Sexism in India

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Sexism in India

by Mari Marcel Thekaekara


Many people think Mamata Banerjee does not take sexual violence seriously (Biswarup Ganguly, under a CC License)

In Aligarh, north India, Gunjan, a 20-year-old college student is in hospital with injuries. What was her crime? She wore jeans to college. Her mother died defending her. Gunjan’s neighbour, who everyone says was horrible, often said to Gunjan and her family that the clothes Gunjan wore were bad. The neighbour said her parents should not allow her to wear modern, bad (to some parts of society) clothes. Non-traditional western clothes are okay for Bollywood, but conservative Indian groups do not like them .

The young girl told the older neighbour to stop telling her what to wear. The neighbour was very angry at this, because, traditionally, young people must never reply rudely to older people. The neighbour returned with a group of men with sticks and knives to teach Gunjan to be more polite, the newspaper reports said. Other neighbours who tried to stop the attack, were attacked too. When the police arrived, Kamlesh, Gunjan’s mother was lying in her own blood. People had hit her on the head with something heavy several times. She was dead when she arrived at the hospital. Gunjan and a few others are now in hospital with serious injuries.

Our society surprises us all the time. No-one can understand our logic. The same people who attacked Gunjan probably watch bad Bollywood films and TV shows. Many of these show sexy women in a very bad way. The women in many of these films wear tight, sexy clothes. The dances are pornographic, and the censors allow this. And children watch these movies with the whole family, including grandparents.

In India, people worship the strength of females in the famous Kali and Shakti cults. But there is another side. They say one thing, but they do another. In literature, the perfect woman is Sati-Savitri. But normal women have a terrible life. We have deaths to pay the dowry (for marriage), and many terrible attacks on women. This has become worse recently because has made it cheaper to sell alcohol on our streets and porn via mobile phones. People can watch porn on mobiles for only 10 rupees. $1 is now 58 rupees.

Women’s groups have been shouting about this for decades. But, things seem to be getting worse, not better. I grew up in Calcutta, now Kolkata. I was proud that groups of people used to run to help if a woman was attacked on a city street. That has changed now, with West Bengal as one of India’s worst states. Gang rape is now common there. Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee came to power with promises to make life better for Bengal women. But she now says irresponsible things and says the stories of rape and sexual violence are only the opposition trying to make her party look bad. She says publicly that people are paying the media and women’s groups to say bad things about her. Women’s groups are very angry that the first woman Chief Minister of West Bengal state, home to the Hindu goddess Durga, is so bad for women.

The National Commission for Women was angry about the transfer of two of the main officers involved in investigations of the Park Street gang rape case and Bankura case ‘for state government reasons.’ Politicians are often silent about rape cases where their party men are involved.

Bengali women are proud of being strong. Women’s groups are coming together to fight back. And their shakti (strength) has more power than people think. May the force be with them.

As this article has been simplified, the words, text structure and quotes may have been changed. For the original, please see: