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Talking about sex

By Meena Seshu

Sexuality is often considered a frivolous diversion from the more critical problems of poverty, war, drought or violence against women. But it is precisely in destructive times like these that people become dangerously closed about sexuality. Meena Seshu, human rights activist and founder of Sangram, points out why we need to discuss issues of sex, sexuality, obscenity and morality more openly, and what we can learn from sex-workers

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Dance bar ahead: Keep out : Part 1: Fundamentalisms and sexuality

By Maya Indira Ganesh

The state government has embarked on a campaign to rid Mumbai of obscenity. The dance bars which employ 75,000 women, are amongst the targets. But is this just about dance bars or about the increasingly strident notions of purity and pollution, and about fundamentalism using the bodies of women as their locus of control?

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Dance bar ahead: Keep out: Part 2: The right to sexuality

By Maya Indira Ganesh

The ban on dance bars in Mumbai is ostensibly to protect youth from the sexualised environment of the bars. Instead of keeping the shadows and silences around sexuality intact, we need a rights-based approach to young people's sexuality, giving them the right to information that has a direct bearing on their health and well-being

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What constitutes a woman's identity?

By Rashme Sehgal

The recent ruling by the Supreme Court that even an illegitimate child must take the caste of its father has led women's activists to protest the continuing inequalities in property, custody and guardianship law in India, all of which continue to be determined through male descent

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"Poverty and patriarchy -- not religion -- determine the status of women"

By Rashme Sehgal

To get away from the Muslim stereotype, and the common belief that the status of Muslim women is determined by their religion and personal law, Ritu Menon and Zoya Hasan embarked on a path-breaking survey of 10,000 women. Their study, Unequal Citizens: A Study of Muslim Women in India, looks at Muslim women within the framework of poverty, gender and social disability

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Baina beach demolitions: What about the sex worker's right to shelter?

By Rakesh Shukla

Acting on orders by the Goa bench of the Bombay High Court, around 250 huts belonging to sex workers, on Goa's Baina beach, were bulldozed in an effort to 'clean up' Goa. 'Operation Monsoon Demolition' appears to have been based on the assumption that sex workers have no right to shelter

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'Whatever violates the integrity of a woman's body should be considered rape'

By Rashme Sehgal

Women's activist Brinda Karat discusses the importance of expanding the definition of rape to include violation of the body by unconventional means, especially in a country where two-thirds of rape cases involve children. A recent Supreme Court judgment refused to accept this stand

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Flaw in the law: Custodial rape, inadequate evidence and acquittal

By Rakesh Shukla

The lack of convictions in cases of custodial rape raises serious questions about the workings of the law

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Sati glorification: Crime, society and the wheels of injustice

By Rakesh Shukla

Despite protests both within Rajasthan and across the country, no appeal has been filed against the recent acquittal of those accused of glorifying sati, following the death of Roop Kanwar on her husband's funeral pyre back in 1987

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Undoing sexism: Involving men in the battle against domestic violence

By Malini Sen

In India, the response to domestic violence until now has been to reassert women's responsibility for policing men's violence. Few efforts have taken up the challenge of primary prevention: interventions intended to stop men and boys from using aggression

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Films and femininity

By Lalitha Sridhar

The conventional view that Indian cinema does nothing but reproduce patriarchal ideology is in itself a stereotype, says filmmaker and film researcher Venkatesh Chakravarty. In fact, our films are replete with female characters who bring the mightiest powers to their knees

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The medicalisation of sex

By Maya Indira Ganesh

Science, sex and the market form a cosy mAcnage-a-trois today. Biomedical knowledge, practices and techniques have taken sexuality from the most private hidden spaces to the centrestage of international conferences. The medicalisation of sex makes a cure that comes in a foil strip far more seductive than an overhaul of a lifestyle, personality, family system or state policy

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HIV, sexuality and identity in India

There has been a legitimate emergence of sexual minorities in India over the last decade. But even as transsexuals or sex workers exult in the opportunity to be heard and seen in mainstream society, we must realise that this is just one small evolutionary step towards raising the self-esteem of marginalised groups

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Violence Against Women

By Oishik Sircar and Nalini Bhanot

Not only is gender-based violence on the rise, it has also taken on insidious forms that are justified in the name of faith, community, even development. In the run-up to the 16 Days Campaign against gender-based violence which begins November 25, Infochange provides a primer on violence against women

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Women : Background & Perspective

 By Sujata Madhok

There are several clear indicators of the fact that Indian women continue to be discriminated against: the sex ratio is skewed against them; maternal mortality is the second-highest in the world; more than 40 per cent of women are illiterate; and crimes against women are on the rise. Yet, the women's movement which gathered strength after the 1970s, has led to progressive legislation and positive change, spurred on by the participationof women in local self-government.

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A landscape of unbelongers

By Sharmila Joshi

Why Loiter: Women and Risk on Mumbai Streets is about the myriad ways in which women continue to be relegated to the spatial margins of a ‘globalising’ city, and the growing list of other powerless groups – migrants, dalits, North Indians, Muslims, gays, etc -- who inhabit this landscape of unbelongers

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The 'two-finger' test

By Sharmila Joshi

Though the Supreme Court has ruled that the results of a ‘finger test’ cannot be used against a woman, and that a rape survivor’s ‘habituation to sexual intercourse’ is immaterial, this ‘unscientific, inhuman and degrading’ test is still widely used in India, says a new Human Rights Watch report

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A limited liberation

By Madhumita Bose

Activist and social critic Vinodinee Neelkanth, like most other women writers of the early-20th century, favoured the empowerment of women, as long as they left undisturbed their roles as wife and mother. It was left to the male writers of the ’20s and ’30s to create vibrant, non-conformist female characters

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Women's work: Never done and poorly paid

By Nirmala Banerji

Jayati Ghosh’s new book on women’s work in globalising India reveals the Indian state’s patriarchal attitude towards women’s work

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Savitribai Phule: Forgotten liberator

By Melanie P Kumar

Savitribai Phule's name is not in the history books alongside the Rani of Jhansi and others. But it deserves to be. She, along with her husband Jotiba Phule, was a pioneer in the struggle against oppression of women, dalits, adivasis and religious minorities. A new book sketches her life and work

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