniffing gender in the header would have already caused plenty of men and women to scroll right past it and also, since there is lot to be done about this problem, I am in a hurry.

But first, here are 5 disturbing figures from WEF Gender Gap Index report 2017:

1)21 spots: The number of slots India slipped in the Index compared to just last year. As compared to 87th last year, India now ranks 108th.

2) 217 years: The time it will take to fill the gender gap in health and economic spheres.

3) 100 years: The time it will take for 106 countries to close the overall gender gap.

4) US $ 250 billion: The amount of money gender parity could add to the GDP of UK.

5) US $2.5 trillion: The amount of money gender parity could add to China’s economy.

The point:

According to data available online, of the 355 million menstruating women in India, only 12% use sanitary pads. Girls in poor households, no matter how loved or despised are not encouraged to use sanitary napkins (despite the fact that in addition to reproductive tract infection and Urinary Tract Infection several fungal infections are also caused because of it). They are not encouraged to use sanitary napkins for more than one reasons including social and economic ones. Where social reasons need long-term campaigns, economic reasons are in the hands of the government. Simply put, Sanitary napkins are not luxury items and the government should not treat it like one. Worst is putting them on the same list as hats and furniture.

With continuous efforts, India has nearly closed its tertiary education gender gap, but it is fourth lowest in the world on Health and Survival index making it the least improved country in this section over past 10 years; that is a decade. These in my view are enough reasons for the government to levy least possible GST on the sanitary napkins.

The tax will cost India in economic as well as social terms as it is costing China and UK.

‘Happy’ Kamlesh’s sad story: Here is what the laws say

kamlesh
Credit: Youtube

We have all by now seen the viral video of Kamlesh a ragpicker or a beggar is 13 years of age, abuses drugs, spends more than 50% of his begging income in buying them and is ‘happy’ with his life (except when he pukes blood on not getting the drugs). The netizens have been fed with their daily dose of entertainment and it has been a while since the video went viral. Meanwhile, some of us are wondering where our lawmakers and the executives are and if this video has caught their eye yet.

I understand that the video published on October 27th has not come from an authorised source and this could very well be a prank (Remember the slapping video that went viral) but let us for a minute believe that it is an original video and there IS actually a 13-year-old boy on the street confessing that he is a drug addict.

The executives have been ignoring the problem of child labour and beggary for years now. Enough information on how these rackets work has been provided to the people through films and documentaries and if our ministers have missed those, they can get a clear picture of it at a traffic signal but, they will have to at least look.

The Child Labour (Prohibition And Regulation) Amendment Act bars any child under the age of 14 to do any kind of work and provides for the imprisonment of the parent or the guardian. (As superficial as it may sound). And if Maneka Gandhi, Union Minister of child and women development is silent on the issue even after watching the video, it is a matter of shame.

The Child Labour (Prohibition And Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016 as well as the Delhi Prevention of Begging Act, 1960 both provide for the rehabilitation of the violated children.

Here is the relevant part:

  1. No child shall be employed or permitted to work in any occupation or process.

2. The appropriate Government shall constitute a Fund in every district or for two or more districts to be called the Child and Adolescent Labour Rehabilitation Fund to which the amount of the fine realized from the employer of the child and adolescent, within the jurisdiction of such district or districts, shall be credited.

3.The appropriate Government shall credit an amount of fifteen thousand rupees to the Fund for each child or adolescent for whom the fine amount has been credited under sub-section (1).

There have been four attempts in the history of Indian legislature regarding begging and crimes related to it. The efforts date back to more than a century.

A hundred years.

The one which is relevant to us today is the Delhi Prevention of Begging Act,1960.

Four basic things which the 1960 law demands include:

1) The officer-in-charge of a police station or a person authorized under section 4 (every superintendent) shall cause a person arrested under section 4 or section 9.

2) Until he can be brought before a court, the beggar is to be kept in the nearest Receiving Centre or at the police station.

3) Every person remanded to or detained in a Receiving Centre or a Certified Institution shall- (a) submit to –
(i) a preliminary medical examination and such medical dressing as may, in the opinion of the Medical Officer, be necessary;

4) For every Receiving Centre and Certified Institution there shall be a welfare fund.

As a kid, I used to imagine making beggars sit in cars and buses, taking them to a shelter, asking them to bathe, serving them dinner and teaching them in morning, little did I know that it was exactly what the government wanted. Except, it never happened. Except, it never happened, only the business has evolved.

According to a News Minute report on 27th of October 2017, there is not even enough official data in the public domain on the deaths of child labourers. Had there been any data, ‘Chotu’, who used to work for the bangle-making factory in Falaknuma (Telangana) would have been a part of it.

Ashok Kumar, in his 2007 article ‘Some facts about begging’ published in The Hindu says that it is a general perception that people beg out of compulsion and not by choice however, a survey by Delhi University’s Social Work Department suggests that it is also by choice. According to the survey, out of these 5,000 odd beggars on the streets, 799 men and 1,541 women — were found to be physically fine. Think about the amount of resource this government is wasting by not being able to indulge these able bodies in the economy and letting them freely beg and work on the streets.

Watch video:

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fthepakarvines%2Fvideos%2F1544284432295662%2F&show_text=0&width=560

This is what the executives have done to the country. They have converted beggary and child labour into a norm and the worst affected by it are the children like Kamlesh. Imagine what it would be like for a thirteen-year-old to see himself puking blood.

As people who can read, write, comprehend and understand the law, the least we can do is pressurise the government to regulate and implement laws relating to children, the least we can do in this situation is think twice before we dole out alms to beggars, the least we can do is not promote beggary and child labour.

-Somya

Condemning the ‘God’: Why is it such a taboo?

Krishna 1
Credits: IndianQuotes

Tell me why.

There was total chaos. There was total chaos when I was having a conversation with some people through comments on a meme shared by my friend on Facebook which showed Krishna teasing a bunch of girls while they bathe and the girls hashtagging ‘Me Too’.

Although the Facebook post carried a simple message of not romanticising teasing girls, some took serious offense and more than 200 comments were exchanged among people of different opinions. The comments started with people discussing Krishna’s age when he used to tease girls and went on to branding each other ‘Pseudo Intellectuals’, ‘Fundamentalists’ and what not. When the conversation reached the point where one started accusing the other of not knowing the history, I realised that the problem is too deeply rooted to be sorted out in one conversation happening through comments on a meme. Moreover, when we repeat one thing more than twice, it becomes redundant and that was the last thing I wanted to do. I want to break things down for people who still think it is unholy to talk about rape, eve teasing and to condemn our Gods because of their fear of the unknown.

Here is why it was wrong for people to take offense on it:

  • There might be astronomical data and physical evidence proving the city of Dwarka existed, of Krishna being a warrior and a Mesiah but how is that proof Mahabharta is based on true facts. And if the scriptures are to be believed then the stories of him teasing women is also true, now how and why must people choose incidents we should debate about. Simply put, you talk of his wisdom and we will talk about his social behaviour because both these things are recited to people. It should not be a problem.
  • It would not have been a problem to me if he was only a historical character with flaws but this mythological character is worshipped all around the world. I remember meeting one devotee when I went to Berlin, Germany ten years ago. Incidents of his life are recited in temples and homes to children. Why then, should I not contest children being told that their Gods teased women.
  • Patriarchy was not built in a day, women have been denied their basic rights since a long time and all this has been made possible with certain tools. One of the tools of patriarchy is the women agents who enforce this system. Rabindra Nath Tagore’s play ‘Tagore’s women’ also has one such character and it is usually the groom’s mother who is denied of any authority until her son is married and brings a subordinate in the house. i.e His wife. (Capital H with a purpose)
  • History, Religious texts, customs, rules on what women should wear, how they should behave have one common thing and that is it, all of it comes from men. If you’re saying history should not be debated about and must be followed as is then why are you on social media, talking to strangers? Is not that why Sita was abducted? Because she did not listen to her more intelligent husband Ram and talked to a stranger?
  • My earlier post [ An Open Letter to the Makers of Nestle Everyday Milk Advertisement   ] on how women were and still are portrayed in advertisements of washing machine, cooking oil, baby oil, and other products associated with duties traditionally known to be woman’s reinstate the fact that it is a woman’s job to take care of the house. It shows that women, even in 2017 have not been able to build an equal society for themselves. Why are we still so protective of something which does not even exist. Why don’t we hold no responsibility for something which is happening right now?

Why must it be okay for a man to teach a young boy in a temple that the Hindu God who is worshipped in the entire world teased girls and they enjoyed it? If religion has the power to alter so many things in my life, why should I think twice to contest what it preaches?

Thank you, my fellow feminist Suchetana Sinha for sharing the meme.

-Somya

Dropping the F-bomb: Feminism and why we need it

Feminism
(Image Source: Ted.com)

When I first read the comment I was amused, when I read it next I was in disbelief and when I read for the third time, I felt what can be called a mix of disappointment and anger. The comment was posted on a Wall Street Journal article I had shared on my Facebook wall, the article was about how men occupied most of the important positions in China and how the percentage of women in the top posts had been shrinking since ten decades.

I had shared the article when I had come across it in the morning and not long after, it had the comment. After a series of senseless arguments, the person commented on my wall a picture which showed half filled/ half empty glasses with ‘pessimist’, ‘optimist’ labels. Along with the two labels it had a ‘Feminist’ label as well and that read- ‘The glass is raping me’

And with that, I was raging. But then I thought this was the perfect time to talk about it. The term ‘Feminism’ has become the new F-Bomb and what for? Why should the term feminism bear the cost of your misunderstanding, your oblivion? Although I expect people my age to read and to try to understand the issues which are plaguing the world-but most of them are in such a hurry to form an opinion, some- to just stand out from the crowd and grab attention that their entire purpose of being educated becomes futile and they end up living in their bubble where feminism is wrong, equality exists, casteism is a story and racial discrimination just a big joke.

Not just India, this entire world needs feminism and for several reasons, I often restrain myself from saying the obvious but after what happened today has made me realize that the more you keep quiet thinking it’s obvious, the more invisible it gets and the more ignorant people get. I could go on and on quoting people, referring to texts and proving why we need feminism but at this stage where people are not ready to accept facts and figures of a news report and are calling that an agenda, I am not sure how that would help.

It has not been long since I was generally conversing with a friend about why we need feminism and very casually he asked ”I am all for equality but why do you think women should get reservation in the metro?”.

I said, ”We are living in a capitalist world (not to say communist countries do not need gender equality) and it is important for men and women to be able to contribute to the means of production in order to go up the ladder, right?”

”Right”

”Now imagine two people working for the same firm are in a metro and they both have a crucial presentation at their workplace, a presentation that would decide their promotion. Now, given that 7 out of 10 women are sexually harassed (Read ToI report here), the woman in the metro going to her workplace gets sexually harassed and gets involved in a scuffle. By the time she reaches office she is not in the state of mind to carry on with her presentation, but she gathers all her courage and decides to continue with the task. Now considering the fact that (Read the Economic Times report here) most companies in India do not abide by sexual harassment laws, imagine the woman falls prey to another incident of sexual harassment before her presentation. (As impossible as it may sound, if the numbers are to be believed, it really is possible.) The man on the other hand, untouched by the sins, gives his presentation with the same energy he had thought he would. {Not to say that men don’t face sexual harassment, men too are the victims of patriarchal society, so much so that there is no data available of workplace sexual harassment of men which gives them all the more reason to be feminists. (Yes, men who stand for gender equality are called feminists)}

Whose presentation do you think would be better?  I asked

He did not answer.

Who do you think would be promoted? Why should women, on a daily basis fall victim to sexual harassment and let some men hamper their state of mind, their work and pretend as if ages old mindset of some men has magically changed and that all is well? Why should they let these sick men hijack their career? Why should they pretend that equality exists? When really the numbers speak otherwise.

I think that day, he understood why a few good men should stand with women and why feminism as an idea and not the term should be the focus of discussion.

It is a fact that out of 37 posts in Union Council of Ministers including Cabinet ministers and Ministers of State, there are 5 women in power. Maneka Gandhi, Nirmala Sitharaman, Smriti Irani, Uma Bharti and Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti. I am not very good with calculations but that does not look like a very appealing number. The case is somewhat same in China and according to the article I had shared (All the Presidents Are Men: China Is Getting Worse on Women in Power) , the dragon country which officially pitches itself as a nation which promotes gender equality (Read: China Focus: China issues white paper on gender equality, women’s development) needs to introspect and convert its words into actions. China’s leadership shuffle is around the corner and it seems like the best time for President Xi Jinping to take a step towards gender equality. Given that China is one of the most powerful countries in Asia and is looked up to by many of its neighbours, the step may inspire other countries to follow suit and finally emerge from their shell. There is a need to understand that Feminism is not a single county’s fight, it is the entire world’s fight.

Near home, some people are taking pride in the fact that Nirmala Sitharaman, former Minister of Commerce and Industry has been appointed the Defence Minister of India. However, if we take a closer look we will realise that what needs to be really talked about is the dropout rate among girls and the reasons behind it. As per a research, FPAI which is India’s oldest NGO, 53% of girls across the country drop out of school on a regular basis. Out of these, 27% of these drop out because they have no access to menstrual hygiene products in school.

But amidst these disturbing numbers, I come across derogatory meme where a feminist is blaming a glass of raping him/her.

And that is why we need Feminism, not just India, not just China, but the entire world.

By Somya

 

The woman with four daughters

The woman with four daughters: This is not a story from ten years ago, it is a recent one, and I say that because we take time as an excuse for several things, but what excuse what reason could we possibly have for incidents like these in the 21st century? I am not an outsider, I am not living in a bubble, I belong to this land and yet, some incidents surprise me. I as someone who realises the power I behold believe that it was my moral duty to share this story with the world so that they know that although we are all by ourselves, we are not alone.

The protagonist in my story is an inspiration to a lot of men and women and this little incident speaks volumes about what her world revolved around. Names do not matter but I have changed them in this story because tomorrow when her daughters grow up, I do not want this incident or anything about their mother’s life to define them.


A wound too deep

She woke up, stared at the roof, turned around and prepped herself for the day. She saw a knife on the bedside table, looked at her children and shook her head. She picked up the knife and took it to the kitchen. As last night’s events replayed in her mind, she thanked God.

Anisha knew what made her different. Anisha knew she had much to achieve for herself and for her children. She had four of them. Daughters.

She was born and brought up in Calcutta but had been living in Delhi for 15 years. She always knew that she was strong, that life would try her but what had happened to her the night before was beyond her imagination.

She thought for somebody who had studied till class Eighth, she was doing just fine, raising her kids right, sending them to private English school. Although she lived in a small rented apartment near a vegetable market south of New Delhi surrounded by slums, she knew things would change for good, and soon.

Just when she was waking her kids up for breakfast, she got a call. She fixed an appointment and left soon after.

She came back home early that day.

The wound she had got the previous night restricted her from doing most of the things. She was self-employed who took care of personal care needs of women and was the sole breadwinner of the family.

Her husband was a drunkard, and a gambler who had recently quit his job as a security guard of a corporate building in South Delhi.

Last night, Anisha had just come back from one of her appointments when she saw her husband hanging their youngest daughter from the balcony, threatening to throw her off. She yelled, screeched, snatched her daughter from the grips of the monster, demonic husband and hugged her daughter tight.

The monster then abused Anisha for not letting him play with his kids and picked up a knife, threatening to stab her. She took his threat as she takes all his threats and ignored him. But this time, the abuser had something else in his mind.

This time, he tried to stab her.

Anisha had used her full strength to defend herself and hence the wound on her hand. She could not earn much that day but she did not have any regrets. She was firm, unmoved, determined and all she cared for was her second daughter’s test in school the next morning.

Unlike most women in the country, she called the police and like in most of such cases, the police did not do much.

The woman is currently learning to drive so that she could pick and drop her clients’ children from school and back to earn some extra money.