Color of hate.

No one needs an introduction to how big a problem “Racism” is, and how India has been caught several times in disgust for being a “Racist country”. If you haven’t already seen it, here are the results from a survey conducted by Washington Post last year.

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Even if the evidence do-not stand strong during this survey, I would never deny the fact that India could be one of the top racist countries.

I recently came across the rally conducted in Bangalore opposing racism towards Africans. My first reaction towards it was “Well, one more. When will this stop?”. When I was in India, there was a huge campaign, “Dark is beautiful“. Dark is Beautiful is an awareness campaign to draw attention to the unjust effects of skin color bias. 

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This campaign doesn’t seem to have had the transformative impact in intra-Indian social relations.

Everyone across the globe is proud of our cultural diversity and it’s amazing united efforts when it comes to sports like cricket, pitching voices against attacks from other countries. History shows us as the nation of “Ahimsa”, non-violence. But, deep down the hearts, there are stems of caste based prejudice. This is how most of us were trained to distinguish between people based on their caste, gender, color, creed, status, etc. Every community believes that their culture, traditions and customs is the best, which is good, however, they fail to accept and understand the differences in people. There is a low esteem towards several other communities/states/religions. Like this wasn’t enough, the other factor that added to it, was skin color. For ex: Arranged marriages in India, technically happen among individuals from same caste, creed, status, religion, state. 

To detail, all the discrimination towards North-East Indians, Biharis, North Indians towards South Indians, S.Indians towards N.Indians, what’s the basis for all this? 

The common notion of beauty in India is attached to fair skin, which is evident in several incidents. Matrimonial ads boast of fair, very fair and very very fair skin alongside foreign visas and advanced university degrees.

(Although out of context, do watch this video made by few colleagues of mine from college, showing the Indian style matrimonial ads.
P.S: They took inspiration from actual matrimonial pages and a lot of these were actual real ads.)

The endorsement of a plethora of fairness products substantiate this. With most of the celebrities not only endorsing these products, but those who are dark skinned transforming themselves to fit into this big puzzle, only adds up to the craze. The insane ads show all kinds of crap and god knows what they are trying to teach.

  1. Fair and Lovely : A retired father with money problems laments that he didn’t have a son to bail him out. His dark-skinned daughter decides she’ll “be a son” and uses a Fair & Lovely to land a coveted job as a flight attendant.
  2. Fair & Handsome : Even India’s biggest superstar, actor Shahrukh Khan, is in on it. He recalls his (clearly fictional) past, when he was a regular guy who wanted to be a celebrity.
    (Source)

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The oppression of Africans and black skinned people from Uganda and Nigeria in the past can also be attributed to the deep seated contempt towards dark skin. Several movies portray jokes/racist comments towards other religion/caste/color. They might not totally mean it, but, they should also remember the impact they are going to create on general public.

Living in India was a childhood dream that deepened with my growing understanding of India and America’s unique, shared history of non-violent revolution. Yet, in most nations, the path of ending gender, race and class discrimination is unpaved. In India, this path is still rural and rocky as if this nation has not decided the road even worthy. It is a footpath that we are left to tread individually.said a foreign PhD student at the Delhi School of Economics, in his post in outlookindia. Read more about his experience here.

We blame foreigners for being racist to Indians living in their country. But are we any better? 

We are racist towards people from our own country!

While trying to become a developed nation like America, are we also trying to incorporate their skin color and victimize others? If we’re so desperate about changing the world’s perceptions about India, if we want to tell the world that we are modern, educated and developed, that we’re not a land of snake charmers anymore, the first thing we should do is to look into ourselves and understand that we need to change our own perceptions about ourselves, before changing others. Ofcourse this doesn’t represent everyone. There are several Indians who aren’t racists and are fed up of many because of whom the entire nation is being blamed. On behalf of all of them, I plead,

“Don’t be the racist you hate so much”

 

 

Are we just ‘talking’ feminism?

None of us need an introduction to the on-going “Feminism” and the increasing no of protests everyday. Although we have come a long way regarding women’s rights, the ideas of women being completely equal to men just aren’t true. What is feminism?

Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women . . . The definition of feminism is the struggle for gender equality. As such, we consider it necessary to acknowledge the existence, and the legitimacy, of men’s issues, and the need for a movement and a dedicated discussion space to address such issues.

Feminists aren’t a bunch of angry women who want to be like men, or one who want to rule the world and believe that men aren’t necessary. As a human being, male or female, if you believe in the idea of equal rights for everyone, that’s all you need to align with feminist theories. The ideology behind feminism is just that “gender” is not a defining quality behind who you are, and what you should be. This is no modern idea, feminism exists since 1800s. In India, the very first feminist movements were initiated by men, to abolish sati (widow’s death by burning on her husband’s funeral pyre), child marriage, introducing re-marriage for widows, promoting women education etc. Since then, there were a lot of changes in the system. Currently, women have more social, political and economic rights than ever before. But, how many of us agree that there is no sexism, sexual exploitation and female oppression. Everyday I open a news channel, half of what I see is about  sexual assaults. All of us can relate to these incidents happening around us.

 Sexual victimization of women is well over 60% – 1 in 2 women will experience sexual violence victimization other than rape (The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey | 2010 Summary Report). Part of this is because of how women are viewed. Women are more than bodies – the constant sexualization and objectification of women is unacceptable. Young men hearing the message “No means Yes” is horribly damaging. Feminism aims to address these issues for women and through feminist education and theory, less women will be sexually assaulted. The objectification and sexualization of the female body will be less prevalent as the world learns that women are far more than bodies. Women won’t be accused of “asking for it,” or “being emotional.” They will be heard when they step forward.

However, feminism is not just for women. Feminism is for everybody.

Feminism taking root is also valuable for men who experience sexual assault. It is not uncommon for men to be particularly reticent with personal feelings or experiences. Sexual assault is not something that is easy for anyone to speak about. But I empathize with men who have to face additional stigmas dictated by a more patriarchal society when  broaching this subject.

Ideas in our society prevent male survivors from speaking out about sexual assaultBecause of how men are socialized and expected to behave in our society, a male survivor of sexual assault may feel as if he is not a “real man.”  Because men are often expected to always be ready for sex and to be the aggressors in sexual relationships, it may be difficult for a man to tell people that he has been sexually assaulted . . . this stigma may negatively impact a male survivor’s social experiences, and it may also lead male survivors to avoid disclosure (http://sapac.umich.edu/article/53)

Why are we stressing on women? “India’s Daughter”, still remember this title? The banned documentary made by BBC about a victim, who was gang-raped in bus and beaten to death. I still remember how the comments made during the documentary triggered the woman organizations internationally.

  • “A decent girl won’t roam around at nine o’clock at night. A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy.” said one of the accused.  
  • “In our society, we never allow our girls to come out from the house after 6:30 or 7:30 or 8:30 in the evening with any unknown person,” said one of the lawyers, ML Sharma.
  • “You are talking about man and woman as friends. Sorry, that doesn’t have any place in our society. We have the best culture. In our culture, there is no place for a woman.”, said other lawyer.

Judge’s decision in this case may help provide a sense of closure for the woman’s family and friends. Then what happened? Where do we stand now? More rapes and more murders. Did we get any better? NO. Are we planning to get better? I don’t know! The no of sexual assaults only keep increasing day by day. 

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These are few of the million cases out there. All we are asking for a real-democratic country, where woman is not treated as an animal, and given equal rights to survive and express herself. Here is a recent article discussing the abuse a woman faces day to day: Dark Truths of Sex behind closed doors in India.

Less schooling, low female literacy rate, fewer work opportunities, no freedom for choice of life, systemic discrimination, sexual assaults, female foeticide. In 21st century? Really?Changing this requires serious rethinking in the halls of government, in courts, schools and police stations. It also means change in Indian homes. All women should be open about discussing any kind of abuse or ill treatment. Hiding yourself means making yourself a victim.

“First, we have to change ourselves. Until we change the mindset in our homes, this will continue.”

The struggle to stop violence against women is far from over.

Like Mahatma Gandhi once said “the day a woman can walk freely on the roads, that day we can say that India achieved independence”

I am thankful to all the leaders who worked for Women Empowerment. If not for them, I wouldn’t be here, at this stage, being who I am and doing what I am doing. I hope we get better at addressing our issues regarding “Equal rights”. 4-women-support-vawa

Women are more than just bodies. She can not just give birth to you, but do way more than that. Let’s empower each other. For a better society, for a better future.

 

Here is my other post discussing the transition a woman goes through: D/O to W/O