Friday, September 10, 2010

Blogdosts, Many thanks for your overwhelming response to the book. I am truly, truly touched. Perhaps I should have clarified earlier - the book will only hit bookstores around the 21st of September. The trade buzz has been most encouraging. I was shooting a promo for a sales conference yesterday, and Harish, who is just so good with distribution, told me he had advance orders rolling in. Okay. No more sales talk!!
Today is a very auspicious day - Ganesh Chaturthi. I am planning to watch 'Dabbang' and then go back to Kittichai's 'Koh' to sample what I'd missed out the last time - his signature dishes. Shraavan is over (it ended at 4 p.m. on the 8th). I am seriously considering sticking to my Monday fasts, and giving preference to a largely vegetarian diet. It makes me feel healthier and lighter.
Rushing to a panel discussion on CNN-IBN ( interesting and volatile topic - Caste Census ) last night, I nearly missed the slot - families wishing to avoid the Ganpati rush today, were bringing the beloved deity home and the streets were filled with joyous greetings as thousands blocked traffic for hours. I am planning my annual pilgrimage to Lalbaug chha Raja - this year, the security is that much tighter on account of the terrorist threat. All the more reason to go and pay obeisance at the Lord's feet - with devotion in the heart and enough courage not to fear any calamity. More tomorrow.... till then, join me in saying, "Ganpati Bappa Morya!" and Eid Mubarak.
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This appeared in The Week....
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These lashes are not for fluttering…

Tala Raassi’s name is not known to many outside the rarefied world of international fashion. She’s the 27 year old, originally from Teheran, who made waves at the recently held Miss Universe Pageant, when contestants walked the ramp in bikinis designed by her. Tala’s flight to freedom at age 18, is part of her dramatic c.v. as she moves up the fame ladder in America, which is now her home. When Tala was celebrating her sixteenth birthday in Teheran, she and her friends were arrested for breaking Islamic laws as practiced in Iran. Her crime? Tala had taken off her head scarf and black chador inside the privacy of her home, and was caught wearing a mini skirt, tee shirt and high heels. The religious police who burst in and broke up the celebrations sentenced her to be lashed. Five days later, she found herself face down on a mattress, ordered to do so by a woman holding a Koran in one hand. Tala kept her tee shirt on, hoping the thin fabric would offer a little protection. On the contrary, with each lash, the fabric got stuck to the deep gashes on her back and made the excruciating pain, still worse. It was then that Tala decided to escape to America and pursue her dream to become a fashion designer. She was inspired by the idea of being in an environment that encouraged women to wear what they like. Where women were free to cover up – or not.
Tala was fortunate to get away with just lashes. She could as easily have been killed. Women in today’s Talibanised Afghanistan have it much, much worse. Like Tala so many years ago, they too have zero personal freedoms, cannot listen to music, dance, drive, receive an education, speak to members of the opposite sex or in any manner, express themselves. Nearly every day, one comes across reports of women being stoned to death… and no matter what the justification, it remains an act of unadulterated barbarity. That the civilised world can do nothing about it, adds to the complicity of the crime. Closer to home, our own record isn’t all that better – after all, if we condemn stoning a woman to death for suspected infidelity in other parts of the world, what can one say about the equally primitive tradition of Khap killings in our own backyard? And it’s about time we stopped referring to them as ‘honour killings’ - that tag makes this heinous crime sound almost respectable. Despite protests and condemnations, our newspapers continue to be filled with grisly stories of young girls being relentlessly hunted down by male relatives out to ‘save’ the family name. Here in Hypocritical India, we refuse to acknowledge this as a major social blight, we refuse to call it the Talibanisation of our culture, and most importantly, we refuse to punish the guilty. If justice was swift and strict in these cases, if those guilty of murder were tried and sentenced in fast track courts within a reasonable period of time, believe me, others contemplating such dastardly acts, would think a thousand times before going after their defenceless victims.
That’s how it goes in our country. Women remain our lowest priority on all levels. Their health and well being are not issues of any importance. Which is a really pretty foolish and short sighted approach, given that women form the fulcrum around which Indian society ( like most other civilised societies) revolves. Despite that, we continue to strip them naked in public, beat and torture them, maim and murder them. All in the name of ‘protecting’ society. The reason we do so is absurdly simple – because we can.
Tala’s memory of those lashes prodded her to take a risky step and plot her escape. She did it! But there are millions of women across the world who aren’t as lucky or as gutsy. What about them? Some lashings are obvious – they are physical. They leave visible scars. Equally damaging are emotional lashings – and those scars remain hidden. Sometimes for life. Either way, the guilty don’t pay.Not in this life, anyway.More’s the pity.

19 comments:

goodluck said...

I am glad you brought this topic which is bothering many of us. Wish countries like Iran embrace humanism and treat their womenfolk with respect.
Wish Mr. Bachchan, instead of wishing on every festival, condemns these acts of cruelty.
Wish our Khans, who are so savvy when it comes to promote their films also do their bit to provide justice to these beleaguered women.
Recently a Kerala lecturer's hand was chopped off.
India must say no to Talibanistic rituals.
Indians seem to compete with Taliban and hence we have a spurt in honour killings supported by powerful politicians.
Physical lashes, mental torture and other atrocities women have to bear. What is human rights organisations doing? Where are they?

Radhika Gupta said...

The so called "honour" killings are extremely shameful for our society... we..the 21rst century people have not been able to do away with this disgusting practice... as long as this norrow-mindedness and low-level mentality prevails among certain sections of the society, these killings will also prevail...
P.S. waiting for the Dabbang review..!

*Aham* said...

Crow calling the kettle black - (some) Indians are just that.

"Tere Ghar Mein Maa Behen Nahi Hai Kyaa" has become so much banal.

All our gaali's that are now a part of our lingo, are all woman centric. So eccentric!!! The C word, The BC word, the MC word.. uff yumm maa.

Shotti! Shotti! i tell you, we need to refine the whole bloody system. And we should do that not with pagalpanti of moral gyaan, but with Funk and Fun.. and this will always not be the worldly approved right thing... but who cares.

Like I invented some new words. (****bachheylog aankhen band karo***) FatherF!@ker, BrathaC@!d... this is no solution, and highly debatable, but soon, people who were hurled these abuses, in the begining laughed it out.. and later, i have seen that they have reduced the use of the C word. Aiyyo! so much majja.. i have kuchalling the man ego.

I wish a day would come when the boys would sing "Main Jhandu Balm Huaa, Darling Tere Liye"


Tala has opened the darwaza for many closed and closeted women. Hope there would be many like her who would come out despite the odds and shine and outshine.

There is always light at the end of the tunnel, even if it is night, there is moonlight, or the light of the glittering stars.

Divya Virmani said...

Ms. De, thank you for writing an article on such prestigious woman. There are very few people in this world who acknowledge such good deeds.

Honour killings have brought a complete shame to our society. Wonder when and how it will stop? Or is it just fading away from people's memory like any other old news?
FYI: I felt like sharing this with you. Have you heard about 'burn a quran daily' issue? I went in a shock after reading that on CNN. The consequences of such act will not leave a good impact in the near future. Would love to hear your thoughts on this...

P.S. Dabangg tonite... eagerly waiting :)

Theyoginme said...

I like ur idea of going largely vegetarian. My Iyengar yoga teacher in Pune just encouraged me To try satvic diet even for one week a month. The danger is always of becoming carbotarian.... Not good especially when one is close to mayur thali and vaishali for the last few days ... And no cardio and yoga can burn that carbo

Pooja Rathore said...

why no sales talk ....its okay - we are friends and friends are the first ones we want to go and tell how well things are moving, atleast i dont have a problem i will feel very happy about your success.
feel sad to hear about the treatment meeted to woman they are put down in different ways in different countries and you are right-The reason we do so is absurdly simple- because we can.
There must be some move to help woman who are treated in barbaric manner , there are so many organisations by UNO for children,health etc may be something on these lines should come to help women protect their rights, women lead life with respect and are free to pursue their dreams.

Appu said...

"Dabaang"
- Old days bounce back
- single theater House Full
- front row whistle
- Movie made mainly for audience
- Silverscreen Actress refreshing old days
i.e., "Dabaang"
Thanks to Salman Khan
I haven't watch the movie but this is our movie - our 100% Bollywood movie.

Akshay said...

ya these "honour" killings...pure idiotic business....which century are we living in???....i think it will be a long time before this all improves...

Dabangg= total bollywood flick,
no strong storyline, a bit slow, but watch it for Salman Khan!...Sonakshi..good for her 1st movie....Sonu sood has done a commendable job....all in all...what the masses like it here...

Pooja Rathore said...

Happy Ganesh chaturthi!
Happy Eid!

cmpershad said...

shobha's book will be the shobha of bookstores on 21st :) Noted maam.

*Aham* said...

and de... mazaak math karo...


you and vegetarian... sherni bhi kabhi ghaas khati hai kyaa??


hehehe

Anil Kumar said...

As far as the cruelty in Muslim world is concerned, it has lot to do with eating Halal mutton. The way a goat is being killed by this community where they slit the throat few inches and let it die painfully. The poor animal runs randomly in different directions before collapsing to slow and painful death.

By same token they slaughter their folks (Man and woman) for crimes. Essentially its natures way to give some justice to poor animal.

Khap Panchayats are cruel also if they go to the extent of killing someone. But what Shobha De living in urban estate fails to understand is that the social structure in villages is different from the metros. If woman of a family elopes with a man, its a stigma to whole family. Their kids dont get married easily because of the stigma and it becomes a painful experience for everyone else in the family. In 99% of case that same man will oppose his sister from eloping with other man.

Many families in northern India want their daughter to get educated and work. And women who do their work with descency are respected very much. But what they dont want (except punjabis) their women to expose their body, flirt or involved in indescent behaviour or gain positions by pleasing the boss with unethical means.

Ms De's argument is 100% right if every woman in our society knows about their rights, a perfect polic force and fast honest judiciary system. But if you are going to encourage girls to do western stuff of nudity and immorality in villages and small towns and call it womans freedom then I can only pity.
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Congratulations to NDTV !!

Now muslims of this country have NDTV 24X7 channel which speaks their language and take their utmost care. Prannav Roy and Barkha Dutt should be honoured for doing one-sided reviews and moulding the news to suit Muslims interests.

May be NDTV 24X7 channel should be renamed as MULLA's News 24X7.

Breaking news is that Govt buliding is burnt by Muslims in Lal Chowk. Barkhas reporters are justifying the burning of bulding by saying that govt's delay in making decision on AFSPA yesterday is to blame. What a spin by MULLA 24X7 channel...

Days are not far away when the constant propaganda of some of these news channel will actually help in removing Kashmir from India's map.The new generation will actually believe that Kashmir is not India's part. With a PUPPET primeminister everything is possible. WHO knows...may be the NDTVs type news channels are being paid by USA to do this propaganda work. They have done it in Iraq...doing it in Iran.

Sidhusaaheb said...

So, you choose not to see the other side of the coin i. e. cases where men are harassed by women and present only only one side of the story, as always, especially with respect to the situation in India.

Please see the following news-stories from a news-paper for which you write a weekly column:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Men_are_being_harassed_says_womens_panel/articleshow/2381622.cms

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Amend-dowry-law-to-stop-its-misuse-SC-tells-govt/articleshow/6321987.cms

The reasons for which a writer of your stature would choose not to present a more balanced point of view are beyond my comprehension.

goodluck said...

There is a difference between individual cases and the way women in general are ordered what to wear, what not to wear, with whom to talk, restrictions etc. How can anyone lash, stone or burn a woman to death for these reasons? How these acts can be justified if some other women harass men in their individual capacity? Even during 1984 riots, Gujarat riots women suffered more than men in more ways. And in the case of Tala, it is the woman who was holding the Koran who instigated the perpetrators.

Sidhusaaheb said...

@goodluck:

Two wrongs certainly do not make a right and the question of justification does not arise.

However, when a balanced point of view is adopted by a writer, he/she generally presents 'both sides of the coin' to a reader.

The portrayal of women only as victims is incorrect and that has been acknowledged by the National Commission for Women and even by the Supreme Court of India.

Sidhusaaheb said...

@goodluck:

For your benefit, I quote from the second article (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Amend-dowry-law-to-stop-its-misuse-SC-tells-govt/articleshow/6321987.cms) linked to in my first comment:

"The significance of the court's directive goes beyond what happens to Section 498A. It marks a conceptual shift, a turn away from the culture where women were seen only as victims who were incapable of levelling false allegations. The conception of women as the silent suffering sort who could do no wrong has influenced the administration of justice in both open and subtle ways. The assumption of women's innocence is apparent in laws devised to deal with rape and other crimes against women where the presumption of innocence is not available to the accused.

Section 498A and other laws were meant to level the field which has traditionally been tilted in favour of men, and were meant to help women get their due. But with instances of their misuse rising, the apex court has been impelled to draw the government's attention to revisit the issue."

Sidhusaaheb said...

In the meantime, it appears that the harassment of women by women has taken on an entirely new dimension.

Please see:

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2010/20100912/spectrum/main4.htm

goodluck said...

There are 2 types. Innocent and guilty whether it is a man or a woman.
To put it bluntly, it is easy to sexually harass a woman. Some women make use of this fact to implicate innocent men. But the ratio will be 10 to 2. That 2 is magnified and thus the the remaining real female victims sufferings will not vanish because of some blacksheep among them. Why women? There are so many cases where the so called higher caste officers are afraid to take action against an erring SC, ST employee because they immediately say that the officer said something derogatory against their caste. Some women, some privileged minorities misuse but the general age old condition still persists. Discriminatin against women, dalits, tribals are continuing. I agree that a balanced view is necessary and sweeping generalisations can be avoided.

shobila said...

As long as a woman is considered a responsibility and not a resource it is hard for humanity to make that leap towards development. We cant afford to leave half our work force unexploited.