The numbers game
Of the 150 films screened at this year's fest, you could count those made by women on the fingers of one hand. Manju Borah is the only Indian woman filmmaker whose film Laaj (a still from the film above) was one of the entries in the Indian Select section. Laaj, by Assamese writer and filmmaker Borah, is about a 10-year-old girl Ila from the marginal fishermen community and her dream to survive with dignity. 'I had always wanted to depict the socio-cultural reality of South Asian nations,' says Borah. Who adds that she will continue making films on the Northeastern states that have been facing so much violation of human rights.
Something is not quite right when women activists protest against the formation of an organisation which is supposed to be pro-women. That's what happened in Meghalaya where, when the State Commission For Women was formed, prominent women activists stiffly opposed it. Why' Because some of them, including Padmashree awardees Quinnie Rynjah and Patricia Mukhim, said they had not been so much as consulted before its formation. In fact, even the vice-chairperson of the newly-formed commission, Theilin Phanbuh, had refused to assume charge, alleging that she too had not been consulted. But the state government promptly replaced her with social activist Hasina Kharbhih.
Ebong Alap, a voluntary organisation, is bringing out books in Bengali, part of the Alap Series, to generate action-oriented public opinion. One of them, called Pathe Bipode:Meyeder Nirapotta, by Bhaswati Chakravorty, demystifies the commonest forms of violence in the public space, from teasing to witch-hunting to rape and communal violence. An appendix compiled by Krishna Roy tells you how to go about seeking redress in situations like rape, sexual harassment in public transport etc. The book, priced at Rs 60, is available at Dey's, Bookmark, National Book Agency, Study, Seagull and others.
Surely a boon
An insurance policy started by the Himachal Pradesh government recently, the Matri-Shakti Bima Yojana, is supposed to benefit specifically women living below the poverty line and in far-flung and backward regions of the state. The unique feature of the scheme is that the premium is being borne by the government and women covered by it have to file their claims through the block development officer. The scheme gives an insurance cover of Rs 25,000 to the family in case of death and even permanent disability. The scheme also provides compensation of Rs 25,000 to a married woman living below the poverty line in case of the accidental death of her husband.
Boys prefer to play
A new poll commissioned by GQ magazine reveals that one in five American men has turned down hot, steamy sex to watch sports on TV. That's 200 of the 1,000 men between the ages of 25 and 55 across the country. But veteran sex researcher Ed Laumann of the University of Chicago said that while this statistic may dismay many women, 'there's another way of looking at it'. It means that 80 per cent of the men turned off their televisions, Laumann said. 'And when you consider that the average encounter in an established relationship lasts about 15 minutes, I don't know why they'd miss a ballgame.' But American ladies truly needn't despair. Overall, 72 per cent of American men said they were satisfied with their sex lives ' and they're hot for their wives.
Overheard... that former US secretary of state Colin Powell will be remembered for another thing. Female staffers at the foreign services department have revealed that he made it easier for them to powder their noses by installing ladies-onlies in buildings that formerly had conveniences only for men.