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  • PUCL-K Report: Cultural Policing in Dakshin Kannada

    Anindita SenguptaTHE PEOPLE’S Union for Civil Liberties, Karnataka (PUCL-K), has put together a very comprehensive report on Cultural Policing in Dakshin Kannada. The fact-finding team (which included our contributor Usha BN) traveled to Mangalore and conducted extensive interviews with key groups, activists, academics and the police. The report provides interesting background information on Dakshin Kannada as a region, looks at the current climate of fear and lawlessness, and examines the multiple factors involved in this. It points out some very interesting things — the intersection of communalisation and criminalisation, cultural policing as ‘social apartheid’ and the role of the media, police, civil society. Read / download the entire report for free. Please spread the word widely as well by pasting extracts on your blogs or websites if possible.

    Excerpts:

    As one observer, who has been covering the events in Dakshina Kannada, put it, “Today saffron is the colour of power. You just walk around with a big red tilak and see how people treat you. Right from the shop keeper to the bus conductor to the policeman, everybody gives you respect. Without the tilak you are nothing, with the tilak you become a power structure.” Munir Kattipalya of the DYFI echoes this sentiment when he says, “This district is not only communalized but also progressively criminalized.”

    What is indicated by such statements is that there is a strong link between communalization and criminalization. It is precisely because the state has chosen not to act when criminal activities are perpetrated under the garb of religion that criminal elements now feel that they have the sanction to perpetrate violence and Cultural Policing in Dakshina Kannada other forms of intimidation by using the garb of religion. This possibly explains the proliferation of vigilante groups in Dakshina Kannada.

    And:

    Cultural policing in turn leads to forms of ‘social apartheid.’ By ‘social apartheid,’ what we mean is a policing of community boundaries through laying down what manners of dress and what manners of expression are appropriate for each selfenclosed community. The conventional understanding of apartheid as it was practiced in South Africa refers to a structure of segregation of the people of South Africa through law. By social apartheid, we mean a practice of segregating communities on the basis of religion and gender by self-styled vigilante groups as well as prescribing appropriate behaviour and conduct for the separate communities. Social apartheid is successful only because it has the implicit support of the state, and hence enjoys immunity for its patently lawless actions. It is important to stress that social apartheid is not just about segregating communities but it is equally concerned about the culture, dress, and deportment of individuals within the community.

    How Early is Too Early?

    AT THE PRESCHOOL that I run (where I also teach), there’s a certain action song we sing that goes like this:

    Cook like mummy,

    Yum, yum, yum, (repeat thrice)

    Let’s have fun together!

    Drive like daddy,

    Knit like grandma,

    Cough like grandpa….

    …and by the time we come to “Be like teacher, Shh, shh, shh!” I’m ready to pop a vein. Continue reading

    Evil As She Does

    By Amrita Rajan

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    Pity the female villain.

    Male villains can look forward to world domination, tons of moolah and all the power they can handle; females, on the other hand, spend all their time scheming to sabotage various weddings when they’re not forcing their daughters-in-law to mop floors while dressed in rags or nagging their husbands to death. And if somehow they manage to stumble onto a bitchin’ gig, they might just find themselves laboring under gallons of body paint and CGI because God forbid they show an actual live woman having the sort of fun men having been having for ages now (before getting blown up or dissolved in a vat of acid, naturally).

    Male villains get cool names, all the chicks they can bang, and fly around the world like the billionaires they frequently are; female villains are typically the mom or the wife from hell, nobody loves them much less wants to bang them, and all their plotting and planning usually leaves them with a wrinkly face.

    Chee. Who’d want to be a female villain? 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

    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

    Silence

    By Anasuya Sengupta

    Too many women in too many countries
    speak the same language of silence.
    My grandmother was always silent –
    always aggrieved —
    only her husband had the cosmic right
    (or so it was said) to speak and be heard.

    Continue reading