The Right To Die

Michèle Causse was a French author and lesbian theorist. She was one of my best friends. She always contacted me but I never got much time to contact her. When finally I decided to email her, I heard that she committed assisted suicide. She went to Switzerland to do it, she did it to protest against France for not legalizing euthanasia or the right to die. Michèle was vocal for the right to live as well as the right to die. She gave her life to show her support for euthanasia. Not everyone can do it.

I support euthanasia but Michèle’s suicide brings tears to my eyes. Wish I could stop her from having that bitter barbiturate. Wish I could tell her, ‘no, not now’. It is so hard to say goodbye to those extra ordinary people who contribute a lot to change the world and whose brains are still working well. I am dedicating this blog to Michèle Causse, a great human being, who died for a great cause. I salute her with great respect.

Let’s read some of her words that she wrote for me.

Date: Thu, 08 Apr 2010 09:22:31 +0200
Subject: France culture

Dear

Thank you again, I may be French but I feel in tune with your ” radical”
approach ( I will never compromise, I will never be silent). And also, as a
WRITER, I do understand how your Bengali language is missing.I felt the same
way while living in Tunisia, in Rome, in the Caraibs, in New York, migrant
in Canada. I went crazy at times, shouting in French on some lonely beach of
Florida where sharks used to …swim. Taslima you are brave and ” poetry” is
a word full of meaning when you talk, even early in the morning, defending
strongly “laicite”. Please, remember me, I am yours.We feminists shall keep
you alive and (possibly)well. Michèle

I feel a visceral( and rational ) reject of all religions, as you
know.unfortunately we know how women get trapped into it.While male priests
rape their children.

Michèle CAUSSE

Date: Tue, 09 Mar 2010 19:45:28 +0200
Subject: “Precious”
Dearest
On the 8th of March it was so great to see you on tv ! The only gratifying
smile of a difficult feminist moment.
While women in Toulouse were marching in the streets to ask for nights
without violence , they were immediately attacked by the police: those who
were supposed to protect them viciously battered them but were finally
obliged to get back to their police station. There, all girls united until
an arrested young woman was freed. The head of a woman association had a
broken finger!
This is just a story from a small province town.Imagine the rest!
To see you in New Delhi gave us the happiness you must feel in spite of he
precarious state of your staying there. When I read that maybe you will not
be able to stay after August, desperation got over me.I feel so strongly
your need for flavors, odours, colours.For a language which has its
fragrance.
Your sentence:”men get 364 days of the year and the only day women have in
their favour will be a day in which they will be persecuted as usual.” Oh
dear, you could not be more exact.It seems that 8th of March infuriates men
in a particular way.My expectations were greater in the 70′and I will never
have theses feelings again.Except when I hear you because you are the voice
of these years! The genuine and intelligent fury we had, the concepts we
battled against:” We spit on Hegel” etc etc…
Dear Tas my lima your Michèle

MICHÈLE CAUSSE

Date: Sat, 09 Jan 2010 08:46:08 +0200
Subject: New(?) year

My very dear,
hope this year will bring you back to the land you need
and which needs you.
When I have the blues I go to your site and I look at the pictures of all your friends,
all your travels, all your prizes. And I feel much better. You deserve all
you have and will have. Yours.Timidly. Michèle

Date: Tue, 17 Mar 2009 09:09:49 +0200
Subject: You yesterday

Maybe you looked yesterday at the Public Senat transmission which was an
homage to you ( in the presence of ni putes ni soumises and Caroline Fourest
and two women in politics).They were appalled at your situation and
certainly ashamed for the politics which do not permit you to lead a proper
life .At least I know now that you are in France and maybe less unhappy than
somewhere else. We saw images of Afghan women who burned themselves to death
rather than enter a forced marriage and other atrocities.The only moment of
real feminism in action was in Africa where young women called tantines
teach younger men and women some kind of rudimental sexuality;for instance:
don’t let your mother flatten your breasts!!!! At any step we meet different
horrors which condemn women to lead a pariah existence. I thought of you the
whole evening, as I do so often.Thanking you in my heart for being who you
are…Please stay with us.We will not let them trample you.I kiss you
motherly…if I may

I am still in Toulouse. Wish to see you for the festival.

Date: Mon, 09 Feb 2009 07:56:05 +0200
Subject: Hope
Hope you are now safely in France. Please, stay with us for a while.I think
of you with pain when I see the conditions of Bangladeshi fighting
desperately against flood and becoming climatic refugees without knowing
where to go, how to eat and live.What will they become?They are so proud and
brave.Their earth, their rice being literally ruined by the salt of the sea.
And your own sadness, your own condition .Go and see this terrible
film: Slumdog millionaire. It might remind you that, maybe, it is better not
to be in India….in spite of nostalgia…

Date: Sat, 13 Sep 2008 16:09:49 +0200

Where are you ???? The newspapers say you are in India. Or back to Sweden?
PLEASE, let us know you are OK and writing as much as your health and the
Bangladesh disaster permit. We are under the Pope’s presence in France and
it is very difficult to feel the way we did in the seventies…I wish I
could in some way give you positive news. But Time has not come yet. I think
of you and dream about another India. Michèle

Date: Tue, 27 May 2008 17:31:49 +0200
On internet I read all your interviews to the French newspapers.I was
flabbergasted! So happy. You were so radical, so much to the point.I had not
read anything like that since 197O. I wish I were given the opportunity to
say what you flaunted to the faces of the interviewers.I wrote a commentary
to l’Express.Believe me, only you can make declarations like that. It looks
as if you were not afraid of anything and were the only person in the world
who cannot care less about the consequences of her brave and rare nude
truth. I share everything you say.Thank you. We would be orphans and
voiceless without you. I kiss your bravery.
Michèle CAUSSE

Date: Tue, 20 May 2008 11:22:24 +0200
Subject: Hurrah

A friend awoke me early this morning to tell me you were speaking on the
radio. Finally, at last, I heard you, your small voice saying what had to be
said and heard .But do they hear ? Do they feel the way you do the incoming
threat? I am sorry to know you are not happy in Europe and yet I understand
so well. Your voice is most precious to these Indian women who are becoming
so eager to free themselves, with their pink saris and wood batons. You
belong to them, they belong to you.Sisters. I kiss you tenderly and as usual
admiratively. Michèle

michele causse'04

Date: Mon, 10 Mar 2008 23:20:51 +0200

Darling you,
Taslima I am afraid to tell you what I think as an ex immigrate to Canada. When a country like India does not want you anymore except in conditions which are not even decent for an animal, one must go away,one must choose one=B9s own life ,even if ,apparently, this life is not conform to your choice ( staying in Calcutta). Believe me, if you decide to go away, to immigrate, you will come back to India as a hero.You must not accept your present condition because they will not change it. On the contrary, they may become sterner. I have a pessimistic view about men wanting any good to women.
Even among the best intellectuals. Don’t be stubborn in this precise moment,be clever: you go away and you wait for some time. According to my own experience:some day you will be back to your own place, with great peace and honour. When you least expect it. If you carry on this day by day suicide and agony, we lose you and you lose yourself. Humanity ( I will not say mankind) will miss you too much. Loneliness is not a strength. You must form an alliance with those who share your fate,in spite of differences.You must smile again, and write and walk peacefully in places which will enjoy and help your creativity.
There is in the world a conjuncture which is not good at all. Women in the eastern countries are more and more severely constrained and ill-treated.
You can write for yourself and for them only if you come to a country. I know how desperate one is far from one’s country .But you are in no country at all in this moment. You must see your friends and people who support you. Listen to them ,to their advices. Let them pamper you.This sad period has to come to an end. I kiss you and please, don’t think I write like a vanquished person.On the contrary.Be very subtle.Pretend you want to go away.And be happy if they let you go away!!!!

I send you the green of my field so that light come into your room. Love

Date: Sun, 09 Mar 2008 13:13:21 +0200
Dearest among dears,

This is the text, very short, I am sending to the institutions you note.Please let us know your present condition. It is hard to imagine you in the same place!!! We love you.

Honour yourself by honouring the dignity and talent of the internationally known and highly praised poet Taslima Nasreen.

French Writer Michèle Causse

Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2008 19:51:12 +0200
Subject: FW: les infos de France Terre d’Asile no 2
-At least an extension, at least they are ashamed, but what about
your freedom??? Living where you want ? Can one feel really relieved? With
all my heart. Michèle

Let’s support euthanasia. Let’s make euthanasia legal. Let’s make Michèle’s dream come true.

Iran allows men to marry their adopted daughters

Iranian lawmakers passed a law that allows men to marry their adopted daughters.

Parliamentarians in Iran have passed a bill to protect the rights of children which includes a clause that allows a man to marry his adopted daughter and while she is as young as 13 years.
Activists have expressed alarm that the bill, approved by parliament on Sunday, opens the door for the caretaker of a family to marry his or her adopted child if a court rules it is in the interests of the individual child.
Iran’s Guardian Council, a body of clerics and jurists which vets all parliamentary bills before the constitution and the Islamic law, has yet to issue its verdict on the controversial legislation.
To the dismay of rights campaigners, girls in the Islamic republic can marry as young as 13 provided they have the permission of their father. Boys can marry after the age of 15.
In Iran, a girl under the age of 13 can still marry, but needs the permission of a judge. At present, however, marrying stepchildren is forbidden under any circumstances.

If you follow religion, religion will drag you backwards, you will end up in the darkness of ignorance.

“This bill is legalising paedophilia,” Sadr, a human rights lawyer warned. “It’s not part of the Iranian culture to marry your adopted child. Obviously incest exists in Iran more or less as it happens in other countries across the world, but this bill is legalising paedophilia and is endangering our children and normalising this crime in our culture.”
She added: “You should not be able to marry your adopted children, full stop. If a father marries his adopted daughter who is a minor and has sex, that’s rape.”

“With this bill, you can be a paedophile and get your bait in the pretext of adopting children,” Sadr said. Some experts believe the new bill is contradictory to Islamic beliefs and would not pass the Guardian Council.
An initial draft of the bill, which had completely banned marriage with adopted children, was not approved by the council and it is feared that MPs introduced the condition for marriage to satisfy the jurists and clergymen. This is why Sadr fears it can pass the council this time.

Shiva Dolatabadi, head of Iran’s society for protecting children’s rights, has also warned that the bill implies that the parliament is legalising incest. “You cannot open a way in which the role of a father or a mother can be mixed with that of an spouse,” she said, according to Shargh. “Children can’t be safe in such a family.”
Execution of juvenile offenders in Iran has also been in spotlight in recent years amid confusion between the age of majority – when minors cease to be legally considered children – and the minimum age of criminal responsibility, which is 15 for boys and nine for girls under Iranian law.

Some experts believe that the new bill is contradictory to Islamic beliefs. But they are wrong. Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, married his daughter in-law, his son’s wife. He justified his marriage by saying that his son was his adopted son, not real son. It means you can fuck your adopted son’s life if you want. If you can do that, you can fuck your adopted daughter’s life too. If the prophet can marry adopted son’s wife, it is perfectly alright for Muslims, the followers of Muhammad, to marry their adopted daughter. Muhammad would not have stopped marrying Zainab if she were his adopted daughter.

Muhammad married 6-year-old Ayesha. So, Islam even allows men to marry children. The Hadiths are all about Muhammad’s sayings. If you want to be Muslims, you have to believe in the holy Quran and the holy Hadiths. It is as simple as it is. And if you do this, you have to be misogynist, rapist, pedophile, immoral men and spineless, voiceless, submissive, misogynist, masochist women.

It is so fucking funny!

Pakistan bans science text book on pretext of it provoking ‘sexual desire’.

The government of Pakistan’s Punjab province has banned a science book for Grade VI students of a chain of elite schools for containing material that could provoke “sexual desire”.

The text book used by the Lahore Grammar School was banned after authorities received complaints from parents.

“We have banned the book after receiving complaints from parents,” provincial education minister Rana Mashhood Ahmad told PTI.

The science book had material that could provoke “sexual desire”, which could not be tolerated, he said.

“We will not allow anyone to teach our children with material which is against our social values and religious beliefs,” Ahmad said.

An inquiry was underway to ascertain why “objectionable” contents were included in the science book, he said.

The Punjab government also took cognizance of the same school’s decision to replace Islamic Studies, a compulsory subject, with Religious Studies in Grade VI.

“The new subject contains material which may mislead and confuse the minds of children,” Ahmad said.

“Article 25 of the Constitution of Pakistan is quite clear about the provision that no Pakistani citizen should be taught a religion other than his own religion – Islam,” Ahmad said.

The authorities of a country where hating and killing in the name of almost anything is a norm are afraid of people having sexual desire! It is always better to make love than to make war. Isn’t it?

If they don’t allow their children to learn anything which is against their social values and religious beliefs, they will not let them learn science and feminism because science is against religion and feminism is against patriarchal social values.

They prefer to teach their children religion. Then what happened? Most of the children become religious fundamentalists or religious terrorists.

Short-sighted politicians are the enemies of their countries.

We are not proud of Turkey. Not anymore.

Once upon a time, we were proud of Turkey for its secular ideas. We used to read a poem that was in our syllabus. The great Bengali poet Kazi Nazrul Islam wrote a poem congratulating Turkey’s great leader Mustafa Kemal for dismantling the Turkish caliphate and the powerful Khilafat movement.

‘Oi ksepechhey pagli ma-er damal chheley Kamal bhai,
Oshur-purey shore uthechhey shamal shamal tai.

Kamal, tu ne kamal kiya bhai !
Ho Ho Kamal, tu ne kamal kiya bhai!’

(Yonder, brothers, the raving mom’s indomitable
son Kamal has become enraged
That’s why, in the abode of demons, there is an uproar
‘Be ware,’ ‘Be on guard’!

Kamal, you have achieved unbelievable success, brother!
Ho Ho, Kamal, you have achieved unbelievable success, brother!)

The secular Turkey is now walking backwards towards the dark ages. It sentenced a renowned pianist Fazil Say for his tweets and sayings based on his belief in atheism.

World-renowned Turkish pianist Fazıl Say, who was sentenced to 10 months in prison for blasphemy in April, was again sentenced to 10 months by an Istanbul court today in a retrial.

Say had received a suspended 10-month prison sentence on charges of “insulting religious beliefs held by a section of the society,” for re-tweeting several lines, which are attributed to poet Omar Khayyam.

Say’s lawyers had demanded his suspension be canceled. His demand had been accepted by the court, and the court had paved the way for Say to be re-tried.

The 19th Istanbul Peace Court sentenced Say to 10 months in prison but since Say has no criminal record, the court suspended the sentence and ordered supervised liberty.

If Say does not commit another crime within two years, the case will be dropped.

The pianist will be able to appeal the verdict at the Supreme Court of Appeals.

Say was convicted after retweeted the several lines attributed to poet Omar Khayyam: “You say its rivers will flow in wine. Is the Garden of Eden a drinking house? You say you will give two houris to each Muslim. Is the Garden of Eden a whorehouse?”

image

Turkey should release Fazil Say unconditionally and now. Turkey should respect everyone’s right to freedom of expression. Turkey should know that everybody has the right to blaspheme. Blasphemy should not be considered a crime in Turkey.

Turkey was an ideal country progressive people used to be proud of. But no one now is proud of Turkey. Not anymore.

Dublin declaration on secularism empowering women 2013

I was one of the speakers for the Dublin conference on ‘Empowering Women Through Secularism’ this year. It was a great conference, and a great declaration was made. All we want is to make our world a better place.

1. Secular Values in Society

The secular values that will empower women are science-based reason, equality and empathy in alliance with the principles of feminism.
Priorities in democratic states: secular values will protect and advance already-established freedoms. Cultural and religious beliefs must not be used to deny or limit these freedoms.
Priorities in nondemocratic states: where secular values are not recognized or protected by laws, such laws should be established and applied, and address the issues that deny women full participation in society and government.

2. Separation of Religion and State

Priorities in democratic states: the Constitution should make explicit mention of the separation of religion and state. The state should not fund religions or beliefs. Also, social services, health care services or education accorded to citizens should respect the law; and all state practices should be neutral.
Priorities in nondemocratic states: certain things are fundamental in order to take first steps towards separation of religion and state. Access to education and information should be free and unrestricted. The international community should be vigilant on the application of human rights and take appropriate action where necessary.

3. Human Rights

Human rights are universal, and should be applied equally in democratic and nondemocratic states. Women’s rights are human rights, not separate rights for women.
Priorities in democratic states: women should have equal sexual, reproductive and economic rights in practice as well as in legislation.
Priorities in nondemocratic states: the right to autonomy, self-determination as an individual, and fully equal treatment at all levels of society for men and women. This takes precedence over religious or idealogical dogma.

4. Reproductive Rights

Priorities in democratic states: the state should recognize and respect the right to universal and absolute bodily ownership. Reproductive healthcare services should be free, accessible, non-judgmental and objective. Comprehensive evidence-based sex education should be universally available.
Priorities in nondemocratic states: human rights conventions should be honored in their entirety, and directives should not be vetoed on religious grounds or otherwise. International assistance should be given to grassroots campaigns involved in the provision and promotion of comprehensive reproductive health services and education.

5. Politics and Campaigning

Priorities in democratic states: it is essential to define the concept of morality as not being exclusive to religion, and to clearly promote secular feminist values as being beneficial to all citizens. These values should be communicated to citizens in a concise accessible manner using whatever means are available in order to promote the growth of a wider secular community in the future.
Priorities in nondemocratic states: we should amplify the voices of secular feminists fighting back against oppressive regimes throughout the world, and we should promote strategies and tools to overcome technological arrears in nondemocratic countries.

Burqa Is British School Uniform!

Burqa is now some British school uniform.

A number of the religious schools enforce uniform policies where such clothing is mandatory, even for girls as young as 11.
Under the dress code stipulated by the Madani Girls’ School in Tower Hamlets, East London, all pupils must wear a black burka and long black coat when outside.
The girls must also wear headscarves in the classroom and the school says on its website that its uniform rule “conforms to the Islamic Code of dressing and must be adhered to at all times”.
The Ayesha Siddiqa Girls School, in Southall, West London, insists its pupils wear a navy blue burka or Jilbab, a long, loose-fitting garment that does not cover the face, when walking between lessons, The Times reported.
According to the school’s website, it is “not willing to compromise on any issues regarding uniform”.

EGYPT NIQAB

Other private Islamic schools elsewhere in the country are thought to be imposing similar dress codes on their female pupils.
Birmingham Metropolitan College last week lifted its ban on Muslim face veils, hours before a demonstration by hundreds of students.
The college had been accused of discrimination when it ordered all students, staff and visitors to remove any face coverings so individuals are “easily identifiable at all times”.
The college’s decision divided political opinion, with David Cameron, the Prime Minister, backing the ban, while Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, said he felt “uneasy” about the rules.
After the u-turn, Mr Cameron’s spokesman said: “We support schools in setting their own uniform guidelines.
“These are decisions that are rightly for schools to take. There is an important point here around head teachers and their leadership teams being able to take the decisions that are right for their schools and we support that.”

Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society, said:

“This school is due to be inspected soon. We hope that the Government will ensure that it is not drifting away from its original promises and towards exclusivity. This is the danger with this free school system — promises are being made that are not worth the paper they’re printed on.”

If burqa gets accepted in some schools today, it will get accepted in more schools and then more institutions tomorrow. It will get accepted everywhere. It means misogyny will get officially accepted in your land. If you want to make your society sane, say no to burqa now.

What good does marriage do?

Why do human beings marry? For sex or for children! But why is marriage necessary for secure and safe sex or for children? Out of all living species it is only humans who feel the need to marry. But don’t all other animals stay together, procreate and bring up offsprings? Marriage is not even essential for trust or loyalty. There are many animals that happily spend entire lives with the same mate, the one they choose in early youth. Never again do they desire for a new mate, never again do they feel the need to start afresh with the new one. They are loyal and monogamous in the most incredulous way! No matter how far they go, how many seas they cross, how old they become, they come back to the old mate of years to kiss and live in love. They never get to know the meaning of adultery, what it means to be polygamous or how does it feel to be betrayed. Albatrosses, swans, black vultures, bald eagles, turtle doves, dik-diks, bonnet-head sharks, gibbons, French angelfish, grey wolf, snow leopards – there are many such animals.

Humans marry to live happily ever after. But how many of them do end up living happily ever after? Most marriages either fail or survive without love. People hold on to loveless marriages for varied reasons – children, financial security or in fear of what the society or people would say. But should such coexistence be called a marriage. Many, who already have a husband or wife, nonchalantly indulge in extra-marital affairs. When one romantic affair ends, they start a new one. Human beings are not bald eagles, or black vultures. Humans are hardly monogamous and often polygamous. But at the same time it cannot be said with utmost certainty that humans are purely polygamous. Humans are much more complex and complicated. They could be monogamous, polygamous, heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual – all at the same time and many more things. And there can be no close comparisons to human beings when it comes to embracing the new and abandoning dead, old ways.

Most religions pronounce marriage as a holy union between a man and a woman. Apparently god preselects one’s partner prior to even birth. So come what may, marriages must not be broken – god warns. But as we know even the most loyal devotees of god do not care to follow this advice anymore. They utter the word talaq casually to abandon a partner who supposedly was chosen by god for someone they like. It seems god has failed badly as a ‘matchmaker’. Most religions intrude in matters of matrimony, laying out rules on what ought to be the ideal age, sex, caste, beliefs when two people marry and also the duties of the ideal husband and wife. Though marriage is a thoroughly personal matter, it is largely a social affair. Women, if not men, are certainly the property of a whole society. Did the woman have an affair before marriage? Was she a virgin? Does she have an affair outside of marriage? Who does she hang out with? What time does she return home? Does she have unknown men visit her at home? And it is not just her immediate family but the entire community that takes keen interest and follows her each and every move and action. The fathers and brothers lose honour at the drop of a hat because a woman’s life remains not only her private and personal life but a concern of the entire family, community and the society. Thus fathers and brothers are ready to even kill a woman to protect the cause of family honour.

Marriage is almost becoming extinct in progressive and liberal parts of the world. Some people still marry because marriage as an institution continues to exist and they just follow a much-treaded route without much thought. It is almost like observing the need of climbing Mount Everest because one feels its looming presence. If marriage goes out of practice many will not care to marry. People continue with traditions often out of mere habit. But very few take the initiative to renew traditions and customs that are dead. There are many lovers in liberal countries who live for years together, have children and raise a family outside of marriage. The patriarchal nature of an archaic tradition called marriage is but a joke for many such couples. Marriage is just like religion that lives on despite being proven as something that has no basis in reality. A set of irrational beliefs that have survived in the same way as some superstitions have continued for thousands of years. Yet most superstitions too meet with death. Hundreds of religions and hundreds of gods have died silent deaths. Where is the heroic Apollo now, for example? Where are Jupiter, Zeus and Hermes? Where are Thor and Odin? One day marriage too will go out of fashion just like the gods and religions of bygone eras.

There is another secret reason why some people still choose to marry in countries of northern Europe – in such places one pays less tax when married. The state also bears the expenses of raising children. A lot of people in those countries are reluctant to marry or have children. So the government tries to tempt citizens with benefits of tax rebates lest the institution of marriage completely dismantles and north Europeans become an extinct race altogether. Some actually do marry because of these social benefits but many still prefer to live either alone or with a partner without marrying. Many couples who choose not to marry and yet stay together receive the same kind of state support allotted for married couples. In the West polygyny is uncommon and the practice of polygamy too is less common than in the East. What is common in the West is known as serial monogamy.

Towards the end of 60s many people came out of the narrow confines of their homes to lead a revolution, challenge the politics of a past era and change society. Old and worn out ideas like women must protect virginity, purity and motherhood to be known as good were defied. The hippies of the era almost altogether stopped marrying. Many cohabited as a group, had multiple sexual partners among themselves and raised children as joint responsibility of everyone in the group. There was no concept of seeing a partner as one’s private property. The commune lives did not last long. Had hippies been successful, the institution of marriage by now would not have remained a living institution of the society but would have found a place in the pages of history.

Intellectuals in different countries have written flamboyantly on how marriage is utterly meaningless. “”A wedding is a funeral where you smell your own flowers.” “One should always be in love. That is the reason one should never marry.” Katherine Hepburn even in her times was not in the favour of a man and woman sharing the same house. “Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then.” she said. She also added, “If you want to sacrifice the admiration of many men for the criticism of one, go ahead, get married.” These are exceptional observations of exceptional personalities. “Marriage is a wonderful invention; but, then again, so is a bicycle repair kit.” “Marriage is a cage. Those outside are desperate to enter and those inside are desperate to leave.” Marriage is good for those who are afraid to sleep alone at night.” There are more. “Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who wants to live in an institution?” “A husband is what is left of a lover, after the nerve has been extracted.” “Marriage is a bribe to make the housekeeper think she’s a householder.” French author Balzac wrote, ““The majority of husbands remind me of an orangutan trying to play the violin.” However, not that all sayings are against marriage. There are some that argues in favour of it. “I’d marry again if I found a man who had fifteen million dollars, would sign over half to me, and guarantee that he’d be dead within a year.”

When the West was swayed by a hippie revolution and women’s liberation movements, women in the East wore invisible chastity belt. Many men in the East still continue to marry for primordial reasons because of which the institution of marriage originated. What is needed is a womb, a womb necessary to bear the child born out of a man. The key purpose of marriage is to protect the identity of the father. It is actually women have sustained the tradition of patriarchy for thousands of years by marrying men and protecting men’s interests. The balloon of patriarchy would have burst with a loud bang long back had women revolted.

In Bengali societies I often witness women’s wings of freedom being clipped right after marriage. Women have to leave behind everything, their home, family, friends, the familiar neighbourhood, the city of their youth and childhood, a life and a past to make the husband’s home their own. They have to add the husband’s surname to their names and call home a house that belongs to the in-laws. The husband and his family decide on behalf of adult educated women whether she should hold a job. Once it was very common and even now some people say things like women must not do professional work after marriage. Women must aspire for a life of endless sacrifice and dedication, so they must stay at home, cook, take care of the family and children. Gloria Steinem once famously said, “A liberated woman is one who has sex before marriage and a job after.” In present times the husband and his family do not just expect educated women to look after the household but they also want women to hold a job for some extra money for the family. However, women’s earnings continue to be seen as the “extra” in ordinary Bengali homes even if they earn more than the husband. Being indoctrinated in values of patriarchy, women are happy to deposit their earnings in the hands of the husband and acquire the ‘good girl’ tag. Women in most cases have no authority on how to spend their own earnings and often it is men – no matter how unintelligent – call the shots in money matters. Even if they manage to earn well women – it is assumed – remain clueless on managing finances. Therefore, men take it upon themselves the responsibility of looking after these important matters. Most Bengali women do not know the meaning of freedom.

In Kolkata I often shivered to see married couples living on in cold and loveless marriages. “If the marriage breaks, let it break. Why take so much effort to make it last?” I often asked. I never got satisfactory answers. Women get used to living in unhappy lives. Children for whom couples often linger bad marriages grow up witnessing tensions and pains of a troubled family and that does more harm than good. It is difficult for women to live alone or raise children on their own if they are not economically independent and lack financial security. But does that mean one must compromise with abusive husbands? The thought of sharp rise in instances of violence on and homicide of women is chilling. And all this is such a brutal expression of misogyny that remains at the heart of patriarchy!

Societies that have more of educated, independent and aware women than otherwise tend to witness higher divorce rates and low marriage rates.
However, in the Indian subcontinent even educated and independent women – having imbibed the values of patriarchy – silently tolerate abusive and polygamous husbands and choose to remain married just like those who are not self-sufficient. Marriage in these societies is almost like a conquest for men and sacrifice for women. To some marriage offers a relief from loneliness and ties a heavy shackle of bondage on others. Barbaric acts are rampant in these societies. There exist caste discrimination, dowry, objectification of women, practices of treating the wife as sex object, slave or child-producing machine, want and constant pressure of having a male child, killing of female foetus, murdering or abandoning the girl child, divorcing the wife for not giving birth to a male child and remarriage.

While there are many who follow norms and traditions blindly, there are some others who break the rules. The old norms of marriage are crumbling as more and more people are becoming civilised. It is only a handful – and not teeming millions – that change society, while the majority holds on to archaic customs and traditions.Some daring women in the West no longer abide by rules like women must not work after marriage, must never disobey husbands or that widow remarriage should not be allowed.

Marriage too has evolved as an institution. The purpose of marriage has changed in some societies and so has the nature of marriage. In the West marriage is no longer seen as a way for men to have a line of descendants or to have women toil hard to raise children and a family in the West – in societies in the West there exist a long history of struggle for women’s liberation and women have come to enjoy equal rights and opportunities to a large degree. In those places it is hardly a matter of concern if there are no children in a marriage. And people realise that what is needed most for a healthy relationship and happy family life is not marriage – but mutual love and respect.

If there is love and mutual respect two people can remain faithful to each other. If marriage could ensure loyalty then adultery would not be so rampant. The couples who live together without marriage also remain faithful to each other by the same bond of love and respect.

But it is not that all couples want monogamy or commitment. Sometimes, to beat the monotony of monogamy or to add some variety to the relationship some couples – even though they love each other – invite other men or women to join them in sex. There are no hush secrets, no hide and seek – one more person or more than one, two or three can join a couple in their very own bedroom and in the very nuptial bed. Such orgy- many couples believe – add some flavour and variety to the relationship and recharge the married life. Some sociologists vociferously support the concept of group marriage. Rather than have an ugly divorce it is much more practical apparently to be in a group marriage and not disturb the lives of children. Group marriage basically means a communal relationship of some men and women who could be married to each other. There is something called group love or polyamory – the love of many. This means the love of some men and women who are each other’s lover. Polygamy has been common in many societies from time immemorial and it mostly means a man having multiple wives. And in some societies there exists a different kind of polygamy, when a woman takes many husbands – polyandry. Many such combinations have happened in the world and they continue to happen. Yet it is monogamous marriage that has remained the most common and dominant form. Of course! Because monogamous marriage offers the best form of leverage by one on the other.

Marriage is basically a license for sexual relationship – a social license that is acquired with much fanfare and hue and cry. It is merely a tradition that is archaic, patriarchal and illogical and serve no practical purpose. There are many customs that are already dead or in the process of dying – like sati or witch-burning. Many such meaningless traditions are allowed to live on by making people either too fearful or irrational so they fail to act with reason. But even then customs and traditions will have to die when they become out of practice among large communities. It has been proven over centuries that marriage has no role in making relationships last, to bring happiness in families or to help children to excel – therefore the future of marriage too does not look very bright. Our forefathers lost an extra tail to evolution because it no longer had any value. So, will evolution not banish a practice as worthless as marriage from our societies? Philosophers of the past – Nietzsche, Kant and Hegel for instance – were known to be extremely anti-women in their views. The intellectual practice of philosophy has evolved and those with extreme hateful attitude towards women would no longer be acknowledged as a philosopher.

Patriarchy was born out of extreme misogyny. Patriarchy has given rise to many anti-women traditions; marriage is one such custom. The more patriarchy is subjugated and won over, the more women will regain their independence and confidence. The more women will drive away misogynist religions and beliefs from the society. The more society will defeat barbarisms. The more society will enlightened. The more men will reform. Then more and more patriarchal traditions will perish slowly. We are already witnessing marriage becoming less and less common in liberal societies. It may still remain a prevalent practice in societies that are not enough enlightened. But even those societies will not remain uncouth forever. And what are the signs that a society has progressed? When women are no longer raped and abused, when women enjoy equal rights and opportunities, when women do not have to end up as sex slaves or menial slaves of men. But they are free to love, be in tumultuous romance and live in with a loved one and yet do not think of marriage. When marriage becomes extinct, a remnant of the past.

Marriage is nothing but a social sanction to dominate and subjugate women. Many feminist writers have been vocal against it. Andrea Dworkin thought of marriage as the other name of rape. And someone once beautifully said that marriage is but an ‘intimate colonisation.’ Many agree that women can never be liberated in the true sense in presence of a barrier like marriage. Most feminists at one point saw it as an extraordinary means of perpetuating the norms of patriarchy and some still think on those lines. Some even see heterosexual love as a form of political conspiracy, a conspiracy for which women fall and willingly agree to get married or surrender to the enemy. Had marriage not turned women into slaves, feminists would not have such objections.
At a time when educated heterosexual people in progressive societies are rejecting this institution, many homosexual groups are fighting for rights to marry. Many liberal countries have begun to recognise the marriage of same sex couples. Many progressive individuals, who otherwise do not believe in marriage, support same sex couples’ demand of rights of marriage because the majority in society does not accept and are against such rights. Supporting same sex couples’ rights of marriage translates to disobeying and challenging the rule of religion and the moral policing of conservative societies. But it also true that the possibility of equality of both partners is better in same sex marriages than in heterosexual marriages because there is no gender discrimination in the former. However, when marriage becomes a mundane and commonplace affair even in homosexual societies, then the ones who today clamour for rights of marriage will see it as unnecessary and oppose it.

One day marriage will become extinct. Archaeologists in days to come would discover the fossil of marriage, a social practice long dead and forgotten, in the relics of history and narrate the story of the past to an enlightened generation. “There was once a dark age in this world. In those days there used to be a tradition that lasted over generations. The tradition was known as marriage.” To explain the why and what of marriage, the subject of patriarchy would of course be raised. And human beings in such an unseen future would shudder imagining a horrific society of a long gone past – a horrific society that is our present.
Utopia? But, what’s wrong in utopia?
( My Bengali article translated by Suruchi Mazumdar)

‘Homeopathy can’t cure erectile dysfunction’ — says the Court of Germany

A Munich court has ruled that a homeopathic product promising to “increase virility” and “activate sexual feeling in women” by increasing blood flow to the genitals has been mislabelled.

The product, which contained traces of the Turnera diffusa shrub native to central and South America, had been marketed as a cure for “sexual weaknesses,” the newspaper the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported.

The case was brought by competition authorities who argued there was no scientific evidence to back up the manufacturer’s claims. It also maintained that there was no proof of the effectiveness of homeopathic products in general.

The company countered that erectile dysfunction and lack of interest in sex were “classical, rather than typical symptoms” of sexual weakness, the paper reported.

However the court did not accept their claim and concluded that “sexual weakness” was too vague a term to cover the specific complaints of erectile dysfunction and lack of interest in sex.

It described the advertisements as “misleading” and upheld the view that there was no scientific evidence for either the effectiveness of homeopathy or the Turnera difussa shrub in treating sex-related complaints.

It is time for the countries where believers of homeopathic, ayurvaedic and other alternative traditional herbal unscientific thingies that are sold in the name of medicine, increasing, should learn from Germany. National newspapers and TV channels and all other medias are helping the fraud companies advertising their products which do not at all correct anyone’s erectile dysfunction. It’s time to stop exploiting ordinary innocent people. It’s time to challenge fraud companies. Time to learn from Germany.

Rape in Pakistan

Kunwar Khuldune wrote about rapes that occurred in Pakistan.

A five-year-old girl was brutally raped in Lahore on Thursday and was found dumped outside Ganga Ram Hospital around 8 pm on Friday. The very next day a 12-year-old girl in Faisalabad and another first year student in Toba Tek Singh were gang raped. This was followed by another gang rape of a 15-year-old girl yesterday in Tharparkar. Last year 7,516 cases of violence against women were reported in Pakistan with 822 of them being rape cases. And anyone who’s familiar with the perverted concept of ‘honour’ in our country knows that 822 is a sorry fraction of the actual number.

Every individual who propagates the deplorable myth that women are inherently dependent on or weaker than men is a rape accomplice. Every person who scorns at a girl for not catering to their definition of decency is a rape accomplice. Anyone who is a flag-bearer of double standards of modesty for men and women is a rape accomplice. Everyone who teaches women to be ashamed of their bodies is a rape accomplice. And if your respect for a woman is dependent on how well covered her body is, then you sir/ma’am, are a rape accomplice as well.

An accomplice is ‘a person who helps another commit a crime’. And while most of us won’t directly provide a rapist the aid that he needs to commit his monstrous crime, by propagating the aforementioned ideals we definitely help him unleash the loathsome ‘beast’ inside him.

Answer this: who would have more of a tendency towards rape, a man who’s told that a woman not dressed up in synchrony with (insert any cultural/social/religious/individual standard of modesty) is dishonourable, or a man who’s told that how a woman chooses to dress up should be no one else’s concern, regardless of whether she’s wearing a burqa or a bikini?

Now answer this: who would have more inclination towards physically abusing a ‘party girl’ who’s drunk and has ‘many male friends’, a man who’s taught that women must follow a different set of morals as compared to men, or a man who’s taught gender equality in every single aspect of life?

And finally answer this: who has more of a chance to become a rapist, a man who lives in a society where a woman’s respect has got nothing to do with her body or a man who lives in a society where a woman not following a certain ‘dress code’ is dubbed an open lollipop inviting flies and insects?

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A woman not covering her head isn’t ‘asking for it’; one wearing a bikini isn’t ‘asking for it’ and yes, one who might not be wearing anything at all is still not ‘asking for it’. Those that justify rape under any circumstance omenshouldn’t merely be dubbed rape apologists but should instead be called rape accomplices and should share a fraction of guilt for every rape where the victim was ostensibly ‘asking for it’.

The myth that the hijab, burqa, or following a particular definition of modesty protects women is busted by the fact that in a recent BBC report it was revealed that 99.3 per cent of Egyptian women had experienced harassment, while the rate of sexual offenses in Saudi Arabia is 58.6 per 100,000 and Qatar and UAE have rates of 1.7 reported cases of rape per 100,000 population. Also, when 5-year-olds and 7-year-olds are being raped, it’s obviously not a case of what’s atop the woman’s head, more a case of what’s inside the man’s head. And those who want to flaunt the fact that forcing a woman to wear the hijab reduces the chances of her being raped, should know that those chances would be further reduced if you lock her up in a cupboard and throw away the key.

Rape cannot be prevented by forcing women to cover up, it can only be prevented by women empowerment, promotion of gender equality and the eradication of antediluvian myths that teach us how women are men’s property who must keep a watch on them and control them. When it is stated or implied that women are men’s property and that the latter have an upper-hand over the former, you’re cultivating a ground for rapists to grow. And everyone who plays even the most minor of roles in the cultivation should be called a rape accomplice.

Not only are we all rape accomplices because we promote the aforementioned ideals, but our law is quite possibly the grandest of all rape accomplices, since it doesn’t consider DNA as primary evidence in rape cases in the year 2013 AD. Furthermore, by asking for four witnesses – who can only be dubbed the closest of collaborators, since they preferred watching a woman being abused than preventing the act – it’s almost as if we’ve created a social and judicial setup to facilitate rapists.

Merely screaming bloody murder over a heinous act won’t suffice in its eradication, and propagating the West’s rape statistics won’t particularly help the cause in our neck of the woods, where rape is criminally misreported and prevails despite us purging our society from ‘Western evils’. To actually reduce rape, every single one of us must ask ourselves if we’ve ever, intentionally or inadvertently, promoted misogynistic ideals or tried to justify rape under any circumstances. If the answer to those questions is in the affirmative, we’ve all played a part in the physical and mental trauma of every raped woman in our society.

I agree with Khuldune. What about you guys?

”The girl has a chronic ‘disease’ that draws her to men.”

‘The girl has a chronic disease that draws her to men’ says Ram Jethmalani, one of the India’s top legal minds.
Ram Jethmalani has served his country as Law minister and also as minister of Urban Development. Very honorable person indeed.

He is now defending Asaram, the rapist godman. To justify the rape, he is trying to say that it is not Asaram’s fault that he raped the girl, it is the girl’s fault, because the girl came to Asaram. What made her to come to Asaram? Her disease. Her disease draws her to Asaram, so, Asaram has all the right to rape her in order to cure her disease.

Please do not say Ram Jethmalani has lost his mind. I do not think he has lost his mind. His patriarchal mindset is unchanged, his misogyny is intact. It does not matter how big you become in a patriarchal society, you would always be a bit misogynist if you do not struggle hard to get out of the system physically and mentally and unlearn everything patriarchal you have been indoctrinated with since your childhood. Just a few days ago, another lawyer, to defend a bunch of rapists in the High Court, said that he would have burned his daughter alive if she was having premarital sex and went out late at night with her boyfriend.

You believe it or not, misogyny is a daily reality for women in India.