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Risk, pain, pride of being a woman in India - the dark side of male dominance

nabadip - Fri, 13 May 2005 20:04:41 +0530
Protest against rising rape cases

Staff Reporter

Social activists term Delhi as the `Rape Capital'

NEW DELHI: Outraged at the increasing number of rape cases in the Capital, social activists from various organisations have called for a joint protest demonstration on Friday.

Labelling Delhi as the "Rape Capital", social activists from organisations like the Delhi unit of the All-India Democratic Womens' Association, Centre of Indian Trade Unions, Students' Federation of India and Democratic Youth Federation of India have placed the blamed on Delhi police and Union Government.

Criticising the Home Ministry for "confining itself to ritual expressions of regret at such crimes", the activists have listed a series of demands that would be raised during that protest demonstration.

The demands include immediate suspension of the "policemen responsible for the criminal delay" in the recent incident involving a Delhi University student.

They have also asked that police stations and officers to be made accountable for such crimes taking place in areas under them.

"Any laxity on their part in dealing with crimes against women must invite disciplinary action against them," said a press release issued by them.

The demands include that the police must ensure regular patrolling and prompt response to reports of such incidents and all efforts should be made to apprehend the accused at the earliest. They have also asked for the most stringent punishment for the accused.

Finally, they have also said that the Home Ministry must regularly monitor performance of the Delhi police in dealing with crimes against women and ensure the safety of women in the Capital.
nabadip - Fri, 13 May 2005 20:07:09 +0530

A female minister's (helpless) view
By Ambika Pandit , Asian Age

New Delhi, May 12: In the wake of the growing incidents of rape in the capital, the Union minister of state for human resources development, Ms Kanti Singh, still has no strategy to put pressure on the government over ameliorating the law and order situation.

Not in the context of the gangrape that happened on Sunday, but in general, the minister who heads the department of women and child development (WCD) of the government of India, however, went on record saying that to some extent the "pehnawa (clothes)" of a girl provoke men to indulge in such acts. "The guardians should see what kind of clothes the girls wear when they go out. I keep meeting college girls and at times some of them have said that girls are also responsible for provoking men to an extent by the way they dress," Ms Singh said. When asked about how she planned to take up the issue of security of women in the capital with the government, Ms Singh had no clear cut plan. All that she said was that her views on the issue were the same as that of the government and that the National Commission for Women was in any case taking up the issue.

Ms Singh, who had organised an informal meeting with reporters, in fact at one point of time skirted questions on the gangrape, saying that she would take questions on the matter after she finishes the briefing on the year-long achievement record of the WCD in accordance with the Common Minimum Programme of the United Progressive Alliance government. While decrying the gangrape as an "amanaviya ghatna (inhuman incident)," Ms Singh, however, did point out that there was a need to make more stringent laws that deter men from indulging in acts like rape.
nabadip - Fri, 13 May 2005 20:09:56 +0530
German raped in Jodhpur, accused nabbed

Lokpal Sethi / Jodhpur

In yet another instance of the sheer bestiality women, particularly tourists, are often subjected to in this country, a 48-year-old German lady was raped late Wednesday night at a village on the outskirts of this Sun City, a major tourist attraction for foreigners in western Rajasthan.

While the incident itself was a shameless reflection of the way women continue to be viewed in this society, the police somewhat redeemed the situation, swinging into action and nabbing Shankar Lal, an autorickshaw driver, and his companion Rakesh, both of whom confessed to their crime.

The hapless German widow who came to this part of the country on Wednesday was staying at a guest house.

After having dinner at a five star hotel, she hired an autorickshaw to return to the guest house.

However, instead of taking her to her destination, Shankar and Rakesh drove her to village Dangiavas, about 20 kms from the city.

According to the police, both the culprits raped the lady at a deserted place.

Not one to let her tormentors get away with their crime, the woman raised an alarm, attracting the attention of a few villagers who rushed to her rescue.

The villagers then assisted her to the guest house. The guest house owners helped her lodge a complaint with police.

The woman's statement was recorded and she was sent for medical examination.

The police have requested the lady to stay back till all the legal formalities are completed.

While they have declined to divulge the name of this German citizen, the police has duly informed the German embassy.

Some embassy officials are likely to come here and get the details of the incident.
nabadip - Fri, 13 May 2005 20:20:37 +0530
Woman forcibly converted to Islam by 'lover'
By Our Correspondent, Asian Age

Ahmedabad, May 12: A 23-year-old woman was forcefully converted to Islam in a mosque in Gheekanta recently, after allegedly being abducted by her paramour and three others from Cadila Bridge area on April 27.

According to Vatva police inspector M.P. Vasava, “The woman was having an affair with one Rizaul Sheikh when she was studying in Swaminarayan College at Maninagar. However, unaware of his identity, she knew him only as Raj.”

Subsequently, when she came to know the truth, she refused to continue with the relationship. The accused then threatened her of kidnapping her school-going niece. When she agreed to see him on April 27, he abducted her in an autorickshaw and took her to the Mirzapur court to prepare their marriage documents.”

“Thereafter, she was taken to a mosque in Gheekanta where a Maulavi initiated her into Islam and presided over their nikah,” Mr Vasava said. The name of the Maulavi concerned has not been divulged.
jijaji - Fri, 13 May 2005 20:32:00 +0530
This is a very big problem and an interesting psychological issue to explore regarding how Indian males get so messed up in regards to women.

On one had you see India as deeply religious and much emphasis on separation of the sexes in religious activities, the covering of the head etc. And on the other hand India is a place where western women can pretty much count on getting 'molested' on the street by some man passing by, if not 'Raped'!

The last time I was in India my girlfriend was groped by a guy passing by on a motorcycle who took a quick fondle as he road by.
A friend of mine had it happen to his girlfriend as she was going down the steps to bathe in Radha Kunda on Radhasthami at midnight.

What is it that makes the Indian mind of its men so out and out perverted..? They act like adolescent boys or worse, unable to even be in the presence of women it seems without acting like utter idiots, giggling and sexually out of control. If you go to an internet cafe in Delhi for instance you will see men openly drooling over porn..several of them crowded around a monitor watching obsessively.

Does it have anything to do with how women and sex have been condemned for centuries by various spiritual teachings that have extolled the virtues of celibacy as the ideal standard?

Has there been an over emphasis on women and men being separated or something that has created some lop-sidedness..?


nabadip - Fri, 13 May 2005 20:46:26 +0530
Move to stop Indian child marriages

Unicef says early marriage violates child's rights

By Jyotsna Singh
BBC reporter in Delhi

The authorities in India are gearing up efforts to prevent child marriages on the Hindu auspicious day of Akha Teej which falls on Wednesday.

Thousands of children, including babies, are married on this day despite laws designed to prevent such practices.

District officials and several non-government organisations have been mobilised particularly in the western state of Rajasthan where the tradition is deeply ingrained.

The new effort is part of a week-long campaign led by the National Commission for Women.

Common practice

Marriages of girls under the age of 18 and boys under 21 are illegal in India.

But forced marriages are common, especially in rural areas of Rajasthan.

Social activists say mass marriages of children are frequently ignored by the authorities.

They say the marriages are performed in public and in most cases no attempt is made by the police to stop the ceremonies from taking place.

A Unicef report last year said millions of children across the world were forced into underage marriage because of poverty.

Other reasons, according to the report, were tradition, and their families' desire to protect them from unwanted sexual advances.


The head of the National Commission for Women, Purnima Advani, told the BBC that they were trying to make people aware of the multi-fold risks of child marriage.

Some critics, however, have dismissed the campaign.

They say the problem of child marriage could not be resolved without sustained effort.

Ms Advani said they were working towards a long-term plan including pushing for a law which would make it mandatory for marriages to be registered.

She said once such a law was in place, no marriage would be officially recognised unless couples had a certificate demonstrating that they were over 18-years-old.
nabadip - Fri, 13 May 2005 20:56:50 +0530
Doctors struggle to save supervisor

Pioneer News Service / Bhopal

Condition of Shakuntala Verma, a supervisor of women and child development department, whose hands were nearly chopped off at village Bhangarh of Dhar for trying to stop child marriages on May 10th continues to be critical.

"Although her recuperation is fast, she cannot be called absolutely out of danger," Dr Anil Garg of Gokuldas Hospital Indore told The Pioneer over telephone.

The Government had launched an intensive campaign to stop child marriages on the occasion of Akshay Tritiya on Wednesday. Ms Verma got information about preparations for child marriage in village Bhangarh. When she went there and warned the erring parents, she was threatened with dire consequences.

On Tuesday night, an unidentified man attacked her with sword at her residence. While saving her face she received serious wounds on her forearms. Her handswere nearly chopped down. Later her relatives brought her to Indore for medical treatment where five doctors spent about 18 hours operating her. On Thursday, State Tribal Welfare Minister and incharge of Dhar Vijay Shah visited Ms Verma in the hospital.

State Women and child development commissioner S R Mohanty said that the state government would foot bill of her treatment. "It is a dastardly act but I can tell you that the incident could not deter government officials from stopping child marriages. If we continue to mount similar pressure against child marriages situation would be much better in the state."

braja - Fri, 13 May 2005 21:12:31 +0530
I read the Times of India regularly and noticed the attention these recent attacks were getting. It is wonderful to see that people are up-in-arms about them and that the press and government are responding to the situation. However this does not necessarily mean that India has higher incidence of rape. It is a land of 1 billion + people. Look at these figures for the United States:

1 out of every 7 women currently attending college has been raped. [Koss, Woodruff, and Koss, 1990. Statistics on Sexual violence Against Women: A Criminological Study.]

Somewhere in America, a woman is raped every 2 minutes. [U.S. Department of Justice, 1994. National Crime Victimization Survey. Bureau of Justice Statistics.]

Approximately 68% of rape victims knew their assailant. [U.S. Department of Justice. 1994. Violence Against Women. Bureau of Justice Statistics.]

683,00 forcible rapes occur every year, which equals 56,916 per month; 1,871 per day, 78 per hour; and 1.3 per minute. [National Victim Center & Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center. 1992. Rape in America: A Report to the Nation. ]

(From Catharsis)
jijaji - Fri, 13 May 2005 21:40:23 +0530
Rape occurs everywhere no doubt and of course the numbers are going to be higher in India because of the population...

However I have to say that outside 'Rape' itself there seems to be something inherently amiss with so many Indian men and there attidues towards women in general, take the 'groping issue' which is so prevelant there.


Are there any statistics on 'Child Marriage' outside India..?

I cannot help to think that some of the unhealthiness displayed publically and in private by males there have a unique inside cultural aspect attached to them.


jijaji - Fri, 13 May 2005 21:52:36 +0530
A History of Child Marriage in India

Mother: I will cut off your ears.

Daughter: Oh, I will see how you cut off my ears.

Mother: Really, I am telling you, I will cut off your ears and send them to the mill, and they will make flour and we will have bread from that.

Daughter: Don’t be silly.

Introduction: The Reform Movement 1860 - 1886

In India during the 1860’s, marriage meant girls getting married below 8 or 9 years old. Socio-reform religious movements such as the Brahmo Samaj and the Arya Samaj pioneered work against child marriage. Late in the 1860’s some success was met when the Indian Penal Code prohibited intercourse with a wife who had not reached ten years of age.

Nevertheless, it wasn’t until 1880 that child marriage as a problem became a public issue in India during the debate on the Age of Consent Bill. Towards the end of the debate a child wife of eleven years old, Named Phulmani, died when her husband raped her. More than 500 women doctors sent a memorandum to the Viceroy requesting him to stop marriage of girls below 14 years of age. The resulting bill compromised at 12 years old.

On August 15, 1884 a Parsee reformist, Behramji Malabari, circulated two notes which highlighted the evils of child marriage and enforced widowhood. The Honorable J. Gibbs added his comments to Malabari’s notes saying that, "Young mothers become stunted in growth, and often become invalids for life, while children were too often pony and weak." Kadhavdas added to the list of evils, "Early marriage is a great obstacle in the progress of female education."

Shortly thereafter, in 1886 the first petition against ‘Hindu Infant Marriage’ was proposed to the Government by the natives of Meerut. It was finally passed in 1927. It declared that no marriage would be valid unless the girl had completed her twelfth year. In spite of laws prohibiting the practice, child marriage continues to be a widespread custom in India. After looking at the debate which raged in the 1880’s, I look at Hindu scriptures and their mandates for the practice.

The Malabari Letters - 1887

Between 1884 and 1887 Behramji Malabari collected opinions for and against infant marriage and enforced widowhood from "representative Hindu gentlemen and official and other authorities." The "Hindu gentlemen" were mostly selected from Brahmins educated in English universities. The resultant letters, dedicated to the Duke and Duchess of Connaught were published in the Voice of India. Malabari argued that infant marriage was "a practice more evil than infanticide." His arguments against infant marriage can be summarized as a too early consummation of the nuptial troth, breaking down the constitutions and the ushering in of disease, the birth of sick children, the necessity of feeding too many mouths, poverty and dependence, and a disorganized household leading perhaps to sin.

A response by Ramanujchari’s typifies the reformer’s view of child marriage, an evil which he thought that even the reformers were unaware, ".the practice of the selling of girls by their parents. has become so rife in these parts of the country that girls are disposed of in marriage to the highest bidders like goods at an auction sale. Girls are married, as a rule, before they attain their 8th or 9th birthday - an age when they are utterly incompetent to comprehend the contract they enter into." The authors included in Malabari’s publication nearly universally condemned infant marriage as a "great physical and moral evil." Infant marriage was considered "one of two evils that, if not remedied in time, are sure to destroy the vitality of the whole native community of India." Infant marriage was not confined to the Hindus, but was also "practiced by Parsis and Mohamedans."

Two related issues were being discussed, child marriage and infant widowhood. Shirgaonkar, not so interested in child marriage, objected to child widowhood. He said, "I condemn infant marriages not because I think that they afterwards prove unhappy - which statement I will not accept unsupported by statistics - but because such marriages increase infant widows"

How child marriage works to increase infant widows and their misery is hinted at by Colonel E.W. West, "I have known many cases of old men marrying girls not yet emerged from childhood and it needs but little knowledge of human nature to realize the misery during the husband’s lifetime, and of Hindu ways to realize the misery after his death, of the girl."

Many authors felt that government action was a necessity: "The reason for this is that for the last 2000 years the Hindoos have lost the power of refection, and even that of following or imitating what is good. . The masses still grope in darkness. They are bound by their customs and the foolish teachings of their priests."

Of the eighty-seven respondents , only a few suggested that the evil wasn’t as great as Malabari considered it to be. For example, Dr. Rajendralala Mitra from Calcutta said, "I have also yet to learn that disparity in age of marriage does more harm in India than it does in Europe."

Mozoomdar objected and offered some statistics, arguing that the problem of infant widowhood wasn’t nearly so serious as propounded. According to the census there were only 28,369 widows between the ages of 14 and 19 out of twenty million total widows in India.

More than a few of the respondents objected to Malabari’s proposal for prohibition of child marriage. Taleyarkhanfrom Baroda argued that, "Our English ideas actually jar with their (the Hindus) sympathies, the antipathies, and all important affections of their heart and mind."

He goes on to explain that that ‘marriage seasons’ can be at intervals as many as twelve years apart. In the case cited a girl of four couldn’t be married until she was sixteen, "A horrible purgatory, according to the Shastras, for the parents to keep her unmarried at that age."

He continues by saying, "It is a wonder how this nation has succeeded for ages in preserving such a marked harmony of their homes. If we have weakly children the homes are happy, contented, well regulated and economical."

Reformers Ignored Hindu Scriptures and Epics

Malabari claims that, "No Shastra enforces marriage proper on a girl under 12 years of age, when presumably the boy must be between 15 and 20." That being Malabari’s only comment on the religious basis of the nearly universal custom of child marriage he concluded, "So much as to the social or so-called religious aspect of the practice."

The writers who supported Malabari, with one or two exceptions, also denied the religious-spiritual background of infant marriage. Lakshmiram, for example, said, "There is one foolish text, I know, which enjoins the marriage of every girl before she is eleven years old."

One exception to this denial is found in the letter of Keshaveal Madhavadas who says, "The Hindu law gives clear injunction not to keep a girl unmarried beyond 12 years old."

While it does appear to be arguable that the Vedic literature, written before 400 B.C. advised that children not be married before puberty, in the following compilation I show that the British and their Brahmin supporters ignored the long Hindu scriptural tradition of child marriage during Vedic times and after the fourth century BC. The citations also help us understand the point of view of a civilization that allowed for child marriage.

Child Marriage Before the Fourth Century B.C.

The Vedic mantras, such as the Rigveda mentioned that a girl could be married only when she was fully developed both physically and mentally and that she was to be fully developed physically before leaving her father’s home. Men were advised to marry a girl with a fully developed body. One hymn mentions that a female should be married only "when she is not a child". One modern commentator, Sharma who wrote in 1993, argues that during the time of the great epics, the Ramayana and Mahabharata, the girls "used to be grown up at the time of marriage".

Sharma’s reasoning is that, "In the Ramayana it is described that the brides came to Ayodhya and after paying due respect to the elders lived merrily with their husbands in seclusion which presupposes post-puberty marriages." Sharma also argues that the marriage rituals described in the Grihyasutras, the Baudhayana presuppose that the marriageable age was after puberty. The consummation of the marriage could take place directly after the marriage ceremonies or a few days afterwards. "Since consummation couldn’t possibly take place before puberty," goes Sharma’s reasoning, the bride must have reached maturity. It sounds as if Sharma considers pre-pubescent girls as being physically incapable of having intercourse and therefore not marriageable.

Malabari, more than century before Sharma, discussed the ability of pre-pubertal girls to consummate marriage willingly when he wrote A.O. Hume, "Mr. Hume is informed that consummation is deferred in many cases. Not so to my knowledge .it takes but little knowledge of human nature to see that infant marriage super-induces precocious development in the case of the boy. In the case of the girl it is worse, and almost all circumstances conspire to make her a willing accessory to what, on public grounds, I am constrained to denounce as a crime." According to Malabari, pre-pubescent sexual relationships while both common and consensual, were still a "crime".

Also suggestive that the Rigveda allowed for child marriage is a hymn that mentions that Indra gave a child-wife named Vrichaya to the old man Kashivan. Furthermore, in the epic Aranyakanda, the godess Sita is supposed to have told Ravana that when she was kidnapped by him, she was eighteen and her husband twenty five and that they had spent twelve years at Ayodhya. From this commentary, the age of Sita is known to have been six years old at the day of her marriage. Sharma (1993) argued this is not true because, "the Ramayana was recast many times and the verses in question are from later editions." He says the same concerning the Uttararamacharita Bhavabhuti which described Sita as a child bride playing at the knee of her mother-in-law.

Only in the Mahabharta is there a unequivocable injunction that a girl should be married after puberty. In fact this work decrees that she should wait three years after puberty to obtain a husband.

The Kamasutra on Courtship

The Kama Sutra is attributed to Vatsyayana who wrote his "profound discussion of love and sex" no later than 300 AD and perhaps as early as 300 BC. The work wasn’t original, it was a summing up of ancient wisdom. Love and sex were considered as something a-moral, something which transcends ethics and has its own justifications.

According to the Kama Sutra the results of marrying a young girl is untarnished love, "When a girl of the same cast, and a virgin, is married in accordance with the precepts of the Holy Writ (Darma Shastras), the results of such a union are. untarnished love."

Loving a girl that had been loved by others would be reproachful, "But at all events, says Ghotakamukha, a girl who has already been joined with others (that is, no longer a maiden) should never be loved, for it would be reproachful to do such a thing." A girl who has "fully arrived at puberty" should be avoided as a wife.

The Kama Sutra describes wooing, "When a boy has thus begun to woo a girl that he loves, he should spend his time with her and amuse her with various games and diversions fitted for their age and acquaintanceship, such as picking and collecting flowers, making garlands of flowers, playing parts of members of a fictitious family.. the game of odds and evens, the game of finding out the middle finger, the game of six pebbles. Hide-and-seek, playing with seeds, blind-man’s bluff and other games of the same sort." In short, child’s games.

If the wooer is a man he should, "attach himself to the daughter of the girl’s nurse and. procure for her such playthings as may be hardly known to other girls. He should give her dolls made of cloth.."

We may wonder what the girl thinks of all this. According to the Kama Sutra, a girl always shows her love by outward signs and actions, "She never looks the man in the face and becomes abashed when she is looked at by him; under some pretext or another she shows her limbs to him; she looks secretly at him; hangs down her head when she is asked some questions by him, and answers in indistinct words and unfinished sentences, delights to be in his company for a long time; under some pretext or another she makes him look at different things, narrates to him tales and stories very slowly so that she may continue conversation with him for a long time; always wears anything that he may have presented to her, and becomes dejected when any other bridegroom is mentioned by her parents.."

That the attentions are being paid to pre-pubescent girls is shown clearly by the concluding paragraph on Kama Sutra courtship, "A man who has seen and perceived the feelings of the girl toward him, and who has noticed the outward signs and movements by which those feelings are expressed, should do everything in his power to effect a union with her. He should gain over a young girl by childlike sports."

Later, in the Yajńvalkya Smriri and its contemporary literature, we find that the fear of post-puberty marriages became so great that the Smitris brought the marriageable age of girls still lower. According to the Parashar Smitri and Sheeghrabodha the marriageable girls were divided into five categories:

1) Nagnika or naked. A girl seven years old or younger. This was regarded as best age for marriage.

2) Gauri. A girl eight years old.

3) Rohini. A girl of nine years old.

4) Kanya. A ten years old girl.

5) Rajaswala. A girl above ten years old.

According to Vaikhnasa, a Brahmin should marry a Nagnika since that is the best match. According to Marici the best age of marriage for a girl is five years old. Brahmapurana also prescribes marriage in childhood. Failure to do this will condemn the parents or gaurdian to utmost degradation.

Child Marriage from the 6th Century AD - 1400 AD

After the sixth century the marriageable age of girls went down lower and lower. The stoppage of participation of girls in Vedic education, Upanayana rituals and the insistence of purity in yajna (sacrificial) ritual contributed to the lowering of the marriage age for girls.

All the literature of the epic clearly show the tendency to lower the age of marriage age of girls. The injunction in the Dharmasutra for a woman to wait three years after obtaining womanhood to select a mate was limited to three months by Guatama and Vishnu. Guatama said that a girl should be married before she attains womanhood, otherwise it would be a sin. According to the Baudhayana and Vashithat Dharmasutras a father who allowed his daughter to remain unmarried until after her first menstruation was considered guilty of the sin of abortion on each monthly period.

Later, the Manusmitri places stress on the suitability of the groom and makes it clear that marriage of a girl before her first menstruation was permissible. In the Baudhayana it is said that a girl should be given in marriage to a suitable groom even if she is immature, and that if she is mature she should be given in marriage even if the groom is unsuitable.

By the time of the Yajnavalkyasmitri and its contemporary literature, we find that the fear of post-puberty marriage became so great that the marriageable age was brought down even lower. Nagnika, girls seven years old or younger, were regarded as the best by Vaikknasa. Marichi considered the best age for marriage of girls to be five years old. It was said that if a father does not give her girls in marriage, then the ancestors of the girl would drink the menstrual flow of the girl.

The Ratirimanjeri of Jayadeva - 1400 AD

About 1000 years (1400-1500 AD) after the Kamasutra, the Ratimańjari or "The Posy of Love’ described the 125 slokas, or sexual positions. The work was dedicated to Lord Siva.

Young girls are mentioned in only two verses, Until sixteen years, a young girl was called bala, until thirty she was called taruni, or young woman. The Ratimańjari said, "The bala is a lover of flowers and sweet things, the young woman is given to love-play. The bala gives a man pleasure and the breath of life, prana; the taruni draws out the breath of life."

An allusion is made to hairlessness as being attractive. "Now the queynt of woman should be like the back of a tortoise, the cassia blossom, lotus-scented, hairless and well spread: these five are accounted desirable.

The Koka Shastra - 1400 AD

The Koka Shastra also discusses courtship with young girls. "The bala can be won by giving betal fruit, promising her elaborate meals, by recounting all manner of wonders to her, by the arts and by games."

Young girls or young girl somatypes are preferred sexual partners, "A pretty girl of phlegmatic constitution; a mare- or gazelle-woman, yaksi, human or goddess-type; a young girl or one in the freshness of youth - this is the ideal for those who desire pleasure in the world."

In another verse we find that, "A young girl from a strange part of the country should be studied accordingly: her inborn inclinations can be found only from experience.. When you have considered this discrepancy between individual preference and local custom, and also somatype, speed of reaching orgasm, degree of response, age group, and constitutional type, you can proceed accordingly - first to appropriate ‘outer forms’ - the first of these are the embrace..Until her sixteenth year a girl is called bala a young girl who is not yet mature must be approached by way of the ‘outer’ forms of lovemaking."

The outer forms of love-making include embraces. There are two sorts of embrace for those who have not yet declared their love, four embraces by which they can make known their mind, and eight embraces for those who have shared love-pleasure already.

Children are to avoided for the inner form of love-making, as we can see from the following verse, "Woman who has been put out of her caste, a personal friend, a child, an invalid, a woman who makes love in public, a lunatic, or one who is ill-smelling, aged are always to be avoided as a matter of practice".

More Hindu Scriptual Sources - Nineteenth Century Opinions

Hindu religion enjoined parents not to keep a girl unmarried even at as small an age as 8 years. Puberty sets in among Indian females generally after 11 years, when any marriage is considered unholy. Jayal said that, "Hindu law gives clear injunction not to keep a girl unmarried beyond 12 years."

Keeping girls unmarried until their first menstruation would condemn the family to hell, as Paitinashi said, "A damsel should be given in marriage before her breasts swell. But if she has menstruated before marriage, both the giver and the taker fall into the abyss of hell; and her father, grandfather, and great grandfather are born insects in ordure."

In addition, Brahmins who married girls after their first period would become outcastes as spoken of in the Angirasmitri where it is said, "There is no atonement for man who has intercourse with a Vrishali, i.e, a woman who has her courses before marriage. It is also stated, ". the father, mother and elder brother who tolerate a girl in her courses before marriage go to hell.. A Brahmin who will marry such a girl is not to be spoken of or admitted to society."

Hindu scriptures sanctioned both child marriage and early consummation, "the girl should be married before puberty and certainly immediately after her first menstruation. If a girl gets married after her first menses it would not be a Kanya-dan but stree-dan". Kanya-dan can be consummated at the most at 11 years of her age." In one of the scenes in the Shastras a father addresses his father-in-law on giving her in marriage, "I have brought this girl up for eight years like a boy. I now give her away to your son, treat her with affection." (Nagi 1993:4).

Age at Marriage

The Manu, Mahabharata and the Vishnu Purana decreed that the man should be three times older than the girl, thus a man marrying a ten year old should be thirty, an eight year old girl should marry a man of twenty-four and so on. One pragmatical Hindu reformer suggested that a law be made prohibiting the marriage of a man over the age of 45 with a girl younger than twelve.

The practice of marrying girls between the age of two and eight years old was common, not only amongst the Hindus, but the Mohammedans and Parsees. Even the Prophet of Islam married a child as a first wife. Oman (No date) complained that, "it is undeniably true that throughout India the marriage of very young girls from 2 to 8 years old of age, with equally young boys, or often with adults of any age, is a very common practice amongst Hindus. The practice also prevails in lesser degrees amongst Parsees and Indian Muhammadans, but it cannot be repugnant to the religious sentiments of the later, since the Prophet of Islam married Ayishah when she was nine years old. She was his favorite wife, and lived to the age of sixty-nine." Abielle (No date) found that child marriage was prevalent even in the Christian areas of India. One of Abielle’s more interesting findings was that their was a near unanimity of satisfaction of the couples involved with their experiences in child marriage.

As for consummation Oman continues, "Equally true it is that even consummation of marriage has commonly taken place when the child-wife is perhaps not more than ten years of age."


The East India Company's 17th century "looting spree" turned into a permanently profitable business by the 1800's. The British Prime Minister Salisbury soberly decreed that India should be bled "judiciously". A flood of Christian preachers, missionaries and teachers were dispatched to Anglicize the "savages." While appearing to be judicious, they were vicious in their derision of Hindus and their customs. The Brahmin caste were eager for social acceptance by those in power and quick to adopt European ideas. According to the social historian Amrit Srinivasan, "Civilizing the Indians through enforcing a uniform adoption of the Victorian ethic for women" became a central goal of the reformers. Gradually the seeds of cultural shame were sown and an Indian clone of British mentality successfully bred. From then onwards, the most effective critics of Hindu tradition were Indians themselves.

The English, who were ignorant of the long tradition of Indian spiritual literature, declared that there was no religious basis for child marriage and found support for their beliefs from their supporters within the Brahmin caste. Nearly all British educated Indians of the era parroted the English position that child marriage was an insidious evil and destroying the fabric of Indian society.

The Indian populace disagreed. As K.N. Kane of Bombay said in 1884, "There cannot be two opinions about the evil effects which these customs produce in Hindu society, but the efforts of both high and low have been rendered futile owing to the majority of the Hindu population adhering tenaciously to the opposite views." If Kane is to believed, the majority of India’s people thought child marriage to be beneficial and a source of pride. Larkshmiram, who considered child marriage a "curse", also said that, "The common saying, ‘my children were betrothed while in the cradle yet’ is the proud expression of the completely satisfied aspiration of a Gujurato parent."

At the time of the British reform movement in the 1880’s scholars and politicians reported girls being married at 8 and 9 years old to men three times their age, an ancient Hindu, and apparently Mohammadan and Parsee custom. The practice of marrying girls before they were thirteen was all but universal. According to various authors many of the marriages were consummated before puberty. Malabari himself said that, "The nuptial ceremonies, I think, are a direct inducement in 95 out of 100 cases to a too early consummation. Even the utmost precaution taken by sensible parents fails to keep the pair from mischief." The English called them "victims". Anglicized Hindus called them "willing victims in the vast majority of cases."

Cross-generation marriage was both sanctioned and encouraged by at least two thousand years of scripture and literature, perhaps even longer if we accept that Sita was a "child-bride at the knee of her mother-in-law."

An unmigated evil as the English believed? Or beneficial as the Hindus believed? Shirgaonkar, would not accept that child marriages were unhappy and complained of a lack of statistics. Taleyarkhan noted Hindu families as "happy, contented, well regulated and economical." Former Government Secretary to India, Allan Octavian Hume who almost single-handedly establish the Indian National Congress told Malabari, "I must say that I think that you somewhat exaggerate the evil results of these traditional institutions. There are millions of cases in which early marriages are believed to be daily proving happy ones."

Hume quotes a letter from a native friend, "Those ignorant of our inner life calls this a vile subjugation and say that we have made our wives our slaves, but those who live amongst us know, that it is the result of that deep seated affection that springs from early association. Where will you find a wife as true and contented as the Hindu women of a respected family?"

Sources Cited

Burton, Sir Richard F. (translator). 1962. The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana: The Classic Hindu treatise on Love and Social Cinduct.New York: Penguin.

Comfort, Alex. 1964. The Koka Shastra. New York: Stein and Day.

Jordan, Kay. "From Sacred Servant to Profane Prostitute-The Changing Legal Status of the Devadasis: 1857-1947" Reviewed in Hinduism Today: Issue 94-01

Kurian, George. N.D. The Indian Family in Transition: Some Regional Variations, in Giri Raj Gupta (ed.), Family and Social Change in Modern India

Malabari, Behramji M. 1887. Infant Marriage and Enforced Widowhood in India. Bombay: Voice of India Printing Press.

Mani Ram Sharma, Marriage in Ancient India (Delhi: Agam Kala Prakashan, 1993)

Minturn, Leigh & John T. Hitchcock. 1966. The Rajputs of Khalpur, India.

Oman, John Campbell. N.D. The Brahmins, Theists and Muslims of India

Times of India, 27th July, 1886
nabadip - Fri, 13 May 2005 22:46:20 +0530
this does not necessarily mean that India has higher incidence of rape

Rape is just one noticable, traceable misuse of woman, another more attrocious crime prevalent in India is the bride-burning after dousing with kerosene that happens a thousandfold in India. I am not deriving pleasure from damaging India's image in the world. But it is just not possible to completely close one's eyes at the grim reality which contrasts the lofty ideals preached in and about India. And on the practical side, warnings for Westerners visiting there are in place from time to time also. The groping issue is coming in here, too. It is shocking for any Western woman to receive that kind of treatment by people who go to temples, and bow to tradition at the same time.

Reasons, causes are complex, among them the depiction of complete availability of Western women, from films such as Bay Watch and other trash made in the U.S., and the watching of "Blue films" (porn) even in remote villages by young children barely in their teens. I have heard there is an extremely active sex-scene within India, upper-class college girls going for prostitution before undergoing the inevitable pre-arranged marriage with a boring husband, rampant adultery also in village-India among them. Moralist rigidity breeds abuse.

The worst fate for any young woman is to be the slave to some bitter mother-in-law, who herself was in that position decades ago and is now enjoying her position of relative power toward the 'innocent' girl. (There are surely many good people also). All of this is sanctified by the tradition discussed and relished on GD. While saying this, I am not accusing, merely contrasting with invitations to reality checks. To be responsible in this context means to do what you do (sadhana for instance) without losing track of the social consequences in mundane reality of the kind of values incorporated there. See the beauty but not close your eyes from the misery. To be able to endure the misery so highly visible all over India, that 's a great task for any sincere follower of a mystic tradition coming from that same great India.
jijaji - Fri, 13 May 2005 22:59:45 +0530

Very good post here, I also am not here to just 'slam' India but to acknowledge some of what is wrong there. There most definately needs to be some reform in regards to how women are seen in general along with some very outdated attitudes towards them.

One obvious one that comes to mind is the use of 'ultra sound' that is used often to determine if an unborn child is male or female, in which case if it is female, she gets aborted.

I brought this up some time back to some green devotee friends of mine who had never been to India and they adamantly would not believe me and even got angry saying that could not occur in India.


nabadip - Sat, 14 May 2005 12:16:39 +0530
The further away someone is removed from real experience of India, the more idealized are their views of that supposed reality. In the beginning I also believed that all Hindus in India are vegetarians, among other silly stereotypes of missionary propaganda. People who stay only in religious circles, traveling from airport to Math, ashram etc., for obvious reasons tend to neglect to dive into the reality that is at the base of their lofty idealistic pursuit.

My conclusion of several years closely living with 'the people' in India can be summed up like this: the more you get to know India, the less you understand it.

As to reform, I do not think that is going to happen in the near future. India is a vast ocean with tremendous forces at work, an apparent chaos kept in operation by stern traditions. Due to the inability of governments and policy-makers to streamline the Indian population by exorcising their evils, as has happened in Europe over the centuries by purging, exterminating unorthodox traditions, India remains perhaps the only place in the world were real 'jewel traditions' in every field can continue to survive. It is the ungovernability of the Indian people that causes this.

Changes do happen through increasing globalization, international spiritual groups trying to generalize one orthodoxy over every other, being one force encouraging that also. Changes for the worse, and for the better as well. It seems that the combination of religious tradition and technological, instrumental advances makes for an dangerously poisonous mix. India has began to get Americanized too, and with the opening of their markets to the world-market in the beginning of the 90ies due to World-bank and IMF obligations (IMF=International Monetary Fund), American world destruction has gained a stronger foothold in India. The WTO is doing the rest. That will destroy the visible India, including Vraja and other Dhams within short time. But occult traditions will survive because the Indian heart cannot be ruled by any force in the world. Even if superficially adultered, the continuing chaos allows for space, for freedom for traditions opposing streamlining.

Those who are going to suffer most are the weakest in society. Beginning with the children, the women, the labourers. The horrors of modern education made in India for small children cannot be described. Stupidity administered by stupid people who are themselves victims of stupid schools (apparently based on vedic school principles which push parrotting, learning by heart rather than learning to think)... But as India is a chaos, not a streamlined order, it has also brilliant sides. We Westerners do experience the luxury of being able to choose only those gems. But we must remember and never forget that gems are created from dirt and grow with the tectonic forces surrounding them.
nabadip - Sat, 14 May 2005 12:20:50 +0530
Girl punished, paraded nude by family

PTI[ FRIDAY, MAY 13, 2005 10:03:02 AM ]

FEROZEPUR: In a shocking incident, a 19-year-old girl was allegedly paraded naked in village Alike in the district by her own family members for refusing to marry the boy of their choice, police said here today.

In a statement before the police, the girl alleged that her mother, who had died recently, had finalised her marriage to a boy named Palli, but her father Chinna Singh wanted her to get married somewhere else.

She wanted to fulfill her mother's wishes by marrying Palli, but her father allegedly due to some "monetary allurement" wanted her to break her alliance with Palli and marry the boy of his choice, she alleged.

The girl alleged that her father along with some other relatives tried to coerce her to marry the person of their choice but when she refused, they got hold of her, trimmed her hair and paraded her naked in the entire village.

The Police have registered a case against ten persons, including her father Cheena Singh, under various sections of the IPC.

Police have apprehended two women in this connection and the rest of the accused are likely to be arrested soon, a police official said.
braja - Sat, 14 May 2005 12:50:15 +0530
QUOTE(nabadip @ May 13 2005, 01:16 PM)
All of this is sanctified by the tradition discussed and relished on GD. While saying this, I am not accusing, merely contrasting with invitations to reality checks. To be responsible in this context means to do what you do (sadhana for instance) without losing track of the social consequences in mundane reality of the  kind of values incorporated there.

I am not disputing the basic gist of your presentation--I have mentioned previously that my wife was sexually attacked three times and I made similar posts regarding attitudes towards women. However I do question the need for these constant news updates and the sort of conclusions you draw from them. (FWIW: I'd much prefer your own analysis than yet another sensational story.)

Somehow you seem to want to characterize readers here as lofty idealists in regard to their relationship to India. Could you give some concrete examples of where this has manifest? Have you seen anyone here promote child marriage, sati, dowry or whatever? If not, can you please explain the connection between "the kind of values incoporated there," "sadhana" and these abuses in India? Furthermore, can you please clarify where these abuses are "sanctified by the tradition discussed and relished on GD"?
dasanudas - Sat, 14 May 2005 19:35:51 +0530
In general observation North india is mostly ill-famed for such kind of activities. South India is pretty decent, sobar and much secure place in this regard. I would give West bengal also not too bad rating in this regard. This is mainly due to the reason of lacking of proper education and conciousness. North India is much more vulnerable for such instances because of vast illiteracy. Though in general North India has sizable amount of wealthy families, but lack of proper education and conciousness gives them such bad name.
nabadip - Sun, 15 May 2005 16:24:47 +0530
QUOTE(braja @ May 14 2005, 09:20 AM)
QUOTE(nabadip @ May 13 2005, 01:16 PM)
All of this is sanctified by the tradition discussed and relished on GD. While saying this, I am not accusing, merely contrasting with invitations to reality checks. To be responsible in this context means to do what you do (sadhana for instance) without losing track of the social consequences in mundane reality of the  kind of values incorporated there.

I am not disputing the basic gist of your presentation--I have mentioned previously that my wife was sexually attacked three times and I made similar posts regarding attitudes towards women. However I do question the need for these constant news updates and the sort of conclusions you draw from them. (FWIW: I'd much prefer your own analysis than yet another sensational story.)

Somehow you seem to want to characterize readers here as lofty idealists in regard to their relationship to India. Could you give some concrete examples of where this has manifest? Have you seen anyone here promote child marriage, sati, dowry or whatever? If not, can you please explain the connection between "the kind of values incoporated there," "sadhana" and these abuses in India? Furthermore, can you please clarify where these abuses are "sanctified by the tradition discussed and relished on GD"?

My idea here is to place news-clips that leave it up to the readers to draw their own conclusions based on what they know or do not know of the realities involved, including in this case the idea of dharma and the conflicting personal realities in concrete life.

While an analysis of mine is just another opinion leading to interpretations or misunderstandings, news-clips present a type of window into the reality, even if admittedly they are themselves a construct of a reality. What you call sensational stories seem to be so by dint of their highlighting a particular, in this case socio-culturally problematic situation. A conflict comes to an apex, a clash of values or lack thereof occurs, differing human desires converge and create a scene of actions.

As to the connection of Gaudiya-ideals and the world out there in India, the social situation highlighted in these newsworthy social events, I feel it is astonishing that I should elaborate. That is the kind of background reality that I would prefer to leave open to the readers' discretion and to their own interpretation, since they are extremely sensitive issues. Vraja-lila is centered around child-marriage settings with subsequent transgressions of moral standards. I know well the precautions to see them in a mundane perspective. But the fact remains that the lila settings, the situation of daily life and how it is supposed to be, draw from or inspire the social reality in India.

The interaction of Lilas and social realities in India are a complex field of analysis, depending on the perspective that one takes (god-given versus socio-cultural evolution, or a combination of both). The Avatara-lilas are extremely important in the shaping of role-models in Hindus. Everyone knows all these stories so-to-say by heart. The Rama-lila is generally preferred for its society-building traits, while the Krishna-youth-lila is often decried for its possible propagation of immoral standards. That is the connection between the values sanctified by the tradition as discussed here on GD and the "reality out there" which is highlighted by newsworthy stories.

I had no intention of connecting the idea of sadhana (i.e. lila-smarana) with the abuses mentioned in the news-clips. I merely meant to suggest that while we do what we do, we do not close our eyes from the facts created out there. Some of these facts are specific for the Indian situation as the following news-clip highlights also. It is in fact the contrast-turn-of-events of a situation familiar from Krishna-lila.

While placing these news-clips I do not insinuate to propose a direct connection of the lila-contents in any causative sense. I suppose readers here are mature enough to draw their own conclusions when reading or ommitting to read any of this without my having to comment how things should or could be seen.
nabadip - Sun, 15 May 2005 16:33:06 +0530
Attempt to strip lady for slapping teaser


Calcutta, May 14: A 25-year-old housewife, Anu Halder, was beaten up and nearly stripped by a gang of youths after she slapped one of them, who was teasing her.
The incident took place late on Thursday evening at Teghoria in Sonarpur on the southern fringes of the city when the woman and her husband, an engineering student of Jadavpur University, went to the group under duress for a “settlement”.
Based on a complaint lodged by the victim yesterday against prime accused Naba Mondal and six others, including one Kashi Nashkar, with the Sonarpur police station, a probe has begun.

Late this evening, the police arrested Naba on charges of molestation.
“An inquiry revealed that Naba was clearly involved in this incident and had masterminded the retaliation. More arrests are likely,” said South 24-Parganas superintendent of police S.N. Gupta.

According to the complaint, Anu, a resident of Sahebpara in Sonarpur, was on her way to offer tuition on Thursday evening when Naba started stalking her on a bicycle.

Even as she stepped up pace, he followed her making passes. Midway, Anu spotted one of her husband’s acquaintances and told him how Naba was teasing her from behind. The two walked up to him.

“In the midst of the heated deliberation that followed, she slapped the youth and he left on his cycle,” said one of the investigating officers.

Some time later, he returned with 25-30 youths and barged into the rented house of the Halders. With Anu not around, they threatened her husband and left saying they would attack her unless they turned up for the settlement.

As word spread, the house owner and neighbours suggested to Arindam that he should go with his wife and settle the issue with the youths. When the couple went, Naba and his gang surrounded them and began beating them up.

Arindam tried to resist, but was woefully outnumbered. Desperate to teach them a lesson, the youths tried to strip his wife when, alerted by her cries, a few people gathered and bailed her out. Some of them later offered her a sari and escorted them home.

Still in pain, the couple could not, however, muster the strength to walk up to the police station.

They lodged the complaint the next day.

The police raided several hideouts across Sonarpur yesterday, but without any success. Today, one of the officers learnt that Naba had returned home. “A police team rounded him up almost immediately,” said a Sonarpur officer.
braja - Mon, 16 May 2005 02:02:04 +0530
QUOTE(jijaji @ May 13 2005, 12:10 PM)
Are there any statistics on 'Child Marriage' outside India..?

From the BBC:

"Girls married young"
Democratic Republic of Congo 74%
Afghanistan 54%
Bangladesh 51%

Unicef has a complete statistical report for 2005 (pdf).

One of the stunning figures: 66.9% of Indian women aged 20-49 who were married by the age of 18 had been victims of domestic violence.
jijaji - Mon, 16 May 2005 08:26:54 +0530
This topic is entitled 'Risk and pain of being a woman in India, the dark side of male dominance'

I wanted ask..Is there a 'Light Side' to male dominance..?


nabadip - Mon, 16 May 2005 11:22:03 +0530
QUOTE(jijaji @ May 16 2005, 04:56 AM)

I wanted ask..Is there a 'Light Side' to male dominance..?

Krishna-lila. smile.gif
nabadip - Mon, 16 May 2005 11:25:30 +0530
Where have the girls gone? Picked for Delhi

Contai, May 15: “Soon, there will be no young women left in our village.”

Bhabani Das’s anguished prophecy is chillingly close to the truth. The 60-year-old lady, who has lost her 16-year-old granddaughter Basanti, is just one of the floundering victims of an insidious force sweeping through Bengal’s villages.

Placement agencies based in Delhi are the new face of trafficking, stealing away girls — often 12 years old or less — and women from their homes, promising jobs and tempting pay, but in reality, delivering abuse.

An estimated 750 to 1,000 placement agencies — tiny one-room set ups — have sprouted across Delhi’s distant urban sprawl. Many offer girls from Bengal, on demand, for a range of jobs, but most commonly domestic work.

“One agent alone, Suraj Jana, has taken over 300 girls,” says Sarada Giri Jana, district coordinator of Childline, an emergency help-line for children. He targets the poor and uneducated in remote villages, flashing a business card, taken as evidence of authenticity. “The worst treated girls often come from homes without one parent or are orphans. When something goes wrong, there is no one to protest,” adds the social worker.

Bhabani lives in Kakhuria village, near Contai in East Midnapore. But “agents” — once shadowy figures (distant aunts, uncles, dadas, neighbours), now growing distinct but no less dangerous — are recruiting openly across the state.

The bait is a salary of around Rs 3,000 a month, far more than the girls used to life below poverty line ever imagined they would make working at home, or even in Calcutta.

Deprivation and greed make for a sinister blend. Agencies often pocket much of the girls’ money. Or, they aren’t paid at all, on the pretext that they have stolen from employers or haven’t finished the one-year contract, of suspect legality, they are supposedly bound by.

Rakhi Rani Shee was working in Delhi for over a year. Physically and mentally abused, the 14-year-old told her father about her plight. Brother Debdulal was sent to bring her home, but Rakhi returned without her brother. Debdulal was detained by Suraj to work without pay because Rakhi had allegedly stolen from her employers. He still hasn’t ret- urned home.

The agencies take around Rs 3,000 from every employer their girls are placed with. The first month’s salary is taken in advance, and a one-year “contract” is signed. For an untrained girl, Rs 1,500 a month is the norm. A “semi-trained” girl —who knows a little Hindi and can cook — fetches Rs 2,000 and upwards. A “fully trained” hand comes for Rs 3,000.

“The jobs sound acceptable, and would fetch them only around Rs 500 a month nearer home,” adds Giri Jana. But they leave them helpless. Over 10 girls have gone missing — including Shikharani Giri and Basanti Sheet — in just a handful of villages.

Most return with only a fraction of the money they have earned. Some are beaten.

One has been raped, allegedly by every male member of the family where she was posted. They are prevented from keeping in touch with home. And once that tie is severed, disappearing is easy.

Sandhya, who had been taken to Mumbai two years ago, called home to leave the cryptic message that no more phone calls should be expected from her.

In Contai, where there have been six general diaries lodged in the Marishda and Bhupati Nagar thanas naming Suraj (whose wife and associate have been arrested, see box), coercion is often employed. Sometimes the girls run away without telling their parents, persuaded that a better life awaits them.

Rabi Dholui’s daughter Asha disappeared eight months ago. One day, after her examinations, she went to her friend’s house, and has not been home since.

“Then we found out that these agents would come to her friend’s house, and that they have been taken to Delhi,” says the helpless father. When he went to the police, he was asked to come back later.

Many parents send the girls willingly, dogged as they are by poverty, with no options in sight. Then, they stay mum, further fuelling the exodus.

The police are usually reluctant to accept a diary, let alone an FIR. The parents are told that as the families send them willingly for money, it is their own fault. That this is the way of the village. All the while, the girls continue to fall through the cracks.

“There is no law by which these agencies can be held accountable,” says Aparna Bhatt of the Human Rights Law Network.

Delhi is still a world away for some and the distance — between Calcutta and the capital, dreams and reality — is often too far to be bridged.
nabadip - Tue, 17 May 2005 13:12:29 +0530
Dark side of piety: Varanasi becomes flesh trade hub

Ramesh K Singh/ Varanasi

The temple town masks a dark underbelly. On Sunday, a girl and her lover eloped and landed in Varanasi. A native of Bengal, her family lives in Delhi. The lovebirds chanced across some middlemen and reached the red-light area in Shivdaspur, where they were promised safe shelter.

The middlemen settled the deal with a brothel operator on the sly, but the local residents got a wind of it and rescued the girl.

The same day, two girls were reunited with their families after some Dalit villagers rescued them from the clutches of "dalals", who were all set to whisk them away to Patna.

The girls - siblings - left their home in Allahabad's Phoolpur area as one of them was unhappy with the match her father had made for her.

The two girls were trapped by "touts", but they realised their mistake and sought help from the residents of Sajoi village in Jansa area. The villagers rescued them from the middlemen and gave them shelter for a week till their parents took them home.

These are not isolated cases. In recent months, several such cases came into the light but most of the victims have ended up in the red light areas.

The city of Lord Vishwanath has become a key transit point for girl trafficking. Though the police differ, an NGO, Gudia, engaged in rehabilitating sex workers in red-light areas, paint a grim picture.

"Varanasi is no stranger to flesh trade. Hundreds of girls from Nepal, Bihar and West Bengal are brought here, but only a few of them stay here. Most of them are shifted to the kothas (brothels), especially in Mumbai and elsewhere in Maharashtra. Only those girls, who are mature enough to withstand the rough and tumble of red light zones, bear the ordeal in silence," says Gudia chief Ajeet Singh.

Gudia has been helping the sex workers fight for their empowerment and their children's education, besides providing them a cultural platform to showcase their talents.

It has organised several festivals in Delhi, Bhopal, and Varanasi to promote talents from the red light zones.

According to Mr Singh, the sex rackets involve children in the 13 to16 age group. They are brought here either by their lovers or by their relatives.

"Sometimes, even fathers sell their children to stave off poverty and starvation," Mr Singh said.

However, not all of them are forced into the trade. Gudia officials say girls above 18 sometime take up the profession to fend for themselves and their families.

Strangely, lifestyle and immoral ways also come into play, feels a senior Gudia functionary. The NGO alleges police involvement. "The trade cannot flourish without the involvement of the police, who play a key role. The Manduadih police station is considered one of the best thanas."

According to a survey, about 10,000 poor Nepali girls are brought to India for flesh trade every year. Earlier, Varanasi was the biggest transit point for girls of Nepalese origin, but now Gorakhpur has pipped Varanasi to the post," says Mr Singh.

"These days girls are brought from the poor families of eastern UP," he adds.

Gudia has launched a two-pronged intervention programme - first to empower the sex workers to take on the middlemen and the "corrupt" policemen and then to bring them closer to the mainstream.

"Over the past 10 years, there has been a gradual change. Minor girls in the red light areas do not solicit these days. They are more inclined to study," says Mr Singh.

However, station officer (SO) of Manduadih police station RK Singh categorically denies any flesh trade in Shivdaspur area. According to him, the local girls are "entertainers", akin to the courtesans of the past, who just "dance and sing." But he admitted that a girl was brought to the area on Sunday by a tout "by mistake."

nabadip - Wed, 18 May 2005 06:58:17 +0530
Mothers, daughters to discuss taboo subjects

Staff Reporter

Meeting organised to bridge communication gap

NEW DELHI: The facts about birds and bees might be one of the toughest conversations for mothers to have with their daughters. And at Jahangirpuri in North-West Delhi, it is probably a subject that never really comes up during such conversations. Helping them now to start a dialogue on taboo subjects focusing on sexuality is a "Maa-Beti Sammelan" - a meeting being organised here in the Capital on Wednesday by the Deepam Educational Society for Health (DESH) and Care India.

Part of the CHAYAN Youth Intervention programme that is being supported by the Delhi State AIDS Control Society, the "sammelan'' aims at bridging the communication gap between mothers and daughters on "sensitive" topics. "We are targeting youth from 15 years to 24 years and are working with both genders. The idea is to get mothers and daughters to start talking about these issues. We found that 20 per cent to 30 per cent of the youth are sexually active in this area. We have devised cultural programmes and games to remove stigma surrounding these issues,'' says the project co-ordinator, DESH, Jojo Thomas.

While Delhi is being used as a model that will eventually be replicated in different parts of the country, DESH has also started interventions in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand. However, this is not the first such "sammelan" that has taken place.

"We have found that people in this area are not aware of sexually transmitted diseases.

Girls are unaware, but even their mothers don't have knowledge about these issues. We found that many women who had sexually transmitted infection (STI) thought it was natural and did not see a doctor. They are also in denial about their children being sexually active,'' he stated. And in an attempt to dispel these myths and ensure healthy reproductive practices as well as spread awareness about AIDS.
jijaji - Wed, 18 May 2005 07:18:06 +0530

Ok we see that there is a lot of bad stuff going on in India in relation to rape, child marriage and general attitudes towards women in general.
You must have some feelings about this widespread tendency and why it is happening...please share it!

What is happening behind the scenes in your estimation, why is this going on in such a manner constantly..?

Come on bro give it up!

You feel the need to post these stories, surely you must have some theory as to what its all about, what is it that has driven the Indian mind nuts in regard to it's women and sex....?

Time for some commentary, I demand it!


nabadip - Wed, 18 May 2005 08:21:48 +0530
I have no hidden agenda behind posting these clips. It's more about getting and providing a more complete picture of the reality of India. Things happen as they happen, inviting our compassion.

I started this thread after noticing the number of news items on girls committing suicide after getting eve-teased by boys, in the W.B. area. Okay, it is adding up a bit, and it can also be left at that. The adding up of items addressing different issues may look like you say, that I have an agenda, or a view as to reasons, causes, but that is not really the case.

In preaching terms, what this is about is: looking at the perverted reflection of divinely inspired archetypes. Going for "heavenly" goals, transcendence, spiritual realisation, comes at a price. That is the general observation in human pursuits. My personal conclusion is: I cannot neglect those who pay the price for others to be holy. It's about polarity, rather than duality. In the polar perspective, the dark side and the light side belong together. The polar perspective is wholistic taking the circle as paradigm, while the dualistic view that sperates into good and evil, pure and impure, holy and unholy as being separate, is a consequence of linear thinking which fragmentizes.

Woman, the feminine, is one pole of humanness, and also of Godhood, if that is a word. Exploring what it may include being a woman in India is therefore a worthy pursuit. By accident it has happened here through extremes (rape, child marriage, prostitution, abuse of work force etc.). These extremes point to the reality involved, the factual life of living, hoping, enjoying and suffering, and the ideals behind the society which make it the way it is.

Reflecting on what it may mean to be a woman in India may cause a growing understanding of what it may mean to be a man in India. Of what it may mean to be a human being in India...
jijaji - Wed, 18 May 2005 08:34:45 +0530
Thank you
nabadip - Mon, 23 May 2005 20:01:51 +0530
Karate classes offered to women by police
By Harish C. Menon (Asian Age)

New Delhi, May 22: It will be karate yells and kung fu punches for anyone who tries to play dirty with women in Delhi as the police is set to impart "self-defence techniques" to female citizens!

Delhi Police’s Crime Against Women Cell (CAWC) will train women in martial arts skills like taekwondo, judo and karate in this year’s 10-day self defence programme for the city’s women starting from May 30 that aims to raise their confidence levels by "empowering them with self-defence skills".

Joint Commissioner of Police (CAWC) Vimla Mehra said: "The main reason for the high rate of crimes against women is the perception that women are weaker and vulnerable. This has to be changed by empowering them with physical defence skills. "We will train them to be physically fit and mentally alert so that no one can take advantage of them."

The programme comes in the backdrop of the finding that Delhi tops the chart of India’s 35 mega cities in crime against women, according to the latest figures of the National Crime Records Bureau for 2003. Delhi (1,862) accounted for 14.8 per cent of total crimes in cities. It had 30.5 per cent of rape cases, 35.0 per cent of kidnapping and abduction cases, 18.8 per cent of dowry deaths and 15.0 per cent of molestation cases among the 35 cities.

Among all the states and union territories, Delhi ranked third after Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh in the incidence of crimes. The training, aims at arming women against assaulters and such other dangers. (IANS)
nabadip - Fri, 27 May 2005 11:28:44 +0530
Blind faith in sati
- Pyre death sparks rush of worshippers


Banda (Uttar Pradesh), May 25: Ramkumari died on her husband’s pyre earlier this month. No one is certain whether it was sati or suicide.

But Banhudarhi, a village near Allahabad, has found its new deity in the 70-year-old woman.

The hamlet with brick houses, electricity and neat roads just 150 km from Uttar Pradesh’s second city could become the site of the latest sati temple in Bundelkhand, strewn with such shrines.

Although there is no temple yet, worshippers are trickling in religiously in groups of 50 to 60 every day, braving the scorching sun. They come bearing flowers and incense sticks, even musical instruments. The processions stop in a field a kilometre from Banhudarhi — the burning ground where Ramkumari climbed onto her husband’s pyre on the night on May 7 and killed herself.

It is not known if she committed sati. “We are still trying to probe if this really was sati or suicide,” said Banda district magistrate Dhiraj Sahu. There are even whispers of a land dispute leading to her death.

But villagers of Banhudarhi and the neighbourhood have christened the 4ft x 5ft chabutara (platform) built as a memorial to Ramkumari and her husband Jageswar Tiwari the “sati sthal”. They stand before it, hands folded, offer flowers and light candles and incense before shouting Sati Devi ki jai and melting away.

Some bring along musical instruments and sing hymns.

A group of policemen led by an inspector of Jashpura police station, Surendra Singh Yadav, stands guard. “This is not a sati temple,” Yadav insists. “We are not allowing anyone to set up a temple although some villagers tried to do it.”

On the afternoon of May 7, when Jageswar, 78, died after a long illness, his wife was not heard crying aloud. Ramkumari locked herself in her room, stepping out for a while only when her husband’s body was taken for cremation at 6 pm.

Srikrishna, Jageswar’s brother, said: “We returned from the crematorium at 8.30 pm. Bhabi couldn’t be found anywhere. We searched for her everywhere, at our friends’ homes, near the temple in our house and on the terrace where she used to retire sometimes.”

Ramkumari’s younger son Rajendra says: “At 9.30 pm, an ominous idea struck us. Could she have gone to the crematorium?”

A neighbour and a relative who went to the burning ground found Ramkumari on the pyre. The fire had almost died and only one leg of the frail woman who was not much known in the village except as the wife of an accountant remained unburnt.

The family thinks Ramkumari must have added wood to her husband’s pyre and lit it afresh before climbing on it because by the time they returned from the ground after Jageswar’s last rites, the fire had been reduced to a flicker. Later, they found she had left her slippers and her old sari behind in her room. According to the sati custom, widows dress up in new clothes and walk barefoot to the pyre.

No one saw Ramkumari go, although Rajendra’s wife and several relatives and neighbours were present in the house.

Banhudarhi is home to about 60 families, most of them Brahmins, like the Tiwaris. The villagers, barring a few, are farmers. The Tiwaris are respected because both of Jageswar and Ramkumari’s sons have jobs. Rajendra, in his early forties, is a primary school teacher and lives in the family home while his elder brother is a senior clerk in a PSU in Delhi. Jageswar himself was an accountant in a government office in Banda, the district bordering Madhya Pradesh in which the village falls.

Neighbouring villages like Gandariha, Amraha Marjita have invisible caste walls that divide people, but sati binds them all. The custom has deep roots in Bundelkhand, a region straddling two states that was once identified with the brave Jhansi ki Rani and is now infamous as dacoit country.

News of Ramkumari’s immolation trickled out only after May 19 when the shradh was held. A probe was ordered after Samajwadi Party’s Jamuna Prasad Bose visited the site and drew the attention of the police.

Senior superintendent of police Jackie Ahmed said: “It is true that Ramkumari went to the crematorium on the very night when her husband had been burnt, set up wood on the same pyre and lit it before entering the flames.”

However, Ahmed claimed there was no sign of provocation or glorification of sati, the two offences for which action can be taken under the Sati (Prevention) Act. He denied that villagers were worshipping the chabutara.

Sources said the police had initially tried to hush up the case. “On the night of May 7, we had informed the Jashpura police station of what happened,” Rajendra claimed. But the inspector warned the family against leaking the news, saying all of them would be jailed.
nabadip - Fri, 27 May 2005 21:19:56 +0530
This update today:

Sati puja inside, whispers outside


Devotees stand around the memorial of Ramkumari and her husband. A Telegraph picture

Banda (Uttar Pradesh), May 26: Sati puja has moved indoors after police launched a crackdown last night on devotees thronging Banhudarhi, near Allahabad, where a 70-year-old woman died on her husband’s pyre earlier this month.

A tense silence enveloped the village today: the devotional songs had stopped abruptly, as had the offerings of coconut and flowers at the memorial to Ramkumari and her husband Jageswar Tiwari and the hullabaloo caused by 50-60 devotees streaming in everyday.

Some crows flew in and out of the burning ground, feasting on the broken coconut and sweets left behind by devotees on the 4 ft x 5ft platform over six days. A group of armed policemen stood guard at the “sati memorial” in the empty field outside the village that serves as the burning ground.

Another group of four policemen patrolled the near-deserted road to the Tiwari home in the village over a km away.

The family had locked the house and disappeared, fearing arrest. Knocks on doors of other houses in the neighbourhood went unanswered. At the other end of the village, people spoke in whispers about Jageswar’s “holy” wife.

Dhiraj Sahu, the district magistrate of Banda, bordering Madhya Pradesh, denied there had been any puja.

“We had to deploy the police to see that no glorification of sati took place. The villagers are innocent. They may be misled by gossip to glorify the cult of sati,” he said.

Sahu holds that there is no need for a criminal case, arguing that Ramkumari had either died by accident or committed suicide.

The circumstances in which Ramkumari died on the night of May 7 have, however, left a lot of questions unanswered. Her family, now in hiding, failed to explain how the frail and ill woman, who could not see without her glasses or walk without a stick, managed to cover the one-and-a-half-km distance from her home to the burning ground. Her glasses were later found in her room, the police said.

It is also surprising that on the day her husband died, Ramkumari was left alone in a room although there were other women in the house, including her daughter-in-law. No one saw her leave.

A local women’s group, Vanangana, which has conducted probes into sati elsewhere in the Bundelkhand region, described the incident as “wrapped in mystery”.

But district police chief Jackie Ahmed said inquiries so far have suggested no foul play. Asked why the police had not registered at least a case of unnatural death, he said: “It will intensify speculation about sati.”

Some villagers said the policemen had entered their houses last night and warned them of arrest if they were caught talking about sati.

“The police seem to have suddenly become alarmed over the rise of Sati Maiya in the village,” said Rameswar Yadav, a former pradhan (headman) who believes in sati, like most villagers.

Even Samajwadi Party leader Jamuna Prasad Bose, whose visit to the village on May 19 brought attention to Ramkumari’s death, had scooped up some ash from the pyre and smeared it on his head.

“We saw the villagers walking around the concrete structure built on the pyre. Some of them were chanting mantras,” says Bhagwania Prajapati, 55, who looks after a small mango orchard owned by the Tiwari family, which also owned 50 acres of land.

The police presence scared and angered villagers, but did not stop sati puja. “Hum to Sati Maiya ka ghare me pujan karbe (I will do the sati puja at home),” said Champa Devi, a housewife in Gandariha village, neighbouring Banhudarhi. Household pujas in Ramkumari’s name are already on, some villagers said.

nabadip - Sat, 28 May 2005 11:35:20 +0530
Five sati temples dot district


Banda, May 27: If devotees of Ramkumari, who mounted husband Jageswar Tiwari’s funeral pyre three weeks ago, manage to build a shrine to her, it would be the sixth sati temple in this Uttar Pradesh district.

Fear of police could have dried up the stream of worshippers to the Banhudarhi sati sthal where the 70-year-old burnt to death on May 7. But local sentiment for the custom is so strong that people flare up at the slightest word that is said out of place.

Little surprise, then, that five sati temples are flourishing in this backward Bundelkhand district.

The biggest is in Mahorbar village in Barobarkhurd block, at which every bride is expected to get herself blessed before setting foot in her husband’s house.

No number of probes chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav orders — he has asked for a magisterial inquiry into Ramkumari’s death — will likely dampen the villagers’ devotion to these women. At the temple in Barobar village in Jari block, people line up after evening aarti to listen to songs dedicated to them.

This is a relatively new temple built to 17-year-old housewife Javitri Devi who jumped into the funeral pyre of her 25-year-old husband Ramakant Tripathi in July 1989. Ramakant, an engineering student, and his brother were killed over a land dispute.

“We have at least seven songs dedicated to this woman. These are sung by the group put together by the villagers,” Jyotirmay Awasthi, a village priest, said.

Compared to Barobar, Mahorbar temple has a much longer history, going back to at least 150 years. It was built to an 18-year-old who committed sati after people raised eyebrows about her relations with a sadhu with whom she sang songs.

A third temple in Bagehata village in Baberu block is as many as 200 years old. Little is known about it except that villagers dedicated it to a 12-year-old Kurmi girl who perished in her ageing husband’s pyre.

Not far from Bagehata, in Pangara village of Mahua block, is another temple. It was built in honour of 35-year-old Gayatri Devi, whose husband Abadh Behari Mishra came from a moneyed Brahmin family that owned 80 bighas of land. She walked into her husband’s pyre in July 1983.

The fifth temple at Bisanda village in Bisanda block is dedicated to Dasiya Devi, 60, who ended her life with husband Venkatraman Singh, 82, in 1981. They owned 60 bighas of land, but were childless. Part of their money has been handed to the trust that manages this temple.

A non-government organisation, Vanangana, which has been working in Banda for five years, said it was time people got facts about the custom right. “Many deaths could be acts of desperation by distraught widows in this backward region,” an activist said.

Several women’s groups, including the All India Democratic Women’s Organisation, have demanded a probe into Ramkumari’s death and action against those who could have driven her to death.

“I will not be letting go of anyone who might have been responsible for her death,” Mulayam Singh said.

nabadip - Sat, 28 May 2005 12:02:25 +0530
Picking evidence of abuse


As lack of evidence on sexual assaults against women reduces the conviction chances of the guilty, the police and medical officers must acquire the skills to collect and handle forensic evidence of such cases.

This was the message on Day One of a training programme for medico-legal professionals in the city on Friday.

The two-day training programme, organised jointly by city-based non-government organisation Sanlaap and the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL), is aimed at equipping medical officers and police personnel from the districts with the necessary skills to collect, preserve and handle forensic evidence in such cases.

“We have identified nine districts in the state where crime against women is quite high. In most cases, women from these districts migrate due to various inducements and finally end up being victims of sexual and other forms of assault. Despite formal complaints by the victims, their assailants are not convicted due to lack of evidence,” said Indrani Mukherjee, coordinator, Sanlaap.

The districts identified by the NGO include Darjeeling, Cooch Behar, Jalpaiguri, North and South Dinajpur, Malda, Murshidabad, Nadia and North and South 24-Parganas.

“We want the situation to change and the culprits to get punished under the legal system,” she said, while adding that training of medico-legal professionals will go a long way in reducing the number of such incidents.

According to her, collection of forensic evidence — by medical officers in district hospitals and by police personnel in police stations — will increase the chances of conviction of the culprits.

“Crime against women is a burning issue. We have joined hands with Sanlaap to impart the necessary skills to people who can help nail the culprits,” said Bablinder Kaur, director, CFSL.

From DNA profiling to digital evidence in sexual assault — the two-day training programme will cover a host of areas linked to collection and handling of forensic evidence.

nabadip - Tue, 31 May 2005 11:11:28 +0530
Divorce spree spurs police into action


Krishnagar, May 30: When 20 girls of a small town stood up to their abusive husbands, police in Nadia were forced to sit up and take notice.

Officials of the district police have decided to set up committees to help tackle violence against women, three days after The Telegraph published a report about 20 women — both Hindu and Muslim — of Nakashipara obtaining divorce from their husbands and compelling them to return their dowry.

Another case was reported the next day.

The 12-member Mahila Ashray Committees will come up in all the 19 police station areas of Nadia district, which records a high rate of domestic violence. Each committee will have eight women.

Police officials said the decision followed a report from Nakashipara circle inspector A. Rashidujjaman detailing the events over the past four months that led to the divorces.

District social welfare officer A.R. Paik said the rate of atrocities against women in Nadia is higher than the rest of the state. “Every month, we get information about 15 dowry-related deaths in the district. And every day, five cases of atrocities against women are reported in each police station of the district.”

Additional superintendent of police Biswarup Ghosh said the committee, apart from helping women tortured by their husbands and in-laws, would also counsel couples tangled in marital discord.

“The increase in social crimes and torture on women has led the district police to set up such a body. Young married women in small villages and towns, like in Nakashipara, are harassed everyday and come to police stations for help. We have accepted complaints and arrested the accused. But from now on, we will look at these problems more closely and try to settle amicably as many cases as possible,” he said.

“Most of these women seek redressal but do not want to get into long-drawn legal battles, he added. “The women who rebelled in Nakashipara were trendsetters. The police also played a great role in helping them get back their dowry. It is an achievement for us, too.”

The committees will have school and college teachers, doctors, psychologists, sociologists, lawyers and women’s activists.

“These committees will be totally apolitical. The officer in charge of the police station concerned will be the convener of the committee, who will hold meetings of members thrice a week. The OC will submit a report to the superintendent of police every week,” said Ghosh.

Officials said chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is keen on bringing down the rate of crimes against women in Bengal.

“We have been asked by the police brass at Writers’ Buildings to formulate policies independently. The development in Nakashipara has created a precedent that will inspire tortured women and we will get more responses from victims,” said an official.

Members of the committee will also visit schools and colleges in the district to spread awareness. “We want to make them aware about the man-woman relationship at an early age. We want to instill ideas about qualities that can lead to ideal marriages, the need for mutual respect and how not to hurt each other’s dignity,” Ghosh said.

“Committee members will spread awareness about diseases, which families often hide before marriage. We will preach that tests like HIV, thalassaemia and other serious ailments are very important before marriage. The bride and groom should know details of each other’s family background. And last, but not the least, every marriage should be registered,” he added.

Rina Mukherjee, the chief counsellor of a state-aided family counselling centre in Nadia, said many women in rural areas are deprived of maintenance after divorce as their marriages are not registered.

“In case of social marriages, priests who conduct Hindu marriages or qazis, in the case of Muslims, are often reluctant to come to court as witnesses. So, it becomes difficult for the women to prove the marriage and demand maintenance,” she added.

nabadip - Thu, 02 Jun 2005 15:06:33 +0530
learning to be a "good" Indian wife:
nabadip - Tue, 07 Jun 2005 18:12:44 +0530
Wife lights husband's pyre
The Pioneer, Delhi

Seoni Malwa: Marking a break from tradition, a woman lit the pyre of her husband in the town of Hoshangabad district. Laxminarayan Kushwaha had died in an accident on Monday. When no relatives came to light the pyre at Laxminarayan's funeral, Punni Bai, the dead man's wife, performed the last rites along with all rituals and ceremonies.

nabadip - Tue, 07 Jun 2005 19:36:50 +0530
Women pray for ‘dead’ spouses’ well-being

Statesman News Service

KENDRAPARA, Orissa June 6. — For these women, it’s time to pray for the long lives and well-being of their missing husbands. Although 12 years have passed since their husbands ventured to the sea never to return again, these six ill-fated women from Kendrapara’s Kharinasi hamlet still pray for their return on Savitri Amavasya.

Today being Savitra Amavasya the women immersed themselves in the same ritual. In what may invariably remind one of Bollywood masala films, these women whose spouses were feared drowned at sea more than 12 years ago, continue to reject widowhood, nurturing the hope that the missing men would come back some day.

Not surprisingly, their stand has found takers among a section of residents of this backward village, a former sarpanch, Mrs Illarani Sardar, said.
Mrs Sardar said that these women observe Savitri Amavasya like women whose spouses are alive. This year, too, they visited the nearby temple to pray for their husbands’ well-being.

For 35-year-old Usha Mandal, the wait continues. Every day she hopes that her husband, fisherman Gour Mandal, who went missing on 14 July 1992, would return and continues applying vermilion.

She has rejected all suggestions that her husband met a watery grave when the trawler in which he went fishing along with seven others drowned 12 years ago.
Usha, a mother of two children, has frantically searched for her husband these past years. The seven crew members who had accompanied Mandal are Haridas Pal, Jagadananda Haldar, Tikan Mandal, Hari Mandal, Arjuni Das, Tapan Sasmal and Bimal Das.

All the eight fishermen were officially declared dead by the then Cuttack district administration though the bodies remained untraced.

But Usha is not alone in praying for a miracle. Like her, Kusum Pal, Devi Haldar, Kanan Mandal, Suprava Das, Henjunibala Das have refused to accept the inevitable. Meanwhile, their children are growing up without their fathers and like their mothers, the children, too, hope for their fathers’ return.

According to Mrs Sardar, even counseling did not have any effect on them.
Psychiatrists say this kind of irrational behaviour is brought on by severe trauma. A majority of such cases, unless treated, would lead to serious mental disorders. Kendrapara district magistrate Mr Hemant Sharma said once the distressed women formally appeal for help, the administration would definitely
think of rendering assistance. But none of them have approached it so far.

Also, their spouses are legally dead as the provisions of the Indian Evidence Act specify that a person is presumed dead if he is not traced for seven years