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    What Lies Beneath?

    IT’S BEEN AMUSING to see the uproar around the Pink Chaddi Campaign over the last few days, with some of the ‘finest journalistic minds in the country’ pitching in with their opinions. This piece, ironically called ‘What Lies Beneath’, by Sagarika Ghose in Hindustan Times was particularly baffling, shallow as a frying pan and about as full of noise. I wish one could ignore such vapidity, but the piece was also disturbing at many levels. Some of us sent a rejoinder to HT. Unsurprisingly, they neither acknowledged it, nor responded.  Continue reading


    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

    Joint Statement on the Barbaric Assault in Mangalore (please add your names)

    Editor’s Note: Please leave your name and location / affiliation in the comment space if you want to be added to the signatories and we will collect them and send them to Sumi Krishna, the coordinator.


    Bangalore: 9 p.m., 29 January 2009

    We, the undersigned, strongly condemn the horrific and unprovoked assault by a group of 40 hooligans, reportedly members of the Sri Rama Sene, on young women in a pub in the coastal city of Mangalore, Karnataka, during the afternoon of Saturday, 24 January 2009. We are saddened by the inaction of the public who looked on as the brutal attack unfolded.  But we appreciate the attitude and actions of the staff of the pub, who tried to intervene, and the young man who stood up to the attackers.

    We are shocked by the tardy action of the State administration, police, and political leadership, some of whom have dismissed this is as a “minor incident”. We believe that violent threats to the democratic freedoms and human rights of citizens, whether women or religious minorities, cannot be trivialised as “unfortunate”. Continue reading


    The Power of Pink Chaddis

    IT’S COOL. It’s cheeky. It’s clever. I’m talking about the Pink Chaddi Campaign. Women all over the country are gathering pink chaddis and sending them to Muthalik as a Valentine’s Day present. The plan is to strike disgust in the teensy little non-heart of our chief moral guardian — and to loudly assert the fact that the bogeymen of morality, dignity, chastity etc cannot be used to take our freedom away. Gifting panties may seem like a softer option than dung bombing his house but it makes a strong statement on our collective lack of ‘shame’, the one quality he’s trying so desperately to instill in us. Continue reading


    An Open Letter to the State Government from the Women of Karnataka

    We fear for lives of women in this state… is the Government listening? Is there a Government in this State at all? Or is it only a political party whose highest priority is its own regressive right wing agenda, which violates the responsibility of governance?

    In one of its latest acts of bigotry and intolerance, members of the Sri Rama Sene and the Bajrang Dal barged into a lounge bar on Balmatta road in Mangalore and viciously attacked the girls who were present there. Their crime: Firstly they were indecently dressed and second, despite being Hindu, they were daring to socialise with Muslim boys. Prasad Attavar, State Deputy Convener of the Sri Ram Sene said that it was “a spontaneous reaction against women, who flouted traditional Indian norms of decency.”

    And what was the spontaneous response from the government to this absolutely uncultured act of violence against young girls in the name of culture? Not surprisingly a studied silence from the powers that be and total inaction and apathy from the subservient police force in South Canara. 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