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2

Suicide is a taboo subject for conversation. Particularly what makes a person want to commit suicide or what to say in the face of their pain.

“A man devoid of hope and conscious of being so has ceased to belong to the future.”
― Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays

Suicide is a subject almost everyone has thought of at some point or the other. Almost everyone has wondered what it would be like to end our own life or how it could be done without confronting the great fear - pain, suffocation or other discomforts. Yet suicide remains a taboo subject. The feelings behind suicide. What makes someone commit suicide. We can talk statistics or prevention or helplines, but in the face of actual pain that drives a person to suicide, we have no skills. There is a difference between contemplating suicide and planning to commit suicide. An important one. The first is a fairly common and natural response to unbearable negative emotions. The other is an irreversible action.

I admit I have often considered suicide. I have written about suicide before too. From a perspective of statistics, from a perspective of understanding widespread distress needing political answers, from a perspective of empathy when I read about suicide, from a perspective of failing to support and grieving when someone I know commits suicide and I have also considered suicide as an option to end my own life when I was very sad. Yet, whenever I have tweeted about the subject, I have immediately got responses that amount to stopstopstopstopstopstopstopstopSTOP! It is so immediate that it would be hilarious if the subject were not grave. I have got helpline numbers as replies, I have got advice to not let dark thoughts enter my mind.

Hello! I write and tweet and comment and contemplate issues of human rights abuse. How in the world can one do that without having any dark thoughts? If I were planning to commit suicide, why would I be tweeting instead of finding myself a rope? I understand that it can sometimes be a cry for help by a distraught person, but if the rest of the words are perfectly normal, where is the harm in reading to find out what is being said?

Because here is the thing. Even if a person were tweeting about suicide publicly as a last ditch call for attention and help, the last thing they'd need is to be told to shut up or a sea of platitudes. What they would be needing is an empathetic listener who cares.

What exactly is this fear of talking about suicides?

“The thought of suicide is a great consolation: by means of it one gets through many a dark night.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

I admit I have spent a great deal of time contemplating committing suicide over the years. As in killing myself. I have been in unhappy relationships involving heartbreak, I've been in an abusive marriage with an alcoholic, I've been a broke single mother of a disabled child. Despair and depression are no strangers. And yet I am here, typing this post.

I have actually found thinking about suicide in great detail helpful. Instead of fearing the pain of death (and thus possibly taking a rash step "while I have the courage" maybe after a glass or two of vodka), I've gone and researched methods of suicide. What would cause the least pain? What are the consequences of failure? What is the best method so that it causes least pain and least risk of failing and living with permanent damage? And anyone who knows me knows that when I say research, I mean obsessive information finding till I am convinced I know the subject in and out without actual experience. Enough to make a very well considered decision. On and off, when I'm in utter despair, I've gone and rechecked all the information. And yet here I am, typing all this.

Is this a guarantee I will never commit suicide? No. But it pretty much guarantees that I have given it thorough thought and not found it a better tradeoff for now. It guarantees that if I do it, it will not be a thoughtless impulse, but a decision I take about my life after considering all options I have.

So how has contemplating suicide helped me?

By giving me an option. By giving me an exit from the pain. By giving me the concrete information that if all this gets unbearable, I still have the option to exit. In the process, a miracle happens. I am no longer cornered by my despair. I always have the cheat route out. And because I know that, I am never out of options. I lose the fear of making attempts to change my circumstances that could fail.  Just allowing myself to spend time thinking about ending myself is a catharsis. If no one else, at least I am acknowledging how bad things are. I am listening to myself. It helps me feel heard. It gives me a vocabulary for describing my situation when asking for help. No, I don't mean "I am suicidal, help me or else." I mean "This, this and this is the reason for my despair. I am not able to see functional ways out. I need help." - because hello, I've gone through all the reasons in my contemplation and have them now sorted out in my head.

And sometimes, in a very cynical way, the contemplations have saved me. If I don't care whether I live or die, why not try this one last thing or the other? If I hit a dead end, I can always die.

“Killing myself was a matter of such indifference to me that I felt like waiting for a moment when it would make some difference.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Dream of a Ridiculous Man

Here is an example how. When I was younger, my emotions were more volatile. Taking what I felt seriously and giving it serious thought helped me see things more clearly and invariably, I ended up thinking that if there was any hope, I could use it and if there wasn't, well, I could always die. But the well thought out option being there and not at any threat of being taken off the table gave me the confidence to know I could opt for it any time and there was no need to do it right now. I could afford to wait and see. I am truly grateful no one immediately tried to stop me at such times, or I'd have been tempted to use the opportunity before someone blocked it from me.

Now I am older. I have a young disabled child. Whoever knows me knows that I'd chew my arm off before I allowed anything to harm him. Well, losing a mom would definitely harm him. So suicide is totally not an option any more. At least while he is alive. He needs me. Period. Again, if I hadn't thought this through, I could have been at risk of giving up without considering the impact.

In some of my more selfish and melodramatic ways, I've even thought "What will be, will be" If I am not there, someone or the other will care for my son, though I can't imagine who, right now. But then, in such a melodramatic moment, the desire is also to leave a lasting mark on the world when I die. And oops, it is not "orphaned kid in moment of despair". I'd like to be remembered for something better, thank you very much.

Whatever it is. Others may have their own reasoning. Still others may come to a well considered decision that suicide is actually a good choice for them, When my father was dying of Parkinson's, he had the option of looking forward to an indeterminate bed ridden existence with little control over his body, being bored out of his wits and too exhausted to do anything about it but to wait to die. He begged me to kill him almost every week. It is illegal and I have two more dependents, or I would definitely have arranged for him to be freed as per his will if it were legal. Others do it out of poverty. Starvation. When the alternative is to live in debt and watch your family suffer with no hope of ever providing for them in sight, it can be a brutal life to look forward to, and death may simply be a matter of running out of the ability to fight.

“Let them think what they liked, but I didn't mean to drown myself. I meant to swim till I sank -- but that's not the same thing.”
― Joseph Conrad, The Secret Sharer and other stories

Whatever it is, however it plays out, a suicide is not about dying or exiting the world, it is about escaping unbearable torment. A person who feels unheard and uncared for, is unlikely to respond to a panicked flood of platitudes that s/he has heard a hundred times that drowns their voice all over again, even in the contemplation of death.

How agonized we are by how people die. How untroubled we are by how they live. ~ P. Sainath

My suggestion is that we all examine what this fear is that stops us from listening on hearing that word. Because the lives of many around us could depend on how we respond to their pain. If someone has made a well considered decision to die, there isn't much we can do about it, but if someone is screaming into a void of despair, perhaps us offering a listening ear will give them the space to be heard, and in the process get a clearer view of their situation.

What do you think?

Considering today's Supreme Court verdict on Section 377 that criminalizes "carnal acts against the order of nature", there is a lot of confusion on what exactly is allowed and what is not. Here is a quick primer:

  • You can still marry kids, as long as they are not of the same sex.
  • Marital rape continues to be legal. It is a natural kind of sex for the kind of men our lawmakers make laws for, apparently.
  • You can continue to rape your child bride as long as she is not under 15 years of age (or you aren't a woman).
  • You have to ignore personal freedoms guaranteed by the constitution whenever you feel the urge to have sex with someone who has a penis (if you have one) or who has a vagina (if you have one) and control your urge, or give in and report to the nearest police station for your crime.
  • Law must discriminate on the basis of gender when it comes to sex. The constitution does not matter.
  • Sex between a man and woman for procreation is natural.
  • If you are a woman and infertile, post-menopausal or on contraceptives, the sex will be illegal.
  • If you are a man, sex using condoms is not natural, or you'd have been born with one. Also avoid sex except for procreation anyway, which means you will likely get two months of sex in your whole life.
  • Oral sex is illegal. So is anal sex and a lot of other acts. As a golden rule, if it isn't a part A into slot B kind of sex that will make little people like you, forget it.
  • The jury is out on kissing.
  • If you happen to be LGBT, please close the curtains while having sex. Ideally, close your eyes too, so there are no witnesses.
  • Renting a home to LGBT people or leaving them alone in your drawing room while you make tea could be aiding and abetting a crime, please consult a lawyer.
  • You may root for bringing down the age of marriage, putting restrictions on women's clothing, jobs, use of mobiles, marriages or whatever, your organization may have been implicated in terrorism, or you may have threatened to arm people against the government, but you should be rightfully proud for saving the country from a calamities like consensual gay sex.
  • Finally, the British are the true culture of India. Kamasutra and Khajuraho are secular scams. The British themselves slipped off the moral path and gave in to gay sex some 46 years ago, but do not lose your moral compass. Keep it pointed firmly to an era where the sex of everyone else was the business of people with the largest mob.

And if you are foolishly angry, watch out, because while nothing happens to Parliamentarians who do unconstitutional things (think UID, ICMS, IT Rules, RTE, restrictions on drinking age for adults under 25....) and while the courts supposedly empowered to strike down unconstitutional laws don't actually strike them down and kick the can into someone else's backyard, the fact is that this mockery of the constitution is legal.

However, saying something like "Fuck you Supreme Court" over this would be a contempt of court. If you put your belief that the judge trampled on the constitution onto paper as an op-ed, you'd be an intellectual. On a blog, you'd be a rebel blogger, just don't draw it as an image, because you'll go to jail for insulting a National symbol. Get it? Just like it is illegal to burn an Indian flag, but ok to faunt it on your desk next to your paper weight and silver pen while running a scam.

Additional note to MLAs: Kindly do not watch gay porn in the Assembly, and if you must, please make sure there are no media cameras around to catch it.

This post will most certainly be updated. I ain't done ranting yet by a long shot.

If you can't make out that this is sarcastic satire, you got bigger problems than the Supreme Court ruling.

1

Workshop on Prevention of Child Marriage was held on 8th and 9th November, 2012, at Greenwood Resort, S.G. Highway Ahmedabad. This workshop was organized by the Department of Social Justice and Empowerment, Gandhinagar, and UNICEF Gujarat. Mr. R.S. Patel, Director of Social Justice and Empowerment Department and CEO of Gujarat State Child Protection Society and Mr. Lolichan, State Consultant, UNICEF Gujarat has inaugurated the workshop. Legal Officer and Protection Officer - Non Institutional Care from most of DCOUs across the state and Child marriage Prevention Officers from five districts and CHILDLINE Coordinator from Ahmedabad and Rajkot were participated in this workshop.

Child marriage is a social norm that requires effort of multiple stakeholders to address the issue and that the main purpose of the workshop was capacity building of key stakeholder to preventing child marriage in the state. Another aim of this seminar was gaining clarity on the legal framework for preventing child marriage in Gujarat context. And the last but not least purpose was the prepare action plan for preventing child marriage

In initial session, Mr. R.S. Patel, Director of Social Justice and Empowerment Department, Gandhinagar and CEO-GSCPS has given a brief on the historical background of child marriage. He said that it may differ by community but there are so many rituals exist in our society which is at the root of the problem. He also added that if we want to prevent our children from an earlier marriage than we should work with local community leaders and parents. In the same session, Ms. Hemalee Leuva has described Child Rights and given an overview of problems faced by children in Gujarat state. She described that around 47 per cent of children are malnourished and 63 percent of children drop out during their 8 to 12 standard’s studies. She added that Gujarat as state, with 38.7 per cent of women aged 20-24 were married before they were 18 years; however, state fairs better than national average in this regard. However there are certain districts within a state with higher prevalence, such as Banaskantha 55.3%, Patan 54.5 %, Dahod 44.8 %, Baroda 44.4 %, and Kheda 44.4 %.

She then presented that in Gujarat the number of convictions of those charged with committing child marriage is very small. Since the passing of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006, the total number of applications received reporting Child marriage in Gujarat is 1831. But only in 391 cases these kinds of marriage were prevented and just in 21 cases punishment or penalty has been issued. Due to lack of evidence 1064 applications have been rejected and 107 cases are under court hearing and 228 cases are still pending.

In the second session, Ms. Advaita Marathe, Consultant, UNICEF Gujarat presented the key findings of her research on field documentation of child marriage. The documentation was carried out in 5 districts of Gujarat covering 13 blocks and total 29 villages. She presented that child marriages are not limited to the poor, the uneducated and backward castes but it prevails across all classes and castes in Gujarat. The younger daughters in the family are married into family along with the elder girl to save expenditure.

In evening session, Ms. Bharti Ali, Co-Director, Haq: Center for Child Rights, Delhi has given presentation on Child Marriage Prevention Act 2006. She presented that before the commencement of this act, Sharda Act 1929 was existed. She said that this new act is emphasizing on prevention of child marriage, rather than just stop happenings of such incident. If concern person wants to prevent child marriage, then he should follow a few steps. Firstly, he should inform to Child Marriage Prevention Officer of the particular district. After getting information from people, CMPO will send a fax or email to police to help prevent child marriage. Then he should ask to court in written to issue stay order to stop such happening. A person should keep in mind that this stay order will be for only particular places. So if he has doubts that couple can marry some other place than it is indeed that we should ask to court to issue stay order for the whole district or large geographical area. After this kind of stay order of court, if marriage of that couple happens in banning area, then it’s totally illegal.

By: SAM Nasim

In the last session, Participants were divided into five groups to work out on strategy for cause. An action plan for preventing child marriage in Gujarat has been prepared. The seminar ended with an appreciation for valuable guidance provided by resource persons, and all stakeholders for their active participation.

This information was shared by Amrat Chaudhari, Ahmedabad based Freelance Social Worker, previously working as City Coordinator at Ahmedabad CHILDLINE 1098 (National 24 X 7 hours toll free help line for children in need of care and protection). Amrat can be contacted at amrat_999@yahoo.com

Guest post by @PowercutIn

PART A: Against Women Who Accept Slavery (Written Few Days Back in Frustration)

NOTE: This may hurt many. I don’t intend to say all women are same but some of them are exceptional. And this note is all about those exceptional women - not to target entire womanhood as I know there are ladies who know how to respect themselves, and others.

Stressed out, burned out for past many years trying to wake them up, to empower them, only to hear that husbands forcing sex on wives is okay n cannot be compared to rapes. Such comparison is a dumb comparison? And these slaves want dignity? Who will respect such women? Not me. Sex workers command better dignity.

Seems marriage is a license for sex - anywhere anytime for the 'dear' hubbies who can also go ahead and beat them if they say no. That is a different case?

If your husband beats you up in front of your kids, it is NOT okay. You are setting up a bad example. But no, it is Bharatiya Naari, born to sacrifice. Then go die. Why all the drama?

One day, while on hold on a call, I got to hear a mom saying to her daughter - "There is a word for people of your type - Vaishya (whores/sex workers)". If your mother calls you whore in front of others, should you hit back or should you retreat sulking? And what kind of mother would call her own child a whore. Setting up an example where gals choose to elope rather than seeking permission to marry the boys they like? I thought the relation between a woman and her girl is more of friends but it was proved wrong when I got to hear that dialog.

So?

1. Forced marriage is okay,

2. Submitting to husbands anytime, anywhere is okay

3. Beaten up by husbands is okay

4. Then I guess, being killed by husbands is too okay as it will open the doors of heaven for them. After all, husband is god. No?

Rani Padmini committed suicide when her husband was killed in a battle so that she is not used as objects by the enemies. Razia Sultana stabbed herself to avoid being caught by Akbar's forces. But they dint die just like that. They fought until there was no other option left. Being women, they fought the huge forces of Akbar and British. And they knew they'll lose their dignity if caught and they chose dignity over slavery.

But the case now is different. They are part of a democracy. They want laws - external entities to protect them and these laws should not apply to their husbands. In other words, women (not all) who don't have any respect at homes and are okay with it, want laws that will force others to respect them?

If I don't respect you, no law can make me respect you. Laws don't prevent crime, morals and values do. But then, husband is a deity. Go pray, be beaten up and bear children all your life only to be thrown away after your hubby loses interest in you.

From past few days, I am trying to convince myself this is not my problem. I am trying and trying to keep away. Only problem is, my mom always said if someone needs help, do whatever you can. She died fighting all the odds, for me and my brother. But these women, I don't think they need any help. They just need sympathy and a "special" status. I guess the best compliment a women (barring few who want their dignity at any cost) would expect from anyone is 'bechari - poor soul'.

Someone convince me it is NOT my problem and I need not spoil my health over these issues. Am already suffering from depression and anxiety; the past two months were already terrible when this Delhi rape case further added to the stress. Should I care? Why?

PART 2:  WHAT CAN BE DONE? (UPDATE: Jan 4 2012)

Someone said it is a curse women should live with. Why? Because they are told they need external support of a man? And a man who employs rude/disgusting methods, is it a man? You need a friend, not a beast. Cut it off. Leave him and start a new life - I know it is easier said than done. Society will ask plenty of questions and create hurdles. But that is the way it has always been. And if you need to go to the other side of river, you will have to find a way to cross it.

There is no quick fix solution to all this. At least, not in my knowledge! All I know is a mother is the best teacher and influences her kids more than anything else. Passing on good moral values to their kids makes sure at least some families down the lane are civilized. That is if just one mother accepts the challenge. You know how a tree grows inside soil, the roots. The values you teach your kid will not only serve one or more family in one generation but propagate to many others in the coming generations. MOTHERS HAVE THAT POWER. The only thing is - you have to believe that. And if you can get your partner to share the responsibility, nothing could be better. EXPECTING THE CASE WHERE YOUR PARTNER IS AGAINST YOU, you need to set an example that guides your kids forever. Problem is the emotions that tie us with relations. We cannot kill them easily. But I guess one can find a way where our emotions do not become a hurdle in others' growth, if you understand what I am saying. At least, we can try!

ROLE OF MEDIA

Media can play an enormous role in educating not only the youth and coming generations but also the adults. It has the power to mould the society by affecting the thinking process. But as Narendra Modi said, the media these days is busy selling beauty products. And other than that, it shows soaps where women are vamps and trying to harm other women or whatever. I don’t watch much of TV (actually, stopped somewhere in May 2011) but almost all soaps are kind of enhancing the negative side of humanity - killing the emotions necessary for people to coexist. This won't change unless the viewers want change as the media houses want profit - at any cost. Still, if they want, they can dedicate some 10 minutes of prime time for educating people. How much loss would it be for them? As I am writing this, I can see them saying no. The people charging by 'seconds' may not want to waste any airtime for things does not involve cash inflow.

WHAT IS LEFT?

Past few days show a ray of hope as I see people rising against evil. If that spark is true, probably, they can form groups to educate people who do not have access to internet and similar media. Roadshows, banners, whatever - may or may not be effective. But try something on an experimental basis and see? Youngsters can make documentaries and show them in remote areas by arranging contacts using the Internet? Nothing solid here - just possibilities.

At the core of change, lies proper moral education. This may sound as if I am being what you call an RSS person is. But laws, are a short term option and may not be able to do justice always. Each law in IPC comes with one or more loopholes. For example, one section states the min age for marriage as 18 and other states marital rapes are rapes only when the bride is below 15 years! Makes sense?!

Analyzing all the prospects, the change is possible only when the women take a step forward. It took centuries to degrade the value of women who were revered in ancient Bharatvarsh. We cannot expect a reversal in a short time. The efforts should continue, consistently and then, over a few years, we will be able to see a society where the line between women and men is erased. Think!

8

Dear Mrs Dixit,

I have read your comments on the Delhi gangrape. I applaud your honesty in admitting failure, in admitting the dangerous condition of Delhi for women and your determination that there must be change. In a more cynical mood, I think that it is easy for you to make these admissions considering that you are not in charge of security. However, you are in charge of the city and the mindset thriving in it makes this your responsibility, This also doesn't let you off the hook for other comments in the past.

However, this letter is about the future. You have mentioned in an interview that you have the intention to not sit idle and wait for security to happen, but to initiate a social drive to create a transformation in society. This is one of the wisest things anyone has said on the subject so far. I agree that this is the correct approach, and as a keen people watcher with an interest in women's rights, I have suggestions for transformation, if applied with integrity.

Most of the things on the table will not work. The buses and pubs are topical measures. Unless you plan to install CCTV cameras in fields and school toilets and turn the whole city into a super surveillance prison, this can't really starve rapists of locations or methods. Even as prison it will fail. This will strip the rights of the common man, which are already pretty shredded and encroached; lead to overall unrest.

Rapists don't see themselves as criminals till the need for a cover up. What happens to criminals will not deter them. Plus prosecution is lethargic and cops not interested in filing cases they can avoid. Harsh punishment for rapists won't fix the problem. There is a danger in creating laws in a moment of fury. Our country has a penchant for slapping laws onto things that can't be fixed by laws. And this is without our notoriously flawed witch hunt investigations and propensity to frame people. Irreversible punishments may just lay the brickwork for future disasters.

There is a process to rape. A rapist has a certain kind of thinking that allows the use or abuse of women sexually. Such a person finds an opportunity and a reason to do it. Then there is the victim. There are cops. The investigation. Judicial process. The judgment itself. Each of these can be improved. Lots of potential here if someone is serious about rolling up sleeves and getting to work. Most important is everything coming before the rape, because that can actually prevent it.

The opportunity and reason part of it is near impossible to prevent (and is Shinde's job anyway). Other things like police response and all will definitely help, but like you said, you can't do much about that beyond insisting, which you must.

In a normal society, there is a non-verbal contract of obeying laws, paying taxes and other duties in return for enforcement of rights, facilities that support and enhance living, protection from harm, etc. India is in a precarious position. People are experiencing that while they obey laws and pay taxes, and so on, they are not safer, they are finding living more difficult from inflation, unemployment, insecurity, whatever. There is dissatisfaction and very little awareness of equality.  It is every person for himself, with the sexually repressed environment demonizing sex, lesser chances of marriages, etc. The primitive chauvinistic culture has little in terms of legal oversight (possibly the price of vote bank politics).

Too much permissibility of subjugation of women has made their condition precarious. To add to this is a reinforcement of impunity for further humiliation of women with public figures making rabidly anti-women statements. Witness Nirupam's questioning of Smriti Irani's character. This is pretty much what every street thug does as he sizes up your breasts to grope on a bus. Big breasts is loose character, dancing is loose character, revealing clothes is loose character, late night on bus is loose character. The predator needs to find a way to turn his victim into a "bad person" in order to punish her with his actions, or he has to face that he is a demon (which no one does - everyone thinks of themselves as good people). Which is how Smriti Irani dancing is a reflection of her character, but hey Sunil Dutt or Govinda danced way more than her for far more money. But there is no utility in questioning their character.

This is further compounded by the Savitri and Sexy syndrome, where some women are objects of evil, while others are objects of innocence. So it is highly unpredictable who is a potential attacker till too late. Who knows who has what kind of hang up? So you had students protesting the rape of a student showing bangles to the police - as if it is an insult to be a woman. They used foul language about you or Sonia Gandhi - both women. Needless to say going among them without security is highly inadvisable for either of you, while the other "innocent" girls may do so without fear (unless they break another stereotype). It is not possible to go around analyzing every man. Nor is it appropriate to treat all men as potential sexual predators - the traditional line taught to unmarried girls in the hopes of keeping them away from men. Usually fails and leads to heartbreak or marriage or great/lousy sex. Hormones are a compelling influence no amount of moral policing can trump.

The need of the hour is a carrot - stick approach that keeps enough people in line that the rest can be fixed in other ways.

The carrots are the goodies. Increased acceptance of sex, propagation of ideas of sex as a natural and healthy thing, education on contraceptives, de-shaming sex, education on the paramount importance of consent as a part of sex (this also needs more solidly plugged into the laws and constitution), acceptance of sexuality, acceptance of sex professionals, industry (not exploitation), films and toys, and more. The more you can end repression of sexuality and make it easy and acceptable (as natural), the less likely it is to burst out in unpredictable, uncontrollable and devastating ways. Please note that this doesn't mean lowering the age of marriage. Sex and marriage need to be differentiated.

The sticks are the taboos. Enforcing laws is the biggest one. Creating public opinion on the unacceptability of sex without consent. Punishing every instance of demeaning women without discrimination (more below) by public figures or in media. Preventing exploitation in marriage, trade, whatever. The idea is to make these taboos so strong, that you have to be a really filthy creature to even think these things. Think of how well the church has done making homosexuality unthinkable. The pope is still fighting tooth and nail for his right to devastate lives. For a good cause, it could work brilliantly. Really heavy duty bombardment and relentless public opinion mongering. Religious leaders could be roped in to whatever extent they feel able to follow the laws of India.

The idea is the creation of a social environment where the laws matter. Here, your leaders and public figures are important. Visible role models upholding law will create a virtue out of that, visible role models insulting women will encourage the public to do similar. What is good/bad, acceptable or not, even which laws to take seriously and which ones to bend is often understood by watching what others are doing, and the references lie in the public space.

About the punishing of demeaning of women, it is actually written that it should be so. Another law enforced to manipulate people, but not protect them. It must be enforced. The women's commissions should be hauled over coals for not protecting women to begin with and then, if they repent, should be tasked with filing legal cases for offending the modesty of a woman for every single instance of victim blaming, character judgments, insulting comments about women, etc. Such people should be punished in courts or if they settle out of courts, one of the conditions must be a public apology that should be well covered in media. If the people receive it well, they are off the hook, or the case should go on.

Every single instance. be it a politician, a police officer, a judge, a school principal, khap panchayat - whoever, whatever. Regardless of political loyalties. The women's commission must not have any members who belong to political organizations or are related to politicians. Any of them not fulfilling these conditions must be replaced. Women's commissions should also alert appropriate authorities in the case of anyone in a tax funded job, so that appropriate action may be taken. Good idea for this could be fining half the salary for 6 months to fund women's rights initiatives. On an aside, a good person to have on a woman's commission is a blogger called Indian Homemaker. A superb and sensible warrior of human rights with an impeccable sense of what is fair. With no affiliations (that I know of) to make her judgment suspect.

The censor board must be hauled over coals for allowing content that promotes women as inferior and encourages subjugation. All the soap operas showing bold women as evil must be forced to rewrite scripts to be compatible with the message of equality in our constitution. Films with super hit songs (and stories) promoting sexual harassment must be forced to run captions that the action demonstrated in the film is actually illegal as per Indian law. "Good" women characters must be forced to comply with health weight charts. An underweight model must not be promoted as a role model, particularly in stories showing women of normal or heavier weights as stupid. "Good" characters must not exhibit a virtue of suffering abuse silently. On the contrary, they must fight abuse - against themselves at least, compulsorily. Challenging status quo must not be the sign of a bad character. Any "item numbers" projecting women as enjoying being touched by a crowd of men must have the actresses giving independent interviews disclosing if they really enjoyed being touched or would like to experience such a thing in real life. These interviews must be appended to the film in all future releases. Shows to focus on various aspects of women's rights to raise awareness must be designed. Tax exemptions must be given to films/books/content that promote healthy attitudes toward women.

I think this is a good laundry list to start with. Particularly important is the point about punishing public role models of humiliating women. I congratulate you on your healthy attitude to the problem, and I think you need not find yourself helpless. It will not be so difficult to change society if the people planning the change know what they are doing. Particularly for someone with the tremendous resources and reach of the state on their side. We stand by you, and hope that you come up with a model that can be replicated countrywide.

I would be happy to hatch more ideas with any team you have, if you find these useful.

Wishing you the best,

Vidyut