Saturday, December 29, 2012

India, the RAPE-ublic of hypocrisy

Over the last week or so, I have been following the news of the horrific rape & murder of the physiotherapy student in New Delhi. Reading the headlines everyday has been absolutely maddening.
Earlier this year, Delhi was named the rape capitol of India. Now they are saying that India is just as dangerous as Afghanistan or Somalia, for women.

Anyone that knows anything about the real meaning of rape, knows that it is an act of power and violence against women, in the most sadistic way. It is not about sex. It is about anger towards women.

You worship Mahalakshmi and Saraswati, yet you essentially buy women like property with a dowry?

This is the land where the Kama Sutra came from, yet sex is before marriage is taboo & you expect a woman to be a virgin before marriage (although men are not)?

You elect female politicians like Sonia Gandhi, yet a girl cannot go out after dark without fear of being attacked?

Why are their six elected state legislators who are currently in office, who have been accused of rape? Who is investigating this? Or are they too busy being paid off?

Welcome to India....feudal... patriarchal....hypocritical...morally corrupt...
India....the world's fastest growing economy....and can't even protect their daughters!!!!!!!

Through the years of visiting India, and being an firangi looking from the outside in, it has come to my attention that women are not equal to men. A lot of times, a woman can't even give a handshake to a man, or look him in the eye, without being considered "forward". They eat after men, sometimes not even at the same table. In many families, no matter how smart a girl is, the parents only think of her as a piece of property to be married off. Hence, they will save for her dowry/marriage, rather than education. 
Why is it that a wife has to touch the feet of her husband?
Or that she has no hope of getting married after a divorce, or as a widow?
 Women are praised for being simple, hard-working homemakers.
First of all, there is not a single woman that I have ever met in my entire life who is simple-minded.
And to the men, why would you want someone who is simple? If you are that insecure about your masculinity then you are not a man.
The thing that is most angering is the perception that women are slaves.
Women are considered to be household slaves and sexual slaves. In some cases of arranged marriages, the mother-in-law does the picking of the bride because she is essentially picking out a subservient lifelong slave for herself and her family.
It's the woman's fault for everything. It's what she wore, who she was with, how she was perceived  So much judgement and blame, but never against, the"perfect" man/son, who can do no wrong. And even when he does wrong, there are no lifelong consequences.
The most important thing is that it all starts in the home. How the father treats the mother. Children grow into adults that replicate this, subconsciously. They grow up, go out into the world, get jobs (some as teachers!), teach their children...etc.

I asked my mother-in-law about all this, and she said that over the years she has known many women who were abused, mostly by their husbands. I asked her "What would have happened to this 23 year old girl, had she survived the attack? Would she have been able to get married or move on with her life?" She said that more modern men are accepting of a women who have been raped in the past, mature enough to know it was not the woman's fault. But she said usually, many families feel so shamed that their daughter's honor/virginity was taken, so they would move far away, somewhere very remote, and you'd never hear from them again.

So, how do you change all this?
I was sent an interesting article a while back, about what India can learn from the West. One of the main points was the sense of community. How in India, the cultural mentality is more of "me/my family" vs. society as a whole (west). People need to treat this poor girl as if that was their sister or cousin. Stand up and protest. Demand a change. Don't stop. And with rape being so common, I'm sure there is someone in your family who this has happened to. Turning a blind eye to this, enables this kind of behavior.
Men are not superior to women. Start teaching your sons and daughters. Treat them equally. Don't let the boys be dominant and the girls be subservient. Learn this in school. Learn about respect. Learn about consensual sex in school.
Be open. India is a land of secrets. No matter how much you keep something secret, it's still there. It won't go away. Encourage kids to communicate their fears and doubts. Tell them what is right and wrong. Be direct with them.
There needs to be swift arrests and priorities to protect women against violence. Have resources for them, a place for them to go for help. Shame those responsible, not the victim. Hold the attackers accountable for their crime. Punishments for these people should be widely reported throughout the media. There needs to be consequences.

Women are equal to men. 
Women should be respected and protected, as they are independent creatures. 
That is not a privilege, it is a right as a human being.

I truly love India, but I do not love the way India treats it's women.
Any society that does not protect & respect women is really going to hell!

I come from a family where my mother is the breadwinner. She went from living in the back of a restaurant in a tiny town in Ontario, to owning and operating a successful business for 30 years, with no help from anyone.
 My grandmother was one of the first women to earn her Masters degree from Clark University and went on to work for the Prime Minister of Canada. My other grandmother fought along Russian soldiers during WWII at age 13.
My husband was attracted to me because I speak my mind and am so open with him.
I was absolutely thrilled to learn that we were having a daughter. She is my princess, and she will be a strong, nurtured, empowered female, like her ancestors.
A force to be reckoned with.

Needless to say, I'm not sure there would be a place for her in Indian society, as it is now.
Get it together, India.


Friday, December 7, 2012

6 months old!

What an eventful month it has been! Lots of festivities and lots of new developments...

Mama bear has been on high alert because little Miss Maya has become very mobile! She has been crawling backwards for a while, and now she does it so fast. Last week she sat up by herself for the first time!!! She was crawling backwards and then fell onto her bum. Then she couldn't wriggle out of her sitting position so she toppled over and rolled back to her tummy. Then repeat. Again and least 30x a day! Meanwhile, I'm having a heart attack thinking that she's going to bump her head on something! And Dada is having a heart attack thinking that she's going to pull the fluff from the carpet and choke!

We also set up a highchair and we have been feeding her breakfast in it. She looks like such a big girl in her own seat with her own little tray and cup holder! She loves to eat and does it so well. As soon as she sees the spoon coming, she opens up wide like a Venus Fly Trap! We have been feeding her pablum twice a day for the past 2 months. On Tuesday, we will be starting with solids, and I'm so excited! I can't wait to see which foods she likes. Will she prefer beans or sweet potatoes? Will she like apples better than bananas? Her personality will come out more and more...what a discovery this all is!

As we approach the winter season, there are so many festivities. This month, she celebrated her first Diwali. We dressed her up in one of the outfits Dada brought from India, which was supposed to be for a year-old baby, but it barely fit her! We also put her in her first gold bracelet, which Auntie Laxmi sent, which also barely fit her! She looked like such a South Indian princess...wearing her silk dress and gold!

She also had her first picture with Santa, which was fun. Boy, was there a big line for that one! Some of the other kids cried, but Maya was giggling and as jolly as Santa himself! She loves the attention...what a Gemini!

She has been very grabby lately. She likes to reach out and touch things with her hands. She is always grabbing Dada's mustache, nose, hair, and chest hair! Sometimes when I hold her, she tries to search for that mustache and looks at me like "Why don't you have one like Dada?" And she goes absolutely crazy when Mama uses the hairdryer. It's the most interesting thing right now, to watch Mama do her hair in the morning!

Our good friends Frances and Dickson, had their little boy last week - Darcy Poon, or as I like to call him, "Mister Darcy". She is thrilled with the arrival of another little boyfriend! Her third boyfriend, to be exact!

We are so looking forward to Christmas, and all the family festivities. Maybe she will have her first snow?


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Funny outtakes from our Christmas card photoshoot

How hard is it to take a group shot with a squirmy 6 month old? Almost near impossible!!! 
This month, we attempted to take several pictures - Maya's 5 month birthday, Diwali, and most recently, a picture of all 3 of us for our Christmas card. In each session, we took about 30 pictures, but only 1 or 2 turned out. 
Over the weekend, we tried to photograph ourselves under natural light and with a timer, and it was so hard!!! It was easier for Diwali when we did our group shot with the flash, because then Maya was looking directly at the camera, entranced by the flashing light. This time we had nothing for her to look at around the camera so she didn't know we were taking pictures. She was like, "Yay! Mummy and Daddy are on the mat playing with me!" And we were like, "This is so frustrating! We only have 30 seconds before she spits up on her dress!"
Below are funny outtakes of our Christmas Card photo shoot. Welcome to the chaos of infant-hood!!
 Note to self: clean the house before using a wide-angle lens!

These photos truly represent the madness of infant-hood ..and the fact that you just have to surrender to it. The piles of laundry and ironing, being on the baby's schedule and not on yours, and letting go of whatever your definition of what perfect was/is. It's so chaotic, that you just have to laugh at it and have fun with it. And once we realized that we probably weren't going to get a proper picture (once we surrendered to the madness) we got a great candid shot of the 3 of us!

And finally, this year's Christmas card:

I think it turned out pretty well - totally my photojournalistic style. After all, that's how life is - candid, not posed all the time! Whatever...we yield to the chaos and we are proud of it!

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