Monday, March 13, 2017

The Catholic church and its long history of clerical sexual abuse

This is not the first time that a priest had misused his powers and indulged in an act that priesthood forbids. A long and notorious history of catholic priests involved in sex crimes tells us that the preachy church has a rotten history of burying dirty secrets allowing systemic gender violence to mushroom in its backyard.
The latest incident that has rocked the church and its faithful followers is the repeated rape of a minor girl by the vicar of a local church at Kottiyoor in Kannur district,Kerala. He was the manager of the school in which the girl attended classes until February 6th, a day before she gave birth to baby boy.
What is bizarre is a system that had tried to cover up the crime until the Kerala police conducted intensive searches and arrested the accused priest and seven others including five nuns and the doctor of the church run hospital where the girl gave birth to the child, were on the run.  There were picked up on February 7th and booked under non-bailable sections. The police should be applauded for being swift and efficient but what breaks the heart of faithful Christians like me is that the onus of the sexual crime is being put on the minor child. The church conveniently retorted to victim blaming rather than accepting the need to clean up the rot in the system.

According to News Minute's report on an editorial written by Sunday Shalom, a Christian weekly, the rape could have been averted by the girl if she wanted to. The weekly said "Here, the girl is above the age of 15. Let me tell you this, as I consider you like my daughter, you are also at fault. Before the Lord, it is you who will have to answer first. Daughter why did you forget who a priest is? He has a human body and has temptations. He may have forgotten his position for a few seconds, my child who has taken the Holy Communion, why didn't you stop or correct him?"

Friday, February 3, 2017

Masculinity and Gender crimes

The fight for gender equality has to constantly tackle one major problem: the sense of entitlement of the man and his perception of the woman as a weak object, a property to be owned.
A common crime that has been on the rise in India and has blatantly exposed the privilege of the Indian man is an acid attack, against an ex-lover, wife or a woman who has refused to acknowledge the sexual advances or a marriage proposal aggravating the masculine need to get what he wants at whatever cost and assert his power. Possessiveness, territoriality, insecurity have been entitled to men in a patriarchal society where they are seen as the custodians of women’s bodies and their rights.
We have been rocked by innumerable incidents of acid attacks in the past which have shown an increase from 83 in 2011 to 349 in 2015 (Research by Acid Survivors Foundation India). India has the worst convictions rates for acid attacks and much like the other crimes against women, these cases are treated with societal indifference and official apathy.
Revenge crimes are born because of this misplaced sense of entitlement and power. An incident that shocked me recently happened in Kottayam, Kerala where a jilted lover barged inside the classroom at the School of Medical education with a bottle of petrol pouring it on his ex-lover and setting her ablaze. The attacker who was a student of the same medical school then got out of the classroom and set himself on fire. The girl and the accused were admitted to Kottayam medical college where they succumbed to their injuries.
According to the victim’s friends both had been in love with each other for some time until the girl backed out because of her parent’s opposition to the relationship. The accused, a resident of Kollam stalked and threatened her on several occasions after which he retorted to this extreme step.
Entitlement is a privilege in a patriarchal society where women do not have the agency to refuse. Revenge is sought for rejecting a marriage proposal or sexual advances. Women are also been attacked for not bringing enough dowry, for bearing a female child and for not cooking a good meal or the refusal to do it.
Every crime against a woman is based on the deeply rooted bias that they are dependent humans who do not have the liberty to exercise the freedom to live their life which is a fundamental right. Women are struggling to claim their subjectivity as a fully formed human subject who have the right to say a no to a man.
Read the rest of the post here

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Friday, January 27, 2017

A Doctorate degree is a not a freebie!

We treat our celebrities like kings and queens. Don't we? Other than cheering for them and paying for their bills, we shower them with a lot of love. The recent case of a stampede at the Vadodra railway station during the promotion of the SRK movie Raees is an example of how devotedly we worship our heroes and heroines. 
While most of these celebrities stash a lot of wealth, indulge in financial frauds and get away with crimes, there are a handful of them to whom we can really look upto. The ones who inspire us with their rightful actions and set an example for the future generation. In the past I have quietly seen famous celebrities accept honorary degrees for outstanding contribution in their fields, and blow one's horn about their achievements. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Sexism in Indian politics

A few days ago as the poll trumpets had been blown, the sexist politicians came out of their hiding holes and  we were rattled by an insensitive statement by a BJP leader Vinay Katiyar who said that Priyanka Gandhi is not as beautiful as she is projected to be. There are prettier women leaders in BJP like Smriti Irani  who can pull crowds and give better speeches.
It's not the first time that an Indian politician has passed sexist regressive remarks on a woman politician. The question that baffles me often is that how long it will be before a woman politician is given importance and her potential as a politician not measured by her looks. BSP leader Mayawati has also been a popular target of politicians when once BJP spokesperson Shaina NC took a jibe on her and said that she doesn't know if the BSP leader is a "her" or "she". On another occasion BJP leader Dayashankar Singh said that Mayawati is worse than a prostitute who gives a seat to the person who pays the highest amount for it. His sexist and casteist statements were aimed at her because she is a woman and a Dalit. A metaphor that often hits out at a woman by comparing her to a sex worker is every sexist's glorifying moment of machismo.
Again, a few days ago the CM of UP and Samajwadi party politician Akhilesh Yadav vent his disagreement against fellow woman politician Mayawati by body shaming her in a press conference. He took a jibe at her and said that the grand alliance in Uttar pradesh couldn't have given Mayawati a place because she occupies a lot of space. He further added a poor tasteless remark and said that even her party symbol was an elephant.
This is not the first time that women politicians have been made a soft target by sexist male politicians.
BJP's Giriraj Singh questioned Sonia Gandhi's abilities as a politician and attributed that her success in politics was because of her skin colour. He said that if Rajiv Gandhi had married a Nigerian, perhaps the Congress party would have never accepted her as their president. The comments drew a lot of flak and he was made to tender an apology to her in the Lok Sabha.

In another incident, former Union minister Sushil Kumar Shinde reprimanded Jaya Bachchan who was mediating a Rajya Sabha discussion on Assam violence saying that it was a serious matter and not the script of a film.

After the last cabinet reshuffle, when Smriti Irani was moved from HRD to Textiles, JDU MP Anwar Ali made a crass remark on her which said that "good that she is a textiles minister;it will help her in covering her body. She had to face such a distasteful remark because of her gender.

BJP leader DayaShankar Singh lashed out at Mayawati while addressing a meeting in Mainpuri where he likened her to a dog and called her a coward.
He said that "Mayawati is like a dog that chases speeding cars on roads, but steps back as and when the vehicle stops." 
He took back his statement later saying that he meant that "she called us dogs."

No matter whoever wins the elections in the five states which were held recently, such sexist comments show the misogyny that infects Indian politics. While male politicians retort to debates about development with other male leaders, when it comes to a woman politician apparently, it is her body or her looks that that they usually take potshots at.
Sadly the election commission of India doesn't have a rule to bring to book sexism against women politicians. Most of the tasteless remarks by male politicians are brushed under the carpet as poor harmless jokes or an appreciation of the looks that cater to the sexist male gaze. 
I wonder how long will it take until Indian women politicians are not made a soft target for their looks or their gender and are appreciated and honored for their calibre as a leader, much like any male leader in India politics. How long will we need to tread the rocky paths of sexism until a male politician won't pass a sexist sick joke against a woman targetting her gender. 
Shouldn't female politicians like Mayawati who made it on their own in a repressively patriarchal male dominated field like politics  get recognition for their untiring work?

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Monday, January 23, 2017

New Resolutions

A new year brings with itself a lot of hopes, much like the birth of a child. Every new year inspires us to make beginnings and bring an end to the rot and rigmarole of habits, that we have always wanted to give up.
2016 was an eventful year which was a witness to my only brother's marriage. Since, I am the elder one, the burden of responsibilities was put on my shoulders, which made me give up on my fitness goals due to the lack of time and commitment. After having bid adieu to Bombay, I have not been in shape all thanks to the unhealthy eating habits and incessant travelling. I have done my best to stick to my exercise regime but the lack of inspiration failed me.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Fair skin racism: Why we must shun it right now

A visit to the Kirana store can sometimes be a big leap towards insanity. The big cut-outs of fair women smiling at me is not a very happy sight. And the shopkeeper at the big kirana store in the central market, is the only one who stocks up the lotions and potions. While many times he runs short of a basic moisturizer, you will surely find fairness cream tubes of various sizes and types at his store. You name it and he has it, from Fair and Lovely to Garnier and even those for men. It is amusing that despite not being a country of Caucasians Indian people lunge behind fair skin. 
As a young girl I was a fan of basketball and remember dribbling the ball with my best friend at a time of the day when the sun was spewing fire. Both of us never bothered, and by the time we hurriedly paced towards the classroom for the next period, we were sun-burnt. The nastiest May heat couldn't scare us and there we were, two Indian girls fascinated by tanning. While many of our other girl friends hid in the classrooms, petrified of sun burns and skin darkening, we made sure that we hopped around in the basketball court and didn't hide from the angry sun. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Seven steps to a healthy heart

Health is wealth but in today's times, wealth is our new best friend. We all are running from pillar to post to make ends meet. A comfortable sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy food have become our soulmates. Most of us do not hear the warning bells ringing until a trip to the hospital doesn't happen.

Two years ago at around this time, I discovered on an accidental visit to the hospital that I had put on some extra kilos. I had been a victim of persistent throbbing headaches but decided to ignore them blaming the sweaty humid heat for my ordeal. While I was intending to meet the dermatologist, I also happened to walk upto the general physician. I felt thankful at the startling revelations  that he had to make about my health, and from then I took a decision to give up on habits that were playing a spoilsport for my heart and health.

My sleeping schedule has been erratic since college and all through the long tiring hours I spent at the laboratory trying to unravel the mysteries of life, it continued. That very day I made a promise to myself to go to bed early, come what may. That also meant that even if I were to fall in love, I had to make sure that I don't lose sleep over it.