Friday, 4 September 2015

The "fallen" woman

The Indrani Mukherjea saga has once again brought to the fore our obsession with the "fallen" woman. And, as usual, more women than men are crying foul and discussing in gory detail how bad a mother she was or what a social climber she has been and how she deserves exactly what she got. Well, maybe all this is true in her case or maybe not. Haven’t we all heard the adage “innocent till proven guilty”? We are ready to believe that she has committed this crime even though there were no eye witnesses to this act other than those also equally guilty but there are many who still don’t believe that Salman Khan ran over innocent poor people sleeping on the footpath while in a drunken state, though eye witnesses confirm the fact. See what I mean?

Yes, we are sometimes too ready to tag a woman as “fallen” and find excuses for the men.

Even though divorce is a common thing today, even in India, a successful divorcee woman is regarded rather warily by many other “happily married women” in the society. They fear that these women might lure their own husbands into some kind of a honey trap. Please !!! Give it a rest women …your husbands - paunchy, balding, miserly et al - are attractive only to yourselves. Nobody, especially not these successful, gone-through-the-wringer women, is interested in your husbands. And the same goes for those smart, successful women who choose to remain single. They are not interested in your husbands. Now, whether your husbands are interested in these women is something you have to ask yourself.

Woe be to those divorced (or widowed) women who found love and are either, married a second time or living in with their partner. People around start commenting about how soon they could move on when the ex-husband couldn’t, though these same people wouldn’t bother to comment if the ex-husband went around with a thousand girls & the woman remained single and maybe, miserable. If the woman has children then there will be those who’ll comment on what a bad mother this woman is and how unsettling it’s for the kids when the mother remarries or lives-in with another man. Never mind that the kids are well-behaved, well-balanced & happy!!! And startlingly, these comments come not from enemies but from some of the closest friends, also women.

Why are we still like this? Why haven’t education and a broader world-view been able to change this woman-hate-woman attitude? I don’t know. But it angers me every time I see it. It makes me cringe and I am neither divorced, widowed nor single. 

Friday, 13 March 2015

Are India's daughters really safe ?

Yesterday there was an incident in Bengaluru where a police officer from Madurai beat up his adult daughter brutally in broad daylight for allegedly having an affair with a person who the parents didn’t deem fit for the daughter. Bystanders, among who was the girl’s mother, a school teacher herself, looked on. The girl was finally saved by two women who were passing by and the incident reported to the police. Today the papers reported that the police let the father go because the girl did not file a complaint against her father. The fact that there were so many witnesses to the incident doesn’t matter, I guess.

A few days ago, a woman in one of the groups on a popular social networking site mentioned that whenever she comes to India (she lives in the US), she is pitied on by all her relatives & neighbours because she has two daughters. Recently one of her mom’s friends, a school Principal, told her that since she had her child in the US & there you get to know the sex of the foetus in advance, she should’ve aborted the second child when she came to know that it was a girl.

These are just two incidents that show that India’s daughters are indeed not safe !!!

It is not just the poverty stricken, uneducated, angry youth whom she should be scared of. She should be very scared of her own parents and neighbours too, both men and women, who see her as nothing but a liability.

All the furore on the documentary by Leslee Udwin titled India’s daughter got me thinking. All those who condemned the documentary were saying things like, “why name it as India’s daughter ? Rape is not a problem unique to India. It is a global phenomenon” or “this documentary is a ploy to shame India” or “not all men in India are like these men who were accused of the rape”.

I agree, rape is not a phenomenon unique to India, it happens all over the World. But in which other civilized society have we heard politicians and general public find fault with the victim because of the way she dressed or because she was alone at a nightclub? One may not approve of a way a woman/girl has dressed or the way she behaves but that DOES NOT give anyone the right to physically violate her. Rape is RAPE. PERIOD.

I got online to see if it (blaming the victim) happens in the Western world too. Yes, it sometimes does especially by the lawyers who are defending the accused. But I also found that in the US and Canada there are “rape shield laws” that prohibit cross-examination of the accuser (alleged victim) with respect to certain issues, such as his or her prior sexual history, or the manner in which he or she was dressed at the time of the rape.

It is also true that all men in India are not brutal pigs but as the incident with which I begin here is anything to go by, many men are. I’m sure some will say, but there are such men in the Western world too. I agree, there must be but would he be spared by the authorities after beating up his daughter in public?
It is so unfortunate that instead of self-introspection, we turn to pointing fingers. Even when my 5 year old tells me, after doing something naughty, “s/he told me to do, so I did it” or “s/he did it too”…I tell him, that’s not an acceptable excuse for his bad behavior. So why does a country get away with saying, “they do too”?

It is with anguish that I say that more, a lot more needs to be done by Indians, by the people in power to make India a safer place for her daughters.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Rangoli - Metro Art Centre

For a long time I’ve been planning to visit what has been referred to by many people I know as the M G Road Boulevard. This is what the BMRCL (Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd) gifted to the city dwellers once the construction of this phase of the Metro got over. And I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw here. Over a stretch of at least a km., starting from the Metro station at M G Road till the junction where this road meets the St. Marks Road, has been converted into a perfect hangout at the heart of the city.

There are a few art galleries in this bougainvillea covered promenade which they have named Rangoli – Metro Art Centre (R-MAC). The artistic installations and art work here leaves you spellbound. There is a picture gallery too and a wall that outlines the history of Bangalore over the last few decades. 

The Friendship Point is a wall on which you can tie a friendship band every time you visit Bangalore. It is certainly a great way to harbor unity and brotherhood in a time when it is much needed. 

I have an active 5 year old who loves to run about & play. Whenever we go out, I worry about whether the place is kid friendly.  R-MAC has a kids’ play area and seating areas from where the adults can keep an eye on the kids while they chat & sip coffee or read a book. Though the equipment in the kids’ play area is not very well-maintained, I’ve seen from experience that kids just enjoy to run around helter-skelter. So I don’t think that that’s a big disadvantage. If you feel hungry, you can simply walk over to the Dasaprakash restaurant, housed within, for dosas or walk down to the innumerable other restaurants on M G Road. It is perfect for a family outing or a hangout with friends.