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Monday, March 27, 2006

It would be amusing if it weren't so enraging.

Lawyers of rape-accused Kasliwal say he is too educated, too qualified, just too pedigree-ly sound to have been a rapist. Yes, that's part of their defense. To read just how overquaified he is for the job he supposedly couldn't have done here.

(If you're altogether unfamiliar with the case, you can read my post here. But to cut a long story short, Kasliwal's a rich heir, accused of rape by a 52-year old widow in Mumbai.)


It would be amusing, if it weren't such a deja vu.

Perhaps you can recall the case of Bhanwari Devi, a dalit woman. She was raped by five upper-caste men for trying to prevent child marriage. As a social worker - a saathin in Rajasthan, she had dared to interfere with the wedding of an infant girl. She was therefore taught a lesson, in the presence of her husband.

Of course the FIR and the medical examination, as you must know/expect, didn't happen the way it should. And even when the case reached court, the trial court acquitted the accused saying that upper caste men could not have condescended to have intercourse with a lower caste like her.

In case you didn't know and are surprised: No, I am not making this up - that is actually what the judge wrote in his ruling. And i won't even bother to give you a link on this, you can find this piece of info all over the net.

And no, you won't find any news of her getting a redressal.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Give me a tight deadline please!

Have too much work, and enough time to do it
which means I will keep on postponing work thinking I have enough time to do it, till the time I have too little time to do it, and then be left be too little time to do do anything except work.

I know everyone suffers from this law, but I am convinced that students and freelancers (such as me) are the worst hit.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Didn't think Essel World could give me such photo opportunities! This is the night ferry to Borivali.

Monday, March 13, 2006

One more

The subversion of justice in Jessica's trial is hardly over, and already one can see moves being made to trample the case of another woman - a 52-year-old widow, raped (allegedly) by the scion of a business family in Mumbai. (Read Here). She says he offered her a lift, and instead took her to the Shriram Mills compound (which he owns) and violated her four times.

Just one day since the crime took place - and already I can see all sorts of facts and comments coming to light.

"Facts" such as she is a single woman living in Mumbai. A former bar dancer. Don't get the picture? Let me read between the lines for you - she is Available.

Comments such as the alleged rapist, Abhishek Kasliwal, is such a nice charming boy, whom his neighbours have known since he was a kid. So well-behaved and polite. Oh he could have Ever done such a thing!

Mid-Day has already proclaimed (or has found "sources" to proclaim) that she is currently a prostitute. That she filed the complaint drunk. That she and Kasliwal were acquainted, having consensual sex. That the man is now being framed coz he refused to cough up Rs50,000 for sexual favours.

There you have it - a debauched woman trying to bring down a repectable chap. A story that so sellable, so believable, that it will no doubt also be the line toed in the courts for Kasliwal's defence - that is, if it ever reaches the courts; if the victim continues to display her guts to take him to court at all.

Currently what she has is a heads-he-wins-tails-she-loses situation. If she goes and fights against these allegations against her "character", she'll probably have a horrendous time at court. If she gets an inkling of what she's up against and withdraws the FIR, everyone will think it's because she never had a case anyway.

Of course, I cannot know what really happened. I do not know whether Kasliwal really committed the crime - maybe he didn't. And maybe there is no conspiracy by his family to degrade the woman through media.

But there is definitely something wrong in the way the media is treating the subject.

How can it even suggest or believe that the sex was consensual - when it is on police records that there are bite marks and signs of violence on her body - evidence of the fact that she was resisting the situation?!

If Kasliwal is such a nice guy who could never rape, where did his morals go when he decided to make out with a 52-year old prostitute (as is the alternate scenario being projected)???

Even if she is a prostitute, or was even drinking with him before the crime took place, how is that relevant to the fact that she was raped? Is it permissible to sexually molest "available" women?

And where is the outrage of the high society we had seen when a South African model was raped in Mumbai some months ago - how come her drinking with the men who eventually raped her did not put an unseemly light on her? Why were we disgusted when her rapists said that raping her was all right because she had lax attitudes to sex? And why this time are we expected to be sympathetic towards the rapist instead, though the situation is hardly different?

Why is the balance in favour of the "eliter"?

Am I over-reacting? Are newspapers just reporting what they've come to know - no more, no less - leaving us to judge and decide for ourselves?

No, I don't think so... After reading thousands of reports of rape cases - there is no dearth of them after all - I can see a significant difference here: a distinct lack of sympathy for the victim. There is no report of what her family and friends are thinking (that would be a norm), instead I'm reading the nice life history of the perpetrator. Why have the tables turned????

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

For Blank Noise

In Delhi where I grew up, things are different
you can evade taxes
you can cheat death through reincarnation
But roadside romeos, well, they're inevitable

I remember a time, some ten years ago, when as a teenager I came home weeping hard. My mom went pale on seeing me so, and wanted to know what had happened. Between sobs, I admitted that my wallet had been stolen in a packed bus - along with a princely two thousand bucks.

You should have seen the relief on her face.

That's life for us - so expectant of being treated like public property that we're thankful for every time we aren't.

That's how I lived in Delhi. Afraid. Depressed. Demoralised. And wondering everytime a student "committed suicide" because of exams, if an unrelenting attack on her personal space had been the reason. It would be a good reason.

Yes, a good reason. You can spew dialogues and sagely advice on how women should shout and fight back and end all molestation. And how my statement is so like the stupid Hindi movies where the only way out to save your izzat is to go jump in a well. And how being a victim does not make you lose your dignity, and is no reason to end your life over. And I would agree with you.

But fighting back is so much easier said than done. And it doesn't take away the despair.

I know that every time I've tried - and I've had sufficient times to try, along with a lot of mental preparation for the 'next time it happens' - it just doesn't work. One moment I'm a strong Anuja, ready to write blogs on the issue, and air opinions in discussions, and shout loud on the issue - and the next I am a weakling without voice, with no coherence of speech who's too dazed to take any action. I don't know what happens - I know it doesn't happen to everyone. I wish it didn't to me either, but it does.

The one time when I got strong enough to try and smack the face of the man in front of me, I missed for lack of coordination. Twice. It wasn't funny. And it did scare him away anyhow. But I cried later. Not because I missed hitting him, but because even though I stood up for myself, it didn't change the big picture. I could feel the strain on my freedoms. Lewdness had a free run of the streets, while I was in essence home-jailed. If I needed to go out, it almost like parole, where I felt the need of an escort.

That's why I hate the place I grew up in, and left it at first chance.

And that's why I love Jamshedpur, because that's where, for the first time in my living memory, I could walk in the middle of the road without feeling scared, without turning around hastily at the sound of a vehicle approaching from behind, without needing to be at full alert regarding the traffic on the road and what it might do to me in passing.

I have never forgotten that first time I felt free.

I know Jamshedpur, or Mumbai where I am now, also suffer their share of crime against women. Indeed, as many blogs today will report, whistling, commenting, eve-teasing, shadowing, groping, molesting, and other things depressingly, unendingly worse have proliferated without boundaries. "Delhi-Style' rapes, as a stupid tabloid cruelly and tastelessly labelled them, have occured in Mumbai too. Just yesterday, a woman's nude body, with eyes gouged out, and limbs tied up was discovered in a railway cabin.

Can the worsening of our world be reversed?

Generating awareness is just the first step and faaaaaaaaaaar from enough.
What we need are vigilant spectators. And we need a legal and judiciary system that can support conviction, and fast.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

The last time I met Ashish Asthana, it was a winter day in Hong Kong, but too sunny to feel the season. Especially as we, a picnicing group, had been walking for the past hour or so to reach a beach. Luckily for him, at least the water hadn't fogotten that January is supposed to be cold and chilly and made amends for the sands.

In went Ashish Asthana, all alone, tracks rolled up, full speed running into the ocean.

You see, he was preparing for his trip to Antarctica.

I know, sounds like a lusy prep, but let's just say he made the most of what was available... And what's more, it has worked!!!

Yes, Ashish, the funniest man I knew in HK (who however, like Surender Sharma, owes all his jokes to his wife), has made it to Antarctica in one piece. So here's:
3 cheers for Da Man!
3 cheers for India!
and of course - 3 cheers for XLRI :)!!! (he's been an alumnus for the past 10 years or so)

and I guess, also 3 cheers for Coke, who's sponsoring this expedition led by the now-legendary explorer Robert Swan (the first person in history to walk to both poles).

Visit www.2041.com to follow the expedition, and to hear Ashish's dispatch from the pole today.

On a more sombre note, let us also pray that the HR of our organisations too gain enlightenment and send us for such leadership training soon. Ahem.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Have been househunting these past few days, and it is a lousy waste of time. The brokers are currently in their first phase of selling - they're beginning by trying to break our spirit, energy and expectations by showing useless places which are way overpriced.

Apparently, that's the typical beginning for any house search, where brokers try to get the lousiest properties off their hand. I am hoping that is the case here - can hardly imagine living in what we've seen till now: dingy shoeboxes that pass off as homes! Some have cabinet-less kitchens, others have big passageways and small rooms, and then there are the houses with windows too tiny to allow for any light, and when they're big, they're either boarded up or next-door neighbours to the opposing building. And worst of all - all houses have tiny, badly designed loos! How is one supposed to live?

Meanwhile, friends advise that I must tire out the brokers before they out-tire me, and by the end of a month or two, something reasonable and worth-living will come up. I doubt I can manage to see crap for that long, but looks like have no choice :(