Category Archives: Feminism

An Open Letter to the National Leadership of the AIDWA : Struggle in Unity for Equality, or Struggle in Unity against Impunity?

To the National Leadership which is currently participating in the 13th National Conference of the AIDWA in Thiruvananthapuram.

Dear sisters in struggle

I write to you from Kerala, where the CPM is currently in power for a second time, a rare achievement indeed, in a state where power changes hands usually in each election. I know that most of you hail from places where the CPM is very far from power. I know the difference that makes to activism.

Continue reading An Open Letter to the National Leadership of the AIDWA : Struggle in Unity for Equality, or Struggle in Unity against Impunity?

മാറുന്ന ഭരണകൂടം, നവബ്രാഹ്മണിക പിതൃമേധാവിത്വം, ദണ്ഡനീതി ഫെമിനിസം കേരളത്തിൽ — 5

ഉപസംഹാരം

ഫെമിനിസ്റ്റ് ദണ്ഡനീതി നിയമ ഉപകരണങ്ങൾ നിരോധിക്കണമെന്നോ അവ തീർത്തും അപ്രസക്തമാണെന്നോ അല്ല ഈ ലേഖനത്തിൽ ഞാൻ വാദിച്ചിട്ടുള്ളത്. നേരെ മറിച്ച് അവ ഉപയോഗിക്കുമ്പോൾ ജനാധിപത്യവും മനുഷ്യാവകാശങ്ങളും ലിംഗാനീതിയ്ക്കെതിരെയുള്ള പോരോട്ടങ്ങളുടെ സാധ്യതകൾ തന്നെയും അധികാരത്തിൻറെ മേൽ-കീഴറ്റങ്ങൾ കാണാനാകാത്തവിധം പിളർന്ന വായിലകപ്പെട്ടു പോകും വിധം അവരെ പുണരുന്നത് അങ്ങേയറ്റം അപകടകരമായിരിക്കും എന്ന മുന്നറിപ്പ് വായനക്കാരുടെ മുന്നിൽ വയ്ക്കാനാണ് എൻറെ ശ്രമം.

Continue reading മാറുന്ന ഭരണകൂടം, നവബ്രാഹ്മണിക പിതൃമേധാവിത്വം, ദണ്ഡനീതി ഫെമിനിസം കേരളത്തിൽ — 5

മാറുന്ന ഭരണകൂടം, നവബ്രാഹ്മണിക പിതൃമേധാവിത്വം, ദണ്ഡനീതി ഫെമിനിസം കേരളത്തിൽ –4

ദണ്ഡനീതി ഫെമിനിസവും നവബ്രാഹ്മണ പിതൃമേധാവിത്വവും

കേരളത്തിൽ ഇരുപതാം നൂറ്റാണ്ടിൽ രൂപമെടുത്ത ബ്രാഹ്മണിക പിതൃമേധാവിത്വത്തിന് സവിശേഷസ്വഭാവങ്ങളുണ്ടായിരുന്നു. ഇരുപതാം നൂറ്റാണ്ടിൽ ഉയർന്നുവന്ന നവവരേണ്യസമുദായങ്ങളെ — നവോത്ഥാന വ്യവഹാരത്തിൻറെ വാഹകങ്ങളെ — പണിതെടുത്ത അടിസ്ഥാന അധികാര-കൂടങ്ങളിൽ ഒന്നായിരുന്നു നവബ്രാഹ്മണിക പിതൃമേധാവിത്വം.

Continue reading മാറുന്ന ഭരണകൂടം, നവബ്രാഹ്മണിക പിതൃമേധാവിത്വം, ദണ്ഡനീതി ഫെമിനിസം കേരളത്തിൽ –4

മാറുന്ന ഭരണകൂടം, നവബ്രാഹ്മണിക പിതൃമേധാവിത്വം, ദണ്ഡനീതി ഫെമിനിസം കേരളത്തിൽ –3

സംരക്ഷക-അന്നദാതാ ഭരണകൂടവും ദണ്ഡനീതി ഫെമിനിസവും

കേരളത്തിലിന്ന് രാഷ്ട്രീയരംഗത്തും ഭരണരംഗത്തും (ഉദ്യോഗസ്ഥകളല്ലാത്ത) സ്ത്രീകളുടെ പ്രാതിനിധ്യവും അധികാരവും ഇടതുഭരണത്തിനു കീഴിൽപോലും കുറവാണ്. ഇടതുരാഷ്ട്രീയക്കാരികൾക്കു പോലും സ്വന്തമായ രാഷ്ട്രീയസ്വാധീനവലയം ഉണ്ടാക്കാൻ അനുവാദം ഇല്ലെന്നതിന് തെളിവ് ഇപ്പോഴത്തെ സർക്കാർ തന്നെ തന്നിട്ടുമുണ്ട് — ശൈലജ ടീച്ചറെ മാറ്റി സർക്കാരിലെ ആൺ അധികാരികളെ തികച്ചും ആശ്രയിച്ചു മാത്രം നിലനില്പുള്ള മറ്റൊരു സ്ത്രീയെ അവരുടെ സ്ഥാനത്ത് പ്രതിഷ്ഠിച്ചതോടെ. പാർട്ടി അധികാരശ്രേണികളിൽ സ്ത്രീകൾ കുറയുകയും കീഴ്ത്തല-കാലാളുകളുടെ കൂട്ടത്തിൽ അവരുടെ സാന്നിദ്ധ്യം ഉയരുകയും ചെയ്യുന്നുണ്ട്. പൊതുവെ ഭരണനയതലത്തിൽ ഫെമിനിസ്റ്റ് സ്വാധീനം കുറഞ്ഞിട്ടുമുണ്ട് (മഹിളാ സമഖ്യയിലും കുടുംബശ്രീയിലും ഇതു പ്രകടമാണ്). എങ്കിലും സ്ത്രീശാക്തീകരണ സർക്കാരെന്ന പ്രതിച്ഛായ നിലനിർത്താൻ ഇപ്പോഴത്തെ സോഷ്യലിസ്റ്റ്- അനന്തര ദുഷ്പ്രഭുത്വത്തിൻറെ വാഹനമായ സിപിഎമ്മിനും അവർ നയിക്കുന്ന സർക്കാരിനും കഴിഞ്ഞിട്ടുണ്ട്.

Continue reading മാറുന്ന ഭരണകൂടം, നവബ്രാഹ്മണിക പിതൃമേധാവിത്വം, ദണ്ഡനീതി ഫെമിനിസം കേരളത്തിൽ –3

മാറുന്ന ഭരണകൂടം, നവബ്രാഹ്മണിക പിതൃമേധാവിത്വം, ദണ്ഡനീതി ഫെമിനിസം കേരളത്തിൽ — 2

മലയാളി ഫെമിനിസത്തിലെ ‘ദണ്ഡനീതിനിമിഷം’?

ദണ്ഡനീതി ഫെമിനിസം (Carceral feminism) എന്ന സങ്കല്പനം ഇന്ന് ലോകഫെമിനിസ്റ്റ് ചർച്ചകളിൽ സുപരിചിതമാണ്. പോലീസ്, കോടതി, ശിക്ഷ, തടവ് മുതലാവയുൾപ്പെടുന്ന ഭരണകൂടശാഖയെ മുഖ്യമായും ആശ്രയിച്ചുകൊണ്ട് സ്ത്രീകൾക്കെതിരെയുള്ള എല്ലാത്തരം ഹിംസയും പരിഹരിക്കാമെന്ന വിശ്വാസത്തിൽ ഊന്നിനിൽക്കുന്ന ഫെമിനിസ്റ്റ് പ്രയോഗങ്ങളെയും ചിന്തയെയുമാണ് അത് സൂചിപ്പിക്കുന്നത്. പാശ്ചാത്യ ഫെമിനിസത്തിൽ ഏറെ പഴക്കമുണ്ടെങ്കിലും അത് 1980-90 ദശകങ്ങളിൽ അമേരിക്കൻ ഫെമിനിസത്തിലെ പ്രമുഖ ധാരയായി ഉയർന്നുവന്നു. ലൈംഗികത്തൊഴിലിനെപ്പറ്റിയുള്ള ചർച്ചകളിലാണ് സമീപകാലത്ത് അതിൻറെ പുനരുജ്ജീവിതരൂപം പ്രത്യക്ഷമായത്.

Continue reading മാറുന്ന ഭരണകൂടം, നവബ്രാഹ്മണിക പിതൃമേധാവിത്വം, ദണ്ഡനീതി ഫെമിനിസം കേരളത്തിൽ — 2

മാറുന്ന ഭരണകൂടം, നവബ്രാഹ്മണിക പിതൃമേധാവിത്വം, ദണ്ഡനീതി ഫെമിനിസം കേരളത്തിൽ — 1

സംശയത്തിൽ നിന്ന് സ്വീകാര്യതയിലേക്ക്

കേരളത്തിൽ ഫെമിനിസത്തിൻറെ രാഷ്ട്രീയപരിണാമത്തെ മാറുന്ന ഭരണകൂടത്തിൻറെ പശ്ചാത്തലത്തിൽ മനസ്സിലാക്കാനൊരു ശ്രമമാണ് ഈ എഴുത്ത്. ഫെമിനിസം എന്ന പേര് സ്വയം അവകാശപ്പെടുന്ന രാഷ്ട്രീയം ഇവിടെ 1980കളിലാണ് പൂർണമായ അർത്ഥത്തിൽ പ്രത്യക്ഷമാകുന്നത്.

Continue reading മാറുന്ന ഭരണകൂടം, നവബ്രാഹ്മണിക പിതൃമേധാവിത്വം, ദണ്ഡനീതി ഫെമിനിസം കേരളത്തിൽ — 1

Letter to Consul General, Iranian Consulate, Mumbai: Indian women’s organisations

The following letter, signed by over 300 individuals from different national and regional organisations was handed over at the  Iranian Consulate in Mumbai by six representatives on September 29, 2022.  It was received politely and acknowledged.

Mr. Abolfazi Mohammad Alikhani
Consul General,
Iran Consulate, Mumbai.

Sir,

We, women and women’s organization from India, are writing this letter to register our horror at the  brutal attacks on the women and citizens  of Iran as they protest the killing of Mahsa Amini at the hands of the Gasht-e-Ershad. These brutal attacks have resulted in and continue to result in further deaths and imprisonments.

These brave women of Iran are demanding freedom from the Morality Police and the State imposing upon them what they must or must not wear and how to wear it; what they must and must not do, or act, or behave. They are rejecting this control. The men of Iran are giving full support and putting their bodies on the line alongside them. The resulting violent repression is heinous and inhuman.

We stand in solidarity with the women of Iran who came out in public to protest killing of Mahsa Amini and to voice their demands for  freedom, equality and autonomy. Continue reading Letter to Consul General, Iranian Consulate, Mumbai: Indian women’s organisations

In solidarity with the Iranian people fighting for democracy and justice: Ayesha Kidwai & Nivedita Menon

This post is jointly written by AYESHA KIDWAI AND NIVEDITA MENON

On this international day of solidarity with the Iranian people, two feminists from India send you our greetings, in complete awe of your courage, your creativity, your solidarity with one another, your relentless resistance in the face of cruel and brutal repression.

Watching the panel discussion on Jadaliyya on the ongoing struggle of the Iranian people against the authoritarian regime, we were struck by the complexity of the arguments being made. The struggle is not against Islam, and it is not about hijab everywhere and at all times. What we are witnessing in Iran is reflected all over the world wherever there is resistance to the gendered ways in which all states control populations – whether by compulsory conscription in wars the people have no interest in, or by making the hijab central to the reason of state – in Iran by compulsory veiling, in France and in India by compulsory unveiling of the Muslim woman; or in the USA by denying autonomy over their bodies to women by criminalizing abortion. Continue reading In solidarity with the Iranian people fighting for democracy and justice: Ayesha Kidwai & Nivedita Menon

Feminist reflections on the brave women of Iran: Ayesha Kidwai

Guest post by AYESHA KIDWAI

Women in Iran cast off their hijabs and occupy the streets.

Looking at these women in this photo, I think of what feelings they struggle with at this moment.

How many emotions populate this picture? Courage, triumph, feelings of being exposed, fear, the sense of a point of no-return being crossed…

But one knows they have found the one thing that will carry them beyond this moment—the long, deep embrace of sisterhood.

Inquilab Zindabad is not only said with clenched fists, it’s said with interlinked arms and bodies curved into each other. Continue reading Feminist reflections on the brave women of Iran: Ayesha Kidwai

SL Govt – Stop Labeling Student Protestors and Activists as Terrorists! South Asian Feminists

Statement released by feminists from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Fiji, Malaysia and India, August 27, 2022

We are a group of feminists writing to call urgent attention to the extra-constitutional attempts of the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) to suppress dissent. Lacking a popular mandate, hunting down student protestors and activists, including a LGBTIQ activist has become a central strategy of the political élite to retain power. The latest move by the GoSL is to brand three student leaders and the student union they represent, the Inter University Student Federation (IUSF), as ‘terrorists’.

Wasantha Mudalige, Convenor of IUSF, Galwewa Siridhamma thero, Convenor of the Inter-University Bhikkhu Federation, and Hashan Jeewantha, a student activist, were among the 20 arrested on August 18, 2022, for participating in a peaceful protest led by the student movement. All three of them are prominent student leaders who have been at the forefront of struggles for socio-economic justice in Sri Lanka, particularly against numerous ongoing attempts to dismantle free education. Continue reading SL Govt – Stop Labeling Student Protestors and Activists as Terrorists! South Asian Feminists

When ‘With the Survivor ‘ Rings Hollow: Observations on the Rage over the Civic Chandran Case

The internet frenzy over the Civic Chandran case has reached a new zenith over the two highly problematic — deeply elitist, sexist, logically and empirically flawed — anticipatory bail orders issued to the accused by the Sessions Court. There was a strange silence about the first one which was stuffed with elitist statements, and an even stranger pause over the blatantly sexist and conservative order before the active condemnation of the latter began to be voiced over the internet. Even stranger, because there is far more tolerance of elitism among the internet woke-folk than of conservative sexist understandings of the appropriate clothing for women’s bodies in Kerala. The three-day break from expressions of outrage did not, and still does not make sense.

Continue reading When ‘With the Survivor ‘ Rings Hollow: Observations on the Rage over the Civic Chandran Case

The anxiety of the Bengali bhadralok and the modern woman: Why does the body matter?

Guest Post by PANCHALI RAY

A few months back, an impressive essay in one of the leading newspapers cited macro data to argue that the rapid decline of women’s labour force participation stemmed from their disproportionate household responsibilities. Widely shared on social media, intellectuals and activists lamented Indian men’s lack of participation in social reproduction and care work, which compelled women to drop out of the labour market. However, gender blind methodology or macro scale data collection often leads to ironing out of nuances. Thus, what the authors missed (or the data collectors), was patriarchy in the public sphere, which more often than not, pushed women back into their homes: lack of opportunities and occupational mobility, gender-based occupational segregation, gender wage gap, lack of infrastructure (access to creche, toilets), sexual harassment, and the incredible policing of women’s bodies and lives.

Nothing proves this  more than the recent case of a professor being forced to resign from a premium university in Kolkata over bikini-clad photos she posted on her private Instagram account. Continue reading The anxiety of the Bengali bhadralok and the modern woman: Why does the body matter?

Carceral Feminism and the Punitive State: Why I am not with the Mob — 3

 

 In the light of the above history it seems no surprise at all that mainstream feminists in Kerala do not seem to need a critique of the punitive state at all. Nor are they really troubled by the withdrawal of the welfare state or its perversion, even in matters that crucially affect women and children. Being moored in it, even the withdrawal of the welfare state from even support services to child-victims of sexual violence (citing ‘convenience’ which turned to be ‘convenience’ for the government alone), and the stuffing of crucial committees dealing with the welfare of and justice to women and children with dubious candidates with nepotistic connections – has rarely excited significant united protest from Kerala’s mainstream feminists.

Indeed, in a recent case of baby-abduction in which the infant born to Anupama Chandran, the daughter of a local CPM leader, in her relationship with Ajith, a dalit man, was trafficked with the active connivance of child welfare officials, this feminist mainstream was mostly silent; many prominent voices in it were rallied against the aggrieved mother; some of them even participated in the unspeakable cyber-lynching of the couple, spreading rumours and making unfounded accusations. Though the large numbers of young sexual violence victims belong to the oppressed castes, and though the Anupama-Ajith case was plainly one of caste hostility and violence, these features did not trigger animated responses from the feminist mainstream. These tepid or hostile responses are in sharp contrast to the manner in which sexual harassment campaigns are conducted. Continue reading Carceral Feminism and the Punitive State: Why I am not with the Mob — 3

Carceral Feminism and the Punitive State: Why I am Not With the Mob — 2

II

In the 1980s, when the first feminist articulations began to be heard in Kerala, left-leaning feminists often sought to maintain a critical distance from the state, emphasizing its inherently patriarchal nature. This was not surprising as feminists of that generation had radical-Marxist roots or strong connections with it. Radical Marxism in that generation was clearly suspicious of the state – quite unlike the mainstream left.

Continue reading Carceral Feminism and the Punitive State: Why I am Not With the Mob — 2

Carceral Feminism and the Punitive State: Why I am not with the Mob — 1

I have never been a carceral feminist anytime in my life. Right now, there is a massive tide of abuse and misrepresentation of non-carceral feminism in Kerala, so much so that any suggestion of solutions to the problem of sexual harassment outside the framework of the state is immediately dubbed anti-woman and anti-feminist. Carceral feminists are so warped, they seem to be totally unseeing of the fact that the debate has always been about the significance of the state and its instruments in the generally agreed-upon goal of gender justice, and not really about who is the true, or truer feminist. Indeed, this is strongly reminiscent of the mass attack on the sex worker activist Nalini Jameela years back and the anti-carceral feminists who were prepared to hear her out and stand with her. I remain a non-carceral feminist, rejecting the binary between carceral and anti-carceral feminism. I refuse the insistence that proportional punishment is irrelevant in dealing with sexual misconduct. I refuse to see ‘Men’ — I will not buy the idea that all male bodies share the same privilege and power and hence must be dealt with in the same way. I write the following in this spirit. If I am banished from the feminist mainstream for this, so be it.

Continue reading Carceral Feminism and the Punitive State: Why I am not with the Mob — 1

Why feminists must oppose the hijab ban in Karnataka colleges

Image courtesy Times of India

Images of educational institutions barring their gates to women in hijab are dense with implied violence. Used as we have become to the extreme physical violence on display during the period of this regime, both by state authorities and  by street mobs launched by Hindutva outfits,  in these images is captured in one frozen instant, the ideological violence of Hindu Rashtra.  Here is the marked and stigmatized  Muslim female body, exiled from the resources of the nation, kept out by iron gates, to be admitted only on the terms set by Hindutva.

But let us note that this is not “only ideological” violence, the power of which we have witnessed in plenty since 2014.  We know what terror “mere” words can threaten  – “love jihad”,  “gau hatya”,  “kapdon se pehchane jayenge” –  the last, the murderously weighted words of the Prime Minister himself, that those who protest the CAA can be identified by their clothes.

So ideological violence yes, but implicit physical violence too, held only  temporarily in abeyance –  what if the women decided to climb the gates and insisted on attending class? Or sat quietly on dharna outside? What kind of violence by private security and police would not be unleashed? Just before the pandemic,  did we not witness the brutality of police attacks on peaceful student protests against fee hikes in Delhi?

As more and more colleges in Karnataka deny women wearing hijab entry into colleges, and therefore their right to education, the RSS/BJP government of Karnataka backed such moves, invoking the Karnataka Education Act of 1983, Section 133 (2) of which states that students will have to wear a uniform dress chosen by the college authorities.  Continue reading Why feminists must oppose the hijab ban in Karnataka colleges

Peru, Honduras, Chile and Challenges before the Latin American New Left

Feminist demonstration in Santiago – a crucial factor in the Boric victory, image NACLA

A New Left Resurgence

Leftists are Ascendant in Latin America as Key Elections Loom‘ announces a recent report in New York Times. And this report isn’t talking only of Leftist victories of the last two years but also of possible forthcoming ones in Brazil and Colombia, later this year. ‘Economic suffering, widening inequality, fervent anti-incumbent sentiment and mismanagement of Covid-19 have all fueled a pendulum swing away from the center-right and right-wing leaders who were dominant a few years ago’ underlines the report.

Close on the heels of the victory of Xiomara Castro as the first Left-wing, woman President in Honduras in the beginning of December 2021, came the news of the victory of Gabriel Boric in Chile (19 December). Unlike the socially conservative Left wing position of Peru’s Pedro Castillo, who stands opposed to abortion and same-sex marriage, the Chilean victory, in particular, has been strongly backed by the feminist and queer movements. Honduras’ Xiomara Castro too has legalization of abortion as one of her election planks, which is significant since it is one the few countries that has a complete ban on abortion as of last year.

Continue reading Peru, Honduras, Chile and Challenges before the Latin American New Left

Here Comes Papa!! In Kidnappers’ Own Kerala

GR Santhosh Kumar captured the crux of the unbelievable denigration of democracy by the ruling CPM leadership who are out to defend their local level leaders guilty of the grossest patriarchy that rivals any khap panchayat misogyny. The context is the ongoing struggle by a couple, Anupama Chandran and Ajithkumar, to find their baby who was abducted by her parents, both influential local-level leaders of the CPM, last year and given away illegally for adoption. The story of Anupama’s experience of unspeakable death threats, physical violence, cheating, exposure to health risk, forced confinement, denial of vital information and means of communication, casteist insults, and on and on strips off the claims of women’s empowerment which the left in Kerala has claimed for so long. On social media, thousands of left supporters have literally rubbished women’s rights and the Indian Constitutional morality itself, even as the AIDWA in Kerala has been largely struck dumb.

The cartoon is a spoof on Raja Ravi Varma’ famous mother-and-child painting ‘Here Comes Papa’ in which an aristocratic woman dressed in a way identifiable as ‘traditional’ holds her baby and points to it the unseen ‘papa’ . Though the cartoon is captioned ‘Know the pain of the adopting mother’, an obvious reference to the cry by CPM sympathisers on social media that the child need not be returned, and that the adopting mother was fitter, and though the protagonists here are Pinarayi Vijayan and Anupama’s father, Peroorkkada Jayachandran, who he has been defending, it has layers. Ajithkumar’s dalit status and his earlier marriage has, in the eyes of CPM supporters, rendered him unfit for fatherhood — of a child by the daughter of an influential CPM family. Papa, then, and Papa’s coming, continues to be our favourite obsession.

How Could You Allow This to Happen? Urvashi Butalia Writes to the Kerala Chief Minister

Dear Chief Minister


Throughout the terrible times we have seen these last two years, it is the news from Kerala that has helped so many of us to keep faith in governance – that a state can be honest, open, participatory, concerned for its people, focused on health, and not play politics, all of these have been remarkable and many of us, Keralites and non-Keralites alike, have drawn valuable lessons from the Kerala experience.

Continue reading How Could You Allow This to Happen? Urvashi Butalia Writes to the Kerala Chief Minister

Rise Above Traditional and Conservative Misogyny — Open Letter to the Chief Minister of Kerala: Kalpana Kannabiran

Today morning we woke up to the news that the Child Welfare Committee has ordered that Anupama’s child must be brought to Kerala in five days for a DNA test.

However, the process is still overseen by the officials who directly connived to give the baby away for adoption. The family’s criminal acts are still under a very lax, lagging investigation. Anupama’s educational certificates are still in their possession and the police refuses to intervene to restore them to her.

Indeed, the evil that Prof Kannabiran identifies so excellently in this letter must still be fought, until justice is done. Just the return of the child to Kerala cannot replace justice. Anupama suffered tremendous domestic violence, deliberate endangerment, cheating, and illegal custody at the hands of her family. That cannot be papered over,

Continue reading Rise Above Traditional and Conservative Misogyny — Open Letter to the Chief Minister of Kerala: Kalpana Kannabiran

Do not let the injustice drag infinitely — Open Letter to the Chief Minister of Kerala — Dr Gayatri Devi

Anupama has committed no crime. She got pregnant. She did not murder anyone. She did not rob a bank. She did not betray the nation. She committed no terroristic threats or acts. She is not a smuggler, a thief, a rapist, or a crook. She got pregnant. Getting pregnant is not a crime. She got pregnant and decided to keep her baby. This is not a crime.

Continue reading Do not let the injustice drag infinitely — Open Letter to the Chief Minister of Kerala — Dr Gayatri Devi