Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Pushing boundaries

Vartanama, Oct '14
By Pawan Dhall

As I stood looking up at (and to) Goddess Durga in a popular South Kolkata Durga Puja pandal, the theme of a research paper I was writing on social and economic inclusion flashed past my mind. With her 10 arms resplendent with celestial weaponry, she looked extremely capable of protecting human kind from all directions and from all evils and miseries. Were the Government of India to start a large scale social and economic inclusion programme for the sexually stigmatized and criminalized communities, wouldn’t she make for an apt icon for the programme? Her 10 arms could also stand for a "Come one, come all" slogan!

Men and boys – gender justice calling

Insight, Happenings, Oct '14
Pawan Dhall and Madhuja Nandi report on a symposium organized in Kolkata on engaging men and boys in gender justice

Kolkata, September 19-20, 2014: “Our education system can no longer afford to be gender blind”; “Let us change the symbolism of god as male”; “Why should giving pain to one’s body be manly or glorious?” Snapshots of some thought provoking comments made by speakers at a two-day symposium titled ‘Men and Boys for Gender Justice’ organized at Seva Kendra by NGOs Swayam, Kolkata Rista, Ebong Alap, Sanjog and FEM Jharkhand. The symposium was a prelude to the ‘2nd MenEngage Global Symposium 2014’ to be organized in New Delhi in November 2014 by the Centre for Health and Social Justice and MenEngage, a global alliance of organizations working with men and boys for gender equality.

Nagin Hijra, my inspiration

People, Oct '14
Guddua remembers her guru, who dreamt large and inspired others to do so as well

Nearly 40 years ago, a trans woman who was just 19 years old and had run away from home, was found alone at one of the ghats in Banaras. A young Hijra named Reshma was the one who found her and brought her to the Hijra daiyar or ghar (household) in Habra, West Bengal. Reshma Hijra was amazed with the newcomer’s dancing and singing skills, who was short in height and fair in complexion. She never kept any links with her biological family and whenever asked about them, she kept mum.

Empathy – the magic dose

My Story, Oct '14
Pallav Bonerjee on his tryst with psychology, people and destiny – the second in a series of personal narratives

I immensely enjoy the process of observing, not because a student of psychology is primarily taught to do so, but since observation by itself is a fulfilling activity. It does not require a formal set-up or high-end tools. It can happen anywhere! I have, since the recent past, started believing that the process of psychological support or therapy may follow a similar path. It is possible to develop a therapeutic alliance or rapport with an individual in the strangest of contexts, even in the absence of a conscious desire to do so and even then, it serves the purpose – of support and help, and may even be extended to change aspects of an individual’s behaviour. The only essential ingredient is the ability to empathise.

Dream of the orange flowers

Poetry, Oct '14
By Shaleen Rakesh

Shaleen Rakesh is an author and activist based in New Delhi and has been at the forefront of the gender and sexuality movement in India for the last 20 years. He was the primary petitioner to challenge Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code in 2001. He currently works as Director at India HIV/AIDS Alliance in New Delhi, and is Editor with independent publishing house OpenWord in New Delhi.

Poem sourced from The Lion and the Antler, the first collection of poems by Shaleen Rakesh (World View Publications, 2013). Limited number of copies available with Varta Trust – please write to vartablog@gmail.com.

The female breast

Advice - Mind, Body and Family, Oct '14
By Dr. Tirthankar Guha Thakurta

The female breast is a magical organ – it nourishes, it entices, it nurtures. It stands out as a prominent distinguishing feature between an adult man and an adult woman. It is also one of the most neglected and misunderstood organs of the human body, its beauty and biology under-appreciated.