Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together – Vincent Van Gogh

Archive for the ‘Article on women’ Category

India: Goa’s Women Professionals want more, and they want it now

This article is written by Sapna Shahani

Lillian D’Costa, 32, left the idyllic village of Saligao in North Goa where she had spent her childhood years, and moved to Bangalore, in neighbouring Karnataka five years ago. “I had reached a point where I wasn’t growing any more and realised I needed a change,” she recalls. “I’m sure that Goa offers a better quality of life than many other states, but that’s if you’re economically well-placed. If you’re young and need opportunities for growth, Goa does not work.”

Ashwina Souza, 23, left her family in the Southern Goan town of Vasco last year to pursue a Ph.D in Industrial Psychology in Mumbai. “My seniors told me that the faculty here in Goa was not as good as in Mumbai. Besides, in a place like Mumbai, there are so many industries and they need people like us. Among my circle of friends, many have left Goa – perhaps six or eight out of 10.”

Two voices of young women professionals from a state that has recorded the highest per capita income among all Indian states in a 2009-10, according to the central statistical office. However, a study by the Labour Bureau of the Ministry of Labour and Employment also reveals that Goa has the highest unemployment rate in the country. What’s worse, according to another study conducted by Goa’s Ministry of Labour in 2009, only one-fourth of those employed in the state are women.

These figures imply that not only is Goa’s wealth not distributed equally across all sections of society, its working women are clearly marginal players in the state’s economy. Unless efforts are made to reverse this trend, Goa stands to lose young talent, with many youngsters like Lillian and Ashwina being forced to leave home for educational and employment opportunities in other states. Indeed, they are left with little choice, given the rising inflation and high cost of living in Goa.

Perhaps in response to the impending crisis, Goa recently became the first state in India to announce a dole for jobless youth. But such political gestures are merely symbolic. There still isn’t much public discussion about creating jobs for the state’s 80,000 people registered with the Employment Exchange. The Goa Chamber of Commerce carries a telling piece of information on its website: “Roughly about 15,000 graduates come out of Goan colleges every year. The government on its own will not be in a position to provide employment to these youth…”

There is widespread consensus in Goa that higher education in the state does not prepare graduates for real jobs. While the state has focused on primary education – ranking 11th among all Indian states in terms of performance – higher education appears to have stagnated. Public perception is that it is best to earn one’s degree or post-graduate qualification outside the state if one can afford to do so.

Says Aldina Gomes, a lecturer at Carmel College for Women in Nuvem, “As a professor, I’m a little against how academics is handled here. Everyone has to study humanities but they don’t really have a connection to the subject. They won’t pursue humanities as a career but will end up doing something completely different… There is a clear lack of vocational guidance for students as well as career opportunities. There should be many more entrance exams, job-specific courses and certificates that can get you jobs.”

Of course, women students are full of expectations. Take Zaheera Vaz, 20, who is about to start her Master’s degree course in Political Science at Goa University. She is keen to have extra-curricular activities that could help her develop her analytical skills. Nashoma De Jesus, 22, who is currently finishing her Master’s degree in International Studies at Goa University, would like more field experience. “The education system is too theoretical. We need more exposure while we’re studying. Internships should be mandatory,” she argues.

But this would require more investment in higher education, as Sabina Martins, a prominent women’s rights activist and school teacher with a Ph.D in chemistry, points out. “I did my research in carbon, which can be prepared from coconut shells. I thought since Goa has so many coconut shells and carbon is in high demand, being used for water purification and in so many other applications, it should be easy to make carbon this way. I went to see the only plant that does this in Goa and it was run by someone from outside the state. Planning here is devoid of research,” she says.

Those who don’t leave the state and are lucky enough to find jobs after they graduate, get measly salaries, sometimes as low as Rs 4,000 (US41=Rs 44) a month. Aglin Barretto, 23, has a Master’s degree in Counselling Psychology and works in two schools as a counsellor. Her salary? Just Rs 5,000 per month.

Both opportunities and salaries are lower in Goa than elsewhere and that is a source of angst for young women like Skitter Faia, 32, who works in a PR firm in state capital Panaji. “I hear a lot of people talking about job security and I think that means a government job where you can work or not work and still take a salary home,” observes Skitter. Others feel that appreciation and promotions don’t easily come the way of women employees. Clara Rodrigues, 24, a journalist based in Saligao, rues the fact that the glass ceiling obstructs many ambitions women may harbour, “We need opportunities to grow vertically in the organisation.”

But this does not mean that women have stopped dreaming of personal growth and freedom. Interestingly, one of the reasons why many young women here prefer to migrate out of the state is to free themselves from the diktat of conservative families and the norms that mark rural life. D’Costa says, “As a single woman living outside the state, you don’t have to rush home. Or face judgmental people in the village who are always assessing you. Or hear that your phone isn’t accessible. These are constraints I experience every time I return to Goa.”

Despite the stereotypes fostered by the coastal tourist belt, life in Goa’s hinterland is fairly restrictive for young women and the general outlook is narrow. Ashwina shares a personal anecdote, “Once in college, a teacher asked us why we wanted to go to college. Students gave all sorts of answers. Some argued that it was their ticket to leave home; others said it was their certificate for marriage; still others just wanted to ‘pass time’, while a few talked of how it was the best way to make friends. Only three of us – out of a class of 60 – said they were in college to pursue a career.”

She and others like her want the state to be more pro-active about broadening professional vistas. Not only would this bring economic benefits to the state, it would mean more women in the workplace, they argue. For instance, they point out, that Goa – with its educated population – is eminently suited to emerge as an IT hub, yet little is being done to achieve this.

Says D’Costa, “The government wants to invite only ‘clean’ industries to the state. With its good roads, broadband connectively and relatively cheaper land, it could easily attract the IT industry. IT companies are moving out of Bangalore to places like Chennai and Vellore, but why aren’t they coming to Goa? Bangalore was once known as a retiree’s city, but now it has reinvented itself as a world city. Why can’t Goa make the same transition?”

If Goa has to keep pace with the hopes and expectations of women like D’Costa, it would need to do much more to expand employment opportunities for young professionals.

Published in Deccan Herald, Bangalore edition, 30th April 2011

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/157633/looking-growth-go-some-place.html

Women in India don’t want to be in the Defenses

Should women be allowed to play a greater role in the Indian defenses, this is a debate that keeps cropping up time and again. More than once I have seen some women screaming on national television on how the defenses are bias and are keeping women out of frontal roles, such as combat. The most recent case in point being that Indian women were not allowed to become fighter pilots. This, when all other countries including China, allowed women, screamed the women defense!.

The defenses headed by men also put up a stiff resistance citing research about how women just aren’t meant for the role, and for once in my life, I kind of agreed with them. But of course if you know me, you would know that it definitely could not be for the same reason, and yes, you would be right. The fighting machine in this world, and that includes the cannon fodder, is just not the creation of women. Women are inherently creators not destroyers and so I honestly think that if women rule this world, there would have been smaller armies, smaller defense budgets and as a result less fighting. In a world of conflict created by men why in the world should women participate?, should the want to participate, why in the world should they protest for not being allowed to participate?

If the Indian defenses or any other defenses for that matter want to keep women out, they are doing women a favour we should be grateful for. Women especially the upper middle class ones, who have access to all the TV channels and self appoint themselves ‘speakers’ on behalf of other women, often drape themselves in the deceptive garb of feminism and enlightenment and fight for equal opportunity with out the intelligence to note, who it is that they are fighting with. How many of these women have sent their children to the defenses without a heavy heart is yet to be seen, but more important for these women to discern is, what it is that one is fighting for. What good has any defense force done so far. An overwhelming majority of the time, a country’s defense forces are used against their own people, why would we as women want to perpetuate this violence. So Hail to the Indian defense forces and please keep the women out.

Gold: The Story of a Goan Murderer


DupattaIt’s the fag end of summer in Goa. The beads of sweat roll down the back and sting the eyes, most people can be found spending their spare moments in their veranda, waiting for the tiny whiffs of breeze that may or may not come by. Most school children are savoring their last few days of holidays. Collecting mangoes from the neighbours yard, helping their parents clean up the garden, stack in the firewood and heading to the village spring for a therapeutic bath.

Most homes are entertaining guests, relatives who have come back to relaxed Goa, for a few days off the treadmill in the city. But this year, the gossip has not been just about the grand old aunties at church, the weddings attended on the weekend or the price of mangoes and salt fish. It is also about a serial killer who over a 15 odd years has confessed to killing 15 women!

The modus operandi. A supposedly unassuming Mahandand Naik from Shiroda befriended women in their 20s and 30s, pretended he was in love with them, after a while suggested he would introduce them to his parents, and on the appointed day asked them to come finely dressed, then waylaid them, strangulated them, often with their own dupatta, robbed them of their jewellery and then dumped their bodied.

The modus operandi seemed to be the same every time, the bodies dumped in rivers, or hung, often the victim was stripped. The police identified some bodies, were unable to unidentify others, and didn’t even manage to find other bodies, as they lay buried in secluded places.

Fifteen women and the number may grow as more confessions tumble out. More and more families that have had their daughters and sisters missing are coming forth to revive old complaints. Some families hoped against hope that their daughter had eloped with her boyfriend and living happily, have now been proved wrong.

The police had closed numerous cases of these women as cases of unnatural death are now reopening them. And while this drama unfolds, not unlike the movie “Perfume: the story of a murder” most people in Goa, who live a relatively sheltered life are obviously shocked and stunned.

Following this case from 500 kilometers, so many questions and issues come to my mind.

Women in Goa even though relatively well educated compared to their counterparts in the rest of the country are still naïve to their safety and can fall prey to murders like Mahandand Naik.

These women were emotionally vulnerable, unmarried, with a desire to love and be loved, and a wicked mind like that of this serial killer was able to identify and take advantage of their vulnerability.

The killer although displaying an unassuming simplicity about him was cold and calculating. Remorseless in implementing a well practiced plan, which refined itself further with each murder.

Could a man have perfected his art so well that he could go undetected for a decade and a half, or did his family fail to ask him and themselves some crucial questions? To what extent did they collude with the serial killer who lived among them?

The families of these women victims did not pursue the search for their daughters and sisters to the legal end. Perhaps the victims came from poor families and the family could not afford the time or monetary resources to pursue the cases.

The police, with all the public resources at their disposal kept doing a shoddy job of investigation. Probably ignoring evidence in their desire to close the case. Perhaps unqualified and so unable to recognize evidence. Perhaps lazy and unmotivated to pursue cases. In their incompetence, the Goa Police have become inadvertent colluders with the serial killer

Do the gruesome murders of fifteen women tell us something about the ‘value of life’ in Goa, does it tell us something about the ‘value of life of women in Goa’.

Do these murders tell us something about the ‘collective conscience’ of a society, that failed to raise an eyebrow about the murders (just like they fail to raise their eyebrows for so many other things) in the state, relegating these victims the place of a number in the statistics for the year.

Or am I reading too much into this whole incident.

Would it be better for all of us to dismiss it as a one off, so we can all go back to our lives and bring closure to the incidents? Or should we as a society spend a few minutes, maybe a few hours grieving the loss of fifteen women and an eroded social conscience.

I am still trying to come up with a response, as my intellect and my emotions tussle to explain the murder of fifteen women, full of potential.

Stop the violence on women in Bangalore

Stop the Violence on Women in

Bangalore

stop_violence

Dear Everyone,

For the last couple of weeks, women in Bangalore have been at the receiving end of some pretty serious attacks – for wearing jeans, going about their daily chores like traveling and waiting for a bus at a bus stop, for fighting back the moral police etc.

We need to STOP these violent physical attacks;

Below is a letter to the Police Commissioner and Home Minister regarding the recent attacks on women in Bangalore,

Please read the petition below and endorse it at-

http://www.petitiononline.com/atackwom/petition.html

Please try and sign the petition by the 6th of March 2009

Dear Sir/Madam,                                                  1 March
2009

Over the last two weeks, several women have been violently attacked in
Bangalore.

– On 28 Feb at 10.30 pm, Sanjana got hit by two men on a bike who slowed down, socked her on her jaw and fled away.

– On 24 Feb, Lakshmi was attacked at around 9 pm by four men who punched her, hit her, and abused her for wearing jeans.
– On 17 Feb, two men chased Geetanjali’s car at 1.30 pm. One chased her with a large stone as she ran to a friend’s house for refuge.
That week, Jasmine was attacked by four middle-aged men at 11.30 am when her auto broke down. They physically assaulted and tried to disrobe her while yelling obscenities.

More than 80 attacks and cases of moral policing have been reported from all over Karnataka in the last six months.Two women have committed suicide after humiliation from right-wing forces. On 11 Feb, Ashwini killed herself after Venur Bajrang activists attacked her and her friend Salim. On 12 Feb, Vanita killed herself after Bajrang Dal activists attacked her.

The police have not taken meaningful steps to stop or prevent this violence, to arrest the perpetrators, or to ensure the safety of all women in Bangalore and Karnataka. On the 2nd of March when a group of concerned citizens protested outside the Police Commission Shankar Bidari’s office, urging him to take action to make the city safer for women he blatantly denied the fact that these attacks have been taking place and said Bangalore is one of the safest cities for women and that there was no law and order problem.

These attacks are crimes against women. They are legal offences. They are neither isolated events nor trivial incidents of ‘eve-teasing’. They are part of a series of attacks inflicted on women in the name of ‘morality’, attacks that are escalating as women resist and fight back.

It is the core responsibility of the State and city police to ensure that public spaces are kept safe for all. Women across class barriers – from powrakarmikas to garment factory workers to students and young professionals in the corporate sector – have today become vulnerable targets on the streets of Karnataka.

As an organization fighting for the rights of all women, we demand that the Bangalore and Karnataka state and city police immediately:

* Take punitive action to ensure that the attackers are punished by the law;
* Take preventive action to ensure that no more women are attacked in Bangalore and Karnataka;
* Take enabling action to ensure that streets and public spaces in Bangalore and Karnataka are safe for all women to use and enjoy as a matter of right.

Sincerely,

How secure are women with disabilities?

How secure are women with

disabilities?

womenrightsRecently I heard of two incidents which made me ask myself this very question, how secure are women with disabilities (WwD)?

In one incident a young mother of 35 hung her two teenage daughters both intellectually challenged, and herself. I guess she got tired of the pressures of life, the social stigma for having intellectually challenged daughters and an alcoholic husband. In the second case, a intellectually challenged girl, in a near by rural district, was taking food for her father in the field. On the way she was accosted, raped and murdered.

rightsThese two incidents bring to the fore one prominent fact, WwD; particularly women with mental illness and those intellectually challenged are not safe, either in their homes or in public.

In the first incident, the girls were obviously a burden to their mother, who was a poor lady, fighting for sustenance. She probably worried about what would happen to her children after she grew too old to provide for them. To her tormented mind, suicide was the only option.

Yet, she needed to be told that there was help. She needed to be given help. We have the Mental Health Act 1987, The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities and Full Participation) Act 1995, The Protection of Women Against Domestic Violence Act 1995, the Indian Penal Code and probably more legislations than you and I can recall. Yet how many of these legislations are preventive, how many call for policy changes, how many policies that have been drafted and passed are being implemented? So many questions and the death of these girls is answer enough, about the situation of despair.

In the second incident, the girl was probably mildly intellectually challenged, so she was able to follow simple instructions and was taking lunch to her father. Obviously some lecherous man found in this simply girl a soft target. He also found in her a dispensable target. Undoubtedly this incident reveals a debased mind, but what about the girl, what does her family learn from this incident. What do other families with intellectually challenged girls learn from this incident? Do any of us expect that the girl and her family will get justice? Should we write this off as yet another death that will go by with no lessons learnt?

svaw06

All those who are intellectually challenged are not ‘useless’. There are different degrees of disability. Depending upon the degree, they can be trained, to take care of themselves, to take simple decisions and even do simple tasks that can allow them to earn a small living. Yet families are made to believe they have people who are vegetables.

disability-awareness-shirt

This article is full of questions. I don’t have answers to all of them, but I am searching, and perhaps you would like to join in too.

If you are an NGO or an association for people with disabilities (PwD), please put the security of WwD prominent on your agenda. If you are a parent with an intellectually challenged child please join parents associations, experience the strength of a collective and begin lobbing the government for welfare facilities. If you are a sensitive citizen and are concerned about PwD and WwD, please volunteer time. If you are a bureaucrat or are in a position of power please leverage it so that the lives of a few PwD are made better or even saved.

Moral police drive girl to suicide

Moral police drive schoolgirl to

suicide

Deccan Herald, 12th February 2009

Mangalore ‘moral police’ drive schoolgirl to suicide Mangalore, DHNS: A 15-year-old girl committed suicide at Aikala near Kinnigoli here on Wednesday, allegedly after being harassed by suspected Bajrang Dal men for talking to a Muslim youth.


Ashwini, a 9th standard student of Aikala school, and her friend Mahadevi, went in a bus to Venur allegedly to meet Saleem, 28, a bus owner. The trio was trapped near Venur by a group said to be belonging to Bajrang Dal. Another group  stopped the bus at Paddanthadka and took Saleem’s bus conductor Rafeeq into ‘custody’. All the four were brought to Maroor in the Moodbidre police station limits.

After conducting an ‘inquiry’ the ‘moral police’ informed Moodbidre police sub-inspector Bharathi who rushed to the spot.

To read more click

Girl

This is a tragedy of grave consequences and utterly disgraceful. These Bajrang Dal men need to be arrested for abetting suicide and murder.

These right wing fundamentalist groups go about promoting themselves as protectors of Indian culture but all they have to show for their work is violence, hatred, murder and communal riots.

I am filled with anger and revulsion at how these right wing fundamentalist groups widening the fault lines in this country and divide people on religion. I am seething mad that their rabid actions have lead to the suicide of this teenage girl.

Teenage is a vulnerable time, emotionally, and it is at this time that values of respect and love need to be taught and explained to young people. Instead these wicked men with their dirty filthy mindsets go about emotionally wrecking and hurting young people.

When they tried to shame older women in Mangalore by pulling them out of a pub and beating them up before the glare of the media, the women of India rallied together to send these right wing fundamentalist pink underwear in the Pink Chaddi Campaign. But this little 15 years old girl could not have stood up to all these hooligans and now they have the blood of an innocent teenager on their hands.

May she haunt these Bajrang Dal men for the rest of their lives and curse them to feel her pain in every breath they take.

Hail Pink Chaddis

Hail Pink Chaddis

n1137520119_30280986_81481For those who are not Indian and don’t know what a Chaddi is, it is a underwear and yes, the Pink Chaddi Campaign is a rather odd name for a protest, but that is, until you hear how it came about.

A little more than a couple of weeks back, right wing Hindu fundamentalist known as the Shri Ram Sena barged into a little pub in Mangalore, a coastal town in Karnataka, dragged out the girls there and beat them up. All in full media glare. The group led by its chief Pramod Muthalik, were arrested and released on bail shortly thereafter.

Since the media was present at the beating up, the violent scenes of women being hit, flung to the ground and chased were run on numerous television channels for days on end. This highlighted and polarized the issue adequately.

valentines_day

Having hogged the limelight for days and strengthened by their experience the Shri Ram Sena went on to threaten that they would carry out similar protests for Valentines Day and get couples married should they be found together in public!

Drinking, wearing skimpy clothes, dancing, and unmarried young couples moving around in public, according to the Shri Ram Sena is just not Indian Culture. (gosh, do these guys need a reality check and paradigm shift in perspective)

While for some women this hooliganism was a terrifying reminder of the consequences of living ones life in relative independence, for others it brought indignation at the patriarchy and hegemony that still sort and fought for place in this time and age!.

3266029660_6fa0206dd8_b1The event itself is highly political and richly layered, allowing for numerous interpretations and analysis along caste, religious, class, patriarchal and economic lines. But keeping that aside, most women understood the event and the Shri Ram Senas agenda for what it was worth, the need to use the primordial controlling mechanism ‘fear’ to regiment society. And they decided to have none of it.

If the Shri Ram Sena could embarrass women by beating them up in public, the women of India know how to embarrass the Shri Ram Sena and so some of them got together and launched a nationwide Pink Chaddis Campaign.

So what’s this campaign about? Well its simple. Those who support the Pink Chaddis Campaign can either courier a pink underwear to Mr Pramod Muthaliks house, no he’s not running out of underwear 😉 its a potent mark of protest  or they can drop one of at the various collection centres in the top cities of India and hurray, on 14th February Valentines Day, the Shri Ram Sena will receive a consignment of pink underwear of all sizes, shapes and designs. How cooler can it get.

menofquality

So don’t loose this opportunity to thump your nose at these right wing fundamentalist who want to determine how the billion people of this country ought to live their life, and what a women’s place should be, men and women please send a signed pink underwear

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