|PRAYER FOR A MARTYR: A candlelight vigil outside the hospital where Bapi Sen had died
Sergeant Bapi Sen gave his life trying to stop a young woman from being teased by a gang of drunken constables on the last night of 2002. This seems to have shaken up the city for a while. But will it shake its citizens out of their apathetic stupor that allows women to be harassed every day, everywhere'
‘We can put an end to eve-teasing by…’ was what Young Metro asked its readers. Some answers from the flood of e-mails are here. The rest will follow in the next chapter of Time to Talk…
lWe must prevent another Bapi Sen from losing his life for a cause that could easily be prevented if the police forces were better trained. The women of our country should not be treated as commodities anymore. It’s time they taught these loafers a lesson themselves.
Class IX, St Thomas Boys’ School
lSome girls are so oddly dressed that it seems a shame that their parents allow them to roam around exposing their bodies like that… Eve-teasers are cowards. Tongue-lashing is a weapon the girls can apply to stave them off.
lEve-teasing will cease only if the victims do not allow the teasers to go scot-free. Instead of keeping quiet, they must raise an alarm. Besides, the security network must also be tightened.
St Xavier’s College
lFirst, parents must instil respect for the fairer sex in their children. Second, girls can be taught some basic acts of self-defence. Finally, girls should cease ‘exhibiting’ their bare skin that encourages nothing but catcalls and wolf whistles.
Class IX, Saifee Hall School
lMany illiterate or semi-literate people have the idea that by making lewd comments at girls, they can impress them and even win their hearts. This can be changed only through proper education and moral guidance.
Class XI, Don Bosco School, Liluah
lWe can put an end to eve-teasing by creating awareness among girls and boys. We should also try to inculcate moral and social values in the young minds. Eve-teasers should realise what impact it has on girls and their families. Though strict laws against eve-teasing can be useful to some extent, a greater sense of responsibility is what is required from both boys and girls.
Aakash Kamal Misra,
lIf the victim ignores the eve-teaser, then after a point of time he will get fed up and stop. But the danger that this social menace poses must not be ‘ignored’ as this crime is increasing by leaps and bounds.
Class XII, Patha Bhavan
lOne act of molestation occurs every16 minutes, one act of sexual harassment occurs every minute… The perpetrators of such acts are perverts and it’s all because of the lack of right education. Both men and women need to change their attitudes. Women need to stand up for their rights and men should support them, not abuse them.
The law should enforce some serious provisions to deal with such acts. The victim, rather than the survivor, should not be stigmatised. Instead, she should be supported while taking necessary steps to combat such a situation. Why should the victim suffer guilt when it’s no fault of hers' We should talk about such sensitive issues, for only then can we sensitise society.
We can make a difference by challenging the established norms and values that make violence against women acceptable; empowering women and children to take control of their lives; initiating and conducting campaigns against violence on women and girls; undertaking research and documentation work on violence against women and children; interacting with different state agencies to influence policy changes; working in a collective manner and in solidarity with other movements and struggles towards a violence-free world.
Class XII, La Martiniere For Girls
Students and teachers of Modern High School went for an excursion to south India from December 21 to January 2. Eight teachers and tour operators accompanied 77 students from Class XII to Chennai, Cochin, Munnar, Trivandrum, Kanyakumari and Madurai.
Suchi Arya penned a tour diary for us. A flip-through:
Dec 23: After breakfast, we checked out of our Chennai hotel and boarded our coaches to head for Mahabalipuram. We crossed the 11-km-long Marina beach on the way as we headed for a tourist spot 58 km from Chennai. Mahabalipuram has everything — tradition, history, piety and current importance as a centre of tourism. After lunch, we were off to catch the evening train to Cochin.
Dec 24: We reached the Queen of the Arabian Sea at 6.35 am. After breakfast, we headed for the village backwaters. The boat rides allow you to soak in the real beauty of Cochin that lies in its backwaters extending east and south from the harbours dotted with tiny islands. The tour guide showed us the farms for multiple-cropping and the winding waters for prawn cultivation. We saw village women making fibre and bought ‘malas’ as souvenirs. From the backwaters we headed for the Dutch palace, also known as the Mattancherry palace. It was built by the Portuguese in 1555 and was later remodelled by the Dutch. Our next stop was the Jewish synagogue, situated next to the Palace. Known as ‘Paradesi Synagogue’, it was built in 1567, before being rebuilt by the Dutch in 1664.
Dec 25: Christmas Day was to be spent at Munnar, situated at the confluence of three mountain streams (Mudrapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundala), with sprawling tea plantations, picture-book towns, winding lanes, trekking and holiday facilities. In the evening, we all gathered around a campfire.
Dec 26: Temperatures were close to zero as we clambered into nine jeeps. We first went to the Eravikulam National Park, the breathtakingly beautiful home to the Nilgiri deer, and then took the long road to Munnar forest. In the forest watchtower, we waited patiently till 6 pm and were finally rewarded by a herd of elephants that lumbered by.
Dec 27: Thiruvananthapuram, the sprawling city built on seven hills, was our day’s destination. We were all draped in colourful sarees for ‘darshan’ at the famous Padmanava temple.
Dec 28: Kovalam Beach, crystal clear as ever, was great fun. From there, we went to the Padmanava Palace, that seemed straight out of a history textbook, with long alleys, dining rooms, paintings, a palace gardens and rooms for worship.
Dec 29: We stood at the southernmost tip of India, the enchanting Kanyakumari. We went to Vivekananda Rock, on which a memorial has been built to mark the spot where Swami Vivekananda had gone into meditation. Close to the Vivekananda Rock is the Sripada Parai, ‘the rock that has been blessed by the feet of the goddess’. And there is the Kanyakumari temple dedicated to Parvathi as Devi Kanya. We also watched the sunset and went shopping.
Dec 30: We left Kanyakumari for Madurai, known as the Athens of the East, where the main tourist attraction is the Meenakshi-Sundareswarar temple.
Dec 31: On the last day of our stay in the south, we left early for the Rock Fort temple in Trichi, with 437 steep steps and a 100-pillared hall. From there, we went to the Trichi railway station to board the train to Howrah.
Jan 2: Back home after a tour that was both enjoyable and educational. A big ‘thank you’ from us all to our teachers for a memorable trip.
History, through various processes, time and again, throws people from divergent backgrounds together. How do we then reconcile our different identities' A question extremely relevant in today’s world and one which was explored in a recent seminar organised by the Jadavpur University Society for American Studies (JUSAS). The two-day seminar was titled ‘The immigrant experience in American literature and culture’.
The first day explored the works of the early ‘slave writers’ in America, the Jewish experience and the works of World War-II immigrants. There was an illustrated talk on Hispanic music in America and the day’s proceedings ended with the screening of The Perez Family by Mira Nair.
Day II began with an interesting paper on Chicano History and Literature by Professor Krishna Sen of Calcutta University. The speaker explained who the Chicanos were and highlighted some of their chief cultural and literary movements. She also discussed two Chicano texts, Bless me Ultima and Borderlands, La Frontera.
This was followed by a paper on the immigrant Japanese authors by Professor Himadri Lahiri. The paper dealt with the importance of the internment experience in shaping the consciousness of immigrant Japanese authors. It also dealt with the conflict between the first generation and third generation Japanese immigrants. The concept of the generation gap also featured predominantly in Professor Annapurna Palit’s paper on the fiction of Amy Tan. There was a paper on the works of Kahlil Gibran and Ameen Rihani, entitled ‘Arab Wine in American Bottles’, by Prof. Indrani Dutta. The second day concluded with the screening of the film Fires in the Mirror by Anna Deavere Smith.
Survival in this multicultural world is all about tolerance and assimilation of different cultures while not forgetting one’s roots and indigenous culture. This was the message that came through at the seminar.
— Sreejita Deb