A Small Incident In Metro, Are We Losing Our Morals?

Posted: October 19, 2018

In this world of intellect have we begun to lose our morals? Look at how the author answers this question with an incident that happened with her in a metro.

There are so many small incidences which take place daily. Some of these incidents make you wonder why? whom to blame? where are they heading to? what is it that people strive for morals or self-comfort?

With no intention to boast about myself, I am hereby sharing 2 similar situations but with different outcomes.

A few days back while getting into the metro, I had an eye on one empty seat. I was about to sit when I saw an old man with a huge bag wanting to sit. He shyly, smilingly resisted when I offered him that seat.

I insisted him to sit and then I was flooded with his blessings and best wishes for my life. Not only he said good for me, but he also praised my parents for inculcating right values. He was feeling indebted for such a trivial thing. Upon this, he even remembered his daughters who were married and he misses them a lot.

I contemplated “Did I Do Much?”

Then I immediately remembered one similar incident which one of my friends narrated a few months back.
A very young lady was sitting on the seat meant for senior citizens in the metro. An old man boarded the train and very timidly requested if she can give him that seat. She shrewdly asked for his ID card to check if he is actually a senior citizen. The old man felt harassed by her annoying attitude. However other co-passengers offered him a seat and lectured the lady a little. Surprisingly to this, she made a choice to close her eyes and ignore.

What exactly is wrong?

I had to think of what’s going on with the new generation. Or maybe not blaming the new generation but only a few people who in the name of being vigilant, at times tend to forget the simple values which every parent likes to inculcate in their children.

I wonder what upbringing or what background that lady must have come from which has pushed her to become what she was. In my situation, a small act of kindness which is no big deal made my day happy, filled with so many blessings and at the same time, the day of that man must have been filled with all the good memories of his daughters which he immediately remembered after our encounter.

The question here is –

Is it the generation to be blamed?

Should the parents be blamed who are failing to make their kids better Human Beings first and then great professionals?

Are we missing upon one basic thing while nurturing our kids and not allowing them to have the morals and values system in their minds first and then approaching the academics?

It’s high time to give a serious thought on what our children are learning and why?

And in my opinion the answer to this is something that we need to contemplate on our own and find out.

Image Source – Pixabay

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Better Take Today’s Media With A Generous Dose Of Salt, Than Just A Pinch!

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Should we trust media in today’s times? Author Manojita Chakraborty wants us to stop believing everything that is put in front of us on a silver platter.

As the academic and business circles are talking and discussing Yuval Noah Harari’s insightful capturing of the evolution of ‘Sapiens’ into ‘Homo Deus’ in the future generation, I am penning down a brief expose on Media. Not the popular, or rather pop culture influenced media, but primarily the platforms for consumption of information.

Why do I quote Harari and his arguments right at the preamble? Mainly because, in both his much-appreciated works, he has emphasized on the ability of human beings to cooperate, share and disseminate information. This is the key to our species’ ability to dominate evolution in its favour, on this planet for the past 70,000 years. The need for information’s barter birthed ‘media.’ As we know it today, popular media is a mouthpiece for information exchange.

The birth of media

Traditionally media outlets spread as centres of learning, exchange, scientific inquisitiveness, religious propaganda and also dissent. One can say that the earliest examples of media hubs were probably, religious monasteries, temple pathshalas, madrasas etc. With the advent of learning techniques, speech, writing, documentation, knowledge began to find fits across geographies.

So as knowledge moved through the timelines, so did the form of traditional media. From religion sponsored research, the torch of this quest passed on to power centres of ruling monarchies. The rulers patronised scientists, scholars, poets, composers etc and their courts became the centres for cultural revolutions. These were phases where religion and nations often collided, and in select cases blended into one form.

As centres of learning and research began to find independence from religion and state, the zeal to share began to increase. This was spearheaded by inventions like papyrus scroll and gradually paper. As words began to be formed on a printed surface, news began to take shape – take two to the beginning of the modern era, newspapers and bulletins rose as relevant power centres.

Revolutions sparked off from tables of dynamic thinkers, reporters and mass leaders. Ideas began to reach every corner of a state and movements first took their birth. Media, as we see today, has the power to topple governments, damage reputations, wage information warfare and influence citizens like never before. Technology has just managed to add fuel to an already uncontrollable fire.

Is it serving its purpose?

The pertinent question in today’s times is, “Is media, serving it’s true purpose or is it increasingly being used as a tool for propaganda and misinformation?” From the brief history I outlined before, we are more than certain that media primarily serves the purpose of knowledge enhancement, aides and enables the search for information. Perhaps it is, idealistic to think that media should be used for the purpose of bringing together, of educating and ultimately to serve as a platform for equal opportunities. Unfortunately, in the present times, media has inflated itself into a Goliath of inordinate proportions to which human ethics are but an insignificant David.

It is mostly irrelevant and to a large extent widely accepted fact today, that media as an institution is largely corrupt. There are numerous examples to bring to front the excesses of media outreaching the boundaries of moral code, so much so that, we can comfortably compartmentalize media as a cohort, serving the purpose of entertainment more than anything else.

The abuse of power

Take for instance, the raging debate on the #metoo movement which has become the talk of the country for the past few weeks. Irrespective of my own opinions on the issue, it is nauseating to see how the topic is being talked upon, enacted on series of popular mediums. Starting from insensitive discussion forums, to memes, to open letters, to wildly hurled accusations – the movement is being reduced to a mockery of mud-slinging. The citizens or rather the netizens need to realize the fact that the issue is a highly sensitive one and should be treated with utmost caution. Safety at workplaces against serial predators is imperative to proper organizational functioning, irrespective of the industry and irrespective of the gender.

This is not a struggle of women coming to parity with the male-dominated world. That is a concept as old as civilizations. What is important here, is the power abuse in the name of chances, opportunities, and advances. Hence the men should be given a hearing as much as the women finding the courage to come out and tell their stories.

Intolerant India

Equally obnoxious is the tide of intolerance which seems to be organically evolving in India. The widespread misuse of popular news mediums, may it be print-tv-digital to criminalise the student fraternity from prestigious institutions is highly appalling. The way in which freedom of speech is being curtailed and the influence that troops of marginally educated (if at all), short totting so-called ‘bhakts’ wield is comical, to say the least. I can dramatically tell you that the borders between good and evil media trends are blurring. That doesn’t make this any less tragic and comic at the same moment. Shakespeare would have turned in his grave.

So, what exactly needs to be done? I personally feel, the foremost measure that we as a society should adopt is to stop believing everything that is put in front of us on a silver platter. Someone very long time back, sagely said, all that glitters is not gold. And so, don’t be a vessel to all that you are told. Unfortunate the truth in our world is that the facts are out there for public consumption, barring state records, are largely doctored. It is great to have an opinion, but not a rushed one. By all means, listen to media. But treat it as a source of information that needs validation from your own research, and not something which is set in stone. And lastly, laugh it off, media in today’s time is meant to be taken with not a pinch but a generous dose of salt.

Earlier Published here.

Image Source – Pexels

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8 Ways To Limit Your Child’s Screen Time

Nowadays the children as young as 6 months old age like watching screens of smartphones, tabs, and televisions. Learn how to limit your child’s digital screen time through these 8 interesting ways.

Little John is not yet 1 year old, and very fond of his iPad. He watches nursery rhymes and cartoons on it. He stops crying immediately if he gets to watch the rhymes. And he doesn’t eat anything without watching something on the iPad. He gets extremely annoyed if it is taken away from his hands or if his nursery rhyme stops playing.

Rhea is a 3 years old bubbly girl and she loves to play games on her mother’s smartphone. She expertly plays all her favourite games and spends hours on the smartphone. She has learnt to download games as well and downloads as many games as she wants. Do you find these situations familiar? Or does it happen at your house?

Any screen time for young children is not good, and it may cause social and health issues, as well as learning issues like the inability to concentrate on an activity not involving a screen. Many parents complain about the excessive screen time of their children. But how and why did it start? And how do we limit it? These are the important questions that need an answer.

There are numbers of reasons behind it like the easy availability of the internet, smartphones, tabs, and unavailability of elders to give time to children. Today we will focus on how to stop it or at least limit your child’s screen time.

Have a quick look at these pointers by many mommies for the #overalldevelopment movement:

  1. Avoid giving tab to kids for playing games and watching videos, as it might become a stubborn habit. However cranky a child might be, don’t give a screen.

  2. For older kids, It’s best to set a  limit for using screens. Decide a time window and give screens only for the designated time.

Tricks to solve the problems created by screens

1. Activity:

Loads of activities that can keep your child busy and away from the screens. Check for your child’s interest and If possible send your older than 4-5 years children to activity classes. e.g. Dancing, singing, painting, drawing, swimming. While at home ask your child to do his/her favourite activities.

2. Spend time with children:

This is an extremely important point. If parents/caregivers spend time with children, they won’t go watching screens. Parents have to set an example by keeping themselves away from screens and spending time with children. During weekdays parents can distribute days in between them and spend that day with children for playing, studying.

3. Games and Puzzles:

Playing various games and puzzles helps children in mental development. So buy games and puzzles for your child as per his/ her age. (Every time buying is not an ideal option. so exchange games with same aged kids. Make a group of mommies in neighbourhood and exchange games, toys and puzzles.)

4.Art and craft:

Art and craft is good entertainment for children and helps to keep them engaged. Buy art and craft supplies like origami papers, beads, threads, ice cream sticks and encourage to make projects. Decorate your house with these cute creations of your child to appreciate them. (Thousands of videos on art and craft are available on YouTube. Select a simple according to your child’s age).

5.Indoor Play:

Best way to refrain children from watching screens is to make them play more. Children of all age like to play, so play with your children as and when possible. Plan play dates with other children and encourages to play.

6.Outdoor play:

Take your kids outdoor, playgrounds as much as you can. Play badminton, cricket, soccer, tennis like sports with them. Playing outdoors help them with physical and mental development and have a healthy lifestyle. The even unstructured play is extremely helpful for growing children. Encourage them from a young age to play outdoor sports.

7. Have a pet:

It’s a cool idea to have a pet at home for your child. As children need company and someone to play and talk with them. If you have a pet at your house, the child will be engaged in talking, playing with the pet. (If you don’t like pets then can go for a small turtle also.)

8. Assign Tasks

 

Here comes an interesting part for mommy. If you could get little-helping hands for doing the household chores, it’s great. If your child is older than 3-4-year-old start assigning small tasks to keep them busy.  E.g. Arranging toys, folding small clothes Packing school bag. It will help them to be independent and responsible. They will learn to do their own things from a young age.

So if you are also a concerned mom who wants to restrict her child’s screen time and make them indulge in actual activities then this is your solution. Also if you have any other ideas that you would like to share please put them down in the comment box and till then unleash these tips for the #overalldevelopment of your child.

Image Source – Pixabay

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How SC Judge Indu Malhotra Struggled Her Way Through Gender Bias In The Legal Profession

The ‘male-dominated’ legal profession is not a cake walk for women. Supreme Court Judge Indu Malhotra spoke about her struggles up the career ladder. 

Many landmark judgements were recently passed by the Supreme Court, each more novel and progressive than the other. Also greatly favouring women and gender equality.

For us women, there was an added element to celebrate for – Indu Malhotra being an integral part of the bench of judges passing these highly controversial and progressive verdicts. She had recently been appointed as the 8th woman Supreme Court Judge since independence, and her revelations about the extent of gender bias prevalent in the legal profession are shocking.     

At a panel discussion about ‘Women in the legal profession’ recently organised by the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy in collaboration with Oxford University, Indu Malhotra spoke about a very tough path that she had to take for climbing up the career ladder amidst all the gender bias that exists in the legal profession.

Indu Malhotra said, “There is a gender bias. People think women judges are not good enough to grapple with complicate commercial matters. Sometimes, even a senior judge would turn around to say that you would not understand it. So, you have to work twice as hard; you have to fight it out and struggle your way through!”   

The hard work

Indu Malhotra had to put in a lot of additional effort, work in the lower strata of lawyers for a couple of decades, to prove her worth before venturing into higher posts. Not many wanted a woman to fight their case. However capable she was, they preferred male lawyers. How can a women’s feeble mind ever be able to comprehend complex legal matters, right?  

The notion that ‘women are for lighter and more gentler work,’ is stuck so fast in people’s minds, that they reject outright the possibility of women’s capabilities in handling different issues other than family matters.     

It’s very hard to accept this, and sad to know that bias still lurks in the legal fraternity, among the very people responsible for upholding and protecting Article 14 and the fundamental right to equality granted to all of us by the constitution of India.    

The reality of the situation is – they might be lawyers, judges, or even the Chief Justice of India – they are still very much connected to, and a part of the society that we all live in. So, it would be very hard for them to separate themselves from the discrimination that has been attached to women for centuries now.   

Prove their capabilities

Legal profession for women is no different from any other profession – they must toil very hard for people to start recognising them and believing in their capabilities. So, instead of just celebrating the 8 women judges that the Supreme Court has got on its bench till now, it is more important to contemplate: why only 8 in the 70 odd years of independence?

From Indu Malhotra’s speech, it is clear that the one thing that was stopping women from venturing into the legal profession, is the very same – ‘male domination and bias’. It can be changed only when more and more women take up the profession. If we look at women students in law colleges now, the numbers are indeed a positive sign. It’s definitely going to be hard for all of them. But major changes can be and must be brought by them alone – from the grassroots level.

Let’s hope that with these new women lawyers, the legal profession becomes the pioneer of change with zero gender bias. Also that more and more women judges take higher positions in courts, and the number of 8 judges multiplies at the apex court.    

Image Source – Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy FB. 

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Seeing The ‘Liberated’ Life Of Women In Paris Made Me Wish The Same For Us Indian Women

The one thing I noticed on my visit was the liberated life in Paris, of women who were ‘out there’, in the open, living it up, free-spirited and ‘safe’! How I wish we could have the same in India!

Last month, I traveled to the romantic capital of the world – Paris. Over a week’s time, I walked multiple alleys and cobblestone streets of the city, catching glimpses of outdoor Parisian life from close quarters.

Coming from the Asian continent, a memorable part of my experience was enjoying the unassuming, almost taken-for-granted ‘air of liberation’ that Parisian women breathe. Seeing Parisian picnics in gardens all over the city, observing groups of young girls and families sitting on the banks of river Seine, and watching women reading and enjoying croissants and black coffee in cafes at every nook and corner of the streets, I found the environment quite empowering.

These were glimpses of what a gender-agnostic society may look like. I had more than one experience to illustrate this.

‘Free’ women, the young and the old

As I soaked in the sunset views in Montmartre, I saw a cheerful woman at a pub enjoying a beer with her young baby on her back. She was unwinding with her friends, dancing, laughing, and off and on, her friends petted her baby’s cheeks. She was ‘free’ – free of the truckloads of judgment that haunt most women in Indian societies around what ‘motherly’ behavior looks like. Indulging in alcohol, bars, noise, outdoors, and chatter after delivering a baby!? Are you kidding me!

While walking across the Pont Neuf bridge in the city, I saw a lady in a bright red knee-length dress, riding a cycle, pedaling away to her destination. It was a pretty sight. Delightfully refreshing. Again, she was ‘free’ – completely unconcerned about the ‘gap’ between her legs that dare invite the attention of the ‘oh so prying’ male eyes.

On another evening, at Le Marche departmental store at Saint-Germain, an immaculately dressed elderly woman, well above 70, caught my attention. She was shopping, independently, almost as a matter of fact, getting on with usual activities of life. There wasn’t an iota of awareness of ‘old age’ and all the imaginary helplessness that comes along with it. Her body language was as confident and ‘in control’ as that of a youngster. More often than not, old age burdens the mind more than the body, right? In Indian societies, it is quite uncommon to see elderly women who are physically and mentally strong such that they manage their lives without becoming dependent, or rather ‘believing’ themselves to be dependent.

A gender agnostic society

All through the city at all times of the day, I marvelled at girls on segways and skateboards speeding along bike lanes, enjoying public spaces, like no one’s watching. They were ‘out there’, in the open, living it up, free-spirited and ‘safe’! Sometimes I felt like an idiot noticing something as ‘irrelevant’ as the gender of a person on a skateboard that sped past me! Living in India has made me overly gender conscious and the entire baggage that comes with it. In a society replete with moral policemen and elected guardians who shackle us with unwritten guidelines on what and how women should dress, drink, or speak, my mind took a while to recognize the obvious – that skateboarding demands posture, balance and strength – clearly gender agnostic qualities of the human body!

One of my most memorable days was the time I spent at the landmark bookstore Shakespeare & Co. and its adjoining, utterly delightful café. I was so impressed to see a section ‘Feminist books for kids.’ Wow! While most societies are struggling to manage the convenient ‘abuse’ of this term and trying to extend its applicability on men as much as women, it is heartening to see that the Parisian society is willingly exposing its young impressionable minds to the philosophy of feminism via storybooks.

These matter of fact experiences are a rude reminder of how long a road we have to travel to enjoy that level of liberation. When our struggles are no longer about managing what time we need to start back home post sundown to ensure our ‘safety’. When we can simply ‘live’ life and choose to enjoy public spaces in a way that is as natural and non-judgmental as the sun rising from the East every morning. Thankfully, this aspiration is not a mirage. I believe that we’ll get there – someday. The ‘Why Loiter’ movement is a significant step in that direction, asserting women’s right to have fun and simply loiter in public spaces at any hour. One step at a time.

A version of this was first published here.

Image source: pexels

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The Reign Of This Indian Empress Was Astonishingly Feminist For The Times She Lived In

From the widow of an ordinary official to the empress of a great empire, Nur Jahan was exactly that – the extraordinary woman who was the light of the world she ruled over.

A few years ago, Hillary Clinton, speaking to a women’s magazine, said: “Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world. It is past time for women to take their rightful place, side by side with men, in the rooms where the fates of peoples, where their children’s and grandchildren’s fates, are decided.”

While she was spot-on in her observation in the wake of 21st century’s rising wave of feminism, I doubt she was aware of the dynamic woman who did all that and more at a time when it was absolutely unheard of. A woman who proved to be a feminist icon in the days of 17th century Mughal India – a time when the term Feminism had not yet been coined (it would take nearly two hundred years for the world to first hear what Feminism was). And yet, this astonishing woman accomplished what no other woman in the history of Mughal India, neither before or after her, would ever hope to.

Ruby Lal, in this remarkable biography titled Empress: The Astonishing Reign of Nur Jahan, traces the rise of Mihr un-Nisa, born to a Persian noble and widow of a subversive official, who became the twentieth and most cherished wife of Emperor Jahangir, and later co-sovereign and ruler of Mughal India.

It is interesting to note how Nur Jahan, in the early years of her marriage to the Emperor, spent her time cultivating politically astute alliances and closely observing affairs of the state from within the imperial harem. Her influence in the harem, however, grew from her acts of kindness which caught the attention of the Emperor and as his favourite wife, she soon became a force within the harem.

Bestowed the honorific Nur Mahal – Light of the Palace, and later Nur Jahan – Light of the World, she ruled the vast Mughal Empire alongside her husband and governed in his stead as his health failed and his attentions wandered from matters of state. An astute politician and a devoted partner, Nur valiantly led troops into battle to free Jahangir when he was imprisoned by one of his officers. She signed and issued imperial orders and coins of the realm bore her name.

Additionally, she was a skillful dress designer, having designed an inexpensive wedding dress style for brides from poorer families called the Nur Mahali which is used even today. She was an ingenious architect who planned many gardens and innovated the use of marble in her parents’ mausoleum, which was the basis for the Taj Mahal. She was a master shot at hunting and her political acumen rivaled those of her female counterparts in Europe and beyond.

Sadly though, as women have had to bear through the centuries, the royals, courtiers and officers during Jahangir’s reign were displeased with the idea of a woman attaining the extent of power that Jahangir had bestowed on Nur. When his sons rebelled against him, she was blamed for the fall of the empire. Historians from Shah Jahan’s reign (Jahangir’s son) deliberately wrote all of Nur’s merits and accomplishments out of history.

With Empress, Lal lays out a chronologically detailed account consolidated from various time periods and sources to demystify this woman who has remained an enigma. Nur’s story is not hers alone. It is a part of a large empire and the events before and after her life play a key role in shaping her story.

Naturally then, the narrative is exhaustive in the Mughal history it encapsulates. I have never felt a kinship with History as a subject, nonetheless, I was surprised to note that I found the book delightfully captivating. One can’t rush through the pages as it calls for patience and attention to absorb the tremendous amount of facts it reveals and connects with. Even so, not for a moment did I lose interest. It was incredibly inspiring to read about the astonishing reign of a woman as accomplished as Nur Jahan.

It really is true that the women who break down barriers are those who ignore limits. Us women of today could definitely take a page from Nur’s book to learn how it is done.

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When It’s ‘Normal’ For A Wife To Endure Her Husband’s Violence For The Sanctity Of Marriage

We have normalised domestic violence in the domestic sphere so much, that we often don’t even notice it as violence, and it is even culturally sanctioned.

‘Normal’ is nothing but perception. What is normal to us in India is often very foreign to people in a neighbouring country. What is normal to one household can also be very different from the neighbour’s household.

Normalisation is the process in which anything – behaviour, priorities, habits, preferences, etc. gets repeatedly treated as though it is normal until it is universally perceived as such. If something is normal, it is not serious, not shocking, unimpressive, unspectacular, not special, totally ordinary, completely acceptable, and easy to ignore.

Does normal seem like a good way to describe abuse and violence? Probably not. Yet, at least 50% of men, women, girls and boys in India think that a man hitting his wife is normal or justifiable.

Let us think about some things that are widely normalised in India: breaking traffic rules,  littering on roads, urinating publicly, cutting in line, spitting publicly, and even bribing. You and I would probably agree that these behaviours are wrong, and yet we encounter these things so often, that there is no doubt that much of society has somehow accepted them as normal and decided to ignore them.

What is your usual reaction when you witness this kind of behaviour? A heavy sigh, an eye roll, or maybe a muttered expletive before you go back about your business? You might not like it, but it is so normal, and it happens so frequently, that you figure it’s not worth making a big fuss to try to make a point one time. You see someone urinating on a public wall in your neighbourhood and think to yourself, “What’s the point of saying anything. Someone else will just come along tomorrow and do the same thing.” You make an excuse for it.

Similarly, abuse and violence against women has become a behaviour that many of us acknowledge as wrong, but do not address. However, there are also a large group of people who think of it as completely normal (even justified), and who do not see any reason to try an address it.

Why do we fail to notice domestic violence?

There is a reason why we as a society have overlooked domestic violence – years of conditioning to accept that there is a gender in this world which has to be protected, taken care of and sheltered. In the process of sheltering, protecting and providing for the gender which is considered to be ‘weaker, nurturing and sensitive’, we control her. This controlling is exhibited in the form of physical, verbal and mental abuse, under the garb of protecting them.

There are a lot of things this ‘weaker gender’ has to adhere to in Indian Society – be docile, responsible, bear children and nurture them, listen to the husband and his family, cook and clean for the entire family and take permission for everything. If a regular Indian woman dares to cross any of the lines that have been drawn for her, anything can be done and justified to keep her in her place, right?

Among other root causes, abuse stems from the desire to control another person. With several years of conditioning, society has trained one gender to be submissive and the other to be dominant (a controller). In a marriage, when a woman fails to be the ‘perfect’ wife, cook, maid, host, mother etc., the husband and/or the family could use their power and control in various forms to ‘put the woman in her place’.

Take this clip for example:

In this clip, the wife says that she has to endure her husband’s violence for the sanctity of marriage, because he is a Man and he is her Husband.

Indian society and families have been controlling women to an extent that a woman’s personal choices now have an effect on the reputation of her family. If a woman chooses to marry the person of her family’s choice, listens to her husband and in-laws, gives birth to children and takes on the role of a ‘selfless’ mother, then she has made her parents and in-laws very proud. On the contrary, if she chooses to leave an abusive husband, if she chooses career over motherhood or if she marries a partner of her choice, then it is assumed that she has destroyed the family’s reputation and respect.

It is interesting to see that a family’s respect is built on how well they can control their women – be it wife or daughter. That is also the reason why some families do not like their daughter pursuing higher education – they do not want her to be “too educated” for her “own good”.

While women across the country are taunted, scolded, beaten and burnt for many reasons (especially for making their own choices), we as family, friends, neighbours and society do not interfere in it because it is a ‘family issue’. For generations, Indian society has put women through a lot of pain, abuse and trauma because most issues are ‘family or personal issues’. This needs to stop now. It is not normal, it should not happen in any house and women definitely do not deserve it.

How do we recognise Domestic Violence?

  • When someone else is making decisions for a woman
  • When someone is hurting her mentally, physically or not respecting her decisions
  • When someone is constantly being taunted, vilified and mocked
  • When someone does not have control and agency over her own body or reproductive decisions
  • When someone is not allowed to earn money or does not have control over the money she earns

Let us all educate ourselves about domestic violence, recognise it, point it out and provide help to our family and friends who need it.

A version of this was first published here.

Image source: a still from the movie Provoked

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Do You Have A Problem With #MeToo? Here Is Why You Shouldn’t…

Though #MeToo is getting widespread support, it is not free from criticisms. It is unwise to condemn the whole movement due to some of its loopholes. 

Sexual harassment is coercion of an unwelcomed sexual nature by an individual towards another individual. It includes a range of behavior like humiliation, physical or mental abuse, and assault. Sometimes it is difficult for victims to describe what they are going through. The harasser could be a predatory harasser, dominance harasser, strategic harasser or street harasser.

In recent years many campaigns are being held for throwing light on sexual abuse. And The #MeToo campaign is one of them. Some people, which included both men and women have criticized it on the grounds that it would end up casting all men as perpetrators. While many people are supported this movement, few of them have actually fathomed the significance of this movement.

The cry of foul play

The #MeToo movement is against sexual harassment and sexual assault by an individual towards another individual. Here individuals could be male, female or transgenders. So, the movement was initially gender neutral but soon became a movement for women as more and more women choose to come out and stand in solidarity with other women. As the masks of many powerful men started to fall, the cry of foul play began.

Though it was all about the widespread prevalence of sexual assault at workplaces, it also includes sexual assault faced by an individual at any place in their lifetime.

A safe working environment to all

In 2006 Tarana Burke, a social activist and community organizer used the phrase ‘Me Too.’ She had used it in response to a sexual assault experience of a 13-year-old girl.

On October 15, 2017, actress Alyssa Milano used #MeToo on Twitter to draw attention towards sexual assault and harassment faced by women. She encouraged and asked the victims of sexual harassment to tweet about it and let other people know the enormity of this issue. Within minutes, loads of tweets by women started flooding which included some high profile posts from American celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Ashley Judd, Jennifer Lawrence, and Uma Thurman.

Thousands of people replied with #MeToo stories and shared their experiences with many others. It was an act to show that you are not alone, I too have faced it in my life. It also exhibited to the world how grievous this problem is.

In the wake of #MeToo, several private whispers became public and many countries like U.S, Japan, China, Britain, France, Italy, and India started having media discussions on the need for change with the current cultural norms.

Thus, the original purpose of #MeToo was to empower women through empathy for each other. To know that there are thousands of other strong women who have faced the same problem and are still facing it. The other purpose was to generate resources for change, to have access to healing and advocate changes in law and policies.

The brave women who came out with their horrendous stories of molestation, harassment, and rape, have paved the way for a safer working environment for all of us. The Producer’s Association, Director’s Association, Cine Artist’s Association and the Screenwriters Association of India have strongly come out in support of women’s safety. This might help in building a safer environment for women in films and television fraternity. This would also serve as an example for creating a safer working environment in all other industries.

The criticism and their answers

Why were they silent for so long?

They were silent because society silenced them. There are some who were abused at the age of six or ten, but nobody heard them then. They become older, more independent and now they are confident enough to show the world their wounds. They are ready to show the real face of those monsters unknowingly living among us all. That monster who could be her uncle, neighbor, grandfather or even her own father. This is a face of #MeToo.

They were silent because it was expected of them. They were weak, fragile and may be afraid of acid or other attacks on them or their loved ones. But this #MeToo movement gave them enough courage to show that monster his real place. This is also a face of #MeToo.

They were silent because they were surrounded by a number of women who helped patriarchal notions to flourish. They are the mothers of this oppressive silence. They were taught that good girls never showed their wounds to the public. They learnt to handle it. But #Metoo led them to see and feel the wounds of fellow survivors. They come to know that their silence made the monster more powerful and he was out there looking for a new prey. Then they were ready to share their part of the story. This is how #MeToo helped.

They were silent because, in reality, they are not Kali or Durga. They are Shakti, but she is not some Goddess who can kill goons with her bare hands or stop them from raping her by just a slap. It is easy to slap someone and say ‘no’ but is it necessary for that someone to understand the meaning of ‘NO.’

While returning from office a girl was assaulted by a man. A girl in an elevator was assaulted by another man. Both of them said no, resisted and tried hard to fight with their assaulter, but got defeated. After a few years, they recognized that man at their friend’s wedding or at some prize distribution function. Now that man was standing right in front of them, living a respectful life, might be assaulting someone else in disguise. They had enough of crying, now they spoke up. Hence come up with their #MeToo story.

And what if they were not able to identify their assaulter, still they chose to share their #MeToo story. They wanted to show the world that how unsafe this place is for women. This is how #MeToo gave them a platform.

What about false accusations?

Obviously, there will be false accusations. When Indian criminal law included dowry as a punishable offense under Section 304B, it was feared that it could be misused by few women for wrongly accusing men. And yes, many false cases were being filed.

Then India’s supreme court said that people accused of dowry harassment should not be arrested until charges were verified. It felt like the law was enacted to help women, but it was being used as a weapon by some disgruntled wives. So, for this very reason, one should start criticizing the dowry law?!  No. On the contrary, one should criticize the misuse of this law.

Likewise in the wake of false accusations, one should not condemn the whole movement. Instead, the law must take its course.

Not all men

All men are not assaulters, there are many good, cultured and respectful men. But there are some who are not. They are monsters underneath the skin of civilized men; time has come for them to face the music. This movement was never against men but sexual assaulters. And an assaulter could be a woman too.

What is not #MeToo

  • A safer environment for women at work is a must. But this important movement is not to get revenge for failed relationships or trivialize the issue with false complaints. Then like the misuse of the Dowry law (Section 498 A) by some scheming women and their families, this movement will also be maligned by a selfish motive.
  • If someone’s particular behavior is making other individual uncomfortable, then and there a NO has to be said. If that person apologizes to you and never ever harasses you again in any form, then raising his/her name just to have a few minutes of fame is not #MeToo.

The above mentioned would only hamper the atmosphere and the genuine cases of assault that women have suffered over the years.

Thus, #MeToo is a movement to empathize with other victims; to make it loud and clear that yes, I did face harassment at some point in my life,  but I am not scared anymore.

In the darkness,
under the sky,
I was walking
with my head held up high.
She was there tormented and agonized.
Can feel the wretchedness of her eyes,
the alter ego of my twinge.
She read the message then and there,
you are not alone
I am here.
#METOO.

Image Source – Flickr, Katie Tegtmeyer.

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Ladies, Be The Change You Want To be! Heart To Heart From One Multitasker To Another

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We all are multitaskers but in the midst of delivering everything in an “apt way,” we tend to change or lose ourselves. Take a look at this account on life by one such multitasker.

I often feel chained down and burdened adapting to varied so-called “perfect role” for all relationships in my life. Understanding the busy schedule of my partner, the demanding nature of my job, the fragility of my kids and with all this, in the end, having no time for myself. Multitasking each of these roles and delivering it little close to perfection is what makes us a multitasker and I am sure all of us go through this phase and in one or the other time carry this burden of guilt of not being able to deliver all in these in the so-called “apt way”.

The problem here is that we women are too harsh on ourselves and lenient when empathizing with others. So to give it a better perspective I am narrating a little story of my everyday struggles. It involves embracing and falling down and rising again with a hope that this touches your heart in a minuscule way and changes your attitude towards your self.

“Why does this road gets jammed after every little rain pour! Ah… I will again get late to pick Aarav”

“Mommy, I need to pee! now!”, my 3-year-old toddler retorted. We will reach school soon honey let me put the radio on for you so that you can listen to your favourite songs.

I hurriedly park the car outside my son’s school and find him waiting at the school reception for me. “Mommy, you are again late today, can’t you finish your office calls after you pick me from school?”

“I will pick you on time from tomorrow, now quickly get into the car”

In this 20 mins drive from his school to home, I plan everything pertaining to my work (I freelance as an HR consultant and Content writer); the content for my client’s website, closing talent positions for my clients etc) The rest of the day also has to be planned as per Aarav’s after-school activities and Shanaya’s (my daughter) park time.

As if this was not exciting enough, I am also preparing for an international competitive exam. Not forgetting to mention, I am also the coordinator for the total work execution of our new house bought in another part of the city. So basically, I am a hand’s full woman juggling daily to meets the needs or rather master the execution as stated under different roles.

“You need to work harder for a good score”, my husband said bluntly

“Also, did you check on Aarav’s new tennis coach?”

A minute later,” Did you coordinate with the property dealer, guess he won’t negotiate at the given amount”

All this time, I keep telling myself that “All is Well and I can do it!”

So this little life detail of mine would have set a picture in your mind about the daily multitasking that I do. I perform several roles and a lot of times I embrace many roles at once. The only problem is when all these roles and relationships forget to empathize with you and want you to change yourself in every possible way. An MBA in HR helps me freelance as an HR consultant (It makes me stay connected to my field); my passion for reading and writing helps me to freelance as a content writer. Both these roles amalgamate my professional identity. A mother of two kids and a wife of a very busy spouse (mostly travelling) amalgamates my personal existence.

The folly here is that in embracing all of this I tend to lose myself and I guess a lot of us go through this because to deliver all the roles perfectly we start to change ourselves. We need to understand that accepting yourself and celebrating it every day is the best thing we can do for yourself. Don’t change for others, change for yourself; do something which makes you happy. For me, reading a book, watching an episode on Netflix, getting ready for a coffee with a close friend or even sitting in the balcony with “no thinking” is a break. So take a break from all the roles and spend some time to understand yourself better.

In the end, all I will say is that ladies, don’t be harsh on yourself. You are your best and with the positive force, you can achieve anything! This is a bye from one multitasker to other for now because I recently added another task on my list, learning guitar and this time this is something for myself.

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Why Do Women Have Such A Problem With The Sabarimala Verdict?

Posted:

The recent Sabarimala verdict allowing women to enter Sabarimala is being strongly protested by many women! Anjali Paul examines why women have such a problem with a tradition being changed.

I was pleasantly surprised when the recent Sabrimala verdict was passed lifting restrictions on the entry of women into the Sabarimala shrine. There was no doubt that it was a landmark judgement.

Among the 5 member panel, it was the sole female member who cast a dissenting vote. She clearly mentioned that the judicial system has no right to meddle with age-old religious beliefs and rituals even if they are discriminatory in nature. And this seems to be the sentiment shared by most people.

But if that was so, years back if our social reformers had thought the same, we would still be living in a country where women would have been jumping into their husbands’ funeral pyres, a country where polygamy would have been rampant, children would still be married off, and women would never have dreamt of an empowered life nor a Dalit ever imagine being educated. The list is endless. Most of the above-mentioned age-old traditions too had a deep-rooted religious backing which was both derogatory and prejudiced against the so-called ‘weaker sex’.

A point to note here is that there were hardly any women social reformers during the 19th century when a majority of women’s issues first came under the spotlight and reforms were being made. Instead of celebrating their new found rights and freedom, there were many women lamenting the abolishing of these age-old traditions.

Strikingly, even now in the 21st century, any challenge to the status quo especially those which have religious backing is treated with contempt. A vast number of women in Kerala considered the verdict as being blasphemous and out-rightly refused to enter the pious shrine of Sabarimala for fear of the wrath that they would have to face by ‘dishonouring’ the celibate Lord Ayappan. What is ironical is the fact that there is strong evidence that women, even though in small numbers were allowed to enter the shrine before a ban was imposed in 1991 restricting the entry of women falling in the age bracket of 10- 50 years.

Many argue that menstruation was never the reason to ban the entry of women into the sacred shrine but that the ban was based on a puranic legend that claimed that Ayappan would remain celibate till the day kanni swamis (first time devotees) stop coming to Sabarimala. And for him to remain celibate and answer the prayers of his devotees, he should not be distracted. Yet nowhere in this ancient legend have women been told not to enter the shrine.

Some highly regressive and sexist comments are making the rounds which make you shudder and actually wonder if we women even considered human. Some claim that the temple will turn into Thailand if women enter Sabarimala and that no woman must complain if she is harassed by a man during the pilgrimage as she would be bringing it upon herself. Another Malayalam actor spewed venom by saying that any woman who steps into the revered shrine must be ripped into two. What gives any man the right to talk about a woman like that? Don’t all these men owe their very existence to a woman? Why do women still behave like they are second-class citizens and revel in this sexism thrown at them?

God is universal and religion should be a connection with the creator which must transcend artificially created barriers based on certain beliefs which lead to unacceptable discrimination.

While the whole issue has now turned into a politically instigated agitation, it’s now time for women to understand that the verdict just allows you to exercise a choice and is not a compulsion. As long as women are given that choice, there will be no need for any reforms or revolutions to take place.

Inspired by the Sabarimala verdict, another movement has gained momentum – the demand for the right of entry for women into mosques and the priesthood. With more women realizing that religion is being used as an instrument to propagate patriarchy, such demands are bound to gather traction.

With the arrest of Bishop Franco and the subsequent impact on the Church, we must now realize that no religion is immune to the law and judiciary.

While change is the only thing that is constant, we as women must welcome these changes with open arms especially when they are being made with the aim of breaking the misogynist mindset that has existed for years. Stand for your tribe woman, rather than pulling it down!

Image Source – ABP News Video

I am a mom who works from home and dabbles with writing when time permits.

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