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Women still face discrimination in the society

Shiji Abraham

BENGALURU: Gender inequality and discrimination continues to exist in our society, though our religious belief put women at the pedestal of a goddess. We still fail to recognize her as human being first. Discrimination based on an individual’s gender or sex, often affects both men and women.

In 2011, Donna Kassman, a former KPMG senior manager filed a 350 million dollar suit against the company for practicing discriminatory pay and promotion policies. The firm failed to  investigate and resolve complaints of discrimination and harassment.The preamble of Indian constitution speaks about achieving social, economic and political justice to everyone and to provide equal status and opportunity to all the  citizens. Article 15 of the  constitution prohibits discrimination on grounds of sex, religion, race, caste and place of birth. However the reality is different. Women are still treated as second-class citizens.

Gender inequality comes from the belief that one gender is superior to another. Such beliefs lead to various stereotypes like a woman is supposed to cook and do housework while men must work and so on. Discrimination further legitimizes traditional stereotypes, beliefs and practices. This reflects in the unfair treatment of women, which is often based on prejudice, ignorance, patriarchal social system and unjust structures. Discrimination in any sphere of life is abominable and unacceptable in the society.

Today women have shown their power and potency in almost all fields of human engagement. For instance, Nirupama Rao is  the Indian Foreign officer and  former Indian Ambassador to the United states, prior to that she served two years as the Foreign Secretary of India. Kiran Bedi is a retired police officer who joined the Indian Police Service in 1972. Medha Patkar is a social activist and reformer turned politician who is best recognized as the founder member of Narmada Bachao Andolan.

Indra Krishnamuthy Nooyi who is the current Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo is ranked among the 100 most powerful woman. While speaking to the Great Lakes Institue of Management Students in Chennai, She said  “Every one of you has the advantage and opportunity of the much more liberal, modern India with many more professional female role models. I think the future is especially bright for women. Don’t let anything hold you back”.

According to the International Society of Women Airline Pilots (ISA) 2014, there are  4,000 women out of  130,000 airline pilots. Among 3,500 pilots employed by the British Airways 200 are women. Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook said, “I look forward to the day when half our homes are run by men and half of our companies and institutions are run by women. When  that happens, It won’t just mean happier women and families; it will mean more successful business and better lives for us all.”

Despite such huge success women have registered in every field of human activity, there still remains gender discrimination and bias. Because they are women, they fail to be recruited for jobs when they can very well perform like any man. They are paid less than their counterparts for performing the same job. In the advertisement market they are used as commodities for selling products rather than persons with dignity and rights. Media portrays women as the ‘weaker sex’ while in truth they are the ‘complimentary sex’.

Gender discrimination like harassment  can cause great emotional and psychological trauma to the victim. It includes violence or inappropriate behavior, making sexist comment or making women feel inferior or incapable of doing certain jobs because of their gender.

In the Army women were deprived of permanent commission. They were qualified for only a short service with a tenure of up to 14 years, which made them ineligible for pension and they found it difficult to get work after their retirement. Women who filed petition against this, argued that they have also received the same training as their male counter parts and have same experience as men do. The only reason that they could not go further is that they were women. Now according the latest ruling, women will be able to work until the age of 54 as their counterparts.

For a girl, discrimination starts from the moment she is conceived in the womb of her mother. The parents, including the mother, hope and pray for a boy child. In many countries and societies they perform the sex determination test  to determine  the sex of the baby and abort it if the baby is girl. In other cases, when the doctor says, ‘it’s a girl’ their countenance falls as if the most terrible tragedy has struck them. Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Bihar are the worst place for women. Uttar Pradesh has the largest number of girls married between 10-19 years of age. According to the Registration survey 2014 and National Crime Records Bureau, there are 38,467 crimes registered against women in UP, followed by West Bengal and Rajasthan. When it comes to crime rate, Delhi has the highest rate(69.6) followed by Assam and Rajasthan. India reports 26 crimes against women every hour.

 “In most parts of the world when a girl is born, her wings are clipped so that she is not able to fly,” says ZiauddinYousafzai, the father of the Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai. A girl child is considered an unwelcome entry to their families and so she is treated with bias even in her own home. While a boy gets all the privileges, a girl is supposed to be submissive, and slavishly obedient. Male children are given the opportunities to study and become what they want to, but girls are supposed to confine themselves to serving others by doing the household duties. According to sociologist Sylvia Walby, patriarchy is “a system of social structure and practices in which men dominate, oppress and exploit women”. In a patriarchal society, girls enjoy less privileges and rights because they are considered to be a burden and not an asset. Gender discrimination is prohibited by law and a woman has every right to take action when she feels discriminated because of gender, age or marital status.

The mass molestation of women during New Year Eve celebrations in the heart of the city, Bengaluru is still a shock to the people. The first step to put an end to sexual violence and discrimination begins with speaking about it openly. As a woman one needs to be confident and show that you have zero tolerance for sexist or discriminatory behavior. The more one tolerates, the more difficult it will become to confront the situation.

The stark and shameful reality calls for a change of our cultural and societal values. Gender equality is not a woman’s issue, but it is a human issue. It affects us all. The UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, Nicole Kidman’s words should become a reality in every part of the world, “Imagine a bold plan for a world without discrimination, in which women and men are equal partners in shaping their societies and lives. Let’s picture it!”

 

Struggle of women for an independent life

Shiji Abraham

BENGALURU: Mahatma Gandhi in his weekly journal “Young India” in 1921 wrote that the female sex is the nobler of the two, as it is the embodiment of sacrifice, silent suffering, humility, faith and knowledge. Women have the right to participate in all the activities of life and have equal rights of freedom and liberty as men.  Gandhi in his Bhagini Samaj speech in 1918 acknowledged that women have a supreme place in her own sphere of activity as men. He realized that the backwardness of women was a stumbling block in the path of their progress.

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 Supporting lives with minimum wage                            PHOTO – SHIIJI

To empower women and to give her a better place in society is one of the challenges, which we have not achieved till now. There are still women who are uneducated and struggle to bring up their family through domestic duties and other unskilled jobs. Sunitha Kujur a 20- year-old domestic worker from Assam came to Bangalore in search of work. Since she was not educated, she could only carry out the domestic duty.  She said, “I don’t have my father and my mother works in the tea garden. She is paid Rs. 100 per day, with which we can’t manage. Due to financial problem, I could not go to school. I work from morning to evening and at the end of the day I get tired. I bear this difficulty for the sake of my family so that I can send some money to the family and my younger brother can continue studying.”

Mrs. Corrine Kumar, Founder of Vimochana, Forum for women’s right in Bangalore said that if we look at the judicial system, laws which are there to protect women are not working. When the women’s laws were written years ago, violence against women was never given as much seriousness. Even though there are dowry acts, domestic act which are dealing with violence against women, very few convictions have taken place.

She also added, “There are so many loop holes in the law. It says the giver and taker of the dowry has to pay for it. If I have taken dowry and given dowry who is going to get me? Then it says the women can given eye witness on account of the incident but women who’s been burned by her husband and going to die will never give an eye witness to give her husband to jail. She will not give her husband to the police because they have small children.”

 The whole system acts in such a way that one finds it difficult to get justice. Vasanth V. Fernandes, Advocate, stated that there are plenty of cases coming in on the issue of women, especially in family court on divorce and domestic violence. Due to lack of sufficient lawyers in the judicial system, cases keep pending. A person who is in the judicial custody should be produced to the magistrate once in 15 days; it takes at least half a day. He also added that one can never say all the cases are genuine, lack of evidence and mind set of the judges also can be a cause for delaying a case.

Women experience various forms of struggle. Sangeetha Bonesh, wife of a construction worker narrated her struggle to The Beacon. She said, “It is one year since I am here with my 2 year old child to be with my husband. We are basically from Gulbarga district. He goes in the morning at 8 a.m. and works till 5 p.m. in the evening. He gets only 300 rupees, which is not enough for us to manage. We don’t have drinking water facility, we go to the neighboring house to collect water and we have only one room for cooking and sleeping. Our house is made of tin sheets and it leaks during the rainy season. Financial difficulties at home force us to live in this condition.

Fr Shaju Kalappurackal, Executive Secretary for Commission of Migrant Workers, Archdiocese of Bangalore said that in Bangalore there are several female garment workers who are mostly from Northeast. These workers are not paid well, they are forced to work 9.-10 hours a day, in poor living conditions in a small room, ten to twelve of them without a bed, sleeping on the floor. Women workers are disallowed from going outside hostel soon after their work, so they don’t have much contact with the outside world. We organize gathering of migrant workers from different places, it is mainly to share their issues, provide counseling, guidance at their areas of work and places of living.

Fr Kalappurackal shared a story of one of the garment workers with The Beacon. Anita Marak from Meghalaya was working in a garment factory. The company did not pay her well and for few months she did not get her salary. So one day she ran away from the hostel in order to get another job. While staying in a P.G, she was often harassed by the boys of the locality. The members of the migrant commission came to her rescue and got her a job in a private hospital.

Due to the urbanization women domestics are most needed people. People prefer domestic workers than men. Migrant female domestic workers are engaged mostly in house hold jobs. They are not exposed to formal labour structures and are often exploited, undergoing different kind of molestation and sexual harassment. They are unaware of procedure for legal protection or social benefits. Long hours of work, food deprivation, a lot of work load and even sexual abuse are the regular hardships they have to put up with.

Often women suffer due to the drinking habit of the husband. The home atmosphere is often detrimental to the children because of quarrelling and violence. In conversation with The Beacon, Sr Marina Kalathil, Director, Jeeva Darshana (Centre for Holistic Healing and Wholeness) narrated a story of Geetha Mohan, a 30 year old housewife. This lady Geetha Mohan tried to commit suicide by jumping in the well due to the ill treatment of her drunken husband. She was even beaten up by his brothers and sister-in-law, but with courage and determination she brought up her three children. Today all the children are settled and one of them is a High Court judge.

The plight of Dalit women is still worse. They continue to live within the social hierarchy mediated by caste and untouchability and in extreme poverty. A case study was shared by Vimochana of a 10 year old girl, Surya who is a rape survivor. This rape incident took place in Kerala on 4 February 2000 at 11.30 a.m. Surya was on her way to school and was crossing the home of Balakrishanapillai-an Upper caste Hindu and 70-year-old retired military officer. He called Surya into his house and asked her to fetch a knife from the kitchen to cut some flowers from the garden. Then he followed her to the bed room and forced himself on her and threatened to kill her and her mother if she filed a complaint. Surya at about 4.00 pm fled from the house of Balakrishnapillai. One neighbor by the name Shivankutty saw her running from Balakrishanapillai house half naked and with her hands covering her private parts. She was crying and in an obvious state of distress.

The unfortunate thing is that women through continued socio-cultural conditioning have accepted their subordinate position to men and they have become part and parcel of the patriarchal society. Discriminations and inequality will go on; the real change will come only when the mentality of men will change, when men will start treating women as equal and not as their subordinate.

Therefore, what is needed is the empowerment of woman where women can become economically independent and self-reliant; where they can fight their own fears and go out in the world fearless, where women have good education, good career, and ownership of property and above all where they have freedom of choice and also freedom to make their own decision.

India’s continuing struggle with child labour

Janci Rani

BENGALURU: The year 2014 was crucial for India -Kailash Satyarthi, a passionate Indian activist fighting against bonded child labour, shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Malala Yousafzai. However, three years after such internationally recognized efforts by the likes of the Nobel laureate, India is still under the grips of the vile bonded child labor.

Child labour in India is dated back to the period of British. The introduction of British administration in India resulted poverty, this major effect made the parents force their children into labour. This social evil started to grow fast in india, and is still prevailing even today.

Presentation1nnThe future of the country is burdened with heavy chores.      PHOTO-TOI

International Labour Organization (ILO) defines the term ‘child labor’ as that work which deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity and it is harmful to their health. Some child activists argue that those children who are not allowed to study in the schools are also supposed to be included as child labours, even if they are not involved in any works.

According to ILO report in 2015, hazardous work among adolescents aged 15 to 17 years of age, who are above the minimum working age in most countries but at the same time are still legally children, overlap the child labour and youth employment fields. Families living in the villages send their children to cities to get good wages to sustain their family.

Bosco is a private organisation working for the young at risk in the city of Bangalore since 1980. Fr Mathew Thomas, Executive Director of Bosco said, “We always aim to provide alternatives for children deprived of their childhood and enrich them with the best as they may come out with bright future.”

“Poverty and violence in the family would drive the children out of their homes. Children are made to work indoors so they are not really visible to the public eye. The conditions in which children work is completely unregulated and they are often made to work without food and very low wages, resembling situations of slavery.

Child labour is cheap in India, henceforth a lot of children are employed in India. There are some wonderful schemes adopted by the government but we are failing to deliver the same to these children. Many organization have come into existence to solve the problem of child labour. There are cases of physical, sexual and emotional abuse of child domestic workers, paving way to prostitution. We are also working towards mass rescue, later identify their problems and enforce our work and programme according to the state policies.’’he added.

According to HAQ  Centre for child rights report 2016, child labour is highest among the OBC, Muslims, Schedule castes and Scheduled tribes. Bonded child labour in the  rural areas is still a raging phenomenon and very cleverly hidden from any legal or prying eyes.

 Mrs.Lakshmi Devi , Deputy Director of Women and Child Rights Department, Government of Karnataka said, “First and foremost, the community of child labour require protection. It should be brought to the notice of the government organization. Generally the organization adopts children rescued from child labour. With their parents permission, the child is taken care of and admitted to a school under the protection of the organization. These children are taken care of and given formal education up to 18 years of age.” “Apart from formal education skill technical training  is also given to the students with higher education,”  she added.

Along with Child Protection Unit in Child Rights Department, so many people try to help young girls get education both through organized NGO and through personal efforts. Vidyaranya is a non- profit, non political and secular development organization which identify all children in need of care and protection particularly beggars, street and working children, rag pickers, small vendors, street performers, orphaned, deserted, trafficked and runaway children and provide all the facilities to those children. Recently a 11 year old girl child labour was rescued by Vidyaranya organization.

She has 2 elder sisters, 2 younger sisters and 1 younger brother. Her parents are illiterate and don’t  know how to read and write hence she was sent out to work by her parents. Her father sells snacks at the railway station and her mother is a daily wage earner.   Her grandmother left her at  the railway station and promised her that she would be back within 10 minutes and she did not return.

Nirmala (name changed on the request of the guardian) is the daughter of Perumal and Mala. She has 1 elder brother. Her father is an alcoholic and never takes care of his children. He used to torture her mother for dowry. He deserted his wife and children, left home with his son and married another woman. The economic status of the family is very low. They do not have any other source of earning. Now her mother works in a garment factory. Her mother cannot provide proper food or education to her daughter. Nirmala was referred by one of our Rainbow staff and got admitted in our home. Now she is happy and looking for her bright carrier. Give the quote

Dr Sripad S.B, Joint Labour Commissioner said, “We are working towards stopping child labour. We will support child workers because they have to get educated to have a bright future. Our motto is for them to grow into great personalities. Therefore, we are fighting to do away with child labour. Various activist are also aiding us to achieve this goal.”

Aamir Khan’s perfection through performance

Deepika Tina Lobo

BENGALURU: Dangal, starring Aamir Khan is a movie inspired by two sisters,Geeta Phogat and Babita Phogat who were gold medalists at the commonwealth games in wrestling. Aamir Khan played the role of Mahavir Singh Phogat, father of the two sisters. The film is directed by Nitesh Tiwari, who has directed movies like Bhoothnath Returns and Chillar Party. Despite demonetization, the film still had a good box office collection. The total collection of Dangal in the domestic market stands at 385.66 crores as stated in TOI. The background score and catchy songs added to the flavour of the movie.

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 Dangal                                                  PHOTO- http://www.filmibeat.com

Earlier Salman Khan’s film Sultan that released on July, 6, 2016 was also a film based on wrestling and had a good box office collection of 300.45 crores according to Bollywood hungama. Dangal beat Sultan by 85 crores and was appreciated by Salman Khan himself.

The plot of the film begins with Mahavir Singh Phogat, a middle-aged man watching a wrestling match on TV and complaining about their wrong moves. It is then known that Mahavir is the former National Level Wrestler who discontinued wrestling to support his family financially. He then wishes to make his son a great wrestler and hopes to fulfill his unfulfilled dreams through him but is disappointed when he’s ‘blessed’with four daughters. Mahavir loses hope. One day when he sees his daughters Geeta and Babita beat up the neighbourhood boys, the faith in him restores. He then realizes that he doesn’t need a son to win a gold medal for the country and hence the dialogue, “Gold toh gold hota hai, chora lave ya chori” meaning ‘Gold is gold, whether a son wins it or a daughter,’ is used.

In pursuit of this dream Mahavir takes on the society and challenges its norms and continues to initiate his daughters into a life of wrestling. He initially goes tough on them, which made the daughters think they are being tortured but as time passes they realise their father’s wish and the faith he had on them. The sisters worked hard and made it to the commonwealth games.

Aamir Khan gives a believable performance of a man who was defeated by circumstances in his prime but is given another shot at glory in his old age. He has also worked on his body where he once had a very fit body as a young wrestler and then a body of a middle-aged man who is not fit enough. From a young wrestler to a middle-aged father, he has done total justice to his role. Sakshi Tanwar of Kahaani ghar ghar ki, fame plays his wife.

Fatima Sana Sheikh (Geeta) has also given a great performance. Her hard work and dedication is seen in the film. The fights are choreographed so well that they seem real. Sanya Malhotra (Babita) does not have many fights in the film. She’s seen mostly encouraging her sister. The plot of the movie is planned very carefully to both inspire and entertain the audience. Tiwari has directed the movie very carefully keeping in mind the controversies and issues that could be created with debatable issues like sports and women empowerment.

The film includes aspects like nationality, patriarchy and women empowerment. Nationality in the film is portrayed when Mahavir Singh Phogat tells his daughter Geeta that it’s not enough if she gets a Gold medal for herself but she also needs to get one for her country.

The film does portray patriarchy as well. As you can see the girls are forced to cut their hair short and wear shorts and shirts. He trains them to become successful wrestlers so that he fulfills his desire. The girls did not have any intention of becoming wrestlers. They were forced into it by their father. But this aspect is later compensated as the girls start liking wrestling and prosper in it.

Women empowerment is another major aspect you can see in this film. The father believes his daughters are not inferior to any men and they can fight them too. The dialogue “Humari chori choron se kum hai ke?” meaning are our daughters inferior to any boys, said by Mahavir Singh Phogat in the film proves it. You can also see young Gita (ZairaWasim) wrestle with boys and even win against them. The song “dhakkad” also speaks about their strength and how they are not inferior to any of the men.

The film is a perfect blend of entertainment, emotional drama and well-choreographed wrestling sequences more than makeup for the lack of regular Bollywood fight sequences. It keeps the audience engaged from the beginning till the end.The actors play their part to perfection and lend a realistic feel to their characters. The camera angles and the cinematography add strength to every scene. The film definitely does justice to audience’s expectations.

Ex Josephite Prantik Deshmukh wins Filmfare

Deepika Tina Lobo

BENGALURU: Prantik Deshmukh, an ex-student of St Joseph College has won a Filmfare award for his Marathi short film ‘Matitali Kusti’. There were 1300 entries from all over the country out of which 44 films were short listed and two films won the best film award.

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Prantik Deshmukh

One from the fiction category and one from the non-fiction category. Deshmukh won the best film award in the non-fiction category. The award ceremony was held on January 15, 2017 and ‘Matitali Kusti’ was the only Marathi film in the category. The jury panel consisted of Vidya Balan, actress and directors like Karan Johar, Zoya Akhtar, Gauri Shinde, Kabir Khan and Meghna Gulzar.

This Marathi short film showcases the struggle of the traditional wrestlers and their battle against the freestyle wrestling of the modern times to keep this ancient martial art form alive.It speaks about the difference between the traditional wrestling and mat wrestling.It also showcases how in earlier days people looked upon these wrestlers with respect and how ironic it is now for a ‘Maharashtra Kesari’ or ‘Hind Kesari’ title holder to perform menial jobs like that of a watchman.

Films based on wrestling like Sultan featuring Salman Khan and Dangal featuring Aamir Khan also released in the same year. Dangal won the Black Lady for the best feature film. Sultan and Dangal focused on wrestling, while ‘Matitali Kusti’ focused on traditional wrestling. It emphasized the importance of soil.

The 12 minutes short film was shot entirely in black and white.It was shot at Chinchechi Talim which is one of the oldest Talims in Maharashtra.

Prantik Deshmukh, 24, completed his graduation from St Joseph’s College, Bengaluru and his Masters in Mass Communication from the Savitribai Phule Pune University.

When asked as to why he chose this subject Deshmukh said, “I was searching for a subject for my documentary and happened to know about a Talim called Chinchechi Talim. It’s one of the oldest Talim in the country. I thought I’ll make a film on a wrestler’s life but as I met them I realised that this was a bigger problem that has to be brought to light.Also a three thousand year old art form is in the peak of extinction and no efforts have been taken to bring this forward. That is when I decided to make this film.”

“One more reason I wanted to make this film was, I have come from a small town called Yavatmal. It is known as the suicide capital of India. I realised that the farmers in my town are struggling in mati (soil) and when I came to Pune, these wrestlers were still struggling in the mati. I found this connection between a rural and an urban place. There were many film makers around that area but nobody noticed this issue whereas being an outsider I could relate to those wrestlers,”Deshmukh added.

Deshmukh received the award from Vidya Balan, actress in the presence of other celebrities like Shahrukh Khan, Karan Johar, Amitabh Bachchan and so on. “The moment I stood on the stage and turned back I saw Amitabh Bachchan, Sonam Kapoor, Alia Bhat and other celebrities looking at me. That was an overwhelming moment and I didn’t know how to go about it. I was a little nervous but I gave a speech for about 40 seconds. I even requested Salman Khan and Aamir Khan to watch my film,” said Deshmukh.

“I had to do a lot of research for this film. I finally won the Filmfare award. I was surprised. People in my town are very happy. I’m also getting calls from many journalists,” he added.

Deshmukh started making films without any professional training. Earlier he had directed and won an award for a short film called ‘Autumn of life’ in the Student National Awards while graduating in St Joseph’s College. The award ceremony was telecasted on Doordarshan channel. Deshmukh thanked Fr Richard Rego SJ, Research Director, SJC and Johnson Rajkumar, HOD, Department of Communications, SJC who were his professors during his graduation. The award ceremony was telecasted on February 18, 2017 on SONY.