11

The following is a first person account by Md Hasanujjaman, M Phil in English, University of Hyderabad of the brutality unleashed by the police against the students and faculty of University of Hyderabad.

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VC Apparao resumes office at the face of the report of the two-member fact finding committee that stated the university should have handled the incident more “sensitively” -

I am one of the arrested students in connection with the protest against the VC of UoH. I belong to a minority community of West Bengal. My family is financially backward. Here I would like to narrate the police brutality on me and my fellowvictims in police van on the way from UoH to Miyapur Police Station on 22nd March. Before coming to UoH I was naive about the problems in the society. I had no idea of the pathetic and dehumanized condition of the dalits and the adivasis. I was hardly aware of the dangerous consequences of caste system in the Indian society. But coming to UoH I began to understand the real picture of the caste system which leads to utter discrimination and dehumanization of the dalits. I saw that this caste system makes the lives of the dalits extremely miserable. Realizing my responsibility as an independent and right thinking citizen of this country I found that the caste system is a tool of dehumanization and therefore it must be annihilated. I stood against this discrimination of the caste system and thus, I aligned with the movement which Rohith Vemula was part of.

Rohith Vemula being a dalit, was institutionally discriminated and forced to take his own life. The ‘Vice Chancellor prof Appa Rao Podile’ directly perpetrated in the institutional social boycott against the five dalit students including Rohith. Following the suicide of Rohith, the VC was booked under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act according to whose provision the accused must have been arrested within 24 hours from the lodging of FIR. However the FIR was lodged on 18th January, 2016 and till date he has not been arrested. This is a gross violation of the constitutional provision. Instead he returned to the university and attempted to illegally reclaim his ‘vice chancellorship’ on the 22nd March, early morning.

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Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and other security personnel unleashed brutal physical and sexual assault on students and teachers protesting against VC resuming office for Justice for Rohith

On the same day that is on 22nd March I went to attend a PreSubmission Seminar in the department of English, School of Humanities, at exactly around 2.00pm. Coming out of the department at around 3.00pm I saw that the peacefully protesting women and men teacher and students were being dragged and beaten up mercilessly by the police. The police were chasing and lathicharging on the protesters indiscriminately. It was obnoxious to see that the protesters are beaten up for raising voice against the injustice. It was a day of police violence on the democratic and peaceful protesters. I saw one student losing his sense and was rushed to a hospital. Many students got their clothes torn due to the brutal manhandle and lathicharge. But it was most painful to see that the women students and teachers being mercilessly beaten up by the police. They were thrashed on their private parts. I also witnessed female teachers being manhandled/molested by the police. It was a violation of women's rights as the women students and teachers were molested by the male police. Dr Tathagata Sengupta, an assistant professor of Mathematics was beaten up too.

It was a threatening moment in my life. I never saw such police violence in front of my eyes. I could not restrain myself from speaking against the police and as a result I was the next to be victimized. However, the police brutality actually began when one teacher, one film maker and the sixteen students including me were chased and dragged into a police van. I was standing near the ‘Goodwill canteen’ which is around 250 meter away from the VC`s lodge where the protests were happening. Standing there itself I could see students and teacher being dragged into the police van. But I never thought that I would also be a victim of the police brutality. Suddenly, one police chased me and caught the collar of my shirt. I pleaded not to apprehend me as I did not commit any crime except the fact that I stood for the Justice for Rohith and supported the students’ movement for justice. I feel that I was targeted because I questioned the police on their face that why Rohith did not get justice even after more than three months; why the accused for Rohith's murder has not been punished; on what ground the VC has come to take charge of the university. Instead I was beaten up and thrashed hard and pushed into the police van.

This inhuman and brutal torture continued on all of us for around 50 minutes on the way from UoH to the Miyapur Police Station. Dragging me into the van the police forcefully pushed me down into a corner seat. Before getting hit I quickly looked at a fellow victim Subhadeep Kumar and asked him what might happen to me as for the first time my life I got into a police van. He assured me that nothing will happen as I did not commit anything wrong. I could not turn my face to have a look at the rest of the victim in the van. Again the police hit me on shoulder. I pleaded not to hit me but the police pulled my hair and punched me hard on my back. Another police hurried at me snatched my mobile and spectacle. But when I pleaded to give me back the spectacle as I have serious eye problem, the police boxed on my right eye saying that why despite being visually challenged did I spoke against the police. Whenever I tried to look at my fellow companions who were beaten up black and blue, the police hit me and cowed me down not to raise my head again. I heard my fellow friends shrieking in pain as they were mercilessly thrashed and hit. Those who had beard and looked liked ‘Muslims’ were beaten up specifically as the police suspended them to ‘like’ terrorists. The sounds of slapping and hitting still haunt my mind and I feel the pain. Professor K Y Ratnam was also a victim of the police brutality. A filmmaker, Moses Abhilash too was unlucky to be a victim of the brutality. Abhilash was just shooting the videos of police lathicharge which the police did not want the public to see. The police beatings left wounds on my body. When I requested for water they gave me the water only to be ready to get beaten up again. The physical assault was extremely systematic and cruel. At that moment I doubted whether I was at all a human being. While beating up, the police also unleashed verbal abuse on all of us at extreme level. During the journey of police brutality from the UoH to Miyapur P. S., the police were continuously abusing us with the most vulgar and objectionable language. “M***d, b**d, chu**a, bho**ke” and etc were the common words they were throwing at us. They called us Pakistani ISI agents and alleged that we are spending Indian money and supporting Pakistan and threatened us to send us to Pakistan. They called us antinational alleging that we are conducting “beef festival”, “kiss of love” events on “Afzal Guru’, “Yakub Memon’. They said that they were taking revenge on us for their hard work on duty. They also assaulted our departed friend Rohith Vemula saying that he was a ‘bastard’, ‘spoiled child’ and people are unnecessarily paying attention to his death. They used extremely antiwomen, derogatory, and sexist comments. They said that they would rape our mothers and sisters and also they vowed to bring them here and take their naked videos. They also threatened to do the same with our women friends in the university. Hearing these comments I feel that the safety of the women is at great risk and I also feel that the posting of police poses direct threat to women teachers, students and workers in the campus. Their comments and attitudes were dangerous as far as the safety and security of women is concerned at large in the society. It is appalling to think what the police remarked against the women.

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The language police used against women protestors : "Tu kahaan ki rehne wali hai? Itti kaali hai! Aa tere ku sabak sikhata hoon! (Where are you from? You are so dark. Let me teach you a lesson)"

After brutal torture in the police van we were subjected to harassment in Miyapur P. S. After reaching there at Miyapur we all of us were made to sit on a dirty and spaceless corridor. The police humiliated us by making our respected teacher Prof K Y Ratnam sit on the same dirty floor. The police lectured us about moral and ethical correctness. They behaved with us very rudely while taking our detail information and pictures. On asking about our release the police told us that everything is in hand of their “BIG BOSSES” and they also said that the Gachibowli police have already decided our fate. We were kept awake throughout the night by putting light on in front of eyes and playing songs and videos. When we requested to let us sleep they laughed at us. The next day, a Subinspector of Miyapur P.S. called me for interrogation and he took all my information in detail including my family, relatives’ information. He also took the photos of my PAN, Aadhaar and university ID cards. He also took the phone numbers of my relatives checking my mobile. He abused me very badly and threatened me that in future if something happened in the university, I will be a target even if I do not commit any crime.

Thereafter we were secretly taken to Balanagar Police Station where we were again harassed both physically as well as mentally. The police made us sit in a dirty and suffocating room. Professor Ratnam was again humiliated by making him sit at the feet of the police who was sitting on a chair and giving us pedantic lecture on nationalism and education as to how we should develop our society. This is the same subinspector of Miyapur P.S. who abused me in vulgar language and giggled his teeth and lied to me when I asked him where we were taken to. He also mocked at me by calling me “team leader” and “mastermind”. I don't know his motive for calling such things. But I am apprehensive of my Muslim identity as he was targeting me. I was also not allowed to inform my worried family or friends about my whereabouts.
From Balanagar P.S. we were taken to ‘Government Area Hospital’ secretly. We were shocked to know that we were taken to a hospital. I had wounds and pain caused by the police brutality the previous day. But I had no reason to expect any medical treatment. In the hospital I was forced to stand in the queue for treatment. The doctor gave me “fit to be produced at court” certificate despite my critical health condition. I also saw Professor K Y Ratnam`s Blood Pressure reading to touch around 220 mark in the BP machine. After the “treatment” the Gachibowli CI J. Ramesh forced me to sign the arrest papers at around 9.00 pm on 23 March whereas actually I was arrested by the police at 5.30pm on 22 March. When I tried to raise objection the Gachibowli CI J.Ramesh threatened me that not signing the arrest papers would amount to additional cases against me. I was denied any interaction with any legal expert on these serious issues. When I politely asked him “Sir, my career would be shattered if my future is tarnished by filing cases against me”, he aggressively threatened me saying “shut your mouth up otherwise I will file more cases against you”. I do not know how to express the fear generated in me by J Ramesh. After medically certifying me “fit to be produced at court” I was again confined in the police van. It was suffocating and scorching hot. I requested the police to let me stand out of the van until it moves. But the police as usual again threatened us. I was very hungry as I did not get anything to eat throughout the day. The police did not bother to hear any of my problems. Then I was taken to the honourable Magistrate at around 11.40 pm. But the Gachibowli police Naveen and Bhupathi did not allow me to appear at the honourable Magistrate to narrate my suffering and wooes. At the Magistrate's order I was sent to Cherlapally Central Prison. Coming to the prison my health further deteriorated. I called a prison physician for treatment. He gave me a general painkiller injection and some medicine for the wounds and pain caused by the police on 22 March. But he did not give me any proper health treatment as I needed the most. It still pains me to remember that in prison the doctor was not allowed inside and therefore, I had to take an injection through the window. I also failed to have an eye check as 22 March as the police hit me on my right eye. The police action threatened my life and also the hopes of my family. I feel helpless, hopeless and unsafe. The police filed false cases against me and others with the deliberate intention to destroy our future and our lives. The police terrorized us throughout the first 33 hours to ensure that we do not again protest against the government and its agencies. They kept us saying that we should only study and not get involved in politics. They wanted to create a fear in us so that before protesting we will remember the trauma of the police brutality. This poignant memory will always be haunting my life.
Md Hasanujjaman
M Phil in English,
University of Hyderabad

5

Porn has come under extensive criticism from feminists as well. I find this scary. Accusations vary from porn resulting in rape to porn being born from an exploitation of women. I disagree with a lot of these accusations and agree with a few, but do not see blocking of porn as an answer. More importantly, I find it alarming that feminism can selectively abdicate interest in the agency of women.

Who decides whether and what porn should be banned?

A large part of the feminist view is that men deciding what harms women is a problem. A sizeable chunk of feminists also thinks porn should be banned because it harms women. Very few people actually ask porn watching women or performers. In my view, people who don't want to watch porn are not required to watch it, just like people not interested in cricket are not forced to follow scores on cricket websites. Thus, there is little question of porn being imposed on people and the primary stakeholders would be producers, performers and viewers - mostly not consulted in deliberations on bans. Other stakeholders could be law enforcement, social workers and doctors working with the industry and so on. Few, if any women enjoy porn that is violent, but there are women viewers as well as performers who like rough sex porn. Our efforts to figure out a way to reduce the harms of porn don't consult them. In my view not only is this authoritarian, bypassing stakeholders is unlikely to result in effective ways of dealing with the issue.

Can porn cause harm?

There is harm related to porn including addiction, unhealthy expectations about sex and violent or non-consensual sex. On the darker side is a sordid saga of drug abuse among porn performers, sexual abuse and allegedly, trafficking women to make porn, blackmail and more. Extreme and hardcore acts or object insertions can result in people injuring themselves. Those added to a rape can result in serious injury and worse. They can give men all sorts of misconceptions about what women like during sex. And this is "legal" porn (as in not depicting criminal acts) - not even necessarily violent porn. There is also little doubt that a lot of mainstream porn is too aggressive and disrespectful of women for women's tastes.

So are many Bollywood films. I'd argue songs like "Khambe jaisi khadi hain" starring the conscience of the nation, Aamir Khan, with "heroes" pursuing reluctant actresses, heartily idolized by cheering and jeering mob of sidekicks have inspired more non-consensual  sexual pursuit of women than porn films ever will. Catcalls and whistles from the balcony during rape/molestation/erotic scenes are embarrassing cinema traditions. When the heroine can slap the hero for harassing her, and discover at the end of the film that she was wrong for misjudging him. I would argue that public figures and people in positions of authority that excuse rape and hold victims responsible for "asking for it" do more harm than porn. Because these are cultural influences, rather than private activities.

What are the things already being done about "bad" porn?

Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection, Internet Watch Foundation and FBI track and seize servers that run child pornography. Google does not want revenge porn to appear in search results. There are other initiatives by ordinary netizens like Anonymous who are relentless in their efforts in their pursuit of child abusers and child porn. Efforts like feminist porn, Porna porn or sex-positive porn are growing rapidly as more and more people turn toward more "real" depictions of sex rather than aggressive porn that "gets off" on humiliating women. Bishakha Datta puts it well in her fine article on the porn ban, "If we applied the free speech argument to porn, we wouldn’t ban porn. We’d fight porn with more porn, make more porn for women." She is planning to create a porn-o-meter service to rate porn for being child, women and law friendly that depicts women enjoying and controlling the sexual action as well. Top rated videos of most popular sites are increasingly of the kind where women participate and enjoy the sex.

Above prejudices and ethics is hard business

A part of the problem is also the "quality", as a pragmatic porn performer who does not want to be named, told me. If a director fails to convey pleasure and emotional connect it can look alarmingly indifferent to a woman's pleasure. A woman's pleasure can be more subtle to portray and capture than a man's very visible orgasm. It is also no coincidence that most films with good production values and acting and direction also have sex that looks enjoyable for all participants.

While the audience was mostly men, this did not matter so much, but with the rise in viewership by women, this has started mattering. If women friendly porn has demand, it will be created. And it should be, because as Pu La Deshpande had said in his speech celebrating the 75th show of the outrageous Sangeet Vastraharan, "There is only one answer to inappropriate things and that is doing what is appropriate in an excellent manner."

Here is Erika Lust, who makes porn videos talking about the need for porn to change.

Porn is hardly a new concern. Other countries already have laws that the biggest sites have to comply with to remain accessible to viewers in order to profit. Any porn site with noticeable viewership already explicitly requires performers to be of adult age and to sign consent forms. They remove reported criminal porn - because they are here to do business from the desires of people, not protect criminals at the cost of their own business and reputation. The question of why aggression with woman turns men on - whether as a fantasy or in real life is a question beyond the scope of this piece.

Does porn symbolize crimes against women?

Meena Kandasamy, a feminist has published an article in which she argues against the porn ban, yet declares porn to be against women's rights (then why should it not be banned?)

I do think that the pornographic industry overwhelmingly represents NOT freedom but its opposite, the enslavement of women's bodies, the casualisation of paedophilia, the trivialisation of rape, the culture of trophy videos of rape, and all this, on top of being one of the most exploitative global sex industries that has trafficking, forced prostitution, abuse and near-slavery ingrained in it.

I invite anyone to check out the top porn sites to see if pedophilia or rape is present at all (whether casualized, trivialized or in another form) let alone "overwhelmingly represents". Women who participate willingly in BDSM cannot be considered to be "enslaved" beyond the sexual role play. I dare say that if the top visited sites don't carry it, most porn viewers never come across it. If you specifically search for child or rape porn, you will find it regardless of blocks, because if there is something you can find on the internet, you can find it around a block as well.

Conditions of porn performers

There are porn performers who reach the top of name and fame as performers and go on to produce their own content and there are those that do a brief stint and reach a dead end - like the bulk of acting and modeling work. There are plenty of "stars" speaking candidly about the profession, including their sex lives on and off screen when their partner is also a co-star; interacting with fans in an extremely candid manner, including doing Reddit IAmAs, where anyone can ask them anything and answering questions on Quora. There are candid Reddit IAmAs of partners of porn performers who speak of dedication to their work and career; the "work" of porn and sex being different things and even being committed to monogamy off screen.

Technology is killing mainstream porn but empowering the talent. It cuts out the middle man and let's almost anyone work from home. ~ Tory Lane

It is a career choice with its occupational hazards. Not all that different from a film star talking about how it isn't all about glamour but days of slogging doing retakes after retakes.

A construction worker abuses her body for far less money and comfort. Do we call for bans on construction work or coal mines because workers fall to their die, get health problems or abuse their body beyond endurance for a pittance? Is it not supremely ironic that feminists who would otherwise object to a woman being measured by her vagina end up condemning entire professions chosen by women because the part of the body overworked is the vagina? Is being a woman all about being a vagina then, that breaking your back ferrying gravel and cement is no reason for a ban but a far less brutal life as a sex performer is? Or is it that there is nothing to be outraged about a woman's sexuality unless she happens to earn from it?

This is not to say there is no ugly side. There are sex performers who get exploited, who face rude costars and suffer unpleasant sex from both the physical stress of postures for camera rather than comfort as well as brutal partners with usually larger than average penises. They speak of the abuse and humiliation of derogatory co-stars, being penetrated roughly, of drugs and exploiters. Why does the "victim" return to do another film? Performers make compromises they later regret because of the lure of money, like any of us. Women have had sex in ways that strips them of dignity for all kinds of reasons ranging from promotions to desperate attempts at preventing husbands from straying.

Defining the whole by a part

But more importantly, it is not so different from the million other people who "bitch" about their jobs, even as they continue to do them. Go to a corporate office, there will be bitter sense of victimization by colleagues and seniors considered to be manipulative, exploitative or otherwise unfair. Of bosses who will push employees beyond endurance to get the "work" done. Of work pressures that lead to suicides. Students commit suicide from exam pressures. Farmers commit suicide because they cannot afford to live. Bigggest common factor in cases of marital rape is marriage. Ban marriage? Every profession, occupation has a terrible side, but porn and prostitution appear to be two where a professional cannot talk about a bad day at work or problems they face without it becoming the "truth" of the industry.

What about the agency of women?

Whatever happened of the power of women to make choices including their own mistakes? If a woman chooses to wear skimpy clothes and walk on the streets of Delhi at midnight and gets raped, do we ask for roads to be closed to public after dark? If a porn performer faces abuse, why is it that instead of insisting that criminals be brought to book, we act like the ministers we condemn and condemn porn instead of the specific criminals? There is some preference within people to prevent porn, just like there is a preference to prevent women out on the streets among those who would deny them agency.

Concerns about Indian porn performers

That said, while I have no data, my perception is that the Indian porn performers do much worse than those in countries where it can be produced legally. I believe this is because performing contracts, mandatory health checks, legal status allow legal porn performers to build proper fan followings and improve  working conditions in ways that they find safe in ways Indian performers cannot. Indeed a lot of Indian porn I have seen appears to be little more than a shoot of a sexual encounter with a prostitute with little production values or direction beyond showing sex. If porn performing were legal in India, many prostitutes would be able to move out of prostitution and dictate who they would have sex with for an income and on what terms. They would be able to create and sell their own porn instead of being videotaped by profiteers who exploited them for their own profit. They would be able to choose producers who offered working conditions that did not exploit them.

What can the government do?

If we really want to do something about porn, in order to prevent exploitation of women, the need is not to ban it, but to legalize porn production so that working standards may be enforced, production companies can be formed and held accountable for the age and consent of performers in videos they produce and more. So that a porn performer may be able to file a case for rape just like any model can, if she gets forced to do things she has not agreed to do. I have often argued that instead of prudish bans on sex related activities like prostitution or porn, India needs to encourage a thriving sex industry that allows the government to crack down on exploitation and crime, because professionals will be interested in maintaining their licences to operate. Instead of fighting a token war against a tide of people interested in sex and profiteers thriving on exploiting women to provide it, the government can turn the bulk of consumers and providers on their side and really create conditions that deter crimes and exploitation.

If porn is legal, it will become easier to monitor human trafficking, because the larger production houses that earn the most will have a vested interest in remaining legal and focusing on the money and they will have a way to be legal. Smaller operators in turn will not be able to earn enough from meager revenues from marginalized visibility to make the risks of crime worthwhile. It may not stop crimes altogether, but it will most definitely help to make them unnecessary as well as serve as strong deterrent for the vast majority.

One strength the government has, is the same one it exploits when it profits from FDI. The size of India's population is an asset when it comes to being a market. If the government can identify porn that encourages unhealthy attitudes about women and consent, it can pass a law requiring such content to carry disclaimers For example:

  • The following material is a fictional depiction of activities that are illegal in civilized countries - for enacted rape porn or "forced sex" etc
  • The actions depicted in this video can cause injury and are performed by practiced professionals. Don't try them at home - for extreme insertion porn.
  • The women in this video have consented to participate in a fictional depiction of dominance over women. Such actions without consent are illegal worldwide. - for rough sex, domination, BDSM, etc

Given the size of India's population, if sites that don't comply are blocked, it will result in a competition for the market share and allow the government to actively combat harmful messages potentially conveyed by porn.

The need is to not measure porn by the ethical standards of prudes with malice toward the industry, but by the standards of those engaging with it.

9

It is sad that this explanation is necessary, but with AAP vounteers cannibalizing the credibility of their own women leaders to somehow prove them not required in the cabinet, this post becomes necessary.

To a bunch of people conditioned to respond to any issue of identity with assumptions of special favors and handouts, it may come as a surprise that when you speak of the top of an organization (which a government is), it is more about responsible team selection than favors.

A diverse city needs diverse perspectives to understand thoroughly. There is a HUMAN aspect, not just "competence" at churning out and implementing ideas. A person who has an experience of being a religious minority is more likely to spot potential problems that could impact religious minorities because life has given them that lens. A person who is from a caste that has known being treated as inferior is likely to have more practical suggestions to empowerment than someone who has not suffered disempowerment and approaches it as a conceptual problem - albeit with phenomenal "merit".

Similarly a woman is likely to have instinctive feel if something would or would not suit a woman's realities than a man. It is no coincidence that all those jokes about men not understanding their wives and all the complaints of insensitivity from men happen. Men and women see the world with different perspectives. What can seem normal to a man can be a problem to women and vice versa. Not having a woman on board opens up potential for costly mistakes too, since humans doing the delivering don't matter so much as efficiency in delivering.

Does this mean that you can cover the whole diversity of Delhi with six people? Of course not. But is it necessary to at least attempt to cover large chunks broadly? Damn right it is. If a chunk of 46% is not represented, the decision making body is POORER QUALITY because the risk of their decisions being potentially not efficient goes up.

Also the arguments that women would prefer to be chosen for merit rather than gender - or vice versa - that women should not be chosen for gender are both irrelevant.

Should a single woman have preference over a man because of her gender? No. Should a team with no women on it go out of its way to choose one? Yes. Is it insulting to that woman to be chosen because of her gender? I don't think so.

If I were part of a team that had to send six participants to do a physical task - the nature of which we didn't know. And the leader chose participants for various qualities like say.... speed, strength, heavy weight, light weight, tall and short. I may be a superb strategist or I may not be as "efficient" as others on the team or I would never want to get a job for my short height - but if I bring in a quality the team needs, should I do it? Damn right. It is responsibility. It would be absurd to call this a handout.

The cabinet is a team setting out to rule Delhi. No one has an idea of what competencies the team was chosen for, so I would not comment. But if 46% of the "challenge conditions" will think in a certain manner people on my team don't, would I choose someone who thought like them? Damn right I would. It would be a competence, not handout. Not tokenism, not symbolism. It would be the right thing to do, because when facing unknown challenges, that person would have familiarity with something the others don't. Would it matter whether that person wanted to be selected for her being a woman? If I were a leader? No. It would be her responsibility to put her ego aside and be there because she was a woman and the team needed a woman because 46% of the target citizens were women.

This isn't a handout. This is responsible team choosing. If the cabinet is indeed chosen for merit, then the parameters are incorrectly set if they leave such a large target group unrepresented. Apart from this being unfair to the women of Delhi, it makes for a poorer quality cabinet.

'Look at "XYZ woman politician" women shouldn't be on cabinet'

It is not just absurd logic (there are bad male politicians too. Keep the cabinet empty) it is extremely insulting to the women MLAs as well as AAP by implying that AAP women are no better than those you hold in contempt. It basically exposes your misogyny - to put it mildly - apart from making you sound insane.

Can you cover every minority? Why not Sikh, Christian, OBCs, tribals and my dabbawala?

Ideally, you would have all represented, but it may not be possible in such a small cabinet. You could exaggerate it to ridiculous levels, but if you are aiming to understand instead of just trivialize an issue as important as this, it is possible to understand. The attempt must be to have perspectives that can at least understand some of the disadvantage, if not completely. Any minority person is more likely to understand issues of religious sensitivity. Any lower caste person is likely to be aware of hierarchies better than someone who has never been seen as socially inferior for fact of birth. Similarly, there are a thousand different ways women think, but a woman is still more likely to understand them than a man. Failing a woman, a member of the LGBT community could be included (if the women really were so terrible and you hid it during the campaign) - another example of not "reserving for women" but still achieving a perspective on gender bias related disadvantages.

One counter question for you. How are you certain that the six cabinet members selected are not handouts? Are handouts given only to women?

 

2

Dear Meritorious Chief Minister,

Congratulations on the sweeping win of Aam Aadmi Party in the Delhi Assembly elections. As someone cheering the rise of the promise of more inclusive democracy in India, I have been following the story of Aam Aadmi Party since the beginning.

Yesterday should have been a day of celebration. It was not. The reason is your all male cabinet. Worse, for all your claims of listening to the people and being accountable, there has not been so much as a whisper of explanation for excluding women from the seat of power in Delhi. The Aam Aadmi Party that bragged about the quality of its women candidates is apparently at a loss to find a single one worthy of the cabinet.

In your speeches, you admitted to arrogance of victory in Delhi leading to the defeat in the Lok Sabha Elections. This time after warning followers, your arrogance in Delhi will lead to the defeat of 46% of those who supported you, while you cannot be shaken from your position for the next five years.

Because it is arrogance that decides that you will deliver women safety, yet sees no need to include women in the cabinet. Women are more impacted than men by issues related to water, education, health or inflation, as those tasked with the functioning of the household in limited resources in the vast majority of Indian society. It is women who ferry water the most, make compromises in nutrition to be able to afford food daily, care for the ill and as the ones giving birth to babies and caring in their early years are also a large segment of healthcare consumers in addition to routine health issues common to all. It is women who face greater resistance to ambitions in education. It is women who face catcalls and gangrapes and sexual harassment far more than men.

Being a woman in India is a different view of the world than being a man in India. No matter how sensitive or capable a cabinet minister, I doubt if he will THINK like a woman.  The idea that a woman's thinking does not need to be present at all in the highest decision making body for the state is misogyny. In all your grandeur, you may imagine that men are more efficient and deliver best, but the fact is that many women not from the upper classes cannot speak freely to men. In all your wisdom, you may believe that it is not important for the Minister for women and children - who would be the one meeting victims of brutal rapes once this intoxication with your own yet-to-be proven competence dies down. I doubt a victim sees it the same way. Or is the plan to speak with doctors and male members of the family instead of the women or conveniently use some woman MLA without authority for the purpose?

I don't doubt that a man handling the wellbeing of women and children is a refreshing deviation from the norm, but the need for PR stunts is over. Does a cabinet that cannot even see competence in women in understanding issues of women better than men respectfully handle the difficulties of women? I don't think so.

So far, it seems AAP is happy to use women volunteers to work. Will use a few women candidates to stop looking like cavemen, use their eloquence as spokes people and high profile campaigners but when it comes to nurturing women or recognizing their competence or being willing to share in POWER, AAP so far seems to have come up with a big fat zero.

From seven candidates in the previous election to six in this election. From one woman to none. Your party has consistently claimed to plan to empower women, but in this one year what we see is a deterioration. Not just a failure of Aam Aadmi Party to put up women candidates in any proportion vaguely corresponding to that mythical representation, or decreasing numbers in the tiny number offered.

A woman MLA who joined AAP in its darkest hours, stayed loyal, worked her ass off for the party, including being one of the strong pillars for your own efforts in Varanasi, has experience being on the women's commission, IS a woman herself is apparently not "competent" enough to be on a cabinet where a male lawyer handles the portfolio for women and children. And I am sure the other women candidates have competencies too. You don't get to be a good councillor without being able to handle authority or work. Two of AAP's women MLAs have been councillors. One of AAP's woman MLA's is an ex-cabinet minister in the previous AAP cabinet.

Here is a quote from your party website, since a sub-category of your supporters no longer seem to think I am in Indian interest:

"We believe that until the Women’s Reservation Bill is passed by Parliament, there is a lot that political parties can do to ensure proportional representation for women. "

http://www.aamaadmiparty.org/womens-day

Here I am, getting organized "blocking" of my handle by your supporters on Twitter, for upholding the views of YOUR party that you seem to have forgotten. Or was that an election Jumla?

There is a Muslim and a dalit in your cabinet and rightly so. I don't imagine this is an accident given that several other favorites are not on the cabinet, so I assume it is okay to take the representation of women for granted, while other kinds of representation are still respected.

Worse, you or your spokesperson don't even think this important enough to address openly and with your much advertised accountability. Not before the cabinet swearing in, not after. It is not like you are unaware when you retweet an absurd tweet by Javed Jafferi about Bandana Kumari being a Deputy Speaker as though that should be enough. What power does a deputy speaker have to govern?

In essence, in your ARROGANCE you are saying that men will deliver women's needs and women are not competent enough to do it. Let alone governing other aspects of the state. This is classic patriarchy and gives rise to the question, "Changing politics, yes, but for better or worse?"

If Hindus ruling a secular state is right wing supremacy, how is men ruling a supposedly gender respecting state anything but MALE SUPREMACY?

I also suggest that when AAP campaigns in the future, bragging about its women candidates, it discloses whether the candidates are good enough to be trusted in the cabinet, or just fillers for your statistics on women representation. This is important, because if your women candidates are not competent, then why should the constituencies you conned into voting for them suffer from their "incompetence" while you protect your government and reputation from it? Hain na?

Think about it. It is the start of your government and you have begun it with a grave wrong to gender equality. This will not go unnoticed. Not by citizens, not by AAP's political opponents. While nothing can force you to give this represenatation to Delhi's women for the next five years if you decide against it, it will be a blow to the Aam Aadmi Party itself in other places too.

A blogger who had great hope in AAP and is now worried about AAP being a problem to women's rights.

Vidyut

5

The Aam Aadmi Party made a huge deal out of women's safety. Women were among those campaigning for AAP on the streets. Taking out rallys. Yet the 46% of women voters are represented by less than 10% of MLAs and NO ONE in the cabinet - where most of the power of the government resides.

This is not an accident. It is impossible that Arvind Kejriwal did not realize that there was no woman on his cabinet. It was also brought to his attention. This is deliberate.

I have been bringing this up on social media over the last two days and here are some reasons/responses/excuses I got defending this all male cabinet and why I don't think they wash.

No one should be chosen for gender

Well, there is a Muslim and Dalit on the cabinet. And that is a good thing. But I doubt that they were chosen by accident. So the larger question is why AAP sees a need to show some vote banks a visible represenation but not women who comprise almost half of all voters and voted overwhelmingly for AAP? Their votes got taken for granted and no power needs to be given to their representatives? If no one can be chosen for gender, no one can be excluded for gender either. When there is not a single woman on board, the question is less about choosing for gender and time to ask if the exclusion was for gender.

Even having Muslim and dalit is wrong only capability should be seen not tokenism

If you assume that the natural owners of power are Hindu upper caste men, then them including others is "tokenism" and a handout. If you are choosing to form a team to govern a diverse city, minorities of religion, caste and gender bring with them practical experiences of realities and problems faced by various identities that are not as obvious to the "majority". This is good team formation, not favors done to anyone. If you are ruling a diverse city, perspectives on its diversity are COMPETENCE - not handouts and tokenism and symbolism. To call them thus basically implies that they have no right to power and the default inheritors of power are upper caste Hindu men and anyone else getting it must have to earn it.

Men handling women and children ministry is refreshing

Sure it is. I never said you need a woman cabinet minister to serve as some custodian of the harem. Even if there are women on the cabinet, a man can handle the Women and Children portfolio, though it may take some juggling to manage when dealing with sensitive situations. The presence of a woman brings a perspective on realities of women that is an extremely relevant competence when you made a big fuss of your "womanifesto".

An all male cabinet tasked with delivering women's safety is like a bachelor advising women on how many children they should have. Or an all women's team designing the city's toilets including urinals for men. The logic and intent may be there, but what do they even know about the realities? How many of the cabinet ministers get stalked or groped or catcalled just because they happen to be men?

This is something every woman faces - not just specially designated victims. It is relevant to women's safety. Women are the most affected by issues of water shortage - another huge point on AAP's manifesto. Women form the majority of people ferrying water to households, the majority of people using water for household work. Women are the people most involved with caring for children and the sick. They are the ones who birth babies. They form a huge chunk of those interacting with the healthcare system. Women are disproportionately higher among those taking charge of their children's education. They are those who juggle household budgets and most impacted by prices of food or fuel on the aam aadmi level.

They thus have significantly different challenges from men and thus priorities and a completely different way of looking at problems and solutions because of that. They will have a different approach and perspective on policies . To not have a single woman among the core decision makers of the government is like saying the womanifesto was a JUMLA and 46% women should be happy with what we men decide to give you.

Can't men deliver what women need?

Of course they can. They've been doing it for thousands of years. They can. The Khap Panchayat can too, if it wants, and so can this cabinet if it thinks making a big show of giving stuff to women will get it glory as a good government that delivers. It is called patriarchy. Where women's needs are articulated by men, they aren't capable enough to be among men as equals in important positions of authority and they can have their needs met as men deem appropriate and they aren't capable enough to have a say on their own realities. It essentially says women are too stupid to fix their own problems. I don't respect this rubbish. Particularly given that I find most men incapable of understanding women or respecting their needs.

The points are endless. When there is abject inequality, you cannot approach it from any side without glaring wrongs being visible.

If anyone makes further arguments worth mentioning, I will add them here.

 

BJP leader OP Dhankar made a sensation when he promised the men of Haryana that if BJP came to power, it would get girls from Bihar for men in Haryana to marry. Finding women to marry is a big problem in Haryana with its bad and deteriorating sex ratio, with over a hundred and fifty less women per thousand men.

It is hardly a secret that bride trafficking is one of the ways men in Haryana are able to marry. Traffickers "purchase" women from places suffering from adversity - for example, last year's drought in Maharashtra saw parched people who couldn't afford water "give away" a daughter for marriage in order to be able to sustain the rest, even as the drought caused many local marriages to be cancelled or postponed. The consideration for such marriages often is simple. Does the place have enough water?

Such "wives", locally known as "molki" - literally meaning purchased - are usually little more than servants with additional responsibilities and routinely suffer domestic abuse, marital rape and abandonment for reasons ranging from failure to produce a son to ill health and inconvenience. They are often married to others when original families tire of them or shared by multiple men and eventually pushed to prostitution. It is a human rights problem and a women's rights problem and human trafficking is most definitely illegal.

So it is very worrying when a political leader promises a male dominated society that it will "get" women for them all to marry if voted to power. The party that rants over "doles" apparently sees no wrong in distributing women like a commodity.

What is more alarming is that beyond an idiotic leader appears to be a party that does not see this as a serious enough problem to punish spectacularly.

At this point one really wonders what it bodes for the future of India if a party that rally has no ethics beyond religious supremacy and "whatever wins votes" does not have supporters abandoning them even after an obscene election promise like this.

Is it too late for Indian women? Can they be promised away as election goodies and bring victory? Would that even be a win for democracy?