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‘Is It Always About The Father, Sons And Brothers?’ Asks Urmila, In Sita’s Sister

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By Artika Raj:

Sita’s Sister
Kavita Kané
Rupa Publications
309 Pages

Sita's Sister_SpreadUrmila felt a fury she had never experienced before: it was white hot, and smouldering… ‘So be it, Bharat, like your brothers, Ram and Lakshman, you too shall live a life of an ascetic, free from the bond of love and worldly care…‘Today, in this room, we have talked about all sorts of dharma – of the father and the sons, of the king and the princes… But is there no dharma of the husband for his wife? No dharma of the son for his mother? Is it always about the father, sons and brothers?’

A brief four-line mention is what Urmila, Lakshman’s wife and Sita’s sister, got in the magnum opus that was Valmiki’s Ramayana. A young wife left behind to serve her in-laws at her husband’s command while he went off to fulfil what he considered his duty above all else. From the author of Karna’s Wife, Kavita Kané, this is yet another story that puts the spotlight on a lesser known character, that of Urmila (like it was Karna’s wife Uruvi in her first), who is Janak’s biological daughter and yet is never called Janaki – an epithet reserved for the divine born Sita.

Beautiful and bold, Kané’s Urmila is that feminist voice which has never really been heard in a story that expounds upon feminine virtue in the figure of Sita – devoted, ready to testify to her purity, following humbly in her husband’s footsteps. Urmila in contrast is the outspoken scholar who questions all these misogynistic norms, even as she does her supposed duty and pines for that husband who has left her.

Drawing generously on her artistic license, Kané does a commendable job in creating a strong feminist narrative for Urmila, voicing questions and concerns about the brothers that one would seldom think of, given the pedestal on which they’ve been placed in popular imagination. But what strikes one most about the book is its language. Kané’s language isn’t of the high-brow sort as one would expect from something that uses the classical epic as a background, but fast and pacy with the conversations at once familiar and yet slightly jarring when one thinks that these are characters we’ve grown up revering. So when Lakshman angrily exclaims ‘What the hell!’ on spotting Manthara lingering around his palace, one can’t help but smile – this is that Lakshman, serene and sedate with a dhanush on his shoulder, flanking Ram through all his trials and tribulations, the devoted brother, the warrior prince – on our calendars and on altars worshipped.

As romance blooms between him and Urmila, in intense gazes and his unbraiding of her hair, there are all the usual pot-boilers in this book – love, anguish, hurt and the happy ending. While this may not be the best pick to know mythology, it’s a good example of the flexibility our literary traditions hold within them, that allow such tales to prosper. And it is to the writer’s credit that she can dig them out so fluently and seemingly effortlessly.

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  1. Ducard

    It is always about men, that is why a man in India commits suicide every 6 minutes.

    1. Ducard

      Men commit suicide due to draconian Indian laws and economic hardship. It is men who die trying to provide for women, it is men who are obliged to earn, husbands die tying to provide for wives, fathers die trying to provide for daughters, brothers die trying to provide for sisters …. yes, it is all about the fathers, brothers, husbands, etc.

    2. Fem

      Shant Gadadhaari Bheem, Shant!

    3. Pratishtha

      There have been cases where fathers and brothers have raped women. And all men have mothers and sisters – that doesn’t stop them from being rapists. en are obliged to earn and that makes them indepenedent. Women shud be obliged to earn too. You shud support the feminist cause and demand that all women work to support themselves. Also, Men pay alimony not becoz they are men bacuse they are the partners who earn more. law doesn’t state that men have to pay , but rather the partner who earns more. Acc to a recent report in TOI, there will be a dearth of husbands for educated indian women, becoz men want wives who earn less then them. It satisfies their egos, you see!

    4. Ducard

      False cases of rape – 75%
      False cases of dowry – 98%
      False cases of domestic violence – 70%

      Now you understand why men don’t want to marry anymore?

    5. Ducard

      The law is biased in favour of women, which is why, clearly knowing that men ear more, forces them to pay child support, alimony, and half of their property. Marriage is such a scam, which is why men are reluctant to marry. Besides, men don’t want women who earn less, it is women who want men who earn more, are richer, and on a higher social ladder. This is because most women (and their parents) are gold diggers.

    6. Divyansh

      Ye kahan kahan se stats utha kar lata hai? Lol 😀
      Iska dimaag kharab hai… Bro, aap achhe psychiatrist ko consult karein 😛

    7. Fem

      Ah….. I do recognize you now…. 😀
      I was wondering about your language, your choice of words/phrases, your non relevant debates on evils of feminism and women whatever the topic is and your tendency to be the first commentator and then go ballistic from there.
      Good to meet you again. I have got a purpose for living. Thank the Lord!

  2. Ducard

    It is always about men, that is why even though more than 3 times as many men die due to dowry harassment at the hands of wives, dowry remains a woman’s issue.

    From 2005 to 2008, as many as 22,000 men have ended their lives in reverse dowry harassment after allegedly being tormented by their wives. In contrast, dowry harassment has driven 6,800 women to suicide – Times Of India

  3. Ducard

    Isn’t if ironic that women who accuse men and in-laws of dowry harassment are the ones filing false cases of dowry to harass husbands and in-laws. Men are always at the receiving end, men are victimized, tormented, and traumatized. Men are not seen as human beings in society, that is why we never talk about the biases that men face on a daily basis, how women usurp half of men’s properties during divorces, how courts give men stricter sentences for the same crimes that women commit, how juries give verdicts against men in domestic disputes, how men give alimony to women, misandry in the media, sexism against men, domestic violence against men, how men are locked up in false cases of rape, dowry, and domestic abuse, etc.

    http://youtu.be/SM-YUFidNP4

  4. Ducard

    Every since the commencement of the feminist agenda, divorce rates have shot through the roof. Below are comments from feminist leaders, revealing the motive of the feminist movement:

    In order to raise children with equality, we must take them away from families and communally raise them. – Dr. Mary Jo Bane, feminist and assistant professor of education at Wellesley College and associate director of the school’s Center for Research on Woman.

    Women, like men, should not have to bear children. The destruction of the biological family, never envisioned by Freud, will allow the emergence of new women and men, different from any people who have previously existed. – Alison Jagger, Political Philosophies of Women Liberation: Feminism and Philosophy (Totowa, NJ: Littlefield, Adams & Co. 1977).

    No woman should be authorized to stay at home and raise her children. Society should be totally different. Women should not have that choice, precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one. – Simone de Beauvoir, Sex, Society, and the Female Dilemma Saturday Review, June 14, 1975, p.18

    Marriage has existed for the benefit of men; and has been a legally sanctioned method of control over women. We must work to destroy it. The end of the institution of marriage is a necessary condition for the liberation of women. Therefore it is important for us to encourage women to leave their husbands and not to live individually with men. – The Declaration of Feminism, November 1971.

    The nuclear family must be destroyed, and people must find better ways of living together. – Linda Gordon, Function of the Family, Women: A Journal of Liberation, Fall, 1969.

    We can’t destroy the inequities between men and women until we destroy marriage. – Robin Morgan, Sisterhood is Powerful, 1970, p.537.

    1. Pratishtha

      ohk..!! clearly, you are stricken by the feminist wave, and not in a good way. Let me just point out to you that equality between men and women is being demanded by feminists because every 3 minutes a woman gets violated in india, because you can read about rapes in the newspapers everyday while many go unreported- even 3 month olds are raped beoz they have a vagina, because females are killed while still in the womb, because dowry is something that the female’s family pays, because men are brought up to believe that they have to be the providers which gives them financial independence and the right to work outside home while women are expected to sit at home and bear children and serve the man after he comes home. women today who go out to earn still come home and cook- men still don’t help around the house. Have you ever thought that the reason why divorce rates have shot is because women are starting to demand rights , they want their independence tpp, and men cant handle it. They still seem to believe that a wife must to her duties to her husband and his family before all else. Sunjay Dutt believes women who don’t change their names after marriage are disrespectful towards the husband’s family. So yes, when feminists say that marriage is a way of oppresing women they are right, largely becoz marriages aren’t happening between equals, between friends, but between a provider and a dependent hence giving the provider an upper hand, marriages are happening between a master and a slave. Marital rapes aren’t considered to be crimes becoz it is understood that a wife is the husband’s property. The feminists you have quoted above questioned the way society has constructed the institution of marriage. In an ideal world perhaps we wudn’t need marriages becoz children would be brought up to be with someone out of love and respect ,not forceed to be together becoz society says so, and women won’t be taught to compromise and their worth not decided by their talents in the kitchen. But we don’t live in that world, we live in patriarchal soceity dominated by the fathers and the brothers.

      Now, having said that I by no means wish to support famale chauvinism. False dowry cases are wrong and will always remain so. action must be taken against such women who falsely accuse men. But i dont quite understand why you, who are clearly frustrated by the fact that men have to be the providers, don’t promote equality. You should stand up for your sister’s rights so that she can provide for herself and you don’t have to do it. Ask that she be paid as much as her male colleagues and not be discriminated against for higher positions in an office.But that will somehow lessen your worth in your own eyes , won’t it? becoz being a man you have been taught to hold your ego above love. it is not your fault but the society’s. And this is what feminists are against. don’t forget that being sobody’s provider Men shud have the right to cry as well, men are raped too but in a patriarchal society like ours where only women are thot to get raped, ppl don’t understand the man’s pain. Men need not have to work outside the house, and they should have to help out in a home. Patriachy is also oppresive to men though women are the more oppressed victims. But guess who is helping you by its protests against patriarchy ? yes, sir its the feminists. So, help them if you want to help yourself. Help the feminists by supporting the women’s right to work outside the homes at any time of the day and night. You shud have the right to move on in life if you don’t find love. Urmila should have the right to leave Laxman. Women today are beginning to realize that they too deserve love and it does not have to be just about the husband and his family. Is that your rant agianst feminism. Understand this feminism does not support the women criminals. It supports a female’s right to a dignified life.

      Now, read these stats too :
      Worldwide today:

      • 1 in 3 women have been beaten or sexually abused in her lifetime. Usually the abuser is a member of her own family or someone known to her.

      • Boys who witness their fathers’ violence are 10 times more likely to engage in spouse abuse in later adulthood

      • In some parts of the world a girl is more likely to be raped than to learn how to read

      • Every year, 60 million girls are sexually assaulted at, or on their way to, school

      • Women and girls are 80% (640.000) of the estimated 800,000 people trafficked across national borders annually with the majority (505.600) trafficked for sexual exploitation.

      • At least 60 million girls are ‘missing’ from various populations – mostly in Asia – as a result of infanticide, neglect or sex-selected abortions.

      • Up to 5% of women report being physically abused while pregnant. 50% of physically abused Indian women report violence during pregnancy.

      • Between 100 and 140 million women and girls alive today have been subjected to Female Genital Mutilation. In six African countries over 80% of women have been subject to this practice.

      • Over 60 million girls worldwide are child brides: 31.3 million in South Asia, 14.1 million in Sub-Sahara Africa. Violence and abuse characterise married life for many of these girls.

    2. Ducard

      First off, you are paid for your work according to your experience, academic credentials, skills, and how well you do your job. It is not a question of a man and a woman working the same job not being paid the same, even two men or two women working the same job will not be paid the same. Two doctors, two engineers, two teachers, etc, will be paid differently. Secondly, women earn less because women work less number of hours than men, take maternity leave, work easier jobs than men, and take courses in college which pay less.

      http://youtu.be/vyFjPHwF6To

    3. Ducard

      Please do not talk to me about female genital mutilation, because millions more boys face male genital mutilation. Of course that doesn’t matter, because they are boys.

      Millions of boys are kidnapped for forced labour, drug peddling, sale of organs, illegal adoption, and begging. There is a silent epidemic against the blood, sweat, and tears of boys who work as labourers, cleaners, servants, in lock factories, as mechanics, in restaurants, as street-vendors, at tea stalls, as electricians, plumbers, carpenters, woodcutters, rickshaw pullers, etc. Many boys’ limbs are chopped off and then they are forced to beg for the rest of their lives.

      When 133 boys were killed in a school in Peshawar, the media used the word ‘children’ to hide crimes against boys. When Boko Haram kills, mutilates, burns alive, and slits the throats of boys, no one raises an eyebrow, but when he kidnaps girls, the media and feminists wake up. There are numerous such incidents.

      More than 3 times as many men die due to dowry harassment at the hands of their wives.

      From 2005 to 2008, as many as 22,000 men have ended their lives in reverse dowry harassment after allegedly being tormented by their wives. In contrast, dowry harassment has driven 6,800 women to suicide – Times Of India

      The biggest perpetrators of violence against women are women themselves i.e. mothers-in-law. And in households where mothers-in-law are kind, it is the daughters-in-law who wreak havoc and break families apart, by poisoning their husband’s minds against their parents and siblings. Sisters-in-law are not far behind, with their mind-boggling family politics.

      Women love to beat their maids and servants black and blue, especially child servants, and take enormous pride in taunting and abusing their husbands, not to mention physical violence. Men do not report domestic violence because it is considered unmanly to do so. If you talk about the violence perpetrated by women, you can also be a victim of death threats from women, as in the case of Erin Pizzey (Google it).

      Since courts and juries worldwide are biased in favour of women, and police are also more likely to believe women, women abuse the judicial system to their advantage.

      According to the Canadian statistics on gender equality:

      Women receive physical custody of 92% of all children of separation, and men only 4%, women are acquitted of spousal murder at a rate 9 times that of men, men are sentenced 2.8 times longer than women for spousal murder. Furthermore, men commit suicide at 4 times the rate of women, live an average of 7 years less than women, account for more than 95% of all workplace fatalities, and are murdered at a rate 5 times that of women.

      The draconian Indian laws have led to an increase in the suicide rate among men, where a woman simply has to accuse a man of abusing her, physically or sexually, with little evidence, if any, and land him behind bars. Compared to women, twice as many men in India commit suicide.

  5. Ducard

    Kindly suggest a solution for all those men who have been accused falsely of dowry, domestic violence, and rape, and even after being cleared their reputation has been tarnished forever. No one talks to them, they can’t get a job, and they and their families live in perpetual shame and humiliation. I don’t even want to start on the innocent men who have not been cleared, and are rotting in jail.

    http://youtu.be/CvBt7Ry16uM

    1. pratishtha

      your problem is that you perhaps have not had a good experience with women. But dont turn this into a fight between men versus women. IT IS NOT ! it is against inhuman practises by both the sexes. UNDERSTAND THAT..!!

  6. Ducard

    Women perpetrate physical, verbal, psychological, and emotional abuse. If I only take the number of men who are harassed by women under 498A, it will exceed all the crimes against women. Add to it false cases of rape, fake allegations of domestic abuse, sexism against men, misandry in the media, women usurping half of a man’s property after a divorce, alimony, domestic violence by women, etc.

    Special quotas for women in colleges, buses, office, politics, are because women cannot compete with men fairly, and that is why they require special advantages and privileges, and the worst part is, even after all the pampering, they still play victims. Women want standards lowered in the workforce, and they play with people’s lives.

    http://youtu.be/ERwzqvs7vvU

    1. pratishtha

      are you serious…!! women get quotas becoz they can’t compete fairly. then what about quotas for minorities. Minorities get quotas becoz they are not priveleged enough. and the same goes for women. No matter how intelligent a woman is, she still has to work inside the house. A woman is given quotas becoz the patriarchal society has left her not so priveleged.It is not becoz they take it easy or dont work hard enough. You will find so many women topping thier univerity colleges or the CBSE boards, but later in life it is a man becoz he continues to work for himself and doesnot have to put his family before his career. If a aman gets raped and cant complain becoz he will be thot unmanly, that too my friend is the patriarchal society’s fault. And yes, both women and men objectify women and oppress them. It is not just the men doing so. But if women are wrong to blame all men for their plight then so are you for blaming all women of wreaking havoc in families. A woman can’t stay late into the office becoz an ambitious woman is called selfish and her husband expects her to come home and take care of his family, while society thinks it is her fault if she is raped becoz she was working late into the night. Lets not forget that there is a reason that it is called a patriarchal society and not a matriachal one. Also, feminists is not demanding matriarchy, they are demanding equality. So if you hv a problem with your female collegues not working till late then support your wife in her ambitious journey instead of looking down upon her when she comes home early for you. Women get leave becoz carrying another life inside you is not as easy as it seems to you. Also, men are entitled to fraternity leave too but they don’t make use of it becoz they think it is entirely a woman’s responsibilty and they wudn’t want to compromise on their freedom. Have some respect for the woman who gave birth to you and fed you. ANd i have said already that false cases are not to be defended. But i will not put up with men who think i shud be raped for wearing jeans, or suffer for having breasts! In mythology a number of women have been objectified. Draupadi was gambled away. what right have men to do so as if she were a thing? look to ppl as humans if you can and not as men OR women. That is what feminists are demanding. That women be treated as humans too and not as objects. GET OVER YOURSELF.

    2. Ducard

      It is feminism that treats women as objects, while I ask for a woman’s right to choose whether she wants to work inside or outside the home. The problem is, feminists want you to work outside the home in order to be seen as normal, progressive, intelligent human beings. The moment you choose to be a homemaker, to enjoy the security and comfort of your home, to play with your children, there is something wrong with you. You are labelled regressive and oppressed. It doesn’t matter if your choice to work inside or outside the home is taken away from you through systematic brainwashing, it doesn’t matter if you have to leave your children with in-laws, babysitters, domestic help, or in daycare centers, you must work full-time outside the home to be seen as worthy.

    3. pratishtha

      sir, you dont understand feminism. And yes, if a woman chooses to work inside the house, she shud do so. however, it is about that choice.the problem is that patriarchy belives that she MUST work inside the house whether she has anoutside job or not. wud you choose to stay inside the house and cook , take care of kids, or your own parents who brought you up if that choice is given to you. No! becoz a man must work. Just like a woman ought to keep house.
      And all of a sudden you believe in a woman’s choice. I thought you said they are not competitive. I thot you said that poor men have to provide for them becoz they want evrything easily. So if a woman chooses to be ambitious it is becoz feminists are forcing her, and if she doesn’t work outside then she wants to be pampered. It’s always going to be her fault, no matter what. If you don’t want to call women dependents then yes, let them work for themselves just as you have to inspite of the fact that your wife’s kids are yours too. Women won’t be a burden on you if given an equal chance at everything in life.But ofcourse that wud mean that they wont have to come to you for everything little thing. it takes away a man’s power to decide when she gets to go out. In Saudi Arabia woemn aren’t allowed to drive so that the men hold the power to decide when and where they get to go. if somebody is dependent on you then it makes you the master and you don’t always care about your sub ordinate’s choice.
      And why shud a woman be the only one to take care of kids. Why cant men do it as well. Why can’t men and women together, equally bring up a family. So women get to advace in their careers as well. But that wud mean that the husband wud have to come home on time as well. Perhaps give up on his night outs with friends or business meetings, just as many women have to. Women alone are not responsible for their kids, but they are thot to be and hence if a child is in a day care center then the mother is blamed and not the father. Both need to give a child time. This society belongs as much to me as it does to my brother. The roads outside are mine too. i shud have the right to walk on them fearlessly and not be dependent on my father or brother to take me everywhere, only to be told that i want it easy, that i am a burden on them becoz they have to provide for me some way or the other. The men in the house wud simply tell a woman to stay put inside and not go out to keep herself safe, instead of fighting for her rights. Is this not taking an easy way out. Oppress the oppressed. But women, inspite of the danger outside, inspite of such notions and prejudices of society go out to work and educate themselves. This is not an easy way out.

    4. pratishtha

      sir, you dont understand feminism. And yes, if a woman chooses to work inside the house, she shud do so. however, it is about that choice.the problem is that patriarchy belives that she MUST work inside the house whether she has anoutside job or not. wud you choose to stay inside the house and cook , take care of kids, or your own parents who brought you up if that choice is given to you. No! becoz a man must work. Just like a woman ought to keep house.
      And all of a sudden you believe in a woman’s choice. I thought you said they are not competitive. I thot you said that poor men have to provide for them becoz they want evrything easily. So if a woman chooses to be ambitious it is becoz feminists are forcing her, and if she doesn’t work outside then she wants to be pampered. It’s always going to be her fault, no matter what. If you don’t want to call women dependents then yes, let them work for themselves just as you have to inspite of the fact that your wife’s kids are yours too. Women won’t be a burden on you if given an equal chance at everything in life.But ofcourse that wud mean that they wont have to come to you for everything little thing. it takes away a man’s power to decide when she gets to go out. In Saudi Arabia woemn aren’t allowed to drive so that the men hold the power to decide when and where they get to go. if somebody is dependent on you then it makes you the master and you don’t always care about your subordinate’s choice.
      And why shud a woman be the only one to take care of kids. Why cant men do it as well. Why can’t men and women together, equally bring up a family. So women get to advace in their careers as well. But that wud mean that the husband wud have to come home on time as well. Perhaps give up on his night outs with friends or business meetings, just as many women have to. Women alone are not responsible for their kids, but they are thot to be and hence if a child is in a day care center then the mother is blamed and not the father. Both need to give a child time. This society belongs as much to me as it does to my brother. The roads outside are mine too. i shud have the right to walk on them fearlessly and not be dependent on my father or brother to take me everywhere, only to be told that i want it easy, that i am a burden on them becoz they have to provide for me some way or the other. The men in the house wud simply tell a woman to stay put inside and not go out to keep herself safe, instead of fighting for her rights. Is this not taking an easy way out. Oppress the oppressed. But women, inspite of the danger outside, inspite of such notions and prejudices of society go out to work and educate themselves. This is not an easy way out.

    5. Ducard

      In Saudi Arabia woemn aren’t allowed to drive so that the men hold the power to decide when and where they get to go.

      You know very little about Saudi Arabia, or Middle-Eastern countries for that matter. Saudi Arabia does not treat women like meat, unlike their Western counterparts. Semi-nude images of women are not plastered on walls, there is no sale of adult DVDs, no one devises cunning methods to sell provocative clothing in the name of fashion, advertisements don’t feature women in skimpy clothing, girls don’t have body image issues, there is no STD epidemic, drug and alcohol abuse is unheard of, and rape is the lowest in the world.

      And if Saudi Arabia is so bad, what are countless western expatriates doing there, where there are no taxes, petrol is cheaper than water, excellent salary packages, great food, where even in a modest job your company will provide housing, education for children, free airline tickets, among a host of other benefits which has seen westerners, including women, from all over the U.S. and U.K. leaving their so called freedom and settling in Saudi Arabia.

      Educated, independent Muslim girls in Europe, US, UK, and Canada choose to wear the burqa, and are not ‘forced by their husbands’, as the U.S. media would like people to believe. On the other hand, miniskirts and skimpy clothing are automatically seen as a choice, even though they are enforced through constant images in movies, magazines, music videos, advertisements, billboards, fashion industries, peer pressure, and a need to ‘fit in’, but if a woman wants to cover her body and save herself from lewd stares and wants to reserve her body for the gaze of her husband, it is immediately labelled oppression.

      Many girls are grateful to be born in the Middle-East, where they can roam freely in a burqa without being harassed and racially abused, where they feel human because they are not compelled to dress semi-nude to ‘fit in’. In Saudi Arabia, rape, molestation, and harassment of women is the lowest in the world. Furthermore, from banks to shopping malls to coffee shops to mosques, all have separate areas, spaces, and floors for women. The government spends the majority of its unemployment benefits on women. Shops selling female attire ban men from entering those shops unless accompanied by a female relative. In Saudi Arabia, women spend more in one day than most people earn in one month. Women are under no obligation to work, and even if they do, the husband still has to provide for them. Women do not have to contribute to the household. Compare this with girls all over the world working menial jobs, from BPOs to coffee shops to dishwashers to cashiers. Middle-Eastern countries are filthy rich, offering women a much more luxurious and healthy lifestyle than anywhere in the world.

      http://youtu.be/0h1zuwpFdo4

    6. pratishtha

      Alright, i see that after contradicting your previous comments , you highlighted one of my sentences and digressed from the whole topic. Good that you highlighted all that. But feminism is not necessarily about luxury. They have luxury becoz they have oil. India doesn’t. but that doesn’t mean that I don’t get to live the life i want. And if it really is about choice then I shud decide if i want to drive or not. Criminalizing it doesn’t help me. Wearing a skirt is my choice and if you think that makes me a lose woman, its not my problem. If you think that women who wear less then a burka are displaying themselves then that is how you look at them and you need to change the way YOU look at them. skirts are not skimpy clothes for me, they might be for you. But it is MY body so I decide what goes on them, NOT YOU.
      Also, the ground realty is not what it seems to you. Domestic violence in Saudi was banned only in 2013. A saudi woman still needs permision to study, marry , or travel anywhere. Even for healthcare facilties she needs to be accompanied by a male gaurdian. in spite of the luxury that you spoke of, fathers sell their young daughters to men in their 70 s or 80s.
      Also get your facts right : In 2007, a Saudi court sentenced a gang-rape victim to six months imprisonment and 200 lashes. Initially, she had been sentenced to 90 lashes for being in a car of a man who was not a relative and flouting the rigid laws on segregation of sexes.

      Saudi Arabia, where girls are married off in their pre-teens and covered from head to toe, is among the countries in the world with the highest rape cases. Sharia law criminalises rape as punishment and spousal rape is not considered an offence. Moreover, women enjoy no rights in courts. They are not allowed to speak for themselves and must be represented by a male relative or a lawyer. There is NO penal code in Saudi Arabia and there is no written law which SPECIFICALLY criminalizes rape or prescribes its punishment.
      While a lot is spent on a woman’s education there is discrimination in society which can’t see its women working.Around 57 per cent of Saudi women have university degrees.
      78 per cent of female university graduates and 60 per cent with Phd degrees are unemployed.
      They are also not allowed to participate in sports.

      What seems luxury to you is prison for me. Just becoz a cage is made of gold doesn’t give the bird any more freedom. I wud rather have the respect of providing for my family and live a dignified life, drive around and choose my own partner and how many kids i want.
      I don’t wish to say that in the west , women are not objectified but your narrowminded thinking that women wearing a burqa won’t be raped or blaming a woman’s dress for crimes against her are precisely what feminists are fighting for.

      However, Any discussion would be futile with you becoz you have decided how women shud live. Let me tell you , it doesn’t matter. What matters is that women get the education , the power of thinking for themselves and be opinionated. Your kind of thinking is what pushes more crimes by instilling the notion that women are to be blamed for violences against them.

      The poor author of this article must be at a loss as to what she wrote to bring about the kind of comments it has. Urmila still exists becoz their are Laxmans who tell her to stay put and take care of his parents. I mean, that’s why he married her, right !?

    7. Ducard

      You don’t understand how easy it is to brainwash women. Edward Bernays sold women cigarettes in the name of liberation and they bought it – read about Torches of Freedom. As for feminism, it was funded by the Rockefellers in the early 1960s to send women in the workforce, so that the other half of the population could be taxed; it was a gimmick to control society and prey on wage earners. The entire base of feminism was founded on the basis of creating an imaginary world of inequality and patriarchy, where the bosses in control pitted men and women against each other, or more precisely, women against men, sat back, relaxed, and watched as their heinous game unfolded. The net result with women in the workforce was a generation of neglected children, havoc in families, and an increase in divorce rates, all the while mockery was made of the sacred institution of marriage while those in control collected their dollars.

      It was necessary that a negative image of men was created by the media, as it furthered the agenda of feminists, because men-hating was a necessary part of the entire scheme of feminism to control and dominate. In a short span of 50 years, families have been destroyed, children have grown up with single parents, women have been targeted with an intense hatred of men, as love means marriage with a man, and that is detrimental for what feminism stands for. The idea of an arranged marriage is cringed upon, love marriages take the limelight, and with that comes the need for multiple transient sexual relationships all the while the goal of feminists is propelled towards destruction of family life. The mass indoctrination has come with a huge cost, in which both men and women have suffered. While feminism talks about the liberation of women, it does the exact opposite.

    8. Ducard

      Feminists with their ‘it is a woman’s choice to wear what she wants’ slogans are promoting miniskirts, low neck tops, short shorts, tight jeans, backless dresses, just to name a few, and this is doing nothing but creating a generation of body conscious women who are using dieting products, spending heavily on clothes, suffering from anorexia, poor self-esteem, all the while beauty, fashion, and diet industries continue to earn billions of dollars. Not to mention the billions of dollars being poured into plastic surgery, where perfectly normal, beautiful girls are being misled into thinking there is something wrong with their body.

      The underlying reason why girls face body issues today is because they are told that in order to be accepted by society, they have to have the perfect body. Look at any advertisement today, from cars to curtains, and not one is complete without showing a semi-clad woman in it, and needless to say, they have nothing to do with the advertisement. It is all about projecting a perfect, toned body of a woman. And of course, when women are shown images of near-perfect bodies of models, singers, and actresses in movies, magazines, and music videos, it becomes a norm to want to attain that kind of a body.

  7. Ducard

    According to NCRB data, there were 2,22,091 arrests related to 498A in 2013 alone, out of which 1,74,620 were men and 47,471 were women – A man is arrested every 3 minutes for dowry. Including both sexes, an arrest is made approximately every 2.3 minutes. 98% allegations are false.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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