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 TED.com

Sunitha Krishnan fights sex slavery | Video on TED.com

thank you Siddharth for the link.this video is a MUST watch.please do not watch it if you are prone to depression.it 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 themselves.no, 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.