On Buzzfeed last week, I wrote this

Too Many Of India’s Young Boys Suffer Sexual Abuse And Our Silence Is Criminal

We don’t do enough to teach young Indian boys that they are vulnerable. Pehredaar Piya Ki is making matters worse by normalising predatory relationships.

Read the article here


An Open Letter To Smriti Irani, Requesting Action Against ‘Pehredaar Piya Ki’

Pehredaar Piya Ki is a programme aired by Sony during the evening prime time slot when families can be reasonably expected to watch TV. It is a show about a pre-pubescent young boy who is obsessed with an adult woman twice his age and shows them in repeated, suggestive — and extremely inappropriate — romantic situations.

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, protects children from “offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography”. Depicting a 10-year-old child as a stalker of an adult woman and as someone who has a ‘‘suhaag raat” contextually suggests that the woman has had sex with the child. At the very minimum, it presents the possibility as one that is somehow acceptable.

India’s Child Marriage Restraint Act is clear that minor marriage is illegal. Girls must be at least 18 and boys 21 years old to be legally allowed to marry in India. Despite this, about 29 lakh children in the age group of 10–14 years were reported married between 2001 and 2011, according to a report by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).

The report, released by Supreme Court judge Justice A.K. Sikri, states that despite the decline in child marriage, particularly in the age group of 10–14 years, there are 1.1 million boys and 1.8 million girls who were reported married in this age group between 2001–2011.

“Child marriage violates the dignity of the child and is a major human rights violation,” said Justice Sikri. This astonishingly regressive show glorifies child marriage, blurs the importance of consent, tries to present stalking as ‘cute’ and undermines the hard work of generations of social reformers who sought to raise the age of marriage to protect the children of our country.

It is absolutely abhorrent that an entertainment channel should promote a concept that is violative of the dignity of children and is, moreover, against the laws of this country.

Several media organisations have written, panning the show.

Here are a few examples:

Among the objectionable scenes in the show are: The boy stalking the woman in an implied romantic manner. In the first episode, the boy is shown following the woman and taking photographs of her without her consent. In the second episode, there are crass shots and sexual innuendos in the dialogue. E.g. “He is a kid, we don’t know when he will be big enough to satisfy you.”

The show not only violates the rights of children, it also actively promotes misogyny. For example, the boy is shown controlling the actions of his adult wife, telling her what clothes and jewellery to wear, and forbidding her from drinking tea in case her complexion turns dusky. He fills sindoor in the hair parting of his adult wife, and is seen sleeping together on a decorated bed on their ‘suhaag raat’. This show disseminates ideas that are ethically, socially and legally unacceptable in a civilised society.

We draw the attention of concerned authorities to this and request them to enforce the law of the land — in letter and in spirit. We do not support restricting artistic freedom in any form. We appeal to sponsors to desist from endorsing this show and request Smriti Irani, Information and Broadcasting Minister (additional charge), to look into the content and take action against the channel if it is found to violate Indian laws that safeguard minors.

A petition that seeks to ban the show now has nearly 50,000 signatures.

Here are the undersigned:

Kiran Manral (Author and Columnist)

Sunayana Roy (Writer)

Shakthi Vadakkepat (Tech Blogger, Disability Activist)

Sandhya Menon (Writer, Journalist)

Priya Ramani (Columnist)

Harini Calamur (Founder, Vipra)

Nandita Iyer (Nutrition Counselor, Writer)

Harish Iyer (Radio Presenter, Columnist, Professor)

Namita Bhandare (Journalist)

Shaili Chopra (Journalist and Entrepreneur)

Shwetasree Majumder (Lawyer)

Rituparna Chatterjee (Journalist)

Ruchita Dar Shah (Founder, First Moms Club)

The Married Feminist this week: Genetic Mutant Ninja Marriages What Science Holds for Love

Scientists in the USA recently managed to remove disease causing mutations at the genetic level in human embryos. The implications of this are astounding and worrying. For one, we can all hope to eventually someday be able to eradicate hereditary diseases from the next generation. For another, there is the fear that those with the money to pay, can have their embryos genetically altered to enhance desirable traits, including appearance. Is it time to look at what science holds for love?

Well, humans have been doing this for a long time, albeit outside the laboratory. We choose good looking partners most times, if we can. We look at family history, caste and religion. We make discrete inquiries into family back grounds. Now, we seem closer to genetic manipulation to ensure our offspring have the best possible characteristics. The prospect of super humans, genetically manipulated to be perfect doesn’t seem all that far off.


Sometimes, the state interferes in the mate selection process. In his desire to build the perfect Aryan race, Hitler created a ‘marriage loan’ program where they made interest free loans of 1,000 marks available for men and women intending to marry each other if they could ‘prove’ their Aryan heritage. This was to encourage ‘strong and pure’ Aryans to have more children, according to the historian Richard Evans. The “weak and racially impure” under the Nazi rule were sterilised. This was perhaps, a natural outcome of Adolf Hitler’s ideas about the ‘superiority’ of the Aryan race. In 1925, he wrote in Mein Kampf, “Everything we admire on this earth today—science and art, technology and inventions—is only the creative product of a few peoples and originally perhaps one race [the “Aryans”]. On them depends the existence of this whole culture.”

Read the rest here: http://www.shethepeople.tv/152530/

The Married Feminist last week: Of Amelia Earhart and pre-nups

Among the things that intrigued me the most, amongst all that I read about her was the little-known fact that Earhart and her fiancé, George Putnam had what we might term in the modern world, a pre-nup. Putnam, a publisher, who was divorced, had proposed marriage to Earhart six times before she consented. Earhart married late. She was 33 as a bride in an era when the average age of a new bride was 21.

Kiran Manral The Married Feminist SheThePeople

She was worried that marriage would clip her wings, metaphorically as well as practically. She told a friend in a letter,

“I am still unsold on marriage . . . I may not ever be able to see [it] except as a cage until I am unfit to work or fly or be active.”

She wrote a worried little note to Putnam, in which she laid down the parameters within which she would agree to be part of this marriage. These included an open marriage, and an escape clause. The letter was discovered years later in the Purdue University where, Earhart was a professor, which had a number of her papers.

She wrote, ‘I may have to keep some place where I can go to be myself, now and then, for I cannot guarantee to endure at all times the confinement of even an attractive cage.’ She would not under any circumstances give up flying and wrote, “Please let us not interfere with the others’ work or play.” A statement that was generous of the other, and demanded the same generosity of spirit back.

Read the entire article here

Among the top 7 horror writers from India according to Desi Blitz UK

Kiran Manral

The Face at the Window may be Kiran’s fifth novel, but it is her first attempt at penning horror fiction.

The former journalist is known for her romance novels like The Reluctant Detective and Once Upon a Crush. But the shift in creative direction is not as drastic as it seems, as she tells DESIblitz:

“I’ve always been a great fan of good horror writing in fiction and film. My preference has always been towards the paranormal rather than the slasher zombie variant of horror. It is only natural that someday I would write one of my own.

“I think the inexplicable is always something that has interested me. We live in a world where we experience just one of the dimensions. There are so many more levels of consciousness lying unexplored.”

When Kiran is not writing fiction, the Mumbai-based author is championing feminism in her columns and promoting creative writing.

Read the entire article here

The Married Feminist this week: The strong case for the sleep divorce

Should husband and wife have separate bedrooms? I weigh in on this in my column in SheThePeople.tv.

I remember reading, a long, long while ago, about an intruder entering Buckingham Palace reaching the Queen’s bedroom, and having a good chat with her for quite a few minutes before he decided to ask for a ciggie, and that’s when she coaxed him out to the pantry and had him turned over the palace guards.

What struck me, then all of 11, was the fact that the Queen and Prince Philip had separate bedrooms. Having cut my reading teeth on a steady diet of Princess stories as a child to a steady diet of tooth decay inducing mushy romances as a pre-pubertal girl, the idea of a separate bedroom was quite flummoxing to me. And this was much before carnal thoughts had even entered my head, the max I thought men and women got up to were kisses and those were what put babies into stomachs. But then, I am a Mumbai girl and multiple bedrooms were an indulgence given the abominable costs of Mumbai real estate back then and still are today.

Kiran Manral The Married Feminist SheThePeople

More recently, I read that Donald and Melania Trump have separate bedrooms and that Kanye West and Kim Kardashian too slept separately when she was pregnant. Then there was Helena Bonham Carter and her partner, Tim Burton who lived in adjoining houses, fiercely protective of their personal space.

Katherine Hepburn probably got the equation between the sexes right when she famously said, “Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then.” But that would be an ideal world.

Read the rest of the article: http://shethepeople.tv/the-strong-case-for-the-sleep-divorce-kiran-manral-in-the-married-feminist/

Shortlisted for Femina Women Achievers 2017 Literary Contribution

for literary contribution. In some very daunting company indeed.  In the shortlist are authors whose work I’ve read, loved and respected. Delighted and honoured to be shortlisted for the Femina Women Achievers 2017 with some rather intimidating writers like Twinkle Khanna, Anuja Chauhan, Ratika Kapur, Anuradha Roy and Roopa Pai.

Here’s the link

In the Mumbai Mirror today. Raising Feminist Boys….

“Forty-seven-year-old Goregaon resident and stock market professional Kirit Manral laments that his own upbringing was not similarly gender neutral.

“I grew up with three sisters, back in the 80s, and our roles were very clearly defined. Today, my 13-year-old son Krish, an only child, however does not associate any roles or careers with any genders — we make it a point to raise him in an environment where there are no barriers, no limitations,” he says.

Krish’s mother Kiran is an author and one of her books answers questions for boys aged 10 to 12, and on the cusp of puberty. The 45-year-old tells us, “I was raised to be a feminist by my own father. Krish sees how ferociously I fight my battles and I don’t think he has any doubt about the fact that women are no weak, meek creatures. He’s also a competitive swimmer who made it to Maharashtra state level and he has trained with both boys and girls — he knows exactly how tough girls can be. Of course we do not lay down male and female roles at home — Krish can even cook certain dishes way better than I can,” says Kiran with an air of pride.”

Read the rest of the article here


The Married Feminist this week: Of religion and marriage and what will the children follow

“Being the offspring of an inter-religious marriage, to me religion –the following of, the belief in or the lack of was never something that even crossed my mind while I grew up. I realise now how lucky I was in that my parents, all those decades ago, had the kind of idealistic marriage where my mother continued to follow her religion, my father his and I was not inducted into either. Choose what you want when you get older, they said, when I was a child and immensely envious of the special treatment the Catholic students received in the convent school I attended.  I was determined then to be a Catholic, the religion my mother followed. My father, a lapsed Muslim, did not impose Islam on me. His method of educating me about religion was to bring me books about every religion and their founders, and the Amar Chitra Katha versions of the lives of the founders of each. By the end of it all, for better or for worse, I was no closer to deciding what religion I wanted to follow and ended up on the fringes of them all. The fringe is a lovely place to be though, it allows you to peek in, to observe, assimilate and step out when you choose.

Kiran Manral The Married Feminist SheThePeople

In this era of love jihads and anti-romeo squads, I wonder if they would have ever gotten married if they’d fallen in love today.  And then I then went ahead and fell in love with a very religiously inclined man, from a religion different from both my mother and father’s religions. I married him. It wasn’t something I’d bargained on when I did fall in love. You know hormones, those insufferable chemicals, they don’t really go by logic and ticking boxes, they just swarm on your brain like a plague of locusts and eat up all reasoning.”

Read the rest here


In this month’s issue of Conde Nast Traveller India

I wrote this for the June July issue of Conde Nast Traveller India.

How a road trip saved my marriage

“The night would be velvet dark when we left, the morning 
star yet to peep out from beyond the distant Eastern hills. We’d wake with the alarm dinning consciousness into our sleep-addled brains, have a quick shower, grab our duffel bags packed with a week’s worth of clothes and tiptoe out, trying not to disturb the household.

Down in the parking lot, our trusted green Zen awaited us, the second
 car we owned, a tin can of hope and anticipation. It would be home and transport for the next couple of weeks or so while we drove out to wherever the road took us. Those were days when our hearts were young and stout, unstriated by the cares of what the years would soon throw at us. The most careworn we ever were back then was while nursing a well-earned hangover. We were in our twenties, the spouse and I. Middle age was a lifetime, a cut uterus and a slowing metabolism away.”

Read the rest here

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