The events preceding the recent death sentence awarded to the rapists of December 16th Delhi gang rape case from 2012 have certainly broadened the canvas of discourse on sexualized violence in India. Not only was the institutional sexism that pervades India’s criminal justice system been challenged, but also patriarchal values and norms that sanction and reinforce gender biases were openly questioned. It was remarkable to watch the unprecedented outpouring from the Indian citizenry from all across which resulted in the decision of the government to constitute a committee which had the mandate for recommending amendments to the Criminal Law. Recommendations by the Justice Verma Committee in early 2013, undoubtedly paved a way for much needed reform of laws and criminal justice practices relating to crimes of sexual violence. However, this was not true for all the survivors of sexual violence, particularly from the “disturbed” peripheral states of India. For the victims and survivors of sexualized violence from the conflict zones of India – Jammu and Kashmir and Northeast, the discourse ended uneventfully with a reserved/muted submission of the Committee’s report to the government. Continue reading Securing Justice for Rape Survivors from Kashmir and Northeast is An International Human Rights Crisis: Ayesha Pervez→
I woke up in Paris last weekend to the news of the Delhi protests. I felt relieved. People are not just watching or suffering quietly anymore, I thought to myself. I wanted to be there too, out in the streets of Delhi. For all those times I had to suffer sexual harassment in Delhi, I want to be part of this churning for change now.
My Parisian friends asked me what was going on. And I told them about the new “national outrage” and the stories that had been stoking the anger. That’s when I realised I needed to make a list. What was informing my idea of what’s going on? These stories making it to the headlines, do they have something in common?
Yes, they do have one very obvious thing in common. They are all “sensational” news items. They are either:
I recently read a scathing article on Oprah Winfrey. I was quite shocked. The journalist made such fuss about her honest observations as if it’s criminal to not know something. However, what were more astonishing were the serendipitous parallels between her journey to Indian and mine to US. And when I read the article, I almost felt as if someone was mocking at me. I felt outraged and decided that I’ll write this note in solidarity with Oprah. Perhaps then, people will see the injustice done to her. Well, I am a celebrity too, here in this country. Not as big as Oprah but it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter even if you’re not able to place me at all. The real celebrities don’t publicize themselves anyway. They’re obscure, consigned to oblivion, with some quaint looking academic in some foreign university (probably US) fawning at the greatness of their work. These days all it takes to be a celebrity is to be notorious with your face pasted everywhere. You’d be surprised by the lack of work backing most people you take for celebrities. Anyway, I am notorious enough for the people who’ve suffered me on stage, I really don’t have much work to support me, and I guess I have had had enough presence in media to statistically pass off as a celebrity. Continue reading In Solidarity with Oprah→
After a decade without a day job, and associating with Dastangoi for over six years, I can safely say that I am a career storyteller. And one of the things I have learned is that resumes don’t make a person, stories do. Often these stories are not our own stories, but stories we’ve heard amongst loved ones, extended families, friends, work places, milieu; stories we’ve grown up with, stories distilled deep enough to become an integral part of our existence. We may not often identify with our resume but with our stories, always – acquaintanceship strikes, the moment our stories resonate. Continue reading The Poet, His Poems and His Tales→