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  • Understanding and Responding to the Mangalore Assaults

    By Sumi Krishna

    How should we in the women’s movement understand and respond to the cluster of assaults by the Rama Sene, Bajrang Dal and other fundamentalists; the targeting of minorities and their places of worship; the harassment and molestation of women of all classes in the name of nation, culture and religion; the fear and anger spreading through villages and towns in southern-coastal Karnataka?

    As Sandhya Gokhale of the Forum Against Oppression of Women, Mumbai, says in The Hindu, on one level the horrific abuse of young women in a pub is ‘a morality issue’, but it is also about the space and decision making power for which women have fought for years. Arvind Narrain of the Alternative Law Forum, Bangalore, writing in the Indian Express, sees the abuse of religious and sexual minorities as the ‘saffron’ challenge to ‘the legacy of the women’s movement in India’ and ‘the thin end of the wedge’ in re-establishing male dominance. Continue reading

    The Weighty Burden of Honourable Names

    By Shilpa Phadke & Sameera Khan

    Clearly Sanjay Dutt hasn’t read his Shakespeare for he doesn’t seem to recollect the Bard’s pronouncement, “What’s in a Name?” But then perhaps for one with his nose in all kinds of things rotten, nothing smells sweet to him at all.

    We allude to Sanjay Dutt’s recent assertion of his and his wife’s right to the Dutt name, simultaneously questioning his married sister Priya Dutt’s right to the same name, thereby annoying not just his sister but all women who choose to keep their birth names. The annoyance of course is mild. In any case, most of us don’t rate a convicted criminal’s approval very high on our list of priorities. Nonetheless since the issue has come up, its worth not just reiterating rehearsed arguments on women’s rights to their birth names but also asking Sanjay Dutt ke banyan ke peeche kya hai? Continue reading

    Interview with Madhu Bhushan (cont…

    THIS IS Part 2 of the two-part interview with Madhu Bhushan of Vimochana.

    UB: The feminist movement has always been very critical of militarism and war. Can u tell us more about your involvement with these issues?

    MB: While Vimochana’s specific concern was and is the socially sanctioned personal forms of violence perpetrated on women within the home and outside (dowry tortures, murders and other forms of marital violence, sexual harassment and rape of women, trafficking and commodification of women), our wider preoccupation has always been with the larger forms of violence in society. So our engagement is also with the more public and political forms of violence stemming from ideologies like that of communalism, fundamentalism, nationalism and militarisation which are leading to greater human insecurity, institutionalised intolerance and the increasing brutalisation of patriarchies both within the home and outside. Continue reading

    Interview with Madhu Bhushan

    VIMOCHANA IS one of the oldest women’s rights organization in Bangalore. They have been part of the Indian women’s movement and have significantly contributed to the rights of women facing violence in Karnataka. They have a crisis intervention center for women facing violence called Angala and campaigns against dowry deaths, harassment and female infanticide. More on their website. I spoke to Madhu Bhushan, activist at Vimochana, about terrorism, fundamentalism and women’s rights in a two-part interview.  Continue reading

    Voices in my head


    By Niveditha Menon

    A few weeks ago, UV was agog with discussions about the lack of clarity around a very important issue. Frankly, I found the suggestions for greater clarity of position unproblematic. It is definitely useful to be able to name things. And yet, I thought, the point of the post was the very inability to articulate a response to what felt like an invasion of space. Whether it was a physical space, or an emotional one, seems to be missing the point. The point was that the author wanted to articulate this invasion which, by her experience, seemed to be beyond words.

    As feminists, we have historically been putting to words the silences that we experience. Yet, I think it would be a mistake to assume that these words can always capture the entirety of silence. So, what is to be done? Continue reading

    Regarding Expectations

    I JUST GOT BACK from a break to discover the flurry of comments around Meena’s post. There’s lots of accusations about it not being well thought out / clear etc and I would like to clarify, yet again, that UV is a space to share informed opinion  but also feelings, angst, even rants. Quite simply, it’s a space where women can voice things. Not all those things have to be perfectly logical little pieces of social / cultural critique. Not all of them have to come with their five-point solution for saving the world. If you don’t like that, don’t read. If you want to make it better, contribute. Guest posts are always welcome.

    Continue reading

    Self-expression and social networking websites

    Meena KandasamyHOW DO I WRITE an article that does not sound like a celebrity too much crying paparazzi, an article where I want to discuss issues that are political but have arisen out of experiences in my personal life?  How do I write an article about the dangers that women writing on gender and caste have to be well-prepared for, without sounding like somebody who wants undue publicity about unpleasant things happening to her? How do I sound genuine and serious when I discuss something that might appear as trivia(l)?

    Where do I begin after all? Continue reading

    Indian Feminism 101

    By Shilpa Phadke

    Mistaking one work of fiction to represent all women in a country is rather blinkered and when it’s a country of the diversity and complexity of India, it borders on the ridiculous. Compounding this by attempting to pontificate on a subject about which you clearly know nothing and circulating this in an international newspaper should be a libelous act. I refer to Anand Giridharadas’s recent piece ‘A feminist revolution skips the liberation’ in the column ‘Letter from India’ in the International Herald Tribune. The writer begins innocuously enough by reviewing Meenakshi Madhavan Reddy’s book ‘You are Here’. The trouble begins when Madhavan Reddy’s fictional protagonist Arshi, drawn from her blog, begins to represent all Indian women–or at least all Indian urban women and what he calls ‘Indian feminism’. Continue reading

    A thought on semantics

    A COMMON FEATURE of most fights in India, whether they be in the public or the private domain, is the use of the phrase, “wear bangles.” Having heard it in at least five languages at last count, I have come to the conclusion that the purpose of hurling it at a man appears to be an attempt to emasculate him by labeling him weak and ineffective. It’s interesting, this line, spoken with contempt, as if the world at large is expected to know that those who wear bangles are helpless, shackled as they are by their gender. Continue reading

    Striking the Fine Balance

    THE PRESSURE TO WRITE has been mounting. Guilt at not writing has been increasing steadily. But as a not-so-young mother of a small child, I am continually battling either illness of some sort or domestic issues which mean a series of chores! Add a demanding job to the mix. Sleepless nights, throbbing sciatic nerve, acidity — my physician gave me a wry smile and said classic symptoms of stress. Sometimes I am convinced that being feminist hasn’t helped. Continue reading

    UPDATED! The Many Faces of an Indian Feminist

    EVER SINCE WE started Ultra Violet, we’ve had like-minded folks visiting us, identifying themselves as feminists, supporting the cause, sharing, questioning, and playing devil’s advocate. Which is when it occurred to me that there are so many of you out there who have a point of view but not necessarily the space to air it, who may, like the 11 of us contributing to this blog, say you’re a feminist but who in the world will hear it? Rant and they label you crazy, explain and you’re blue in the face, speak and you can see the shutters slam. But us, we’ll listen. Stand up and say it. UV wants to know your story. Continue reading

    Widening the Prism

    ApuA FEW DAYS AGO, when I thought about the conflict parents face when their daughters become “too liberal”, I was really thinking from my own perspective as an educated, young, urban professional. When a commenter mentioned that liberalism does not yet extend to accepting choices such as homosexuality, I was, at first, a bit startled. This was because, frankly, I had not thought about the issues faced by people different from me. Though I do support the rights of people to their own sexual preference, I honestly hadn’t given it much thought. In a sense, I am guilty of looking at the holy grail of equal rights through a very narrow prism. Continue reading

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