Monthly Archives: September 2012

A salary plan that changes nothing – MAYA JOHN, The Hindu

Instead of asking a man to pay his wife for her domestic work, the state must create jobs for women outside the home in order to truly empower them

Recently during a press conference called by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, the Minister of State (Independent Charge), Krishna Tirath, proposed the formulation of a bill through which a certain percentage of a husband’s salary would be compulsorily transferred to his wife’s bank account to compensate her for all the domestic work she performs for the family. According to the Minister, this percentage of husbands’ salaries would not be taxed and would provide women the much needed source of income to run the household better, and more importantly, to spend on her own, personal consumption. In a later clarification, the Minister identified this payment as an “honorarium” and not a salary which is to be paid to wives for all the services they otherwise render for free.

This proposition has not gone down well, especially with women of higher income brackets who see such proposed action as unnecessary intervention in the realm of the private, i.e. the realm of familial relations. Many such women also believe that this government intervention amounts to reducing wives into “glorified maids” who need to be paid every time they walk into the kitchen, wash the baby, sweep the house, etc. Sadly, what is sidelined amid all the clamour and jokes about commercialisation of the mia-biwi relationship is the necessity of recognising the back-breaking work performed by women to sustain their families. Of course, what we also lose sight of is the sheer hollowness of such proposed legislation. For example, such legislation, if implemented, would not provide women a source of income which they earn independently of their husbands. Instead, women would continue to depend on their husband’s earnings and employment status, and thus, remain dependent on the family structure for their individual financial sustenance.Indeed, the problem with the proposed legislation is not that it is unnecessary and demeaning, but that it is informed by a poor understanding of economics surrounding household work and women’s labour in general. Clearly, the question then is whether the Indian state is even serious about uplifting the position of the woman within the home and in recognising her contribution to the national economy.

Historical issue

Assigning an economic value to women’s domestic labour is a long-standing debate. The international women’s movement has continuously debated the question and reached many important conclusions. It is now time for the larger society to engage with the movement’s propositions seriously. First, as a society we must learn to accept that there is sheer drudgery involved in day-to-day household work. The fact that such work is performed by a woman for her husband and other family members in the name of “care” and “nurturing” cannot be used to conceal that this is a thankless job which the majority of women feel burdened by. Just because some women do not have to enter the kitchen every day since their maid does the needful, we cannot write-off the helplessness with which the average woman walks towards her kitchen hearth, every day without fail. Here, there is no retirement age, no holiday, and definitely, no concept of overtime.

Second, we must realise that the process whereby women’s domestic labour has been rendered uneconomic activity, is a historical one. It was with the emergence of industrial society and the resulting separation between the home and the workplace that women’s housework lost value whereas men’s labouroutside the home fetched wages. Third, as a society we must accept that while many are uncomfortable with providing an economic value to women’s domestic labour, chores such as washing, cleaning, cooking, child rearing, etc., are already assigned such a value by the market when need be. After all, many middle-class homes buy such services through the hiring of maids, paying for playschool education, crèche facilities, etc. Fourth, women’s domestic labour must be accounted for in the economy precisely because it is one of the contributing forces in the reproduction of labour power expended by this country’s working masses. In fact, because a woman’s domestic labour is devalued by the economy, a man’s wage can be kept low. For example, if all families were to pay every day for services like washing, cooking, cleaning, etc., because women of the household did not perform such duties, the breadwinners of each family would need to be paid higher wages so that they can afford to buy such services off the market.

The solution

This being the reality surrounding women’s unpaid, domestic labour, where does the actual solution lie? Does it lie in redistributing limited family incomes between husband and wife, or, in redistributing the national income so as to enhance individual family incomes, and hence, the woman’s share within the improved family consumption? Importantly, while pressing for valuation of women’s domestic labour, the progressive women’s movement has always argued that if the value of unpaid housework is paid but does not add to or increase the total household income, such remuneration amounts to nothing.Hence, one of the most important conclusions reached on this question of unpaid domestic labour is that the state should pay for it, especially by providing women gainful employment, special funding, subsidised home appliances, free health care, etc. In this way, women would earn through an independent source of income and be freed of an overt dependence on the family structure for their consumption. There would also be a gradual undermining of the sexual division of labour which has resulted in women being tied to their homes and unable to do little else.

Of course, what has not won much attention so far is the fact that the proposed legislation posits wages for housework rather than employment for women as a long-term solution. Indeed, questions have been raised whether the proposed legislation is implementable, but not whether it does the needful. For example, will the government be able to put in place the required administrative machinery? How exactly is the value of women’s household work to be calculated, or simply put, how many bais will equal a wife? Will the number of family members she rears determine whether she is entitled to greater compensation? And what of widowed women who do not have a husband’s salary to draw on?

Absolves the state

However, implementation is far from the real problem with such legislation. Mechanisms can always be put in place if administrative sincerity prevails. The real problem with the Ministry’s endeavour is the rationale by which it is driven. The proposed legislation should be criticised because it absolves the Indian state of the responsibility it owes to women who contribute daily in sustaining the national economy. Indeed, if the proposed legislation is formulated and implemented, it will only result in undervaluing and underpaying women’s domestic labour.

To elucidate, if we actually sit down to calculate the cost of all the different household chores a wife does for free, the figure would easily touch amounts that in no way can be compensated by a small percentage of the husband’s wages. Furthermore, with varied family incomes, such legislation would result in women being remunerated differently for the same kind and same amount of domestic work. In the case of the average working class or lower-middle class family where the total family income is anywhere between Rs.2,000 to Rs.10,000 per month, such legislation would assign women a pittance as an economic value for their back-breaking housework. This pittance will not empower the woman as the total family income remains the same. Without a growth in the actual family income, neither will such families be able to change their consumption pattern, nor will the nature of household work change so as to enable women to do other things instead of just labouring at home.

Clearly then, the issue at stake is how to minimise housework for women so that they too can step out of the home to earn, to enhance family incomes and to have greater say in family as well as public matters. Greater employment generation for women by the state, and widespread introduction of facilities like crèches at all workplaces, subsidised home appliances, unhindered promotion post child birth/maternity leave, etc. are the need of the hour. While direct employment helps to create women who are financially independent, the provision of the latter helps women to remain in the labour market, despite starting a family. If the average woman is to be freed of the yoke of household drudgery then it is evidently the Indian state which has to pay by creating concrete conditions for her greater economic participation outside the home.

(Maya John is an activist and researcher based in Delhi University.)



IIT girls wants to abide by ‘femininity’

While there are so many fundamental rights denied for Women, it is a shame to notice IIT calls setting up for a beauty Parlor for women in their campus a student friendly gesture. It is even more shameful to notice that the so called ‘intelligentsia’ women folks seemed to be overwhelmed by this approval from the management.

While the women outside their (Brahmin) walls is fighting against consumerism, gender stereotyping, fighting for rights to women’s development, there has not been a single day without violence against women, I have not come across one sensible proposal from these IITian women calling to end these violence and discrimination against women, further to that they express their happiness and gratitude for branding them ‘girls’..

Thank you girls….you are the future of Indian Women’s Freedom movement………….

Girls are you aware of the this casteist discrimination in your institution………….

A ‘beautiful’ chance for girls at IIT-Madras – TOI

M Ramya, TNN Sep 25, 2012, 07.22AM IST

“Most of us head to salons at least once a month. This will make life very convenient for us,” said Radhika Menon (name changed), a resident student on campus.

Others said this would help them avoid fixing up appointments that most beauty salons insist on. “We would also like to get the girly stuff done at our convenience. After all, a trip to a parlour is also about relaxing,” said Shraddha Sagar, another resident.

A 24-hour canteen on the campus, a long-standing request, is set to come up soon. “Many of us study late into the night, particularly during quizzes (internal tests). Most times we are forced to go hungry as we can’t find anything edible. A 24-hour canteen is most welcome,” said second year BTech student Nikhil Sharma.

Some redundant facilities, such as the STD booth, will be removed, and the travel agency at the students’ facilities centre replaced with a railway tatkal counter. A power laundry service will come up in two weeks. A free photocopying facility was set up earlier this month.

After a ‘hunger strike’ at the Himalaya mess last academic year against the poor quality food, students have helped draw up a new tender process and introduced a performance audit clause according to which the payment for the caterers would be reduced in case there was a consistent negative feedback from students.

“All these efforts are being made to ensure that students can concentrate on academics. They should be able to have fun, and at the back of our mind is also the fact that students should feel that they can trust the faculty and institute management,” said a faculty member.


Evil, Women and the Feminine

5th Global Conference
Evil, Women and the Feminine

Saturday 18th May – Monday 20th May 2013
Prague, Czech Republic

Call for Presentations: 
“A wanton woman is the figure of imperfection; in nature an ape, in quality a wagtail, in countenance a witch, and in condition a kind of devil”
Nicholas Breton, 1615

Despite the attempts of feminists the conjunction between evil and the feminine seems unbroken. Established as secondary, derivative and hence inferior, women have been long suspected of being the source of human (though more often masculine) miseries, always in cahoots with the forces of evil and destruction. Paradoxically, at the same time, some have also been put on the pedestal and lauded as ideals of purity and dedication, yet these paragons only proved the rule that, on average, the feminine/woman equals imperfect and transgressive. Mischievous, beguiling, seductive, lascivious, unruly, carping, vengeful and manipulative – these are only a few of the epithets present in cultures and literatures across the world. In grappling with our understanding of what it is to be and do ‘evil’, the project aims to explore the possible sources of the fear and hatred of women and the feminine as well as their manifestations and pervasiveness across times, cultures and media.

This interdisciplinary project invites scholars, artists, writers, theologians, sociologists, psychologists, historians, etc. to present papers, reports, work-in-progress, art pieces and workshops on issues related but definitely not limited to the following themes:

– Evil Women and Feminine Evil: Vices and Sins of Women
– Representing and Misrepresenting the Female; Evil Women ‘Talking Back’
– Motherhood; Monstrous Motherhood; Infertility and its Meaning across Cultures
– Monstrous Births and Infanticide
– Matriarchy / Matricide / Spouse Murder
– Devious Sexuality and Feminine Perversions
– Women and/as the Abject; Unnatural Women/Femininity
– Menstruation, Castration
– Fears and Myths: Feminine Blood, Witchcraft, Vamp(ires)s, Sirens, Harpies, Lamias, etc.
– Anthropological and Historical Perspectives on Evil Feminine and Femaleness
– The Evil Woman in Literature, Religion, Medicine, Law across Times and Cultures
– Psychoanalytic Perspectives: ‘Vagina Dentata,’ ‘the Wandering Womb,’ ‘Poisonous Look’ etc.
– Sexualizing the Female or Evil Objectification
– Trans-Cultural Conceptualisations of Femme Fatale vs the Perfect Woman
– Women and (Misuse of) Power
– Evil Beauty; the Meaning of Hair and Make-up
– Evil, Feminine in Fantasy, Fairy Tales, Horror, Thriller
– Evil, Feminine in Mythologies and Religions across the world
– Case Studies: Evil Women on the Agenda

The Steering Group particularly welcomes the submission of pre-formed panel proposals. Papers will also be considered on any related theme.

What to Send:
300 word abstracts should be submitted by Friday 30th November 2012. If an abstract is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper should be submitted by Friday 15th February 2013. 300 word abstracts should be submitted simultaneously to both Organising Chairs; abstracts may be in Word, WordPerfect, or RTF formats with the following information and in this order:

a) author(s), b) affiliation, c) email address, d) title of abstract, e) body of abstract, f) up to 10 keywords.
E-mails should be entitled: EWF5 Abstract Submission.

Please use plain text (Times Roman 12) and abstain from using footnotes and any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold, italics or underline). We acknowledge receipt and answer to all paper proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you should assume we did not receive your proposal; it might be lost in cyberspace! We suggest, then, to look for an alternative electronic route or resend.

Organising Chairs:

Natalia Kaloh Vid:
Rob Fisher:

The conference is part of the At the Interface programme of research projects. It aims to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore various discussions which are innovative and exciting. All papers accepted for and presented at the conference will be eligible for publication in an ISBN eBook. Selected papers may be developed for publication in a themed hard copy volume(s). All publications from the conference will require editors, to be chosen from interested delegates from the conference.

For further details of the conference, please visit:

Please note: Inter-Disciplinary.Net is a not-for-profit network and we are not in a position to be able to assist with conference travel or subsistence.

India- Dalit woman gang-raped at gunpoint, then filmed #VAW – Kractivist

TNN and NDTV  | Sep 27, 2012,

PILLU KHERA (JIND): Haryana is rapidly climbing up the gender crime graph in India. A week after the rape of a dalit schoolgirl rocked Hisar, another case of gangrape came to light on Wednesday – a  30 yeard old Dalit woman and mother  of sic year old girl  has been gang-raped in her home at gunpoint. The attack in the Jind district was also filmed on a phone camera and the MMS was circulated in her village.

The police said that two of the three alleged rapists have been arrested.. In the earlier case of gangrape of a 16-year-old girl in Hisar’s Dabra village, after which the victim’s father committed suicide, the main accused are yet to be nabbed. The Jind rape caught media attention on Wednesday after a few villagers protested against police inaction and approached the SSP.

According to police, the woman in Jind, originally a resident of Dharoli village, was gang-raped around noon when she was alone at her house. Her daughter returned from school and found the house bolted from inside and heard her mother cry. She peeped inside and saw her mother surrounded by the three men. Neighbours were alerted when the girl started screaming for help but the assailants escaped. The neighbours simply went back and didn’t call the cops.

Pillu Khera police said the victim came to the station that evening accompanied by her husband, a mason and gave a statement, naming two of the three youths as sons of Azad Singh, an upper caste man, and Mahavir Singh, a dalit from Dharoli. Head constable Mahender Singh said a case was registered under Section 376 (rape) of IPC and a manhunt has been launched.

Jind SSP Saurabh Singh said one of the accused Suraj Kumar, son of Mahavir Singh and Sandeep’s father Azad Singh were arrested on Wednesday. Azad has been accused of sheltering his son, who is absconding.

Regarding the MMS clip made by the accused, the SSP said, “As of now, the police do not have any material evidence. Still, we are invest-igating and if we get any proof, we will slap charges.” He said the victim’s family has also sought police protection on Wednesday.

Seven more arrested for Hisar gangrape

Meanwhile, Haryana police on Wednesday arrested seven people in connection with a 16-year-old dalit girl’s gangrape in Hisar district‘s Dabra village on September 9. But the main accused, Mahender, who is said to wield political clout in the region, remains on the run.

Police said the seven were arrested from Almora of Uttarakhand. “Nine accused in the case have been arrested now. Two of them were nabbed two days back. Rest of the accused will be arrested soon,” said DGP Ranjiv Singh Dalal. He said that the Hisar superintendent of police had been directed to approach the district and sessions judge with a request to set up a fast track court to hear the case.

Related articles


Update on Gayathri’s case

M.A.S.E.S had exposed the student’s agitation in Thiruchengode  following a student’s death in campus.

After MASES had posted this news, there was a counter response in F.B from saying that the news about rape is a rumor.

There were abusive comments posted in the blog-post, but there were also concern and outcry expressed in the comments. I had written personally to those people who expressed their deep concerns about the steps taken by MASES, I even spoke to a person who said he is deeply hurt by this oppression by Management against further investigation.

From the day this news was posted I had been talking to many people and was exploring the next step. I was checking with few people to organize fact finding team. Each of them had their own Ideas and agendas which has actually put me in depression, because I could not arrive at a concrete plan. (The. no. of phone calls I have made to different people talking about this and wanting to go further is limitless). Later I was told that a Progressive organization and a student’s organization is also working on this case.

Yesterday I received a call from an important activist who shared with me that a protest is going to be staged which gave me some relief. Today I notice that a protest has been staged by ‘Aadhi Thamizhar Peravai’ outside collector’s office.

MASES is in Solidarity with  ‘Aadhi Thamizhar Peravai’

Protest seeking CB-CID probe into student’s death turns violent


SHARE  ·   COMMENT   ·   PRINT   ·   T+
Special ArrangementThe government bus that was set ablaze by miscreants at Ayyampalayam on Monday.

Police suspect that persons attached to Adi Tamilar Peravai could have torched it

Police chased away protestors belonging to the Adi Tamilar Peravai (ATP), who pelted stones on them at the demonstration held in front of the Collectorate in Namakkal on Monday.

Protestors led by ATP founder president R. Adhiyaman blocked vehicles on the busy Tiruchengode Road in front of the Collectorate, seeking CB-CID inquiry into the death of V. Gayathri (19), who was found hanging in her college hostel in Tiruchengode earlier this month.

About 800 people, including relatives of the girl and party cadre, staged a demonstration for which they had not obtained police permission.

Namakkal Deputy Superintendent of Police P. Annamalai tried to pacify the crowd, but in vain. Vehicle movement came to a standstill following the protest.

The demonstrators fled the spot after police arrested Adhiyaman and a few others. Police arrested 322 people, including 17 women. They were taken to a marriage hall at Nallipalayam. They were later released.

Meanwhile, a government bus attached to Kumbakonam Division that was parked for repair at Ayyampalayam, near the Collectorate, was torched by miscreants, who reportedly threw a petrol bomb into it.

Fire service personnel put out the fire, but by then half the bus was damaged.

The incident took place a couple of hours after the arrests. While no direct link between the arrests and the fire incident could be established, police suspect that persons attached to ATP could have torched it.

A few youth attached to ATP were picked up for preliminary investigation. Salem Range Deputy Inspector General of Police Sanjay Kumar, Namakkal Superintendent of Police P. Kannammal, and Namakkal Regional Transport Officer R. Rajinikanth visited the spot.

Brutal attack by police on a woman

Kalaignar News T.V today morning reported a violence in Ajmer, Police had unleashed demolition of houses in a area in Ajmer. The residents of the house tried blocking that and opposing that. Police started beating up the people who were opposing it. Police unleashed brutal violence on a women who was trying to protect her house. The video showed the woman being dragged to ground, a women police half-sitting on the ground punching her continuously. The woman kept crying and shouting out of pain. There were many public witnessing the violence. Later the beaten up woman was taken away. Public was shattered out of fear.

இன்று காலை கலைஞர் செய்திகளில் அஜ்மீரில் நடந்த ஒரு வன்முறை சம்பவம் ஒளிபரப்பாகியது. அங்கிருக்கும் குடியிருப்புகளை இடித்துத் தள்ளும் வேலையில் காவல்துறை ஈடுபட்டது. குடியிருப்புவாசிகள் அதை தடுக்க முயன்றனர், எதிர்த்தனர். உடனே காவல்துறை கண்மூடித்தனமான தாக்குதலில் ஈடுபட்டது. ஒரு பெண்ணை சரமாரியாக தாக்கினர். அவர் தரையில் வீழ்ந்த பின்னரும் ஒரு பெண் காவலர் அவரை அடித்துக் கொண்டேயிருந்தார். அப்பெண் வலியால் கத்திக் கொண்டேயிருந்தார். பொது மக்கள் வேடிக்கை பார்த்துக் கொண்டிருந்தனர். பின்னர் தாக்கப்பட்ட பெண் அழைத்து செல்லப்பட்டார். பீதியால் மக்கள் கலைந்து சென்றனர்.


Related Links:

M.A.S.E.S – Draft Agenda


Sexual exploitation and discrimination in the society operates on various platforms. It is being extremely revered and admired. Formation of a forum or a movement would enable a focused approach in oppose these exploitation. The founder believes that Marxist-Feminist-Socialist approach would help theoretically in de-constructing the existing Patriarchal Ideologies and guide us in constructive approach.  The founder also adapts the preaching of Periyar and Ambedkar for emancipation of women. This is a Leftist, progressive movement to fight for egalitarian society.  There are many political organization fighting for women’s rights, they are equally loaded with tons of issues in the society, it needs a special focus to liberate the mass from the media myth, with a feminist focus.

This movement was formed with an objective to create awareness, expose, fight against discrimination based on caste, creed, color, religion, gender and would like to work beyond these differences and being a part of a political party, NGO etc., The focus of this organization is to expose, create awareness, fight against Gender stereotyping, gender discrimination, sexual exploitation in Media. It would also fight against or support other discrimination issues by joining hands with other existing organization or fight individually as per the demand of the situation.


1.  Expose, create awareness, fight against Gender stereotyping, gender discrimination, sexual exploitation and sexist arguments, demeaning third gender in Mass Media (esp. television and cinema).

2.  To recommend self-governing rules to such sexist groups.

3.  To identify, point out the Patriarchal, male chauvinistic, exploitative influences in the sexual freedom thoughts recommended for women and liberate women and the society as a whole  from media myth.

4.  To recommend governing councils of respective media to implement self-regulating rules. In case of non-response, approaching court, human rights commission and seek some regulation.

5.  While every institutional approach fails – To Propagate especially to Women, suggesting them to boycott such people who have humiliated, exploited, contributed in indecent representation of women in Media and in general public. The suggestion would be extended to the society as a whole.

6.         To demand economical justice for subalterns.

Dangers of Male dominant Obscenity:

1.         Women and gender queer are humiliated. They are being objectified as mere sexual Objects.

2.         These representation propagate wrong ideology about women, women’s freedom and distracts women’s fight for emancipation.

3.         Obscenity / Porns triggers sexual desire in an extremist manner and it results in psychic maniac expression, turning to be violent against women. Rape of women and children escalate.

4.         Women are influenced to work against women (glorifying class difference, personality difference etc)

5.         People’s intellect are captivated and directed towards sexual consumerism and are distracted from social consciousness. (The mass media representation of women plays an important role in social perception of women. There are sexist, racist notion, humiliation based on physical challenge etc. our movement would concentrate with special focus in exposing such representation. We would like to document each and every discriminating representation and sexual exploitation and initiate a debate on it, demand remedial action wherever possible).

6.         We would also support other such organizations.

List of few initiatives to be taken:

1. To work in the ideological sphere and expose the sexual exploitation and sexist representation in Mass Media. This is the primary focus. If other issues are brought to the knowledge of the movement and help sought, we will do our best to help the needy.

2.  To debate and draft the opposing tools and modes.

3.  To list out requirements based on the opposing method.

4.   To distribute the responsibilities amongst volunteers.

5.   To draft the final Manifesto for the movement.

6.    To fight against humiliation of physically challenged or differently abled people and children.

7.    To expose, fight against sexual exploitation, sexual humiliation, and sexual discrimination based on Nationality, Religion, caste, color, Race and creed .

8.    To To expose, fight against sexual exploitation, sexual humiliation, and sexual discrimination on subalterns.

9.   To expose, fight against wage difference based on gender.

10.  To expose, fight against wage difference based on Nationality, Religion, caste, color, Race, physical appearance and creed.

11.   To run a blog (this is a zero fund movement, so website etc is not affordable) to disseminate awareness and knowledge about the above listed discrimination and movement initiatives.

Primary importance is given to documentation – request is made to supporters, volunteers to contribute to the movement by sharing content / news releases / articles / pictures / movies / posters / incidents of such exploitation.  You could spread a word about the movement to your circle.

It’s been 6 months since the launch of this movement, it takes baby steps. We did a launch program on 10th March 2012. I have no resource to hold monthly meetings, run the organization in a typical way. It’s purely an individual effort and work, with a moral support from network of online community.

The movement believes in democratic speech and would welcome contributing articles from all except the ones which disseminate right wing-male chauvinistic ideologies.

This is not an NGO, Political Party, Alliance of any Political Group etc., As an Individual I (kotravai) started this Movement out of my own concern and am seeking help from People who have similar concern.


  1. This is just a preliminary draft and suggestions are welcome.
  2. There is no Hierarchy in this organization. The founder is the moderator; we welcome coordinators, consultants and volunteers to join us.

The draft agenda was made during the launch and now translated from Tamil:

மதிப்பிற்குறிய வேலைக்காரி – மொழிபெயர்ப்பு கட்டுரை

Maid of honour – Antara Dev Sen, Deccan Chronicle

மொழிபெயர்ப்பு – வெங்கடேசன் நீலகிருஷ்ணன்.

மீண்டும் இது துவக்கத்திற்கு இட்டுச்செல்கிறது. நம் நன்மதிப்புமிக்க ஆனால் இறுதியை எதிர் நோக்கிக் கொண்டிருக்கும் முட்டாள்தனமான அரசாங்கம் மற்றுமொரு புதுமையான வரைவுடன் வந்திருக்கிறது. வெளிப்படையாகவே அது கணவனிடமிருந்து வீட்டுப் பராமரிப்பை மேற்கொள்ளும் இல்லத்தரசிகளுக்கு ஊதியத்தைப் பெறும் வழியை யோசித்துக் கொண்டிருக்கிறது.

’’நல்லது, ஊதியம் என்றில்லை.. இதனை என்னவென்று அழைக்கலாம்? வெகுமதி அல்லது வேறு ஏதேனும் பெயரிட்டுக் கொள்ளலாம்’’ என்று சொல்லியிருக்கிறார், பெண்கள் மற்றும் குழந்தைகள் மேம்பாட்டுத் துறை அமைச்சர் கிருஷ்ணா தீரத்.

இதிலுள்ள அசௌகரியம் தெளிவாகவே புலனாகிறது.. இல்லத்தின் கம்பீரமான பெண்மணியான நீங்கள், உங்கள் கணவரின் இதய தெய்வமான நீங்கள், உங்கள் குழந்தைகளுக்கு அருமையான நல்ல வழிகாட்டியான நீங்கள், மாறுபாடுகளைக் கொண்டவரும், ஆனால் பணிவான மருமகளான நீங்கள், மிகுந்த இரக்கமுள்ளதும் அதிகாரமுள்ள பெண்ணான நீங்கள், வீட்டுப் பராமரிப்பிற்காக கூலி பெறும் ஒரு வேலைக்காரியின் நிலைக்கு உங்களைத் தாழ்த்திக் கொள்வீர்களா? அநேகமாக மாட்டீர்கள்.

ஆனால் நியாயமாக இந்த வரைவானது நிச்சயமாக உங்களைப் போன்றவர்களுக்கானதல்ல. இந்த மசோதா தாங்கள் தங்கள் வாழ்க்கை முழுவதையும் எந்த பிரதிபலனும் பார்க்காமல் தன் குடும்பத்திற்காகவே அர்ப்பணித்துக் கொண்டும், வீட்டைப் பரமாரித்துக் கொண்டு குழந்தைகளை வளர்த்துக் கொண்டிருக்கும் லட்சக்கணக்கான பெண்களுக்கானது. முதுமையில் பலமிழந்த காலத்தில் புறக்கணிக்கப்பட்டு எந்த சேமிப்பும் இல்லாமல் வேறெங்கும் போக வழியில்லாத தங்கள் சொத்துக்களையெல்லாம் பிரியமான குழந்தைகளுக்கு அளித்த பின் அவர்களாலேயே விரட்டியடிக்கப்பட்டவர்களுக்கானது.

ஆம், பொருளாதாரச் சுதந்திரம், நாம் அனைவரும் இப்பொழுது உணர்ந்து கொண்டபடி பொருளாதாரச் சுதந்திரம் பெண்கள் முன்னேற்றத்தில் பெரும்பங்கு வகிக்கிறது. இதற்கு முன்னரும் கூட இந்தியாவில் இல்லத்தரசிகளுக்கான தொழிற்சங்கம் நிறுவுவதற்கான முயற்சிகள் மேற்கொள்ளப்பட்டிருக்கிறது. ஆனால் இல்லத்தரசிகளுக்கான கூலி என்ற பொதுவான கோரிக்கை புதிதானதல்ல. 1925-இல் வெளியான wages for wives என்ற ஹாலிவுட் நகைச்சுவை இல்லத்தரசி எவ்வளவு வேலைகளைச் செய்கிறாள் என்பதையும் அவள் கணவனின் வருமானத்தில் பாதியை ஏன் கோருகிறாள் என்பதையும் நியாயப்படுத்தியது. தவிர, பல தசாப்தங்களாக பெண்ணுரிமைக்குப் போராடுவர்களும் கூட இல்லத்தரசிகளுக்கான ஊதியத்தைக் கோரிக்கொண்டிருக்கின்றனர். அப்படியிருக்க ஏன் நாம் இந்த பரிந்துரையினால் பெரிதும் மகிழ்ச்சியடையக் கூடாது?

ஏனெனில் பெண்களுக்கு அதிகாரமளித்து மேம்படுத்துவதற்குப் பதில், இந்த வரைவு அவர்களை மேலும் கீழ்நிலைப்படுத்திவிடும்.

முதற்கண் துணைவியானவள் திருமண பந்தத்தில் சம உரிமை கொண்டவளாக இருக்க வேண்டும். அவளை வீட்டுப் பரமாரிப்புக்காக கூலி பெரும் நிலைக்குத் தள்ளுவதென்பது அவளை அவமதிப்பது மட்டுமல்ல; குடும்ப அதிகாரச் சமநிலை உறவுகளையும் இது வெகுவாகப் பாதிக்கும். அனைத்திற்கும் மேல் வீட்டு வேலைக்காரிக்கு இருக்கும் சுதந்திரம்  கூட அவளுக்கு இல்லாமல் போய்விடும். அவள் கிட்டத்தட்ட ஒரு கொத்தடிமையைப் போல், வெளியேறவும் முடியாமல், அவளைச் சுற்றியிருக்கும் சிறந்தவற்றைத் தெரிவு செய்யவும் முடியாமல் அவளது விதி பிரிக்க முடியாத அளவிற்கு அவளது எஜமானனின் குடும்பத்துடன் பின்னிப்பிணைந்து விடும்.

இரண்டாவதாக, திருமண பந்தத்தில் சம உரிமை கொண்டவளாக, துணைவியானவள் தன் துணையின் வருமானம் மற்றும் சொத்துக்களில் சரிபாதிக்கு உரிமையானவள். அவளுக்குத் தன் கணவனின் வருமானத்தில் ஒரு சிறு பகுதியைத் தருவதென்பது ஏமாற்று வேலையாக இருக்கும்.

மூன்றாவதாக, இந்தியாவில், வருவாய் பெண்களுக்கான சுதந்திரத்தையோ பெண்கள் மேம்பாட்டையோ உறுதி செய்யவில்லை. கணவன் தன் மனைவியின் வருமானத்தைத் தக்கவைத்துக் கொள்வதை வாடிக்கையாகக் கொண்டுள்ளான். மேலும் மனைவியானவள் இன்னும் வீட்டிற்குள் கூட முடிவெடுக்கும் அதிகாரம் கொண்டவளாகியிருக்கவில்லை. 2005-06-இன் ஒரு தேசிய குடும்ப நல ஆய்வறிக்கையின்படி(NFHS) திருமணமான பெண்களில் 20 முதல் 24 சதவிகிதத்தினரே தங்கள் சம்பாத்தியத்தைத் தங்கள் கட்டுப்பாட்டில் கொண்டுள்ளனர். எஞ்சியவர்கள், அதாவது கிட்டத்தட்ட ஐந்தில் நான்கு பெண்களின் வருமானம் முழுவதுமோ அல்லது அதில் பெரும்பகுதியோ அவளது கணவனாலோ அல்லது மற்றவர்களாலோ கட்டுப்படுத்தப்படுகிறது.

நான்காவதாக, அவள் வீட்டில் செய்யும் வேலைகளுக்காக அவளது கணவனிடமிருந்து அவனது வருமானத்தின் பகுதியைப் பெற்றுத் தரும் யோசனை தவறானது. குறைபாடுகளைக் கொண்டது. கணவன் பணியிலிருந்து ஓய்வு பெறும்போது மனைவியின் வருமானம் நின்று விடுகிறது, ஆனால் அவளது வேலை தொடர்ந்து கொண்டிருக்கிறது. அவள் இப்பொழுது முதுமையடைந்து விட்டதால் அவளது பணி மிகுந்த சிரமமானதாகவே இருக்கும். வேலையின் மீதான எதிர்பார்ப்புகள் முன்னமிருப்பது போலவே தொடரும்பொழுது, ஒரு ஊதியக் கட்டமைப்பில் வருமானம் எதேச்சதிகாரமாக நிறுத்தப்படக்கூடாது(அல்லது திடீரென்று குறைந்து விடக்கூடாது-கணவனின் ஓய்வூதியத்தின் சிறு பகுதியை அவளது வருமானமாக எடுத்துக் கொள்ளும்போது).

ஐந்தாவதாக, வர்த்தகம் சாராத, மதிப்பிடமுடியாத ஒன்றிற்கு இவ்வாறான சந்தை சார்ந்த அணுகுமுறை நியாயமற்றது. அர்ப்பணிப்பு உணர்வை, ஈடுபாட்டை, மனைவி மட்டும் தாயின் அபரிமிதமான உரிமை கொண்டாடும் உணர்வை எவ்விதம் ஒருவர் பணத்தினைக் கொண்டு நிர்ணயம் செய்ய இயலும்? வீட்டுப் பராமரிப்பிற்குக் கணக்கு பார்ப்பது முற்றிலும் தவறானது. மேலும் வீட்டைப் பராமரிப்பதற்காகத் தங்கள் வேலையைத் துறந்தவர்களுக்கு இது ஈடு செய்யப்போவதில்லை. அவளுடைய வேலைகளில் இதுவும் ஒன்றாக எடுத்துக் கொள்ளப்படுவதில்லை. உணர்வுசார்ந்தும் அறிவுசார்ந்தும் உடலுழைப்பில் ஈடுபடும் துணைவி மற்றும் அன்னையரின் பணிகள் எப்பொழுதும் கருத்தில் கொள்ளப்படாது.

ஆறாவதாக, இந்த வரைவின்படி மனைவியானவள் எப்பொழுதும் தன் கணவனை விட அதிகமாக சம்பாதித்துவிட முடியாது அல்லது அவள் ஒரு பெரு நிறுவனத்தில் வேலை செய்வதாக சொல்லிக்கொள்ள இயலாது. அனைத்தையும் கருத்தில்கொண்டு பார்க்கும்பொழுது நாம் இல்லத்தரசிகளை அடக்கி ஒரு வரையறுக்கப்பட்ட ஒப்பீட்டின் கீழ் நிலையிலேயே வைத்துக் கொண்டிருக்கிறோம். அவள் எப்பொழுதுமே தன் கணவனுக்கு அடிமையாகவே, குறைந்த ஊதியம் பெறுபவளாக, ஒரு நல்ல மனைவியாக, தாயாக வார்த்தைகளில் வடிக்க இயலாத நற்செயல்கள் செய்பவர்கள் எதனையும் பெறாதவர்களாவே இருக்கிறார்கள்.

ஏழாவதாக பெண்கள் தங்கள் பொருளாதாரச் சுதந்திரத்திற்கு அவளது கணவனைச் சார்ந்திருப்பது குறைக்கப்படவேண்டுமேயன்றி அதிகப்படுத்தக் கூடாது.

ஆக, பெண்ணியவாதிகள் இல்லத்தரசிகளுக்காக ஊதியம் கோரிக் கொண்டிருந்ததெல்லாம் தவறானதா? நாம் இன்னும் கொஞ்சம் தெளிவாக பார்க்கலாம். சமூகத்திற்கும், குடும்பத்திற்கும் செய்யும் பங்களிப்புக்கு அங்கீகாரம் வேண்டும், உழைப்புக்குப் பணமதிப்பு வேண்டும் எனும் தீவிர தேவையிலிருந்து பெண்ணியவதிகளின்  அறைகூவல் கிளம்பியது. கவனிப்பது, கணக்கில் கொள்வது, மதிப்பளிப்பது எனும் தேவைகளை அது முன்னிறுத்துகிறது. பெண்கள் செய்யும் வேலைக்கு எல்லையே இல்லை, ஆனாலும் அது அங்கீகரிக்கப்படுவதில்லை. இந்த கூவலானது உரிமை, சட்டபேறு பற்றியது, பணம் பற்றியது மட்டுமல்ல. மறைக்கப்படுவது, உரிமை நிராகரிப்பு மற்றும் சமூக நிராகரிப்பு பற்றிய பிரச்சனை இது. பணம் என்பது ஒரு எல்லைவரை மதிப்பைக் கொடுக்கிறது. உங்களை, உங்கள் குடும்பத்தை பாதிக்கும் விசயங்கள் குறித்து முடிவெடுக்கும் சுதந்திரத்தை அது வழங்குகிறது அவ்வளவுதான்.

மணமான பெண்களின் பொருளாதார மேம்பாட்டிற்கு அவள் சம உரிமை கொண்டவளாக இருப்பதை, தன் கணவனின் சொத்துக்கள், முதலீடுகள் போன்றவற்றை கையாளும் உரிமை கொண்டவளாய் இருப்பதை உறுதி செய்ய வேண்டியதிருக்கிறது. மனைவியின் வருமானத்தின் மீது கணவனுக்கும் அத்தகைய உரிமை உண்டு.  திருமணம் என்பது சமமான பங்கீடைப் பற்றியது, ஒருவர் முன் அலுவலகத்தைக் கவனித்தால் மற்றொருவர் பின்னால் இருக்கும் வேலைகளைக் கவனிக்கிறார்.

அரசாங்கம் பெண்களின் நிலையை உயர்த்துவதற்குப் பொதுவான சிலவற்றின் மூலம் உதவலாம். சம உரிமகளுக்கான விழிப்புணர்வை உண்டாக்குவதன் மூலமும், ஆண் பெண் செய்யும் வேலைகளுக்கு எவ்வித பாகுபாடுமில்லாமல் சம ஊதியத்தை உறுதி செய்வதன் மூலமும், பெண்களின் கல்வி நிலையை உயர்த்துவதன் மூலமும் உதவலாம். பெண்களின் பாதுகாப்பிற்காக உருவாக்கப்பட்ட சட்டங்கள் செவ்வனே பயன்படுத்தப்படுகிறதா? என்பதை உறுதி செய்ய வேண்டும்.

உதாரணத்திற்கு, குடும்ப வன்முறை சம்பந்தமான கிட்டத்தட்ட 15000 வழக்குகள் பதிவு செய்யப்பட்ட நிலையில் ஏன் ஒன்றிற்குக் கூட இன்னும் தீர்ப்பு வராமல் நிலுவையில் உள்ளது?

நிதி மேம்பாட்டிற்கு உதவும் வகையில் தம்பதியினரின் கூட்டுக் கணக்கிற்கு, இல்லத்தரசிகளின் முதலீட்டிற்கு அரசு வரிசலுகைகள் தரலாம். திருமணமானவர்கள் அது ஆணோ அல்லது பெண்ணோ, அவர்களது ஊதியம் இருவரும் சேர்ந்து துவங்கிய கூட்டுக் கணக்கில் சேர்க்குமாறு பரிந்துரைக்க முடியும். சம உரிமைகள் மற்றும் சம அணுகுமுறையை மேம்படுத்துதலில் மட்டுமே அரசின் கவனம் இருக்க வேண்டும்.

ஆனால் மிக முக்கியமாக, இன்றியமையாத, ஊதியமில்லாத வேலைகளுக்கு (சமூக மற்றும் பொருளாதார நடவடிக்கைகளில் மனைவி அல்லது தாய் ஆக்கப்பூர்வமாகவும் இணையான பங்கு வகிப்பதைப் போன்ற) அரசு வெகுமதி அளிக்க முன்வந்ததற்கு நாம் புத்துயிர் அளிக்க முடியும். இது பாராட்டுதல், மரியாதை, மேன்மை, சுயமரியாதை, கௌரவம், குடும்பத்தில் முடிவெடுக்கும் உரிமை போன்றவற்றை உள்ளடக்கியது. சுருங்கக் கூறின், நாம் பெண்களின் சேவைகளுக்கு பண நிர்ணயம் செய்வதை ஒதுக்கிவைத்துவிட்டு நல்வாழ்விற்கு மதிப்பு தருபவற்றைக் கற்றுக் கொள்ளலாம்.

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ZAMBIA: Only I Remain by Chinemu ,World Pulse

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 ZAMBIA: Only I Remain

by Chinemu  |  April 26, 2012

Despite efforts to educate the public and prevent transmission, Zambia’s HIV-infection rate hovers at 14%. Having lost her family to the pandemic, Voices of Our Future correspondent Chinemu has vowed to be an agent of healing and change.

“I was now the only surviving member of a family of five.”

“I’m on a personal campaign to encourage women to get tested and to replace ignorance with knowledge; shame with liberty.”

That Sunday, I came back from church feeling happy and looking forward to a visit with my brother at the orphanage. Before heading to the Mother Theresa’s home where my brother had been for almost a year, I rushed to the makeshift kitchen attached to my grandmother’s two-room house to get something to eat. As soon as I had finished, my granny called out to me. I hurried to her room to find her sitting on her old mattress sobbing. She hugged me tightly, in a way she hadn’t for a long time, and I couldn’t understand her gesture.

Wasala weka! Wasala weka!” cried my granny as she held me tightly to her chest. She was saying, “Only you have remained!”

Still, I couldn’t understand. I loosened myself from her; she cried uncontrollably. It wasn’t until my aunt came wailing my brother’s name that I understood: My only surviving brother, Philip, had died. I stood motionless, tears running down my face. Memories of my late mother, father, and two other siblings flooded me as if their deaths had just happened.

I was now the only surviving member of a family of five.

My brother first became sick at the age of two, after my parents died. First to pass was my father in 1992, then my mother in 1993. The only explanation offered for my brother’s illness was that he was too young to cope without motherly love.

Despite Granny trying to fill my mother’s shoes, we lacked many basic necessities and my brother’s condition deteriorated, leaving Granny no option but to take him to Mother Theresa’s home, a Catholic orphanage that also offers medical care. For a year I only saw my brother once a week. During his first six months at the orphanage, his condition improved and we were hopeful. But as his one-year anniversary at the home approached, he died.

At the funeral home, I overhead some women talking about how AIDS had wiped out my family. They were questioning where my mother had contracted the virus and were accusing her of promiscuity.

Nimatenda,” they said, meaning ‘It’s AIDS.’ “Look at how the husband died and now the children.” One woman, signaling in my direction with her eyebrows, said, “Maybe even this one is dying, too.”

Their conjectures greatly disturbed me. Throughout my brother’s funeral I was troubled, wondering how Mother, of all people, could have died from AIDS.

The women’s gossip instilled fear in me, and I started to believe I could be HIV positive and could die at any moment. Each time I saw I had lost weight I thought I was nearing my death day. To learn more about the disease, I started reading a lot of booklets on HIV/AIDS, about how it’s transmitted, and how it has no cure.

Later, I approached my granny on the topic and told her what I overheard during my brother’s funeral. She looked agitated and quickly changed the topic. AIDS was not something that was openly discussed. I let it go, but I did not give up.

Weeks passed and again I asked her about my family’s death. Her explanation was that my parents and three siblings had been bewitched by jealous relatives. This wasn’t the first time I’d heard such an explanation. Most deaths in my community were blamed on witchcraft.

For weeks I persisted until Granny finally confessed that the doctor at the orphanage had told her my brother had AIDS, though she never believed it.

“I knew my daughter. She could not die of AIDS. She was too decent to die of the disease,” Granny told me. “That’s what doctors do if they can’t find a disease; they always say its AIDS.” She warned me not to share the doctor’s remarks with anyone and assured me that I was not next to die because she had taken all precautions to prevent witches from reaching me.

This was the scenario in Zambia when the HIV/AIDS pandemic was discovered in the 1980s. No one openly talked about AIDS, and those found with the virus were stigmatized and regarded as promiscuous. Most people died silently without knowing their HIV status for fear of discrimination and name-calling.

Politicians too were reluctant to speak out on the growing pandemic. President Kenneth Kaunda’s announcement in 1987 that his son had died of AIDS was a notable exception and a milestone in breaking the silence. However it was not enough to curb the stigma there and then. In a culture that supports gender inequality, HIV prevalence is especially high among women and young girls. Women are taught never to refuse their husbands sex nor to insist on condom use. According to the AVERT HIV & AIDS report, a Zambian behavioral survey showed around 15% of women reported forced sex, although this may not be accurate since many women do not disclose this information. Women are also forced to hang on to promiscuous husbands because they lack the financial muscle to survive independently. Additionally women become sexually active earlier than men, with partners who are much older and who may have already had a number of sexual partners. Apart from being vulnerable to infection, women are the worst affected. They are the ones that bear the burden of HIV positive children, nurse their husbands, and most times look after orphans. I personally checked a local clinic to see how many men take their children in for their routine tests, and among thirty women, only one man had taken his son to the clinic. . . .

The dawn of the new millennium coincided with the enactment of the national AIDS bill in Parliament. The National Aids Council was established to coordinate the actions of all segments of government and society in the fight against HIV/ AIDS and is in charge of guiding the implementation of the National HIV and AIDS Strategic Framework (AVERT Zambia).

Within this framework, the council launched the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) program. Though the HIV virus is mostly transmitted through unprotected sexual acts, children who are born from infected mothers are at high risk of getting infected at birth and through breastfeeding, as was the case with my siblings. The project aimed to test all expectant mothers for HIV and put those found positive on antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) to weaken the virus and prevent the babies from infection during birth. The project proved effective and today every clinic that offers prenatal care has to provide counseling and testing to all expectant mothers.

When the PMTCT program started, most women shunned the services. When I was expecting my first child I saw some women refuse even the counseling services. Such incidences forced the government to introduce mandatory counseling to encourage mothers to undergo testing, although testing still remains voluntary for all expectant mothers.

PMTCT programs today have made headway. According to the UNICEF 2010 HIV/AIDS report, the number of women who have received testing for HIV has jumped from 12% in 2004 to 95% in 2009. These statistics show that women are learning more about the virus and prevention, resulting in reduced mortality rates in Zambia.

In addition, in 2004 late President Levy Mwanawasa introduced free antiretroviral drugs, including pediatric drugs, to prolong the lives of infected children.

Despite the introduction of PMTCT and better access to ARVs, there are still incidences of newborn infections where expectant mothers fail to adhere to treatment during pregnancy.

Despite all the government efforts to combat the HIV virus and protect future generations, the infection rate in Zambia has still remained high, hovering around 14% of a population of 13 million. High levels of poverty where over 65% of people survive on less than a dollar a day, alcohol abuse, and cultural pressures are the major contributors to the high infection rates.

There is much work to be done and many NGOs see women as the agents of healing and change. They have embarked on empowering women financially and academically, and the government aims to ensure 40% representation of women in Parliament to ensure that the voices of women are heard. All these efforts are yet to fully materialize and I look forward to a day when women and children will be truly liberated from the HIV/AIDS scourge.

To honor my late family, I have opted to speak out on the virus. Change begins with me. I am on a personal campaign to encourage women to get tested and to replace ignorance with knowledge; shame with liberty.