Stereotypes & Prejudice

Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible. – Maya Agelou

As little children, we have no notion of he, she, it, muslim, hindu, or any specific gender stereotype or any other prejudice for that matter. A child’s viewpoint is very clear cut, do I get fed this? Do I get my way? Do I get to sleep, or eat or play with this? Will this person give me what I want?

Growing up, things change. We know/identify another person based on the way they look, act or talk. We identify an object based on the colours, tastes, etc. in relation to our already formed concepts learned from society.

Blue is for girls, Pink for Boys?! 

Earlier, boys and girls would actually wear white. Before marketers tried to hard sell their wares to mom’s worldwide, little children would wear gender neutral patterns, colours and pinks, blues were never actively segregated. Come early 20th century, the marketers managed to convince the whole world that pink was for girls and blue for boys. Studies have not found any conclusive evidence to support that girls do prefer pink and boys blue. In fact, pink seems to be the most hated colour world over among adults. However, thanks to clothes manufacturers, pink is associated for girls and blue for boys.

Dresses for girls, and Pants for boys

Again, early 1900s and before, white dresses were the clothes that little boys and girls would wear. It was easier to clean (considering they had cloth diapers then). As the child grew older, gender neutral colours were introduced but it was still dresses that both boys and girls wore. Enter clothes manufacturers and their amazing marketing technique and we have dresses and pants introduced. However, early 20th century parents used either or to dress their little children in. Pants were also worn on little girls than just the dresses. Gender neutral seemed to be the theme, till the marketers managed to change things around to the world we know today.

Blocks for boys, Princesses for girls? 

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Those earlier concepts grew from abroad and have entered the Indian mindset as well. It’s become a general concept – pink for girls, blue for boys. It’s worked well for our marketing giants because they can sell you something gender specific and thus make you believe that boys only prefer cars and blocks, while your little girl only wants kitchen utensils and play princesses {oh the irony, because really, princesses don’t lift a finger in the kitchen!}. However, studies unfortunately do not support this claim either. Lego the building blocks giant was once asked by a little girl, that she would love to be an astronaut one day, but the dolls they created were only boys! New-parents worry that their sons discard their cars for the kitchen utensils that they take from their kitchen and start cooking, mimicking the mother. What will society think?!

A boy will become a man, and a girl a woman! 

Gender specific roles have bled into our daily lives. There’s no doubt about it. The manufacturers were geniuses and deserve a pat on their back for the way they have shaped the world. However, the gender specificity they have helped create is creating a world that is divided and more confused. Parents worry when their little boy plays dress up, it’s girl play they say. Most fashion designers are men. A girl plays dinosaur or sports more than cooking and dolls, parents worry. However, many famous anthropologists/zoologists were women. But let’s leave the future where it should be, in the future and look at the present.

Neil DeGrasse once explained to a little girl that while she banged a wooden spoon on a metal tin, her young mind was learning the different sounds she could make on that pot. She was curious and that curiosity would then lead her to more experiments in science. Children experiment in some form or the other, their imagination runs wild and honestly they don’t need too many toys to get them going. Cars could be getting cooked in a pot one day, to a game of dress up in mommy and daddy’s clothes another, to a baking experiment with a dinosaur in mom’s baking tin. Their minds are growing, they are learning – quicker than we give them credit. Giving them the freedom to explore, gives them the freedom to be more open and non-prejudiced.

India a land full of Prejudice?

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We as adults have notions from experience or from our parents/family/friends’ experiences. Despite the gender stereotypes, there are religious, political, national stereotypes as well. You’ve heard them:

  • Fair and tall is beautiful and handsome.
  • Red heads have wild tempers. 
  • Japanese are workaholics and have a stringent work culture. 
  • Brahmins are xenophobic, because they prefer their culture and ways.
  • Christians are drunks. 
  • Muslims are terrorists. 
  • India is the land of rape. 

In India we find we are more judgemental than other countries. Our caste, our religion, our culture, are all reasons for forming opinions without getting to know another person, religion, culture. The statements above we have heard them a time a many, but we don’t bother correcting these notions or learning to look beyond the preconceived notions.

Even dark skinned people are very striking and beautiful – however, our age old notions and cultures believe only a fair woman would make a lovely wife. After the horrific rapes reported in our country, we as a nation put ourselves down worldwide but accepting the tag ‘land of rape’ by perpetuating a notion that every low-socio economic man is a rapist.

Our pride in our country, is lacking. Education about learning about other cultures religions, other people, is lacking. Religious sentiments or respecting another’s religion, is lacking. Believing a prejudice to be true and not bothering to go beyond the prejudice, is appalling. That is the reason gender stereotypes and prejudices set in. We have become a closed group of people, unwilling to look out and learn more.

What we could do?

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There was a viral video recently about a little girl questioning adults notions of what tag lines are appropriate for a girls t-shirt and a boys. Why do people assume girls don’t want adventure as well?  There have been studies done checking how much the stereotype affects them. Girls and boys were given a math quiz and scored fairly well, with a majority of the girls having scored higher. Give the same quiz to a group of students stating girls anyway are bad at math and the girls don’t do so well. We joke about stereotypes without realising the effect they have on other people or even on us, however, like the girl  in that video, we should be questioning prejudices/stereotypes.

  1. Why can’t short be handsome as well? Why is dark not beautiful?
  2. Why are boys better chefs? Why when girls are meant to cook day in and day out, that they don’t become chefs? 
  3. Why are girls expected to give up their career to be a stay at home mom? Why cannot men do the same and let the woman follow her career? 
  4. Why are marketing giants only focused on pink and blue? What about gender neutral colours? 
  5. Why are we sure men perform better academically and provide for the family? 
  6. Can we find out more about another religion without affecting our religious sentiments or theirs? 
  7. Can we find our more about the history of other countries than just the usual?

Education is the key. Learning, spreading and questioning are the keys to breaking these barriers that we have placed on ourselves and others around us.

 

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention Prohibition and Redressal) ACT 2013

Media cannot stress enough about the harassment of women as they go about their daily life. Be it at work, home or walking down the road, women are at risk. The key to protecting one self is not just self defence, it is also education. Education oneself about your rights is beneficial. Half information is no good. Be informed. Know your rights and at the same time do not abuse the knowledge that you have. As Peter Parker’s Uncle would say ‘With great power, comes great responsibility.’

This article highlights your rights as a women in the work force. It could happen to you or to someone you know. Share the informative, learn and spread awareness as well. But never, ever misuse the information at your fingertips. Because, in this day and age, media shares enough information for you to know, that even men and transgenders suffer harassment at a workplace as well as women.

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DEFINITION OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT:

The Act defines sexual harassment as an – unwelcome sexual gesture or behaviour aimed or having a tendency to outrage the modesty of woman directly or indirectly. It includes:

• Sexually coloured remarks
• Physical contact and advances
• Showing pornography
• A demand or request for sexual favours
• Any other unwelcome physical, verbal/

non-verbal – such as whistling, obscene jokes, comments about physical appearances, threats, innuendos, gender based derogatory remarks, etc. Additionally it recognises the promise or threat to a woman’s employment prospects or creation of hostile work environment as ‘sexual harassment’ at workplace and expressly seeks to prohibit such acts.

TYPES of SEXUAL HARASSMENT:

  • QUID PRO QUO HARASSMENT – Something for something – Harasser has position of power or authority and Refusal to submit will affect the victim‘s job.
  • HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT DUE TO HARASSMENT – Such conduct which unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work or performance or creates an unfriendly and uncomfortable work environment.
  • SAME SEX HARASSMENT – Male harassment on another male, or female/or Harassment on another female.
  • THIRD PARTY HARASSMENT – Sexual harassment by a non-employee, e.g. Vendors, Customers or Visitors/or Behaviour found offensive by other employees.

Companies can and should set up a complaints and redressal system. In fact it is the employer’s obligation to make sure his employees are protected and have the support that they require.

EMPLOYERS OBLIGATIONS:

The Act casts certain obligations upon the em- ployer to, inter alia,

  1. provide a safe working environment
  2. display conspicuously at the workplace, the penal consequences of indulging in acts that may constitute as sexual harassment and the composition of the Internal Complaints Committee
  3. organise workshops and awareness programmes at regular intervals for sensitizing employees
  4. treat sexual harassment as a misconduct under the service rules and initiate action for misconduct.
Complaints raised will be looked into and investigated by a panel formed by the employer, that can then be taken to court. False complaints are also a punishable offence!!

PUNISHMENT FOR FALSE COMPLAINT:

If allegations against the accused are found to be false and made with a malicious intent, the complainant may face similar penal provisions as listed for the accused.

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SOME STEPS WOMEN CAN TAKE

1. Wake up, prevent spread of Sexual Harassment. Your rights are defended and you have equal opportunity in every area.

2. Empower yourself. Keep improving and expanding skills. Achieve jobs/promotions by merit and not because of ‘being a woman’.

3. Act, ask for specific rights, file written complaints and speak up.

4. Believe in yourself – your growth is within not outside you.

5. Be a part of the solution and not part of the problem.

6. Don’t face problems of sexual harassment in seclusion. Share with colleagues and seniors. Go to higher authorities if no solution is found.

When Words Hurt!

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me!

Remember these words we used to chant as a mantra in school when bullies said mean things to us? Verbal abuse is a powerful powerful weapon. In school yards, playgrounds, offices, even in our homes {domestic violence} – words hurt. We learn that as children we are still adjusting to everyone’s sensibilities and that we are untactful at times. So the easiest weapon then, was to let it roll off your back.

Times are a little different now. With the rise in technological advancements, social media has been booming. Every child of this age understands how to use a smartphone, tablet or computer, at a rather early age at that. Hiding behind a screen, makes even those who are meek, bolder. Thus giving rise to the most problematic trend in our country among the youth – ranking us in the top globally – Cyberbullying.

What is Cyberbullying?
Instead of face to face bullying, it’s bullying from behind electronic technology. Tagging inappropriate photos, tagging and name-calling publicly on the web and spreading rumours are some such examples.

What are the various types of bullying?

  1. Physical – which is violence on another person. Face to face, where a person, or gang of persons hit, pull, break or steal something from another person.
  2. Societal – which involves discriminating against another, spreading rumours or using peer pressure to exclude a person from friendships.
  3. Verbal – which is bullying using hurtful words, name-calling and threats on another person.
  4. Cyber – which is bullying by sending mean texts, prank calls, stalking someone through social media and shaming through the internet.

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Why is Cyberbullying a concern?
According to a survey conducted last year among four other countries, results showed that 81% of children from the age of 8 – 17 years had access to social media sites, with 22% being bullied online, 52% admitted to bullying others and about 70% admitted seeing, understanding bullying online.

Yes, the numbers are shocking, yes India ranks highest on these charts among the other countries. But the cause for concern is that Cyberbulling is particularly vicious. Being behind a screen gives everyone a false sense of security spewing hate or horrible comments, and with the victims spurious rebuttals, it becomes a game that gets engaged in longer and longer.

It affects the victims self esteems and at times affects social lives outside of the cyber world. In a few cases, victims have ended up physically hurting themselves because of this.

Another, main concern is that the level of aggression among the bullied is high, even among the aggressors. This aggression either is used physically on the abusers face to face or the victims turn bullies themselves. A horrific cycle of hurt.

What are the signs of being Cyberbullied?

  1. Avoids use of mobile devices or computers
  2. Suddenly deletes social media accounts
  3. Becomes moodier after receiving emails and/or messages
  4. Is more secretive than usual about online activities
  5. Is reluctant to go to school and avoids social contact
  6. Grades and school performance fall
  7. Appears more frustrated, impatient or angry than usual
  8. Has trouble sleeping

What can be done?

We all know the world is not a safe place, the cyber world is the same. The haunting reality is that the numbers are rising, the aggression online is tripling.

  1. Awareness needs to be built on the subject among students, parents and educators as well. It is prevalent and it affects everyone involved.
  2. Teaching safety is a priority. Children need to learn to protect themselves online and certain rules need to be in place set by the parents.
  3. Keeping communication lines open between parent and child helps when the child needs help about their online activities.

Here is a video that aptly discusses cyberbullying and what to do about it here.

 

Recycling and It’s Importance in Our Current World

Reduce, recycle and reuse. We’ve all heard the call. We know it needs to be done because it does affect everything around us, including us. However, we sometimes miss the reason for the importance of recycling.

What is Recycling? It is essentially converting waste into reusable material. Recycling requires far less energy, fewer natural resources and keeps waste from piling up in our garbage landfills.

What causes waste?

  1. Rising economic conditions makes it easier to buy products that ultimately create waste.
  2. Rising populations means more people create more waste on this planet.
  3. New lifestyle changes such as eating fast food, creates non-biodegradable waste.
  4. New products and technological products being developed contains many products that are non-biodegradable.

Why should we recycle? Recycling is important to the environment as well us;

  1. Recycling helps reduce pollution caused by the waste.
  2. Recycling reduces the need for natural resources, meaning our forests can be preserved a lot longer for the future generations.
  3. Using recycled materials means habitat for wildlife is not damaged.
  4. Recycling requires less energy, thus saving more natural resources for the future.
  5. Waste gets collected in garbage landfills, which currently are overflowing. Recycling helps, since there is less space for the waste in these landfills.
  6. Making products from raw materials costs much more than if they were made from recycled products, making recycling a financially viable option.

Still, why is Recycling important? Follow this example along for why, we need to recycle.
We all know that our oceans cover about 72% of the Earth’s surface. In the recent years, our oceans have become warmer, more acidic, oxygen deprived and most important – Polluted! Our waste in some form or the other eventually ends up in the waterways from our garbage landfills right into the Pacific Ocean garbage patch.

Non-biodegradable plastic materials end up in the stomachs of many sea life creatures {some fish mistakenly assume it is plankton}. Scientists discovered many plastic fragments in the stomachs of lanternfish. Lanternfish are the major food source of tuna and mahi-mahi, which in turn end up on our plates!

Over the past 26 years, glass, plastic bottles, diapers, food packaging, light bulbs, appliances, and many more items containing plastic were found during annual ocean cleanups. 80% of the products thrown away can be recycled, but only 28% are being recycled. In India, many cities do not encourage recycling, other than paper items.

What can you do? Plastic takes 600 years to degrade, meaning it will be around for a long, long time. To help the ecosystem, it’s best to start with plastic. Cut down the use of plastic.

  1. Carry your own bag, cut down on plastic bags and plastic papers.
  2. Recycling furniture or any wooden goods. Reduce and recycle wood products whenever possible.
  3. Going paperless, recycling paper are also good ways to conserve forests.
  4. CDs, DVds, Batteries, appliances, clothing can all be recycled. Find the recycling services you can use in your city to recycle these products.
  5. Encourage recycling among your friends, family and neighbourhood.

Remember – We cannot stop the pile-up of waste, however, we can HELP recycle! Spread the word.

Sources: oceanconservancy.org, greenfacts.org, conserveenergyfuture.com,

YWCA – Who, Where, What & How

Our Mission

In a changing world with changing needs, the YWCA of India needs to respond effectively with timely intervention in programmes and projects that specifically address the needs of marginalized communities. It calls us to be inclusive of all communities regardless of age, class, caste, creed, religion and to be committed to protecting human dignity and environment.

Our Vision

The YWCA in India continues to be challenged in empowering women and girls to face gender inequities, social and economic disparities, caste based discrimination and all forms of violence against women. Today in a world ridden with environmental degradation, violation of human rights, the YWCA as one of the largest women’s movements is in a strong position to be an agent for social transformation and change.

THE WORLD YWCA – A PAGE FROM HISTORY

England, 1855:

Emma Roberts Prayer Union and General Female Training Institute {GFTI} founded by Hon. Mrs. Arthur Kinnaird were two women who strove to improve the situation of their fellow women – separately initially – created because of the industrial revolution and the Crimean war. Their movements grew and soon they joined forces and formed the largest world organisation of women, the YWCA with the blue triangle as it’s symbol.

1855-1875:

Various groups had already formed in Great Britain, Sweden, Denmark, France, Germany, Switzerland, USA, Canada and British Guyana. In 1894 four existing National Associations Great Britain, USA, Norway and Sweden formed the World YWCA with London as Headquarters.

1930:

The Headquarters of World YWCA was later relocated from London to Geneva Switzerland.

The current World YWCA is a global network with presence in more than 120 countries, 20000 communities and 25 million outreach programmes.

THE YWCA of INDIA – A PAGE FROM HISTORY

1875:

Miss Hariette N. Butt, a missionary formed the YWCA of Bombay along with Miss Mary Vitters, Ms, E. Mc Ritchie and Ms. Sorabji – helping in the Pillow and Flower mission for patients in hospitals and work houses.

1887:

A home for 5 young women was the start of hostels in India.

1896:

Partly due to the efforts of Ms Hill and other YMCA leaders, the forty Indian language branches and fifty English speaking branches with twenty secretaries from abroad were united by a National Committee which came to be known as YWCA of India, Burma and Ceylon.

1947:

After the partition, The YWCA of India was formed.

Today the WORLD YWCA has more than 25 million women serving 22,000 communities spread across 128 Countries. With the presence of 86 YWCAs in India and a 7000 strong volunteer force, the YWCA of India reaches out to women and girls of different ages, economic, ethnic, occupational, religious and cultural backgrounds. It is a forum for empowerment, development, growth, sharing of ideas and formation of issue based partnerships.

OUR WORK

Since the first YWCA started in Bombay in 1875, it has grown from providing accommodation to working women and students to areas of advocacy and community outreach programmes.

Advocacy action :

which strives for the removal of all forms of discrimination and violence against women in the law, media, employment, status at home and in other spheres of life. It networks with other women’s organization and has proactively collaborated in the framing of drafts for Bills and Legislations. The YWCA of India also serves on Complaints Committees set up by Ministries, Government institutions and Public Sector Undertakings for prevention of sexual harassment at the workplace

Community Development services:

The YWCA works to improve survival, protection and participation of children of all ages through early childhood care, education programmes and advocacy for their rights. It has adopted a programmatic and multi-faceted approach to improve the quality of living in areas of education, economy and health. It also conducts Family Life Education for Adolescent Girls programmes and leadership development workshops and trainings. The YWCA also works to prevent child marriage and assists young and vulnerable mothers through various community initiatives and livelihood programs.

Other services:

YWCA of India also offers, hostels for working women and students, schools emphasizing a high standard to value based education, counselling and crisis centres, vocational training centres, school for the differently challenged, crèches and about 45 guest houses.

Our Projects:

The YWCA of India’s Community Development Project – Pippal Chhaya in TrilokPuri, Delhi:

This is a resettlement colony that focuses on empowering the children, especially girls, through education, socio – economic awareness and advocacy sessions on social issues, English and computer classes, fitness activities, character building workshops, health care through fun activities which are both engaging and informative.

Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights:

Projects on Sexual and Reproductive health and rights are conducted and these focus on educating youth on issues such as HIV/AIDS and Drug abuse. Training on gender justice for children at schools is also a key area of our work.

The YWCA of India – Dehradun { Spreadacre’s Project}:

This property, had been providing residence to the senior citizens who had decided to spend their retired life in this beautiful town. In 2010, the Home lost the last of its residents and the YWCA of India decided to renovate the heritage Cottage before new residents took up accommodation which is now reopening on 4th September 2016.

The Day Care Centre which has been functioning since 1986 on this property has been providing day care facilities to 30 senior persons. Recreational programmes, camps, income generation, rehabilitation, financial and medical aid are provided from this unit.

Guest Houses:

The guest houses run by the YWCA of India in Ootacamund, Coonoor, Nainital, Delhi and Mussoorie help raise funds for our work and provide clean, comfortable and safe accommodation for travellers.

The YWCA also offers services like hostels for working women and students, schools emphasising a high standard to value based education, counselling and crisis centres, vocational training centres, schools for the differently challenged, creches and about 45 guest houses.

OUR PURPOSE:

Being one of the largest women’s movements, the YWCA of India is in a strong position to be an agent for social transformation and change. We network with the government, policy makers, corporations, local communities and the general public. Our programmes in the communities aim at holistic development of women and girls making them employable citizens with a deep sense of commitment to society. The intent is to develop a scalable and sustainable model for development.

Disappearing Woodlands and Their Importance

With the recent Uttarakhand Forest fires – forests and their importance has been splashed everywhere from newspapers to magazines and even your news channels. It is a very big cause for concern to even those not in the vicinity of the forest fires.

What is Deforestation? The permanent destruction of forests converting them to lands for other uses other than forest cover is Deforestation. Forests cover over 31% of the Earth’s surface and about 1,19,000 to 1,50,200 square kilometres of forests are destroyed annually. In about 50 years, 17% of the Amazon Rainforest has been lost.

What causes Deforestation? There are many causes for deforestation, here are the main reasons:

  1. The logging industry has strong sanctions against felling of trees thus causing them to turn to illegal means – such as causing forest fires.
  2. Growing populations and the need for space for us humans, has caused many forests to be destroyed for road and infrastructure building.
  3. Agricultural lands, especially in India, has caused farmers to raise forests to the grounds in an effort to get more agricultural space. Forest fires also cause the land to become a little more fertile and create a good crop.
  4. Cattle ranching is another industry that requires a lot of space and forests are cleared for this.

Why are Forest spaces important?

  1. About 50% of the Earth’s Plants and animals call rainforests home even though rainforests cover about 2% of the Earth’s total surface area. Many plants, insects and animals go extinct with deforestation.
  2. Destroying forest cover shrinks the habitat for wild animals, causing them to roam closer towards civilization. These animals end up destroying crops and livestock because food in the forests becomes scarce for them.
  3. In India, tribals rely of forests for their food, clothing, fresh water, medicine and shelter. About 1.6 Billion people in the world, rely on forests.
  4. Global carbon emissions are absorbed into the forests. Less forests mean, more global carbon emissions floating in the atmosphere. Indirectly responsible for global warming.
  5. Removing forest cover, has also caused more floods to occur. Deciduous forests, like in Uttarakhand, helped ease the water into the rivers at a measured pace allowing for towns and villages on the banks of the river to utilise the water. However, with no forests to slow the waters, the waters spread over the banks and cause floods damaging properties and lives.

What can you do? United States, Canada, Brazil, Indonesia, China, Russia and Dominican Republic of Congo are the 7 countries that cause about 60% of the Earth’s Deforestation. This is a concern that countries and governments have to actively participate in to pass stricter laws thus ensuring forests and the wildlife within are protected. Awareness has been at a minimum, however, because of the Uttarakhand forest fire, more information has come out. Forests fires are either caused intentionally or by the dry heat conditions.

  1. Increasing knowledge over the subject, raising awareness among you will help to a certain degree, ensuring that it is an important matter to discuss.
  2. Recycling furniture or any wooden goods. Reduce and recycle wood products whenever possible.
  3. Going paperless, recycling paper are also good ways to conserve forests

Remember – We cannot stop deforestation, however, we can HELP.

Sources: National Geographic, WWF, CustomMade

Are you Prepared?

We live in a world where the news is at our fingertips. Social media beats out news channels and papers in up to date and opinionated news. Everyone has an opinion, however, not everyone has all the facts. Half information is always a dangerous thing.

In our current climatic landscape with forest fires, earthquakes and other calamities, we need to be prepared. We need to know what needs to be done, we need to be quick thinking in those scenarios and that is only possible if we have the correct and complete information!

What is a ‘Disaster Emergency Kit’ and what does it contain? What do you do when you are trapped in a building during an earthquake? Or for that matter during a building fire? Some times timely intervention from the Government or emergency services is delayed and to survive and protect yourself and those around you, you need to remember these tips.

Be prepared, in this world, thinking ‘It can never happen to you!’ won’t help you when you do find yourself in one of these scenarios. Things happen that are beyond our control, and being informed is always a boon.

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Salient Points: Keeping copies of important documents outside of the home; having an out of town contact to coordinate with during a crisis; Do not spread rumours; Move away from falling objects, breakable objects, etc during cyclones/earthquakes/floods.

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Salient Points: Do not help injured/trapped persons – instead call for emergency services if you do not have training; As part of an organisation – network with other NGOs and government agencies to provide timely and appropriate distribution of relief materials; Make sure gender fair practices are carried out after a crisis as women and children are most vulnerable then.

 

Criminal Law Amendments (2013) And Why It’s Important!

On April 3rd, 2013, The Parliament amended the criminal law of 1973 relating to sexual offences. Some have gone from gender neutral to protecting solely women, however, falsely accusing a person can result in repercussions as well.

Why is it important to know the amendments? Knowing your rights is part of accepting that you are part of the process that comprises this world. It’s the first step to taking a stand to balance the law between both the genders.

Below are the following amendments made.

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Salient Points: Sexual Harassment – only a man can commit this offence on a woman; Acid Attack / Attempt to Acid Attack – are still gender neutral, while the other sexual offenses can only be committed on a woman by a man; Voyeurism and Stalking – by implication women can prey voyeuristically/stalk a man without impunity.

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Salient Points: Changes have been in taking the statement of a victim of rape/sexual offenses, it is more victim friendly. The age of consent has been increased to 18 years, so consensual sex below that age still constitutes as statutory rape.

While the amendments in the law are a step in the right direction, it does leave out a few glaring questions. This law does not protect transexuals. If a sexual offense is committed by a man or woman against a man – it is not recognised as a crime. Knowing your rights is good, but it does give some leeway for a woman to falsely accuse a man of any of the above sexual offense, comfortable in the knowledge that the law is on her side.

Amendments in the law notwithstanding, basic stereotypes and grass root level sensitisation of gender sensitisation is required {need of the hour} for the fight of equal rights.

 

The Way of the Marginalised

We live an age of ironies, that we are truly able to appreciate and challenge in the current climate. India, is a nation that exalts it’s women, because she is a mother, a daughter, a daughter-in-law, a wife. She single-handedly is responsible for the clothing, feeding and rearing of the household.

So the first irony in this well loved and taught fact is that a woman should not be educated. The marginalised communities find knowledge in the hand of a woman is a terrifying thing. Why terrifying, they are unable to clearly advice, but tradition in this aspect cannot be broken or taunted. A woman’s place is in the house, not in the classroom.

Education. The singularly most important need for any woman and child. For if she is educated, she knows better to care for her children. For if she is educated, she knows better to help clothe and feed her family. For if she is educated, she knows best about health and those for around her.

In fact to show these facts, studies have found in most African nations, a woman educated brings up a healthy child. She understands diseases, she understands nutrition and she understands immunisations.

If she is educated, she will know better her rights. If she is educated, she will finish her studies first before marriage. If she is educated, she will be self-sufficient.

And there in lies the crux of the matter. An educated woman would be in school, instead of getting married too young. An educated woman would understand her body more and thus decide if she wanted to fall pregnant again. An educated woman would be able to have equal opportunities for a job that her counterpart would be allowed.

And that is the irony, the woman who leads her family needs to hold true to tradition and stay in the house without education. Because, that is the way of the marginalised. . .

When No Means NO!

We’ve heard whispers of it growing up. We’ve giggled in scorn over it at times. We’ve passed judgement without clearly understanding the facts. We’ve claimed ignorance in this because it never happened to us!

However, it isn’t fair to be part of this world, where we know injustices occur and expect to turn a blind eye in all the brash knowledge of a youth that it wont happen to us. It could. It could happen to someone you know and you could help them.

You dig into the archives and even Google it, you will chance upon statistic upon statistic. Sexual harassment is quite prevalent, it’s just not addressed. It happens to both women and men. It can be a woman or a man who sexually harasses. Unfortunately not many people come out and state it because of the embarrassment and scorn they know/feel they will face.

The workplace is a common place that this occurs at, and there are laws that are in place that protects an employee being harassed.

Sexual harassment is an – unwelcome sexual gesture or behaviour aimed or having a tendency to outrage the modesty of woman directly or indirectly. It includes:

  • Sexually coloured remarks

  • Physical contact and advances

  • Showing pornography

  • A demand or request for sexual favours

  • Any other unwelcome physical, verbal/non-verbal – such as whistling, obscene jokes, comments about physical appearances, threats, innuendos, gender based derogatory remarks, etc.

Additionally it recognises the promise or threat to a woman’s employment prospects or creation of hostile work environment as ‘sexual harassment’ at workplace and expressly seeks to prohibit such acts.

Find out more about sexual harassment, not just as a means to arm yourself or a friend, but also in a way to shun those whispers to the background. Sexual harassment is a crime. It is not the victims fault. Sexual harassment is never encouraged. It is never entertained. It is feared by the victim. Judging a victim or passing along blame never helps anyone.