Age of Kali – Pay No Attention to The Woman Behind The Curtain – A Story About Purdah and Invisibility

Trigger Warnings abound, the reader has asked to remain anonymous but wishes to tell us a story… I have edited it for spelling and helped by westernising the language since the reader’s first language isn’t English and when Indians write they often use colloquialisms but it’s a voice that I feel that we must all hear. (Thank you Anonymous Reader). Many people asked what does this have to do with Atheism, but this is a primarily Hindu method of keeping women “safe”.

For many young women the first sexual menace is not the stranger but a family member. Sometimes it’s your father, your uncle or your grandfather. I was lucky, none of these things happened to me. However as I grew up I learnt about it from them. My grandfather was a “traditional” Indian. We lived as a group in a joint family. And growing up I can remember the scoldings I got for my dress or my uppity and modern “talk”. That the only way to defend myself from the ever present danger of men was by conducting and dressing myself with modesty and by shutting up and being invisible. I was not equal to man and I couldn’t even pretend to be an equal. Even eye contact was “shameful”.

All the women in the house jumped at his authority, the fear he evoked in them was the best way of dealing with the situation in his mind. I suppose he saw this as a way to protect us and to demonstrate the reason to fear men…

If you are unaware of how the protocol in such a family works then don’t be. It’s a ridiculous dance of the purdah system. A ballet of unknown and pointless rules. For example, my aunt wasn’t allowed to stay in the same room as my grandfather. If my grandfather arrived she would be given a hissed warning and she would quickly cover her hair with her sari and run to another room as fast as she could. In order to talk to him, she would have to talk to one of her sons or her husband to deliver a message.

I know this must sound ridiculous to your readers and even yourself but you must have noticed it when you visit houses.

[important]Avi – I actually didn’t notice it. I thought the women had work to do[/important]

We do this because of a rigid tradition. There should be no relationship between father-in-law and daughter-in-law because there is a fear that such an interplay would cause sexual attraction and rapes. Our modest dress and invisibility is to create a Curtain to protect us because we are told that a woman exposed to men is in danger.

But that’s how women see it, the men see it as any visible woman is available. The reason that women fear the gaze of a man is because there is something to fear. The notion is that “good” women will hide from men, that any woman who isn’t is clearly a woman of poor virtue who wants to be touched. This is a view that’s death to modern women. We want to be as visible as men and the curtain has been pulled down. We go to school, college and to socialise with friends. We want to watch movies, we want to date men and choose our own husbands. We want to be free, but this puts us in the firing line of “tradition”. And tradition says that we are shameless. We are sluts and touching us is not rape or harassment but what we want and deserve. It’s why Indian men are fascinated with “westerners”, because they see all their women as sluts because they are more empowered than us. Many are puzzled when western women fight back after being touched or leered at, because an Indian woman won’t.

This mentality is pervasive throughout Indian society. Remarks made after the Delhi Rape made it abundantly clear that women aren’t going to be treated fairly.

[important]Avi – To point out how much of a rape culture exists, only 25% of rapists and sexual assailants arrested are ever charged. And I already pointed out how ridiculously low India’s report rate is for sex crimes. If the incidence of Rape in India is the same as the UK’s then we are looking at a million cases at the very least. It’s probably much much higher. Also? The word curtain used is a direct translation of the Indian notion of Purdah which is a kind of Burkha style ideology for Indians… Purdah means “Curtain” and was once a literal curtain that segregated women and men and made women “invisible” [/important]

We have marched on the streets because we are angry but it’s only the rich who are. We need a bigger response, it’s a step forward but we must keep walking forwards. We have torn aside the curtain to realise it was hypocrisy. Avicenna used the words “Victorian Morals” but this is far deeper than that. We need real laws and to stop blaming the victim for the sins of the accused.

I feel fear when I walk around India. I once had to travel in a train where there were only men in the compartment, I automatically was nervous and hunched down. I even felt the need to cover my head and face.

Don’t Look At Me. I am Invisible. I don’t want to be invisible or silent any more.

[important]When FTB took me in, I felt that I had finally had a voice that people were listening to. So I feel that Anonymous here deserves to tell her story. A story which can damn her existence. Indian women may have started fighting but there is a long way to go. Any other readers who want to tell their story anonymously can send it in and let me know if they want to edit it or print as is. The email link is on the left side of the page. Just look for the little icon. A voice is important and I know many blogs and the like go unheard but FTB despite what people say about us is pretty good as a soap box. I guarantee anonymity and a voice. Because if Anonymous here didn’t tell me why women behaved the way they do then I wouldn’t have learnt one of the saddest things about my own culture. Your stories are important. I will try and post. A special thank you to this reader who took the time to write out what she felt. If you wish others to read it, pass it on. This is an education. There are a lot of invisible women thanks to hinduism.[/important]

Age of Kali – Dear India, The Rape Riots are a Message

Bwizamani Singh died on Christmas Eve. His only fault was his choice of career and what he was doing on that day. While most of us back home were preparing to tuck into turkeys and hams, Singh was covering the ongoing riots in Delhi against the rape of a 23 year old woman.

He was shot by the police…

As it is India struggles with freedom of speech without this sort of insanity. The reason for the shooting was accidental. The police were using live rounds to disperse the protesters and accidentally hit (which begs the question as to what they were fucking shooting at?) Singh.

Another reporter passed away in Manipur in a similar incident. The usage of live rounds to deal with protests must stop. Surely historical usage of such weapons should temper current usage? But worst of all is the reluctance to do anything… So all I have is this…

Dear India,

I was going to write a Christmas Message to the Roman Catholic Church about flogging hate, but instead it turns out I have to write a message of common fucking sense to you guys instead. I am ashamed to be an Indian man.

Do you fucking know why women are so fucking angry about the rape of a 23 year old? Why now every new rape case that comes to light in India (like the rape of Momoko, a Manipuri actress) will set off riots like the ones in Delhi?

Can you grasp why women are pissed? Why shouldn’t they be? They have fuck all to be happy about. Sexual harassment is so much the norm that they tell foreigners in guidebooks like the Lonely Planet or Rough Guide to watch out for sexual harassment. They tell them to try and travel in groups and to stick together and to try and bring a male companion with them to at least deter sexual harassment and rape attempts. Fuck all kinds of duck! Do you have any idea about how insulting it is to be regarded as “Molesters and Rapists” internationally? Fuck! My girlfriend is in Spain on holiday where a bunch of Indian men suddenly appeared to randomly hit on her while she took photographs. Do you have any fucking idea how creepy, misogynistic and just outright stupid that sounds? Has that every fucking worked? Has anyone driven around in their car honking at random women and had a woman get in of her own volition and without payment going either way? Have you ever wolf whistled a woman on the street and gotten a kiss instead (loved ones don’t count). You wouldn’t grope a woman in a night club unless she wanted you to unless you enjoy starting fights and being thrown out of clubs…, then why would you do so on a bus? Do you think that EVER works? And yes I understand there are women who fantasise about that just like there are women who fantasise about being raped but you want to know the most important part of a sexual fantasy is that it’s a FANTASY. If it gets acted out it’s under carefully controlled circumstances. If you like the whole Princess Leia Gold Bikini routine then you ask your partner to dress up as Leia/Jabba (I don’t judge you… you magnificent slime monster…). It doesn’t mean you should kidnap Princess Anne! If a woman has a rape fantasy it doesn’t mean you get to rape her… It means you get to PRETEND its rape. Fuck! This is basic. Basic stuff you need to teach all children. Consent is vital and consent gained through harassment or threats is NOT consent.

That is why I am ashamed. Because I have to say something this basic. You may say “Oh Avi, we Tamils aren’t like that”. We are. Rapes and harassment may happen less in the South than in the North doesn’t mean we don’t have the same problem, just on a different scale.

Pretty much any travel blog, guide or website on India says “Don’t dress in western clothes and prepare to get groped!” Incredible India? More like Incredible Rape Statistics. We are so pissed for around 600 Rapes in Delhi a year. The problem is how many rapes are actually reported? There are thousands of rapes in just Delhi that are going unreported. There are thousands upon thousands of sexual harassment incidents that simply go unreported. I bet there are at this point more women in India who have rape, molestation and sexual harassment anecdotes than women who have none… Any takers? All these women who are hacked off are hacked off because they have heard of friends being raped or harassed or have been the victims of this themselves.

The blame lies sorely on the men who rape, the people who obfuscate the issue and those who simply excuse the rape by involving something unrelated. If you came across a naked and unconscious woman and you had sex with her then you are still a rapist. It is not her fault, it is not the lack of clothes fault, it is not her presence that is the problem. It is always been the rapist. You cannot claim a lack of control over yourself because of her attire.

If I were wearing a suit and got mugged, no one would dismiss my case with the line “You shouldn’t have dressed for success, he must have thought you were a philanthropist”. No one would say “Well if you didn’t dress like such a philanthropist they wouldn’t take your money”. No one would say “Are you sure you didn’t give the money away and just are saying that to hurt this innocent charity case”?

It’s the same fucking them for rape. The fact that I have to make such a ludicrously stupid example up is how ludicrous it is to blame women’s clothes for being raped. What else do you want to blame? Our religions? TV? Games? Music? Movies? Those are all excuses because everyone knows that these rapes are due to a culture of sexual repression of both men and women and the consistent denigration of women and their rights. That in order to fix this Indians need to admit having a problem and destroy parts of a culture that they think is good and perfect. To claim that men cannot “control” themselves is insulting to the 50% of the entire world. It is denigrating your culture by excusing the behaviour of absolute bastards.

This collective rage has to be harnessed to make India better. The culture where we coddle our men has to stop. The culture where we treat women as arm candy has to stop. The culture where we don’t show women strong role models has to stop. The culture of treating women as unwanted, inferior or in some way incapable of doing things has to stop. Otherwise these rapes will keep happening and in a world where barriers are breaking down we will go down as “Rapists and Molesters”.

The Catholic Church has a reputation for hiding it’s child molesters for a reason. It is because it ACTUALLY did. Will India get such a reputation too? Will we start making Catholic Priest jokes about Indian men because that’s what it’s going to eventually come down to?

Eventually the rock throwing will stop, but the talking MUST start. India changes tonight and you cannot expect others to make the change. You have to do it yourself. It’s not for people like me to make this change for you. India is not my country no matter how brown my skin is. Indian however is my culture and this is why I weigh in.

We cannot keep being called a culture that is just endemically unsafe to women. It has to stop. Do you know how heart breaking it is to be told by your girlfriend that you are not like other Indians because I think the harassment isn’t attractive? That our dating strategy is akin to Stockholm syndrome…

The rage of these women is entirely justified. If you wish to show your support then please does so. Make some noise; let people in India who are in power know that they cannot keep hiding this horrific side to India. It’s our silence that has caused this to come to a point. All we can do is make noise and show the people who are fighting for justice and to stop rape in India that we support what they are doing. It doesn’t matter what gender you are, make your voices be heard. People in India need to know that we actually give a flying fuck and that we show solidarity against the people who make excuses and try and stop this change.

The rapes have to stop.

Merry Fucking Christmas and a Happy Fucking New Year.

Yours in disgust

Avicenna Last

So Part III in the Female Genital Mutilation Saga


A Skepchick writer has come out in favour of the Lisa Wade’s article in one specific way

No one likes to be told what to do? Especially by people outside the culture if they are using language condemning a practice that is harsh.

The problem is Lisa Wade poisoned that one point with the rest of her post. “With Therapy” women will have a normal sex life doesn’t excuse protecting a practice. With therapy a broken leg will heal, doesn’t mean running someone’s leg over with a car is harmless. She covers up harm and uses language legitimising a practice and treats it as a medical procedure.

The piece in from Heina refers to Ophelia’s and Zinnia’s pieces on the topic mentioning that they are facts of FGM light. And to be fair I had just run my “primer” on FGM earlier so I figured they didn’t go into the details about it because if people asked they could just go “Look at Avi’s Stuff” rather than hammering out the same primer. That’s my defence of why they didn’t really go into the details of the subject. [Read more...]

A Balanced Look at Female Genital “Mutilation” is Anything But

I started noticing a fair few hits from “The Society Pages” and went to see who was flogging my blog (That sounds… dirty, But then again with my accent saying “Can I butter your scones” can be considered as near pornographical).

What I came across was something that sets itself up to be a balanced view about the practice of female genital mutilation.

A lot of people who read that were obviously rather angry. One of them linked to my recent post on FGM and it’s defence in Islam. So I had a read on my way back from my exam and have a rebuttal. If you want to see another one, check out Zinnia’s piece on her blog.

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Won’t Someone Think of The Children

Not You!!!!

Apart from you guys!

Let’s just say… Jesus makes you think of children a lot. Sometimes in not very acceptable ways.

Oh get your mind out of the gutter! This is an article about abortion and in particular Matt Barber’s take on it where he writes an open letter to the women and “girls” who have had an abortion. He does ask us to keep an Open Mind and Hearing Heart and maybe an Empty Stomach, which is fine if you are planning to do battle in The Kitchen Stadium to topple an Iron Chef but not if you want to talk to idiots particularly about a topic which is personal, upsetting and above all private.

The thing is Matt thinks the things he says are truths. Which is deadly as fuck, because this man genuinely believes that the entire history of the planet is based on a bunch of ignorant shepherds from the Middle East and their religion which was considered anti-knowledge EVEN during it’s own foundation. It’s a faith where the greatest sin and the deadliest thing in it was the acquisition of knowledge. Knowledge isn’t treated as sacred or important, it is treated as dangerous. Abrahamic faith is not just a blindfold to reality but is also a lead pipe to the head when it comes to it so you either are simply blinded or worse, you perceive it in such a warped and weird way that the only thing that will knock sense into you is a horrific shock. Where every single thing that the person holds dear suddenly and simultaneously comes down. My transition to atheism wasn’t a horror filled realisation it was slow and gradual and rather painless. I never really had to wrestle with any demons all though I will Invoke Rule 34 for anyone wanting to see that particular fantasy.

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