Tag Archives: Kerala

Single Woman In A Village

malathy in a village

By Malathy Madathilezham 

This is the first time I am living on my own in a remote little place in Maharashtra (actually not as remote as some of the other places my travels have taken me.. but yet). This is my first job after graduating from Tata Institute of Social Sciences this March.

All my life I have been travelling. “I have studied in 14 different schools!” is something you will hear me say as part of my introduction. Yeah I know its a bit corny but yet. But all the traveling and living has been in a sheltered and protected manner and largely very comfortable. The culture and way of living mostly urban. I have never experienced rural life until very recently during the course of my two year study and the training that I received in my organisation. I have read enough and more but experiencing it shows how different life in ‘Bharat’ is from that in ‘India’. Even more so being a woman…

No, I am not going on a tirade against gender discrimination here… don’t worry. Just a few points on what I constantly find myself thinking about.

I am really privileged. Yes, I am. My birth has guaranteed me certain success in life even if I am mediocre in my performance. Unless off course I am really stupid or have real bad luck!! I cannot imagine being born a woman in one of these villages. Off course then I would simply be blissful in my ignorance and thankful about whatever I have.

(Lack of) Information is power. This is the game people play here. It is not that there are not enough government schemes, or opportunities to help people. But there is no smooth flow of the information regarding these to those who need it. Illiteracy is not the only reason here. A few people have the monopoly over the access to this information and they try their best to keep that monopoly.

The slow pace of life. Its really slow. In addition, the more you make someone wait, the more important you are. This is the culture here. Getting used to it takes time.

A single woman living (so far) away from her parents and native is a shock for many. “ Even boys will not be so daring!” was a quip by a Gram Sevika when I told her that I am from Kerala. Everyone is curious to know what I am doing here. To add to that curiosity is the fact that I have really short hair right now. So then dealing with the number of questions that a random shopkeeper, autowala or tai on the road can sometimes be simply frustrating! There are days that I don’t feel like going out to avoid this!

I love to cook!! I never thought I would say this but it is true! Yeah am not so organised or planned as my mother but yet I realise that I actually look forward to cooking something different and tasty everyday .

Well that is it for now… Looking forward to more learning and understanding the rural reality…

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Safety Of Women And Self Defense

BE-SAFE

By Malathy Madathilezham 

We are all living in this illusion of safety. That a woman can be attacked and assaulted in the ladies compartment of a train is totally appalling. It shows us the lack of security and safety in our cities. Delhi, even though it is the capital of India, is somewhere I would not want to live in and neither would my parents encourage. Just the  incidents that actually get reported would discourage any woman to go live on her own in the city. But this is closer to home!On 28th January 2011, there was this report in the newspaper claiming that Kochi is safe for women. I sarcastically had retorted that this is because women here do not step out after 7 pm!

If anything this recent tragedy that cut short the life of Soumya only points to the glaring issues that need to be addressed regarding the safety and security of women. The fact that this happened in the Ladies compartment of a train, is ironic and makes us question the kind of security provided.  This struck me as my parents always asked me to avoid sitting in the ladies compartment unless there are a good number of co – passengers. According to them the ladies compartment in the most dangerous one!

Lot of hue and cry is being raised over this incident now. Citizens are agitated and indignant. The politicians are making statements and counter statements.A lot of promises are being made. The media is also giving a lot of hype. But what will change actually remains to be seen. Once this story becomes ‘stale’, will the issue of the freedom of a woman to travel, to even get out of the house at any time of the day remain an important issue? Will the women in Kerala stand up and raise their voice against any kind of exploitation or harassment  faced by them almost on a daily basis? Or will they accuse each other of being the instigating these attacks? I now remember the public signature campaign that our college students’ council against the harassment faced by women while travelling in buses and otherwise. It had generated a mass response from both the local media and the public and a lot of changes were definitely brought about. But even those were short lived and not consistent.

Who is to blame for these kind of attacks on the dignity and safety of women?

The lax attitude of the government?

The society in which such perverted characters are molded?

Ourselves?

How can such attacks be prevented? How can we make our cities safer for women? Multiple responsibilities fall on multiple people.

Let us first talk about ourselves before anyone else.

So how do we ensure our safety, security and keep our dignity? The easiest and most obvious is not to travel alone after a certain time.  But that would only encourage these hoodlums to attack the women who have no other choice but to travel by night. And what if you are attacked when at home or somewhere else?

I have written down some thoughts, which came to my mind

  • Learn some self-defense techniques! It will also boost your confidence.
  • Be alert and aware of people and your surroundings (this is applicable whether it is day or night)
  • Stay with the crowd. Especially at night do not move around deserted areas.
  • Avoid speaking on the mobile phone or do anything which can make u seem distracted.
  • Use a barrier or distance to make an attack difficult. Thus lock your doors!
  • Always carry something, which is easily and quickly accessible to use as a weapon. An umbrella (especially the kalan kuda)! A Pen, a safety pin and don’t hesitate to use it if required!
  • Do not hesitate to scream, shout in case you are being targeted whether overtly or covertly i.e attract attention.
  • If attacked, act quickly and decisively. How to escape or how to fight and incapacitate the attacker needs to be decided keeping in mind the surroundings and the situation.
  • Use your strongest weapons against the weakest targets of the attacker. The eyes, throat,  and groin are the primary targets while the abdomen and face are the secondary targets. Your strong weapons are the bottom of your feet, elbows, hammer fists and palm heels.
  • Stand up for any other woman being harassed or attacked. You also could be in a similar situation!
  • Please do approach the authorities. Do not hesitate to file a complaint. The perverted offenders should not be allowed to move around scot-free.
  • Share your experiences and tips on how to prevent such attacks with other women. Educate them.

These are not in any way an exhaustive list on how to prevent attacks and how to defend/protect yourself. But I hope it has given you some information and insight. If we act meek and submissive the chances of being targeted will only increase and at the same time reckless and reactive action is also not advised. Common sense, confidence and alertness are key to preventing attacks/ harassment and defending yourself.

What the government and railway authorities will or won’t do, we cannot be sure of. But that should not stop us from protecting our loved ones or ourselves.

Entertainment As A Travesty For Education

Entertainment Cover Image

By, Aditya Nagarajan

A charade of germane imbroglios that continue to persist in our society, by a larger malaise, is the juxtaposition of ‘knowledge and awareness’ by way of entertainment. As self-styled as it might seem, with the recent controversy stalling the Sri Lankan players and the IPL, one might seem to fathom the very existence of the war crimes in Sri Lanka.

Jayalalithaa

One might hitherto go without saying that the awareness of war crimes, diplomatic treaties, plight of the Sri Lankans should be dealt by the education system, dialogue with the society at large and the media, although a simple pretence of the IPL had the common man, discussing these war crimes by Sri Lanka, which should have been done by society and the education system taking the lead.

dam999

Taking the case of the controversial movie ‘Dam 999’ which the Tamil Nadu government banned because it felt, would disrupt the cordial relations between Tamil Nadu and Kerala and the very recent ‘Sanjay Dutt’ case. The former controversy educated the public about the Mullaperiyar Dam and the latter indirectly educated a larger sector of the audience about the Mumbai blasts of 1993.

sanjay dutt in khalnayak

These elements of history are known to us, our education system and roles within the society have made us aware of these points in history. But what makes one take an unsullied interest in these issues, is that they have been made controversial by entertainment. In India, a segment avails its daily dose of rigor from entertainment, also gets its daily dose of general awareness from entertainment.

The role, which earlier was reflected by our education system and our interaction with the society, has in this digital age upped its ante by giving credo to entertainment. A bright side of my argument sets in, a society which largely feeds on entertainment does get the required amount of awareness from entertainment itself. It is in these areas, entertainment has played a much larger part in dispelling thought-provoking-awe-inspiring discussions which other forms of knowledge should have gained traction over.