Saturday, December 27, 2008

Easing the agony of rape victims - little steps to make a difference.

Last week a bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha that gives us a reason to cheer!
The Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) Act - the one used to nail rape offenders (amongst others) - has been amended to provide some relief to rape victims.
  • Rape cases willl have to complete trial in two months
  • Video and audio conferencing can be used in the trial
  • Recording victims' statements at the place of their choice
  • Having female judges record statements

These little changes will make a big difference IF they're implemented.
With India emerging as the third worst rape offender in the world, ( and statistics painting a terrible picture of gender violence in India (
we need stringent laws that nail offenders, systems that make it easier for the victim to co-operate and movements that change mindsets.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Killing baby girls makes you a murderer

Here’s a passionate write-up by Fight-Back member Amruta Mehta.

We’re a country of mass-murderers who speak of Gandhi and his ideals, and go around killing two million babies every year, before they are born. Just because they are female.

Did anyone ever think that Gandhian and mass-murderers could ever fit into the same sentence?

We’ve actually done it.

How are we any different from Pol Pot or Hitler? How are we any different from anyone who tries to systematically kill a particular kind of human being. Hell, we’re a whole country of Hitlers.

In 1990, we had 945 females for every 1000 males, up to 6 years of age, in our country. In 2001, this changed to 927 females to every 1000 males. [1] What a glorious self-created twisted unbalanced ratio this is. What’s more: we are all collectively responsible for it.

Congratulations, India, you’ve done it. Over and over again. And you’re getting better at it every day. Who says we don’t live in a free country where nothing is impossible?

Calling ourselves a country of hypocrites is giving hypocrites a bad name. Perhaps cold-blooded mass-murderers is more fitting.

Take the case of Lakshmi in Tamil Nadu. She already had a daughter, so when she gave birth to a second she decided to kill her. For three short days of the child’s life, she refused to nurse her. Her neighbours sympathised and poisoned the child until she bled to death. Because it would be better for the baby to die than to suffer the way her mother did. [2]

In July 2007, police in Orissa discovered as many as 30 bags stuffed with female fetuses and body parts of new-born babies near a private clinic close to Bhubaneshwar. [3]

This is gender violence of the worst kind.

In 2005, a woman was raped by her father in law. The village panchayat decreed that she was no longer ‘pure’ for her husband, should marry her father-in-law instead, the marriage was annulled, and her five children were now the responsibility of her husband. [4]

And it’s not just the uneducated, rural poor who are to blame.

Our very own Chief Minister of Delhi, Mrs. Sheila Dixit, retorted to the news of a girl’s murder at 3 am on by saying, “You should not be so adventurous.” The victim, Soumya Visvanathan, was on her way home from work after a late night shift.

Is it any wonder then that even we women want to kill our kind before we are born? Who else would know how much better it would be to end life than to actually live through this hell?

Of course we want to kill them.

Because, once they get older, we will have to pay for their dowries. We will have to pay to educate them, put them on the market to find a man and then find enough money to give them away. They’re a liability. The part of the population that are our mothers, sisters, daughters and wives—they’re a liability.

Like the saying in Hindi, “Raising a girl child is like watering the neighbour’s garden.”

How did this happen? When did this happen? When did we turn into such savages? When did we become this careless? When did we selectively start murdering such a large part of our population?

Is it a child’s fault that she will be expected, at a later stage of life, to be given away to another man in a sickly money-changing custom that we have imposed on ourselves? Is it her fault that we must pay a man if he is to marry her? When did a girl become a liability?

Since WE made her a liability.

And what about the women who do hurt or even kill, their own daughters and sisters? Would they want to hurt themselves just for the fault of being born?

If as a woman you have not spoken up, remember: you are just another female that wasn’t aborted at birth or killed as a child.

For men who are perpetrators and silent witnesses: your mother, your wife, your daughter, even the woman you love—each one of them is a girl who wasn’t aborted at birth or killed as a baby.

Don’t tell us that this is our past, present, and will be our future. This is our culture. This is our way of life.

No, don’t say it and don’t accept it when someone tells you that.

You wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for your own mother who gave birth to you.

We’re the country that gave the world Indira Gandhi, Sarojini Naidu, Shabana Azmi, Kiran Bedi, Arundhati Roy and Kalpana Chawla.

Don’t think that those who actually put women through this hell will face no backlash. You’re lucky that the mute baby girls that you kill don’t have the faculty to retort.

Each one of those 30 girls that was discovered dumped away in a bag could have been tomorrow’s doctor, engineer, prime minister, lawyer, or activist. Each one of them could have saved other lives in turn. Each one of them could have contributed to the progress of our nation.

Lakshmi’s daughter could have helped ease her own mother’s suffering.

Have compassion on yourself. Let’s stop our own downfall. And we can do that just by welcoming every baby girl that comes into this world with the same joy and love that you would show towards any new-born boy.

Give them enough love so they find the strength to love themselves. Educate them while. Support and help them follow their dreams, no matter how wild, ambitious and unconventional.

When you see violence against women, speak up. Fight back.

Fight-back now or it may be you tomorrow.

Fight-back now or you’re dead.

Because without our women, loved, educated and respected, we’re a country of savages.

- Amruta Mehta is an Astrophysics graduate with a Masters from the International Space University in Strasbourg. She believes in Fighting back against Gender Violence.

[1] Source: Population Reference Bureau,, last access date: 22 Nov ‘08

[2] Source:, taken from Dahlburg, Where killing baby girls 'is no big sin', last access date: 22 Nov ‘08

[3] Source:, last access date: 22 Nov ‘08

[4] Source:, last access date: 22 Nov ‘08

If you wish to contribute to this blog, do write to Fight-Back member and moderator of this blog Aarthi Gunnupuri, at

Sunday, December 7, 2008

What are we going to do about the stats?


THAT EXCLUDES THE 133 ELDERLY WOMEN WHO WERE SEXUALLY ASSAULTED! Yes, we're pretty democratic about rape.

UTTAR PRADESH - 1,648, BIHAR - 1,555, RAJASTHAN - 1,238!

How can the nation's capital be far behind! THE MIGHTY DELHI IS AT 598 (REPORTED CASES)

And if you thought things are any different beyond the Vindhyas get this, ANDHRA PRADESH 'ENJOYS' THE 'DISTINCTION' OF HAVING 3,316 REGISTERED SEXUAL HARRASMENT CASES IN A YEAR! THE HIGHEST IN INDIA!

*STATISTICS COURTESY: National Crime Records Bureau (For the year 2007)

Time to pop the bubbly folks? Rape another women or two?

See more Posters

Monday, December 1, 2008

"Fight-Back", says Dolly Thakore!

Fight-Back has thousands of supporters across the country. And every member brings his/her passion, skill and talent to Fight-Back, against Gender Violence.

In this video Dolly Thakore, Indian Theatre Actress, Casting Director and Fight-Back member urges others to Fight-Back.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

They know the city ain't what it used to be!

Last night I was getting back home at about 2 a.m. in a cab. From Colaba to Worli, in Mumbai. Am a city girl and I have nothing to worry, right?
Just then a government car passes my cab, slows down and stops. A constable with a notepad in hand, gets off and stops us. He comes towards us and takes my name and number, asks me where I live and makes a note of it.
I asked him what he needed this info for but he didn't answer. I wasn't doing anything wrong so I wasn't nervous one bit, I insisted. Finally he relented and said, "Sir, (an IPS officer) in the car asked him to do so, just wanted to ensure the cabwallah would take me home, safe and sound.
I tried to be polite and thank him but I couldn't help smirking!

Like us, they know the city really ain't what it used to be.
Should we be afraid? Am I being stupid coming home that late by myself?
Reminds me, what's happening to the Sowmya Vishwanathan Case?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I don’t want to go to school today. Taliban might spray me with acid.

Prompted by the spate of acid attacks on women in Noida, in my last post, I wondered what makes acid attacks so common in India. I dug a little deeper and found this piece
Acid attacks, they say here, originated in the neighboring Bangladesh. Indian (and Pakistani) men simply ran with the idea!

While most of the attacks in South Asia have been somewhat personal in nature – a spurned lover, a pissed off ex-boyfriend and so on, Islamic fundamentalism has given acid-throwing a new dimension. As part of their agenda to oppress women, well-planned, brutal, acid attacks on groups of women – outside schools, colleges or local hangouts - in Kashmir, Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan have been on the rise.

The recent attack on a group of young innocent Afghan girls is horrific. Their crime? Going to school, trying to rebuild their lives, dreaming of a future free of violence and terror…

Members of Campaign and Struggle Against Acid Attacks on Women (CSAAAW) say in an article here:
“We believe that the only way to stop acid attacks is to root out the patriarchy behind them, the culture of silencing women who speak out.”

Rooting out patriarchy and the Taliban might take time, what about little girls who want to go to school during this period…

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Acid attacks, honour killings or mob fury? Take your pick!

As a Fightback member, I have found recent news reports to be quite disheartening.

Acid attacks are back! Most acid attacks on women are by spurned lovers but this is different. In Delhi, a mad man is on a rampage throwing acid on any woman on the street.

Makes me wonder, how can these attacks be so peculiar to India? What is it about our society that makes a man want to disfigure a woman permanently because she rejects his overtures? Reminds me of the much-used dialogue in bollywood films – "Tum meri nahin hosakti, toh mein tumhein kisi aur ki nahin hone dungaa". If art imitates life, I think we should ask ourselves, what is up with us?

It's time for change...

Change reminds me of the Obama win. As a bunch of us at Fightback watched thousands of men and women huddled to watch Obama speak at the Chicago victory rally, somebody said, "Would this be possible in India?"

While some of us discussed politics, the rest of us talked about gender violence. Imagine being a woman in India and joining a mob, a procession or a victory rally like the one at Chicago. Sends a shiver down my spine! I can only imagine the kind of groping that a woman would have to endure.

While I sit in an urban Indian city, sip on my latte and shudder at the thought of being groped, my Indian sisters are being killed for "dishonouring" their families. Two sisters were killed by their cousin for eloping with their boyfriends in Noida. The cousin, a young 20 year-old boy, is said to be "unrepentant".

Most definitely, its time for change!

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Predictability of the Kandhamal Rape

Are men “wired” to just rape given an opportunity? I know it sounds absurd but how else can you explain the rape of millions of women across the world in times of crisis.

During the end of the World War II, 2 million German women are said to have been raped by the Soviets and the allied forces. "A Woman in Berlin" is a new movie based on this .

Here’s another feature on the crimes against women in Congo, where a raging civil war is destroying the country:
Recently, Indian Peacekeeping forces deployed in Congo have been accused of sexually abusing the women there.

Rape has been used as a weapon in times of crisis across the world, rape is not just a consequence of violence but is consciously used as a strategy.
Amnesty International has a detailed report on this

Various events in India’s past and present are testimony to this. Women have been raped during the partition era. This is also true of the ongoing caste wars in our villages where “untouchable” Dalit women are raped. This is true of the Godhra Carnage; this is true of the most recent Kandhamal Violence, where a nun was raped by Hindu Fundamentalists. Where a man from the mob screamed "At least a hundred men should rape her" while the police, allegedly, looked the other way.

The Anandita Mishras of India

Post the Pune Rape case where a young single woman, working for a BPO and living by herself, was raped by her colleagues, many single women working in Pune came out with horror stories of how they were considered easy targets by their male colleagues because they were staying alone.

I remember this one woman’s story in the Hindustan Times every time I look at a Maggi Noodle pack! This young woman had tried her best to hide from her small-minded colleagues that she had no family in Pune but a mega, ‘supersaver’ Maggi Noodles pack – a refuge for many singletons with no time to cook - gave her away. And from then on the comments and sleazy remarks from her male colleagues began. “Can I drop you home?”, “Don’t you feel lonely?”.

I have noticed, in Bombay too, the first time you meet a guy he’s aching to know if you stay “alone”. “Are you a PG?” (Bombay parlance for “living by yourself”) is his second question after “What’s your name?”

While it’s too early to comment on the murder of the 31-year-old Reliance Employee, Anandita Mishra, there are whispers that she was an ‘easy’ target because she was a divorcee who lived with an aging mother and a spastic child!

I am reminded of the grim reality – that single working women in India, living away from their homes – are still not given the due respect they deserve. They’re independent, brave and ambitious, and represent the new Indian woman. But there is a very big chunk of this country that’s filled with bigots (both male and female) resistant to change. And in a country of a billion and counting, that’s millions and millions of mindsets to change.

“Fight-Back” has a long road ahead…

"You should not be so adventurous…"

Every member of Fight-Back should strongly oppose the very irresponsible statement made by the Delhi CM in connection with the murder of Soumya Visvanathan. Not only is it a ratification of a stupid cultural stereotype but it also reflects the total apathy of the governing system in our country. Instead of constructive engagement, we are presented with regressive thinking. This is in the same bracket as common cliches like " You deserved to be eve teased, you wore a short skirt.." ...or "You were asking to be raped" ...

It also reinforces Delhi's unholy reputation of being the anti-woman capital of India. Even the most powerful woman in Delhi thinks that Delhi is an unsafe space, the system believes the status quo is overwhelming. We can only guard ourselves against gender violence, we cannot fight it.

It is upto all of us to prove them wrong.

We MUST be adventurous. We must live, we must be free. If we succumb to fear, we will live in fear.

A woman, man or child has the right to travel home at 3 am. The CM is wrong.

Zubin Driver

Founder, FIGHT-BACK.