A Foetus is not a Person by Caroline Lund

Abortion in India is legal only up to twenty weeks of pregnancy under specific conditions and situations which are broadly defined as:

  • the continuance of the pregnancy would involve a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or of grave injury of physical or mental health, or
  • there is a substantial risk that if the child were born, it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.

(via Wikipedia)

Recently, the Supreme Court permitted a rape survivor to terminate her pregnancy at 24 weeks, which is beyond the permissible 20 weeks limit prescribed under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971.

Abortion is a topic that is not as hot a debate in India, as it has been in the US. The basic difference being that in the US, the fight for abortion rights is at the point of consent of a woman of not having a baby. While in India, the legalities in abortion are focused on severe health risks for the woman or the baby, and that if the woman is a rape survivor where abortion is legally permissible before 15 weeks. There are obvious risks in the process of abortion due to sex-determination. But the point of consent of a woman is always missing.  Continue reading “A Foetus is not a Person by Caroline Lund”

Poem | Kesa Mehsoos Hota Hai | How It Feels to be Molested

I had first written this poem in English and then translated it for a poetry recital at Conflictorium, Ahmedabad. I also got a chance to recite it at a panel discussion at Gujarat Literature Festival and at a research exhibition event conducted by Centre for Urban Equity, CEPT University, Ahmedabad. Here’s the Hindi Version of the poem.

Kesa Mehsoos Hota Hai

Hindi Version (English version available below this one)

Esa nahi hai ki mene koshish nahi ki
Koshish karna zaroori hota hai
Mene bi ki hai koshish
Koshish surakshit rehne ki
Jab ghar se bahar niklu
Kyu ki Ghar bethe toh guzara nahi hota!

Ese toh surakshit rehne ka brahmgyan muje hai
Kaafi suna hua hai
Esa karo, esa na karo

Atit ki almaari mein se
kuch kisse nikal rakhe mez par.
Kya pehna tha mene uss roz?
Sleeveless t-shirt aur Shorts
Theek hai, iss baar
Kuch poora pehena jaaye
Continue reading “Poem | Kesa Mehsoos Hota Hai | How It Feels to be Molested”

Stuff You Don’t Say About A Molestation Case

I remember talking about TVF to one of my older friends just yesterday. I was talking about Permanent Roommates (an online fiction series about a quirky couple in a live-in) and how it struck the right cord in the right places- it was gender sensitive, even feministic at a lot of places. There are several other concepts by TVF like tripling which is either gender neutral or very sensitive. And then I opened twitter, only to discover there was a huge controversy going on. Early morning yesterday, there was an anonymous post on Medium alleging TVF’s founder of molestation.

What began was a thread of responses from comedians at AIB, other comedians and inconsequential people like me. But what’s more shocking is that even other girls from random places came out to say that they had gone through molestation by Anurabh Kumar on varying levels. The Quint has done a compiling piece on the other allegations by different women.

Anurabh Kumar, TVF CEO and Founder

We don’t know if any of these women have filed a police complaint yet and investigations will happen. But I could compile some of the disgusting responses that people/mostly men gave in response to what happened. I even got into arguments with a few of them.  Continue reading “Stuff You Don’t Say About A Molestation Case”

The Other Angle: Indian Media on International Women’s Day

I did not go for my regular walk today. It’s international women’s day. And I wanted to read the newspapers on what supposed congratulatory messages have come up this year. It matters what the media chooses to put in its news. Especially the print and online media.

Live Mint Decides to take a Full U-Turn on International Women’s Day

On International Women’s Day Livemint Talks About This
Quotes like these within the article

“68% Women Said That Their Husbands Massage Their Feet In Times of Pain” declared City Bhaskar, as if they interviewed 10,000, even a 1000 women of different strata. They called 100 selected women and chose to put this as a headline. Did you want to prove that Women are happy? Hope you are Happy now. Continue reading “The Other Angle: Indian Media on International Women’s Day”

The Other Angle: Let’s Talk Female Sexuality

Am I really writing this? Do I want to publish this? Is this necessary? Yes. Yes. Yes. Always Yes to Female Sexuality.

During college, I remember a meaty gossip about this otherwise bubbly-happy-go-lucky girl’s adolescence phase. She came from a small town (smaller than Ahmedabad) and had done a kaand there. ‘Kaand‘ is a Hindi word which generally means an incident but colloquially it is used more for sexual activities. This girl was said to have been found in a closed room (apparently making out) with a classmate. And it had come in the papers (with the name changed) yet it had brought her a lot bad name in her town.

Self-acclaimed moralists would put questions on ‘how could she even think of such a thing at that age’. She was 16 or 18. I regret not objecting and playing along this gossip then.

The fact here is that she was rather unfortunate to have been caught in the act. Boys begin thinking, talking about sex, masturbation and porn at least from the 8th standard. But I don’t remember even a single conversation with my girlfriends about sexuality.

F****e M*******tion is just how this looks. It is non-existent. Continue reading “The Other Angle: Let’s Talk Female Sexuality”

Not a Review: Why I have No Issues with Dangal

Finally, the ticket rates went a little down this week and I got to see Dangal last night, with my parents. I thought it was a brilliant film in terms of entertainment. Especially after the acceptance that this is a real story about real humans— who are generally not perfect. Neither was the situation perfect nor were the daughters and father perfect. Hence, a father wanting a male child for his dreams was wrong, but for most men with their male ego, it stops right there. He realised his daughters were no less and he gives it a chance. Then of course, him wanting to suddenly get his girls to extreme training was perhaps extreme. But if there was nothing extraordinary about the girls, they wouldn’t have reached this far. There is something called aptitude and there’s always a little influence of the genes. You can’t train any random person into a wrestler.

It didn’t bother me that, “Oh if they were given a choice, they could have done something else.”

Just like Sachin Tendulkar could have been a footballer. Priyanka Chopra could have been a business tycoon. But that’s not their story, is it? And these people are happy with their lives, aren’t they? And we don’t question those stories, do we? Just because we haven’t seen their coaches train them, really hard; sometimes even without their willingness.

We can come back for a self-righteous analysis of success stories 30 years later perhaps when career exploration is a part of a child’s education in India; when the parents would have a basic exposure to the careers available out there—even in the villages—and the willingness to go out of their way to get their children for a proper exploration. Until then, we are not in a fictitious dreamland. We have to give it to Mahavir Phogaat and his girls for being outliers, and fighting the patriarchy and finding their way out. And we must respect all other people who in their own imperfect ways and situations, are trying to make their way.

All I missed in the film is a Hug. I think there were strong vibes for a hug but perhaps that’s not the kind of place that they came from. Mentally, I hugged the father and the daughters.(Sidefacts: My father was a pehelwan in his youth and he could totally relate to the kind of coaching that Phogaat undertakes for his daughters. He had hoped that I become a weight-lifter or a marathon runner but I was lazy and flat-footed. Well!)

I wish I could here a little more of Geeta’s inner voice. Like the last scene. Although I don’t know how much rational analysis can a person do in a wrestling ring; the movie is just fine!

#personalopinion #notafilmreview
(Let me know what you think!)

The Other Angle: These NID, CEPT girls, you know what kind of girls they are, right?

There are many popular beliefs in our society about girls in national institutions like CEPT, NID. There is a lot of mix crowd in these colleges with students from all over the country. There is a certain perception about girls in these colleges, people believe that they are loose in character.

On the other side, there have been instances where these girls are eve-teased and harassed only because they are from NID and CEPT. Perhaps there is a novelty element attached to it, perhaps it is because they are from different states. They stand outside the NID gates, waiting for girls to come out walking. Interestingly another national institute CEPT sees the same kind of attraction from eve teasers. There is this sense of entitlement taken by the perpetrators. What they are actually doing is that, they are violating the trust that the parents of these girls have put on us as a city, ‘a safe city’ for their girls.

It is believed that students of these colleges are smokers, drinkers, sleeping around with different people, ‘available’, inviting attention, and going against the so called Indian culture. There is a stereotype about these guys being the ‘bad boys’ but it is even worse for the girls. When girls are perceived to be of ‘loose character’ it somehow justifies the act of violating them. Whether they are into these things or not- is not the question, does it discount them from their basic rights as citizens of this country? How does a supposed comment on a girl’s character bring down the valid point that she’s trying to make? These are perhaps the same kind of people who would blame the victim in a rape case, “Oh, but she was out late at night.”

In the recent JNU protest, a Haryana BJP leader found it important to stress that the female protestors at JNU were worse than prostitutes. Connecting the dots, who are these self-proclaimed moral police and protectors? And what is the supposed ‘Indian culture’ that one must follow to be safe and survive in this country?


(This post was first translated in Gujarati and published in City Bhaskar, Ahmedabad in the 21 Feb 2016 edition. Liked it? Hated it? Let me know! Comment here or get in touch at rtnair91gmail.com)