Tag Archives: gender bias

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.”

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“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.

rgds,

M.A.S.E.S team.

Related link:

http://www.change.org/petitions/ebayin-remove-the-gender-discriminating-promo-on-your-website