Sex! Sex! Sex!

:)

News on sex and sexuality in South Asia:

1. Namita Dendal at Times of India has an entertaining commentary on what would happen if Sex and the City were in Mumbai. Memorable bit of the article:

In Mumbai, a Sex And The City conversation would very likely go something like this: "Please, please God, help me find a man who is not gay, married or hung up on his mother." Sex in Mumbai? Bunk! The Sensex is more exciting.

2. According to the Centre for Policy Studies in London, Sri Lanka faces the risk of an HIV crisis. (Daily Mirror). "Sri Lanka is vulnerable to an impending epidemic due to a large number of risk factors, such as its large sex worker population, migrant workers, military personnel, internally displaced persons, refugees, drug users and a high incidence of unsafe sexual practices, including low condom use and an escalating rate of Sexually Transmitted Diseases, (STDs)." It also argues that the current government estimate of AIDS victims (862 people) is a serious underestimate compared to UNAIDS figures (5000 people) and that most of the cases are in the Western province.

3. Guardian reviews a book that critiques the idea that poverty and gender inequality are the root causes of high levels of HIV in a country, pointing to Bangladesh as an example where both exist but has low levels of HIV. I would point out that from its inception, in a South Asian context, Bangladesh has had a fair level of political consciousness among women (mukhti bahini anyone?) and this tradition of assertive women hasn't disappeared (see Elora Shehabuddin on rural women's attitudes towards incompetent jamaat electioneering before the 1996 elections). I don't know what the HIV stats are, but it would be worth looking into.

4. A call to end objectification of women in the media, workplace discrimination, and other crimes against women from a writer in Bangladesh. (New Nation)

5. Study on marital rape and domestic violence against pregnant women by Pakistan Journal of Gender Studies, reported in ANI, says that psychological and physical violence is common in their sample (50 people, ages 20-39). A recent article also points to the marital rape issuein Nepal (The Himalayan Times).

6. India's rape problem

(Exhibit A): Price of buying your way out of a rape conviction in Jharkahnd while you're still in jail? Rs 5000 and you marry your victim. At least, that's my theory on what's going on this Times of India article.

(Exhibit B) 4 out of 5 accused men walk free, someone is raped ever 28 minutes in the country. (NewIndPress);

Exhibit C) An Assam-based organization claims that 20% of teenage girls in the Northeast are being forced into sex work, especially through trafficking (rediff). If you can figure out what this organization's politics and motivations are, I will give you a gold star. Might be completely legit.

7. The Economist says that UN peacekeepers are raping women in conflict zones, and this is in part the result of troops coming from developing countries (names Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, among others). I don't know enough about this, but my first thought is 'Oh those uncontrollable monkeys!' Article points out that the troops enjoy total immunity from prosecution, which might have something to to do with it ;) Seems a fairly convenient topic to choose as well, given that it isn't exactly unique in social violence for male combatants to rape who they see as the enemy. But with those caveats about race, violence against women is still horrid in war or otherwise.

8. Meet Sunil Babu Pant, Nepal's first openly gay MP. Something about a monarchy being overthrown or something must have overshadowed the news in thhe West, which has small narratives for economically poor countries :) Article describes more generally LGBT life in Nepal (Nepali Times).

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Comments

As we await a comment from

As we await a comment from DI, I know that there are interesting things that the Maoists have done with regard to including women in their armed forces, having courts, attempting to address alcoholism (which is often a gender issue connected to DV in South Asia (info drawn from here, Gender Dimensions of the People's War...by Sharma and Prasain).

They've also been criticized for not really challenging the discourse around gender in Himal in January - "Ideology and Agency in Nepal's Maoist Movement."

"Under the proportional

"Under the proportional system that has been implemented for the new CA, ‘third sex’ folks get representation, hence Pant."

Oops, left out an important word: INCLUDING 'third sex' in addition to LGBT.

Today's not my day, with all of the typos :(

Interesting how Nepal has

Interesting how Nepal has changed over the years since I left. But just a question, is the mores and attitude of the society changing at the same rate as legislation or the attitude in the activist community is changing? Have attitudes on inequity among women, the rampant use of child labor, of issues of sex workers (majority of sex workers in Mumbai do come from the hills of Nepal) etc really changed? Since you are there DI, what's your take on this?

"Meet Sunil Babu Pant,

"Meet Sunil Babu Pant, Nepal’s first openly gay MP. Something about a monarchy being overthrown or something must have overshadowed the news in thhe West, which has small narratives for economically poor countries"

Under the proportional system that has been implemented for the new CA, 'third sex' folks get representation, hence Pant.

Namaste Ram, "But just a

Namaste Ram,

"But just a question, is the mores and attitude of the society changing at the same rate as legislation or the attitude in the activist community is changing? Have attitudes on inequity among women, the rampant use of child labor, of issues of sex workers (majority of sex workers in Mumbai do come from the hills of Nepal) etc really changed? Since you are there DI, what’s your take on this?"

First off, let me say that I've been here only since Feb, so for me to ascertain how much 'change' has occured is difficult, because I have nothing to compare the current events taking place right now. But I've certainly kept my eyes and ears open, and I've been learning A LOT everyday.

For me, the fact that the Maovaadis were voted in on a series of platforms that are pretty radical for a former Hindu monarchy is indicative of at least a desire for change for the greater common good, which would include equality, guaranteeing representation of historically disadvantaged groups (and the formula for calculating proportional representation is quite good-- it takes into account the position of, say, a Dalit woman, rather than just a Dalit, which would most likely be a guy).

That said, I think that the problems you bring up are more of circumstance rather than mindsets and attitudes, and I don't think that they can be categorized the way we would in the "West". Child labour, for example, is because non-yuppy families have nothing else to depend on for the survival of the family unless all members of the family are involved, including children whom we-- or the well-off Nepalis who send their children to private schools--would argue should be in school, because education is 'an investment for the future'. For many people here, their children working IS investment for the future in very practical and real terms. The same would go for women being heavily involved in agriculture, while their men are the ones bringing steel pipes on their backs up the hills.

Re: female attitudes, I would definitely say that it depends on the regions. In the hills (esp. where there are Sherpas), women really run the show. And I will say that on a daily basis, I never been groped. Generally, women are not harassed by what they wear. When I go to shops or any other public place, I've never felt like male customers who arrived after me are privileged. People who have lived in northern India for years have told me that in comparison, gender attitudes here are much more softer and equal. This, however, doesn't take away from the abuse women face (and abuse against women happen in so-called 'developed' countries, ie US and Western Europe).

There as been a move to urge women to not take abuse from men-- there are several posters plastered everywhere, which read, "You don't have to take it" etc. But 1) I don't know how serious and aggressive of an initiative this has been, and 2) what about women who can't read those posters? (The pictures are pretty self-explanatory, though.)

Finally, I don't think there are any Nepalis who condone the trafficking of Nepali women into India, and people are well aware of this phenomenon. But again, it's circumstance: you have traffickers that prey on girls and women from the hills, who are extremely impoverished. They may not even know where they are being taken too; perhaps the traffickers promised them work in Kathmandu to work as a domestic, and instead they get carted off to India.

Ram, One thing I forgot to

Ram,

One thing I forgot to mention is the issue of the Madhesis, which is the cause of angst (and frankly, irrational attitudes) amongst many Nepalis I know. This is one of the few issues that I think is more of a mindset and attitude rather than circumstance.

I've written about it on my blog:

http://italiandesi.wordpress.com/2008/04/08/elections-in-nepal/

And my elections impressions:

http://italiandesi.wordpress.com/2008/04/19/maoists-ride-on-the-waves-of...

(NOTE: please forgive the passing comments on the handsomeness of Nepali soldiers and policemen in my posts on Nepal. I am only human).

Another note: my fist comment is to by no means paint Nepal as a country where everything is rosy in terms of attitudes and mindsets, but I do think that what's going on, and judging from my observances on daily life, that Nepal is pretty remarkable, and I think that it's a very rare occurance for the majority of eligible voters to cast their ballots in hopes that previous promises of abolishing a religious monarchy (which is again, pretty amazing, given how entrenched religion is here), representation for all of Nepal's diverse groups, and socio-economic equality and justice. And I am not speaking as an 'expert' on Nepal, but someone who's just watching and learning everyday (if that counts for anything) as this extremely diverse country which is both familiar to me and not keeps evolving every minute of the day. But others might disagree with me.

BTW, if you are not in Nepal right now, you are missing the wonderfully refreshing monsoon rains coupled with dust storms when it's dry :)

Hmmmmmmmm.... so many things

Hmmmmmmmm.... so many things to say about this one...

well say one of them at least

well say one of them at least :)

i want a girl

i want a girl for.............x

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