Five years since Nirbhaya…

16th December 2012, 23 year old medical student Jyoti Singh was raped. Gang raped. On 26th December, the then prime minister, Manmohan Singh, took the decision to fly Jyoti to a transplant specialist hospital in Singapore. She died on 28th December from the internal injuries.

Asha Devi and Badrinath Singh

“We are still waiting for justice”: Asha Devi and Badrinath Singh, Jyoti’s parents.

Today marks 5 years since Nirbhaya but has anything changed? are women safer?  There are more and more rape cases coming forward – but is this making any difference? – how many more cases will it take for it to come to end completely? – to destroy something it must be finished from its root.

On 17th December 2012 a outrage spread across India and the entire world for Nirbhaya. Hoping she will get justice. The government announced death by hanging as punishment for the rapists – it has been 5 years and this still has not happened, one was let of as juvenile, one committed suicide and the other 3 are still in jail their hanging was delayed this year.

Image result for nirbhaya case

Since the reporting of Nirbhaya there has been an increase of reporting rape cases by 35%. Rape statistics have increased over the years, leading people to question why has there been increase. But I believe personally rape has always been at high rates it was just never reported by so many due to victims or victims parents thinking it will cause shame for them.

The root of rape cases – why do they happen; a few things come into my mind –

Bollywood influence – many, many bollywood films are male centred with a female just for eye candy, item songs showing one girl with so many men and she is loving it. Films show how men chase women till she gives and somehow falls in love with them.

Lack of education – not having access to education especially in rural areas means that some are not aware of what women are capble of doing – women across not just India but the vast globe have exceeded in various jobs and titles and not just being at home listening to whatever a male says – being the father or later the husband. Women are independent in certain places in India which many other rural areas are unaware off.

But what causes someone to rape a baby, a young girl ? perhaps they are mentally ill..?    I really don’t know. 6 days ago, 5-year-old Haryana girl was raped and she was found with 16-cm wooden stick inserted in her private parts.

I’m not sure how rape cases can come to end but I think it starts at home. Instead of telling girls how they can save themselves from being raped how about we start teaching boys not to rape. To create a change in society we need to start at home. Bring up both boys and girls with equality – not differentiate with them. We need to break the stigma that if a girl has male friends she is a not a good girl or doesn’t come from a good family. If a girl has a boyfriend it does not mean she is characterless.

In 2015 A documentary film directed by Lesleed Udwin which was part of the BBC’s ongoing Storyville series brought into light what goes through the mind of rapists and those that think it is a girls fault that she gets raped.

India Daughter

This film was banned in India but it aired outside of India on 4 March 2015 was uploaded on YouTube going viral. On 5 March, the Indian government directed YouTube to block the video in India. The documentary is now available to watch on Netflix with some bits on YouTube.

The documentary had some shocking statements made by the rapists –

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Was this rapist – brought up this way, is this what he was taught by his parents. Is this what he saw in society and then thought it was norm which is why he raped Jyoti? I don’t know.

It has been 70 years since the Independence of India and 5 years since this brutal rape case. Are women free in India? Can a woman walk alone past 8pm.

freedom

An image from the protest which took place a day after the rape of Jyoti Singh.

I am not sure when the day will come, when across the entire world women are treated with equal respect and that having a girl is just as valuable as a boy.

When will #Nirbhaya get justice… I am not sure but for now, I believe only God can give her justice. The Government is corrupted, the system needs to break at its root. The society needs to change… and as mentioned in order to make this change, the change must come from home. A new wave of revolution must start to create a world save for women.


Sources used –

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/how-city-turned-the-corner-after-nirbhaya/articleshow/62090260.cms

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/dec/03/five-years-after-gang-murder-jyoti-singh-how-has-delhi-changed

http://zeenews.india.com/india/5-years-since-nirbhaya-gang-rape-when-will-accused-be-hanged-2066704.html

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/haryana-hisar-six-year-old-rape-torture-wooden-stick-inserted-in-private-parts/1/1106960.html

India’s daughter –  film which is available on Netflix to watch.

 

 

Wagah Border…

Wagah de border te raah puchdi Lahore’an de haye… 

15th August 1947
While India was celebrating
Panjab was crying
Crying tears of blood

Ravi was separated from her sister Chenab
And the river of love became filled with blood

The land that once co-existed with all faiths
Today was fighting
Hindu here
Sikh here
Musalman there
No one thought about my PanjabA line was drawn
And that was it
No one thought about the consequences
The mass migration
The killings
The rapes
The women abducted
The families separated
The houses destroyedMy Lahore
My Nankana
Was separated from me
70 years on
I still hear the cries of my people Panjab was torn apart into two pieces
But – where am I to exist
When I exist in a united Panjab
A Panjab without Wagah Border
A Panjab where it’s five rivers flow together

 

 

 

Where am I to exist
Where am I to exist…

 

(photography and poetry – Rupinder Kaur)

Why Loona is a epitome of Feminist writing

I believe Shiv Kumar Batalvi along with being a fantastic poet was also a great feminist which is shown by one of his greatest literature pieces ‘Loona’ – Lūṇā – ਲੂਣਾ; The book that won Shiv Kumar Batalvi the Sahita Akademi Award, Loona is a play written in verse.

The king of Sialkot marries a young girl called Loona. She falls in love with the king’s son from his first marriage, Puran who is of her age. When Pooran repels her advances, she alleges misbehaviour by him to the king. Pooran is maimed and thrown into a well as a punishment. A sage rescues and treats him, and Pooran turns into a wandering ascetic himself – a Bhagat. Years later, a childless Loona comes to visit the famous Bhagat. When she realises his identity, she admits her mistake. Pooran forgives her and his father, and a child is later born to Loona.  – This is how this tale of Bhagat Puran has been told for centuries. 

Image result for loona shiv kumar

There is radical shift is seen in Shivs version from the male persona to a female protagonist . Batalvi openly addresses the concept of female desire and justifies the sexual attraction that Loona expresses. She is married to man the age of her father desiring the sexual attraction from her husbands son who is the same age as her.  Loona can be seen as a scapegoat to the situation. Every woman desires love, every woman has sexual wants and desires – And Batalavi makes it open for Loona to express her wants.

ਹਰ ਮਹਿਬੂਬਾ ਦੇ ਚਿਹਰੇ ਵਿਚ , ਮਾਂ ਹੁੰਦੀ ਹੈ, ਤੇ ਹਰ ਮਾਂ ਦੇ ਚਿਹਰੇ ਵਿਚ ਮਹਿਬੂਬਾ – har mehbooba de chihre vich, ma hondi hai, te har ma de chihre vich mehbooba –  every lover’s image exists a mother and in every mother’s image exists a lover.


Batalvi questions the system which does not object to this mismatched marriage but raises the sceptre of morality if she longs for fulfilment in a man equal in age and youth –

ਧਰਮੀ ਬਾਬਲ ਪਾਪ ਕਮਾਇਆ
ਲੜ ਲਾਇਆ ਸਾਡੇ ਫੁੱਲ ਕੁਮਲਾਇਆ
ਜਿਸ ਦਾ ਇੱਛਰਾਂ ਰੂਪ ਹੰਡਾਇਆ
ਮੈਂ ਪੂਰਨ ਦੀ ਮਾਂ ਪੂਰਨ ਦੇ ਹਾਣ ਦੀ

ਮੈਂ ਉਸ ਤੋਂ ਇਕ ਚੁੰਮਣ ਵਡੀ
ਪਰ ਮੈਂ ਕੀਕਣ ਮਾਂ ਉਹਦੀ ਲੱਗੀ
ਉਹ ਮੇਰੀ ਗਰਭ ਜੂਨ ਨਾ ਆਇਆ
ਲੋਕਾ ਵੇ ਮੈਂ ਧੀ ਵਰਗੀ ਸਲਵਾਣ ਦੀ

ਪਿਤਾ ਜੇ ਧੀ ਦਾ ਰੂਪ ਹੰਡਾਵੇ
ਲੋਕਾ ਵੇ ਤੈਨੂੰ ਲਾਜ ਨਾ ਆਵੇ
ਜੇ ਲੂਣਾ ਪੂਰਨ ਨੂੰ ਚਾਹਵੇ
ਚਰਿਤਰ ਹੀਣ ਕਵੇ ਕਿਉਂ ਜੀਭ ਜਹਾਨ ਦੀ

ਚਰਿਤਰ ਹੀਣ ਤੇ ਤਾਂ ਕੋਈ ਆਖੇ
ਜੇ ਕਰ ਲੂਣਾ ਵੇਚੇ ਹਾਸੇ
ਪਰ ਜੇ ਹਾਣ ਨਾ ਲੱਭਣ ਮਾਪੇ
ਹਾਣ ਲੱਭਣ ਵਿਚ ਗੱਲ ਕੀ ਹੈ ਅਪਮਾਨ ਦੀ

ਲੂਣਾ ਹੋਵੇ ਤਾਂ ਅਪਰਾਧਣ
ਜੇਕਰ ਅੰਦਰੋਂ ਹੋਏ ਸੁਹਾਗਣ
ਮਹਿਕ ਉਹਦੀ ਜੇ ਹੋਵੇ ਦਾਗਣ
ਮਹਿਕ ਮੇਰੀ ਤਾਂ ਕੰਜਕ ਮੈਂ ਹੀ ਜਾਣਦੀ

dharmi babal paap kamaya
larh laya mere phull kumlaya
jis da IchraaN roop handaya
mein Puran di maaN pooran de haan di

main uston ikk chumman vaddi
par main keekan maan uhdi laggi
uh meri garb joon na aaiya
loka ve maiN dhi vargi salvaan di

pita je dhi da roop handaave
loka ve tainu laaj na aave
je Loona Puran nu chaahve
charitarheen kave kion jeebh jahaan di

Loona hove taan apradhan
jekar androN hove suhagan
mehak ohdi je hove dagaan
mehak meri taaN kanjak main hi jaan-di

English Translation:

Honorable father committed a sin
Married me to a wilted flower
Whose youth IchrraaN had worn out
I am like Puran’s mother, Puran is my match

I am just one kiss elder than him
But how can I be called his mother
He is not born of my womb
World, I am like a daughter to Salvan

If a father marries his daughter
World, isn’t that shameful
If Loona desires Puran
Why is she called characterless by the world

She may be called characterless
If Loona trades in pleasures
But if the parents don’t find a match
What’s shameful in finding yourself a match

Loona would have been guilty
Had her heart accepted the marriage
Had her essence been permeated
My essence is chaste, only I know.


Even though Loona’s feelings and emotions are being conveyed through Batalvi – a man, he understands Loona.

Loona in Batalvi’s poem speaks and voices her concerns to the reader. ਅੱਗ ਕਿਉਂ ਨਾ ਬੋਲੇ ?
ਜੀਭ ਦਾ ਜੰਦਰਾਂ ਕਿਉਂ ਨਾ ਖੋਹਲੇ ? – aag kyu na bole? jeeb da jadraa kyu na khooley? – Why should fire not speak? Why should she not open the lock that seals her lips?

Batalvi’s kissa is modern because it explores a modern theme –  the condition of women in a male dominated society. While the old form was a narration of affirmation, the new is dramatic, disruptive and revolutionary. Shiv Kumar Batalvi has turned the tale of Bhagat Puran and Loona into a tale that questions the old legend, shifts the male society perspective and tells the story from the perspective of the woman. For Batalvi, it is the legend of Loona which is why it is called Loona – a girl of lower caste, married against her wishes, who falls in love with a man of her age. For this reason it is the epitome of Feminist writing despite it being written by a man.


online ebook of Loona – http://apnaorg.com/books/loonan/loonan.php?fldr=book

also available online at Punjabi kavita – https://www.punjabi-kavita.com/LoonaShivKumarBatalvi.php

online in shahmukhi at Punjabi kavita – http://www.punjabi-kavita.com/LoonaShivKumarBatalviShahmukhi.php

Mental Health

Every day you go on this war and no one understands
Why you are quite why you are silent
Why you still respond “yes I’m ok” when you’re really not.

– the inner war between self-destruction and self-love

Mental health is seen as taboo subject especially within the south Asian community it’s not something you would discuss with your parents over the dining table. If you say you’re under stress – often you will be told what stress, when I was your age I did this … I did that.
In our south Asian community, many people view mental health as “sharam”, meaning it is shameful so it is often ignored or not spoken about, as it brings shame to families.
I feel in our community people really don’t really understand that there is something called mental health. Just because you can’t see it, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
Mental health is real, depression is real, anxiety is real and we need to talk about it and not avoid it.

There are many different types of categories of mental health – anxiety, panic attacks, stress, low self-esteem, depression, phobia, self-harm, suicidal feelings the list is pretty endless.
There have been times in the past when I have been under stress due to exams, things not going the way I hoped so. And I have had extremely low self-esteem I hated my appearance growing up that it made me depressed that I resulted to self-harm and had suicidal feelings.

And this past year I felt darkness once again… I wanted to run away from everything.  But I realised that wasn’t going to help me. The truth was I needed help. I needed to do something about this. I started writing deeper and deeper, writing everything I never thought I would – and yes that saved me. I spent time working myself, giving my mind a break from the usual trying to spend more time with nature and looking at Gods beauty and trying to understand the beauty of life.

The truth is we don’t appreciate the little accomplishments that we achieve. And sometimes we start to compare our lives with others and that’s when we make an mistake.

Sometimes we look at our-self in the mirror and constantly compare ourselves to models and celebs forgetting that they have Photoshop, they have so many people that make them look good. But we only have ourselves to make ourselves look and feel good.

But how can we become positive when we are drowning in negativity – small steps – learning to value and love ourselves.

Simple things such as a walk outside and connecting with nature – breathing and realising the beautiful existence of the world can help lift our mood and make us feel better.

Taking care of our mental health is just as important as our physical health. It can be incredibly hard to think positive and feel positive when you really don’t feel like that all. But one thing that has really been my saviour is having faith in God and trusting whatever God does is for the best. I know God helps me, supports me.

Whenever I do feel down God somehow sends blessings in the form of a person or just a conversation or just something that I read and makes me feel so much better.
Over the past year, I have changed a lot – be it my writing or as an individual.

This year has been the most important year, for making me realise how important mental health is. I could have been that 13 year old self-harming myself… but I understood what my body needed – it needed time to heal from everything, from every situation that I was placed in. Today I’ve really come out of my shell of having low self-esteem and zero confidence – to becoming someone who loves them self which I don’t think I don’t think is selfish. Self-love is one of the most important love that exists and I hope you all understand that too.

Take your time to heal
Realise what is important to you
Think about what makes you happy for once
Maybe go for a walk
Read a book
Write down everything you feel

Most importantly if something is making you depressed – leave it. If a relationship is causing pain – leave it. If you are unhappy with what you are doing – leave it.

If we don’t look after our health especially our mental health no one else is going too. We need to become our own best friends and understand what is good for our mind and body.

– mental health well-being 
is nothing to be ashamed off.

Mirza-Sahiba

 

Image result for mirza sahiba

Mirza Sahiba was first penned by 17-Century poet Peelu, who recorded an oral legend that had been passed down for generations. But what was hidden between the lines of poetry and history. Sahiba loved Mirza deeply but remained to be known as a betrayer forever.

Every writer and poet, wrote she was a betrayer but no one tired to understand her. What her view was. Nothing is even told what happens to her after Mirzas death.

The story of Mirza Sahiba is one of the four love stories of Punjab along with; Heer-Ranjha, Sonhi-Mahiwaal and Sassi-Punnun. It is the last love tale of Panjab.
Mirza Sahiba is the only one, where the name of the male lover is first unlike the other three love tales.
As the tale progresses disputes against their love occur. Mirza is busy with her sisters wedding and Sahiba is about to marry someone else. Mirza takes Sahiba away. And fearful for her brothers’ lives, Sahiban got rid of Mirza’s bow and arrows. Sahiba knew Mirza would win against her brothers. Sahibas brothers kill Mirza. Peelu doesn’t mention what happens to her; some sources say she killed herself after realizing she was the cause of Mirza’s death, while others say her brothers strangled her for dishonoring them.
Sahiba who is constantly brought down in song lyrics, poetry and movies. Was a girl who just wanted to be understood by both her brothers and lover. Neither of them understood what she wanted. And it is often said may no one have a daugher like Sahiba. The way Peelu wrote about her determined her fate forever in pages of history.

If I have a daughter…

If I have a daughter, I hope she understands that –
Caring too much and feeling too much is not a problem.
But when it begins to give pain I hope she will stop
I know how it feels to give your everything and receive nothing in return…
I am used to it, but I will never let her get to use to being second preference.

If I have a daughter, I will teach her to love her sun-kissed brown skin.
Because God loved her so much that he painted her in rays of golden brown.

If I have a daughter, I will teach her that, knowing your native language is not something to be ashamed of –
Because there is no greater form of expression in literature than your mother tongue.

If I have a daughter, I will not limit her to the scholarly literature that she will receive.
I will tell her of the great Warriors and Saints from our land.
I will tell her of the great poets and writers that belong to our Five Rivers.

If I have a daughter, I will tell her – do not be afraid to love.
Love can be risk but sometimes it is the greatest risk that you take in life.
But I will teach her never waste your precious time
On guys that are not your worth – because she worth more than diamonds to hear words of just another cliché.

And if I have daughter, I will tell her, pick up a pen
Pick up a paintbrush
Or something that gives you desire to live every day
To do something every day
Better and better
Till the form of expression becomes you itself.

But most importantly –
If I have a daughter, I will teach her to love herself.
Love her frame regardless of what she looks like
Not just because she is my daughter and to me she will be most beautiful being
But because every girl from a young age deserves to know that.

And I will teach my daughter her words have the power to change the turn of the universe…

❋ ❋ ❋ ❋

 

I wrote this poem a while back when I was thinking “If I had a daughter” – what would I tell her, what would I say to her. Coming from a Panjabi, Sikh family I am quite lucky that my parents brought me up with equality. In many Panjabi families having a daughter is not liked some believe she is bad luck and because she will not carry the family name she shouldn’t even be born. Panjab has one of the highest number of female female foeticide. It is sad to think this, it is horrible. I believe girls – women have the power to do so much. But many have their wings clipped before they are even born – many aren’t allowed to fly and many are just caged away. It is truly sad. My culture often degrades women while Sikhi empowers and uplifts women – the two clash and often is misunderstood. I hope one day this society will change. I hope the birth a girl will be just as important as a boy.

Eurocentric Beauty Standards

Growing up I hated my long nose – a feature which is common for many brown women especially in Panjabi women.  I believed it was “too big”.  I wanted to have surgery when I was older and believe it or not it made me very depressed. I hated my appearance throughout my teenage years. I started wearing makeup at the age of 12/13 years old believing that it would make me look and feel beautiful. I would wear layers and layers to school many people didn’t understand this. But the reason why I wore so much makeup when I was younger was because of my sense of insecurity.

And it certainly didn’t help seeing a certain type of women showcased on magazine covers, shown in television and films.  These women had a certain type of features- eurocentric beauty standards.

Now what I mean by eurocentric beauty standards is its focus on European and Caucasian women how they have anglicized features e.g – smaller noses, thinner lips, fair skin and light eyes etc. These types of features are seen more beautiful.

Often many women of colour who have been on magazine covers or TV ads are shown many shades lighter to their actual skin tone and some are even shown wearing contacts. And we are often told to stay in this westernized style and that our cultures traditional style make us look ugly or too ethnic.

Now I’m not saying that European or Caucasian women are not beautiful however their beauty certainly does not define another women’s beauty.

Today I’ve come out of my self-hatred and I am learning to self-love. Today I actually appreciate my appearance, my long nose, my brown skin. And regardless if you wear makeup or don’t wear makeup just be comfortable in your appearance. Don’t feel you need to fit in because you really don’t. Having dark skin does not make you less beautiful than someone with fair skin, having brown eyes and not green eyes doesn’t make you less beautiful. And those women who are shown on magazine covers do not define your beauty. You don’t need to be fair, you don’t to be skinny to be beautiful.

True beauty is defined by the beauty of the heart, not appearance.

No I’m not sorry that –
My hooked nose goes against your eurocentric beauty standards.

No I’m not sorry that –
My eyes are big and wide filled with the depth of the ocean

No I’m not sorry that –
I don’t fit in with your perception of beauty

Do my curves make you feel uncomfortable?
That my back and spine holds so much strength and power
That I don’t fit in with your idealisation of a perfect woman
No I’m not sorry.

Does my brown skin make you feel uneasy?
That God painted me in golden rays of light
Not to fit in with your fair skinned beauty ideals
But to stand out.

And no, no, no I’m not apologetic
I’m a brown woman who’s not defined by your eurocentric beauty standards.

I wrote this poem a few months back. I felt it was necessary to give the message across to women that your beauty is not defined by eurocentric beauty standards.