International Women’s Day and why it should matter to British Asians.

*Disclaimer – what I’m about to say doesn’t apply to ALL – just to certain types of people.*

Happy International Women’s Day everyone. Today makes me think if the UN phrase for International Women’s Day – “Equality for women is progress for all” can be applied to the British Asian community? Here’s a hint – if it could then I wouldn’t be writing this post.

Yesterday I had an ‘OMG’ moment when I was asked to join a discussion panel examining the voice of Asian women alongside Gurinder Chada and Sofia Hayat on BBC Asian Network. Although we had no difficulties in expressing ourselves there was an uneasy feeling that for women within the British Asian community weren’t so lucky.

(Check out my pic with Nihal!)

Blog - me and Nihal

Despite the wonderful advancements British Asian women have made in the last sixty or so years since establishing roots in the U.K there are still many ways in which we are held back. When asked I stated that the position of British Asian women nowadays can be likened to the position of British women during the Victorian period. Now hear me out because you assume I’ve gone batshit crazy. The lovely Victorians invented the expectation called ‘Angel in the House’ sounds pretty doesn’t it? Well the ‘Angel in the House’ was expected to be devoted and submissive to her husband. Passive, charming, graceful, sympathetic, self-sacrificing and of course above all hymen intact and pure. Sound familiar?

Given that we are in 2014 it would be expected that this is no longer the case – sadly not. Certain attitudes are ingrained into the psyche of many within the British Asian community and for a female to challenge these views and expectations she is in the great danger (sarcasm) of being labelled a…troublemaker. Shit, son I best delete my blog ASAP.

Some Asian men are cool granted, I know some wonderful ones. However I have encountered many that still have an attitude of an immigrant having just entered the country in the 60’s. Despite enjoying their own lifestyle choices of ferreting about with friends, drinking like fish and shagging away – for some strange unknown reason they are not actually so happy with the concept of an Asian girl doing the above. Sadly there is still a nasty stench of inequality and the attitude of ‘I can do it because I’m a bloke, innit. Yo where’s the whiskey?’ During my time at University I was always a great person to get drunk and party with – but quite often found myself on the receiving end of snide remarks that because I was a social butterfly girls like me wouldn’t be the type that people could take home to their mothers. My apologies, I didn’t realise that we were living in prohibition era America. Also did it ever occur to you that with that attitude maybe mothers like those aren’t ones that girls like me would actually want to go home to either?

Progressing and gaining quality is a two way street, it is a mutual agreement. Instead of young British Asian men rushing forward to support the females in their communities what do I see instead? Memes – with ‘witty’ captions such as ‘This could be us – but your roti isn’t round.’ Or quotes plastered on social media with a genuine tone of heartbreak and grief stating that ‘I remember when Indian girls could cook like their mothers, now they drink like their fathers.’ Firstly, mate calm the fuck down – that could be us but I suspect with that mentality you don’t even have a British passport #comeatmebro. Secondly I suspect that I probably can drink more than my father (given that he doesn’t drink) problem?

But it’s not just males holding us back – sadly some of the biggest limitations come from fellow females. Despite strong sisterhoods and pockets of support there are still some females who think that by judging and putting others down makes them a better person. Well let me say this – real women empower each other, they do not bring each other down. Looking down on others for speaking out or making independent choices about how they choose to live their life, where they go, what they do, who they see doesn’t make you a better person. Quite frankly it just makes you a bit a pathetic. Instead if we supported each other and our choices we would make it harder from men to criticise us. If you call someone a ‘bitch, hoe, slag’ it just confirms to men that they can do the same. If you judge a female for having a certain type of lifestyle it just makes men think that they can do the same. We will not achieve equality or be rid of the ‘Angel in the House’ expectations by bringing one another down.

International Women’s Day isn’t just about the position of women in the British Asian community, it is of course a worldwide issue and much more is needed to be done to shift attitudes towards half of the worlds population. But to do this we must all first speak up and out against our conditions. So for an Asian woman (or in fact any woman) having a voice doesn’t make you a trouble maker. Wanting to live your life as you see fit doesn’t mean that you should be put down. It doesn’t make you a woman with loose morals, or even a woman who has been overcome with the so called evils of Westernisation or the modern times . But instead it does make you a woman who has recognised your right to equality, freedom and respect. So this International Women’s Day let’s all do something to bring ourselves closer to these goals.

Until next time….x

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Photo credit: Ramesh Lalwani – obtained here http://goo.gl/APV4in

Rape – One Year Later.

A rape is reported every 21 minutes in India.

A crime that caught the attention of the entire world happened twelve months ago and nothing changed. Crimes keep happening more vile than the one before and nothing has changed. If statistics are correct then two rapes have been reported in the time it has taken me to write this post, and possibly more have occurred that will not be reported. Sexual crimes are still happening, and until India examines its attitudes to women and provides them the protection and support they so desperately need nothing will change.

During the protests that followed the Delhi gang rape India exploded with anger and cried for punishment. Four men were sentenced to death, one juvenile imprisoned and another perpetrator hung himself (or was murdered in his cell) yet reports of rape are still frequent and increasingly brutal.

Although stricter laws have been passed enforcing them in a widely corrupted police force with a broken criminal justice system still remains a problem. Yes a death sentence was reached, but not more has been done thereafter. Despite making promises at the time, it is now all too apparent that India bowed to international pressure in order to maintain an image of ‘democracy’ that they are so desperately trying to present to the rest of the world.

The root of the issue in India is that there has been no real change in conscious and it is unlikely that there will be one soon. The view of women in Indian society is still and always has been one of inferiority. In a country where female infanticide is accepted and even encouraged how can men respect women when Indian society itself cannot? How can females be accepted in a society when so many of them are not even given a chance to be born but instead aborted?

Despite such a high publicity case attitudes have not yet changed to victims, and I doubt within certain parts of India that they will ever change. A male’s sexual desire is never to blame, nor is his twisted notion of control but instead blame is shifted on to the victim for provoking her attacker. With the widespread acceptance that blame will fall on to the victim what real deterrent do rapists in India have not to carry out these abhorrent acts?  In a culture where sexual purity is all that a female can offer – the notion of keeping her honour has already allowed her to become vulnerable. Quite simply, men rape females in India because the dominant discourse of victim blaming and the shame attached to female sexuality or females engaging in sexual activities allows them to.

Having spent time in India over the course of my life it is simply accepted that to be a woman in India means you are never safe. We are not to venture out alone, or wear what is deemed to be ‘revealing’ clothing or take public transport at night because if something were to happen you then you only have yourself are to blame. Women are taught to live in shadows, yet even now male attitudes to sexual violence have not been directly challenged. Where is the logic in that?

As a young child aged no more than eight years old although I was too young to understand I learnt something about what it means to be a female in India. I spent time at my grandparents home often playing in the fields that were full of hired workers during the busy harvest season. One day the daughter of a neighbour the same age as me was discovered covered in blood as a result of a sexual assault or possible rape carried out by one of the hired workers. Nothing was reported; nobody explained to this child what had happened and the perpetrator disappeared. I remember seeing her mother in despair discussing with other women how to keep this a secret so her daughter’s chance of marriage would not be ruined. When women themselves have been brain washed into feeling ashamed of a crime against their own body then how can society in India possibly change? Needless to say I was never allowed in the fields ever again.

Until next time…x

The (Liberal) Asian Guide to Sex (– before marriage)

Shock! Horror! So for those of you who are not regular readers of my blog and my other articles (Hi, and muchas gracias for stopping by) you will be aware that I am a Feminist. And more importantly I view myself to be a British Asian Feminist.

It is due to my British and Asian upbringing that sometimes the issues that concern me vary from the wider feminist community and there is one pesky little issue that has been troubling me for some time…sex. Not just your regular seen in the media 50 Shades of Grey Sex. But (OMG) sex – before – marriage! An unthinkable crime for any British Asian girl, and for those who do indulge in this face social isolation worse than somebody diagnosed with leprosy.

(Quick warning – any Conservative prudes or enforcers of patriarchy or those with reductionist and restrictive gender stereotype ideas please stop reading – your head may just explode with my liberal ideas.)

To many of you this does not seem like a big issue as it is a personal choice, and I do not judge those who do have sex any differently to those who do not. To the sane individual sex before marriage does not seem like a reason for slut shaming, name calling, cultural isolation, judging, the fear of being disowned and a whole range of other lovely behaviours designed to make females of the British Asian community feel like shit about themselves. But sadly there are some out there who view sex outside of marriage for those in the British Asian community (mainly females) to be shameful and sinful.

So lets kick this off…the concept of marriage. Why is sex only acceptable after marriage? I know many will cite religion and the concept of sin as the explanation. Firstly not everybody adheres to his or her respective religion, and secondly we are all sinners. Do not judge somebody just because they ‘sin’ differently to you.

So fucking what if a female has sex before marriage? Will the world end? Will there be a plague upon our houses? Will the moon crash into the earth? No. All that will happen is that she will challenge the status quo and reject a position of femininity that has been dictated to her. Now call me crazy (many of those who know me personally do) but I’m sure that it is more acceptable for two individuals who are in loving, respectable and caring relationship to have sex – as opposed to upholding the valued ideal of virginity and in some cases marry someone as good as a stranger and be expected to get jiggy with it on your wedding night…

Secondly the issue of honour. Ah that old concept that is literally a thorn in my side. Why oh why and I really do struggle with this – why is concept of honour equated with virginity? If somebody decided that my ‘honour’ and his or her ‘respect’ for me is based upon my hymen I would think that you my friend are a top of the class dickhead.

The notion of female purity is not new – it is an idea as old as time, but sadly an idea that the British Asian community clings to. What baffles me further is that an all too common view of my generation that females who remain virgins are reinstating their ‘uniqueness’ by remaining ‘pure’. I would like to point out that sex is a personal choice, but those who refrain for the sake of honour are merely just conforming to a role dictated by a patriarchal society. WAKE UP! Being a virgin does not guarantee your honour anymore than the ability to make chapattis whilst doing a handstand.

Women have been taught for centuries that their worth is determined by virginity. That their bodies are not really their own, but merely property for the consumption of men. The virginity ideal dominant in British Asian communities takes on a sinister role in cases of grooming, sexual abuse and exploitation. When a female is taught that her worth is based on her purity it allows sexual predators the power to carry out abuse knowing that the stigma attached to victims who report these heinous acts.

And finally for those of you who are eager to judge others for their actions please remember that virginity is just another social construct designed to control females. Want further proof? Examine the ways in which male sexual prowess is celebrated. Female sexuality has never had the luxury of being private, but always under the scrutiny of society. The idea of a female (especially a British Asian female) enjoying sex is a threat to her passive position and a direct challenge to male authority. Long gone are physical chastity belts, but invisible ones still exist in all their ugly and restrictive form today.

Virginity is used all too often as a reductionist tool within the British Asian community to shame and set the ‘good’ from the ‘bad’. Sadly dignity and respect are seen to by synonymous with virginity. So how about this crazy concept…how about if dignity and respect is about having the power and strength to control and dictate your own sexual experiences? How about if dignity and respect is about empowering each other, rather than judging or shaming others for their sexual activities to make yourself look better?

Having sex does not make you a bad person. It does not make you mean that you are corrupted with westernisation. It does not mean that others can call you a slut. It does not mean that your marriage choices are restricted. It does not mean that you have no honour. And equally choosing not to have sex does not mean any of the above either.

So just remember…

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Until next time…x

#EverydaySexism and #Shoutingback

Growing up in an inner-city area of Birmingham I can proudly state that I have experienced my share of sexist comments, harassment, abuse and even rare attempts of groping – this by the way always ends very badly for any individual who thinks that my body is something which can be touched without my consent or permission.

So anyways, instead of feeling ashamed of my own colourful experiences with these unknown mysterious and socially challenged perpetrators of misogyny I instead wear the badges of my past incidents with pride. Why? Well simply because I refuse to feel shame due to the behaviour that others have displayed towards me. I refuse to question my actions or hide these incidents in which I like many other females (and males) have been a victim of.

Today I have come across something that has pissed me off, pissed me off more than when I realise that I have been shitted on by a rebellious low flying bird. A tirade of angry abuse was directed towards a wonderful female who has campaigned and raised awareness for equality in all aspects of society. She was branded ‘insecure’, ‘inferior’, a ‘sad bitch’, ‘ugly’, in need of ‘a good smashing up the arse’ and those like her were also branded as ‘men hating lezzas’ and later on ‘vicious radical feminists’.

Now as inventive and new as these insults are (heavy sarcasm) it did make me question as to why these types of insults are heard continuously from the mouths (in this case typed by two very insecure boys behind the security of a computer screen) of those who promote and practise misogyny.

‘Ugly’. U-G-L-Y, you ain’t got no alibi…you get the picture right? Ugly is a hot favourite term for all those wishing to express a hatred towards females. First of all to the males out there who use this term…let me tell you a secret. Being called ‘ugly’ does not actually bother us! Just because you call us ugly, does not mean that we are.

Furthermore in instances when you tell a female that ‘you’re fucking ugly anyways’ after she has rejected your advances/sexual harassment – you my friend look like an absolute dick. If a female is so ugly – why did you target her? You have never spoken to her, you targeted her based on her physical appearance and once you are ignored or rejected you declare her to not be physically pleasing to your perverted eyes?

So for future reference when you call me or other females ‘ugly’ could you kindly clarify exactly what you mean by ugly? Are my eyebrows too hairy? Do my armpits need shaving? Or simply does my moustache offend you?

‘Men hating lezzas’ Lezza! Dyke! Lesbbiiiiiiiiiaaaaannn. Ah these classic insults. Whether a female is trying to campaign for equality, raise awareness on issues that need addressing or quite simply decides not to give her attention to a male why does it always seem like a good idea to question her sexuality? And basically declare that just because she does not want your penis, she obviously must not want any penis at all? This is simply a defence mechanism in the face of rejection or for those who feel threatened by females asserting their beliefs. My heartfelt apologies to all those who practise misogyny and if declaring a female a lesbian is your insult of choice I have rumbled you! Do you really think that females are embarrassed to be called lesbians? Is calling a female lesbian the only logical explanation to her not being sexually attracted to you? Or for God forbid wanting some equality? So here is another secret…this does not offend us, but instead highlights the fear held by misogynists that their penis is in fact useless. And also FYI, lesbians do not hate men.

‘Good smashing up the arse’. First of all…Freud would have a field day deciphering this insult. Secondly this was arguably the most troubling insult out of the tirade of abuse that I read earlier. Why oh why is there a need to assert sexual dominance over women a favourite reply from those with misogynistic views? Just because females would like some equality and respect does not mean that we have gone insane as a result of not receiving the all-great male penis.

So believe it or not getting a ‘good smashing up the arse’ will not end world hunger, stop poverty, make me into an Olympic worthy athlete or stop others or me from campaigning for equality and pinpointing the inequalities that are present in society. So for all you misogynists out there – how about YOU instead take a good smashing up your own arse?

Those who campaign for equality or speak out about the harassment which they have received are not ‘insecure’ or ‘inferior’. Shouting back and exposing elements of everyday sexism or campaigning for change is nothing to be ashamed of, it does not make you into a ‘lezza’ or somebody who hates men or in need of good smashing up the arse. But instead the titles of ‘insecure’, ‘inferior’ and ‘ugly’ should be solely reserved for those who spread messages of misogyny and hate, and never to those who attempt to bring forth change for the better.

So from a ‘vicious radical feminist’, until next time…

x

Because double D’s are just NOT big enough…

So readers have you heard? DD’s are no longer big enough. Ladies (and Gentlemen) of the world take note – you have been warned, an ample DD size simply no longer makes the cut. Well that is at least what one lads’ mag has claimed in their latest edition…

Ah the ‘lads’ mag’ the magazine that advertisers would lead one to think that any self-respecting ‘lad’ would possess in abundance. Secretly tucked away all sticky paged under his mattress/ under that one creaky floorboard in his bedroom/ at the bottom of his wardrobe or even rolled up and stuffed into a pillow. “Why?” I hear you cry -“what is the issue with the beloved lads’ mag?” Well simply because they offer a misogynistic (extremely photo shopped) and shit view of females.

And how do I know this? Have I consulted my secret stash? No, instead I purchased two of these ‘leading’ magazines earlier today in order to conduct some research. I would have purchased the real ‘hard-core’ stuff on the top shelf (wink wink) however being a mere five-foot and having small tyrannosaurus rex style arms worked against me once again.

So what is the big fuss? Well these magazines place a large focus upon females as purely sexual objects there to be viewed and consumed by the reader. The overtly sexualised images plastered across the front cover, alongside the provocative promise of further such images inside the publication seeks to reinforce the negative attitude that society holds towards women. Interestingly, the women featured in both publications have all adopted a similar pose – grabbing their breasts with either a perfected smile worthy of a dental advert, or a dazed mouth half open look, or as what I have evaluated to be the ‘how did I get so naked?’ look. These images of females in a state of willing and compliant undress seek to imply that women are constantly sexually available. Not only does this send a harmful message to the reader, but also to anybody over the height of five foot who can walk past and see this image.

Our reading habits serve as a reflection of our society and unfortunately the female nudity featured in these magazines seeks to suggest that this is an accepted view of females today. These magazines predominantly target a young male demographic and the front covers hold promises of ‘massive boobs’ and more explicit photos inside. Yes that’s right – a magazine actually stated that there are only ‘massive boobs inside.’ Aside from that headline being laughable due to the reduced imagination and low IQ level of whoever actually constructed it – it also touches upon a darker topic. Such magazines seek to drive an image of sexual desire towards their reader and dictate what is considered attractive. By featuring a certain body shape and breast shape these magazines are dangerous not only for the wider society – but also to their readers whom they seek to create a template of how a female should look, act, and most importantly what her favourite sexual position ought to be.

Now I am not against female sexuality, nudity or even the half dazed ‘how did I get so naked?’ look. But what I am against is the fact that these magazines have suggested to those who pose for it, send in pictures via Twitter or reveal their ‘naughty confessions’ the falsehood that this is somehow empowering for them? These females appear to be in control of their personal freedom because they are choosing to strip, however what ‘victory’ has been gained in their freedom of expression? The rules of the game, and the arena in which they are playing in is not equal. Instead these ‘victories’ suggest that ‘massive boobs’, a slim frame, heavy makeup, big hair and sexual discussions equates to success and attractiveness in our society today. By posing in such publications they have become objects of desire in a patriarchal society that is only valuing them based upon their breast size and looks. Rather than empowerment, these females (whether consciously or not) are instead reinforcing the misogynist viewpoint that women are to been seen not heard, useful only to be sexually conquered and not valued for their intelligence and professional achievements.

Now I am not calling for an absolute abolition of the lads’ mag. But what I am calling for is a change in content. Interestingly, women’s magazines do not portray such damaging images of men, and even if there was a naked male in one, I doubt a female reader would pay much attention. The content needs to be changed, as it is not only damaging towards women, but also to the men who readily consume it.

And finally, to the males out there who do possess a stash of such magazines…seriously what is the obsession? It is only a pair of breasts, and quite frankly your obsession, and the magazines obsession is creepy, and extremely Freudian. They are just breasts. Get over it. Recognise females for more than the two lumps that we have on our chests.

Thanks.

Until next time…x

Oh wait, am I a slut?

For any of you who are not aware, there is a new trend that has been rearing its ugly head across the Internet: Slut Shaming.

Blog - Slut shaming

Ah, I hear you ask ‘what is Slut Shaming?’ Believe it or not this is an actual concept that exists and not something that I have merely invented in order to facilitate a new blog post. Before I move on any further, for any of you who are blissfully unaware I would like to provide a very quick definition of the word ‘slut’. Evidently good ol’ Google always pulls through:

So basically a ‘slut’ is:

‘A slovenly or promiscuous woman.’

First of all, lets all take a minute to let out a loud Spongebob Squarepants style laugh – bahahahaha! Rather than try to argue a viewpoint of why the terminology ‘Slut’ is deeply misogynistic and also very reductionist, instead I want to examine the concept of ‘Slut Shaming.’

Slut Shaming is spreading like a bad smell (think rotten eggs, sour milk, garlic breath) across the Internet in which a girls image/ stories about her/ testimonials about guys who have ‘been there, done that’ are publicized across the Internet – just so everybody knows exactly what a dirty little slut she is.  Victimising females for their actions is nothing new and it has been happening ever since the start of time (remember girls Eve got us kicked out of Paradise- we are to blame for all of mankind’s problems) but the fact that the Internet is a worldwide connector has led to a more sinister and anonymous type of victimization of females.

So before we all undertake a mob mentality and start yielding sticks of fire and pitchforks to identify these females – lets stop a minute, take a deep breath and assess the situation: We are living in 2013, not in 1913 – where there are more defining aspects to an individuals character than just their sexual capabilities and experiences.

As if it isn’t hard enough for young females to attempt to juggle life in a confusing world where on the one hand we are expected be sexually liberated as well as sexually pure there are those individuals waiting to pounce and declare any girl they want as a slut. And god forbid if someone says you are slut, then surely it must be true? RIGHT? Well not quite….

First of all, being the ripe old age of 23, I remember an age when the Internet did not control our lives. An age where there was such a thing as dial up. An age when the coolest thing on the Internet was hi5 – (any of you who say you did not have hi5 and await ‘testimonials’ are liars) and a time where if a rumour was spread about you, it was just that. A rumour with no real concrete evidence apart from a whisper of ‘he said, she said.’ However thanks to Facebook, Twitter and so forth rumours are available to be publisiced anonymously and spread across the world.

So lets just break down the concept of why ‘Slut Shaming’ is so popular; the term ‘slut’ is a term endorsed by patriarchal society in order to condemn women for acting in a manner that is not considered ‘proper’. Quite frankly, it is a term to keep women in ‘check.’ There are common instances of photos being saved and uploaded onto Facebook on a page dedicated to ‘Sluts’ where often Internet trolls (keyboard warriors) discuss every aspect of her physical appearance, and post little witty remarks such as: ‘Hey girl did you know that urm…your boobs go inside your top?’ Wow. These little trolls are giving Shakespeare a run for his money.

Sadly, females are expected to behave in a certain way. Females are expected to uphold certain virtues. To this I say; fuck off.  The biological differentiation of male and female should not dictate the way in which we behave, i.e. there should not be a certain rule for males and another for females. ‘Slut Shaming’ is done as a means to enforce traditional gender roles, in which a females reputation is all that she can essentially offer, and to tarnish that is to tarnish her. Disturbingly this trend of ‘Slut Shaming’ is more dominant within a younger generation (man I feel old) in which the Internet for them, unlike those who have grown up without it being a dominant presence ultimately represents a reality of life to them.

So for those of you who post photos of your ex-partners, and fellow females who post pictures of girls and declare them to be ‘sluts’ all I can say is GROW UP.  We are in 2013! We now have legalised gay marriage, Snoop Dogg is now Snoop Lion, a commoner (Kate Middleton) has married into the royal family! And all you can do is post pictures of girls and call them sluts? I know times are hard, and the weather is shit, and we as a British public are often puzzled as to what we can do to entertain ourselves, but come on, there must be other alternatives? Knitting? Stamp collecting? Basically anything is better than sitting behind a computer screen exercising your bullying ways and ‘shaming’ girls that quite frankly you have no authority to even pass judgment on, let alone post their photos on the internet and encourage others to judge them.

Being part of the Western world we all have a fair right to express, conduct and dress ourselves how we wish, and not to be ridiculed for it. Sadly as long as the term ‘slut’ is used as a derogatory term against females it is something that many females will be terrified to be accused of being.

Just remember, ‘Slut Shaming’ does not just shame females, but it shames all of us as a society as it exposes that we still do not view each other as equals.

Until next time…x

P.S – kind request to ‘Slut Shamers’ out there  – I would greatly appreciate it if you didn’t post my photo with a witty caption on a Slut shaming site. However if you insist on doing so, please run the caption by me at first – I would hate to be misrepresented.

Thanks in advance.

Rape.

Rape. For any of you who take any interest in current news, there is no need to give an explanation as to why I am exploring this topic.

Rape; the most dehumanising and disgusting act which one individual could possibly do to another, an act which requires one to be inherently evil and hold no disregard for any living creature. It is an act which according to Western media occurs every FOURTEEN hours in Delhi. I strongly believe that women’s rights define a society and given this and the fact that India considers itself to be the ‘largest democracy in the world’, it has exposed itself as a country where inequality is not just tolerated, but in fact is a national attitude. This revelation to the rest of the world has raised some unsavoury questions as to just how much justice and progress can in fact be achieved.

Quite simply, rape is an act of control. For those six men that violated their innocent victim, it was not just an act dedicated to achieving their pleasure. If a rapist is interested in achieving sexual gratification there are other means in which it can be achieved through. But instead rape is an act of assertion. An act of power. An act of control. A savage act intended to demonstrate that one individual can dominate another. In India, rape is viewed wrongly by many as a treatment reserved for those women who have strayed away from the expected gender norms of passivity and compliance.

Given the extensive coverage already received, I do not need to discuss the actual horrific and barbaric rape itself. Most of you will be aware that six men were involved, and as a direct result of their evil actions a young girl, the same age as me (23) with a promising career ahead of her now is dead. Contrary to Western reports (I cite the BBC) she did not pass away ‘peacefully’ but instead in my view, she was not only raped, but she was raped to death. A compelling element of this entire episode is not the kangaroo court which will no doubt follow, (especially given that India is notoriously corrupt, and incapable of vetting out appropriate levels of justice) nor the issue of why it took the police so long to act efficiently in regards to getting the victim to hospital, but in fact what factors are identifiable for why these men carried out this act?

What factors are involved to make Delhi the rape capital of India? What factors are involved for men to actually carry out such a heinous crime? This is a question which over the last few days countless Western journalists have attempted to explain, but unless an individual has an intimate knowledge of India it is a topic which is difficult to grasp.

Being British Asian, and having visited India on many occasions for large durations of time over the course of my life I am all too aware of the unfair patriarchy which has engulfed the social system and underpins everyday life in India. Women are taught (through such devices as carrying chilli powder with them) techniques to avoid them from being raped. What is sickening, and where the real shame lies is that there is no focus or education placed upon men NOT to rape. The adopted inferior position of women derives from traditional values and views of women in which their virginity is the most sacred thing which they can offer. To report a rape, means an admittance of this loss of status, and therefore a victim is viewed primarily as a woman damaged and ruined. Men in India exploit this cultural ignorance, and are all too aware that the implication of rape is more damaging to the victim than to the attackers. These sickening positions which many women are placed in have allowed men to exploit women for far too long for their own use.

Masculinity (and money) is all that rules in India. India has internalised in its national psychology the glorification of an aggressive and violent masculinity, one which cannot be defied at all – especially by a woman. The male in India is an individual who is held in a revered position; his birth is celebrated, whereas the discovery of a female foetus often leads to early termination. The male in India is glorified and allowed to do as he pleases, whereas a female is expected at all times to uphold the strongest virtues and traits of submissive womanhood. To put it simply, men are not used to hearing the word ‘no’.

A fundamental contributing factor towards the disgusting attitudes to women in India is quite simply that sex, sexual desire and pre-marital copulation are viewed as taboo and these acts are subsequently repressed. However the statistics of rape which predate this awful incident demonstrate that despite the taboo nature of these human urges, sexual activity still occurs, and does so in a violent manner.

India is a country which is deeply conservative. A country where a young boy and girl cannot walk together without being questioned by people around them, sometimes even by the police. A country where if a woman is sexually harassed or abused the way in which she dresses or conducts herself is blamed, even though she will have done nothing wrong. Often this view is one which is accepted, and there is no exploration or acknowledgment that this is instead a common explanation from men in order to mask their own perverse desires. What underpins sexual relations is that India is a country where the concept of female pleasure from sex is not a concept, and sex is an arena reserved for men and men only, leading them to feel that sex is only something which they can control.

However, for a country so imbedded in its conservative attitude towards inter gender relations the number of rapes (and I can only cite official reported rapes, there are bound to be many unreported) exemplifies a frightening fundamental breakdown in society. The lack of sexual education and the view of women in the classic virgin/whore dichotomy is to blame. There is no attempt to discuss sexual desires, but instead a large (and unfair) focus is placed on women as either being ‘whores’ who are good enough for a one night stand, or a virgin, a passive and innocent female who is there to purely obey her husband’s commands. Furthermore, as if the lack of sex education is not detrimental enough, this is directly juxtaposed with the portrayal of women in Bollywood.

Bollywood is India’s most dominant and influential entertainment industry. The conservative tone adopted by India is not adopted by Bollywood which instead tends to offer an overtly sexualised view of women. Films place focus on women semi-naked, with lingering shots on their breasts, and an even larger focus on gyrating hip movements. In a country where even in the sweltering heat women are expected to dress modestly it is clear to see that this view of women promoted by Bollywood seeks to affirm to the masses that women are viewed as sexual objects, objects that are there to satisfy their every desire. Even more absurdly, despite the sexualised depiction of women, there are hardly any actual physically intimate moments on screen. Bollywood has a chance to portray sexual experiences in a positive light, yet it instead depicts it in a way in which teases the viewer and allows them to make up their opinion of how intercourse occurs. By depicting a highly sexualised female character who on one hand defies the male who chases her, yet on the other through musical scenes is depicted as being sexualised, an oxymoronic image is stated. This image is one which is consumed by men in India, allowing them to believe that women are there for them to claim and conquer.

In India there is a real issue with poverty, a lack of education, and a repressive attitude not only towards women, but also towards different castes and classes of society. Until previously the acknowledgement of rape was not dominant, and now that it is there is a real chance for not only India but other countries (including Western countries) to examine rape, and examine the underpinning factors and do something in order to stop these horrific acts being carried out. It can only be hoped that there is a major shift in attitudes in India, to ensure such a horrific attack against another human being is never carried out again…

Until next time, x.