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You are here: Home | Agenda | Agenda | Sexual rights in India

Let's talk about sex

By Meena Menon

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. That's why we need to discuss issues of sex, sexuality, obscenity and morality more openly

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'Moral' victories

By Flavia Agnes

The debates in the Maharashtra assembly, which banned bar dancing in August 2005, were revealing: "We need to do even more of this moral policing," said members. Can the state impose arbitrary and varying standards of vulgarity, indecency and obscenity on society?

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Fundamentalisms and sexuality

By Maya Indira Ganesh

Confronted with chaos, the fundamentalist believes that his role is to protect and defend his tradition, fighting back with absolutism and violence. The uncontrolled woman, the woman with rampant sexuality, the outsider, the migrant, is the most tangible symbol of chaos, and the easiest to control

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The 21st century politics of college clothing

By Shilpa Phadke And Sameera Khan

The move to impose a dress code is a response to the anxieties that today, women will wear spaghetti straps to college, tomorrow they will have careers, the day after refuse to be chaste Indian women, the next week make love to the wrong kind of men, the next month declare they prefer women to men, and from there who knows what else

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'Women make demands, but only ladies get protection'

By Oishik Sircar

The law remains entrenched in conservative sexual morality. It believes that only the 'good body' can be raped, assaulted or outraged. The good body is that of the good woman - the chaste and loyal wife, maintaining the integrity of the family, culture and nation. A bad woman's sexuality is illegitimate. Her body doesn't conform to the legal construct of a body that can be violated, so she has no legal recourse

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The absurdity of laws

By Debolina Dutta

Here are glimpses of some of the laws that work as a tool in the hands of the state to regulate sexuality in the name of preserving 'morals' and protecting 'decent' people from 'sexual contamination'

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Is there such a thing as the metrosexual male?

By Mangesh Kulkarni

In the vast grey zone between the media-bolstered faAade of metrosexuality and the deep-rooted structures of patriarchy, an unprecedented transformation of Indian masculinity is taking place

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Busting the myth of the Great Indian Sexual Revolution

By Mirra Savara

Recent surveys in the national media suggest that urban Indian women are shaking off years of conservatism and asserting their sexuality: they are having sex, paying for sex and indulging in forbidden sex. Is this picture accurate? And what are the consequences of this portrayal by the mass media?

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Written on the body

By Trina Nileena Banerjee

Positive images of the 'independent' woman are everywhere in the mass media: the woman astride the bike -- and the man. But what percentage of these popular images of a woman's body in the visual market are, in reality, produced by women? Between the global open market and the 'traditional' Hindu Right that seeks to control and domesticate her body, where does she stand? Where is her real body?

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Sex books and the mediation of masculinities

By Suparna Bhattacharya

A Bangalore study reveals that popular printed material on sex continues to be the first and principal source of sexual information for young men. These books reinforce gender stereotypes and the Madonna/Whore dichotomy, encourage violence in male sexual activity and portray women as either passive receptacles or dangerous partners who need to be "controlled" by their men

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Sexual rights as human rights

By Arvind Narrain

Why is a hijra being tortured by the police less of a human rights concern than the torture of a Naxalite? Why is the desire of two women to live with each other and not get married to men any less of a human rights issue than a woman wanting a divorce from her cruel husband? If development is to be seen as the process of expanding the real freedoms that people enjoy, then the freedom to express one's sexual orientation or gender identity is a development issue as important as any other

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Limiting sexuality

By Geetika Bapna

The discourse on AIDS has conflated sexuality with sexual behaviour alone. Thus, kothi sexuality is understood only as a high-risk group. There is a biological reductionism that dislocates sexuality from social, economic, cultural and gender relations

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Questioning 'queer'

By Oishik Sircar

'Queer' was a movement that came into existence to encompass all non-heteronormative sexualities. It reminded us that labels and categories can easily become part of oppression. But along the way has the 'queer' movement actually constructed an identity that is based on standards that must be met, excluding those who don't meet these standards?

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Regulation of disabled women's sexuality

By Nisha

The disability movement focuses on entitlements such as inclusive physical environments, employment, etc. But it scarcely discusses issues of the sexual lives of the disabled, which are denied, resisted and controlled at various levels

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Sexual harassment: Battling unwelcome sexual attention

By Aurina Chatterji

In 1997 the Supreme Court issued the Vishakha Guidelines on sexual harassment at the workplace. In 2004, Lawyers Collective and other CSOs formulated a draft Bill on sexual harassment, which, if passed by Parliament this year, will go a long way towards reducing sexual harassment in the workplace

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No sex please

By Gayatri Sharma

Sexual innuendo, unwelcome passes, sexually-coloured remarks and jokes are the target of sexual harassment policies in India. The implicit assumption is that sex is a bad thing that should be kept private as far as possible. Such an approach could in fact be producing a negative impact on the right to free expression by increasing restrictions on sexual expression

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Emancipation through legislation?

By Isabel Goodman

For too long, the state has recognised and sanctioned the dominant sexual ideology alone: of sex only between differently-sexed, married and monogamous partners. Those outside of this realm -- including men who have sex with men and sex workers -- are forced into a furtive, unsafe sexual environment. The proposed HIV/AIDS Bill seeks to protect vulnerable groups and provide for health-based interventions

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Do helplines help?

By Prabha Nagaraja

The New Delhi-based TARSHI helpline service claims to have logged over 55,000 calls over the past nine-and-a-half years, on a wide variety of issues on sexuality and reproductive health

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The Champa story

By Himalini Varma

The creator of the Champa kit describes the process of putting together the sexuality and reproductive health package that has been used by hundreds of peer educators over the last 10 years, taking an issue that was in the domain of doctors and academicians to the people

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