Sunday, July 18, 2010

SC supports pregnant students

Even though India is still amazingly conservative on topics like dating, live-in relationships and premarital sex, its Supreme Court has made some radical rulings in the past. After giving a nod to live-in relationships and declaring premarital sex as not an offence, the SC is now asking educational institutions to be more considerate to their pregnant students by relaxing attendance rules for them. What is  so great about this order is that single pregnant women are also included in this consideration. In India, it is no secret that an unwed mother is disapproved of and an illegitimate child stigmatized for life. It is therefore an exceptionally drastic step for the highest judicial body to take.

"If any woman candidate is deprived or detained in any of the semesters just on the ground that she could not attend classes being in advanced stage of pregnancy or due to delivery, such an act would not only be completely in negation of the conscience of the Constitution but also of women’s rights and gender equality this nation has long been striving for," the court observed.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Minor on Minor

6/63, Turf View, Hastings was an address I used for the longest time in my life. It's where I grew up for six wonderful years! It's where I made friends, lost friends, fell in love, got my heart broken, learnt how to drive, had my first accident, got my eyebrows done the first time-in short, nearly all my important memories are associated with that one address. A few days back, every single one of those memories was replaced by a horrifying incident that I never in my wildest dreams imagined would happen there! Some of my friends, while innocently hanging out on the rooftop of a building, came across the molested and murdered body of a five year old girl. If you think this is bad, the details that came out in the newspapers the next day will make you miss a heartbeat. Her molesters and murderers were two boys aged 14 and 12. Not only did they end a little girl's life brutally, they also went down and played football with their friends after their work was done.

What turns two boys, barely in their teens, brutal rapists and thoughtless murderers? Who and what do we blame? The parents, for their inability to teach their children the basic values of humanity? The media, for their complete failure in putting across any kind of positive message ? The society and the education system, for forcefully keeping away from children the knowledge that helps them deal with changes in their body and in their environment?

I cannot think of a more unhealthy environment for children to grow up in than the one we have today. Sure our parents did not share much with us either. Sure we secretly watched TV serials that we were told not to. Sure we huddled together secretly in a corner and chuckled over "dirty adult jokes". But not many of us grew sexually deranged. For today's kids its different (An instance can be found in this post). Their minds mature faster than their bodies. They are exposed to television, internet and other technology from their childhood. They are aware of the fact that they live in a world where power is everything. They know sex crimes are on a rise, politicians are corrupt and money gets you friends. In a world like this, it is important that they get proper and continual guidance from their guardians! Children NEED sex education classes. Children NEED to be told about puberty. They NEED to know all of this so their sexual energy is properly channelised. So they don't learn about such things from pornography! It's time to let go of the taboos of the past. You can't protect your children by hiding the truth.

Monday, June 7, 2010

I am sorry I was raped

                                        (Anderson, age 14, courtesy Freedom From Abuse)
After years of having to deal with trauma all on her own, 28-year old Tina Anderson finally came out in the open about her ordeal. More than ten years ago, a 15 year old Tina had been raped by a then Baptist Deacon, Ernest Willis. The effect of this rape was a permanent one for along with the emotional and physical scars, Tina was left with a baby growing in her womb. Like a lot of traumatized women, Tina turned to her Faith for healing. The nightmare that followed left her mute for the thirteen years till present. She was forced by her Pastor, Chuck Phelps, to "confess" in front of the entire congregation. While she was made to talk of her out of wedlock pregnancy, she was not allowed to mention the cause for it. While her speech was being crafted, Phelp's wife asked her " Did you enjoy it?"

Anderson, currently residing in Arizona, is now mother to three more children and wife to a loving and supportive husband. Encouragement from news channels, lawyers, police and the Independent Fundamental Baptist support group, helped her come to terms with her trauma and finally land her perpetrator in jail. Willis has been charged with two counts of rape and two counts of having sex with a minor. Presently he has been released on bail of $100,000 but will be arraigned on June 16th in Concord District Court. Anderson hopes to work in future with victims like herself who had no one to talk to.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Yemeni Child Brides say NO!

You know how parents are always worried of what new trend their teenagers will throw at them?Well, the parents of Yemen have a radically different new trend to deal with. The country has managed to successfully get under the nerves of their young teenage girls who have now put their foot down and are filing for divorce!Yes, you read  that right.In a country where young girls are forced into marriage and subsequently sexual relationships long before they even hit puberty, the child brides are finally heading to the court to get the marriages annulled.

The source of the strength can be traced down to the crusade of a little girl named Nujood who had been forced into a marriage with her family's thirty-something deliveryman at the age of ten. In her recently published brave autobiography I am Nujood,Age 10 and Divorced, Nujood, now twelve, recalls in horrific details about how her mother failed to voice her disapproval on the match, how her "husband" forced himself on her right after their marriage and how her mother-in-law encouraged her husband to regularly beat her up. When she heard that judges in court could grant divorces, she one day sneaked out of her home, jumped into a taxi and went straight to the courthouse to look for a judge. Soon she became a celebrity of sorts among the Yemeni intellectual circles and eventually won her divorce! Her fame spread so widely that Secretary of State, United States of America, Hillary Clinton addressed her as "one of the greatest women I have ever seen!" (It is safe to say she is the only third grader to have possibly received this honour!). Though initially accused by her family of bringing shame upon them, she is now a lot more loved and respected by her father and brothers for being the chief bread winner of the householder(she supports them with her book royalties)

Nujood's victory encouraged other Yemeni girls to follow suit. Her case was closely followed with that of an eight year old's who had been forcefully married off to man in his 50s to pay off her father's debt.The latest case is that of a twelve year old's who filed for divorce with her thirty year old cousin.Most of these young brides have been taken out of school, brutally raped and beaten up by their husbands, tortured by their in-laws and are too scared to refuse their fathers or go back to their homes for fear of shaming their family.However, the tide has been changing ever since the story of the brutal death of the 12-year old Yemeni girl (which I had mentioned here) hit headlines and brought international attention to the plight of Yemeni girls.

The brave young girls have started a revolution and till now have managed to raise the legal age for marriage to 17. While a lot of work still remains to be done, this change in the mindset of young girls is a much needed progressive change! Hopefully with time they will get what is only their natural right-a childhood.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Adventures of Salwa

The League of Independent Activists (IndyACT) have come up with a novel idea for spreading awareness about sexual harassment faced by women. The campaign, titled "The Adventures of Salwa," aims at helping women combat various forms of harassment and abuse both in the public and private domains of their lives.

The campaign is the product of the beliefs and genius of five women who feel the need to be aware of and equipped to deal with everyday harassment and the resulting trauma. To achieve their objective, the campaign follows a series of steps ranging from featuring Salwa in all major social networking sites to holding meetings for victims of harassment to deal with their trauma.

The animated video shows Salwa working by her computer when she is summoned by her boss. On entering her boss’s office, she finds him holding a letter certifying her promotion. As she happily goes to take the letter from him, he suddenly leans forward, attempting to kiss her. An infuriated Salwa smacks the boss with her handbag and walks out in a huff.

The first part of the story is not a very uncommon one. It is the “walking out” that most of us are unable to do — the reason of course being the fear of the repercussions! We understand that we will face further persecution on letting go our job while our perpetrators will escape unscathed. In India, it’s only been six years since sexual harassment has been given the recognition of a criminal offense(an amazing story behind it too!some other blogpost maybe!). Yet, the condition of women at work and in the streets has not improved much! In fact, this form of expression is so often used by men to subjugate women, it has become a hidden, almost normal part of our lives.

Undoubtedly, therefore, this “Salwation” comes as a fresh lease on life for the Lebanese women and a gentle reminder to stand up against harassment for the rest of the women in the world!

Read more:

Monday, May 3, 2010

Wars, Women and Wowness

"The sprites of fiery termagants in flame.
 Mount up, and take a Salamander's name"
                                                               -Rape Of the Lock, Alexander Pope.

For a number of reasons ranging from very sensible to absolutely senseless, women aren't allowed to serve in the infantry of the Indian Army. The chivalric code renders women almost impossible of survival when left on their own without manly protection. Smelling salts and satin gowns are the best a woman can hope for. The world wasn't always like this though. This post is about Amazons from different parts of the world and time lines!Here are some women who screamed "SCREW YOU" as a battle cry and kicked some ass.Hard.

1.The Trung Sisters- Trung Trac and Trung Nhi, daughters and later wives of powerful lords, are credited with resisting the Chinese and basically creating a nation out of Vietnam! Trac's husband, a brave rebel, was executed and Trac herself was brutally raped. Obviously, the Han Chinese picked the wrong girl to mess with. The sisters raised an army of 80,000 women, trained 36 of them(including their mother) to be generals and drove the Chinese out of their lands in 40A.D. Together (though Nhi was the better fighter), they liberated the people of Vietnam and some sixty five fortresses. For the next three years, the successfully resisted Chinese invasion. They were however, defeated in 43 A.D as a consequence to which they committed suicide rather than be slaves.

"All the male heroes bowed their heads in submission;

Only the two sisters proudly stood up to avenge the country."

15th century Poem

2.Boudicca -Boudica's husband, Prasutagus, was the ruler of the Iceni people. Being a lot more liberated than his conterparts, he left his kingdom jointly to his two daughters. After his death however, his will was ignored, his kingdom was annexed, his wife was flogged and his daughters raped. But Boudicca was of course a warrior queen! So when the Roman governor  Gaius Suetonius Paulinus was busy leading a campaign on an island in Wales, Boudicca raised an army of Icenians and completely destroyed modern day Colchester, London and St Albans. She created a crisis so severe, that were it not for her eventual defeat, Nero would have withdrawn his soldiers from the island! Accounts of her death differ but it is most probable she killed herself so she would not be enslaved.

3. St Joan of Arc- The Maid of Orleans who led the French army to several victories. She was hailed as a heroine after she returned to take charge despite a wound on her neck. Heck! Even God thought she was good enough to be a Chosen One! She was however captured and later tried for heresy. The technical reason for her execution was the Biblical Clothing Law( Joan wore men's clothing. During her trial she relapsed to women's clothes but after being raped in prison, she donned men's clothing again as a sign of rebellion.) She was burnt at stake on 30th May, 1431. 

4. Rani Laskhmi Bai- I know I have written about her before. But I can never say enough for her. The Lady here has been immortalized in our nursery rhymes. She fought off the British Army till her last heroic breath. Even more amazing, she did all of this with a baby strapped on to her (super mom anyone?)! 

5. Beatrix Kiddo- I KNOW she does not exist but hey! It doesn't make her any less awesome! I mean, she.killed.bill! 'nuff said.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


The man who said I’d be on T.V
The man who raped my son
The man who dressed me like a school girl
And sometimes like a nun

The man who beat me when I said no
Left me a bloody muck
The man who gently locked the door
And gave me a brutal fuck

The man who killed my childhood
When I was three or four
The man who made me bleed inside
But smiled and whispered “more!”

The man who sold me to the brothel
The man who gave me to his boys
The man who stole my money and my faith
And ravaged me with toys.

The man who went scot free
Abandoned the children and the crime
The man who showed me it’s a man’s world
And left me cleaning the man grime.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

"Kid"dle Me This-Child Brides of India

Our maid recently got sick with chicken pox. Her replacement, a shy 20 year old with a thick layer of vermillion on her head and a bright orange sari started work today. After a few minutes, in an effort to make her comfortable my mom tried getting chatty with her. Naturally, seeing her attire my mother's first question was if she had married recently. Among the lower classes, it wasn't surprising for a woman her age to be married. What WAS surprising was her shy shake of head. The story that followed was what left us stunned. She had been married to for 12 years. No you did not hear wrong. 12 YEARS. Not just this. She also has children. Two sons(for which I am sure she must be hailed as some sort of golden wombed Goddess) aged 8 and 6. Now, of course we read about child marriages all the time. But hearing a woman exactly my age, give or take a few months, talking excitedly about her family kind of hits you in the gut!

A few days back, there was an article about a twelve year old girl in Yemen, who died along with her baby at childbirth.Some days later about an eight year old who bled to death on her "wedding night". In news today was the story of a fourteen year old who committed suicide because her parents were forcing her into a marriage with a much older man.These instances occur almost everyday in the rural parts of India.According to UNICEF’s “State of the World’s Children-2009” report, 47% of India's women aged 20–24 were married before the legal age of 18, with 56% in rural areas. 

What could be the possible reason for this appalling practice? Poverty perhaps?The inability of parents to invest in a child who they believe will yield no returns? Or maybe fear of social stigma? Could they possibly feel it better to get their child married off before she had loose moral thoughts of premarital sex? Or probably just the fear of the social stigma attached to having an unmarried daughter in the house? The reasons may be many and twisted but none seem to justify the horrific tradition.

Gloria Steinem said "The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn. " Perhaps its time we cleanse ourselves from within. Learn to let go of past practices. Its funny that in a country that puts so much by "morality" such happenings should occur in the name of "family honour". And we all have a part to play in it.  So next time you hear of a child marriage waiting to happen, put your foot down. There's more to be done than just be disgusted. On the bright side, the National Plan of Action for Children 2005, has set its goal to eradicate child marriage completely by 2010, and so far, its proving quite successful(statistically at least). So come on India.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Take Me Haiyya!

Some days back a friend and I were out for a walk. Some time later we were ambushed by two chubby eight year olds who politely asked if they could join us for a walk. "Aww!wannabes!" we thought and allowed them , equally politely, to accompany us. Possibly ten minutes into the "walk" we started to regret the benevolence we had shown as the girls went chattering about all the trials and tribulations of junior school. And of course, the greatest of these trials were BOYS! The kids went on and yawn about how the boys were rude and smelly and rowdy. We more or less blocked our ears against their voices until we realized a change in their tone. One of them completed the sentence with "and then he said the F-Word!". My friend and I exchanged scandalized glances. Surely they could not have meant THE F-Word! WE didn't know the F-Word till we were 13(at least!)! I asked the kid how she reacted to such behavior. "I hit 'em" she answered straight back and proud!

No, I am in no way claiming young boys are slimy slugs who need to be busted, nor am I advocating violence. I am merely pointing out the kind of world kids these days are living in. And from that comes the point of this post- the importance of self defense.

The age eight was important for me. I was eight, travelling with my mother in a packed public bus. There was no place to sit and we were sort of wedged. That is when a man behind me chose to feel up my vagina. I was eight, and I had no idea what to do and how to react. I was eight, when I first knew there was a part of me that felt good when touched. I was eight, and I did NOT like it. Of course, I didn't tell my mother. I felt too scared and confused. I just cried a little when I got back home.

Years later while talking about it to my friends in college, I discovered that we had all had such an incident, in fact, many such incidents, in our lives. I had often scoffed at some of my friends who have traveled all their lives in air conditioned private cars and  never known the hazards to be faced in the "real" world! I felt sadly blessed that I was, if nothing else, better equipped to face perverts than they were. I am not over rating myself. Men who feel lucky can't get away so easily with me now! I would shout, or pinch, or kick or something make sure they get what they deserve. Nevertheless I wish I did not have to have so many experiences to end up street smart!

The case need not be so with kids of today.They are much more worldly wise. They talk and hear of things we weren't exposed to till our late teenage years. They also possibly face a lot more harassment than we did. Or maybe it seems that way because the harassment actually is brought out in the open these days! So I have a MAJOR request to the parents- I know you want to keep your child's innocence intact.But please face facts here, the world is NOT the greatest place right now. Anything that your child does not know is ignorance rather than innocence. Talk to them about things that can happen to them and how they should deal with it. and please, NEVER EVER EVER make them feel as though it was their fault. there is nothing thaht can break a child's heart and faith more! And no matter how much they scream shout and protest, enroll them into karate classes. ASAP.

For us "fortunate" ones who escaped breaking bricks with our heads, here's a link I found extremely useful!-

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


The word “surrogate” comes from the Latin word “surrogatus” meaning substitute. A surrogate mother therefore, is one who chooses to carry a baby in her womb for another woman. With fast paced lifestyles, rise in impotency, and greater number of homosexual marriages, surrogacy is becoming a popular trend. Surrogacy is of two kinds- altruistic surrogacy, wherein a woman decides to be surrogate without any monetary compensation and commercial surrogacy, wherein the surrogate mother has to be paid in return for the deed. Commercial Surrogacy has come under a lot of scrutiny for both moral and legal complications. It is, in fact, illegal in most parts of the world.

Surprisingly, for a country which is conservative and wary of change of any kind, India was fast in becoming the only country in the world to legalise commercial surrogacy. Since the birth of her first IVF baby, Durga, on October 3rd, 1978, India has seen rapid progress in the field of Assisted Reproductive Technology, also known as the ART. Of course, the idea of surrogacy is not new to Indians.  The story of how Krishna’s, brother Balaram was taken from Devaki’s womb, and planted in Rohini’s is one we have heard at our grandmother’s knees. But what accounts for this sudden boom in the baby industry in India in recent years?

There could be three reasons chiefly contributing to this development- the foremost being the ease of procedure. In the year 2008, following the much controversial case of the infant Manji, the Supreme Court declared commercial surrogacy to be legal in India. This assured the couples opting for surrogacy a lot less legal hassle and a lot more convenience. The draft of the ART Bill recognises surrogacy agreements under the Indian Contract Act, 1872 and also provides for single persons who wish to be parents. The second factor is the economic practicality. According to the 228th report on Need for Legislation to Regulate ART, the usual fee for surrogacy in India is around $25,000 to $30,000, that is, nearly one-third of that in developed countries like the United States of America! The third cause is of course, the most evident one- the devastating poverty. India never falls short of people who need money and therefore, never falls short of voluntary surrogates.

The reaction of Indians to this trade is very varied. While a part of the society shakes their head and frowns at the idea of commodifying a child, another section celebrates the approach as “pro-choice”. As a woman, and as a human being who empathises with the condition of the destitute, I cannot help but take a more neutral stand on the situation. Women who opt for commercial surrogacy as surrogates are mostly those who cannot afford morality. At the same time, the choice they are making is one between starvation, prostitution and commercialisation of their wombs. In a sense it’s almost as though the moneyed classes are exploiting and taking advantage of their penury. The surrogate mother in India is in no way receiving the same amount that she would get in the US. Nonetheless, she gets for her nine months of labour (no pun intended) what she would have otherwise had to struggle for, for at least fifteen years of her life. With this money she can finally afford the luxuries of having a roof over her head, having three square meals a day, educating her children or even perhaps be able to set up a small business of her own.

All said and done, the surrogate mothers do seem to be getting the worse part of the deal. For instance, the surrogate mother is required to relinquish all rights on the child at the time of birth. Although, surrogates are selected amongst women who have already had children so that they are aware of the physical, mental and emotional intensity of pregnancy, this seems too harsh a sentence on a woman who carried a child for nine months even if it wasn’t genetically hers. There is always the unavoidable post pregnancy risks-post partum depression, physical discomforts or even death at the time of childbirth. After all, though they are being treated under the best possible care, we mustn’t forget that they are mostly women from impoverished backgrounds suffering from malnutrition. By contract, the commissioning couple is to cover the life insurance of the surrogate, but that in no way compensates the loss faced by the surrogate’s family. Again, by terms of contract, the commissioning couple is to also deposit a sum of money in case of death of one or both genetic parent or divorce and subsequent unwillingness to keep the child. But should this happen, the already poverty ridden family will have to take up responsibility of yet another child.

It is impossible therefore to take either condemn or applaud the business of surrogacy in India. On the surface, the genetic parents get a baby, the baby gets a good home and the surrogate mother gets a better life for herself and her family. But there are perhaps deeper layers wherein the genetic parents maybe cheated of money and the surrogates maybe cheated of dignity. It is thus necessary that the law keep up with the times and ensure benefit for all parties involved.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Wishes for Sons

i wish them cramps.
i wish them a strange town
and the last tampon.
I wish them no 7-11.

i wish them one week early
and wearing a white skirt.
i wish them one week late.

later i wish them hot flashes 
and clots like you 
wouldn't believe. let the 
flashes come when they 
meet someone special. 
let the clots come 
when they want to.

let them think they have accepted 
arrogance in the universe, 
then bring them to gynecologists 
not unlike themselves.
-Lucille Clifton
*lols evilly*

Friday, April 9, 2010

Signed, Sealed, Delivered-Dowry Deaths in India

There was a point of time when daughters had an equal right over their father's property as did sons. However, under the patriarchal structure, daughters would become a part of their husband's families post marriage. Naturally therefore, this huge chunk of wealth and property was handed over to the girl at the time of her marriage so she could live comfortably for the rest of her life. This once very healthy tradition, the dowry system, has now come to be associated with nothing less than evil. And why shouldn't it be? It is the reason why the country loses so many daughters everyday due to the pure vile greed of their husbands and in-laws. The lesser the prospects for the girl, the higher her price. And parents, to save their families from the "shame" of having an unwed daughter in the house, would happily give away all their wealth, and their greatest treasure-their daughter- to such men.

Sounds pretty much medieval doesn't it? Well, welcome to the lives of thousands of Indian women in the 21st century. According to data compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), a total of 2,276 female suicides due to dowry disputes were reported in 2006- that is six a day on an average! Once a part of a family that demands dowry at the time of marriage, the girl becomes an unending source of finance to her husband. Pay up or Die is the story in most of these households. It’s an unending nightmare of threats, marital rape, physical abuse and emotional torture.

May 27: Young housewife burnt alive for dowry
LUCKNOW: For nineteen-year-old Rinki dreams of a happily married life was never to be. Barely a month after her marriage, she was allegedly tortured and then set ablaze by her in-laws for dowry in Indiranagar in the small hours of Saturday. Daughter of late Gyan Chand, a fish contractor who expired a year ago, Rinki was married to Anil on April 19... However, soon after the marriage, Balakram [Anil’s father] demanded a colour television instead of a black and white one and a motorcycle as well. When Rinki’s mother failed to meet their demands, the teenage housewife was subjected to severe physical torture, allegedly by her husband and mother-in-law... On Saturday morning she [her mother] was informed that Rinki was charred to death when a kerosene lamp accidentally fell on her and her clothes caught fire. However, prima-facie it appeared that the victim was first attacked as her teeth were found broken. Injuries were also apparent on her wrist and chest.

So what can we do? To begin with, rebel at a personal level. If demands are being made of you or someone you know- regardless of subtlety of manner- turn down the marriage proposal at once. You are NOT a liability to your family and you do NOT have to be sold off into a marriage. On a social level, raise awareness, discuss such matters within your family and friend circle. A number of laws are made to protect the women of India. Use them! Some specifically dowry related laws are:-

1.     The Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961- According to this act, anyone who is caught in the act of taking OR giving dowry is punishable upto five years of imprisonment and/or upto 15,000 rupees worth fine(or the amount of the dowry if that is more)
     Section 304B of the Indian Penal Code-This section clearly defines dowry death as “the death of a woman is caused by any burns or bodily injury or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances within seven years of her marriage and it is shown that soon before her death she was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband for, or in connection with, any demand for dowry”. Under this section the crime is punishable for ATLEAST seven years in prison.

3.     Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code-This section is to protect women from cruelty by husbands or relatives of husbands . A person accused of said cruelty can get upto three years in prison and/or fine.

Other laws may be also used as the case permits.This madness can be stopped. And we have to be the ones to stop it!

She weeps silently,
silently works,
Around her she knows,
danger lurks.

No one can hear,
her silent screams.
No one sees,
her broken dreams.

Her ears listen,
there's muffled noise-
Her in-laws' orders,
her husband's voice.

Before she knows it
the deed is done.
Some kerosene, a matchstick,
and off they run.

She burns like the Phoenix,
amidst the darkness she glows.
Except from her ashes,
she never arose.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Sunitha Krishnan fights sex slavery | Video on

Sunitha Krishnan fights sex slavery | Video on

thank you Siddharth for the link.this video is a MUST watch.please do not watch it if you are prone to contains graphic violent images.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Easing Menstrual pain

Its that time of the month again and its killing me. So this time, to divert my mind, I decided to share some useful things you can try at home to feel slightly better the next time you get hit by this evil pain.( Guys who think "ohwhatsthebigdeal" can keep their smart alec quips to, its not PMS, its YOU.)

1.Food- Avoid over eating at this time. It is better to have small amounts at regular intervals throughout the day than have three large meals at one go. Take care to control salt intake as salt will cause water retention resulting in bloating. Junk food and other fatty food especially fried food are a strict no-no.Avoid meat and dairy products though fish can be very good for you.Include vegetables, especially leafy vegetables, and fruits in your diet.Anything containing caffeine- coffee, cola, chocolate is OUT OF BOUNDS as is alcohol(you have NO idea how much they could hurt). But drinking anything warm will help so tea, especially herbal tea and warm milk are your new best friends. Dates, cranberry juice and Chawanprash cleanse your blood and ease pain. Not eating healthy at this time could also give you gas. Gas+Cramps= ouchouchouch. Drink lats and lots and lots of water.( You are supposed to drink four litres everyday on normal days, so have around 5 during your periods)

2. Exercise- Exercise can do wonders in easing the pain. Walking for about 30 to 45 minutes will help relax your abdominal muscles.there are also some easy Yoga postures you could try. One is lying on your back with your knees bent,slowly bring your knees towards tour chest and "hug" them for about 5 to 10 seconds. While doing so make sure you aren't putting too much pressure on your lower back.Repeat this 10 times atleast.The second Exercise is similar but in the opposite way.Sit straight backed with your legs under you in a kneeling position-so your bottom( for want of elegance) should be touching your heals and your thighs should be touching your calves.Now put your hands behind you or in front on the floor depending on your comfort,and bend till your head touches the floor and your chest touches your knees.Again, be careful to not hurt your lower back. You could also just sit straight backed and slowly breathe in and breathe out.

3.Heat- Anything that provides heat to the abdomen would ease pain. A warm water bath can work wonders. So can a Heat Pad or a hot water bottle placed on your abdomen.

Remember, these do not work for everybody.The whole point is to just relax your muscles and get the blood flowing without hiccups.So the diet is a must but the rest is up to you. Simply lying down and listening to soothing music may also do the trick for you.Get your hubby or your mommy to do a back massage for you!I do not personally take painkillers due to an unexplained fear of stomach ulcers(yes, painkillers give you ulcers) but a lot of the people I know use non steroid ibuprofen or even oral contraceptive pills.

And now I shall go kill someone(its not YOU, its PMS). Have a Happy Period.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

In Memoriam

This does not exactly come under the umbrage of feminism but some things are so much bigger than that.This is in memory of all those who lost their lives yesterday in a Tragic Fire Accident in one of the Landmark buildings of Kolkata.

A massive fire at Kolkata’s Stephen Court, a heritage building in the heart of the city has killed 24 people and left about 18 injured, eight of whom are critical.

Firemen recovered 17 bodies overnight as they went from door to door on the 5th, 6th and 7th floor of the building. Only 12 of these bodies have been identified so far.

Stephen Court is a 150-year-old building on Park Street, home to two of the city’s best known restaurants – the iconic Flury’s and Peter Cat.

The fire began at 2.15 pm on Tuesday. It was brought under control at about 10.30 pm.

Initial findings suggest a short circuit or cylinder burst may have caused it.

The fire, that may have started in a lift between the 5th and 6th floors soon spread upwards and sideways, forcing people out of windows onto narrow parapets and ledges as they waited to be rescued. Reports said at least one woman missed her step and fell five floors below.
The fire brigade dispatched just one truck that too without proper equipments initially.the later trucks got stuck in a "traffic jam".The Government is offering 1 lakh as compensation to victims' families.(thank you.that definitely makes up for the loss.).and i can't help but be angry at people for being so careless in their lifestyles.For Godsake,GROW UP!

please pray for the dead.Lets hope such a meaningless loss of life never happens again.RIP.

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,

Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone.

Silence the pianos and with muffled drum

Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead

Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead,

Put crépe bows round the white necks of the public doves,

Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,

My working week and my Sunday rest,

My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song,

I thought that love would last forever: 'I was wrong'

The stars are not wanted now, put out every one;

Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;

Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.

For nothing now can ever come to any good.
                                                                          -WH Auden,Funeral Blues

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Indian Feminists

For quite some time now,Indian women have been perceived as weak minded,husband appeasing,abused women.while sadly this may stand true for a majority of women still,it wasn't always the is a list of Indian women from the past and present.Women whom I admire.Women who left their mark.

1. Gargi-All those who feel education is a waste on girl children must look up to this icon. Born around 800 B.C.E in the family of Garga, Gargi Vachaknavi remains one of the most renowned scholars of the Vedas even today. Her wisdom was so celebrated that she was invited to the world's first conference on philosophy convened by the then King Janaka. Known as a formidable debater she challenged the Great Sage Yajnavalkya. Their dialogue was written down as the Yogayajnavalkya Samhita- the very first treatise on what the world knows as Yoga.

2. Razia Sultana- The country was much excited when we got our first lady President in 2007.However much before Mrs Patil came to the scene,the seat in Delhi had been occupied by Razia al-Din from 1236 to 1240.She was trained to lead armies and administrate. She was also the very first woman ruler in Muslim and Turkish History.She ruled against the wishes of her powerful courtiers. She was a shrewd politician. Donned a man’s tunic and head gear as a sultan(she refused to be called Sultana,which means wife or mistress of a sultan) and contrary to the purdah custom, showed her face when leading an army. She worked towards religious tolerance in her State and encouraged academic and scientific research.

3. Rani Lakshmi Bai- After my mother, she is my most favourite woman in the world! Also known as the Indian Joan of Arc, Lakshmi Bai, the queen of Jhansi was an important icon and leader in the Great Rebellion of 1857 against the British Raj in India. When Jhansi came under threat she collected and trained a group of soldiers that included women and fought shoulder to shoulder with the ruthless British forces. She dies a brave and heroic death in the battlefield. General Sir Hugh Rose addressed her as the “most dangerous of all rebel leaders”. Not much surprising, therefore, that during the last years of freedom struggle, the first all women regiment in the History of Indian army led by Capt Lakshmi Sahgal was named the Rani of Jhansi Regiment.

4. Tarabai Shinde- Around the nineteenth century, Tarabai Shinde had begun raising and providing solutions for the existing women issues.She fought against the stifling patriarchy, ill treatment of uppercaste widows and lower caste girl children. Her book Stri Purush Tulana ("A Comparison Between Women and Men"), is regarded as the first  modern Indian feminis text.

5. Roquia Sakhawat Hussain-She is a writer who has influenced the likes of Taslima Nasreen. Her worked tirelessly for the sake of gender equality. She blatantly criticised the corruption that had crept into the Islamic society.She wrote against the gender discrimination and promoted theit emancipation.

6. Mother Teresa- She was born Albanian. But since she adopted India,how can India not adopt her?Mother founded the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata in 1950. Today the Society of Missionaries has spread all over the world and is touching millions of lives. She received a number of peace awards for her endeavours while she humbly maintained “I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world".

7. Kasturba Gandhi- the woman behind Gandhi. In a lot of ways, Kasturba Gandhi, fondly called Ba (mother), beautifully amalgamates the traditional traits of an Indian and the fiery zeal of a woman. She joined Gandhi in his political movements against the British Raj. She talked to women and children about issues like hygiene, literacy and discipline. She died while in custody in the arms of her husband.

8. Sarojini Naidu- A freedom fighter, a poet and an intellectual, Naidu proved her mettle in every field. At sixteen she travelled to England to continue her studies in King’s College, London and eventually Girton, Cambridge. She led Gandhi’s satyagraha movement post his arrest.She went againt the social custom of the day and loved and married a man outside her caste.She died in office following a heart attack in 1949.

9. Kiran Bedi-  In 1972, Kiran Bedi became the first woman Police officer in India. Her sense of justice and fairness made her an exemplary law keeper(she once towed the prime minister’s car for violation of parking space). Post retirement she is still socially active and runs two NGOs simultaneously.

10. Barkha Dutt- When the country was in a state of war in the year 1999, Dutt reported live from the battlefield every minute of the war.Today she is one of the most influential journalists in the country and raises a variety of issues for the country and its government to ponder over.

 Keep adding to the list!(Indira Gandhi and Ashwarya Rai do not qualify)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Gloria the Hippo

Lets face it, it sucks being a woman in a world like this.There are a thousand ways to let us know how we are not good enough(cheating ex boyfriends,fashion magazines,annoying tailors,nosy aunts).Little wonder then that I am surrounded with women who are good,beautiful,strong minded and suffering from a mysterious sense of inferiority(I am thankfully not one of them because chocolates keep me happy.fat.but happy).To these lovably idiotic women I present a steaming hot feminist icon-Gloria the hippo.

 She gets male attention because she is "big".She stands by her friends no matter what.She is cheerful during the toughest situations.She speaks her mind.And she chooses the better man in the end.

Way to go Glo!To you i dedicate the most eloquent words in the History of music-I like big butts and I cannot lie.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Give me my Rights,I am a Woman.

For days now the country has been talking about nothing but the women's bill.The bill has been an issue of heated debate for nearly 14 years now and has finally(FINALLY) been passed.For those who do not know of it,the women's bill reserves 33% of seats in the Indian parliament for women alone.some salient features of the bill are:-

1.The bill seeks to reserve, as nearly as possible, one-third of all seats for women in the Lok Sabha and the state legislative assemblies

2.As nearly as possible, one third of the total number of seats reserved for Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribes (SC/ST) in the Lok Sabha and the legislative assemblies shall be reserved for SC/ST women.

3.Reservation of seats for women shall cease to exist 15 years after the commencement of the Act.

4.(Actual) Reserved seats may be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in the state or union territory.

On the surface,this seems like a good move.A country where women have been ill treated for ages because of superstitious beliefs,patriarchal culture or simply sado-misogynistic mindsets,such a step appears to be a huge leap forward.The bill puts a lot of power in the hands of women,its apparently a symbol of how the "times they are a'changing",it shows how modern our country is becoming,it represents a certain breaking of barriers and it gives a majority of the womenfolk hope that things will be better for them henceforth.

My question is,how does a reservation do any of these things?Since the bill was back as a dining table discussion,I (with the risk of sounding melodramatic)  have been in a constant state of conflict with me.I am a woman.Here's a step that could do me good.Here's a move that's giving me an opportunity to do something for my country.Here's an action that could eventually help me better the lives of Indian women.It is to my advantage.I should be happy. Right? But the (wannabe) feminist in me says a loud and clear "WRONG".I love my country.I hate what happens to Indian women.I want to make a difference.But I want to make it on my OWN terms.I want to make it with my OWN abilities.not with the Government gifted compensation!

As a woman I feel I am losing by right to dignity by gaining my right to enter the parliament through reservation.Henceforth,nothing we do will be credited to us,our abilities,our merits.It shall always be the Government who will be responsible in making me.Men shall grumble how we women have it easy and we won’t be able to refute it.we shall always be known as the "weaker sex", the "privileged class" and we won't be able to refute it.what purpose does it solve?there have been women in the parliament before,even if not in large numbers,and how has it helped?this reservation bill is not a symbol of our fight for is a symbol of our craving for comfort and luxury and i condemn it.

Politically speaking,How will the bill prevent the election of "proxies"?how will it cure larger issues of electoral reforms?how will it ensure gender EQUALITY?how does the government plan to divide the constituencies?The bill is a mess in every sense of the word.

The bill is nothing but a compensation for the years of abuse,torture and discrimination.nothing but a symbol of hope.nothing but a tool to increase vote banks.and the sooner we women realise that,the sooner we get REAL empowerment.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Boy! you're a...GIRL!!!

Really?You don't say!I would have never realised had you not pointed out this obvious fact to me!

You know those bizarre moments like "remember how i lost my wedding ring in hippo poop?", well recently i lost my half-artificial-front tooth while munching on French Toasts(okay so its not as bizarre but who doesn't like drama?).I was in tears from the first moment i saw the gaping hole in the mirror.There's no other way to put it,it looked hideous.I made frantic calls to dad asking him to make an appointment with the dentist.But them busybees could only see me after four days.That entire day I lived in agony.I wouldn't smile at anyone.I wouldn't talk much.And i refused to eat around others.

By the next day I was starting to feel like a hypocrite.I was always telling my girlfriends to be confident of who they are the way they are and here i was failing my own test.But could I really be blamed?Much as I claim proudly to not be a "girly girl",I love to look pretty.I love my bit of kohl when I leave the house,I love my pretty dresses and my filed nails.I love my mascara and my rouge and my funky jewellery when I am out for a party.I love my fuzz free face(even though it hurts like crazy to get rid of your moustache!).The problem was clear to me after i took a sparknotes quiz(yes,that is how i study) called "which gender are you?" .The answer,much to my cold-graveturning-tummyrumbling-toecurling-headboiling sorrow, was "you are a MAN"(and man WAS in capital letters.).It isn't my fault I am plagued with insecurities.okay,I'll give Freudian theories some credit and say men and women ARE a little different(thank you God) but the society that surrounds us is in no way innocent.Right from the time baby girls are wrapped in pink towels and baby boys in blue,we are marking the beginning of a life long gender distinction.

Any girl who prefers short hair to long,or sports to gossip or jeans to skirts is a "tomboy".Any girl who doesn't weep during movies,isn't scared of cockroaches,cannot cook to save her life is frigid and aloof.As if that is not enough,we always have a dozen fashion magazine telling us what NOT to do(pretty much everything) and we always have a dozen million of us religiously following their word too.Well,here's the deal,i love my chocolates,i love my teddy bear pajamas,i hate the bloody sight of pink,i don't like frills,i don't giggle or simper or blush,I laugh a lot and loudly too,i sit cross-legged AND i am proud to be a girly girl!(whatever heck that means!)

So when I finally went to the dentist, he started to explain to me the long painful root canal treatment that he would have to do to give me back half a tooth.and call me a coward but i said no.I can live with half a front tooth but I cannot let myself go through that pain.The dentist's reaction was funny -"it looks hideous".I gave him my brightest half toothed smile and walked out.

p.s-kudos to my male buddies for finding all my dental maladies does help!:D