Posts Tagged ‘rape’


क्या दुआ मांगू ? क्या दुआ मांगू …

दुर्गा माँ के गौरवशाली देश की बेटियों के लिए …

जहाँ जन्मदाता घोंट देते है छोटी सी जान की ज़िन्दगी …

शेर पर नहीं बैठी है कन्या जहाँ …माँ की गोद भी नसीब न हुई …

 क्या दुआ मांगू ? क्या दुआ मांगू …

सरस्वती माँ के उत्कृष्ट  देश की बेटियों के लिए?

जहाँ पालनहार फेर लेते हैं मुंह कूड़े के ढेर में फेंक कर …

वीणा नहीं है हाथ में …कलम भी छीन ली नन्हे हाथों से …

 

क्या दुआ मांगू ? क्या दुआ मांगू …

झांसी की रानी की मिटटी पे पली-बड़ी बेटियाँ …

झुका  के सर चलती हैं …फेंक देते हैं तेज़ाब …

नोच लेते हैं आँचल …अपने भी रखते है दुशासन सी नज़र …

क्या दुआ मांगू ?

 

आज भी नारी अग्नि में जलती है सीता मय्या … चंद पैसों के लिए …

आज भी भरी भीड़ में हर लेते हैं चीर द्रौपदी का … कहाँ हो … कान्हा …

सौ सौ बलिदान देकर अपने सर के …सर ढक कर चली …

कब तक ? …कब तक ? क्या दुआ मांगू ?

 

 
 
 
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Lying on the roadside …near the garbage heap,

Covered in your mother’s blood …

Your barely formed head…covered with sparse hair….wet…

Your eyes are clenched closed ……and pointed chin touches your barely moving chest…

Fists closed …arms crossed across your unformed breasts…

Your knees are drawn up tightly across your tiny caved in stomach…

The placenta torn and sneaking through them and lying …like a withered snake …unsure…

Your thin legs are crossed at the tiny delicate ankles…pink toes speckled with blood…

I see you my daughter…

 

 I see you my daughter…

Lying on the roadside …near the garbage heap,

Covered in your own blood …

Your head covered with sticky mottled hair …lying bedraggled across your bare shoulders…

Your eyes are clenched closed ……and pointed chin touches your barely moving chest…

Fists closed …arms crossed across your beautiful bare breasts with burn marks …

Your knees are drawn up tightly across your curved stomach…

The womanhood torn and sneaking through them and lying …like a withered snake …unsure…

Your bare long legs are crossed at the ankles…red coloured toes speckled with blood…

I see you my daughter…

 A journey of a million smiles ….a million blessings…so many tiny dancing steps…so many birthday gifts…a zillion words…so many classes and teachers… beautiful dreams …a journey of a million tears…

…to end from your mother’s blood in your own …from death to death …

 © Dr. Anita Hada Sangwan


Paloma Sharma is a  student, social activist and active blogger at Going Bananas. At a tender age of 18, she is more aware about social issues than most people. Following is an article on bride trafficking in India, a little known, less talked about topic.

 

According to the nation-wide census held in 2011, there are 940 females for every 1000 males in India. While the figures at a national level are disturbing, the State of Rajasthan accounts for an even lower sex ratio of 926 females for every 1000 males. The difference between 926 and 1000 seems small at first. However, Rajasthan has a population of 68,621,012 out of which 35,620,086 persons are male and 33,000,926 are female. With the natural human sex ratio being approximately 1:1, it is found that 2,619,160 females are ‘missing’ from the population of Rajasthan.

In 2012 Rajasthan had 308 cases filed under the Pre-Conception, Pre-Natal and Diagnostics Techniques (PCPNDT) Act 1994 against sex-selection abortion, which was the highest in the country. However, according to unofficial estimates, 2,500 baby girls fall prey to female foeticide or infanticide every single day in Rajasthan. Though the grand old patriarchs of clans practicing femicide continue to pride themselves over producing only sons, their systematic, mass-scale  and merciless murders of their daughters are not only gross violations of a human being’s basic human right to life but they also present a predicament to the position of their precious sons in society. In a culture where marriage is seen as a universal and inevitable eventuality, the genocide of females leaves a significant number of men without partners; and so, the buying and selling of women as ‘brides’ prospers.

Bride trafficking is forced sale, purchase and resale of girls and women in the name of marriage. Girls and women are kidnapped or lured into bride trafficking and sold, raped and/or married off without their consent only to end up as a slaves and bonded labourers at the mercy of the men and their families, who have ‘bought’ them.

Bride trafficking is also commonly called bride buying – a strange term because despite their sale, these ‘brides’ are no commodities. They are real, living females who are victims of trafficking. They are just as human as any of us. How can anyone truly buy another living being?

According to Global Voices approximately 90% of the 200,000 humans trafficked in India every year are victims of inter-state trafficking and are sold within the country. The states of Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan are major destinations of trafficked ‘brides’. It is hardly surprising that these states also account for the most skewed sex ratios in the country. Although the buying and selling of brides was a well documented historic practice in undivided India, lives of today’s trafficked girls and women are cloaked in secrecy because neither do they have a voice, nor do they have the social-mobility or resources to acquire one and raise it.

According to a 6 year long analysis conducted by Empower People, 23% of girls from West Bengal are trafficked. Bihar is next at 17% followed by Assam (13%), Andhra Pradesh (11%), Orissa (8%) and Kerala (6%).

Trafficked brides are known as Paro (outsider), Molki (one who as been bought) or Jugaad (adjustment). Majority of trafficked brides belong to scheduled castes, scheduled tribes or lower economic classes. Some of them are kidnapped, some tricked and some sold into flesh trade by their own parents or other trusted family members/neighbors.

Another way of selling women has recently come to light due to the ‘Baby Falak case’. Pimps and traffickers pose as grooms, marry women with less or no dowries and then sell them off to other men. Isolated from their natal communities, in an alien land with no rights of their own, these cross-state trafficked brides are easy for their ‘grooms’ and in-laws to control and exploit.

Sold into a deeply oppressive patriarchal society where defiance of the caste and gender hierarchy is met only with bloodshed and death, these trafficked brides are seen as a ‘dishonour’ to the family because their origins, (i.e., castes) are not known. According to ‘Tied in a Knot — cross-region marriages in Haryana and Rajasthan, Implications for Gender Rights and Gender Relations,’ a study funded by the Royal Norwegian Embassy, trafficked brides are isolated and humiliated both publicly and privately due to their castes and duskier complexions. Children born to these mothers are not accepted in the community and are taunted by peers. In what seems like an unending cycle, boys born out of such unions are likely to buy brides just as their fathers did before them. The fate of girl children, if any, remains unknown.

Although a trafficked bride is technically married to only one man in the family, the man’s brothers or other male relatives see her as a property to be shared. The Eastern Post reports that 70% of trafficked brides are gang-raped repeatedly on a regular basis by their husbands and other male members of the family. Sexual promiscuity among boys and men goes unchecked and is almost celebrated in such social environments where using protection is not the norm. Hence, trafficked brides who are sexually abused by their husbands or other men are at a higher risk of contracting HIV, as are any children born to them.

Trafficked brides are used as agricultural and domestic slaves by day and sex slaves by night. Their sole purposes seem to be that of managing the household, working in the fields and bearing a male heir for the family. If they fail in any of these tasks and their ‘owners’ are dissatisfied with them, they are resold; if they cannot be resold, they are kicked out of the house and forced into prostitution.

According to The Eastern Post 56% of trafficked brides have been sold twice, 21% have been sold thrice and 6% of them have been sold four or more times. However, according to Global Voices, the re-selling rate on an average is as high as 4 to 10 times for every trafficked bride and 83% of girls have been sold more than twice. Also, in 89% of the cases, the trafficked bride is the second, third, fourth etc. wife of her buyer. It is clear from these statistics that purchasing women in the name of marriage is not a traditional practice of lower-class communities (although they are starting to practice it.)

Bride trafficking is more prevalent in rich, land-owning communities. As seen in the census of 2011, the top 20% of the population have the worst sex ratio. Wealthy families see baby girls (and the dowries that go with them) as a threat to their wealth. This is why girl children are either eliminated as foetuses or as infants and the absence of eligible girls is made up for by purchasing trafficked brides. It is an unending cycle that neither society nor the government seems to be interested in breaking.

On the legal front too, hope for justice seems almost non-existent for trafficked brides. The ITPA (Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act) deals especially with prostitution but does not cover all forms of trafficking. The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976 does not cover this form of trafficking and slavery either. More over, sexual violence faced by trafficked brides amounts to marital rape which, despite the Justice Verma Committee’s suggestions and vehement protests by various women’s rights organizations, is not a criminal act in India. Although IPC sec. 366 seems like an effective way to tackle this mass abuse and rape of women and girls, it does not have a provision for rehabilitating victims of trafficking. Despite all this, the ultimate barrier is that trafficked brides are either illiterate or only slightly educated and have little to no knowledge of their own rights.

Trafficked brides are often child brides or very young women who are sold to older men. A majority of trafficked brides are between the ages of 13-23 years. A trafficked bride can be bought for as little as Rs. 1,200. They are confined to the four walls of the houses of the men who have bought them and have almost no social interaction with anyone else, even in their own homes. Neighbours often don’t know who the bride is, where she has come from or if she even exists. The state of anonymity that these women live in is not only disturbing but a cause for great concern.

If we do not know how many women are there, how will we know how many women are missing?

In the Mewat region alone, there are 20,000 cross-border brides. But that number is an unofficial estimate, just the tip of the ice berg and the ship that India society is floating on seems to be heading straight for it.

While urban citizens in general seem to be blissfully ignorant of the trafficking and slavery of women in the name of marriage, the government chooses to turn a blind eye. It would dare not defy the Samaj Panchayats and Khap Panchayats who, while worried about the ‘purity’ of their bloodlines, see trafficked brides as a necessity because for them anything is better than having a daughter.

It is these very Panchayats who hold the fate of politicians in their hands. Every time election comes around, these Panchayats declare the name of a candidate and the entire community votes for him/her. For the government, it would be disastrous to act against bride trafficking and lose a vote bank. After all, why is it important to uphold the human rights and dignity of these nameless, faceless women? Who are they? Do they comprise a vote bank?

No, they don’t.

A vote bank seems to be the only solution to this problem. If a vote bank is what it takes for the authorities to turn a blind eye to bride trafficking and simply shrug and say that marriage is a familial issue when confronted with realities, then a vote bank should be organized. Right-minded citizens who know their rights and care about the rights of others must come together and put gender equality and women’s rights on the agenda for 2014.

Bride trafficking is not just a woman rights issue but a human rights issue. Bride trafficking is not marriage, It is a lethal combination of the darkest forms of domestic slavery, bonded labour and sexual slavery. Bride trafficking is the ultimate dehumanization of a woman; hidden under colourful veils and disgusting excuses of men’s needs, a community’s honour and a family’s necessity. It is an inhumane custom of believing that someone can put a price on another human being’s life. This custom exists because we, as a society, allow it to. But we don’t have to let this go on anymore. Unlike the women who are stripped of their humanity and sold into a sick perversion of marriage, we do have a voice.

But the question remains: are we brave enough to raise it?


Guest post by Samar Esapzai, a visual artist and PhD student in International Rural Development and Gender Studies.

In an enlightening class I took last semester, my professor said something that stuck with me long after the class/semester ended, for it held so much raw truth. She said:

“The woman’s body is the battleground upon which cultural and religious wars are fought.”

Being a woman in any given society, whether it may be within South/Central Asia or in the West, there are often triggers of distress and tension, and the constant battle with one’s image and appearance that plays over and over again in a woman’s head like a broken record. We live in a world where, right from the time we are born up until we die, we are told that our body defines us; that our sexuality should be proscribed – protected; and that we should do everything in our power to guard our bodies – our honour – from the enemy: men. And, if we don’t, then the blame falls solely upon us.

While there are some who manage to break free from this never-ending cycle of staring, leering, gawking, examining, judging, etc., most women will, however, be forever stuck in this rut for the majority of their adult lives. The worst part is that some women have even accepted it – accepted that they, their bodies, are the reason behind every incident of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, and all other forms of violence that have been, and will be, inflicted upon them. It has almost become like an unspoken sort of awareness, where a woman suddenly realizes how dangerous her body is to her safety. And if she slips – even once – she will have no choice but to suffer the dire consequences that accompany it.

Furthermore, when we look back at history, especially in the context of war and conflict, women’s bodies have often been treated as territories to be conquered, claimed and marked by the contender. This is why violence, especially sexual violence, against women was and still is quite common during communal/ethnic conflicts. Women would not only be raped but their bodies would be marked in such a way so as to remind the opposing enemy that their women – who are supposed to be “pure” and a representative of the community’s/nation’s “honour” – are stained.

Such markings would include stripping a woman naked and serenading her in shame in public; physical mutilation and disfigurement, i.e. cutting off a woman’s private parts, or other parts of her body, such as her nose, ears, hair, etc.; tattooing and branding a woman on her private parts, i.e. her breasts and/or genitals, with hate slogans against the enemy; and other forms of debasements to emphasize conquest and suppression.

Thus, the violation of women’s bodies equates the same political territories upon which the men from the rioting communities would inscribe their markings on. It’s like an uncanny sort of relinquishment – a victory, where it becomes blatant that in order to defeat a nation, you must violate their women. Such atrocious violations against women hence create a sense of helplessness in communities where a woman’s honour is more important than her life. And in order to revive this honour, members of the community (usually male) have no choice but to kill off every single female who was either raped or physically/sexually violated in any way. For it is known that a woman’s dishonour is the dishonour of the ethnic race, the community, and the nation as a whole.

Consequently, the targeting of women’s bodies is both an effect and a cause of the acceptability of sexual violence against women. It serves to subjugate women further, and creates an environment where violence becomes habitual and is committed with impunity. And while there is no denying that the blame often falls upon the woman for failing to guard her body from being violated, even if it is against her own volition, an equal burden falls upon the shoulders of men who deeply value their women’s honour.

I personally believe that as long as such societies conventionalize the woman as a symbol of honour and continue to instrumentalize her in such an ignominious way, gender-based violence in these societies will persist, making any iota of progress seem bleak.

Even so, not all societies associate women with honour, despite the fact that rape and other forms of violence against women still occurs. There are societies, particularly within the South and Central Asian region, where a woman’s dignity equates her entire existence as well as the existence of those around her. And though it is clear that men, too, are targets and victims of violence, it is the gendered nature of violence that marks women’s experiences as wholly unique.


Guest post on an attempt to understand the gender war as a result of fear leading to hatred on the part of both sexes by Ananya Gambhir:

Have you ever been pepper-sprayed? I have. Your eyes burn like the fires of Mordor and you experience pain the likes of which you’ve probably never experienced in recent memory.

Humorously enough, the incident was the result of a complete misunderstanding. The girl, whom I knew quite well at the time, mistook me for a stranger in the darkness and fog of Delhi’s winter. I was the victim of an incredibly paranoid individual, a seasonal phenomenon and the unnerving, ambient creepiness of the inner lanes of East Delhi.

In retrospect, I couldn’t be happier she did it.

Here I am, writing for an initiative that does the wonderful job of teaching women how to defend themselves against potential attackers (and in India, attackers are a plenty), and yet I’ve often wondered to myself: “Are the sexes at war?”

On one hand, we have generations of men raised in a shamelessly patriarchal social setup where, and I can’t say this often enough, we are constantly patted-on-the-back for having a penis. We are brought up in an environment that tells us we have the upper hand, and what way better to exert your dominance over the other sex than by establishing complete sexual control?

On the other, we have generations of women that have gone from being raised to serve their men to being raised to be scared of them. That, I think, is the biggest reason I write about this issue. Women are scared. They are scared of being out in the street unaccompanied by a man, they are scared of wearing the clothes they like, they are scared of having a drink too many at a party. The influence of fear is painfully prevalent in the decisions women are forced to make every day.

And nothing breeds hate like fear does.

So now we have two sections of the world unmistakably at loggerheads with each other, completely antagonistic to their intended symbiotic existence.

Which is why two articles on the internet caught my eye out of the scores of articles about rape that I read every day.

The first one is about Amrita Mohan, a Kalaripayattu champion and Karate black-belt from Kerala who single-handedly beat black and blue her alleged attackers, a couple of men in a government Jeep.

As passers-by stopped, stared and did nothing, Amrita reportedly beat her attackers to the ground all by herself, securing her the honour of being a symbol of the end of women’s oppression in her state. Amrita was a hero for women in Kerala and all around the country. Amrita had realised the innermost desires of thousands of girls that are harassed on the streets of India every day. She was going to go down in local history as the one who fought back, a hero, a shining beacon of change.

Amrita and four others present at the scene, including her father, now face charges of obstructing the duty of government employees and brutally assaulting them. If convicted, they face up to seven years in jail.

This has, obviously, sparked an outburst of rage across the country. The thought of two sexual offenders being able to turn around and drag their potential victim to court after being warded off by her is, no doubt, a huge blow to the sense of security of women across the country whose faith in the justice system has already been damaged beyond repair given the recent happenings.

I can’t say I blame them. India has changed after the events of December, 2012. The protests at India Gate may have died down, the news channels may have stopped flashing the images of violent agitations on the screen and angry, outspoken news-anchors may have moved on to being angry and outspoken about other issues, but the revolution (yes, I said revolution) of 2012 taught a country of women that they didn’t have to take it lying down. There is a fresh wave of active feminism tearing it’s way through the hearts and souls of women who are beginning to realise they have a choice to fight back.

Amrita symbolised that change for the women of Kerala and every other woman who heard her story. To have that symbol tied down and torn apart isn’t something that will go down with the fairer sex. To grant the two scoundrels the ability to turn this heroic act of Amrita and put her and her family through legislative hell is a luxury we, perhaps, cannot afford to give the men of a country that has already spoiled them too much for their own good. “Fry the bastards” echo the voices of the internet.

I find myself praying to a god I don’t believe in anymore that Amrita comes out of this acquitted with the guilty, whoever they may be, behind bars. I find myself hoping that she was justified in her assault, that the two men in the jeep were, in fact, harassers who deserve the harshest punishment.

I hope for these things because, should the judgement rule against her, we would lose more than a woman, we would lose a symbol. There are enough things in the world telling women NOT to fight back; I don’t think we can afford to lose one that tells them otherwise.

Which brings me to the second article that caught my eye.

The University of Colorado recently devised a list of things women can do to ward off sexual offenders.

Among other things, the list also included telling the attacker you had a disease or were menstruating and, disturbingly, vomiting or urinating to disgust the attacker out of the act.

I’ve always upheld the belief that rape is more than a crime of lust. I’ve always felt that man-on-woman rape is the result of a fierce global patriarchy and, thus, is more a crime of control and power. The idea here is to degrade the other party and assert your sexual dominance over their body.

In that context, supposed deterrents like urinating will not be as effective as say, a kick to the groin.

Conversely, if disgusting the attacker allows the potential victim even a window to escape, then I am, with great shame and horror, all for it.

The list has faced its share of backlash on the internet, becoming the butt of a twitter-joke too many, but what interested me more than the article were the comments that followed. I’ve always found that the comments sections on articles are truly the best places to have a true sense of how the people feel, which is why some of the comments on this particular piece were extremely disturbing.

1

Here’s one that talks about “Real rape” versus “Date rape”

2

Here’s one that talks about “sticking a knife in the psycho”

The comments carry on in a fierce inter-sexual debate which eventually extends into an out-of-control agitation from both sides.

Fear, once again, comes into the picture.

The fear of being subjected to sexual violence helps the university and the readers to justify the degradation of the victim to disgust the attacker out of the act.

The fear of being physically overpowered breeds ideas of extremely violent measures to protect one-self like “sticking a knife” in the attacker.

The fear of being falsely accused of sexual harassment leads men to question the validity of rape accusations.

The fear of being shouted down by “Feminazis” turns men into misogynistic  war-mongers that believe a woman should keep her mouth shut.

Men and women are at War. This is a bigger war than any other in the history of mankind, because it pits one half of the global population against the other. There are no casual bystanders, there are no neutral parties. We’re facing an all-out, no holds barred, win-or-die-trying global battlefield here, and no one will come out of this one an unscathed survivor.

You want to change the world? Start by not being afraid. Then help drive the fear out of your brothers and sisters. The day we can eliminate this inter-gender fear we will have eliminated the root of the problem of sexual violence. It’s an easy road thereon.

But till then, the solution starts with accepting the war, realising that the actions taken by either party in defence is the consequence of this global conflict. That is how we get there, through understanding and realisation.

Which is why, in retrospect, I understand completely why the girl sprayed me in the face with that horrible pepper-spray. She’s just a foot-soldier in this war, ready to strike at the first sign of agitation.

Excellent shot, soldier. Stand at ease.