Be a wife like Sita, wear a sari but don’t get abducted.

It seems everybody in India knows what’s good for an Indian woman, better than an Indian woman does. Deny husband sex, relocate with the husband, dress in salwar-kurta and don’t get abducted. And it’s not just the neighborhood aunties who are saying these things.

How much do you think does hearing these voices affect the decisions women take?

1.

In Saharanpur UP, a DIG recommends honor killing. I wonder if his sister has read his remarks. (Link shared by Anil Singhal)

“Shaukeen’s 14-year-old daughter was allegedly abducted one-and-a-half-month ago by the musclemen in his village. The harried father was apprehensive about the safety of his daughter. He feared that his daughter could be raped and killed by the abductors, who have a criminal record.

Shaukeen came to meet the DIG along with scores of villagers. However, the DIG snubbed the father and said, “I don’t have magical power to recover your daughter. But if your daughter had eloped then you should be ashamed of it and end your life. I would have committed suicide or killed my sister if she had eloped.”  …   [link]

More about UP Police.
Where could this girl have disappeared?
Do you remember this murdered couple who made a ‘dramatic reappearance’?
“The rape victim had gone there willingly. She was not lured into it. They drank vodka.”
So how does Delhi – NCR Police define Rape?

2.

In Haryana, Women and Child Department seems to think working women need them to tell them how to dress. (Link shared by Nithya)

“Chandigarh: The Haryana Women and Child Department has issued a dress code for its women employees, according to which, they would not be allowed to wear jeans and t-shirts to work. According to the new dress code, the women employees can only wear salwar kameez and sarees to work.” [Link]
Not surprisingly Haryana Police views a husband beating his wife for wearing jeans as a family matter.

Related post:
Not just a pair of jeans…

3.

And I am not sure why any woman would want to be a wife like Sita. (Link shared by Shail)

‘A wife should be like goddess Sita: Bombay HC

The Bombay high court today observed that married women should take a cue from goddess Sita, who followed her husband Lord Rama even during his forced isolation to forest, while hearing a divorce petition filed by a man on ground that his wife is unwilling to relocate to his new place of work.

“A wife should be like goddess Sita who left everything and followed her husband Lord Rama to a forest and stayed there for 14 years,”  ….[Link]’

Edited to add:
Error corrected. Comments are enabled now.

Related posts:

If women should be like Sita, men should be like Ram (i.e. when he met Surpanakha)

Advertisements

Emotion of love and affection compelled the convict. ‘Love not a crime’, says Delhi Court.

“The act of falling in love cannot be punished in the way other criminals are punished”. With this observation, a trial court acquitted 22-year-old Sanjay of Jahangirpuri on charges of raping his 15-year-old girlfriend, although it held him guilty of kidnapping as he had not taken the consent of her parents.

“It is clear that emotion of love and affection compelled the convict to take this step wherein he failed to acknowledge the presence and sanctity of consent of the parents of the girl,” the court said. [Link]

I didn’t understand this judgement. Isn’t the girl a minor?

From what I understand, the act of an adult engaging in sex with a minor (15 or less) is considered rape, whether or not it is consensual.


While the consent age for pre-marital sex is 16, the husband has license to engage in such an act with his minor wife even if she is as young as 15.

Though the minimum marriageable age for women is 18, the marriage with an under-aged girl is not per se invalid. For, under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006, marriage is “void” only if it was the result of kidnapping or elopement. In the event of sex with his wife under 15, the man is liable to be charged with rape under Section 376.”[Link]

Now this 22 year old was not married to the 15 year old. And even if they had married, the marriage to a minor as a result of elopement, would have been void!

And ‘emotion of love and affection compelled the convict‘?

It would have been understandable if the man was a minor too, but shouldn’t a 22 year adult be held accountable for his actions?

On the other hand, perhaps this could make it easier for young Indian couples to choose their partners without fearing one of them being harassed by the families and the police for ‘rape and kidnapping’.

But then is a 15 year old capable of choosing a life partner? Remember, she has no other legal rights that adults do.

And what if the elopement (or ‘consensual kidnapping’) is caused by her parents’ attempts to forcibly marry the minor off elsewhere? We know it’s common for Indian parents to arrange marriages in haste to protect their daughters from Love Marriages.

In such cases do we say, emotion of love and affection compelled the convict‘ to elope or will it be seen as an elopement caused by the need to escape a forced marriage?

Related posts:

The Powers of the Protectors.

“Bill seeks to let 12 year olds have non penetrative sex. Does it really?

It’s child abuse not an ‘affair’
.

Who do you think killed Aarushi Talwar?

I find it impossible to believe that her parents killed Aarushi Talwar. I have been following the case from day one and what was most glaring was the incompetence of the investigating authorities. Even a child knows about avoiding new finger prints at the place of crime, inspecting the entire house and use of luminol, examination of hair, blood samples etc, all of which were ignored in the beginning. Her parents also asked for forensic science to be used – which doesn’t seem to have happened yet.

When I discussed this with some friends one said, the parents didn’t look like they were grieving, but that means nothing, because they must have been in shock. I remember Nitish Katara‘s mother had the same look on her face.

Another argument about how they did not hear any thing that night. That does happen with windows AC, it’s very common in fact. There was another case in East Delhi where the live-in servant injured the three children, two died and the third one managed to wake up the parents who had heard nothing because their AC was on.

The golf clubs that made the CBI suspicious have been found to have no had blood on them.

So what happened?

It’s possible that Hemraj allowed some intruders, known to him, to come inside the house and maybe they had a drink or two and then maybe they went to the terrace and since Hemraj didn’t want them to stay for any further mischief, and since he was a witness, they killed him.  After killing him they killed Arushi also and left without any difficulty.

Do you think Aarushi’s parents could have killed her? If yes, why would they do that?

The ‘Honor Killing’ angle that UP police tried to give in the beginning, is difficult to accept, because the parents could have counseled the child, sent her to a hostel and they could have demanded that the servant to goes back to Nepal.

Parents killing their only child, born eleven years after their marriage – is difficult to believe.

There is no mention of Aarushi having any behavioral issues, which abused children tend to display. She was doing well at school. The family had also arranged for her to go to her Nani’s house in NOIDA, every day after school, so she wasn’t alone at home. Does all this indicate the kind of parents who could kill their child?

What do you think?

Updated:

Before you make up your mind, do take a look at what Tehelka says here. (Thank You Megha)

http://www.tehelka.com/story_main48.asp?filename=hub190211THE_HOUSE.asp

‘This is not America’, court tells married man in live-in relationship.

So this 22 year old young woman has started living with her sister’s husband (25), a father of two. The couple asked the court to protect them, because even though the wife is fine with their ‘friendship-agreement‘, the rest of the family isn’t. The Jeeja-Saali feel their lives are threatened.

Justice Hema Kohli pulled up the woman and the 25-year-old married man, saying, “This is not America. You have no right under the Hindu Marriage Act to marry twice. Anyway, the boy has his wife and she is alive and with two kids to look after…”

This kind of relationship is not new in India. I have blogged about a 15 year old who was reported ‘kidnapped’. She was found in another part of the city with her sister’s husband, 25.

The sister’s husband – the son in law, in Indian culture, is a very important family member. This man visited their house often and was treated with deference. He could beat his wife and his sister in law and control their lives because each felt the only way to save their ‘honor’ was to stay married or to get married to this man. The young sister in law felt she was unlikely to find a husband (even if this man ‘allowed‘ it) because she was ‘tainted‘. And Indian girls are raised to believe that Getting Married and Staying Married was their goal in life. So could the girl be blamed for thinking her happiness depended on this abusive, irresponsible, dishonest and married-man? If he didn’t marry her, she would be told, ‘Ab tu kaheen ki naheen rahi‘ (you are doomed now).

We have Bollywood songs (and I am sure folk songs also) describing the relationship between Jeeja-Sali. Often the son in law of the house is the only male, the young sisters in law have ever interacted with and they have grown up hearing jokes like ‘saali to aadhi gharwali‘ (a sister in law is half a wife). Also a ‘Happily Married Daughter’ is a status symbol in India, so even if the sister in law is very young (say 13 or 14) and even if she seems confused (flattered, even attracted, ashamed and guilty) with such attentions in an otherwise segregated society, the elders tend to ignore the child-abuse (that is what it is).

Most importantly, for a live-in relationship to be legally a Live-in Relationship, both, the man and his partner are required to be unmarried. A married man cannot have a ‘Live-In’ relationship.

In ‘My Feudal Lord’ a Pakistani wife, Tehmina Durrani describes the relationship between her sister, a 13 year old Aadila and her middle aged, violent and abusive husband. I blogged about another young girl, related to my maid, in Delhi. [Linked above] Such cases are not uncommon this side.

I have not heard of such cases happening in America. Are married American men permitted to marry twice? Do American wives get bullied into saying they are fine with their husbands ‘friendship-agreements’ with their sisters? Do young American girls feel they must marry the first man they ever find attractive, even if he is abusive and married?

I think the definition of a Live-in Relationship needs to made clearer to such couples. It definitely is not another name for polygamy. [Linked above]

“An ordinary fight with wife…”

Indian diplomat in Britain claims immunity on wife-beating charge.

Diplomat transferred from London after wife-beating charges

He (Anil Verma) … suddenly flew into a rage over the fact that there was a Christmas tree in the house … given to them from one of Paromita’s relatives.

“He stormed up the stairs to grab the tree and throw it out but Paromita …tried to stop him because their son had been decorating it. He suddenly turned round and punched her full in the face, very hard…

“She was screaming and blood was pouring from her nose like a tap…

“The front door was open and Paromita ran outside, …. Neighbours took her into their house to comfort her until the police arrived,” the daily said..”

If he was in India he would not have needed to claim any immunity. His neighbours would have protected him. Take a look at two of the comments following the news article. My response in red.

1.

By: DEV
On: 17 Jan 2011 02:19 am

In my view, our Indian government authorities and the people should think, what led him to this situation.These days it is hard to believe some of our Indian women who are well aware of law abuse due to western influence.Who knows she is well guided by one of her friends with vested interests.

– The only thing that ‘lead him to this situation’ is the abuser’s confidence that the victim would tolerate the abuse. Unfortunately, Western or Indian influences don’t protect victims from violence.  Dev should read about victims who have successfully fought back against Domestic Violence – because they had support.

2.

Another comment. My response in red.

By: Ram
On: 10 Jan 2011 10:29 am

We should consider the following things before making any assertions

1.Has the woman complained to police or not. Just becoz som neighbors reported and the person involved is diplomat the police should not take action or media should not give vast coverage.

– Do we recommend leaving the victim alone in any other crime? Domestic Violence is a crime, though the abuser would like it to be seen as ‘a family matter’.

2.If voilence has happened what is the extent of physical injury that has hapeened to the lady.

– How much injury is permitted? If the injury is not severe does the violence become acceptable? What about what the violence does to the self respect of the victim? It is not surprising that victims hesitate to complain.

3.Most couples fight (some times voilently) and scream when there is difference of opinion and they settle it with in few minutes or few days. An external involvement will aggrevate the differences and cause irreparble damage to relationship (between husband and wife).

– Once there is violence in a relationship, irreparable damage has already been done.  The victim needs external involvement. The abuser does not welcome ‘external involvement’ (except when he is sure of being supported, like from his family elders in India). Isolating the victim is important for the abuse to continue.

4.An ordinary fight with wife, should not be a reason to recall or to force to resign from such a high profile post or for that matter any other person.

– This is not an ‘ordinary fight with wife’. Domestic Violence (verbal or physical) is a crime.

5.Hence the Indian high commission stance to allow or to expect the matter to be resolved between husband and wife to their mutual satisfaction is highly appreciable.

– “The ‘Daily Mail’ also reported that Paromita has gone into hiding with her five-year-old son as she fears for her life. She left the home soon after the incident and has not returned since then.”

6.Last but not least, any couples should not get provoked and endup in this type of situations, especially those who are in responsible position like representing a country and or attract media attention.

–  The attempt to make it look like a ‘couples’ matter’ is also an abuse and many victims are lead to believe that they are responsible for the violence.

The abuser committed a crime. If he had punched anybody else there would have been no excuses.

This is something the abuser did to the victim, not something a couple did together by getting ‘provoked’.

*

What makes victims, their many well wishers and commenters like Dev and Ram above believe that abuse and violence is  ‘an ordinary fight with a wife‘?

How does an educated and seemingly confident woman allow herself to be abused?

Naomi Ackerman’s powerful monologue, which I found on Desi Girl’s blog explains how abuse begins and continues. Do share these amazing, eye-opening  videos with others.

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

Indian women have lots to learn from Elizabeth Edwards.

One day this September my son had cried angrily, “Such things only happen to us, all these well known people and celebrities live such happy lives.” My sister sent me links to show him, links to stories of well known people who also lost their children and faced challenges. That’s when I first heard of Elizabeth Edwards. She had lost her 16 year old son Wade to a car accident in 1996.

Their second child, a daughter Cate, was then 14. Elizabeth Edwards later had two more children, Emma Claire in 1998 and Jack in 2000. In 2004 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The youngest children were 4 and 6 then.

Elizabeth Edwards was a successful attorney who became a national figure as her husband’s political partner and the author of books that chronicled her cancer and grief …

She wrote in ‘Saving Graces’, “I had promised myself he (her husband) will never have to hear bad news again. He and our elder daughter Cate had suffered too much already. Our Son Wade had been killed in an auto accident eight years earlier and we had been through worst life could deal us.

But her life became tabloid fodder during Edwards’ bid for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. The National Enquirer reported that he had had an affair with Rielle Hunter, who had been hired as a videographer for the campaign, and had fathered a child with her.

An article said she lived a mother’s worst nightmare when she lost her son Wade and then another nightmare now when she realized she was dying and her children were only 12 and 10. How are they going to cope? I realised I was not the only one thinking of her youngest children. I found this inspiring post called, “16 things Elizabeth Edwards children need to know.

From what I have read about her, I have no doubt  that she has given them all that she could to prepare them for a life without her. She died yesterday. She was 61.

 

 

I may disapprove of what she says…

I disagree with a lot of what Arundhati Roy says here – read a rough transcript of her speech here or watch her speak here.

But I disagree even more with those who think she should be stopped from expressing her opinion.  Here’s one of the reasons why,

‘Azadi to espouse azadi
Freedom Of Expression In A Vibrant Democracy, By Madhavi Goradia Divan’

( The Statesman)

Here’s a point of view I agree with…

“That a seminar titled “Azadi ~ the only way” could be held in the capital city and that Roy and Geelani could say what they did in the full media glare is testimony to that freedom, an azadi … The Indian State is resilient and robust enough to bear a slight or two now and then. Why diminish its dignity by muzzling dissent or even disloyalty?” (click to read the entire article, might require log in, but it’s worth it)

‘Home minister P Chidambaram today said Delhi police not filing a case against noted writer Arundhati Roy for her alleged seditious speech recently was in accordance with the letter and spirit of law.

“Not taking action is also an action,” he shot back when a journalist asked him why the government was not acting against her for her “Azaadi” (independence) remarks made at a convention on Kashmir here recently.

“Section 124(A) of the IPC (related to sedition) is for deterrence and punishment. The spirit of the law and true interpretation of law is that unless there is direct incitement to violence, the state must show tolerance and forbearance.

“Delhi police is acting in accordance with the letter and spirit of the law,” he said.’ [Link]

Arundhati Roy not Guilty, says P Chidambaram

And I agree.



The Indian state is resilient and robust enough to bear a slight or two now and then.”

I would be more worried about speeches that incite violence and hatred.

Why does Gender Sensitivity in Legal Language matter.

At first there were objections to a man in a live in relationship being expected to provide palimony to a partner. One objection was that this would amount to permitting him polygamy. That the man would be giving from the legal wife’s share to the live-in partner.

Now both, the man and his partners are required to be unmarried.

(3) they must be otherwise qualified to enter into a legal marriage including being unmarried,

[Click to read more]

I think that sounds fair.

So,

The Supreme Court today ruled that if a man has a live-in relationship with a woman only for sexual reasons, it cannot amount to a relationship that entitles either partner to the benefits of marriage.

Sounds fair too.

Then what is the objection? The objection is to the use of the words, ‘keep‘ and ‘one night stand’.

The court said, “If a man has a keep whom he maintains financially, and uses mainly for sexual purpose and as a servant, it would not be a relationship in the nature of marriage.”

“The words used in the judgment are derogatory. Words like ‘keep’ and ‘one night stand’ are not legal language. The Court has to be gender sensitive. It is like setting the clock back after the Supreme Court passed the historic judgement in the Visakha case,” ASG Jaising had stated.

Advocate Mridula Kadam said, “…Such words are used by uneducated people…”

I agree.

Advocate Kranti Sathe said: “… I would certainly feel offended if words like ‘keep’ were used by any judge hearing my case.” [Link]

I would too.

“I am concerned about the image of the Supreme Court of India, which is known for its sensitivity to women as you can see in its Vishaka (sexual harassment of women in workplace) judgment. I am a member of the international body ‘Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women’, which fights to get rid of discriminating language and stereotypes against women. I fear the remarks in the judgment may put the clock back as it is not in a legal language befitting the Supreme Court,” she said in favour of expunging the remarks in the judgment. [Link]

I was not surprised to read comments disagreeing with ASG Jaising. Some of the objections implied that ‘such women’ deserved such names. Words and language have the power to change mindsets. Legal language is not street language.  We do not use the street words used for describing incest in legal language do we?

Here is one of the many reactions, and exactly why legal language needs to objective, accurate and free of any judgment.

“The society defines cetain relationship with certain names which get to be accepted language of daily use . Some names get derrogated over the perid of time because of the kind of relationship or the effects f relationship on the society. Over a period of time such as this kalyoug some of such relationships are getting glorified but they donot have the guts to be called by old name… In indian socity husband and the wife a couple legal one is respected and cherished and it should not be equated to the status of live in , mutawa, keep,slave ,temporary relationship. Democracy and freedom does not mean that we can do anything . We may change the previous norms of society by discussion and law but not accept them after it is done for the convenience and pleasure of few.” [From here]

Related Posts: Every blogger should mind their language.

Can we judge a writer by the book?

I did not like ‘White Tiger’ and I am not surprised the man who wrote it feels this way,

“I appeal to those who have migrated from the north to teach their children the Kannada language, and to learn something about Kannada culture. Please develop some sense of ownership and belonging in Karnataka — for the sake of your own children.

Tamilians care about Tamil Nadu, and Malayalis about Kerala. Kannadigas, wherever they are — inside the nation or in Silicon Valley— must become more active. Many excellent NGOs have sprung up across the state, and if you spend a few minutes scanning the internet you will find one that is right for you. Strengthening the Kannada cultural identity is another part of the solution. But do pay attention, my fellow Kannadigas — Gowdas, Murthys, Sheikhs, and D’Souzas, all of you. Ten years from now, if the residents of Bihar tease you for coming from India’s most lawless state, don’t say that you had no warning.”

[Read more: Kannadigas, stand up for Karnataka – The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/sunday-toi/all-that-matters/Kannadigas-stand-up-for-Karnataka/articleshow/6762547.cms#ixzz12ctwSDJR]

Do you agree with the comment below?
Rajesh (Gurgaon)
17/10/2010 at 03:30 pm
Had similar views posed by Shivsena in Maharashtra, the hell would have broken out agaist such views, The whole piece smacks narrow linguistic fundamentalism.
Or with this one?
Vande Mataram (New Delhi)
17 Oct, 2010 02:04 PM
Dear Arvind, your thoughts are surprising. I have read your books. I believe culture, religion and way of life are personal preferences. They survive or vanish if individuals wish to. Nobody can force practice of culture or religion. Change is permanent and bound to happen and so is the society. Shift towards Hindi is to get aligned with the nation and towards English is to be global. May be after a decade it may be beneficial to learn Chinese. I love people of Karnataka, they are truly gentle and cultured. It is this fundamental strength which have made them and the state successful. Finally, we cannot stop change, it is bound to happen, what we can do is to give it a positive direction and that can be done by every individual and cannot be imposed by government. Forgive me if I am unwise.
In UP, Mulayam Singh Yadav wanted to save Hindi. He said, ‘the party is against English medium education and the use of computers‘. I am sure Adiga will join anti-English language tirade too. Or maybe he won’t, because he won The Man Booker for a book he wrote in English. (I am not getting into how undeserving it was, just compare it to ‘Animal’s People‘).
I also wonder…
What about those Kannadigas who are living outside Karnataka, should they adopt the culture of the places they live in or preserve and propagate their ‘own’ culture in distant/foreign lands? What happened to harmonious intermingling of cultures?

Also, can cultures and languages be ‘owned‘? If yes, then does one need the right DNA, Voter ID Cards or College Degrees to own them?

Or is it like everybody be a bullying, thuggish Tiger (White or Black or Saffron) only in their own land?
Should there be a ban on marrying outside one’s community/state/country?

Do we need restrictions against living outside one’s native country, state, city, village?
All to make sure we do not change the way we live, speak, celebrate, marry, raise our children, cook, dance, paint, sing...
His warning about the residents from Bihar ‘teasing‘ the residents of Karnataka about lawlessness reminded me of ‘The White Tiger‘.  One of the things I disliked about his book was the author’s total lack of affection, or even empathy, with the lifeless characters he created*… maybe his prejudice hindered him.
Does such thinking help this country stay united? Can we still talk about being Global Citizens.  Or about Human Values beyond borders?
[* Contrast this with ‘Animal’s People’ – where you can’t help but feel affection/empathy for even the seemingly undeserving characters – simply because the author truly knew and understood his characters, and through him we did too.]
Update:

Karishma’s mother could have been saved too.

For days, she lay in a pool of dirty rainwater, dogs lurking nearby, flies swarming her nine-month pregnant body. With just a filthy red chunni to cover her, she easily passed off as a bundle of rags dumped on a busy street. And it was a busy street — in Shankar Market, Connaught Place, at the feet  of thousands who walked past going to work, going shopping, returning home.

When the woman gave birth on July 26, it was on that dirty roadside. The newborn lay with her dazed mother, wailing. It was the crying that alerted a food-stall owner, who went to Ritu Arthur Frederick, who has a garment shop in the market.

Frederick was shocked to see dogs circling the day-old infant.

“The dogs looked like they would pounce on the infant.”

“The mother told me she had given birth on her own, even pulling the child forcefully to cut the umbilical cord.”

Fredrick took the baby under her care, helped by a woman vendor. The mother was so filthy Fredrick refused to let her breastfeed. The destitute refused to clean up, even turning down medical help. Four days later, she died, telling Fredrick to care for her baby.

But for Fredrick and the baby she named Karishma (miracle), their troubles weren’t over. When the police were called to remove the body, Fredrick told them about the baby. The officers took Karishma to a foster home in Gole Market.

Fredrick is not willing to give up caring. Being single, she is apprehensive she might not get custody. So, she’s convinced her brother and sister-in-law to adopt Karishma. But, she complains, the orphanage authorities aren’t being cooperative.

In callous Delhi, she — and Karishma — will probably need another miracle.

If the police was called earlier, maybe the mother would have lived?
Why was the mother on the road? How old was she? Who was the father? Was she thrown out for being pregnant? Why didn’t she want to get better? Why had she given up?

Thankfully the baby has found a family, those who saved her and gave her a name want to adopt her too, and hopefully will.

But why did her mother have to die? I have blogged about another mother who was forced to abandon her hours old baby girl in a cold, winter park in Faridabad. She had lost a lot of blood but was taken to the hospital because the police was informed in time.

Note: This was the front page news in ‘The Hindustan Times’ this morning.