Israeli mother Addresses European Parliament

Dr. Nurit Peled-Elhanan is the mother of Smadar Elhanan, 13 years old when killed by a suicide bomber in Jerusalem in September 1997. Below is Nurit’s speech made on International Women’s Day in Strasbourg earlier this month.

Thank you for inviting me to this today. It is always an honour and a pleasure to be here, among you (at the European Parliament).

However, I must admit I believe you should have invited a Palestinian woman at my stead, because the women who suffer most from violence in my county are the Palestinian women. And I would like to dedicate my speech to Miriam R’aban and her husband Kamal, from Bet Lahiya in the Gaza strip, whose five small children were killed by Israeli soldiers while picking strawberries at the family`s strawberry field. No one will ever stand trial for this murder.

When I asked the people who invited me here why didn’t they invite a Palestinian woman, the answer was that it would make the discussion too localized.

I don’t know what is non-localized violence. Racism and discrimination may be theoretical concepts and universal phenomena but their impact is always local, and real. Pain is local, humiliation, sexual abuse, torture and death, are all very local, and so are the scars.

It is true, unfortunately, that the local violence inflicted on Palestinian women by the government of Israel and the Israeli army, has expanded around the globe, In fact, state violence and army violence, individual and collective violence, are the lot of Muslim women today, not only in Palestine but wherever the enlightened western world is setting its big imperialistic foot. It is violence which is hardly ever addressed and which is halfheartedly condoned by most people in Europe and in the USA.

This is because the so-called free world is afraid of the Muslim womb.

Great France of “la liberte égalite et la fraternite” is scared of little girls with head scarves. Great Jewish Israel is afraid of the Muslim womb which its ministers call a demographic threat.

Almighty America and Great Britain are infecting their respective citizens with blind fear of the Muslims, who are depicted as vile, primitive and blood-thirsty, apart from their being non-democratic, chauvinistic and mass producers of future terrorists. This in spite of the fact that the people who are destroying the world today are not Muslim. One of them is a devout Christian, one is Anglican and one is a non-devout Jew.

I have never experienced the suffering Palestinian women undergo every day, every hour, I don’t know the kind of violence that turns a woman’s life into constant hell. This daily physical and mental torture of women who are deprived of their basic human rights and needs of privacy and dignity, women whose homes are broken into at any moment of day and night, who are ordered at a gun-point to strip naked in front of strangers and their own children, whose houses are demolished , who are deprived of their livelihood and of any normal family life. This is not part of my personal ordeal.

But I am a victim of violence against women insofar as violence against children is actually violence against mothers. Palestinian, Iraqi, Afghan women are my sisters because we are all at the grip of the same unscrupulous criminals who call themselves leaders of the free enlightened world and in the name of this freedom and enlightenment rob us of our children.

the-weeping-woman-of-pere-lachaise

Furthermore, Israeli, American, Italian and British mothers have been for the most part violently blinded and brainwashed to such a degree that they cannot realize their only sisters, their only allies in the world are the Muslim Palestinian, Iraqi or Afghani mothers, whose children are killed by our children or who blow themselves to pieces with our sons and daughters. They are all mind-infected by the same viruses engendered by politicians. And the viruses , though they may have various illustrious names–such as Democracy, Patriotism, God, Homeland–are all the same. They are all part of false and fake ideologies that are meant to enrich the rich and to empower the powerful.

We are all the victims of mental, psychological and cultural violence that turn us to one homogenic group of bereaved or potentially bereaved mothers. Western mothers who are taught to believe their uterus is a national asset just like they are taught to believe that the Muslim uterus is an international threat. They are educated not to cry out: `I gave him birth, I breast fed him, he is mine, and I will not let him be the one whose life is cheaper than oil, whose future is less worth than a piece of land.`

All of us are terrorized by mind-infecting education to believe all we can do is either pray for our sons to come back home or be proud of their dead bodies.

And all of us were brought up to bear all this silently, to contain our fear and frustration, to take Prozac for anxiety, but never hail Mama Courage in public. Never be real Jewish or Italian or Irish mothers.

I am a victim of state violence. My natural and civil rights as a mother have been violated and are violated because I have to fear the day my son would reach his 18th birthday and be taken away from me to be the game tool of criminals such as Sharon, Bush, Blair and their clan of blood-thirsty, oil-thirsty, land thirsty generals.

Living in the world I live in, in the state I live in, in the regime I live in, I don’t dare to offer Muslim women any ideas how to change their lives. I don’t want them to take off their scarves, or educate their children differently, and I will not urge them to constitute Democracies in the image of Western democracies that despise them and their kind. I just want to ask them humbly to be my sisters, to express my admiration for their perseverance and for their courage to carry on, to have children and to maintain a dignified family life in spite of the impossible conditions my world in putting them in. I want to tell them we are all bonded by the same pain, we all the victims of the same sort of violence even though they suffer much more, for they are the ones who are mistreated by my government and its army, sponsored by my taxes.

Islam in itself, like Judaism in itself and Christianity in itself, is not a threat to me or to anyone. American imperialism is, European indifference and co-operation is and Israeli racism and its cruel regime of occupation is. It is racism, educational propaganda and inculcated xenophobia that convince Israeli soldiers to order Palestinian women at gun-point, to strip in front of their children for security reasons, it is the deepest disrespect for the other that allow American soldiers to rape Iraqi women, that give license to Israeli jailers to keep young women in inhuman conditions, without necessary hygienic aids, without electricity in the winter, without clean water or clean mattresses and to separate them from their breast-fed babies and toddlers. To bar their way to hospitals, to block their way to education, to confiscate their lands, to uproot their trees and prevent them from cultivating their fields.

I cannot completely understand Palestinian women or their suffering. I don’t know how I would have survived such humiliation, such disrespect from the whole world. All I know is that the voice of mothers has been suffocated for too long in this war-stricken planet. Mothers` cry is not heard because mothers are not invited to international forums such as this one. This I know and it is very little. But it is enough for me to remember these women are my sisters, and that they deserve that I should cry for them, and fight for them. And when they lose their children in strawberry fields or on filthy roads by the checkpoints, when their children are shot on their way to school by Israeli children who were educated to believe that love and compassion are race and religion dependent, the only thing I can do is stand by them and their betrayed babies, and ask what Anna Akhmatova–another mother who lived in a regime of violence against women and children–asked:

Why does that streak o blood, rip the petal of your cheek?

Togetherness_Jewish_Palestinian_Child_political_solution

Published in “Jews for Justice for Palestinians”: http://jfjfp.com/?p=7720

Destination South Asia

Here’s a taste of some of the talks at Destination South Asia which took place at the University of British Columbia on March 23, 2013.

“Why is Poverty Declining so slowly in India,” Dr. Ashok Kotwal

  1. India continues to be so poor because most of its population continues to be employed in agriculture which pays so little if anything.
  2. Indians need to shift into non-farm jobs, like manufacturing but India does not have enough skilled labour partly because.
  3. Indians are so poorly educated or not educated at all

Some other points from Dr. Kotwal’s paper on the subject (http://www.ideasforindia.in/Article.aspx?article_id=110 )

  1. Most Indians (93%) have no job security nor access to credit, infrastructure or skills training as they work under the table (the ‘informal sector’), and;
  2. Unskilled and poor workers have benefited little from the “high growth” because they lack the skills to take part in such skill-intensive sectors as business services (which employ only a small part of the labour force anyway).

How will India reap its “demographic dividend” when its people are unskilled, undereducated, malnourished… ?

poverty_india

“Beyond Political Frames: Literary Voices on Partition,” Nabila Pirani

Short-stories on Partition are written by writers alive at the time of the event, offering the benefit of immediacy to the reader, but can bring out the human and social aspects of Partition more effectively than purely historical or political narratives.

Summarizing the stories “Siqqa Badal Gaya,” “Lajwanti” and “Khol Do” by Krishna Sobti, Rajinder Singh Bedi and Saadat Hassan Manto respectively, Pirani, and the following discussion, revealed the many textures and tones of the Partition era.

In “Siqqa,” Pirani underlines how for many Punjabis, the violence of partition was mostly in the background and how the experience of partition changes through the perspective of a woman writer and protagonist. In “Khol Do,” Manto upsets the apple cart by suggesting that men from a particular community may have raped their own women. Lastly, in “Lajwanti,” Pirani looked at the invisible walls that develop between a husband and a wife who had recently been returned to her husband after being classed as “missing.”

“Pakistan’s Fading Cultural Heritage,” Umair Jaffar

Pakistani singer

The Institute for Preservation of Art and Culture (IPAC) is a Pakistani non-profit organization which seeks to support struggling artists and ustads and to preserve and propagate the classical and folk musical and artistic heritages of Pakistan.

The soul of Pakistan can be heard in the ballads of Marwari women in the Southern Punjab anticipating the return of their husbands from war as it is in the Nur Sur tradition of Baluchistan, a folk story-telling tradition stretching back to the Greek period. There are the instruments, like the Sindhi “borindo,” have been found in excavations in the Indus Valley from over 4000 years ago. And, we see how ancient instruments like the Baluchistani “banjo” can produce the sounds of the modern electric guitar.

Jaffar points out that public media presentations of folk and classical music performances were banned during Zia’s time resulting in a growing number of Pakistani youth over the years who have become disconnected from those traditions. At the same time, some traditions have also enjoyed an upsurge, such as in Baluchistan where folk music traditions have revived as part of a general cultural revival in recent years. I argued that folk and classical music traditions are bound to decline in a country where the languages held in greatest esteem (Arabic, English and Urdu) are not connected to nor supportive of its folk traditions. On the other hand, the traditions of poetry and music connected to the mother tongue helped produce the likes of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

 

“History of Intercultural Dialogue and Engagement in Vancouver,” Naveen Girn

Vancouver_Sikh_Temple-237x3001

Girn’s presentation including rare photographs, news excerpts and audio clips and now part of the public archive, serves as a reminder of the history of South Asians in Vancouver.

The story of South Asians in Vancouver can be said to begin with the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887. To attend the Jubillee in London, England, the army regiments of the subcontinent had to first pass through Vancouver. By 1907, a sizeable number of South Asians had settled in the city and that year saw the opening of the 2nd Avenue Gurdwara in Kitsilano, the first gurdwara in North America.

More than a sacred space, the gurdwara was a meeting ground for Indians of different communities, including socialists, revolutionaries and members of the Ghadr party. The early community lived through the 1907 race riots in Vancouver and the Komagata Maru, published their own news magazine (associated with the Ghadr movement), forged associations with members of Anglo-Canadian and Chinese-Canadian communities and sent delegates to Ottawa to petition the government to grant South Asians the right to vote. The gurdwara also hosted Rabindranath Tagore, who Girn points out slept in the basement there after being turned away from the Hotel Vancouver and Nehru, who visited in 1949.

The Pity of Partition: Dr. Ayesha Jalal’s Lectures at UBC

jalal image

As part of the Virani Lecture 2013 series at the University of British Columbia, Ayesha Jalal delivered two lectures on the Partition, the first on March 14, 2013, the second on March 15, 2013.

The first lecture, “The Pity of Partition: Manto’s Life, Times and Work across the India-Pakistan Divide,” looked at Manto’s life before, during and after the partition and how he portrayed it in his stories. By looking at Manto’s early revolutionary aspirations in Amritsar, his days as a screenwriter in the film industry of cosmopolitan Bombay and his reluctant boarding of a ship to Karachi in 1947, Jalal showed how partition can be examined through analyses that are not communitarian in tone but, as in Manto’s case, cosmopolitan and post-communitarian.

manto book

The second talk by Jalal, “Separating at Close Quarters: Interpreting PartitionViolence,” sought to dismantle some of the dominant modes of interpreting partition. First, Jalal pointed out that it was not religion as “faith” that was responsible for the violence but rather religion as “difference” between people. Second, communal differences were affected by the material considerations of acquiring “zan, zar, zameen” (gold, land, women). Partition was as much about looting mansions, snatching land and appropriating women as it was about killing one’s fellow man.

Third, traditional analyses of partition forget to mention that most Punjabis refrained from violence, looting, rape and arson. Most of the violence Jalal argued was perpetrated by mobs, thugs and vigilante groups but little beyond that. Muslims helped Hindus and Sikhs helped Muslims reach safe passage. In other cases, women who were  kidnapped decided to stay on the “wrong” side of the border after the formal exchanges of abucted women had been made between India and Pakistan. Any analysis of partition violence Jalal argued has to consider factors beyond just religion.

Jalal is Professor of History at Tufts University and has taught at Columbia University, the University of Madison-Wisconsin and Harvard University. For more information on Professor Jalal’s book on Manto, please click here:  http://www.soas.ac.uk/csp/events/annual-lecture/file79820.pdf.

‘Bollywood extravaganza TOIFA comes to Vancouver — on the backs of South Asian women’ by Sunera Thobani

bollywoodextrav

‘If the successful women from Canada did not have the time or inclination to mention the rape and murders of Aboriginal women, or the violence experienced by South Asian and other non-indigenous women, including white, in Canada, the speakers from India likewise had nothing to say about the rapes, murders and violence against women in India, especially in Kashmir, Gujarat, Punjab, against Dalit women and even in the capital, Delhi. Instead, the panel of speakers was followed with two fashion shows, one showcasing a BC designer, the other an Indian designer. These fashion shows, featuring models identical in body type, hair and make-up styles, showcased the objectification and sexualization of women’s bodies for which the fashion industry is notorious.’

After much fanfare, and with not a little bit of controversy, the Times of India Film Awards (TOIFA) arrived in Vancouver, British Columbia on Saturday March 2, 2013 with a kickoff event, ‘Celebrating Women.’

The success of the International Indian Film Awards (IIFA) last year in Toronto, Ontario seems to have cemented the link between the Indian film industry and mainstream Canadian politicians, by way of the elites in the Indo-Canadian community. This year Bollywood has been wooed by the governing B.C. Liberal Party inviting TOIFA to the province of British Columbia and putting up $11 million dollars for the pleasure.

Certainly Bollywood has been a staple in South Asian households across the diaspora for generations; today however, Bollywood is catering only to the elites and not to the diasporic community that put it on the map in North America. Now courted by Canadian politicians and Indo-Canadian multicultural elites, Bollywood comes to Canada on its own — highly exclusionary — terms.

‘Celebrating Women’ was organized to coincide with International Women’s Day. I use the word coincide advisedly, not commemorate or celebrate, for nothing about the event was recognizable as having anything to do with IWD. Indeed, the event could more appropriately be characterized as a hijacking of the issues — often life and death ones — which women all around the world, including in India and Canada, associate with IWD. For over a century now, women organize IWD to commemorate and renew their collective struggles for economic, social and political justice.

Tax dollars for Bollywood extravaganza 

First, some background is in order. The B.C. government’s decision to spend millions to bring TOIFA to Vancouver in advance of the upcoming May provincial election sparked off a controversy as soon as the public announcement was made. The Liberals were accused by mainstream commentators of pandering to the South Asian community by wasting precious tax dollars on a Bollywood extravaganza instead of supporting the local film industry.

Supporters of the event, including many from the South Asian community, noted that South Asian Canadians also pay taxes and pointed to the tax dollars that have been squandered in even greater measure on previous mega-events (the Olympics, Expo ’86, etc.). TOIFA, argued its proponents, would bring economic benefits to the province by boosting tourism from India, attracting Bollywood film production, and generating an all around feel good factor towards B.C. among the readership of the powerful Times of India media conglomerate.

Promoting trade and cultural links between Canada and India has been high on the Canadian political agenda — federally and provincially — for some time now, given the rise of India as a socio-economic power to be reckoned with and of Bollywood as a major player in the global media industry.

The neoliberal deregulation of the 1990s opened up the Indian economy to foreign investment to an unprecedented degree in the postcolonial era and the Canadian corporate elite started to pay attention. The rightward shift in Canada during the same decade (from a liberal-welfarist society to an aggressive neo-conservative free trade society) made India, with its burgeoning middle class, a very attractive prospect for Canadian business interests. The enthusiasm for India/Canada partnerships was also fueled by the coming of age of the Indo-Canadian community, well enough established by the end of the 20th century to make major inroads into the economic and political mainstream of the country in which they had long struggled to be accepted as equals. Indeed British Columbia, the site of the landing of the first South Asian migrants to Canada at the turn of the 20th century, has featured prominently in the strengthening of these partnerships.

History of South Asian migration to B.C. 

The first generation of South Asian migrants laid the foundation for such links from ‘below,’ so to speak, as the early community organized its settlement in Canada in conjunction with fighting British rule in India. Taking on the racism of both British imperialism and the Canadian state whose immigration policies sought to prohibit the permanent settlement of what were then classified ‘non-preferred races’ (i.e. ‘Orientals,’ ‘Hindoos’ and Blacks) was central to the social and political vision of these migrants. Maintaining relations with their families and communities back in India was thus vital to their politics, as were the community networks they forged in North America as they strived for economic survival. Their advancement was linked to their struggle to liberate India from colonial domination. Early South Asian women migrants were central to these struggles, for the immigration policies of the day sought to specifically deny them entry into a Canada committed to protecting itself as a white man’s country.

All that was to change rather rapidly with the post-World War II wave of national independence for British colonies, including India, and the liberalization of immigration and citizenship laws in 1970s Canada as the country experienced a labour shortage and could no longer rely on emigration from Europe and the other white settler colonies to meet its needs. India became a leading source of immigrants, and Canadian multiculturalism became the strategy of choice for the integration of South Asians into the Canadian political economy as ‘visible minorities’ and ‘cultural communities.’ By the early 21st century, Statistics Canada reported that ‘visible minorities’ account for 16.2% of the country’s population, with South Asians being the largest group (25 per cent) among them. In a mere century since the first South Asians arrived in British Columbia, they have become the largest non-white racial minority in the country. Given this historical context for the diasporic South Asian community in Canada, what can be made of how TOIFA/Bollywood chose to mark its arrival in B.C.?

Events like TOIFA play a critical role in the transnationalization of Bollywood from ‘above,’ a phenomenon that is a feature of neoliberal globalization. Nevertheless, ‘Celebrating Women’ in Vancouver has a particular ‘national’ location, with a particular ‘national’ specificity to women’s issues. Such ‘national’ considerations were evident in the choice of three women speakers from Canada and three from India — all presented as ‘successful women’ who were invited to share their ‘inspiring stories’ with the largely well heeled sector of the South Asian community in attendance. And the speakers certainly delivered, congratulating themselves on their own successes and sharing with the audience how inspired they were by themselves. Not a word from the speakers about their achievements being built on the collective organizing of the South Asian women who came before them, and the organizations and movements these women had built to fight for women’s rights. More disturbing, not a word either from the panel about the event being located on the lands of Indigenous peoples whose territories were stolen and who are continuing to fight for their sovereignty.

‘Ethnic vote’ scandal 

The B.C. politician on the panel pointedly noted that family and friends are important in helping women get ahead. But she neglected to mention how her right-wing government — headed by a woman premier — is responsible for implementing policies that are increasing the impoverishment of women and their families in the province of British Columbia and actually pushing women back by eroding many of the gains made in previous eras.

Nor did she mention the latest scandal to hit her Party with the leaking of a memo describing how the Party was in essence planning to buy the ‘ethnic’ vote — such as those of the women sitting on the panel with her – in the upcoming election through the funding of events just like this one. A following speaker acknowledged how important it is for women to speak up and then went on to thank men for allowing women to speak. Another explained how she refused to be treated as a princess by her family. Yet another talked about the neuroscience of philanthropy wherein scans apparently show the brain lighting up when one gives to community, cheerily telling the audience that philanthropy can now stand in for anti-depressants! And on and on they went, with all the speakers celebrating their own philanthropic commitments as a form of women’s empowerment, confusing charity with equality and justice for women.

Nothing to say about violence against women

Vancouver is home to some of the oldest and strongest South Asian women’s activist groups and networks in the country. Not one of these was acknowledged in TOIFA’s celebration of its successful women — who have presumably won their successes single-handedly! In a country that has seen the disappearance and murders of over 600 Aboriginal women, an alarming number of them from the streets of Vancouver, not one word was spoken about the status of Aboriginal women in Canada and the urgent need for the South Asian community to stand in solidarity with First Nations women. South Asians in Canada have become complicit in the ongoing colonial dispossession and violence against Indigenous peoples, and many activists in the community are trying to change this by supporting Indigenous struggles for sovereignty.

The only show of solidarity with Indigenous peoples in the entire evening came in the ‘entertainment’ section, with the ensemble Sticks ‘n Skins — featuring First Nations, South Asian, Japanese, African, and Cuban musical styles  — beginning their fabulous performance by acknowledging that the province of B.C. remains unceded Indigenous territory.

If the successful women from Canada did not have the time or inclination to mention the rape and murders of Aboriginal women, or the violence experienced by South Asian and other non-indigenous women, including white, in Canada, the speakers from India likewise had nothing to say about the rapes, murders and violence against women in India, especially in Kashmir, Gujarat, Punjab, against Dalit women and even in the capital, Delhi. Instead, the panel of speakers was followed with two fashion shows, one showcasing a BC designer, the other an Indian designer. These fashion shows, featuring models identical in body type, hair and make-up styles, showcased the objectification and sexualization of women’s bodies for which the fashion industry is notorious.

At any other event, such a performance would have been hard enough to stomach for any woman or man with a commitment to ending the oppression of women. But in the wake of the widespread women’s activism in India against rape, state violence and corruption, and with Aboriginal women in Canada leading the Idle No More movement that has galvanized international support for the struggle for Indigenous sovereignty and opposition against the draconian powers assumed by the Canadian state, TOIFA’s appropriation of IWD was especially galling.

Sunera Thobani is an activist and teaches Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of British Columbia.

From Rabble.ca
http://rabble.ca/news/2013/03/toifa-comes-vancouver-backs-south-asian-women#.UTo9kDacAdA.facebook

uddariblog@gmail.com
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Uddari-Weblog/333586816691660
@UddariWeblog
.
.

‘Blues Loony’ a poem by Sana Janjua

Eight years ago, I ferried across the mossy
Greens of blues loony, dreaming of escape,
I wore dread red lipstick, tightened my
Appetite from much to most;

Of literature I knew something, so I wrote
Fabled blossom-hearted nothingness,
Mysterious with pain hidden from their eyes,
As they crawled under my skin, saying who are you?

A ghost walked by in Newton Park, western winds howling
In eastern agony, bricked with bonded labour,
The rapists hurried away, unsuccessfully, with my right ankle
Lost in the abyss of migratorial silence, who could I tell?

Everything was so fast back then, before I owned a radio,
And Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb didn’t come to check up on
My little body that wriggled under the weight of eyelids…

I summoned nerve-wrecked
Poetry to find itself in me, as syllables and rhymes
Tethered around in akathisiacal mooniness…
I slept on public benches- night after night thinking
Of you, as you lay your arms around someone else.

Listen, you, listen,
Remember I too could smile through pain,

When I didn’t know your caste,
Your language, your capitalist father’s burgundy furniture,
When I didn’t know you and me,
And you said you loved me.

Sana Janjua is an emerging poet and playwright. She is a founding member and President of Surrey Muse, an interdisciplinary art and literature group.

uddariblog@gmail.com
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Uddari-Weblog/333586816691660
@UddariWeblog
.
.

‘Yaka and the Unrandomness of Retail Murder’ by Yak Handa

The sexual assault and mutilation of a young student in Delhi has drawn condemnation by capitalist mass-media, world over. Even the UN’s Moon flashed his selective beams on how Indians cast women.
There was less coverage of the pushing and crushing by an oncoming New York subway-train of an Indian man on December 27, by a white woman. Erika Menendez was looking to kill a “Hindu or a Muslim,” saying she wanted revenge for the 9/11 attacks!

In the Delhi case, the media, and those minions they trumpet as ‘spokesmen,’ compete with each other in calling for immediate capital-punishment of accused perpetrators. It’s almost like Mafioso capos, ordering the assassination of hitmen to cover up the trail of electronic echoes and leaden residues that inevitably lead to their own fingerprints and vocal-cords.

With victim and criminal out of the way, this media will soon manipulate this broadcast trauma into reproducing the same old days of ‘business as usual.’ Read that as the daily wholesale-mutilation by European nations and their settler-states’ aerial-bombers which strike from the highest altitudes to ground-zero. Yet daily retail-violence usually occurs both within and between adjacent class fractions, those closest, not the so-called uppermost vs the lowliest. Such violence occurs between people known to each other, as family members, neighbors or coworkers, especially when enforcing old hierarchies of inequity.

The seemingly random nature of the Delhi and NY attacks added to its horror. Yet the media hinted at class war, portraying the victim as a medical-student and the criminals ‘from the slums.’
The same media hotly condemns the subway-pusher too, as they do the Delhi attackers. But Erika is described as “mentally unstable” – the usual analysis for such crimes involving white criminality. For Black people, Asians, etc, more political or primordial causes are ascribed.

The English media is long famed for casting black men as congenital-rapists – a popular theme that goes back to early slavery days. Yet such acts against women occur in all communities and countries, and are perhaps more common among the middle/upper classes who hide such acts more easily. The media rarely highlights the widespread violence by white men against white women, or even Jewish men against Jewish women. Hate is a bank with many ATMs offering a bouquet of venomous currencies. One is misogyny, the hatred of women.

A day after the BBC and their ventriloquist-hacks splashed headlines of Pakistani men targeting white girls, English police launched nationwide marches protesting budget-cuts. Yet the same BBC was later accused of suppressing news about the deadly use of their studios as sites of decades-long abuse of girls by one of their superstars! No media recalled that the first BBC Director-General Lord Reith’s penchant for young boys led him to have a fountain built outside its headquarters with naked cherubs pissing into a public trough.

Blame for these most-recent acts of ‘retail’ murder should lead us to the very same media that misinforms us while arousing more violence, that portrays women either as heroic mothers or helpless victims, either as a Virgin Mary or a whore, or as prizes for successful consumption.

This same media that gave repeated play to clear distortions of the Mayan culture’s calendar, insisting the world could end December 21st! The same media that for decades have demonized by-the-minute, brown Asians in turbans – Muslim, Sikh or Pathan don’t matter.

The media broadcast the white subway-shover’s insistence that killing a Hindu or a Muslim was revenge for the Twin-Tower demolition. She could call Harvard Professor Samuel Huntington to join her defense team. Huntington’s long been allowed to loudly insist what the world’s witnessing is the old “clash of civilizations.”

History Anew

Did the Mayans predict Huntington’s pupil Fukuyama would be promoted for declaring “The End of History” about 1989?! All we’ve witnessed ever since history’s-end has been a rather one-sided clash, with millions of Asians and Africans murdered, many times, wholesale.

In the Delhi incident, described by media as isolated, the usual response claims surprise, etc. But many Delhi residents claim public attacks on women are long too common. Yet every inch of road is otherwise accounted for. Thanks to Caltex/ Ford-friendly privatizations, thanks to the car-finance companies, all routes of our largely privatized transport systems are highly controlled by owners who must deploy thugs and swift violence to maintain their monopoly. Passengers have to be treated with sheer contempt. The primary ‘joyriders’ charged with the killing included a ‘private’ school bus driver, and his brother. It profits the corporate media to conceal the traumatic depths of what their economic and social policies have created in our societies, then round up the usual suspects to cast blame, vent spleen, and reproduce the violence. Who bankrolls the slumdog millionaires? Yaka asks, guess who they are really protecting?

Yakhanda@yahoo.com

From The Nation, Sri Lanka
http://www.nation.lk/edition/columns/yak-handa/item/14349-yaka-and-the-unrandomness-of-retail-murder.html

uddari@live.ca
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Uddari-Weblog/333586816691660
.
.

India Gang Rape Case: Murder Charges Filed Against 5 In New Delhi

For Nirbhaya, the Fearless.

.

NEW DELHI — Five men accused of raping a university student for hours on a bus as it drove through India’s capital were charged Thursday with murder, rape and other crimes that could bring them the death penalty.

The attack on the 23-year-old woman, who died of severe internal injuries over the weekend, provoked a debate across India about the routine mistreatment of females and triggered daily protests demanding action.

There have been signs of change since the attack. Rapes, often ignored, have become front-page news, politicians have called for tougher laws, including the death penalty and chemical castration for rapists, and the government is examining wide-scale reforms in the criminal justice system’s handling of sexual assaults. Activists say the tragedy could mark a turning point for women’s rights.

In a nation where court cases often linger for years, the government set up a special fast-track court Wednesday to deal with crimes against woman, and that is where the charges against the five men were filed Thursday evening. The government said it planned to open four more such courts in the city.

Prosecutor Rajiv Mohan filed a case of rape, tampering with evidence, kidnapping, murder and other charges against the men. The charge sheet was not released and he asked for a closed trial. A hearing was set for Saturday.

The men charged were Ram Singh, the bus driver; his brother Mukesh Singh, who cleans buses for the same company; Pavan Gupta, a fruit vendor; Akshay Singh, a bus washer; and Vinay Sharma, a fitness trainer. They did not appear in court. Authorities have said they would push for the death penalty for the men.

A sixth suspect, listed as a 17-year-old, was expected to be tried in a juvenile court, where the maximum sentence would be three years in a reform facility. Police also detained the owner of the bus on accusations he used false documents to obtain permits to run the private bus service.

The Bar Association said its lawyers would not defend the suspects because of the nature of the crime, but the court was expected to appoint attorneys to defend them.

“Strict, strict, strict punishment should be given to them,” said Ashima Sharma, an 18-year-old student attending a protest Thursday. “A very strict punishment … that all men of India should be aware that they are not going to treat the women like the way they treated her.”

The woman was attacked Dec. 16 after boarding the bus with a male companion after watching an evening showing of the movie “Life of Pi” at an upscale mall. The vehicle was a charter bus that illegally picked up the two passengers, authorities said.

The pair were attacked for hours as the bus drove through the city, even passing through police checkpoints during the assault. They were eventually dumped naked on the side of the road. The woman, whose name was not released, was assaulted with an iron bar and suffered severe internal injuries that eventually proved fatal.

The attack caused outrage across India, where women are routinely subject to everything from catcalls to assaults. Many say they fear being outside at night.

Outside the court, about 50 woman lawyers held a protest, demanding wholesale changes in the criminal justice system to ensure justice for women. `’Punish the police, sensitize judiciary, eradicate rape,” read one protester’s sign.

Indian Chief Justice Altamas Kabir said the accused should be tried swiftly, but cautioned that they needed to be given a fair trial and not be subjected to mob justice.

“Let us not lose sight of the fact that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty,” he told reporters Wednesday, while inaugurating the new fast-track court. “Let us balance things. Let us not get carried away. Provide justice in a fair but swift manner so that faith of people is once again restored that the judiciary is there behind the common man.”

Many cases never even get to court because of intense social pressure against families reporting sexual assaults, which are often blamed on the female victims. When women do report rapes, police often refuse to file charges and pressure the victims to reach a compromise with their attackers.

To try to rectify that, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde announced a special recruitment drive for women police officers Thursday and ordered every police station in the capital to be staffed by at least nine female officers to make them more attentive to women’s needs.

In a sign attitudes might be changing, and that even powerful men are being held accountable, police in the northeastern state of Assam arrested a leader of the ruling Congress party Thursday on accusations he raped a woman in a village in the early hours of the morning.

Footage on Indian television showed the extraordinary scene of local women surrounding the man, ripping off his shirt and repeatedly slapping him across the face.

Police said the man, Bikram Singh Brahma, was visiting the village of Santipur on the Bhutan border when he entered a woman’s house and raped her at 2 a.m. Amid the screams, villagers ran to the home and captured the man, said G.P. Singh, a senior police officer in the area.

“We are taking this issue very seriously,” Singh said.

___

Associated Press writer Wasbir Hussain contributed to this report from Gauhati, India.

From Huffington Post

..

uddari@live.ca

.

.

Candle light vigil for Damni/Nirbhaya – Surrey Jan 2/13

Salute to Nirbhaya: The Fearless!

Delhi Gangrape Incident

A candlelight vigil
is being held
to support the ongoing protest in India
against the brutal Delhi Gangrape
that took place
on 16 December 2012 in a bus in Delhi.

Join the vigil
Wednesday, January 2
5:00 pm
Holland Park
13428 Old Yale Road, Surrey

Several associations are expected to join.

Organizers
Sukhjit Dhillon, Kamlesh Ahir, Surjeet Kalsey, Hans, Jarnail Artist, Ajmer Rode

Related content on Uddari
Delhi Bus Gang-rape and Popular Protests
Outrage Spreads in India over Gang Rape

uddari@live.ca
.
.

Delhi Bus Gang-rape and Popular Protests

Solidarity with the protesters in Delhi!
Down with government violence and misleading information!
Punish every rapist and all those who support or abet rape!
 
There have been sustained protests in Delhi against the rape of a young woman of 23 in a bus, and the callous attitude of police, administration and politicians till the protesters forced their hands. This has been taken up across India. Protests have been heard in Kolkata, in Srinagar, and in many other places. This issue must be put in its proper perspective in order to understand why there has been such a massive outpouring.
It is not because this is just an incidence of unusual violence that people are angry. And it is not that this is a middle class issue, and that is why the middle class is angry. The former detaches the particular issue from the general, while the latter is a very one sided presentation.
In 2010, there were 22,000 recorded cases of rape in India, which means the actual number or rapes was around 130,000 (given the ratio of five unreported rapes to every reported case that is widely admitted, while one study of the Punjab for 1995 suggested as high as 68:1 as the ratio between unreported and reported rapes). In Delhi, the national Capital, there have been over 560 cases of recorded rapes in 2012 so far. In West Bengal, there are several thousand rape cases that have been recorded by the police yet have not started moving in the courts. In Manipur, Irom Sharmila continues her lonely protest by hunger strike, while the Armed Forces Special Powers Act continues to shield men in uniform who routinely rape and murder women. In Kashmir, the Shopian Rape and murder was hushed up by calling it suicide due to family conflicts. In Gujarat in 2002, political violence against Muslims included gang rapes in a large number of cases, lauded by the Chief Minister as ‘Newton’s Third Law’. Rape, in other words, is a threat that stalks virtually every Indian woman. The massive and semi-spontaneous outpouring, organised by little more than personal contacts and grass roots level initiative, was born out of popular hatred of this growing trend, and an utter rejection of politicians and police who are seen as vile, corrupt, promoters and protectors of rapists, who have pussy-footed when Khap panchayats have sought to dictate terms against women, and who have routinely put up history-sheeters as their candidates, including men charged with rape (cases still going on) or with other sexual assault on women.
Because people routinely take part in elections, these parties go on repeating that Indian democracy is strong and deeply rooted. In fact it is shallow, and has come to mean little more than periodic contests between different gangs of crooks for all of whom people’s social, economic and cultural rights and desires matter not a whit.
Rape is treated, by the capitalist-patriarchal system and its upholders, in a totally flawed manner. It is equated with sex, and therefore rapists are identified as individual perverts. Often enough, the women themselves are blamed. In the present case too, before the depth of mass outrage was seen, one politician had remarked that the woman was too adventurous in being out so late. In other cases, women are virtually told they were inviting rape if they did not fit into a narrow dress code, if they were seen in various kinds of places socially identified as spaces for ‘bad women’, and so on. It is enough to remember the case of Bhanwari Devi, to understand that the reality is, women are raped because rape is a show of power. It is a display of violence on women by patriarchy.
At every stage, it is the woman who is victimised, traumatised and humiliated. Police routinely refuse to file an FIR (the Shopian case, the initial response in the Park Street, Kolkata case). The woman is humiliated when she goes to the Police Station. Cases are not handled speedily. Medical examination is often tardy or not even conducted. Rape is routinely described as a ‘fate worse than death’. Law-makers have gone on record using terms like Zinda-laash (living dead) to describe the rape victim. This means that rape is not treated as violence on the woman but as the loss of her ‘izzat’ (honour) without which she is ‘better dead’. When Sushma Swaraj, the BJP leader, asserted in parliament that the woman’s life is now worse than death, she was actually endorsing the patriarchal value system that leads to rapes.
It is from this perspective that equally violent responses have been proposed. The most well-known is the demand for death penalty for rapists. Another is the demand for castration or branding rapists (made in the daily Bartaman of Kolkata by none less than a former judge).
We reject this mode of thinking. We assert that it is necessary to relate rape to every kind of sexual harassment and sexual assault on women. Rape is the most violent form of an entire range of patriarchal attacks on women, from passing obscene comments, to leering at women, groping, stalking, and assault that is short of the legal definition of rape.
We also reject all attempts to imprison women and girls in the name of their safety, by declaring which hours are safe or legitimate for them to go out on the streets, and dressed in exactly how much shame. What is needed, rather, is ensuring their freedom as equal participants in society and their right to a life free of perpetual threats of sexual assault, both inside and outside their homes.
We oppose the demand for death penalty on both principled and practical grounds. We are opposed to death penalty per se, and therefore to its extension. But we also assert that in reality, the enactment of a law making death penalty possible for rape will have the opposite effect. That is when class as a factor will seriously come into play. It is the elite who will get away with lesser penalties, or will not even be convicted as police play an even worse role than now, while one or two lower class rapists will be hanged as so-called exemplars. It is worth remembering that rape is very often used as a form of upper caste violence to keep the dalits “in their place”.
We agree with all those organisations and individuals whose statement points out:
“This incident is not an isolated one; sexual assault occurs with frightening regularity in this country. Adivasi and dalit women and those working in the unorganised sector, women with disabilities, hijras, kothis, trans-people and sex workers are especially targeted with impunity – it is well known that the complaints of sexual assault they file are simply disregarded. We urge that the wheels of justice turn not only to incidents such as the Delhi bus case, but to the epidemic of sexual violence that threatens all of us. We need to evolve punishments that act as true deterrents to the very large number of men who commit these crimes. Our stance is not anti-punishment but against the State executing the death penalty. The fact that cases of rape have a conviction rate of as low as 26% shows that perpetrators of sexual violence enjoy a high degree of impunity, including being freed of charges.”(Statement by women’s and progressive groups and individuals condemning sexual violence and opposing death penalty. December 24, 2012)
We do express our difference with Arundhati Roy, who seems to feel that the protests are just a middle class anger. We feel this incidence was a tipping point. Yes, middle class youth played an important role. They can do so because in spontaneous mobilisations of this sort they have social advantages (mobiles, facebook, wider networking). But to shrug it off as middle class is to play into the hands of the state, which is trying to play down the meaning of the protests. It is true that media have often ignored the gravity of rapes when committed by upper castes against lower caste women, or by landlords against the rural poor women. That is hardly a fault of the middle class women. At most, we can say that we hope they will draw lessons from this experience and be equally vocal when it is working class women in brick kilns or unorganised sectors elsewhere who are being raped, when dalit women or when agricultural labourer women are raped.
We particularly condemn the violence inflicted on the protesters. The Delhi police has called the violence it has inflicted on the protestors “collateral damage” and at the same time charged eight persons with murder for the death of a police man. If they are going to use the terms of US imperialism and call their violence in terms used in imperialist wars, then the death of the policeman too is collateral damage. If they want to treat citizens as hostiles and cut off the metro links of Delhi’s central areas so that visiting dignitaries (Russia’s Putin) were spared the view of protests, then what do they expect protesters to do. If there was undesired violence, and there was, that is not because there are hidden Maoists or terrorists, as it is being insinuated, but because the state decided not to respond until it was too late, and with promises that were too little. 
  • We express support and solidarity with the protestors.
  • We express our heartfelt support to the family of the young women, and to all those injured by cop attacks.
  • We reject Maun Mohan Singh’s appeal, that people should go back home now that he has uttered his banalities.
  • We condemn the attempts by the Delhi police to control the nature of the statement being given by the victim.
The reality is that mainstream parties do not care about women’s equality. They do not care about rape, police inaction and related issues except in so far as these help them in election times. And this brings us to the weaknesses of the protests. The protesters utterly distrust and reject mainstream parties. Yet they are still unable to go beyond placing further demands on those very rotten elements.
A second weakness, being exploited by the parties like the BJP, is the demand of the death penalty. They feel that by using the rhetoric of exemplary punishment they can divert attention from the systemic nature of rape and sexual violence.
The crucial demands that need to be made are:
  • Immediate police reforms, so that rape charges must be recorded at any police station, with automatic provision of penal action against the duty officers, the officer in charge, and if necessary the superior police officers, if FIR is not taken immediately.
  • No need for permission from /governor or president if high officials or ministers are to be charged for cases of rape, abetting rape, or sexual assault.
  • Scrap the AFSPA. Bring to book rapists in uniform.
  • Set up fast track courts to ensure that rape cases are dealt with promptly (within a one year time frame).
  • Arrest and punish rapists in every recorded case of rape.
  • Review the role of the national commission for Women, given its numerous actions and utterances against the interests of women.
  • Regarding the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2012, we oppose the gender-neutral definition of the perpetrator and demand that the definition of perpetrator be gender-specific and limited to men. Sexual violence also targets transgender people and legal reform must address this.
The bourgeois media, with very few exceptions, has been presenting a distorted picture, and pushing a clear agenda. Its glorification of ‘spontaneity’ has to do with its desire to save the political order in the final instance. The bourgeois media is aware that mainstream parties loot the country whether through the Commonwealth Games or the 2G scam, that they harbour rapists and other criminals, and assist and promote riots and caste wars. But these are also the parties and people who vote for bank privatisation, for turning water into a commodity, for every need of predatory capitalism. So people are encouraged only to ventilate anger at specific cases, not to seek for systemic changes. Against this, we urge protesters to understand the inner unity of the corrupt, the criminals and the political system, and unite with all the exploited for a systematic alternative. 


Thanks and Regards,

Dr. Sarosh A. Khan, MD
‘Radical Socialist Statement on the Delhi Bus Gang-rape and Popular Protests’
http://www.physicians-academy.com/
.
.

Outrage Spreads in India over Gang Rape

Uddari supports the protests and calls for action against this terrible re-occurring crime against women and children. Laws must be changed without validating Death Penalty.

..

India Bus Gang Rape: Outrage Spreads Over Public Sexual Assault
By NIRMALA GEORGE

NEW DELHI — The hours-long gang-rape and near-fatal beating of a 23-year-old student on a bus in New Delhi triggered outrage and anger across the country Wednesday as Indians demanded action from authorities who have long ignored persistent violence and harassment against women.

In the streets and in Parliament, calls rose for stringent and swift punishment against those attacking women, including a proposal to make rapists eligible for the death penalty. As the calls for action grew louder, two more gang-rapes were reported, including one in which the 10-year-old victim was killed.

“I feel it is sick what is happening across the country. . It is totally sick, and it needs to stop,” said Smitha, a 32-year-old protester who goes by only one name.

Thousands of demonstrators clogged the streets in front of New Delhi’s police headquarters, protested near Parliament and rallied outside a major university. Angry university students set up roadblocks across the city, causing massive traffic jams.

Hundreds rallied outside the home of the city’s top elected official before police dispersed them with water cannons, a move that earned further condemnation from opposition leaders, who accused the government of being insensitive.

“We want to jolt people awake from the cozy comfort of their cars. We want people to feel the pain of what women go through every day,” said Aditi Roy, a Delhi University student.

As protests raged in cities across India, at least two girls were gang-raped, with one of them killed.

Police on Wednesday fished out the body of a 10-year old girl from a canal in Bihar state’s Saharsa district. Police superintendent Ajit Kumar Satyarthi said the girl had been gang-raped and killed and her body dumped in the canal. Police were investigating and a breakthrough was expected soon, Satyarthi said.

Elsewhere, a 14 -year old schoolgirl was in critical condition in Banka district of Bihar after she was raped by four men, said Jyoti Kumar, the district education officer.

The men have been identified, but police were yet to make any arrests, Kumar said.

Meanwhile, the 23-year-old victim of the first rape lay in critical condition in the hospital with severe internal injuries, doctors said.

Police said six men raped the woman and savagely beat her and her companion with iron rods on a bus driving around the city – passing through several police checkpoints – before stripping them and dumping them on the side of the road Sunday night.

Delhi police chief Neeraj Kumar said four men have been arrested and a search was underway for the other two.

Sonia Gandhi, head of the ruling Congress Party, visited the victim, promised swift action against the perpetrators and called for police to be trained to deal with crimes against women.

“It is a matter of shame that these incidents recur with painful regularity and that our daughters, sisters and mothers are unsafe in our capital city,” she wrote in a letter to Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.

In New Delhi and across India, the outpouring of anger is unusual in a country where attacks against women are rarely prosecuted. The Times of India newspaper dedicated four pages to the rape Wednesday, demanding an example be made of the rapists, while television stations debated the nation’s treatment of its women.

Opposition lawmakers shouted slogans and protested outside Parliament and called for making rape a capital crime. Cutting across party affiliations, lawmakers demanded the government announce a plan to safeguard women in the city.

Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde told Parliament he had ordered increased police patrols on the streets, especially at night.

Shinde said the government has introduced bills to increase the punishment for rapes and other crimes against women, but they are bogged down in Parliament.

Analysts and protesters said the upsurge of anger was chiefly due to increasing incidents of crime against women and the seeming inability of authorities to protect them.

“We have been screaming ourselves hoarse demanding greater security for women and girls. But the government, the police, and others responsible for public security have ignored the daily violence that women face,” said Sehba Farooqui, a women’s rights activist.

Farooqui said women’s groups were demanding fast-track courts to deal with rape and other crimes against women.

In India’s painfully slow justice system, cases can languish for 10 to 15 years before reaching court.

“We have thousands of rape cases pending in different courts of the country. As a result, there is no fear of law,” says Ranjana Kumari, a sociologist and head of the New Delhi-based Center for Social Research.

“We want this case to be dealt with within 30 days and not the go the usual way when justice is denied to rape victims because of inordinate delays and the rapists go scot-free,” Farooqui said.

Analysts say crimes against women are on the rise as more young women leave their homes to join the work force in India’s booming economy, even as deep-rooted social attitudes that women are inferior remain unchanged. Many families look down on women, viewing the girl child as a burden that forces them to pay a huge dowry to marry her off.

Kumari says a change can come about only when women are seen as equal to men.

Rapes in India remain drastically underreported. In many cases, families do not report rapes due to the stigma that follows the victim and her family. In other instances, families may decide not to report a rape out of frustration with the long delays in court and harassment at the hands of the police. Police, themselves are reluctant to register cases of rape and domestic violence in order to keep down crime figures or to elicit a bribe from the victim.

In a sign of the protesters’ fury, Khushi Pattanaik, a student, said death was too easy a punishment for the rapists, they should instead be castrated and forced to suffer as their victim did.

“It should be made public so that you see it, you feel it and you also live with it . the kind of shame and guilt,” she said.

From Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/19/india-bus-gang-rape_n_2329002.html

uddari@live.ca
.
.

‘Pornography in Pakistan’ by Waseem Altaf


Untitled 17 – Art by Shahid Mirza

A Google survey carried out in June 2010
empirically substantiated that Pakistanis were No.1
in the world in searching pornographic material.

Any material in written form or pictorial, factual or fictional, aimed at arousing human sexuality through explicit sexual content can be referred to as pornography. Apart from treatise on sex which existed in ancient texts like kamasutra and Koka Shastra and were available in written form since centuries, very little pornography, be it verse, prose or illustration survived in the subcontinent. This was primarily due to the clandestine character of the subject which remains tabooed till today. Second, no effort has ever been made to collate and preserve such material from a psychosocial point of view. However man’s fascination with sex remains a hard fact and some of the most revered names in poetry and prose did create pornographic literature. Some of the poetry of Nazeer Akbarabadi is explicitly pornographic. There were also poets in the early twentieth century who wrote hazal or obscene verse. Syed Iman Ali Khan of Bilgram (a.k.a Sahib-e-Kiran) Kallan Khan who wrote under the poetic name of Bechain and Saadat Yar Khan Rangin were all hazalgo poets who described their boastful exploits of sexual intercourse with prostitutes.

Although extremely rare, yet books in Urdu language with sexually arousing content and hand made illustrations were available in the subcontinent since the seventeenth century. A book by Kaviraj Harnam Das published from Sialkot in the 1920s had two parts. The first part dealt with the physical and behavioral characteristics of women from various countries of the world, where the headings would go like this: Kashmir ki aurat(Woman of Kashmir), Inglistan ki aurat (Woman of England), Iran ki aurat(Woman of Iran) etc. The second part contained stories where brides and other girls would narrate accounts of their first sexual encounter. The details were fairly explicit and the book was embellished with pictures of women. Translations of texts of Kamasutra, Koka Shastra, Premshastra etc were also available in the market which were primarily created for sex education. Nevertheless these were also considered the right material to have sexual pleasure. The introduction of photography in the 1800’s and the invention of motion picture in 1895 broadened the scope of pornography to reach masses in much more graphic detail. Pictures of actors and actresses in intimate positions were now available to many. Although such material enjoyed mass appeal particularly among the youngsters, due to lack of social acceptance it’s use remains secretive.

It is believed that Shaukat Thanvi used to write pornography with the pseudonym of Wahi Wahanvi. Tigdam, Rukhsar and Bura Aadmi were some of his popular titles. Maybe it was him initially but soon this was a brand name for pornographic novels. It is believed that many others began writing with Wahi Wahanvi’s name as the author. Later Pyarelal Awara, Raheel Iqbal and several others entered the field and pornographic novels were easily available at the aana (dime) libraries. The librarian would charge eight to ten aanas for pornographic novels whereas other novels were available for two aanas. These novels were issued to trustworthy customers who would then hide the book and would read the text in seclusion usually at night when others were asleep. Wahi Wahanvi would use explicit language whereas Raheel Iqbal would give descriptions using similes and metaphors.

These novels generally had a weak plot while the emphasis remained on sexual exploits and its graphic narrative. Pirated editions of English pornographic novels were also available in the market which attracted those who could read and understand the language. Since the ’50s and the ’60s those returning from the West would also bring pictorial material with them which would then travel long distances by being passed along to all the near and dear ones to have a look before it was returned. Similarly blue prints were also available on 8mm film for which a projector was required. This material was equally popular among both the sexes. Cultural troupes from European countries and even Turkey and Iran would frequently visit Pakistan where seminude women would perform on the stage. Inter-Continental and other such hotels would also occasionally invite female dancers from other countries who would amuse the audience with erotic dances. Some cinema halls like Irum in Lahore, Khursheed in Rawalpindi and Palwasha in Peshawar also had the reputation of running imported blue films mostly in their late night shows. Semi nude, probably superimposed clips of actresses Rozina and Aarzoo were popular in the ’70s. Also in the ’70s, many pictorial magazines like Chitrali were also available in the market. Though not very explicit on heterosexuality yet semi-nude pictures of actresses would abundantly glaze the pages of these publications. While not very expensive this was the poor man’s choice to have some ‘recreation’. In 1976 came the VCR revolution. Now people could watch Indian movies of their favorite stars and blue films too in a cozy atmosphere. VCR was an expensive machine and not many could purchase it, however, it was available on rent which initially ranged from Rs.300 to 400 for 12 hours. Groups of like-minded would contribute the amount and watch blue films for almost the whole night. As video cameras were also available in early eighties, it was now possible to make blue films at home.

The blue prints of two NCA girls Hala Farooqui and Ayesha Shahbaz along with their boyfriend were perhaps made for private consumption; however, the film made its way into the rental circuit and was hugely ‘popular’. Similarly in 1991, the video of striptease performed by two girls hailing from Multan namely Zarina Ramzan and Qamar Ashraf in a South London nightclub also gained immense ‘popularity’ in Pakistan. The Lahore theatre with a very strong sexual content began to flourish in the ’80s. In the ’90s came the internet revolution and now everything one could dream of, was available in one’s bedroom. Simultaneously the internet cafes also mushroomed. In the privacy of one’s cabin one could watch pornographic material of sorts. Later webcams and mobile phones brought another revolution. Now real life sex could be recorded displayed and shared on the net. This practice was widely misused when net café owners installed secret cameras to film couples having fun in the privacy of their cabins. In some instances the footage was then released on CD’s of those caught on camera. However these ‘reality based’ clips had great demand in the market. Similarly sexually explicit mobile conversations, privately filmed footage and some photo-shopped content is presently the main attraction for many. Print material is almost outdated now and every conceivable aspect of pornography is available on the net; from full length movies to stories of sexual pursuits written in the nastaleeq script, to chat forums and ‘groups’; things for which one had to toil some decades ago are now just a click away from any corner of the world.

As precious as gold and as secretly guarded as a moonstone, the sole possession of the privileged few, that clandestine material is now available to all and sundry 24/7. However, the sex drive continues to create the desire to observe and delve deeper into the alluring world of varied sexual behavior of others.

From centuries old oral recitation of verses to prose laden with sexual content to online sex and physical intercourse with a digital celebrity in the 3-D virtual world, pornography continues to thrive in Pakistan.

A Google survey carried out in June 2010 empirically substantiated that Pakistanis were No.1 in the world in searching pornographic material. The survey further revealed that in 2004 Pakistanis were mostly searching ‘horse sex’, Since 2007 it was ‘donkey sex’, ‘Rape pictures’ between 2007-2009, ‘child sex’ between 2004-2007.Pakistanis were also found to be number one in searching ‘camel sex’. (http://wn.com/Pakistan_to_Pornistan__Pak_tops_the_world_in_internet_google_searches_for_porn_2_of_2)

From Waseem Altaf’s Facebook page
http://www.facebook.com/mwaseemaltaf?ref=ts&fref=ts

Related content on Uddari
‘Child Porn Ring Uncovered Using Stuffed Toy Bunny’ by Denise Lavoie
Dancing girls of Lahore strike over ‘Taliban’ law
‘Sexual abuse of children by aid workers and UN peacekeepers’?
‘Porn Creation’ by Fauzia Rafique

uddari@live.ca
.
.