Category Archives: Feminism

The politics of Hindutva and its erotic charge: Jaya Sharma

Guest post by JAYA SHARMA

In the post election bewilderment that continues to grip us, might it be that we are asking the wrong questions?

The questions are by now familiar. How can it be that a Pragya Thakur wins and an Atishi loses? How can it be that demonetization doesn’t translate into loss of votes? How can it be that the party under whom lynching of Dalits and Muslims becomes a norm gets re-elected? How can it be that hatred for the other wins over humanity?

In response, journalists, political scientists and writers have pointed out that our assumptions related to the significance of macro economic indicators, caste-based voting patterns, among other things, were faulty. But the questions still remain,  including the big one: why did facts and logic lose so dramatically?

Might it be that the bewilderment continues because there is a glaring blind spot in the way in which we understand politics? Might it be that facts and logic were never the only driving force? I will argue here that in order to understand the recent election results and the power of Hindu Nationalism more broadly, we need the lens of the psyche. The play of desire and the erotic is key to understanding politics and dipping into our own sex and love lives can help us see this.  ‘The personal is political’ mantra can come to the rescue in the bewilderment that we feel today.  In making this argument I will draw upon research that I have undertaken for a book that I am in the process of writing called Fantasy Frames: Sex, Love and Indian Politics, to be published later this year. Continue reading The politics of Hindutva and its erotic charge: Jaya Sharma

Sexual Harassment ‘in-house’ for the Supreme Court – is sunlight the best disinfectant? Pratiksha Baxi

Guest Post by PRATIKSHA BAXI

The publication of a sworn affidavit by a former Supreme Court staffer testifying to sexual harassment by the Chief Justice of India has been treated as a scandal, whether the complainant was believed or not. And the subsequent events – an extraordinary suo moto hearing, allegations of a conspiracy against the independence of the judiciary, the in-house committee’s decision to exonerate the CJI – have evoked the normative question whether such forms of judicial exceptionalism are the necessary condition for judging in our courts.

Yet asking such questions ran the risk of being labelled as an ‘institution de-stabiliser’. The intent was to invent social consensus by deploying labelling as a technique of censoring and delegitimising feminist critique. Not so long ago women who challenged male authority were described as witches, today they are labelled anti-national, institution destabilisers, presstitutes or simply, left-liberal/JNU type.

However, whether one walks right, left, centre or zigzag, it cannot be denied that jurisprudential questions need answers beyond the specifics of this case. One would have thought that it is also in the interest of all judges to devise a procedure that is constitutionally sound and invested in gender justice, while recognising the specific problems that judges may have because of the nature of their work. And that the Supreme Court would recognise that it is in the interest of every survivor of sexual harassment, irrespective of ideology or status, to be provided normative answers.

Continue reading Sexual Harassment ‘in-house’ for the Supreme Court – is sunlight the best disinfectant? Pratiksha Baxi

Law versus faith, female activists versus male devotees and other strange creatures at Sabarimala

Images of resistance

The three images below teach us how society is transformed – by the courage and determination of the oppressed and marginalized; by tears of rage, and by stony cold resistance in the face of violent retaliation by entrenched power.  It is not that these pioneers were fearless, but that they acted despite their fear.

The first shows Kairali TV camera-person Shajila Ali Fathima, tears running down her face as she continues filming the vandalism of Hindu right-wing mobs over the Sabarimala issue, despite being threatened and physically attacked (her neck was hurt, and she has since been advised a cervical collar and rest).

The second shows fifteen year old Elizabeth Eckford walking steadfastly past the hostile screams and stares of white segregationists on her first day of school in 1957, after the US Supreme Court outlawed racial segregation in schools.

And the third shows the Kalaram Temple satygraha, led by BR Ambedkar and BK Gaikwad in 1930, to fight for the right of Dalits to enter the temple.  Almost nine decades later, Dalits still face immense hostility and violence towards their right to worship and participate in temple festivals.

Women are activists, men are devotees

Continue reading Law versus faith, female activists versus male devotees and other strange creatures at Sabarimala

Hindutva Terror and Left Hegemony: After Women’s Entry into Sabarimala

Hours after the two women entered Sabarimala, the Hindu terrorists began their handiwork. Mad mobs, including women, began to roam the streets and attack by-passers, in their desperation to foment violence and provoke riots. In Karunagappally, Muslim establishments and shops were singled out for vandalism. The Sangh-backed Sabarimala Action Council called for a hartal today and they have spared no effort to make sure that people are terrorized. Continue reading Hindutva Terror and Left Hegemony: After Women’s Entry into Sabarimala

The Triumph of Streevaashi! Women break the wall of caste at Sabarimala

Out of the dark, seemingly never-ending night, a streak of light! Two women of menstruating ages, Bindu and Kanakdurga, finally entered Sabarimala, breaking the concerted walls built against them by brahmanical-Hindutva male authorities on the right and left. Continue reading The Triumph of Streevaashi! Women break the wall of caste at Sabarimala

Stop The Criminalisation of Triple Talaq: Women’s rights activists

We, the undersigned individuals, women’s rights activists and allies of the women’s movements, are opposed to the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018 in its present form. We appeal to the Members of Rajya Sabha to completely withdraw the Bill and significantly re-draft it in the interest of Muslim women.
The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, was passed by the Lok Sabha on December 28, 2017 and is pending before the Rajya Sabha. This Bill was not referred to a Select Committee as urged by the members of Rajya Sabha, but the Union Cabinet incorporated three amendments based on the issues raised by the Opposition. It included the provision of bail when the wife appears before the Magistrate, allowing only the aggrieved woman and her relatives (by blood or marriage) to file a complaint, and making the offence compoundable. Owing to severe opposition to this Bill in the Rajya Sabha, the Union Cabinet issued the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Ordinance on September 19, 2018, which criminalised the pronouncement of triple talaq (or talaq-e-bidat) with punishment of up to 3 years of imprisonment and with fine.
We are writing on behalf of Muslim women from across the country and women’s groups to oppose this Bill, which is arbitrary, excessive, and violative of fundamental rights enshrined in the Indian Constitution. Overall, if this Bill is passed it would make Muslim women more vulnerable to violence, as well as harm their economic, household and social security.

Continue reading Stop The Criminalisation of Triple Talaq: Women’s rights activists