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Nigeria's government is considering targeting Boko Haram's strategists and financiers.
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London has been warned: the FEMEN army of “sextremists”, as they call themselves, is on its way.
Brave women indeed .....
"Inna Shevchenko from the Paris branch of FEMEN talks about the group's origins in Ukraine and how women are still oppressed and sexually exploited even in democracies like the UK and France"
These women have their own way of protesting I$lamism.
In the picture above;
FILE - In this Friday, Feb. 15, 2013 file photo, a Libyan woman wearing a depiction of the national flag bearing the words, "hold your head high, you are Libyan," attends commemorations to mark the second anniversary of the revolution that ousted Moammar Gadhafi in Benghazi, Libya. Women played a major role in the 8-month civil war against dictator Moammar Gadhafi, massing for protests against his regime, selling jewelry to fund rebels, helping treat the wounded, smuggling weapons across enemy lines to rebels. But since Gadhafi’s fall more than 18 months ago, women have been rewarded by seeing rights they enjoyed under his rule hemmed in and restricted. (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon, File)
On her way back from her job as a lecturer at a university near Tripoli, Libyan poet Aicha Almagrabi was stopped by a group of bearded militiamen. They kicked her car, beat up her driver and threatened to do the same to her. Her offense: being alone in a car with men without a male relative as a guardian.
"You have violated the law of God," the militiamen told her, Almagrabi said.
"I said, I teach male students, so should I bring a male guardian with me to classroom?" she told The Associated Press.
Not that the university is immune to increasingly bold conservatives' views on the role of women. Almagrabi said one student recently told her she shouldn't be giving lectures because a woman's voice is "awra" — too intimate and shameful to be exposed in public
"Women fear worse may yet to come. The country is soon to begin work drafting a new constitution, which activists fear will enshrine the relegation of women to second-class status, given the influence of hard-line Islamists."
The United Nations Human Rights Council released a report in which the Committee against Torture (CAT) equates restrictions and absolute bans on abortion as "torture and ill-treatment" of woman.
Nirbhaya, the Delhi gang-rape victim, has been honoured with a US "woman of courage" award posthumously for "inspiring people to work together to end violence against women in India and around the world."...
US first lady Michelle Obama joined secretary of state John Kerry as he praised the determination and courage of "a woman known simply as Nirbhaya - braveheart, fearless" at the State Department presentation ceremony Friday on International Women's Day.
"Her bravery inspired millions of women and men to come together with a simple message: No more. No more looking the other way when gender-based violence happens. No more stigma against victims or survivors," said Kerry.
"Nirbhaya's fight survives her," he said announcing the award "for inspiring people to work together to end violence against women in India and around the world by displaying immense courage in demanding justice."
Obviously the Indian system is Fast Asleep.
Congresswoman Niki Tsongas spoke today on the House Floor about the importance of protecting the progress that has been made for women in Afghanistan. Congresswoman Tsongas spoke in support of bipartisan Senate language authored by Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr. that was added to the Senate version of the 2013 National Defense Authorization bill (NDAA). The NDAA authorizes funding and sets policy for the Department of Defense.
Congresswoman Niki Tsongas spoke today on the House Floor about the importance of protecting the progress that has been made for women in Afghanistan. Congresswoman Tsongas spoke in support of bipartisan Senate language authored by Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr. that was added to the Senate version of the 2013 National Defense Authorization bill (NDAA). The NDAA authorizes funding and sets policy for the Department of Defense.
On Monday, the challenges facing women in Afghanistan who are taking on greater and more public roles and responsibilities was highlighted by the assassination of Najia Sediqi, the acting head of women’s affairs in an eastern Afghan province.
“This week we were reminded of the tenuous position of women in Afghanistan when the acting head of women’s affairs in an eastern province was assassinated as she traveled to work,”said Congresswoman Tsongas. “Such cowardly acts make it clear that the US must put in place a legitimate plan to support Afghan women and not let the progress they have made since 2001 go to waste.”
Latifa Nabizada is Afghanistan's first woman military helicopter pilot, and flies missions with her young daughter Malalai because she has no childcare alternatives.
"My name is Latifa. I am Colonel. I am an active helicopter pilot in the Afghan Air Force.
I wish to become a very good pilot and train other women to become pilots.
I have a five-year-old daughter who has been flying with me since she was two months of age. This is because there is nobody to look after her in the Air Force. I am trying to convince them to have a kindergarten, so women can be calm and do their job very well.
My message to other women in the world is that they should work hard to achieve their goals. They should be ambitious and have confidence in themselves. They should stand by Afghan women and share their experiences with Afghan women."
THE BRUTAL REPRESSION:http://www.scoop.it/t/vivabahrain?q=BRUTAL
A lawyer who broke ranks with his colleagues and volunteered to represent two of the men accused of the gang rape that killed an Indian student said today that the 23-year-old victim was “wholly responsible” for the attack.
Originally Scooped by Fillie Focus and brought to our notice via @nordicjack
Manohar Lal Sharma, a 57-year-old Supreme Court advocate who is representing suspects Mukesh Singh, 26, and Akshay Singh, 24, added that the woman was not one with “respect”.
“I have not seen a single incident or example of rape with a respected lady. Even an underworld don would not like to touch a girl with respect.”
Mr Sharma has become a controversial figure in India, not least because he chose to take a case that 2,500 advocates from the Sakhet Bar Association had refused on a point of principle. He said he made his decision after seeing members of the association outside the courthouse in Delhi protesting that the five suspects did not deserve representation. “If this attitude was held by all bar associations, then no accused would be represented,” he said. Members of the Sakhet bar shouted down Mr Sharma as he arrived in the courtroom with the defendants today, causing proceedings to be temporarily adjourned.
Mr Sharma, who has been a Supreme Court advocate since 1980 and has 35 years’ experience as an attorney, is not a member of the Sakhet bar.
Two other lawyers, V K Anand and A P Singh, have also agreed to defend some of the five men accused of the attack -- Put the b--tard on trial alongside them!! - Fx - Read more at :
Outlandish attempt to prove the idiom, the bigger the lie, the more believable.
When the troops withdraw from Afghanistan next year, many fear a terrible backlash. Tracy McVeigh meets seven women who rebuilt their lives after Taliban oppression – and finds them at risk once more
"This is man's bread," says Hamil Fareed, a young baker. "Women's bread," he explains, is different, the dough kneaded at home by mothers and cooked out of sight at the back in the clay ovens and returned to the family.
The segregation of Kabul's daily bread is not a cultural tradition, but started under the Taliban in the 1990s. Faced with a half-starved city of war widows barred from working, studying or leaving their homes, someone began a clandestine communal fire pit where women could bake flatbread for their children and earn a few coins by selling them on. The UN, impotent in quelling the vicious war, encouraged more such schemes and, when the Taliban soldiers who roamed the streets seemed to tolerate figures in burqas creeping out to little backstreet bakeries, heralded it as a "step forward" in women's rights.
The outside world has used Afghanistan as a pawn in its geopolitical "great games" since the 19th century and ensnared it in a labyrinth of strategic and economic interests. Since 2001 the country has received some £60bn of aid; there have been tangible improvements in education, maternal mortality, employment, and the representation of women in governance. But there are signs that those gains are too fragile to survive the international community's departure.
Quote from MP Fazia koofi:
“How many women really make their voices heard? I can count them on my fingers”: Fawzia Koofi, MP for Badakhshan, who plans to stand as a presidential candidate in 2014.
The horrific rape of a 23-year old student in Delhi was a terrible tragedy. The treatment of many of India's women -- from cradle to grave -- is also a tragedy.
The brutal gang-rape of a 23-year old student in Delhi and her subsequent death has triggered intense, unrelenting outrage across India. For weeks now, thousands of Indians have poured into the streets every day to demand her assailants be put to death.
Pre-trial proceedings have begun for five of the six accused— with the sixth man believed to be awaiting trial under the Juvenile Justice Act because of his status as a minor. The other five have been charged with abduction, rape, and murder among other crimes.
The media has begun calling the 23-year-old victim, whose identity remains concealed, a number of different names including Nirbhaya (fearless in Hindi), Damini (lightning) and Jagruti (awakening). Indeed, the horrific violence she has endured appears to have woken India from its willful neglect of the rights of its female population.
Sexual violence is pervasive in India. According to National Crime Records Bureau statistics, 24,206 rapes were recorded in 2011, equivalent to one rape every 28 minutes.
These figures barely scratch the surface of the problem, however, given that most cases of sexual violence go unreported because victims choose to remain silent for a host of different reasons, including the social stigma attached to rape victims. Questions are often raised about the character of the victim, such as why she was out late at night or what she wore or did to provoke the assault. Even in the case of Nirbhaya, controversial “spiritual” guru Asaram Bapu made headlines when he blamed her for the rape because she failed to call her assailants “brother” while they raped her.
"She should have taken God's name and held their hands and feet… then the misconduct wouldn't have happened," Bapu told an audience of supporters. "Mistake is never from one side alone."
Many times the assailant is a relative or close acquaintance of the victim and rape survivors are often pressured to just “shut up and forget about it,” a Bangalore-based rape survivor told The Diplomat. In her case, it had been an uncle who had raped her for years.
South Africa's Premier Online News Source. Discover the world of IOL, News South Africa, Sport, Business, Financial, World News, Entertainment, Technology, Motoring, Travel, Property, Classifieds & more Many Egyptian viewers were horrified when preacher Hisham el-Ashry recently popped up on primetime television to say women must cover up for their own protection and advocated the introduction of religious police. That an obscure preacher could get publicity for such views was seen as another example of the confused political scene in Egypt since the revolt that toppled Hosni Mubarak gave birth to a cacophony of feuding voices. “I was once asked: If I came to power, would I let Christian women remain unveiled? And I said: If they want to get raped on the streets, then they can,” Ashry told Nahar TV last week. Introducing a Saudi-style anti-vice police force to enforce Islamic law was “not a bad thing”, he said, and added: “In order for Egypt to become fully Islamic, alcohol must be banned and all women must be covered.” Few take Ashry, who admits he flew to the United States dreaming of a Western lifestyle and romance but instead found truth in preaching, seriously. But his views have stirred emotions. With the economic downturn and rising food prices putting pressure on the government, moderate Muslims, Christians and others worry their new-found political freedom is at risk of being exploited by hardline Islamists bent on imposing their values on a society that has been traditionally moderate. Watching a recent television interview in which Ashry expounded his ideas on women and sharia law, members of one family jumped to their feet in outrage. “Look at this crazy man! Where do you think we live! In a jungle? Or are all men like you, animals, unable to control their instincts?” Mona Ahmed, 65, shouted at the television screen in her living room. “If I see him annoying any unveiled woman on the street I would punch him in the face. Wake up, man, this is Egypt, not Saudi Arabia,” she yelled as her children tried to console her.
Many Egyptian viewers were horrified when preacher Hisham el-Ashry recently popped up on primetime television to say women must cover up for their own protection and advocated the introduction of religious police.
That an obscure preacher could get publicity for such views was seen as another example of the confused political scene in Egypt since the revolt that toppled Hosni Mubarak gave birth to a cacophony of feuding voices.
“I was once asked: If I came to power, would I let Christian women remain unveiled? And I said: If they want to get raped on the streets, then they can,” Ashry told Nahar TV last week.
Introducing a Saudi-style anti-vice police force to enforce Islamic law was “not a bad thing”, he said, and added: “In order for Egypt to become fully Islamic, alcohol must be banned and all women must be covered.”
Few take Ashry, who admits he flew to the United States dreaming of a Western lifestyle and romance but instead found truth in preaching, seriously. But his views have stirred emotions.
With the economic downturn and rising food prices putting pressure on the government, moderate Muslims, Christians and others worry their new-found political freedom is at risk of being exploited by hardline Islamists bent on imposing their values on a society that has been traditionally moderate.
Watching a recent television interview in which Ashry expounded his ideas on women and sharia law, members of one family jumped to their feet in outrage.
“Look at this crazy man! Where do you think we live! In a jungle? Or are all men like you, animals, unable to control their instincts?” Mona Ahmed, 65, shouted at the television screen in her living room.
“If I see him annoying any unveiled woman on the street I would punch him in the face. Wake up, man, this is Egypt, not Saudi Arabia,” she yelled as her children tried to console her.
Egypt's top Islamic institutions, such as al-Azhar, the highest authority in Sunni Islam, and Dar al Ifta, the central authority for issuing religious rulings, have long said religious practices should not be imposed on people.
Egypt's Grand Mufti, the country's most senior Islamic legal official, has dismissed the self-styled preacher's views.
“This sort of idiotic thinking is one that seeks to further destabilise what is already a tense situation,” Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa said in a statement to Reuters.
Two years after terrorist stabbing that killed American Christian friend Kristine Luken, Kay Wilson continues to be a focus of media attention
Many Israelis have suffered violence, and there are few in the country who have not been touched, either directly or indirectly, by the phenomenon of Palestinian terrorism.
Most terror attack elicit anger and sorrow, but are rather quickly forgotten. One of the attacks that continues to make headlines years after it occurred is the 2010 stabbing of Messianic Israeli tour guide Kay Wilson and her visiting Christian friend, Kristine Luken.
Most of our readers are already familiar with the story, but here is a quick recap for those who aren't:
Kristine Luken, who worked in Messianic ministry, came to Israel to visit Wilson and other friends in December 2010. On December 18, Wilson and Luken went for a hike through the picturesque hills south of Jerusalem. While hiking they came across two Palestinian Arab men who bound, stabbed and left both women for dead. Luken did indeed die of her wounds, but Wilson, despite being stabbed 17 times, survived the attack and was able to drag herself to a nearby public park and call for help.
DESPITE living much of their lives behind a veil, some Afghan women are feeling pressure to conform to ideals of female beauty and are lining up for cosmetic surgery at a handful of clinics in Kabul
A few years ago, most operations would have been to repair war wounds or scars from family violence, acid attacks or attempts at self-immolation by women driven to despair by hard times in a male-dominated society.
Now, nose jobs are most popular, but facelifts, breast enhancement and tummy tucks are also sought after.
"Ten years ago it was all about repairing scars,'' said Dr Aminullah Hamkar, 53, who runs a Kabul clinic.
"When I sometimes ask the young people who come here why they want cosmetic operations, they simply say they want to look better and beautiful,'' he told AFP.
This was a good sign, he said, showing that people, at least in the capital, were moving beyond the violence of a hardline Islamist Taliban insurgency and contemplating ideas usually reserved for times of peace.
Women in Maritime Security An exclusive interview with Ruth Tiik A female’s perspective of being a Maritime Security Operative in the HRA. I first met Ruth several months ago on...
A slightly different perspective from what is usually carried in this topic
Rich women hold top jobs but the picture is different lower down the social ladder.
Workplace discrimination against Chinese women is still rife, in spite of a slew of positive women-in-work news stories published in the country's tightly controlled official media for International Women's Day, experts said on Friday.
"Discrimination against women in China is extremely common," said Li Qiang, who heads the U.S.-based rights group China Labor Watch. "There is a lack of law enforcement measures taken to protect equality in women's employment."
He said that while Chinese women enjoy labor law protection on paper, such rules are frequently flouted by companies seeking to minimize the cost of maternity leave and other family-linked benefits.
Mao Zedong's phrase, "Women hold up half the sky" made its obligatory appearance in at least two stories from Xinhua news agency, the official news outlet of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, on Friday.
The China News Service website reported on initiatives by a number of Chinese cities to redress workplace discrimination by holding women-only recruitment fairs, while a number of state-run papers gave top billing to a survey showing that the proportion of women in senior management posts in China rose to 51 percent from 25 percent in 2012.
Nanchang, Suzhou, Zhengzhou, Chengdu, Kunming and Changchun are among the cities hosting all-female recruitment fairs, in a bid to boost employment rates among women.
American not-for-profit Arzu Studio Hope has launched a ‘Masters Collection’ of 10 woolen rugs designed by legendary architects. Afghan women are weaving the designs of Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid and Michael Graves rugs, giving the women meaningf ...
On top of providing jobs and making rugs, Chicago-based Arzu – which means ‘hope’ in Dari – bases its business on a model of social entrepreneurship. The organisation strives to improve access to clean water, health care, education, shelter and other basic necessities for those in Afghanistan
Authorities so caught up looking for extremists who carry out attacks that they forget about their wives - analyst
Some Muslim women in Indonesia are shedding their traditional background role by promoting pro-radical views online and even offering shelter to families of jailed extremists, Singapore-based paper theStraits Times reports.
One woman writing under the pseudonym Ummu Fauzi interviewed the wives of men convicted of terrorist acts and posted them on extremist websites “to highlight the ‘bravery’ of these wives,” said the report.
Noor Huda Ismail, a terrorism analyst and founder of the Institute for International Peace Building (YPP), said authorities often forget about the wives because they are too caught up looking for leaders of extremist networks.
“(The women) are the dot-connectors who play a crucial role to keep the networks going,” he was quoted as saying.
Ismail also told TrustLaw in an interview in 2011 that corruption in Indonesian jails stokes extremism and could lead to the emergence of new radicalist cells.
Since the 2002 bombings in the popular tourist island of Bali, Indonesia has arrested more than 800 people on extremism charges, and there have been no major attacks for almost four years.
Concerns remain, however, that terror cells may be regrouping.
According to the Straits Times, Ummu Fauzi has interviewed Madam Nusaibah, the wife of Abdullah Sonata, who was jailed for 10 years for planning mass attacks; and Madam Osama, the wife of Sheikh Omar Bakri, leader of a banned radical group in Britain with ties to al-Qaeda.
Radicalisation of Indonesian women is a very dangerous trend indeed.
Across the globe, women of all walks are in protest mode against what has been repeatedly described as “sexual terrorism” and mob attacks against Egyptian female protesters over the past few months.
Across the globe, women of all walks are in protest mode against what has been repeatedly described as “sexual terrorism” and mob attacks against Egyptian female protesters over the past few months. From Stockholm to New York to Cairo and in over 30 other cities, women are banding together to demand an end to the sexual assaults that have rocked the country in recent weeks.
Dubbed “Global Protest Feb. 12” activists are hopeful that it will begin to send a message to the Egyptian government that more action is needed to combat this rising and daily affliction of the North African country’s society.
Numerous women’s rights organizations have already announced their participation, which will see activists in over 30 cities across the globe take to Egyptian consulates and embassies as well as demonstrations in Egypt to voice their frustration at the rising violence directed toward women in the country while protesting.
“We, citizens of all nationalities all around the world, will not watch in silence the spreading epidemic of sexual terrorism. We want to show our support, solidarity and admiration for the assaulted who paid the price of the ongoing Egyptian revolution with their own flesh, and to the heroic volunteers who are risking their lives for a safe Tahrir,” wrote The Uprising of Women in the Arab World in coordination with the global day of protest.
It comes after reports of women being stripped and attack with knives in Tahrir Square in what activists have described to Bikyanews.com as the “final straw” in the “ongoing battle for women’s rights and safety in Egypt.”
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"We, citizens of all nationalities all around the world, will not watch in silence the spreading epidemic of sexual terrorism. We want to show our support, solidarity and admiration for the assaulted who paid the price of the ongoing Egyptian revolution with their own flesh, and to the heroic volunteers who are risking their lives for a safe Tahrir."
As the withdrawal of foreign troops nears, with a full withdrawal expected by the end of 2014, Afghanistan has re-emerged as a major issue in Australian politics.Those worried about Australian casualties…...
As the withdrawal of foreign troops nears, with a full withdrawal expected by the end of 2014, Afghanistan has re-emerged as a major issue in Australian politics.
Those worried about Australian casualties will breathe a sigh of relief at the return of soldiers. Afghanistan, however, is facing an uncertain future post-withdrawal. President Karzai’s term is due to end in 2014 and a peace settlement with the Taliban looms.
This week, Australia will be hosting a delegation of ten Members of Parliament and Civil Society Leaders from Afghanistan, who are here to raise an issue that has so far lacked serious discussion in relation to post-withdrawal Afghanistan: women’s rights.
As much as President Karzai’s term has been shaky and subject to criticism, there have been some tentative gains made in women’s rights. Compared to the time of the Taliban regime, women in Afghanistan can now study, hold office and choose to go without the burqa. Preserving and building on these gains will be key to Afghanistan’s success in the short- and long-term, and it is vital that women’s rights are at the forefront of discussions about national security and development.
The status of women has had a consistent presence in discussions of Afghanistan since the 2001 US invasion, which was partially justified by citing the Taliban’s abuse of girls and women. More recently, cases of murder and serious abuse of women have made international headlines and constituted some of the most spectacular reporting on Afghanistan.
Research Fellow, Centre for Dialogue at La Trobe University
Doctoral Candidate at University of Melbourne
Rachel Busbridge has been a member of the Afghan Australian Development Organisation Planning Committee for its Roundtable event on 12-13 February at the University of Melbourne
Melissa Phillips has received funding from the ARC.She has been a member of the Afghan Australian Development Organisation Planning Committee for its round table event in Melbourne on 12-13 Feb at the University of Melbourne.
REMEMBER THE FATIMAS OF BAHRAINhttp://www.scoop.it/t/vivabahrain?q=fatima
An English imam participates in a debate panel advocating people be stoned for adultery, both men and women. I can't believe he is from Brittan, the United Kingdom. His theories are more akin to Saudi Arabia than a western civilized country. Then he goes on to say that new white women converts or reverts to Islam want to be stoned and asked where they can go to be stoned to death for having an affair out of marriage. These new Muslims must be sick in the head to think this way or brainwashed. Then he goes to the next topic which is apostasy in Islam. An Persian Iranian stands up and say he is now an ex-Muslim and is suddenly called kuffar from some in the audience. The imam then says that anyone who leaves Islam and stops being a Moslem is a traitor and should be killed like a common criminal.
Bring back the Stone Age.
Philadelphia Inquirer Saudi: Keep men, women apart Philadelphia Inquirer Since 2006, women have been advisers to the council - an appointed, consultative body that has the authority to review laws and question ministers but cannot propose or veto...
A letter to a friend abroad enquiring about the horrific gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old student in the Indian capital New Delhi recently.
Thanks for your letter. Yes, as Indians, many of us are deeply ashamed of this tragic incident, even more so as it is part of a larger context of rampant violence against women in this country.
On top of having the world’s largest numbers of those living in absolute poverty, suffering severe malnutrition or without sanitation and shelter we have also today become the globe’s foremost Republic of Rape.
You have asked in your letter why exactly is it that India has such a high number of rapes? You also ask if any meaningful long-term measures will result from all the public outrage on display currently?
To tackle the second question first, one can only hope the death of this brave girl will not be in vain and will become a turning point in our history. The incident has sparked off unprecedented protests and the government/the political class/media have been forced to take notice. The widespread participation of young people in the protests all over the country is heartening.
There is much talk now of bringing in tougher laws, better policing, awareness campaigns, putting gender issues into school curriculums and so on.
Yet, going by our own history it looks unlikely that the widespread violence against Indian women will stop so easily anytime soon. I sound cynical perhaps, but you have to understand the reasons behind this violence are complex and run quite deep in my country.
The fact is historically (I don’t have to tell you this) men have been predatory towards women for millennia and Indian men in that sense are not very different. As Susan Brownmiller, the American feminist researcher and writer on rape puts it squarely, “Man’s discovery that his genitilia could serve as a weapon to generate fear must rank as one of the most important discoveries of prehistoric times, along with the use of fire and the first crude stone axe.”
It is not known when exactly Indian men figured out how to use fire but they discovered the use of their natural ‘weapons’ ages ago and ever since sexual violence against women has been a staple part of our history. In one mythological tale the Hindu god Indra, notorious for his lechery, rapes Ahalya, the wife of Gautama, a learned sage. When the sage finds out, like a typical patriarchal male, he first punishes Ahalya by turning her into stone, a form in which she remains for sixty thousand years till another mythological hero Ram, of the epic Ramayana, touches the statue and brings her back to life.
Meanwhile Indra, who tries to escape the sage’s wrath by becoming a cat, is cursed with castration and to ‘bear half the blame of every rape ever committed’. (Since at least half the rape cases in India go unsolved or unpunished, I suppose the Indian police assume Lord Indra to be the culprit, who is always ‘absconding’.)
I mention this tale only because Indra is also the God of War in Indian mythology, confirming the well-known link between war and rape that is to be found in the history of the world everywhere. Whether it was the colonial English brigades raping Scottish Highland women in the 18th century while putting down a rebellion, early European settlers raping native Indian women in both North and South America, the Japanese carrying out the infamous ‘Rape of Nanking’ in China during the Second World War, the Germans raping Jewish women by the hundreds during the Nazi era or victorious Russian soldiers ‘avenging’ their own women by raping German women- the lesson is straightforward- wars have always been fought on the bodies of women as much they have been on land, sea or air. All war, often fought ironically in the name of the ‘motherland’, seems to be at their core about sexually assaulting the ‘enemy’s women’.
Yes, you guessed right. The number of rapes in modern India is increasing every year, going up by 873 percent between 1953 and 2011, simply because we have a bloody war going on here. Over the last half a century or more, this is a country of intensifying civil strife, with different sections of society fighting each other and the Indian state waging war on its own people.
In each part of India the reason for this state of war could be different, ranging from battles with the Indian state over regional autonomy or independence, displacement due to large projects, conflict with mining companies to caste and class struggles, reckless urbanization and the crisis in the agricultural economy. And in each war, in every context, it is usually women who pay the highest price, with all sorts of indignities visited upon their bodies.
The Indian army, paramilitary and police are notorious for raping or sexually molesting women wherever they get a chance, more obviously in places like Kashmir, the north-east of India or central India where there are armed conflicts going on. The men in uniform are not the only culprits though. Sectarian violence along religious lines, like the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat saw dozens of rapes against Muslim women by Hindu extremists and the same brutality was evident in 2007 during political violence carried out by cadre of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) against peasant women resisting forced land acquisition in Nandigram, West Bengal.
However, overt incidents of rape that get reported or taken cognizance of legally all over the country are just the visible froth of a tsunami of sexual violence that takes place in India. The country is awash with cases of sexual harassment on the streets, marital rape, molestation at the workplace, sexual abuse of children, incest and criminalized trafficking of women and children for prostitution.
The systematic attack on women in this country, in particular, has also been institutionalized for centuries through the ghastly caste system and rigid cultural codes related to marriage and sexuality. The mindset of the Indian caste system is in fact not very different at all from that of an average rapist- ‘the mighty can and should always take advantage of the weak’. In many parts of India, even today, the sexual assault on Dalit or tribal women, is routine and considered ‘normal’ by upper caste males. While in theory for the ‘upper’ castes coming in physical contact with the ‘lower’ castes, is to get ‘polluted’ when it comes to sleeping with or raping ‘lower’ caste women, men of the ‘upper’ caste don’t hesitate at all.
Marriage in India is another institutionalised form of slavery for many women who, after purchasing a ‘suitable’ husband by paying hefty sums in dowry, have to ‘serve’ him for the rest of their lives. If the purchase price is not good enough the woman often ends up dead as part of phenomenon of ‘dowry deaths’, whereby in upper-class homes kerosene stoves mysteriously burst and turn the targeted bride into charcoal.
The practice of female foeticide, whereby parents deliberately abort female babies in preference to a male one, is widespread in India and that too in the most affluent parts of the country. In several provinces of India the ratio of women to men in the population is so low that it is indicative of a virtual genocide going on against women. Joanna, you are curious to know why should there be such horrific violence against women in a land like India that is the birthplace of so many world religions? Well, you should consider the possibility that the low status of women in my country is closely connected to the deep-seated misogyny of these religions and the hypocritical attitudes towards women and sexuality that it has fostered among many Indian men.
The attitudes towards women of most Indians are what they are today as they have been shaped historically by three of the most patriarchal and sexually conservative groups known to humankind. This includes the pretentiously ascetic Brahmins, who have dominated Indian society for several millennia; Muslim rulers who added yet another weighty layer of conservatism to the national culture during their several centuries long reign; and the tight-assed Victorian British colonialists, who surpassed the previous elites in prudery and made everything sexual synonymous with the term ‘sinful’.
In the Brahmanical version of Hinduism those who renounce sex altogether and become celibates are hailed as great saints who have achieved ‘mastery over their base desires’. For most ‘upper’ caste Hindus, sex – due to its association with various bodily fluids- is an ‘impure’ act and something to be indulged in only sparingly, mainly for the purpose of procreation.
Women, in the worldview of conservative Hinduism, are seen as both inherently ‘dirty’ and as obstacles to the noble path of male spiritual ambitions to transcend physical needs and achieve salvation. As a result what we have is the widespread hypocrisy of many Indian men pretending to ‘resist’ sexual desire and yet lusting away at every given opportunity. Women automatically, under this worldview, become second class citizens, underfed, overworked, abused and murdered at will.
Coming to Islam, while men are more or less free to behave in any manner they want there are a huge number of restrictions placed on women who are seen as ‘lesser’ human beings, often even seen as mere cattle. The real or deemed sexual ‘indiscretions’ of Muslim women have been traditionally met with severe and brutal punishment. As if these two influences were not bad enough the country has also had the misfortune of living for almost two centuries under the British colonialists- who loftily claimed to be on a ‘civilizational mission’ and held the ‘uncontrolled passions of the natives’ as proof of their ‘inferiority’.
In this period, the sexual prudery of the colonialists –which drew heavily from the Judeo-Christian tradition of seeing sex as the ‘original sin’ - got enshrined in the modern Indian judicial and administrative systems through written laws. Thus for example the British transformed homosexuality, lesbianism and adultery, that were at best well accepted and at worst merely frowned upon by Indian society - into ‘criminal’ acts to be punished by the forces of the State.
The Indian middle-classes even today are probably the largest and most loyal repository of British Victorian values anywhere in the world. In fact much of what passes off as ‘Indian values’ or ‘morality’ on sexual matters in contemporary times is nothing more than the worst of old local prejudices cohabiting with imported British colonial ones. The conservative attitudes towards sex and sexuality in Indian society would not really have mattered much if not for the fact that they bring truly horrific social and human consequences, particularly for women. The more mainstream India pretends morality is only about observing certain sexual dos and don’ts the more it neglects the larger ethical issues that cry out for attention – social injustice, poverty, hunger, lack of health care, , sectarian violence…the list is long
The inability of Indian society to deal with sexual desire and sexuality in a sane and democratic manner results in a situation where violence occurs regularly between men too. According to official data compiled by the Indian National Crime Records Bureau love affairs and sexual causes were among the top three motives for all murders and culpable homicides committed in the country in 2006.
Expressing sexual desire normally or even simple affection in a civilized manner is severely discouraged in the mainstream Indian milieu and this has resulted in a culture where rage is the norm and rape or murder are the inevitable end results. So apart from being the Republic of Love India is also, it seems, the global Graveyard of Love! And - believe me- the two trends are very closely linked.
Is there hope anywhere that Indian men could change and behave differently with women? I will stick my neck out on this question and say I do think so. The hope lies in the fact that Bramhanical Hinduism- is not the only tradition influencing a country as large and diverse as India. Within the over 800 million people clubbed under the generic label of ‘Hindu’ there is a phenomenal variety of sub-cultures, belief systems and personal practices.
Dalit intellectuals in India have for long pointed out that many so called ‘lower’ caste communities display a more liberated sexuality than even the most radical feminists from the ‘upper’ castes. Similarly there is plenty of evidence that in many tribal communities women also have a very high if not equal status with men in most aspects of life. While patriarchy has come to dominate Hinduism in modern India historically the feminine spirit has asserted itself powerfully too. The ‘upper caste’ norms and values of mainstream Hinduism are regularly challenged by the numerous Mother Goddess cults that are to be found throughout India and are as ancient if not older than Hinduism itself.
Similarly, the bhakti (or devotion) movement that started in eastern India in the 13th century, emphasizes the female nature of the male Hindu god Krishna and promotes the idea of devotees (both male and female) seeing themselves as ‘lovers’ of the Lord.
Within Islam and Christianity, and other religions in India, too there are counter-currents asserting the rights of women, challenging orthodoxies that seek to control women and evolving alternate ways of looking at sexuality, the human body and ultimately all of society itself. The Sufi saints of Islam- who are the counterparts of the preachers of bhakti in Hinduism- still have many adherents who are attracted by their moderate, non-macho approach to spirituality.
Equally importantly the modern Indian woman, whether in the city or village, is no longer willing to be subjugated so easily by men and are resisting male domination in their various ways.
What all these traditions point to are the possibilities of a future India where the feminine aspect of all human beings- the fountainhead of all forms of life and creativity- is not looked down upon as ‘impure’, ‘evil’ or ‘sinful’ but understood as an essential part of what makes our world so wonderful.
PS: While I am still optimistic about this country please don’t forget to pack a sharp knife with you when you visit India next time. Nothing changes so fast in a vast nation such as India and it is better to be safe than sorry!
Satya Sagar is a public health activist and journalist based in New Delhi. He is an associate editor with www.countercurrents.org and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
President Pranab Mukherjee’s son Abhijit Mukherjee on Thursday found himself in the thick of a controversy over his remarks that “dented and painted” women protested against the gang-rape in New Delhi.
Calling the anti-rape agitation a nautanki (drama), he said the women protesters were good looking but did not exactly look like students.
“Students walking the streets with candles... going to discotheques... our days as students were different. These people did not look like students to me”, Mr Mukherjee told a TV channel.
He also said that the agitators had little connection with ground realities.
Mr. Mukherjee’s remarks were quickly criticised by the political opposition as well as the civil society. His sister Sharmishtha Mukherjee responded saying she was shocked by his statement.
It seems that Abhijit Mukherjee has "little connection with ground realities".
Those female members of the anti-Iran terrorist Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO also known as the MEK, PMOI and NCR) who were residing in Camp Ashraf, the former training center of the group in Iraq, were abused by the MKO ringleaders sexually, a defected member revealed on Monday.
According to a report by Ashraf News website, Zahra Sadat Mir-Baqeri, one of the defected leaders of the MKO, said that she has some information about the sexual abuse of female members by the main ringleader of the terrorist group, Massoud Rajavi. "Rajavi abused women in the Camp Ashraf sexually and there is a list of 100 young girls and women who had gone under surgical operations to be raped by Rajavi," she said.