Popular mythologies and their implications for violence against women

 

Violence against women in India – A review of the popular mythologies and their implications for VAW

Cynthia Stephen

India's reputation as a destination for spiritual seekers seems to have faded in recent years. Reputed worldwide to the be the land of the oldest living civilisation, with a rich culture, living tradition, and a climate of ahimsa (non-violence), as exemplified by the struggle against the British colonisers which was almost bloodless, and resulted in the Independent Indian nation on the 15th of August, 1947.

A part of this tradition, it is claimed, is revering women in the form of the mother or the goddess. Proponents of this viewpoint cite a verse to the effect that "Where women are worshipped there the gods reside". But there has always been ample evidence that this was more observed in the breach; that the societal structures discriminated severely against women in all arenas: economic, social, legal, political, personal. The evidence came in the 1970s, in the form of the Report "Towards Equality" – A report of the Status of Women in India. The elite women who formed the study team, set up by the Central Government, were stunned at the disparity between men and women in India. It was in the aftermath of this study, which was prepared for the first UN World Conference on Women in Mexico in 1975, that the government of India began to undertake policy measures and provide funding for work among and for women.

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The patriarchal and moralistic discourse of 'Save our Sisters'

 

Shaheen Ahmed

shaheenLast weekend after I woke up in the morning, I went through my usual morning ritual of turning on my computer after a cup of coffee and leafing  through my mails and social media feed. It's not surprising to see pictures, videos, website links, memes, etc. go viral over Facebook or Twitter these days and once such ad campaign went viral all over social media since last Friday (6th September). Friends, colleagues, journalists, academicians, feminists and a lot of people I connect with over social media were sharing the link to the 'Save Our Sisters' campaign online.

I am sure by the time one reads this article, most of us have seen the campaign. Apart from the national media, a lot of international media including Huffington Post, the Independent, Buzzfeed etc have carried stories centering around this campaign since yesterday. Popular feminist forums such as Jezebel and A Girl's Guide to Taking Over the World have also lauded it as being a groundbreaking campaign driving home issues related to domestic violence and sex-trafficking.

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What I have to say: Chithralekha

 

On May 18th, 2013, Chitralekha (the dalit woman autorickshaw driver from Payannur, Kerala, who has been fighting CITU/CPM men and who has faced repeated attacks from them in the past) and her family were attacked at her home by a mob of 30 plus men, including her neighbors. This article is her account of what transpired on that day.

Eramangalathu Chitralekha

chithra savari

On May 18th I was on my way to the railway station to take my daughter to her hostel in Trivandrum. We wanted to catch the Malabar express at night. It is because I am afraid to keep her here that I am sending her so far off to study. The time would have been around 8, 8.15. Some Bengali workers were there in my house as some construction work was happening in my house that day.

We had just got out from the house into the narrow road in front of my house. Suddenly Ravi, Manoj, Pradeepan and a few others came forward to attack us. When my brother resisted they started beating him up. I took the auto and ran inside with my daughter. My husband Sreeshkanth was in the house as he was sick with diabetes. My brother also came running in. By then they had called people over the mobile and a crowd gathered in front of my house.

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Structural overhaul needed to end violence against women: UN Special Rapporteur

 

Structural overhaul to end violence rooted in multiple forms of discrimination and inequalities

AIDMAM

New Delhi, May 2, 2013.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences, Ms. Rashida Manjoo has highlighted the fact that without addressing root causes of structural inequality and oppression, India cannot hope to address violence against women. 

In her media statement issued yesterday, Ms. Manjoo, has raised critical questions to the Government of India on the swift law and order approach that has been adopted to deal with issues of violence against women. With reference to the new rape legislation following the Justice Verma Committee report, she has not minced words in saying, "It is unfortunate that the opportunity to establish a substantive and specific equality and non- discrimination rights legislative framework for women, to address de facto inequality and discrimination, and to protect and prevent against all forms of violence against women was lost" 

Her statement recognizes the deeply entrenched structural causes of discrimination and violence and the varied manifestations on girls and women. This includes multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and violence based on socio-­economic situations. Her mention of caste based discrimination in this regard, clearly highlights the multiple barriers faced by Dalit women in accessing justice and fundamental freedom. Ms. Manjoo has further reiterated that the notions of male superiority combined with realities of social exclusion and marginalization, power and powerlessness, economic dependence and religion and cultural practices are at the core of violence faced by women from excluded communities.

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(Trans)gender and caste lived experience - Transphobia as a form of Brahminism: An Interview of Living Smile Vidya

living smile vidya

Note from the interviewers -This is the transcript of a conversation between Dalit transgender feminist writer and theater artist Living Smile Vidya, who lives and works in Chennai, with her transgender brothers Kaveri Karthik and Gee Ameena Suleiman from Bangalore. This conversation took place on a late night after 11 pm in the basti where Kaveri and Gee live, following a day-long discussion between the transgender men and intergenders and lesbian community of Bangalore with a group of visiting Dalit activists and intellectuals from Tamil Nadu. After the other ladies in the basti left the common space on the footpath and went to sleep, the following conversation unfolded:

Kaveri: "Can you tell us a little bit about gender and caste dynamics in your own life while growing up?

Living Smile Vidya: Actually, though we settled in Chennai, we belong to the Arunthatiyar caste in Andhra Pradesh and migrated from there a few generations ago. Our caste is the lowest of the Dalits because occupationally we did manual scavenging. So, my mother would have a job everyday doing street cleaning as a government worker, then do domestic work on the side, in several houses for a couple days of the week each. 50% of her earnings would go to her husband. She had to do both house work in our own house as well as work in many jobs outside to make ends meet. My father was an alcoholic and his income contribution to the family was only 40%. But since he had physical control over her income also, I would have to get my school fees from him, though it was actually my mother's earnings. My father would drink and physically and verbally abuse my mother and the rest of us. The whole colony knew about this because the houses are close by and small. In big houses belonging to savarnas also, women suffer but that cannot be seen or heard by us because it happens in the privacy of the thick walls of their house. But at least you can hear Dalit women shouting back, threatening to hit their drunk husbands etc when these fights happen in our colonies which most of the modest, "good wives" of upper/middle caste families cannot even imagine doing.

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Sabitha: A Woman And A Day

 

Via Rupesh Kumar

Sabitha: A Woman And A Day

 

This documentary by Rupesh Kumar was screened on August 22, 2012

 

At Friday club, Ernakulam, Kerala.

~~

 

sabitha_1-300x200The documentary 'Sabitha: A Woman And A Day', tries to trace the postive aspects of an adivasi woman's life. It is shot in the Ambedkar colony in Kambalakad, Wayanad, Kerala. This documentary exposes the 'patronship 'of the adivasis by the media and the other established groups. Such patronship goes unquestioned in Kerala, even as it systematically denies the voices of adivasis and promotes non-adivasi interests.

 

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