SMIW Weekly Roundup: Smriti Irani, Mimi & Nusrat, and a lecherous air passenger

Written by: SMIW Editorial

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This post is a part of our weekly roundup series. Every week, we will take a look-back at sexual harassment, gender violence and related incidents in India and beyond. Readers can submit their suggestions, comments and opinions to letters@spoiltmodernwoman.com.

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The highlight of the week was Smriti Irani’s viral image of being the pallbearer for her friend who was murdered this week. It was a solitary commendable act against patriarchal traditions which do not allow women near the funeral and if allowed, leave the pall-bearing and pyre lighting only for men. Both the act and the person were hailed out of proportion, leaving the feminist circles conflicted. Some hijacked this act as a symbolic funeral of feminist voices, the others appropriated it for a palatable feminism, and others called it a turning point in women empowerment while dissing women who are ‘career driven’. The chowkidars had a field day, using this to reaffirm public faith in her victory over Rahul Gandhi in Amethi. We tried to clear the air with our take on the act and the person by including the larger picture.
Soon followed the announcement of the cabinet. The country that once found her face as an ‘Adarsh bahu’ with all her patriarchal perfections is now the face of Women and Child development industry. In the backdrop of her being one of the front faces of this deeply brahminical patriarchy plagued party and parliament, one wonders what is in store. We know her personal stance on Sabarimala and her views on menstruation. Will her role in the ministry make any difference to the party’s stand on women’s reservation, tax on sanitary pads, sex education, on rape as a tool to subjugate entire minorities and dalits? Will she be able to put any use to Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao, which has been a massive failure so far.
While the chowkidars hailed Smriti’s defying actions, they were quick to put down Mimi Chakraborty and Nusrat Jahan for their choice of clothing in the parliament.

In other news, one Indian gentleman sexually harassed a female flight attendant on a Saudi flight. It started with his entitlement to light a cigarette in the flight, which we all know, is not allowed. The message is literally over our heads every time we squeeze ourselves into those darn seats. Yet, somehow, this man failed to get the message. When the flight attendant attempted to stop him, he unzipped his pants to unleash the horror for us to see. It’s a classic symptom and outcome of being challenged, men who feel threatened often react with sexual harassment. Should we bar sexual offenders from flying? Yes, please.

Our favorite moment in the last week was when we heard that Anu Malik was banned entering the grounds of Yash Raj studios. Small mercies in the face of him being roped in for yet another (honestly?) season of Indian Idol. Anu Malik, a seasoned composer and music director, has multiple accusations of sexual harassment and misconduct, including when he allegedly attempted to kiss a then 15-year old singer Shweta Pandit. Another Bollywood director, Vikas Bahl of the ‘Queen’ fame, was also one of the accused in the #MeToo movement, was recently cleared of the charges of sexual harassment against him. The Internal Committee of Reliance Entertainment investigated into the case and gave him a clean chit. We can only hope that this investigation was fairer, legally binding and more ethical than what the Supreme Court of India managed to do in their investigations against Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.

To end on a good note, a ‘Global Childhood Report’ released by Save The Children NGO, informed us that the number of married young adults in the age group of 15-19 years has fallen down by 51% since 2000!! Woohoo! Not just that even teen pregnancies are down by 63% since 2000. Double woohoo!

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