Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Fighting Racism with Racism – Doing it the Indian Way


Every time we were travelling out of Brisbane (our last city of residence), I’d be routinely frisked by airport security for a 'random body scan'. This diligence wasn’t just restricted to airports. Even the lady at a particular store would make it a point to stop me at the exit to check my bag. Eager college kids trying to earn a quick buck by distributing promotional flyers would invariably look through me while pouncing on my Taiwanese friend walking with me. The American expat would express surprise that I spoke English 'like an American'. The steward at the restaurant would ask us twice if we knew it was beef we had just ordered.

When you are brown and from a nation that loves its curries and worships its cows, people make too many assumptions about you. After all it’s convenient to slot people according to stereotypes rather than getting into the trouble of knowing them. Maybe some of the instances I faced may not have been because of my brown skin. Maybe it was me being over-sensitive mistaking snobbishness, awkwardness and staff trying to do their duty, with, discrimination. But the fact remains when someone tries to treat you like a lesser being, you may try to shrug it off as their ignorance but a part of you does feel bewildered and singed.

And I'm talking about Australia whose people are among the friendliest. Where men hold doors for you and women stop to ask if you need help with your heavy shopping bags. If you stop a tad longer than necessary at some busy intersection, rest assured someone will come up to you and ask if you're lost.

You don’t realise you’re different till you move out of familiar terrains where people have their own sets of biases and prejudices.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Are Indian Men Getting Stereotyped as Rapists?


 
Image courtesy - www.Telegraph.co.uk


In an interview for a BBC documentary, Mukesh Singh, one of the accused in the Jyoti Singh Pandey rape case (romanticised as Nirbhaya by the press), claimed that it was the victim who was responsible for the brutal assault and murder. Had she not fought back, the gang would have dropped her off after 'doing her', instead of beating her so savagely that she died two weeks later from her injuries.

A man convicted of brutalising a woman with iron rods then went ahead and came up with a comprehensive list of what women should do to avoid getting raped, since it’s her fault anyway.

This attitude of blaming everything, from a woman’s choice of clothing, to what was she doing so late at night and if she’s out with a guy, she must be loose and willing, is nothing new. Rape is the only crime where the victim’s morals are questioned while the perpetrator wears the ‘poor me’ halo around his head like a crown. In fact, Mukesh Singh’s views on women are shared by many including those in power. Haven’t we heard enough Politicians blame a “woman’s body language for inviting potential rapists lurking around in the streets” or insisting that “if any woman goes along with a man, with or without her consent, she should be hanged!”

This ritual of shaming women who are confident enough to speak up for themselves, fight regressive mindsets and lecherous bosses who think they are entitled to sexual favours, is not just restricted to our polity but many men and women who claim to be educated. But not every man who thinks “decent girls don't roam around at 9 o'clock at night, that they are meant for housework and not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes”, goes around raping women.

Nirbhaya’s rapist’s remarks represent a sick mindset, whose idea of fun is raping a woman and beating her up ruthlessly with rods because she dared to resist.

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