JNU’s GSCASH Needs To Be Preserved And Here’s Why

Image Courtesy: Facebook/ Samim Asgor Ali

A letter dated 12th September, 2017 by the Registrar wreaked havoc in JNU for gender justice as it declared that elections to the University’s Gender Sensitization Committee Against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH) were to be put on hold and that a new committee called Internal Complaints committee (ICC) were to take its place. This came immediately after the JNUSU elections where gender justice was a major issue, this year.

A major difference the reconstituting of GSCASH to ICC would cause is the sad fate of representation.

The GSCASH committee constitutes four faculty members (at least two women), four students (at least two women), a woman officer and a woman staff member to be elected by teachers, students and staff. It also had provision for two women representatives of an NGO along with one women coordinator for counselors.

On the other hand the new ICC’s composition according to UGC’s rule is this: three nominated faculty, two nominated non-teaching staff, and three elected student representatives (one undergraduate, one postgraduate, one research scholar).
The Garkoti committee formed to decide upon the composition of the ICC constituted two women (on a nine member committee) as its members only. In addition to it, this committee is not even autonomous as the majority of its members held administrative posts. Also to note that no representations were asked from various stakeholders like the student body, teaching and non-teaching staff.

The cause for this major conversion comes on the pretext of a clause in the UGC-SHW Regulations, s. 2(1), which states that “any existing body already functioning with the same objective should be re-constituted as the ICC”, provided that in the “latter case the HEI shall ensure that the Constitution of such a body is required for ICC under these regulations, provided that such a body shall be bound by the provisions of these regulations”, which necessarily means that JNU has its own ICC under the name of GSCASH. Ironically a letter dated October 6th,2015 by the Assistant Registrar stated that the rules of GSCASH have been revised according to the UGC-SHW Act,2013.

‘The only amendment that should have been recommended is a rechristening of GSCASH as the GSCASH-ICC, if this pedantic obsession with reproducing the nomenclature used in the UGC-SHW Regulations has to be humoured’, statement by the JNUTA on jnuta.wordpress.com.

The second major concern that looms over the abolition of GSCASH is the lack of autonomy. While the VC is not to be a member of the ICC directly, yet he can exert a major influence in the appointment of teaching and non teaching staff which are to be nominated directly. This would further create power hierarchies within the committee hence hampering its working. Another troubling question is the fate of inquiries in which the accused is a member of the administration, it would definitely affect the impartial functioning of the body.

Image Courtesy: WordPress/ jnuta

‘GSCASH is much more democratic and representative than ICC. An ICC which has nominated members by the executive authority, which is the administration is in contradiction with the principle of natural justice, as it either prevents cases of sexual harassment against people in position of power from getting reported or it makes those cases go to people who are effectively allies of those who are the executive authorities.
In this scenario, how does the ICC ensure free and fair procedure ?? It can not. It is a smart move by the administration to replace GSCASH with ICC to safeguard all their people against whom sexual harassment inquiries were going on’,
Somaya Gupta, JNU Student.

This idea of having a spineless ICC has been protested by many including the JNUSU, JNUTA, and the students alike. But the administration is hell -bent on their stand for ICC and have thus dissolved GSCASH wef from September 18th. In a shocking move they also sealed the office of GSCASH and took over the working of GSCASH much to the disappointment and anger of the students and the teachers.

All India Progressive Women’s Association in their strong worded statement on September 18th condemned the state of affairs in JNU. ‘JNU’s GSCASH was among the rare model institutions where the institution was actually autonomous and free to carry out tasks of gender sensitization and enquiries into complaints free from any pressure, regardless of whether the accused was a student, a faculty member, a staff member or employee, or someone in the Administrative hierarchy’, AIPWA.

JNU students’, teachers’ and various organizations are still putting up a relentless fight against the diktat of the administration to preserve GSCASH which is far more efficient than the ICC. JNU being one of India’s finest institutions took a major step backward in delivering gender justice to its students, teaching and non –teaching staff. According to the recent developments the JNU teachers’ and students’ associations have moved to court to oppose this bizarre decision. We just hope that the court recognizes the loopholes in the ICC and give back GSCASH to JNU.

About our writer:English major, proud feminist and an awkward introvert who likes to day dream and gaze into nothingness all day. Smashing gender stereotypes is her favorite task.

Artist of the Week: Kalmuhi

21 year old Illustrator and feminist voice, Pranjali Dubeydecided it was time she used her Media Studies degree to make something she was really passionate about. This is what gave birth to Kalmuhi, a gendered and political art movement of her own through raw and fiery illustration. Taking every day struggles of young girls and giving it a canvas and a voice, Dubey is a woman who chooses not to abide and fit into the societal mould. Her work is relatable yet triggering all at once.

The Ahmedabad-based illustrator lets us in on more.

Who is Kalmuhi ?

Kalmuhi (literally the one who has her face blackened in public of shame) is a term that stands for any woman who breaks the rules and goes against the norms, who does not fit into the socially assigned mould and rebels real hard. Kalmuhi is a platform that I have created for us, the norm breaking women to discuss the issues that we face everyday.

What’s your origin story?

As any other woman growing up in a middle class patriarchal set up, I’ve faced my set of gender issues and my questions regarding these have always been considered a taboo. I was called too radical for asking questions about my own body. That is when I decided to start channelizing all my frustration through my art.

I have been doodling since school but I only found the will and the time to pursue it seriously after I graduated. Kalmuhi began as a simple space for curating all the little pieces that I created but eventually turned into a platform for discussing serious gender issues that all of us face as a society, every day.

Kalmuhi’s work

What inspires your creative process?

Personal experiences and stories. I speak to a lot of women on a daily basis. I’ve realised, depending on factors like age, sexuality, education, cultural norms, economic background and exposure to media, each person has a unique set of battles that they have faced/are facing. I receive countless messages on my Instagram everyday regarding these issues, from women coming from varied backgrounds. A lot of them share their personal experiences and want me to doodle about them for the world to see and understand what they go through better.

Once the story/experience hits me deeply, research about the issue helps me get a wider perspective and a better sense of understanding.

The Aunty Radar- Kalmuhi

What does feminism mean to you?

Feminism to me is equal treatment and respect for all, irrespective of who they are or choose to be. Letting people be, is what I advocate. Their gender/sexuality/ choice of lifestyle should not be the determinants of their worth.

Art’s place in activism has been profound throughout modern history, what emotions do you feel can best describe your art and your personal revolution?

As a Feminist artist, my aim is to create a dialogue between my doodles and the audience through an inclusion of women’s perspective. My art is a commentary and means less for aesthetic admiration, and more for understanding and questioning the socio-political landscape of the prevalent gender issues. I am using it as a tool to try and mend the society in places where it seems broken.

The Manscratcher — Kalmuhi

What does the future look like for Kalmuhi?

At this point, I just aim to reach out to as many people I can and illustrate their experiences, spread awareness and trigger a discussion. I am being invited to schools to talk and hold discussions about gender issues that pre-teens face every day and the lack of support and education regarding the same. So the future definitely holds a lot of doodles, questions, and discussions. But I am definitely looking for more visibility and better opportunities since the world is very difficult for independent artists out there.

You can find Kalmuhi here.


About our writer: Rhea Dangwal is a Desi feminist and writer at large, annihilating misogyny and chicken nuggets with equal vengeance. DM her a high five here: @rheadangs

Profile of the Week: Niveditha Prakasam

by Aishwarya Shrivastav

 

Introducing her in the grand finale, Rohan Joshi described her as a revelation for the judges. As of today, she stands as the reigning champion of the TLC Queens Of Comedy!

With rupees 10 lakh and her own shown on TLC under her belt now, we got in conversation with the amazing Niveditha Prakasam from Chennai as she talks comedy, her different style and effective writing capabilities. A former vehicle engineer turned language editor from Chennai on how she turned her voice and comic timing to become the comedy queen we have all come to love!

What’s your comedy origin story?

This question is for a pro comedian, I’m not there yet. I still have a day job, and no one knows who I am, which I’m very comfortable with. I’ve always been a fan of comedy, and if I had the opportunity, I would’ve done it earlier.

Why do you think there is a dearth of female comics?

Why are there few male fashion bloggers? I guess it all comes down to interest, audience and the success rate. Everyone’s probably waiting for someone else to pave the way first.

What inspires you while preparing a set and how often do your own personal stories make their way into your stand up?

In comedy, a lot of content comes from personal experiences or opinions. You want to be absolutely positive that you believe in what you’re saying. Otherwise, the joke won’t sell. I’m still figuring out what my style is, so I’m currently experimenting with all kinds — observational, satire, deadpan.

What’s your fool proof method while delivering your jokes? Do you think inherent sexism dictates the kind of jokes women can tell?

It depends, if the entire audience is uncomfortable, there’s something wrong with my joke, and I need to work on it. If one person hates it, it’s that person’s right to hate it but 100 other people liked it, so I will keep that joke.

You can be funny or unfunny regardless of gender. We need representation, to balance out the conversation though. Wife jokes can get very monotonous.

What does the future hold for female comics after Queens?

Women are still few in number and very new, but they’re very good already (in my opinion). I can’t wait to see how the comedy scene in India evolves in the next ten years.

Google Images

Watch her funny but honest take on ugliness


 About our writer: Aishwarya Shrivastav is a history graduate from University of Delhi. A spoken word poet, she likes to describe herself as a woman taking up more space than she was allotted by the society. Raging through words.

Busting Bi-Sexual Stereotypes

It’s Bi-sexuality pride week and we are here for it!

But wait, you know who else is at this party, sorely uninvited? There’s Sordid Stereotypes trying to interrupt your conversation at every sentence. And look, there standing alone in the corner sipping their mojito slowly is, Biphobia. Heteronormative pop music is playing in the background and you have already started letting DJ Anxie-T ruin your party.

Pick yourself back up because KrantiKali is here to set some things straight.

The day I figured out I liked girls along with guys, was back in middle school one day when a friend of mine excitedly came and started to tickle me. Instead of laughing, I froze. That day I became sure of the fact that it wasn’t just that I admired how cute and smart she was but that I actually had a very cliché, very middle school crush on her. Growing up and looking for my identity was complicated as is, it now even had a nice seasoning of trying to figure out my sexuality added to the mix.
The first thing I noticed was;

General queer awareness doesn’t include bisexuality.

14 YO me had a vague idea of a binary of hetero and homosexuality, but I had no knowledge of the fact that there lay a whole spectrum of gender and sexuality that we barely touched upon in our media and pop-culture. In this atmosphere when one feels attracted towards both boys and girls growing up can be very confusing and can lead to a lot of self-doubt and anxiety. School did not have any sort of gender and Sex-Ed beyond the one biology chapter with the diagram of a scrotum which most Indian teachers just chose to skim over. Because our society has a warped and false view of cis-gender heterosexuality as the norm, confused teens remain just that- Confused.

Which brings us to our next point then;

Bi-visibility is important
Girl on girl relationships are valid, boy on boy relationships are valid. And guess what, people who are capable of both are extremely valid too. Our pop culture and media needs more of this kind of acceptance as well as visibility. Conversations need to be more accommodating of the orientation and move beyond the platitude femme gay male and the buzz-cut lesbian tomboy. I remember googling bisexuality after Lady Gaga came out as one. Thanks to my queen and icon, I finally could make sense of where my sexuality sort of lay in the spectrum.

16-year olds shouldn’t be getting their sex ed from MTV.

Once I started to understand what my feelings really meant and started to accept myself as bisexual, a whole host of new things happened. A fair amount of bi people face a whole tsunami of pigeonhole categories that they are pushed into.

Bisexual people are perverts and sex addicts.

This has been by far the most difficult stereotype to get over. When straight bigoted people are ignorant about bisexuality, it translates to them as someone who is depraved to the point of ‘being attracted to anything with legs.’ Yes, I have been called that, multiple times. And no, that isn’t true. Being Bi-sexual means that you have the capacity to love someone regardless of whether they are of the opposite gender or not, that also means that I am not necessarily going to fall in romantic conundrums with your bigoted and queerphobic self.

The ‘all roads lead to a dick’ narrative
Bisexuality is definitely not a phase and I am not confused, you are!
This is something I get mostly from cis-het people. Bisexuality in women, instead of being called out and accepted as an actual sexuality has been hyper-fetishised and normalised in our media into a quirk that teenagers pick up in college and then sort of grow out of. This can lead to abuse and, I can’t reiterate this enough, so much confusion and self doubt!
You think you can ‘I kissed a girl and I liked it’ and then go back to being queer phobic, while throwing the girl you damn well kissed under the bus making them susceptible for bullying and abuse.
Bi-sexual men have it hard because the way patriarchy is structured, a man showing affection towards another man is seen through the harsh lens of what defines ‘masculinity’ and their bi-ness can be completely erased for them pushing their voice and concerns towards the narrative of those who identify as gay.

You have reached the end of Part 1 of the series Bi-SexuaStereotypes! Click here for Part 2 as we go ahead celebrating #BiPrideWeek!

About our writer: Rhea Dangwal is a Desi feminist and writer at large, annihilating misogyny and chicken nuggets with equal vengeance. DM her a high five here: @rheadangs

Asking the Aunty for consent but jeopardising ours?

 

The rules for what goes viral on the internet are as obscure as the medium itself. If you’ve been anywhere near social media this past week, you would have noticed many organised events popping up on facebook, painstakingly curated in different cities calling out to people to assemble and shout ‘Bolna Aunty Aaun Kya’ (Tell me aunty, if I may come over). For those out of the loop, this ridiculous sounding line is one fresh out of a two year old music video from youtube uploaded by singer and recently gone viral ‘rap star’ Omprakash.

Surprisingly the events have seen a huge turnout which speaks volumes about the powerful grip of popular culture on the population.
Who would have thought that this auto-tuned track on top of a low budget video could attract the millions that it did. But come to think of it though, this dumpster fire of misogyny is not very different from the other mainstream bollywood and independant music that gets popular in our country; one which we willingly pay to consume and dance to.
The country’s rap and music industry saw a revolution at the turn of the century with themes which began the inclusion of elements of drugs,alcohol and violent sexual references. The immediate effects may be hard to point out but it surely helped reinforce a lifelong set of behaviour by encouraging a sense of entitlement among males over the women these lyrics chose to objectify and minimize, with considerable increase in aggressive attitudes against women. For example, known by his ardent fans as the self proclaimed ‘God of Rap’, Eminem has been repeatedly accused of sexist and violent lyrics in his songs and yet remains one of the most influential artist in the english music industry.
One argument that can be proposed is that art comes with freedom from censorship and they are entitled to produce what they like. But another side of the argument is that the ability to create also comes with its equal share of responsibility. The popularity of such songs though provide us with more opportunity to discuss about what’s inappropriate and to create a discussion platform because going by the access to media we have today, censorship would just be a lost battle.
Women are objectified aplenty. It’s almost frustrating that most women are constantly stuck between their love for pop music and hate for sexist lyrics, because the song is honestly catchy and entertaining. Many unconsciously believe that sexism in songs is excusable because of the very fact that it is based on how things really are in the society we live in. Women are always living the guilt of not being able to laugh it off like a routine song or being accused of ‘over-critical’ analysis.The very effort of criticizing the lyrics is the identification of how notions normalize themselves in the society.
The participation of young women then in such events becomes a bone of confusing contention. But maybe that’s the problem. By living in a society that constantly normalizes such dangerous and derogatory art by calling it a ‘problematic fave’ we have created generations of men and women who simply go with the catchy value of songs like these and not the lyrics that are a conscious juxtaposition of masculine power play and female hyper-sexualisation. Going by the women participants of this event, we are witnessing that women are also readily accepting the ways their sexuality is portrayed thereby unconsciously absorbing these traits in their personalities.
Radhika, a lawyer from Delhi found out about these events on Facebook. She along with her friends started reporting all such events in New Delhi though not all of them were taken down, she at least did her bit and didn’t succumb to popular pressure.
“I did it because I felt a sense of responsibility towards the people; what shocked my conscience the most was how most of these were being organised in educational institutions. I saw one organised in a secondary school!” (sic)
While Omprakash has the freedom of speech to create the content that he has, it is up to the audience to be prudent enough to be able to make the decision of consuming it or not. Watching people gather in big numbers, supporting the song and screaming such lyrics can be a frightening experience. As of today, the video has been taken down from YouTube but enough time had passed for thousands of others to re-upload and share the content.
Changing people’s minds and overall thought processes is a tough challenge and internalised misogyny is a curse that keeps on giving. The need of the hour then, is to not give in and stand strong against what we think needs to change in the society; to educate our friends and family and make them realise that the chauvinism they help reinforce in ways like these, might just come back to haunt them instead.

Troll.Okay.Please.


In internet slang, a troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion, often for their own amusement.
by Rachel Bali

Trolls can be funny but, there’s a thin line between trolling-funny and trolling-mean. The transition from funny and in-good-humor trolls can escalate to mean and nasty troll is quite quick. Especially, if their “funny” is directed at someone’s sexuality or gender in a negative fashion and come off as sexist in most cases.

The perfect example of a gender stereotype is when we pathologize a woman’s reactions and term them as “ovary-actions” belittling it further by saying “Is this you PMS-ing or do you really mean it?”, “Must be that time of the month”, “PMS-ing Bitch”. Here, a woman’s natural biological process, which is still a taboo subject in our country, is used against her.

What worries me the most is the normalization of such comments among men and women alike. This practice is used to put a woman down and to render her point of view or reaction invalid.

Above Indian journalist Barkha Dutt in response to a troll on twitter.
In more recent news, Barkha Dutt and Kavita Krishnan were trolled to such an extent that it was beyond unbearable to read. In India, when we want to bring a woman down we hunt her sexuality and hold it down to drown in a slew of disgusting comments until it becomes dirty laundry that needs a “good” wash.

It makes me question the mentality of our society. We should be ashamed. We, as a nation, have failed big time. We let such misogynistic vitriol visibly dominate our social media by supporting it through re-tweeting and favouriting. You may argue saying “Arrey, what “Phokat ka Footage this entire thing is”.But, let me remind you, harassment is harassment.

A particular reaction to “The Barkha Dutt Trollgate” from one of India’s many sons caught my eye. His status read “What happened to the good old days when trolls were funny and people were not such sensitive pansy faggot feminazi bastards?”

To which all I want to say is I, too, wonder as to what happened to the good old days when the trolls were funny and people were not posting such misogynistic and poorly worded status’s targeting a woman’s sexuality thereby, reducing her entire person-hood to over-imagined perceptions of her sexual life.
So, I do too, I do wonder just like you as to what gives these people the audacity to get away with such comments that border sexual harassment. I mean how do these words even find a way to travel from their minds and onto their screens? Why don’t they feel that what they’re doing or saying is “wrong”?

How does their conscience even allow them to think and feel like they own the internet and nothing they say will have any ramifications? If its “Freedom of Speech” you’re thinking as an answer to my question i urge you to think again! Would you call it freedom of speech then, when an eve teaser is uttering such statements as an attempt to harass a woman on the streets? I sure hope as hell that you don’t think so.

It’s quite pitiful that even in 2016 a woman’s achievements or failures are blamed or credited to her vagina and not her skills as a professional. Bosses who are women are still considered to be difficult to work with. While in comparison to their male counterparts they might be equally particular in their working style. Yet, we let someone’s gender typecast cloud our lens of perception.

“Is India failing its women by letting such harassment travel from the physical to the virtual streets and corners of the internet?”
We’ve given up in the real world and are “dealing” with it while stuck in our individual jail of “precautions”. How much more do we have to “deal” with, India?