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  • 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

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    Same-Sex Love: In Conversation with Dr Ruth Vanita

    Meena KandasamyDR RUTH VANITA (b.1955), is a renowned academic and author specializing in lesbian and gay studies. Some of her acclaimed books include Queering India: Same-Sex Love and Eroticism in Indian Culture and Society (2002), Love’s Rite: Same-Sex Marriage in India and the West (2005), and Gandhi’s Tiger and Sita’s Smile: Essays on Gender, Sexuality and Culture (2005).

    In this interview she answers questions about the representation of LGBT issues in the English media, mainstream cinema, Indian literature and the women’s movement. Continue reading

    Scavengers As Models: Exploitation Chic or Empowering?

    I FOUND this news story about Indian “sanitation workers” (scavengers, if we avoid the euphemism) modelling in New York pretty bizarre. I do hope you’ll read the article before proceeding to comment, but in a nutshell: 36 Indian sanitation workers were invited to a conference as part of the UN’s International Year of Sanitation. In New York, they took part in a fashion show called Mission Sanitation, walking the ramp beside professional models.

    Scavenging is deeply dehumanizing work, and an end to the profession would be truly welcome. But why modelling (not professionally, I must add, but as a novelty event)? Continue reading

    Childbirth and Choices

    WHILE THE FEMINIST movement may have focused more on the right to abortion than other reproductive rights, there is a growing acknowledgment in the US and elsewhere that women’s right to safe, natural childbirth is being severely threatened by the imposition of the medical model. In the medical system, pregnant women are treated as ‘sick’ and childbirth as a dangerous event deserving of any and all intervention designed to make the process as ‘safe’ as possible. A spate of blogs and books written by moms, midwives and other reproductive health advocates indicates that women aren’t taking this lying down. Continue reading

    Of Need and Exploitation: Domestic Workers in Karnataka

    ‘I BEGAN WORKING when I was ten. I used to look after a child for which I was paid ten rupees a month. Today I am almost forty and I continue to work as a domestic maid. The difference is that my bones ache and I do not have the same energy. This is what happens to most of us who do domestic work. This job has no PF or ESI or anything like that. We work at others’ houses our entire lives and are left with nothing at the end,’ Maariyamma is angry but she continues to chop the double beans with great ease. Continue reading

    Launching Ultra Violet

    IT’S A TIME of intense and rapid change in India. Women are stretching their wings, exploring new spaces and testing the boundaries of old ones. With more women working, traveling, living on their own or managing high-powered careers, new challenges have emerged. Some women are coping with increased independence or living alone. Others are trying to find new ways of balancing work and home or to negotiate parenting and child care.

    Then again, in some ways, the country has not changed enough. The sex ratio remains abysmal and female foeticide is routine despite the laws banning sex-selective abortion. Dowry deaths are common. Violent, heinous crimes against women abound. Women across class, region and religion become victims to domestic violence, acid attacks, sexual assault and rape.

    Despite the onset of MTV culture in some areas, sexual rights remains an area shrouded in mystery and suspicion. Many women still do not have knowledge or awareness about their own bodies. Sex education is denied in schools and girls grow up largely ignorant of both the pleasures and the perils of sex. Alternative sexuality is still largely unacceptable and lesbians face horrifying levels of social stigma and discrimination.

    Ultra Violet will give voice to what young Indian feminists feel about life in these times. It will be an interactive space for us to discuss feminism in the context of its relevance to our lives. It will be a place where we talk about the things that are important to us — both in our personal lives and in the larger world around us — and the ways in which we can react, respond, negotiate or protest.

    We hope to be informative, enlightening, provocative, inspiring, and (sometimes!) fun. Do drop in.

    More about us here.

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