Youth and Sexuality

How often do we get to talk openly about sexuality? The Youth and Sexuality section forces you to think beyond the oblivion and think freely and talk openly about this “taboo”.

privacy

By Shailza Sharma:

There was a time when relying on the Government to protect your privacy was like asking a peeping Tom to install your window blinds. Civilization is the progress of mankind towards a society of privacy. Nevertheless, today in India the most ‘fundamental’ right to life contained in Article 21 of our Constitution has been broadened to include the right to enjoy life and also to be left alone. The ambit of our privacy can be stretched to various types which include privacy of an individual’s physical being from any type of bodily harm, privacy of the person to have control over his/her life and the freedom to have opinions e.t.c., the individuals also have privacy regarding their communication with others using any form of communication and lastly the recently developed the right to privacy of personal data.

Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms to which all human beings are entitled. The right to privacy forms a very basic part of the human rights which is also embodied in the article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights that guarantees the right to respect for private and family life, one’s home and correspondence and the article 12 of Universal Declaration on Human Rights (1948) reads “No one should be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks on his honour or reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interferences or attacks.”

It is very important in an autonomous or democratic state to respect the individuality and privacy of a citizen as it forms the very basis of a civilized society. Privacy is something that upholds a person’s dignity and its protection is the least that can be expected out of an institution. But the government should also keep a proper check on the amount of privacy being guaranteed as its excess may lead to inciting people to commit illegal activities.

The Indian Constitution does not include any unequivocal law pertaining to privacy in our country. The case of Kharak Singh vs. State of UP3 in 1964 laid down the foundations of privacy rights in India. Even though, as such there have been no intelligible rights of privacy but the same were enunciated by their incorporation in Article 21 of the Constitution which reads “No person shall be deprived of his life and personal liberty except according to procedure established by law”. Further, in the case of Maneka Gandhi vs. Union of India a seven judge bench had ruled to widen the scope of article 21 of the constitution to include all those rights which cover the personal liberty of a man. The preamble of our constitution assures the dignity of an individual. This decision was upheld in Gobind vs. State of Madhya Pradesh. Sometimes the necessity or vitality of a person’s right to be informed may violate the right to privacy or the right to be left alone of another person. The Supreme Court has defined privacy as ‘the state of being free from intrusion or disturbance in one’s private life or affairs’. Other than the inclusion of right to privacy under the ambit of Article 21 of the Constitution it can also be included under the tort law which awards damages for the tortuous act of invasion of an individual’s privacy.

Law is the projection of an imagined future upon reality. This saying holds true in the case of Naz Foundation vs. Government of NCT of Delhi. For years the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) have been discriminated against due to their sexual preferences and gender differences. Section 377 criminalises the unnatural carnal intercourse against the order of nature. The appellant has charged the respondents on the basis of violation of the rights of LGBT under the following articles:

Article 14: Equality before the law
Article 15: Prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth
Article 19(1)(a) and 19(1)(d): Freedom of speech and expression and right to freedom of movement
Article 21: Protection of life and personal liberty

The ideologies of Indian society regarding the LGBT community have been very anachronistic. Their conception of homosexuality is very limited in comparison to the Western perspective where in most of the countries homosexuality is seen as a part of an individual’s existence. By criminalising the acts of homosexuality the basic rights of the LGBT community have been curtailed, their basic right of equality before the law has been violated. Also provisions of section 377 of the IPC have been used to discriminate against them by harassing and abusing the situation of their helplessness. Further, the NGOs have also observed that due to the criminalisation of Section 377 of the IPC, it has been very difficult to cater to the needs of HIV infected LGTB as they remain underground due to the fear of being incarcerated.

The liberty to make the choice pertaining to the sexuality of an individual lies with the individual himself, the taking away of such liberty which forms an important part of the nature and lifestyle of the person is against constitutional morality. Ultimately, the High Court ruled in favour of Naz foundation and the provisions which criminalised the consensual sexual act between homosexual adults have been declared unconstitutional and the act of homosexuality has been decriminalised.

This case shows that the privacy laws in India are still very primitive at least regarding the sexuality of an individual, this calls for the existence of a fundamental Right to Privacy in India. This right only exists de facto in our country. The need for this right is evident in the harassments and the abuse of many sections of the society and also the invasion of their rights which are very personal and form the basis of their individuality.

Privacy is an entity that should be the monopoly of an individual. No one except that individual should be the judge of the limits to be imposed on the invasion of his/her privacy except of course in cases where the privacy of one person may infringe upon the right to information or any other fundamental rights of another. So, to conclude if everyone minded their own business, the world would go round a deal faster than it does.

Sources:

1 Quote by John Perry Barlow
2 Quote by Ayn Rand (1943)
3 964 (1) SCR 332 (Kharak Singh vs. State of UP)
4 1978 (1) SCC 248 (Maneka Gandhi vs. Union of India)
5 1975 (2) SCC 148 (Gobind vs. State of Madhya Pradesh)
6 As in the case of Mr. X vs. Hospital Z (1998 (8) SCC 296)
7 Quotes by Robert M. Cover
8 Naz Foundation vs. The Government of NCT of Delhi
9 Lewis Caroll: Alice in the Wonderland

 

The writer is a Contributor of Youth Ki Awaaz.

suddenly last winter

 

By Akanksha Mittal:

The movie “Suddenly, last winter” portrays the struggle of a gay couple in Italy during the time when Family Laws were being revised in Italy, in the year 2007. While I have personally never imagined homosexuality to be something abnormal or requiring medical care, most people shown in the documentary held quite contradictory views. For some, it is “a disease which needs medical attention”. For some, it is just unethical to question the order of God, who apparently created a Man and a Woman as a couple and not a Man and a Man or a Woman and a Woman. The movie talks about whether legal status be given to marriages between same sex couples. I fail to see, in the first place, why they should be illegal or for that matter, criminalized. But, maybe that is just my amateur mind cannot understand the whole uproar over “marriage being an institution whose legitimacy be maintained at all costs”.

While most of the reasons put forward in the movie against giving same sex marriages a legal status seemed really quite illogical, I do think that same sex marriages could have an impact on the psychology of the children raised by same sex couples. However, being the optimistic that I have learnt to become, if the children are explained carefully and in much detail their circumstances and how they are different from others and also how the children are really allowed to make a choice about their sexual orientation, we could actually be looking at creating a more mature society.

Most often, people are not even aware of their sexual orientation. And, I say this not by word of mouth, but with reference to many psychological theories. Those who know their sexual orientation find it difficult to accept it if it is “different” from the generally accepted norms. Those who accept it, find it difficult to be accepted by the society.

We talk in big words about Human Rights and how they are the basic undeniable rights of Humans. Not denying that Human Rights and their breech is another controversy in itself, I have a humble request to make. Can we please include the right to choose ones sexual orientation as one of the Human Rights? Yes, I sound like a kid asking for her candy. I might even start wailing if I don’t get it. But, the candy that I ask for can actually sweeten the lives of many! Perhaps everyone! We talk about a free society but we are not even free to choose who we love or want to share our life with! Now that simply points at screwed up principles!

taslima_nasreen

By Bhavita Kukreja:

Democracy accommodates plurality of opinions, people are free to express their opinions, free to pursue their own religion. As quoted by Abraham Lincoln, “Democracy is For the People, By the People and Of the People”. He furthers says that if justice is meant for the welfare of the people, then why is it so that people have to fight for justice? Why can not we live life the way we wish to? If everything is people-oriented why arn’t people getting justice?

This could be best explained by taking in notice the Middle-East countries, where any disenting voice that is raised against the state is put down with a heavy hand. Expressions of Individuality like that of Taslima Nasrins’ are not favourably accepted. Taslima herself qoutes, “I was born in a muslim family and muslim women suffer under Islam.” According to her, the need of the hour is not Reformation but Revolution. She says Islam religion is ‘out of place and out of time ‘. She is the author of the famous book LAJJA that talks about a Hindu women being raped by a Muslim and the consequences thereafter that followed. After the publication of this book, it was banned in Bangladesh and charges were put against her, people were after her life.

It is because of this that she has been living in exile since 1994. Since the time she fled from Bangladesh in 1994, she has been taking refuge in countries all over the world. At present she is in New Delhi in a house – location of which is undisclosed. She works to build support for freedom of thought, equality of women and human rights.

Latest topic in vogue these days is that of Homosexuality. Homosexuality is considered as a taboo by both the Indian Civil Society and the Government. Once During the visit of Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, Dr.Manmohan Singh was asked by a journalist on his views regarding the law that allowed gay marriages in Canada, to this he said that, “There would not be much appreciation for a law for gay marriages in India”. What a pity it is that the prime minister himself thinks this way.

But over the years the attitude of people has changed towards homosexuality. Gays and lesbians all over the world have been carrying out parades and marches for their acceptance by the state the way they are. In India and the world over, it has been a successful march. On July 2009, The Delhi High Court decriminalised homosexual intercourse, consenting and judged according to chapter 16, section 377 of The Indian Penal Code to be legal in the Indian Constitution. But this code applies in the case of sex involving minors. It is not just limited to this, there is a Lesbian Association of India as well which was established in June 2007, and it works for the support of the lesbians and biosexual women in India which comprises of a population of about 1.2 million.

Last but not the least, I would like to conclude with the example of Eunuchs, popularly known as Hijras in India. They constitute 5-6million of the total population of the country. Till date they are looked down upon by the society. Until 1994, they had no rights of their own but in 1994 they were first given right to vote.

But a great achievement among them is that of Shabnam Mausi Banu who was the first ever transgender woman being elected as the MP of Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly. She was the MP from 1998-2003 i.e. for a period of 5years. She has inspired alot of eunuchs to take up politics and participate in mainstream politics. In 2003, eunuchs in Madhya Pradesh announced their own political party called “JEETI JIYATI POLITICA (JJP)” with their 8 page manifesto claiming its difference from mainstream politics.

In the end I would like to conclude that each of us has a separate identity and we should not only respect ourselves but other individuals as well. We live in a democratic country and hence we have the right to lead our lives the way we want to, others have no right to impose their own views and ideas upon us.

kalmadi scam

By Soumit Saha:

Ever wondered at why our judicial machinery leaks and squeaks when it comes to nabbing the powerful, politician, celebrity or anyone with power, but is rather efficient at making lives miserable almost anyone who’s a commoner with an ounce of accusatory evidence.

This thought must be prevalent in many a concerned minds, so why not voice it. The youth today needs to know this. It’s been more than 5 months that news is still revolving around Kalmadi’s arrest or his actual arrest. For all we care, if he was guilty or even accused, why not an instant arrest? I might be uninformed about how the red tape works when arresting any individual, but somehow Aarushi Talwar’s servant was already on the manhunt list seconds after her murder was reported, but alas! He was found dead a day later. What I want to point out is that if an accusation was enough to arrest a servant, our law enforcers seem to have taken a sabbatical when it’s time for biggies like Kalmadi. And if that wasn’t enough, their parents have been in and out of the CBI’s questioning cells for time immemorial but with no consequence.

Sadly though, our dear leaders Raja or Kalmadi haven’t even toured the CBI gardens up till recently. Sure it’s happened, but if that late, what’s the use? Why is the definition of prompt action come with a delivery date of months? BJP came out lashing that the reaction against Raja was “too little, too late”. I agree (though I don’t stand by BJP wholly), Kalamdi was given ample time to make the documents disappear much before his house was raided and what did the raids find — Nothing! If you give me that much time I could stash away millions by just burying it underground, and in his case they were just documents.

Back in 2001, Police was “fast to act” against Arif Jafar of Naz Foundation in stating that he has been arrested for “promoting homosexuality”; someone’s short-sightedness and prudish straight-laced thought could have only fuelled this act. Even if we set aside the whole intention behind a crime, an accusation against a person causing the exchequer an amount worth a GDP of a small country still wasn’t enough to even knock his doors asking for arrest.

After stating the above instances, I find myself stifled by the law machinery’s hypocritical ways. Why is this happening? Indians? Politicians? Uninformed citizens? British Raj? Where does our narrow-minded rigid, inflexible thinking arise from? No morals, no support for fellow folks and a law that’s fragile as an egg and equally easy to crack and defy.

gaysi 2

Screenshot of Gaysifamily.com

By Shreya Ramachandran:

Although the Delhi High Court ruling on 2nd July, 2009 that decriminalised private consensual sex between two homosexual individuals was a breakthrough for gay rights, homosexuality remains a skilfully avoided topic in India. Even in urban areas of the country, where so much Westernisation has taken place, homosexuals withhold information that they know will be met with discomfort at best – and ostracism at worst. “When I finally came to terms with my sexuality, I tried telling my cousin and a few of my close friends, but at first they didn’t believe me and later, they were clearly uncomfortable and asked me not to talk about it”, says Kanika Dutta, a student at Delhi University. “They preferred to avoid the topic.”

They  have little to no chance of expressing themselves in their daily life – to their peers, to their family or to their co-workers. They have virtually no platform to voice themselves. It often happens that they do not know where to turn for support, understanding or simply someone to listen.

This is where the Indian digital media comes into play.

Screenshot of the PinkPages website

Of late, there has been a surge of support groups, collective organisations and digital magazines to cater to India’s LGBT community and provide them with avenues for free conservation without any hindrances. Pink Pages, India’s largest and most successful LGBT digital magazine, has provided exactly such an avenue. “The idea behind Pink Pages was that I, along with my friends in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata thought we should provide a platform for the discussion of gay issues in mainstream media. It started off as a newsletter and became the first national magazine that gave a voice to the Indian LGBT community as a whole”, says Udayan, Editor-in-Chief.

QueerCampus logo

“There is a gap, and we aim to fill this gap”, says Anuradha of QueerCampus India, a student-run initiative to provide support to students who are exploring their sexuality. “While in recent years, young gay people have been looking for an informal group of gay friends, QueerCampus aims to facilitate such interactions – without the formal and intimidating procedures employed by NGOs and helplines. It is important that we, as a community, should have support to offer.” QueerCampus provides great support to the gays and bisexuals in their late teens and early twenties, who are still grappling with their sexuality.

Gaysi (Gay Desi) is a vibrant, welcoming website with a talented team of writers and an open outlook towards new contributions. “We, here at Gaysi Family, provide a forum for gaysis with something to say, whether it’s personal opinions, coming out stories, poems, event notices or anything at all that is related to being gaysi”, states the website. With a teeming spread of fiction, non-fiction, personal stories and reviews, it is an excellent collection of thoughts and feelings of the community.

Thanks to such help, people grappling with the confusing question of their sexuality have many bolsters to support them. These ventures have ensured that there is no longer a blockage of discussion. It is of note that the response to these ventures has been large – showing that the gay Indian was in great need of being reached out to.

“Even when Pink Pages was new, and had no celebrity endorsement, advertisements or PR campaigning, every issue that we came out with was downloaded by thousands of Indians. The response from the very beginning has been overwhelming. That was the vision we had in mind when starting Pink Pages – we wanted a nation-wide forum for the LGBT community of India”, Udayan relates. “We’ve had the entire spectrum of LGBTQ and non-queer identified people and we’ve had participation from people who work, or study in colleges in Delhi”, is what Anuradha has to share.

Things are improving for the gay Indian thanks to these ventures. It is a testament to the enterprising and helpful natures of all the individuals who started up the Internet forums for allowing scope for the thoughts and feelings of all the members of this community throughout the nation – and extending them a much-needed helping hand.

gay pride parade

By Divya Gupta:

Change has been and will always be a part of the society’s existence. Be it social attitudes, stereotypes, notions, mannerisms change is the rule of nature. And one thing which has changed in the recent past has been the attitudes of the people of Delhi (with particular reference) with regards sexuality and sexual orientation. Though the nation as a whole has seen tremendous alterations in the thought processes and attitudes of people, Delhi has been a pioneer in a sense. The third edition of the gay pride parade – the first after consensual homosexual relationships was decriminalized in the country – in the Capital on Sunday was an unusual display of confidence by the lesbian-gay bisexual-transgender (LGTB) community. It was a march of rainbow colored people celebrating their sexuality contrary to previous marches where they were fighting for the assertion of their rights.

Restoring the faith of innumerable people in the country’s judiciary, the high court in the Indian capital, Delhi, ruled that homosexual intercourse between consenting adults is not a criminal act on July 1st, 2009.

The ruling overturned a 148-year-old colonial law which described a same-sex relationship as an “unnatural offence”. Homosexual acts were punishable by a 10-year prison sentence.

Delhi’s High Court ruled that the law outlawing homosexual acts was discriminatory and a “violation of fundamental rights”.

The court said that a statute in Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which defines homosexual acts as “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” and made them illegal, was an “antithesis of the right to equality”.

After fighting for 8 long years and two decades of LGBT activism, came what was perhaps the most inclusive step of the Indian judiciary ever.

But was the change easy to accept? The answer is negative. It wasn’t just about how easy it was to accept the change; it was the very question of acceptance in the first place. In a society like India where talking about sex is still a taboo in some places, homosexuality and the likes was an illicit thing. India’s society is generally unwelcoming of homosexuality except in the most cosmopolitan circles. It is not uncommon for gay men and women to marry heterosexuals and have families, while carrying on secret relationships with members of the same sex. The decision was condemned from many corners in India. “This is wrong,” said Maulana Abdul Khaliq Madrasi, a vice chancellor of Dar ul-Uloom, the main university for Islamic education in India. The decision to bring Western culture to India, he said, will “corrupt Indian boys and girls.”

The change is here for everyone to see. Gay pride parades in Indian cities last weekend attracted thousands of marchers, and several recent Bollywood movies, like “Dostana,” have included gay themes and characters, often played by Bollywood’s biggest heterosexual stars. Delhi’s youth is coming out both literally and metaphorically to show the entire nation and the world at large that we are capable of transforming and accepting sexual minorities.

Families came out to support their members and friends came to celebrate their friend’s success. This is also a very important step concerning the HIV-AIDS prevention.

The social stigma is certainly very difficult to break, but here’s the catch- we are beginning to break barriers and think out of the box. We are slowly but steadily learning to move away from the conventional norms to the contemporary ones. People still find it difficult to accept the reality of the sexuality of their children and relatives, but change is happening. It is never easy to handle changes but once we do, nothing can stop us from progressing towards a brighter and better future. Dilwalon ki Dilli has shown this to everyone in this hope that the rest of the nation will follow suit!

The writer is a Special Correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz and also student of Psychology at Delhi University.

Image courtesy

homo

By Swati Poddar:

Ever since the gay act has been passed in India, a whole lot of people have come out of their shells and admitted their true sexuality. The mind set of the society has also witnessed a huge leap with homosexuality becoming legal. And this change is also observed in the thinking of the parents of these kids.

The acceptability of a gay or lesbian child differs in India and abroad. In India it depends a lot on whether the parents are educated or not. Even though the educated parents might be aghast initially, when the child comes out with the truth about his/her orientation, they understand that it could have happened to anybody, and accept their child. In many metro, urban, smaller cities and rural India, the scenario is totally different. The parents often disown their child or do not want the child to come out with it.

Besides education, another major factor in India that affects the child’s upbringing is the type of family system i.e. whether it is nuclear or a joint family. It has been observed that in nuclear families homosexuality is taken more positively than in joint families. The reason is obvious. Even though the orientation of the child may be acceptable to the parents, it may come as a shock to the grand parents and other elder members of the family, who may not accept it, talk about it, and might even force other kids in the family to keep away.

The change in a parent’s mentality towards the child also differs from one individual to another. While some parents may love their kid all the same, others might discriminate. When I discussed this issue with a gay friend, he told me that his parents had been very understanding and supportive when he admitted the truth about his sexuality. They are more concerned about his safety and well being but when one of his friends had come out with it, the parents had been very dramatic and had thrown the kid out of the house who then spent a week on the streets before they realised their mistakes.

The issue of homosexuality sure affects parents as all their aspirations from their child come to a sudden end. Some parents who cannot fully accept the fact send their child to psychiatrists thinking it is a mental illness (IT IS NOT). Some even force the child into marriage with the opposite sex hoping that it is just a state of mind and that it will pass although, mostly the parents are more confused than the child.

When a child is born he/she does not know anything about his orientation. The parent also loves the child unconditionally till the ideal marriage age, when they start becoming concerned about their kid’s attraction to the opposite sex. It is then, that these young adults come out with the truth about themselves. When the parent hasn’t treated the kid differently yet, then why later? Treating their child differently will not help as eventually they’ll be concerned with the child’s happiness. Sooner or later they will have to accept the truth. It’s best if they let their child be and not impose their wishes on the child, instead, support them.


Fatima

The Section 377 of Constitution has been amended. Homosexuality has been legalized. This means a lot to LBGT community. The people ‘who defied the conventional bonds’ have now been giving equality in the eyes of law. An epic judgment, truly.

An epic judgment that when a ’modern’ fast forward country like USA’s 6 states have legalized same-sex marriage but a country like India has opened its arms to homosexuality between consenting adults.

A country so narrow minded in places that some people could be living in the ancient ages even now.

A country where it’s legal for a girl over 18 to marry a guy and is supposedly protected by law as they’re of legal age. Yet newly-weds are burnt, tortured and beaten to death when going ‘against the society’.

A country where brides are still set on fire for dowry.

A country where sex before marriage is still a taboo and virginity is not a gift but a duty that a woman is expected to uphold for the man she gets married to.

A country where “dating” is not really accepted by families. People have to hide their love.

A lot of well educated people are opposed to the above ideas too. It’s so prevalent. Everyday a new paper has a tiny bit of news stating that in some part of the country, a man and woman were punished for they defied the society.

What does legalization of homosexuality mean in a country that cannot for a larger part, handle freedom like freedom? A place where injustice still prevails and bribery is not the problem but the solution to all the problems…?

If you say all this burning and torturing happens in the village, then for sure this new amendment of law applies to the villages too. After all they’re a part of India.

Come to the city, interracial couples are frowned upon, “Aunties” and “Uncles” still look at young couples dating and disapprove.

Teenage pregnancy is a fact, not many people are ready to accept.

Indian society can be so incapable of handling freedom.

Let’s compare legalization of homosexuality to legalization of marijuana.

The people who smoke marijuana secretly will do it openly, if it is legalized. The peddlers, who sold the intoxicating drug illegally, will set up shops.

And those people, who had no idea about the popularity of the drug or those who never tried it, will now try it too.

Would legalization of homosexuality mean the same thing?

How many of us repulse the idea that 25 years later, our sons might bring home a boyfriend to introduce to us? How many hiss at the idea?

How many of us are actually shocked and horrified at the amendment of the act? Is this modernization…?

image: http://news.bbc.co.uk

Anshul Tewari

Equality is now prevalent and Section 377 has been condemned by the Delhi High Court. The Delhi High Court today decriminalised gay sex between consenting adults. It clearly stated that the Constitution does not allow law to be held captive by popular “misconceptions” and prejudice. Invoking Jawaharlal Nehru and the Constitution’s spirit of inclusiveness, Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah and Justice S. Muralidhar held that Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, “insofar it criminalises consensual sexual acts of adults in private,” violated the principles of equality and non-discrimination contained in Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Indian Constitution.

On 22nd September 2008, Youth Ki Awaaz featured an article on Homosexual’s being prejudiced and about why are we failing to accept them? The article condemned the fact that Homosexuality was unacceptable in India.

But now there is a sigh of relief, Homosexuality has finally been accepted. The Indian Gay community and activists rejoiced throughout India and celebrated their victory. The decision of the Delhi High Court will now be challenged in the Supreme Court of India, where this case will be tried.

Let’s hope that equality prevails over prejudice. If the SC upholds the judgment of the High Court, we might see a little tiff between the Parliament and the SC.

Apurva Desai

Rape is a traumatic experience for the victim, we all can agree on this, even if we can only fathom a millionth bit of the pain they suffer. But tell me, what would they go through if their trauma is not recognized? If it is dismissed as ‘impossible’?

Excruciating, right? The same is felt by the victims of Gay Rape. It’s not a new concept. It happens all over the world, but it’s just dismissed as though, something of this sorts is impossible. What would the victim go through, I cannot even imagine. We all associate Rape with a female victim and a male assailant. There are male victims too.

I used to wonder if something like this was possible, and my question was answered when I read, “The Kite Runner”. For the first few minutes, I couldn’t understand, how, why, and what was happening. Then suddenly, slowly, it struck me hard, really hard, what was being portrayed. Gay Rape.

It was fiction, but it is anything but fiction for the countless victims all over the world. I was appalled, shocked and sleepless when I discovered this facet of the gory act.

The stories are so horrifying, it seems so inhuman to let this all happen.
Firstly, thanks to the society, gays are not accepted, (hope the laws against homosexuality are repealed) so only a few, brave men have the courage to come out in the open and accept it, without the fear of their lives.

Secondly, even if they do accept, the small majority is not courageous enough to report rapes and abuses.

Thirdly, even if they muster up every ounce of courage in their souls and go, file a complaint, they are dismissed saying that this is impossible and even mocked at.

I’d like each of us to know that this is NOT an impossible act. Such abuses exist, and they scar the lives of innumerable young men all across the continents. I wish to appeal through this article, not to mock, ignore the homosexuals. It’s their choice.

To help them, listen to their grievances, to ensure such acts do not happen, and if, forbid me, they do happen, the rapists should be punished.

The law-makers should sensitise the citizens towards all these facets. This is all I’d like to say.

Don’t keep mum, go out, speak for yourself. Gay Rape IS NOT tolerable and neither is it a myth. Take a stand.

image source: http://www.generationq.net/

By Kiran Rao

Bitter Chocolate is a book which is sure to shock the reader at every each and every page flip. The book deals with Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) in India. Through this book, the author Pinki Virani shatters every myth regarding CSA, and jolts the reader out of complacency regarding the issue. She explains the effects of such abuse on the child, and proceeds to offer suggestions — for prevention, as well as to deal with abuse. This book considers as CSA, cases where the abuser is more than sixteen years of age, and the abused is less than sixteen.

Bitter Chocolate is split up into three “notebooks”.

****************

Notebook 1 starts off with an account of the author’s own childhood experience. It then touches upon scores of instances of CSA from all across the country, cutting across social strata (both of the victim and the perpetrator) and age of the victim. There are some instances where the abused is too young to even know she has been abused! Some of the accounts were disgusting enough to make me question the very notion of “humanity”. Sample this:

1.A lot of cases of CSA occur within the house of the child, at the hands of a person known to the child.

2.Boys are the target of the abusers too — and we are not talking of a one-off case here. Far more little boys are sodomized than one can imagine.

3.There have been cases of women being perpetrators (although this forms a small percentage)

4.Only a negligible minority of the perpetrators are actually “suffering” and need “treatment” (referring to pedophilia — which is an excuse often used by child abusers to get away).

5.Yes, the driver, lift-man, security guard at school might be looked at suspiciously, and the child might be warned to be cautious of such people. But what if the abuser is a person who, ostensibly, is supposed to protect the child? What if the child is violated by uncles, teachers, grandfathers, older cousins, family friends, even brothers and most shocking of all — fathers? This is not all that rare — as Pinki details out in the book. People who are gentle, caring and smiling by day — turn predators when they find themselves alone with the child.

The sickest of all factors mentioned in the previous point is that the child is often abused by the very person who the child is totally dependent on! That’s the irony.

1.In many cases, the abuse does come to the notice of the family members of the child — but they often do nothing about it. Reason? Our twisted notion of the “Khaandaani Izzat” (family honor) measured solely by the “purity” of its girl child. The boy victim is luckier in this respect, as the family’s honor does not rest on his shoulders, and it is more probable that something will be done about it when his case comes to light.

2.In a vast majority of the cases, the victim feels guilty that (s)he was responsible for what happened. And family/society does nothing to dispel this guilt. How blood-boilingly revulsive is that?

3.Child prostitution and child pornography are more widespread that one might be led to believe.

This list is just an indication of what to expect from the book. It is difficult to control oneself while reading some of the examples — I often found myself closing the book in disgust or choking or wiping a tear from my eye.

****************

Notebook 2
undertakes a long-term study of a couple of real-life stories, thereby examining the effects of CSA on a victim. It explains the short-term and long-term effects of CSA, and how it has the potential to destroy a person’s life — forever. Some of the effects mentioned include:

1.Physical scars and emotional insecurity (these short-term effects are pretty obvious)

2.Confused sexuality, promiscuous behavior on part of the victim (this is a long-term effect where the victim might experiment with homosexuality/multiple partners in an attempt to “erase” the memory of the abuse).

3.Problems in family life, including emotional and sexual problems

4.Most destructive of all, the abused may turn predator in the long run, and when the child grows up, (s)he may end up abusing a child in turn.

The book goes on to cite the opinions of several counselors, doctors, child psychologists on this matter. The bottom line is: CSA devastates a child and this devastation can manifest itself much later in the life of the victim.

****************

Notebook 3 comes round to providing approaches to prevention of CSA. But not before it touches upon the reasons the abusers have a free run in India:

1.For one, the laws pertaining to CSA in India are grossly inadequate. Only rape (as in, penetration) carries any significant punishment.

2.Secondly, the abusers are probably aware that there are very small chances of the truth coming out into the open. Even if it does, our notion of family pride ensures that everything will be hushed-up and the abuser is free to go find his(/her) next target.

3.The book provides examples where a judge simply refused to believe that a grandfather was abusing his granddaughter. This shows how skewed the upholders of the law are with respect to the issue of CSA.

4.Finally, the abuser is aware that even if a case gets to court, it is an extremely uphill task for the family of the child to prove anything. The child will have to be produced in court and will be cross-examined. It is definitely easy to confuse a child during cross-examination.

Pinki Virani goes on to provide several practical approaches to tackle the menace. These revolve around the idea that if the perpetrators of CSA are brought to book, then it could help partly in discouraging such despicable acts in the future. The approaches include

1.Tougher, and clearer laws dealing with CSA — starting with the proper definition, to increasing the punishment.

2.Child-friendly process to deal with the matter (for example, the child not having to be repeatedly cross-examined and explain the harrowing experience several times, in graphic detail, to complete strangers).

3.Child Protection Units (to counsel the victim of abuse) and Child Protection Courts (to handle all cases where the victim is a child).
4.But above all, Pinki pins the hope on responsible parenting. This includes

4/1.providing an open atmosphere at home so that the child is not hesitant to speak out is (s)he is abused,

4/2.being aware of what the child is up to, where (s)he is and such, and

4/3.most importantly, dealing with disclosure appropriately (without blaming the child for what happened).

I have just summarized some of the points — the author goes into the nitty-gritties of each of these factors.

****************

1.Yes — Bitter Chocolate is hard-hitting.

2.Yes — At times, you’d rather just quit reading the book.

3.Yes — the book will definitely give you several sleepless nights.

4.Yes — at times, the extremely graphic descriptions might be just too much to take.

In spite of all this, I still recommend one and all to read this book. For the simple reason, that unless one reads this book, one will not really grasp the magnitude of the menace. It is human nature that unless something shocks us beyond imagination, we treat it as just one of those things. If I had just read a statement that CSA does take place — I might not have reacted as strongly as I am now doing after reading the book.

Bitter Chocolate is a must read.

****************

My Personal Views on the topic:

It is my belief that an adult who sexually abuses a child does not even qualify as a human. CSA is the lowest to which humanity can stoop. Of course it has to stop. But the issue is definitely a complex one. For example, in the case where a person who is supposed to provide for the child (shelter, food) himself resorts to sexually abusing the child, there is no easy solution.

I agree with most of the approaches outlined in The Bitter Chocolate — both for prevention of CSA and to deal with it. However, something does not seem right.

1.Making sure the child is aware is a good thing — but then, at what age does one begin educating the child about CSA? The book highlights a case where a girl was abused even before she uttered her first word!

2.Educating school-going children to be wary of strangers is a good thing — but what good would children be if they are not .. well .. children? I’m not sure if it’s a good thing if a child is suspicious of everyone and everything.

3.Early adolescence is an even more difficult time to explain about CSA. There is every possibility that the child loses the distinction between a good touch and a bad touch — thereby treating every touch as a bad one. So, we end up with a case where a child has never been sexually abused, but still tunes out of love and sex completely. Its almost like the child has been frightened into this emotional situation.

I completely agree with the author regarding the urgent need for the law to be reformed to be more child-friendly. Child Protection Units and Child Protection Courts are definitely bound to be effective.

To conclude, I think that it is the responsibility of every citizen to raise our voice against this most heinous of crimes, to work towards its prevention, and to push for reform. Remember, children are our future citizens. What kind of country would it be, where a staggering 40% of the girls and 25% of the boys have, at some point of time in the past, been sexually abused as children?

****************

As a footnote — CSA is by no means purely an Indian phenomenon — nor is it restricted only to poor and developing countries. It exists everywhere. USA is struggling to contain child pornography and some other countries like Cambodia are waging a battle against child prostitution. The entire world is violating its children — and the responsible citizens of the world have to come together to eradicate CSA once and for all.

-Anshul Tewari

” The Indian society, no matter how open minded it may claim to be, will always fear in touching some of the taboo subjects”

Well today I am going to write on another such issue. Recently, I went to Connaught Place with a few college friends. Tired, we went and sat in the Palika Park. Suddenly out of nowhere, a group of Eunuchs came to us, demanding money. We were certainly not in the mood to give away any money, so we refused. The eunuchs started abusing us and said all sort of things. One of them even threatened to open her clothes if we did not give them money. Compelled by this threat we had to pay them. This incident certainly shocked us.

When I returned home I researched a bit about the subject and found various shocking facts.

Lets start with the basics first:

THE HISTORY:

Eunuchs were frequently employed in Imperial Indian palaces as servants for female royalty, and often attained high-status positions in Indian society. Eunuchs in Imperial palaces were organized in a hierarchy, often with a senior or chief eunuch (“Khwaja Saras”) directing Junior eunuchs below him. Eunuchs were highly valued for their strength, to provide protection for the ladies palaces, and their trustworthiness, allowing eunuchs to live amongst women with fewer worries. This enabled eunuchs to serve as messengers, watchmen, attendants, and guards for palaces. often, eunuchs also doubled as part of the King’s court of advisers.

The Ancient Indian Kama Sutra refers to people of a “third sex” (trtyaprakrti), who can be dressed either in men’s or in women’s clothes and perform fellatio on men. The term has been translated as “eunuchs” (as in Sir Richard Burton’s translation of the book), but these persons have also been considered to be the equivalent of the modern hijra of India.

Hijra, a Hindi term traditionally translated into English as “eunuch”, actually refers to what modern Westerners would call male-to-female transgender people and effeminate homosexuals (although some of them reportedly identify as belonging to a third sex). Some of them undergo ritual castration, but the majority do not. They usually dress in saris (traditional Indian garb worn by women) and wear heavy make-up

THE HARSH REALITY:

An article by Times Of India quotes that out of the one million (approx) population of Eunuchs in Delhi, only 1% are born that way. The others are forcefully converted.

In an interview, a forcefully converted Eunuch confessed that the business is deeply connected. The Police are not unaware of this.

A report also states that young men and boys are kidnapped for this business. They are first drugged and then converted in an unconcious state. Some even said that they were forced to get into the habit of taking drugs, and then homosexuality and were then converted. The Godfathers of this business are getting richer by the day and more and more lives are being destroyed every year. After the conversions the young men are not left with any other option than joining the group of other similar men and continuing their business.
The police are well aware of this and so are the other elements of our judiciary, but nothing concrete is being done to stop this forceful trade.

No Government has taken action to curb this crime and no manifesto has ever been made. There are hundereds of NGO’s working for the welfare of Eunuchs, but what about the ones who are forcefully converted?

Their dreams and rights are taken away and they are left with no other proffessional option. Some are forced into the flesh trade and some suffer from HIV, some are forced to perform at marriages while some are forced to beg. The society finds it hard to accept this fact and accept the third sex. Not that they are unaware, its just their fear. But till when will we fear? The Eunuchs must be given their rights to live a dignified life, but shouldn’t policies be made to curb the forceful conversions?

WHY?

Why do we overlook such issues? Why do we read about them and forget? Why don’t we revert back to the reality and work to form a concrete solution? Till when will we shy away from these taboo issues and let them prevail in our society? Its time to wake up. Trust me, it is the correct time to wake up.

Do post your comments/suggections or if you want to quote some personal incidents.

Sign In

Don't want to log in right now? Submit here.