Tag Archives: gender bias

Stop Sexual intimidation of women activists – Kamyani Bali Mahabal

Petitioning National Commission for Women

A shocking event of a young woman activist who was threatened on  India’s 66th Independence day , 15th August  in Chaennai , with sexual violence and death by over a dozen men working towards vested corporate and political interests.  National Commission of Women needs to immediately interevene  and   stop Sexual intimidation of women activists .Threat to life and freedom of movement .

Petition Letter


I’ve just signed the following petition addressed to: National Commission of Women.

Ensure safety and freedom of women activists

Subject: Sexual intimidation of women activists – Threat to life and freedom of movement – Mettur incident -15.8.2012

Dear Madam/Sir

I wish to bring to your attention the shocking event of a young woman activist who was threatened on 15th August with sexual violence and death by over a dozen men working towards vested corporate and political interests.

Shreela Manohar, a 23-year old environmental health campaigner based in Chennai, has been researching and working to stop industrial pollution in Mettur for the past 4 months. She and the organisation she working with (Community Environmental Monitoring-The Other Media) have been associated with the Gonur West Agriculturists Development Union, a grassroots group of farmers in Mettur, providing the union with solidarity, techno-scientific and legal assistance and supporting their field work. Their campaign has been stonewalled consistently by industrial giants operating in Mettur, namely Chemplast and MALCO.

As part of her regular site visits to Mettur, and in particular to witness the Independence Day Gramasabha Meeting scheduled in Gonur Panchayat, Shreela had traveled to Mettur on the 13th of August. On 15th August, while heading to Gonur accompanied with farmers from the Union, Shreela was intercepted by a gang of around 15 men, led by a Mr.Kalaikovan, who threatened her with rape and murder, if she did not cease her campaigning activities in Mettur. He almost unashamedly seated himself on Shreela’s lap, squeezing himself between her and a member of the Union, on a narrow bench in a baker’s shop where Shreela was having tea. Calling himself a functionary of the ruling AIADMK party, he demanded to know why critical issues of pollution and livelihood challenges were being raised in the time of the present regime. He had accused Shreela and the Union members of having been quiet in the previous regime, using furtive political liaisons to extort money from “the company”.

Shreela was targeted by Mr.Kalaikovan, who explicitly threatened her with rape and other physical harm, besides threatening the whole group with murder. He instructed ‘his men’ to fetch cycle-chains, machetes and logs to terrify Shreela and the Union members who had to leave the place in haste. During this entire period, people at the tea shop and passers-by did nothing to intervene and watched the whole spectacle silently. The silence of people when a young woman is publicly threatened with rape and murder is a cause of extreme worry, reflecting deep cynicism and fear in the society today.

While threatening to kill her if she was seen in Mettur again, Kalaikovan had minced no words in expressing his distaste for women campaigning against industrial pollution. Shreela was effectively stopped from attending the Gramasabha meeting, purpose for her visit to Mettur that day, due to dire threat to her personal safety.

Following this incidence of threat and intimidation, when Shreela approached the officials of the Karumalaikoodal Police Station, she was met with more appalling skepticism toward the role and integrity of female activists. The Sub-Inspector of the station, after criticising Shreela for her involvement in pollution-related research in Mettur, literally alleging that the verbal molestation faced by her was her own doing, and were the repercussions of her own campaigning in Mettur. Extremely reluctant to even receive her complaint, the sub-inspector reprimanded Shreela for not notifying him of her every movement in the area.

The order of events and their implications conjure up images of acid-throwing at women bureaucrats, character assassination directed at women in assembly sessions, armed savage mob attacks and the spate of activist killings that have numbed community workers. The distressing reactions of officials in-charge is more traumatic in such circumstances. With rampant precedence for organised rowdyism resulting in gory deaths and mutilations, our anxiety and fear is rightfully justified.

I demand you immediately initiate impartial action in this regard, as a means to put our deep concerns to rest, to ensure that Shreela is secured against any further harassment, and as an assurance for the safety and freedom of women activists in India.


[Your name]

To sign the petition pl click the link below:

Creative writers speak up against #moralpolicing in Mangalore #VAW

‘There is no governance in State’

Hindu, deccan herald, TOI

Vaidehi, writer, speaking at a protest meeting in Udupi on Tuesday.
The HinduVaidehi, writer, speaking at a protest meeting in Udupi on Tuesday.
 Vaidehi, writer, said on Tuesday that the attack on the partying youth at a homestay inMangalore last week had shown that there was neither government nor governance in the State. She was speaking at a public meeting organised by the Karnataka Komu Sauharda Vedike (KKSV) and Catholic Sthree Sanghtan (CSS) to protest against the attack, here.

Ms. Vaidehi said that it was not necessary for any vigilante group to teach Hindu cultureto others. Many miscreants were forming vigilante groups for protecting Hindu culture. But they were bringing disrepute to the Hindu culture by violent and illegal acts. “It is necessary to fight such forces in a united manner,” she said.“It is not our culture to dishonour women,” she said and regretted that government is silent over the act of Hindu Jagarana Vedike activists who took law into their hands.

Stating that the Home Ministry has failed to initiate measures against the offenders, she said that there are already increasing number of female infanticide cases in the society and these incidents may compel women to take decision against giving birth to girl child.

The repeated attacks on women raised doubts about the existence of a government in the State. “What is the government doing? Where is the Home Minister? Where are theMLAs? Where are the police?” Ms. Vaidehi questioned.

Writer Sukanya Kalasa said that the activists of the vigilante group which had beaten the students at the homestay had stated that the girls were not wearing traditional outfits.

“But all the men who attacked them were wearing trousers and shirts. They should have worn the traditional ‘mundu’. They are dictating dress code to others, but not following it themselves,” she said.


It was not possible for parents to impose dress code on children. The outfits worn by people kept changing with changing times. “What happened to the students at the homestay might happen to our own children. This cannot be allowed,” Ms. Kalasa said. Sharada Bhat, writer, said that the homestay incident in Mangalore had raised doubts in the minds of people as to whether they were living in a democracy or were under the rule of Taliban.

President of district unit of Mahila Congress Veronica Carnelio said that the inaction of the State Government in punishing the perpetrators of the pub attack in Mangalore in 2009 had emboldened the activists of other vigilante groups.

Though the Regional Commissioner of Mysore Division M.V. Jayanti had submitted a report to the Government over a month back on the “rave party” which took place at the St. Mary’s Island (in February), the Government had still not made it’s findings public, Ms. Carnelio said.

KKSV president G. Rajashekhar, honorary president Gopal B. Shetty, Dalit Sangharsha Samiti leader Jayan Malpe, CSS leader Reena Roche, and Jamaat-E-Islami Hind leader Idris Hoode were present.

Writer Sharada Bhat alleged that law and order mechanism in the state is collapsed. It is a kind of despotic rule by the government that reminds the governance of Taliban.

Democracy is losing its roots and the incident of home stay attack is an act of brutality. She said that women should raise their voice against the havoc and demanded police to immediately arrest all the activists who were involved.

Udupi district Komu Souharda Vedike member Phaneeraj said that the incident of law and order anarchy is not a new phenomenon in the region. The activists of Hindu organisations are involved in creating chaos since 2001 in the area. It seems as though these people are assigned to take law and order into their hands. He said it is astonishing that police were the mute spectators’ when the incident was going on. They failed to take immediate actions when the girls and boys present in the birthday bash were thrashed by the activists, he said.

Phaneeraj questioned the relevance of the charges of IPC Sections filed against TV scribes by the police department.

Forwarding the memorandum to Governor through Tahsildar, Udupi district Komu Souharda Vedike President G Rajashekar strongly condemned the attack. He said as the resort was a private entity, it is not criminal offense to organise birthday parties or any other sort of parties. After all it is not Hindu Jagarana Vedike activists who should take action against the illegal activities taking place in the homestay, when police are available to look into it.

The footages that appeared in TV channels are the evidence and government should intervene and should take immediate action against the attackers and also the masterminds behind the attack, he added.

Writer Sara Abubakar wondered that when the high court has said that women can work in pubs, what is wrong in women partying in a private place. “These attackers respect neither our Constitution nor our women. No one has the right to assault a woman. Who are these goons to decide what kind of dresses should girls wear,” she fumed.Terming Saturday’s incident as a criminal conspiracy, she said when the visual media was in the know, why didn’t they inform police.

“Capturing these kind of incidents has become entertainment for TV channels,” After the pub attack, the accused were released on bail within a few days.

Related articles

source: http://kractivist.wordpress.com/2012/08/03/creative-writers-speak-up-against-moralpolicing-in-mangalore-vaw/

Give a dignified life to Asian Games medallist – Santhi

Why this is important

From a medal winning athlete to a brick kiln worker, that has been the fate of a 2006 Doha Asian Games silver medallist, Santhi Soundarajan.The 800 metre female runner had failed a gender test after winning the medal in Doha and life has been on a downward spiral ever since.Banned by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) from competing at any level, Santhi’s feats were struck off the records.Following the ignominy of a gender test, the manner in which Santhi’s name and achievements were erased from the athletics records, Santhi lost all hope to the point of attempting suicide.Today, she works as a daily-wager in a brick kiln, slogging eight hours under a scorching sun to earn Rs 200,(nearly $4) every day.Santhi, like many Indian track and field athletics, took up sport to find a secure job and escape grinding poverty.One of the five children of brick-kiln labourer parents, she overcame malnutrition as a child to become a middle-distance runner.Despite everything, Santhi still nurtures the ambition of representing her country in athletics again.But before all that, Santhi wants a job.Please sign the petition now individually or as an organization/network


Is it not Shameful to survive over Women’s Body

New Delhi: Advertisement for a new skin whitening product for private parts has sparked outrage on the Internet with people blasting the commercial as an “ultimate insult to women.” This is the latest in a long list of skin whitening products to have earned the wrath of women including a wide range of fairness creams.

The television commercial for the “intimate” product promises its “special pH-balanced formula cleans and protects the affected area, and even makes the skin fairer.” Fairness products are regularly endorsed by film stars and celebrities in India despite protests from feminists that they promote insecurity and discrimination amongst women.

Magazines and advertising agencies have taken the flak for heavily using photo editing software on pictures of models endorsing such products to make them look fairer than they are in real life. The obsession with fair skin is often linked to a woman’s marital prospects.

Outrage over fairness product for private parts

Advertisements for these products almost always show a woman seeking a man’s approval after having her skin lightened with the help of the products.

“Ok this is the ultimate insult. Skin whitening for your vagina,” Rupa Subramanya, a writer with the Economics Journal for Wall Street Journal, India tweeted. User Neha who tweets as @ThePunjew said: “What a bummer, there’s no shade card yet to monitor fairness progress!”

“Geebus H! If you thought the fair skin fad wasn’t messed up enough already, presenting the next level,” said comic writer Sahil Rizwan.

Filmmaker Vic Sarin was recently in India to shoot parts of his latest documentary project, tentatively titled Hues that touches upon the issue of skin colour and racism. In an interview to The New Indian Express Sarin said: “We are all hypocrites when it comes to the skin colour.” People fight against skin colour bias, but they go back home and stock up on fairness creams, he said.

Several recent products have taken the fairness cream debate forward with deodorants for underarms and skin lightening for men. Many prominent male celebrities endorse these products. Cricketer Virat Kohli who endorses a fairness cream told the Times of India, “I signed on because even though I don’t necessarily use fairness creams myself, a lot of men do, and it has a strong mass appeal. Of course it’s not girly to look after yourself.”


“This is an absolute piece of shit. This advertisement re-iterates that Women is merely a sexual product.”

Source: http://ibnlive.in.com/news/outrage-over-fairness-product-for-private-parts/246059-3.html

A life lost…a painful tribute – Sunitha Krishnan

When I think of Shaheda, I remember a bright and bubbly child who would run and hug me close. She was 9 yrs old when her maternal uncle sold her. The mother who was also into prostitution was a mute spectator. We got the information a tad too late, but we rushed and rescued her. On a precaution we also rescued her younger sister Sahera as we thought she could be the next target.Out of fear that we may book a case if they protested the mother and uncle kept quite. In those days we were not too particular about booking a case mostly because we did not work closely with police then and felt it was just enough that we saved the children. Also our main informers were women in prostitution and they were not at all comfortable giving any information to the police.

What was very striking about Shaheda was her extraordinary resilience, the moment she reached the safety of our shelter she was a new person. Her own efforts to overcome her pain and trauma was for me a great inspiration. I do not remember spending too much time counseling her apart from the first three or four sessions. Then she became a role model for all other victimized children. Her interest to excel in all activities both curricular and extra-curricular made her a high achiever. In the meantime we saw change in the mother who slowly gave up prostitution and started a new life. For 7 yrs Shaheda lived in our shelter. After she finished her X std I asked her whether she wanted to go back to her mother. Shaheda and Sahera both felt the need to go back to their mother. We let them go with a undertaking from the mother that she will ensure that the children’s education will not be discontinued. In the first two years we regularly monitored their welfare. After that we lost touch.

Yesterday evening I got a call that Shaheda died. I was numbed to silence. The worst was to know that she was dumped before a dargah and that is where she breathed her last, day before yesterday night. Shahida was positive due to the sexual violation she was subjected to, but throughout the 7yrs that she was with us she was like any normal child. 3 yrs after she left our shelter slowly opportunistic infections crept in. The mother refused to take her to a hospital fearing social repercussion, instead took her to one dargah after another. Finally three weeks back when matter worsened she just dumped the girl before a dargah and left. My little Shaheda was just 19 yrs old…she was lying before a dargah as a destitute, seeking alms…can there be a more painful and inhuman death?

Today I am filled with guilt and pain. Was I right in sending this child back to her mother? Should I have taken care knowing her HIV status. They say institutional care is the last option and community based care should be the first option. But if the communities around us are no more safe for our children where do we send them? Should I have created a longer follow up plan…if so for how long should we have followed up? As civil society organizations do we have the wherewithal to sustain long term follow up plans…I kept asking the mother why she did not abandon the child with me, I could have taken care?
As I struggle with all these questions…Shahida’s face haunts me…did she deserve such a death?

Our First Campaign – against ebay.in

We from M.A.S.ES had noticed a promo with a gender discriminating content on ebay.in website. The promo was titled ‘for him’ & ‘for her’. It had listed few products labeling that the technical gadgets is for men and ‘fashion’ for women. We found it to be gender discriminating because it propagates that Women are mere consumers of products for Sex Appeal & Life Style. Moreover it addresses as if there are only two binary elements (male / female) in the society. What about the Queer People. Don’t they have rights / ability to use  those products?!

A signature campaign was started on 10.01.2012 through change.org  requesting ebay.in to remove the discriminating content and support was sought through various online channels. The Petition Organizer had taken the request to remove the discriminating content to ebay.in via its tollfree (C.S), feedback forums, discussion forums, ebaycomplaints.org.  The response from ebay.in was not satisfactory. After continuous efforts there was a reply from ebay team saying that ebay does not intend to support any discrimination, but they did not remove the content.

More and More efforts were made to make ebay understand our concern. There were disrespectful comments made on ebay.in feedback forum by its sellers / members. But we never gave up.

Many notable Writers, Senior Activists, Human Rights activists had signed the petition. It also gained the support of People outside India. More than a hundred people had joined this  campaign on Change.org calling on eBay India to remove gender discriminating promotions from the website, but there was no response from ebay, so a press release was made and circulated to Media. If ebay was not removing the content, then we had planned to handover the petition in person to ebay at its Chennai office.

By then, Chennaionline.com had published the news immediately. By evening we noticed that ebay.in had removed the discriminating content on 23.01.2012 and a new promo was up on their home page. Though we did not get a written statement from ebay regarding this, we hope that in future ebay.in and advertising agencies would be sensitive towards Gender Respect.


M.A.S.E.S team.

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