Guest post by VEENA VENUGOPAL
To me, the most memorable scene in Dev D is the one where Paro takes a mattress from home and ties it to her cycle. When she reaches the edge of the field, she abandons the cycle, lifts the mattress on her shoulder and marches to the clearing where she lays it down and waits for her lover. There are no words spoken and the camera holds her face close. Her expression is one of intense seriousness. You can see her desire is a field force of intensity that fuels every step. She is determined to see it through, to let that desire take over herself completely; not surrender to it but to let it explode out of her. You know that when she meets Dev, the sex would be passionate and powerful. And yet, in the south Delhi multiplex where I was watching the film, most of the audience burst into rapacious laughter. The women smiled embarrassedly at each other. Which made me wonder, why is female desire a laughing matter? Continue reading When women ask for it: Veena Venugopal
Guest post by BEKHAUF AZAADI CAMPAIGN
The UPA Govt, in a Cabinet meeting held on 1 February, has introduced an ordinance that it claims will address the most urgent concerns on sexual violence. In fact, the Government has been completely reluctant to acknowledge and implement the Justice Verma Committee recommendations: the PM refused to accept it from Justuce Verma, the Ministry of Home Affairs removed it from their website, the Govt never adopted any transparent process of discussion to decide the way forward on implementing the recommendations, rather they said Justice Verma ‘exceeded his brief’. Now, they claim that their ordinance has ‘implemented’ the Justice Verma recommendations. Is this true?
The fact is that the Government’s ordinance is a mockery of the letter and spirit of the Justice Verma recommendations. Why? Let us take a closer look.
Continue reading Why the Govt’s Ordnance is Fraud & Mockery of the Justice Verma Committe Recommendations: Bekhauf Azaadi Campaign
- [ Protestors from the Bekhauf Azaadi/Freedom Without Fear Campaign Demanding Complete Implementation of the Justice Verma Committee Recommendations during the Freedom Parade to Reclaim the Republic on Republic Day, 26 January, 2012 in New Delhi. ]
So, first they come with water cannons and tear gas, and then they come with an ordnance.
Yesterday, the Union Cabinet decided to rush drafting an ordinance in response to the massive protests against rape and sexual violence that have been occurring ever since the 16th of December, 2012. According to preliminary reports, the ordnance, which will be signed into law by the President of India before Parliament even meets, flies in the face of the detailed and exhaustive list of recommendations made by the Justice Verma Committee (JVC) which had been hailed by the protesting young people and a large number of women’s organisations. In other words, the government feels no need to discuss the JVC in parliament. It feels no need to even give time and an opportunity for its recommendations to sink in, for there to be more thinking, more ideas, more awareness of the issues and questions at stake. No wonder, the government had so hastily pulled down the JVC report from its own websites after it had been released. Continue reading Water Cannons, Tear Gas, Ordinance: How the State Responds to Protests Against Rape and the Justice Verma Committee
Guest post by ESHA SHAH
The social, political and legal debates that have followed the gruesome incident of gang rape in Delhi on 16 December – including the debates on the recently published report of Justice Verma Commission widely hailed for its revolutionary character – have not sufficiently engaged with the structure of violence perpetrated in the act of brutality. In forging the solidarity against the suffering, there is a popular tendency to externalise the act of barbarity causing this suffering as demonic and hence out of this world. For instance, one of the posters in the protests that followed the incident read “your suffering is my suffering” – in the same poster it was demanded that those who caused this suffering were narpishach and should be hanged. The pain of the victim is shared collective pain, but the brutality of the act is certainly not the shared collective responsibility. In the preliminary remarks below I want to argue that we need to revise the nature of power asserted in the act of brutality, and in doing so we need to not only convert the demonic caricatures as flesh and blood human beings produced by this world but also to embed their acts into deep-rooted structures of violence in our society.
Continue reading Delhi Gang Rape – Understanding the Structure of Violence: Esha Shah
For a summary with commentary, see this guest post by Arvind Narrain.
ARVIND NARRAIN has an op-ed in today’s Hindu about the Justice Verma Committee. This is a longer version of the article
The public discourse post the brutal rape of Nirbhaya has witnessed a persistent degrading of the public discourse. Having been subjected to crudely offensive remarks by members of the political establishment, right from belittling a serious movement for equality as led by ‘painted and dented ladies’ to ostensibly sympathetic responses which belittle women who have suffered a serious violation of their bodily integrity as nothing more than ‘zinda laash’, we finally have a document authored by a Committee set up by the state which honours Nirbhaya.
The Verma Committee Report most fundamentally alters the public discourse on crimes against women by placing these crimes within the framework of the Indian Constitution and treating these offences as nothing less than an egregious violation of the right to live with dignity of all women. What is particularly moving and inspiring about the Report is that it does so by placing the autonomy and indeed the sexual autonomy of women at the very centre of its discourse.
Continue reading The Verma Committee: Alchemizing anger to hope: Arvind Narrain
Guest post by KAVITA KRISHNAN
(This article began as a rejoinder to Hindi columnist Raj Kishor [Vaam se dakshin tak ek hi tark, (‘The same argument from Left to Right’), Rashtriya Sahara, January 13 2013], but it has also provided an occasion to address some common misconceptions about women’s freedom and capitalism.)
When women demand ‘freedom,’ why does it immediately raise the spectre of ‘licentiousness’?
Why, in other words, is women’s freedom automatically taken by many as equivalent with ‘licence,’ whereas the similar freedom on the part of men is never branded as ‘licence’?
This question arose in my mind after reading a piece by Hindi columnist Raj Kishor. Raj Kishor’s argument is that those – from Left leaders like I, to those whom he sees as representatives of the market – who are calling for women’s freedom are ‘consigning women into the fire of capitalism.’ When he hears me use the word ‘azaadi’ (freedom) he calls such freedom ‘utshrnkhalta’ (literally ‘unbridled-ness’, or licentiousness). He says and I, and the capitalist market alike, are calling for women to be free to ‘break all bounds of licentiousness’ if they so choose. Of course, Raj Kishor anticipates my criticism of his use of the word ‘utshrnkhalta’, since he says that is a word that ‘has feminists up in arms, demanding with red (infuriated) eyes the definition of ‘utshrnkhalta’.
Continue reading Patriarchy, Women’s Freedom and Capitalism: Kavita Krishnan