#TheMarriedFeminist this week: Why We Need a Zero Tolerance Policy for Stalking

The year was 1992, I was doing my masters in English Literature from Mumbai University, located at Kalina campus. Every morning, I got off at Santacruz railway station, on the east side and went to the bus stop that would take me to the university. Sometimes I would meet other students, at others I wouldn’t.

The first time I noticed him was when he sat next to me on a bus that was empty. He was hefty, huge and must have been in his late twenties or early thirties. He spread himself out as I shrank into the seat, squashing myself up against the window. I got off at the university, he got off too. When I emerged from class, he was at the gate, waiting. I jumped into a waiting auto rickshaw and went home, terrified.

When I emerged from class, he was at the gate, waiting. I jumped into a waiting auto rickshaw and went home, terrified.

The next morning he was there again, standing behind me, muttering obscenities, touching me, on a crowded bus. I screamed for help. No one said a word. And he was there the next day. I changed my timings, got off at another railway station, had friends walk with me, but he was always there. I was terrified. I couldn’t tell my mother, it would worry her. I did what I think most girls end up doing in such a situation, I dropped out of my masters a few months before my exams, found a job in a small advertising agency as a copywriter and never went back to formal education again.

Whether this was a good thing or a bad one, I will never know. Thankfully, advertising bored the socks off me and condensing my words to fit into a box allocated by the design team was not what I felt chuffed about and I moved to journalism.

I read in the news today that the Delhi government plans to bring in an amendment to make stalking a non-bailable offence. On Women’s Day this year, Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor proposed a bill in the Lok Sabha to make stalking a non-bailable offence.

What is stalking? According to Section 354D of Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance 2013, stalking is “To follow a woman and contact or attempt to contact such woman to foster personal interaction repeatedly despite a clear indication of disinterest by such woman or monitor the use by a woman of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication.”

Read the rest here

The Married Feminist last week: On wife bashing jokes and why they make me burst a blood vessel

Of the long list of the many things that irk me, coming up for podium finish would definitely be the slew of Whatsapp jokes that belittle a ‘wife’. What irks me even more is that these jokes are often blithely forwarded by women themselves, completely tone deaf to how misogynist and sexist these jokes actually are.

A casual Google search for Whatsapp wife jokes is an indication of how popular these are, throwing up about 34,40,000 search results of all variants. Jokes in English, Hindi, other Indian languages, image jokes, ‘veg’ jokes, ‘non veg’ jokes, all available to pick and choose from. Copy paste, hit send, at the touch of a finger casual sexism gets bombarded, disseminated and reinforced. India is the world’s biggest market for Whatsapp, and all of them, it would seem, rabid consumers of sexist jokes, good morning messages and of course, tweets from the Whatsapp factory of manufactured information.

wife-bashing jokes

Do I cringe as I read these jokes? Yes. Do I call the senders of these jokes out, yes I do, and have been removed from a few Whatsapp groups for my ‘lack of sense of humour’. I’m not complaining. I get all bristly in porcupine manner, and call it out. And more so when it is a woman forwarding one of these. Perhaps I lack a sense of humour because I completely fail to see the humour in these. At the best, they’re reductive. At worse, they’re vicious. They reduce women to mistrustful, sexless, avaricious harridans. And also, we’re in 2018, and these marriage jokes often not very flattering to the wife, are based on the stereotype of a heterosexual marriage.

What do these jokes promote? The Utopian ideal that a man would have a much better life without a wife around to constantly nag him and spend ‘his’ money, in a hedonistic display of consumerism. The man is presumed to be the sole provider in these Whatsapp forwards, that many women earn an independent income these days is conveniently neglected.

Read the rest here

March 14th, Bombaywaali with Priyanka Chaturvedi

BombaywaaliwithPriyanka

In the March 2018 edition of Bombaywaali meet a familiar face on our television sets, Priyanka Chaturvedi.

Priyanka Chaturvedi is the Convenor Communication and National Spokesperson of the Indian National Congress. She is a regular on television channels debating on various issues on Indian politics, womens empowerment, child rights, education and health. She was a part of ISB’s 10000 Women programme, a scholarship programme by Goldman Sachs for women entrepreneurs. In 2015, she was nominated for and participated in Observer Research Foundation and Zeit Stiftung’s programme Asian Forum on Global Governance.

She was named amongst the top 10 upcoming Indian women politicians by a leading Indian website. Priyanka was recently honoured with an award for Excellence in her field of work and for being amongst the Top 50 Inspirational Women in Maharashtra at a Women’s Leadership Symposium, Women’s Economic Forum conferred her with ‘ Iconic Woman’ Award this year. Chitralekha a popular Gujarati Magazine honoured her with the Rado Woman of the year title.

We will chat with her about her journey into the hurly burly of Indian politics, the sexism that she and other women politicians face and her learnings along the way.

When: 6.00 pm, Wednesday, 14th March
Where: Fun Republic Social, Off Link Road, Andheri West.

JOIN US, where Priyanka Chaturvedi is in conversation with SheThePeople Ideas Editor, Kiran Manral. Empowered by COLORS TV.

Don’t miss. Register free here:

https://www.shethepeople.tv/events/bombaywaali-priyanka-chaturvedi/

 

The SheThePeople Women Writers’ Fest, Delhi, March 10th

Completely overwhelmed by the wonderful day that was yesterday, so I must begin with the gratitude. To Shaili Chopra, for being the absolute rockstar she is and the complete, unswerving faith and trust she reposes in me for the #WomenWritersFest, for making sure everything falls into place and runs like clockwork, for being the warm, generous soul she is, thank you.
To the fabulous team at Shethepeople who held it all together yesterday, Hemant Chandiramani Devika Chitnis Purvi Gupta Charvi KathuriaRoshni Baronia, you guys were incredible, take a bow for that relentless effort from early morning to evening.
To Saumya Kulshreshtha, can I ever thank you enough for the superlative energy you brought to the day, and the wonderful spontaneity and wit you infused every session with. I owe you so much. You’re a host par excellence, and I thank you for doing this for us.
Thank you to Amaryllis and Classic Invites for the giveaways, and Instituto Cervantes for hosting us. To Oxford Bookstores for being our bookstore partners.
To Kiranjeet Chaturvedi, what a workshop. I was amazed to see the crowd that gathered just for it and stayed glued for the entire hour. Thank you so much, for this, and the sabjis.
Our wonderful panelists, Bhaavna AroraShuchi Singh KalraVaishali MathurAdite BanerjieAnja KovacsKarnika KohliAneela Zeb BabarSunetra ChoudhuryGurMehar KaurKota NeelimaArpita Das, Aarti David, Aditi Maheshwari GoyalShantanu DuttaguptaNamita Bhandare Rashmi MenonNatasha BadhwarShelja Sen, Amee Misra, Nazia ErumAditi Mathur KumarMariellen WardMridula DwivediDevapriya RoySonu BhasinNamita BhandareAnisha MotwaniUppma VirdiGauri Sawant – Indian Transgender Activist, Amrita Swaarup, Avani Parekh, Aditee Biswas, Sonal KalraSreemoyee Piu Kundu.
Thank for taking time out from your weekend and being part of this festival, bringing your insights and expertise to the discussions. To our moderators, Kanchana BanerjeeRituparna ChatterjeeSwati RaiAekta KapoorJaya Bhattacharji RoseSonal Kalra, you were all superlative in steering the discussions to valuable insights and nuances that gave the audience food for thought. Pics and videos coming soon.
To everyone who came to the festival, Dipali TanejaVikas Vijayovich DattaKavita DevganPiyusha VirPurba Ray and so many more, am sure some names are slipping me, so grateful you spent your day with us.
As one of our panelists said, it was a day of warmth, of conversations, of sisterhood, of bonding, and some incredible discussions. It was a day of woman power, empathy and laughter. It was a day was truly special. Can’t wait for next year already.

Here are some pictures.

In The Sunday Guardian yesterday

In The Sunday Guardian yesterday, thanks Latha Srinivasan for this lovely interview. And what a coincidence it comes out a day after I spoke about the myth of the Happily ever after, versus the reality of the Happily Right Now which we should be grabbing.

“I’ve always wondered why we tend to stop at the “happily ever after” in romance novels. The point at which one ends a story is always the point at which one has a romance or a tragedy in one’s hands. Romance and love are part and parcel of the entire package that includes heartbreak, disillusionment, infidelity and divorce that is a real issue that we see all around us. What most romances tend to do is to promote the concept that the one “big” love story in one’s life is perhaps the only love story worth talking about. But love happens over and over again, we humans by nature are not monogamous. There is heartbreak, divorce, and then perhaps love again. I felt that we need to read stories where they say, its okay, heartbreak and divorce are devastating but there is always the glimmer of the possibility of love again on the horizon.”

Read the interview here: 

 

Awarded the Indian Council of UN Relations (ICUNR) International Women’s Day Award 2018 for excellence in the field of writing

Was honoured to receive this on Women’s Day, in Delhi

The Indian Council of UN Relations (ICUNR) International Women’s Day Award 2018 for excellence in the field of writing, supported by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India.

Among the other worthy recepients of the award this year were Karuna Nundy, Dr Prerna Kohli, Aishwarya Dhanush, Tulsi Kumar, Khushali Kumar, Rekha Vohra, Shahnaz Husain, acid attack survivor Laxmi, Radha Kapoor Shivani Malik and more.

Thank you Leher Sethi.

Some pictures

 

 

For the Deccan Chronicle: In homes, women across the world are quietly staging their own little rebellions.

It was an innocuous news snippet tucked away in the newspapers that grabbed my attention. “Bride calls off marriage because groom’s party creates a ruckus when drunk.” This wasn’t a girl from one of the metropolises daring to call off her wedding but a girl from Lucknow, a city in Uttar Pradesh and one that quite retains its patriarchal nature. This news snippet is significant. It is a harbinger of the quiet fact that women have had quite enough and are refusing to take anymore. No matter what. You can see signs everywhere. The young girl who records the man masturbating next to her in a public transport bus and posts it on social media. The woman who calls out consistent and endemic misogyny at a pub in Pune. Women who speak out against sexual harassment on social media, and name names. Women who refuse to get married when asked to list out the dishes they know to cook. Female anchors who don’t take being called Baby by patronising panellists lying down and demand an apology. Women are standing up tall, linking arms, and taking on the insidious little and big ways in which the patriarchy has been shooting them down and shutting them up all these years.

Did it all begin with #MeToo? Or did #MeToo signal a time that had arrived when enough was enough? What was #MeToo? A call by actress Alyssa Milano for women to post about their experiences of sexual harassment and violence on Twitter. She tweeted, “If all the women who have bee n sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me Too.’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” The call saw an outpouring of posts, which crossed millions, across both Twitter and Facebook, flooding timelines, making it shockingly obvious that we had all been staring at the elephant in the room and no one had so far been willing to take it by the tusks. The hashtag triggered conversations about workplace sexual harassment, assault, sexism, and gender violence on social media across ages, demographies and continents.

Read the rest here

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