Friday, 20 February 2009

The Pink Chaddi Campaign

The Pink Chaddi Campaign is the very heights of vulgarity. The Christian lady has, at the behest of some Christian group, managed to rub Indian womanhood in the mud for a long time to come. Would she dare to send her Chaddi to any Moslem cleric? She would piss in her pants, if she dares to. Beginning with Menses Pad advertisements on TV, the market forces have finally succeeded in totally vulgarising our women.

Why we said pants to India's bigots
Nisha Susan
The Observer, Sunday 15 February 2009
A week ago, when my friends and I formed a Facebook group, the Consortium of Pub-going, Loose and Forward Women, it was a delayed reaction. Earlier in the month, the Sri Ram Sena, a Hindu, right-wing group based in Karnataka state, attacked some young women in a pub in Mangalore. The men were proud of defending Indian culture from cocktail-drinking floozies.

The attack had been caught by a news crew, discussed, dissected, and was ready to be forgotten. It was considered natural that the attackers got out on bail and the girls were afraid to press charges. It was the aftermath which caught our attention.

The SRS was stepping up its efforts. Its leader Pramod Muthalik announced that his group would ensure that no couples were seen together in Karnataka on Valentine's Day. Any couple who defied them would be married off immediately. One would imagine this would have been the cue for the arrival of the men in white coats. But no. All the spectators understood that SRS, a new and unwelcome franchise of India's favourite corporation, the moral police, was announcing a play for greater power. Karnataka's government watched to see what would happen next. Could Muthalik pull off what he boasted?

Our first step was the Pink Chaddi campaign. Chaddi is a childish word for underwear and slang for right-wing hardliner. We invited people who disagreed with Muthalik's plans to send him pink chaddis. Indian women are aware of our tenuous grip on our rights. We worry that our next move will condemn us: running, sitting in a park, hugging a man, whistling, consensual sex, writing, buying a condom, asking for a share in property, getting a demanding job, leaving a husband.

It could be any of these. The rules keep changing. Anger is never permitted because friends, on any point of the political spectrum, will say that you are lucky: what about the woman who walks 15 kilometres for water? So it amused us to embrace the worst slurs, to send pretty packages of intimate garments to men who say they hate us. One day, the campaign had 500 members; a week later, it had 30,000. A 75-year-old woman from Delhi sent us panties. A Bollywood lyricist wrote a poem in honour of the rose-coloured chaddi. Amul, India's best-known brand of butter, put up a billboard featuring a pink chaddi. More than 2,000 chaddis arrived at the SRS office.

The SRS accused us of being from bad families. They still imagined that we were all party girls. Yet for many of those who signed up, neither Valentine's Day nor pub-going meant anything. What we agreed on is the need to end violence in the name of somebody's idea of Indian culture. Later, a better-informed SRS hoping to shame us into modesty said that it would send us pink saris. We announced that we would wear them with pride because for 15 minutes in Muthalik's life we had freed his rhetoric from violence. Supporters across the world fell about laughing.

Three days ago, Muthalik retracted his threat of Valentine's Day violence. On Friday, he and his supporters were placed in preventive custody by an embarrassed Karnataka government. It is difficult to cheer. This is not the jail sentence and obscurity we wish for him. Last week, a Hindu girl in Mangalore, who had been harassed by right-wingers for talking to a Muslim boy, committed suicide. Even the supportive media flinch when we talk about such things. Whatever happened to the cute story of Indian girls sending pink panties to save Valentine's Day from the clutches of evil?
In the Blog called 'Overdrive' of Usha Pisharody, I said:
R.Sajan said...
Please read the recently published 'Amen- Autobiography of a Nun' by Sr.Jesme of Kerala. Please read the Reports about St.Abhaya, Sr. Anupa Mary etc. These women were victimised not for drinking in public; but for becoming nuns to lead pure and secure lives. Their abuses are more serious than men and women getting involved in bawls in pubs.

Do you ladies not feel for them? Please get Nisha Susan, herself a Catholic, to lead you in sending Chaddis to the Pope and Kerala Bishops. Rush to the couriers right now.
February 21, 2009 7:49 PM
Usha Pisharody said...
@R.Sajan, Most certainly, all such abuses are serious and each deserves action and total condemnation. No woman, not even a prostitute deserves to be attacked or assaulted or raped.

The voices that were raised, as i read it, and still do, is against any sort of violence against women, and here, it took that highly visible and traumatic incident, and subsequently unrepentant justification by the perpetrators to make it such a juggernaut of a movement.

As I am sure, you too have been following, the Church, in its highest authority's directive has at least made the first move, albeit thousands of years late, to speak of how wrong they were, and have been with respect to denial of several scientific discoveries, and of late the horrific stories of pedophile that have emerged. I am sure that when such cases come into the public view there are, and will be many to come forward and ensure that the oppressed find voice, and that the oppressors are taken to task.

And why any of us, i am sure that this suggestion of yours can be directly put on the blog that Nisha Susan has started! Actually, it would be more meaningful too if you could perhaps please start an appropriate campaign. We will support you. For we don't jut speak up for what you seem to understand only as as "brawls" [which incidentally anyone having followed that incident in Mangalore would know wasn't- it was an outright act of violence by the SRS against young girls!]- that campaign was for the way violence was perpetrated, and a most non violent one too!
February 22, 2009 10:15 AM
My following Post in reply to the above, they did not publish.
Men that go to bars face brawls often. Women cannot say that they alone must not have brawls.
In toddy shops in Kerala, women drinkers often have fights. Cases of drunken women creating problems in public transport buses etc are often reported. Recent media reports said that Vinaya, a controversial woman police Constable was being proceeded against for a drunken brawl in a Send-off party. I am told that bar brawls of women often happen in Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi. Many women get drunk and beat up their wimp husbands in the higher society there.
In Mangalore, sufficient publicity was pre-arranged. The objectives were thus evident. There was no sexual assault. Nobody knew of any Ram Sena till then. Look how internationally publicised they are now.
The pink panties campaign further evidenced the hidden hands of 'market' forces. The involvement of Congress politicians from Delhi cannot be ruled out. After all, we still remember how a woman candidate canvassed votes in the nude in an Italian parliament election. Indian women having progressed from demureness to panties-waving, we might also be blessed with such appealing postures from the likes of Renuka Chowdhary etc at the elections in April. As a dirty male, I look forward to it, though not to the Himalayan Renukaji. I understand that Medha Patkar, Arundhati Roy, Ajitha etc were also felt out to send their panties. We don't know why they did not come up brandishing them.
Anyway, as with Moslem clerics, the fighting spirits of underwear feminism seem to be afraid of Christian priests also. Otherwise, Vatican should by now have been reeling under tonnes of Indian panties. If so faced, the Church might only ship them back to India to be used by the nuns and the Christian orphanage inmates from whom the priests would fondly remove them from time to time.
As for my leading your Campaign, I regret inability because I am too uncultured and backward that I touch even my wife’s panties when need arises, only with her permission. I cannot think of other women’s panties being removed at my instance, even if they be sex workers.
Feb 22

NCW member sacked over pub assault comment
28 Feb 2009
NEW DELHI: Nearly a month after her controversial comments on the Mangalore pub attack, women and child development (WCD) ministry on Friday sacked
National Commission for Women (NCW) member Nirmala Venkatesh.

Venkatesh was part of the two-member inquiry committee sent to investigate the shocking case where hapless women were beaten up by Sri Ram Sene men at a pub `Amnesia'. Instead of submitting the report to the commission, Venkatesh had made public certain comments related to the victims' clothes and the pub licence, much to the embarrassment of the WCD ministry and ire of several women's groups.

In a notification issued on Friday, the ministry accused the former member of the Karnataka legislative council of dereliction of duty. "She has been removed from office with immediate effect," a senior ministry official said. The notice quotes section 4(3)f of the NCW Act that states that the Centre can remove the chairperson or member if they have abused their position and their continuance is "detrimental to public interest".

In its notification, the ministry took serious objection to Venkatesh's public comments without submitting an interim report to the commission, despite repeated reminders. It said she had challenged the authority of WCD minister Renuka Choudhary.

Following uproar over her visit, the ministry had resorted to quick damage control and had ordered another inquiry into the Mangalore incident. The second inquiry under ministry joint secretary Kiran Chadha found that the victims had been harassed and were fearing for their lives.

Meanwhile, NCW found several lacuna in the report submitted by Venkatesh including the fact that she had not met any of the victims and had exceeded the terms of reference by commenting on the pub's licence issues.

NCW chairperson Girija Vyas rejected the report, describing it as inadequate and the member's "individual opinion" rather than that reflective of the entire commission.

Acting on Vyas's report, the ministry issued a showcause notice to Venkatesh seeking an explanation on her conduct.

"Venkatesh's reply was not satisfactory and she was found to be acting unbecoming of the high office of an NCW member," a source said. The NCW member had, however, remained adamant in her stand saying she had gone by the book and had nothing to hide.

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