Sunday, January 12, 2020

Death Penalty for Whom?

Here is a translation of Kamla Bhasin's gut wrenching poem against death penalty for rapists.
Click to enlarge the picture. 
Who should really be given the death penalty?

We scream and shout from rooftops, demanding death penalty for rapists, but remain silent at the murder of 4 to 5 crore girl foetuses!

We scream and shout demanding death penalty for rapists, but we treat boys like kings and spoil them, never once saying no to them.
We allow minor boys to ride motorcycles and cars, sending them off to kill others and themselves.
We don’t teach boys to treat girls as their equals, to respect them.
Instead, by giving the boys better food, education, freedom, resources, we ourselves teach them inequality.
By teaching them to never shed tears or feel any emotions, we turn them into spoilt selfish brats and macho men.

We scream and shout demanding death penalty for rapists, but we call our girls "wealth belonging to others", and "give them away in marriage" as if they are not humans but things, ours to give away!
We teach them the virtue of silence and tolerance in the face of repression, and tell them to "adjust"!

We scream and shout demanding death penalty for rapists, but see how we call our husbands "lord and master", how we fast for their long life, and kill our widows as satis, as if women’s lives are worthless without men.
By saying “boys will be boys”, we teach boys and men that they can get whatever they want by force, without any consequences.

We scream and shout demanding death penalty for rapists, but watch pornography freely on smartphones, salivate at scantily clad women in item songs, and bow in awe to movies and TV shows that project men as macho and women as mere objects.

How is it we can say both these things in the same breath?
How is it we can think the two things in the same thought?
Don’t we know that violent rapist men are not born that way?
They are made that way by years of real-life lessons in patriarchy.
Our patriarchal families, schools, colleges and society make them who they are.
And our traditions and religions fine-tune their transformation.
That's how are made fathers, brothers, uncles, husbands, and fathers-in-law, who rape within the so-called safe havens of homes.
That's how are made editors, actors, directors, professors, and NGO leaders - against whom women say "He too"!

So friends, if anyone deserves death penalty, it is all of us, who are participating in patriarchy and enabling it, who are creating macho men and weak objectified women.

Death penalty to rapists will not stop rapes from happening.
To stop rapes, we will have to give the death penalty to patriarchy, and along with it, to casteism, classism, racism and capitalism!

If you are ready to fight for this worthy cause and stop rape for good, then let's all jump into the battle and chant heartily:
Down with Patriarchy!
Hail Equality!

Monday, January 6, 2020

The Boys of Tomorrow

Kamla Bhasin has written another poem, this time for boys. I translated it quickly and shared it with my students (young college going boys and girls). We then practiced enacting it. 

It is my dream that the words will ring in the boys' ears whenever they are dealing with women in their lives. It is my dream that these powerful words of a powerful woman, which I will ensure they memorize, will transform them. 

The Boys of Tomorrow
Original written in Hindi by Kamla Bhasin; English translation by Puja Anand

Boys are learning to help around the house
They enjoy carrying out their share of responsibilities
They won’t keep, not any more
Their sisters and mothers in servitude

Boys are learning to stitch and darn
They enjoy fixing things that have gone bad
They don’t want, no they don’t
Destruction and its celebration

Boys are filling their hearts with equality
They enjoy being equal partners
They won’t carry on, not anymore
Pointless domination of others

Now boys too are becoming motherly
They enjoy taking care of others
They are rejecting, yes they are
Their so-called right to command others

See, boys are also becoming compassionate
They enjoy supporting others
They won’t participate, not anymore
In bringing anyone down

Boys are becoming truly strong
They enjoy protecting others
They won’t accept, no they won’t
Oppressing or seeing anyone being oppressed

Boys are also becoming sensitive
They are beginning to understand their emotions
They won’t accept, not anymore
Being forced to hold back their tears

Boys are also becoming decent
They enjoy being polite and respectful
They do not want, no they don't
To be labeled "Dabang", "Badtameez" or macho

Boys are becoming honorable too
They enjoy sharing their resources equally 
They won't steal brazenly, not anymore
What should rightfully belong to their sisters

Note: "Dabang" and "Badtameez" are references to popular Hindi movies and songs. I have retained these words because of their Indian context. 

Here is the original poem in Hindi. Not very clear since it's an image. Will figure out a way to fix this.