Friday, April 27, 2007

Playing Janus

One always knew this was happening but one never knew it would be so close home. The latest figures to emerge out of a UNESCO study are scary enough to be believable: two out of every three victims of domestic violence in India is an educated woman. In fact, UNESCO even says the figures may be on the lower side because such women would rather smile and cover up rather than stand up and be counted, just because they wouldnt want to lose face among peers.
It is so much easier, you see, to pretend the monster doesnt exist rather than look it in the eye.
Am reproducing here a report on a study done a few years back that created enough ripples to eventually result in the Domestic Violence Act (emphasis mine):

April 27, 2007
In India, Domestic Violence Rises with Education
By Swapna Majumdar (Women's News)

Debates about domestic violence in India is being stirred by a study that found a woman's risk of being beaten, kicked or hit rises with her level of education.
In New Delhi, India, a brilliant doctor tries to commit suicide after her husband slaps her for contradicting him in front of his friends.
In Manila, Philippines, a former beauty queen tells police she was coerced into "entertaining other men" after being locked in a room without food for days by her husband.
In Santiago, Chile, neighbors respond to distress calls from a woman battered by her husband for refusing to let him watch a particular TV program in front of the children.
In Cairo, Egypt, the wife of a highly placed bureaucrat finally speaks up after enduring years of physical and mental abuse for being unable to bear a child.
The incidents were documented in a series of studies carried out by the Washington-based International Center for Research on Women in collaboration with independent Indian researchers. The cross-cultural study looked at the problem of domestic abuse in India, Egypt, Chile and the Philippines and found that violence against women was prevalent across regions, communities and classes.
While the findings are not new, the study has incubated a new round of debate about the cultural underpinnings to domestic violence, especially in India, where the study found a woman's risk of being beaten, kicked or hit rose along with her level of education.
In the aftermath of the report, advocates are anxious that the data not be used to retard the push for women's education. That effort was given new urgency this week with the release of a report by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, finding that girls in many countries continue to face "sharp discrimination in access to schooling." The report also finds that girls in India had just a little better than three-quarters the chance of boys to receive a primary-school education.
"Interpretation of this data needs to be done very sensitively," warned Preet Rustagi, a junior fellow at the New Delhi-based Center for Women's Development Studies. "Education is an empowering tool for women and should not be seen as impacting negatively. In fact, this correlation points to the imperative need for an attitudinal change among men and society in general." Rustagi has analyzed crime records relating to violence against women and also found a correlation between education and domestic violence.
Risk Rises with Education
According to the 2002 study, 45 percent of Indian women are slapped, kicked or beaten by their husbands. India also had the highest rate of violence during pregnancy. Of the women reporting violence, 50 percent were kicked, beaten or hit when pregnant. About 74.8 percent of the women who reported violence have attempted to commit suicide.
Kumud Sharma of the Centre for Women's Development Studies in New Delhi traced the correlation between education and domestic violence to patriarchal attitudes. "Educated women are aware of their rights," she said. "They are no longer willing to follow commands blindly. When they ask questions, it causes conflicts, which, in turn, leads to violence. In many Indian states, working women are asked to hand over their paycheck to the husband and have no control over their finances. So, if they stop doing so or start asserting their right, there is bound to be friction."
Domestic violence experts say the problem in India stems from a cultural bias against women who challenge their husband's right to control their behavior. Women who do this---even by asking for household money or stepping out of the house without their permission--are seen as punishable. This process leads men to believe their notion of masculinity and manhood is reflected to the degree to which they control their wives.
"The behavior of men stems from their understanding of masculinity," said Nandita Bhatla, researcher with the International Center for Research on Women, "and what their role should be vis-a-vis women, especially their wives."
Problem of Perception
Men have always been taught to perceive themselves as the superior sex, said Jyotsna Chatterjee, director of the Joint Women's Program, a women's resource organization based in New Delhi. It is this conditioning, she said, that makes them believe they have to control their wives, especially if they are considered disobedient.
Although men's preoccupation with controlling their wives declines with age--as does the incidence of sexual violence--researchers found that the highest rates of sexual violence were among highly educated men. Thirty-two percent of men with zero years of education and 42 percent men with one-to-five years of education reported sexual violence. Among men with six-to-10 years of education--as well as those with high-school education and higher--this figure increased to 57 percent.
A similar pattern was seen when the problem was analyzed according to income and socioeconomic standing. Those at the lowest rungs of the socio-economic ladder--migrant labor, cobblers, carpenters, and barbers--showed a sexual violence rate of 35 percent. The rate almost doubled to 61 percent among the highest income groups.
Researchers have not determined why men with higher incomes and educations are more likely to be violent towards women.
Indian theater personality and feminist Tripurari Sharma was shocked to learn that a well-educated and respected actor in her theater group was abusing his wife, also an established actress.
"He was the most helpful, cordial and endearing man," she said. "His wife would attend rehearsals with bruises at times that she would cover up. Later, I found out she was being beaten. If the actress herself had not told me, I would have never believed it. So, I think it is a myth to think that the high education and economic status will lessen the risk of violence against women."
Equally disturbing is the finding that two of every five women in an abusive relationship in India remain silent about their suffering because of shame and family honor. The studies have also shown, nearly one-third of the Indian women experiencing abuse had thought about running away, but most said they feared leaving their young children and had no place to go. Activists felt that for intervention strategies to succeed, attitudes about violence would have to change and the level of awareness, among both men and women, about the negative impact of violence had to be raised.


This is not something that you and I did not know before: domestic violence, like child sexual abuse, is a family's worst kept secret.

It simply does not help being Jesus Christ. Rather, if you are a woman reading this and are an abuse victim, please do me a favour by doing one or all of the following three things:

*Learn to pay back double--for every body blow, cigar burn, knife injury that you receive, deal back in double measure. If this makes you less of a wife to your husband and breaks up the marriage, then thou are blessed, for what are you still doing in it in the first place?''

*Cultivate strength, physically and emotionally. When a man hits you or threatens to do so, he does it so he can have the pleasure of seeing you cower and cringe. Instead, dare him and the machismo cracks.

*And never, EVER, show fear.

Monday, April 16, 2007

What colour is your blog?

Exactly what kind of a creature is a blog? Is it gendered, as in, do women blog differently than men?
If your blog is your unmediated space, do you have to watch every word you write and not simply let go? After all, if you do not like what I write, be my guest and never visit me again, thanks be to you.
Does your blog need to have a....take two deep ideology?

Received a rather longish comment from someone who claims to be a regular reader of journalists' blogs. Chap wants to know why we women journalists have to so compulsively write, when anyway we write a helluva lot of stuff the world does not want to read. And to, spice up the proceedings, he simply had to use those cute little four letter words. And ended up daring me to publish the comment, if I were 'man' enough (the exact word he used).
Sorry pal, the world has changed a lot since the time they dug you out of the dung heap. Your comment goes unpublished for I am blissfully un-man.

And then, friend Sanjeev is unhappy that I write too many PJs in my blog and not do enough original stuff. Which is on par for the course, for this blog shall remain adamantly eclectic and un-agenda-ed.
Just that my blog matches my mood which, at the moment, is too purple for comfort...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Looking for Solomon

Was reminded of the King Solomon fable--albeit the rather tenuous connection and the gender switch--when I read this news report and the comments that followed:

So, who does the baby belong to and where do the genetic footprints stop? Say pink, say blue, but all one can think of is what if the woman had simply told her ex-boy friend she would have the baby but would give a written undertaking that she would not demand any maitenance/child support from him, thus ridding him of any legal obligation for a child he does not want to share?
This is where the thin line between ethics and self-righeteousness blurs....

Monday, April 09, 2007

This PJ bites....!

As far as poor jokes go, this was the worstest, but it still managed to sting....especially, as it was sent in by a Sri Lankan journalist friend. Gawd, what have we done to ourselves!

There was a couple married for quite some time and they had a boy of 5-6years old. Their relationship was turning sour. It finally reached such a stage that they thought it was better for them to be divorced than carry on such a relationship.
So they consulted a lawyer. But the big question was who would have the kid. In the hearing in the court, it was decided that this choice should be left to the kid.
So, the judge asked the boy: "Son, would you like to stay with your mummy?" Kid said, "No, mummy beats me." Judge asked "Would you like to stay with your papa then?"
Kid said, "No, papa beats me."
Now the judge was in a dilemma and was not able to decide what to do. After pondering for some time, he smiled. He had just had the best ever idea about who the kid would stay with......No prizes for guessing, though.
The kid would stay with the Indian cricket team because they NEVER BEAT ANYBODY, NOT EVEN BANGLADESH!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Only in America?

Was actually enjoying my rather longish sabbatical from this blog, when a friend sent in this part-whimsical, part-roller coaster piece about life in the U S of A. All these, he claims, acutally didnt need his reassurance, though. In the land of George Bush, stupidity breeds like maggots.

Not that we Indians cant give Americans a run for their dollar when it comes to the silliness sweepstakes--remember that all-time Sardarji favourite, Rela-xing/Milkha Singh thing? Those of you who havent, blogroll me and ye shall be told...

Anyone out there who has come across anything closer home? Please let me know.

Meanwhile, here goes:

# 1 IDIOT OF 2006:

I am a medical student currently doing a rotation in toxicology at the poison control center. Today, this woman called in very upset because she caught her little daughter eating ants. I quickly reassured her that the ants are not harmful and there would be no need to bring her daughter into the hospital. She calmed down and at the end of the conversation happened to mention that she gave her daughter some ant poison to eat in order to kill the ants. I told her that she better bring her daughter into the emergency room right away. Here's your sign, lady. Wear it with pride.

# 2 IDIOT:

Early this year, some Boeing employees on the airfield decided to steal a life raft from one of the 747s. They were successful in getting it out of the plane and home. Shortly after they took it for a float on the river, they noticed a Coast Guard helicopter coming towards them. It turned out that the chopper was homing in on the emergency locator beacon that activated when the raft was inflated. They are no longer employed at Boeing. Here's your sign, guys. Don't get it wet; the paint might run.

# 3:

A man, wanting to rob a downtown Bank of America, walked into the branch and wrote this: "Put all your muny in this bag." While standing in line, waiting to give his note to the teller, he began to worry that someone had seen him write the note and might call the police before he reached the teller's window. So he left the Bank of America and crossed the street to the Wells Fargo Bank. After waiting a few minutes in line, he handed his note to the Wells Fargo teller. She read it and, surmising from his spelling errors that he wasn't the brightest light in the harbor, told him that she could not accept his stickup note because it was written on a Bank of America deposit slip and that he would either have to fill out a Wells Fargo deposit slip or go back to Bank of America. Looking somewhat defeated, the man said, "OK" and lef t. He was arrested a few minutes later, as he was waiting in line back at Bank of America. Don't bother with this guy's sign. He probably couldn't read it anyway.

# 4:

A motorist was unknowingly caught in an automated speed trap that measured his speed using radar and photographed his car. He later received in the mail a ticket for $40 and a photo of his car. Instead of payment, he sent the police department a photograph of $40. Several days later, he received a letter from the police that contained another picture, this time of handcuffs. He immediately mailed in his $40. Wise guy ..... but you still get a sign.

IDIOT # 5:

A guy walked into a little corner store with a shotgun and demanded all of the cash from the cash drawer. After the cashier put the cash in a bag, the robbe r saw a bottle of Scotch that he wanted behind the counter on the shelf. He told the cashier to put it in the bag as well, but the cashier refused and said, "Because I don't believe you are over 21." The robber said he was, but the clerk still refused to give it to him because she didn't believe him. At this point, the robber took his driver's license out of his wallet and gave it to the clerk. The clerk looked it over and agreed that the man was in fact over 21 and she put the Scotch in the bag. The robber then ran from the store with his loot. The cashier promptly called the police and gave the name and address of the robber that he got off the license. They arrested the robber two hours later. This guy definitely needs a sign.

ID # 6:

A pair of Michigan robbers entered a record shop nervously waving revolvers. The first one shouted, "Nobody move!" When his partner moved, the startled first bandit shot him. This guy doesn't even deserve a sign.

ID # 7:

Happens in Arkansas. Seems this guy wanted some beer pretty badly. He decided that he'd just throw a cinder block through a liquor store window, grab some booze, and run. So, he lifted the cinder block and heaved it over his head at the window. The cinder block bounced back knocking him unconscious. It seems the liquor store window was made of Plexi-Glass. The whole event was caught on videotape. Yep, Here's your sign ..... (Please note that all of the above people are allowed to vote)


I live in a semi-rural area. We recently had a new neighbor call the local township administrative office to request the removal of the Deer Crossing sign on our road. The reason: "Too many deer are being hit by cars out here! I don't think this is a good place for them to be crossing anymore." From Kingman, KS

My daughter went to a local Taco Bell and ordered a taco. She asked the person behind the counter for "minimal lettuce." He said he was sorry, but they only had iceberg. He was a Chef? Yep...From Kansas City!


I was at the airport, checking in at the gate when an airport employee asked, "Has anyone put anything in your baggage without your knowledge? To which I replied, "If it was without my knowledge, how would I know?" He smiled knowingly and nodded, "That's why we ask." Happened in Birmingham, AL.


The stoplight on the corner buzzes when it's safe to cross the street I was crossing with an intellectuall y challenged coworker of mine. She asked if I knew what the buzzer was for. I explained that it signals blind people when the light is red. Appalled, she responded, "What on earth are blind people doing driving?!?" She was a probation officer in Wichita, KS

We were at a good-bye luncheon for an old and dear coworker. She was leaving the company due to "downsizing." Our manager commented cheerfully, "This is fun. We should do this more often!" Not another word was spoken. We all just looked at each other with that deer-in-the-headlights stare. This was a bunch at Texas Instruments.

I work with an individual who plugged her power strip back into itself and for the sake of her own life, couldn't understand why her system would not turn on. A deputy with the Dallas County Sheriffs office no less .


When my husband and I arrived at an automobile dealership to pick up our car, we were told the keys had been locked in it. We went to the service department and found a mechanic working feverishly to unlock the drivers side door. As I watched from the passenger side, I instinctively tried the door handle and discovered that it was unlocked. "Hey," I announced to the technician, "its open!" His reply, "I know - I already got that side." This was at the CHEVY dealership in Canton, NJ