Damned for life
Manavi, the first organisation in the US to focus on violence against south Asian women, was co-founded by Dr Shamita Das Dasgupta, the assistant professor at the NYU Law School who addressed a session on 'Gender Justice in the Home and Workplace' on Friday at the American Centre in Calcutta. She focussed on the abuse some south Asian immigrant women experience in the US. 'Violence against women starts at conception and ends at death,' she disclosed adding that in between, the abuse ranged from incest to the deprivation of property, healthcare and children. She spoke of the US laws that such women have resort to. Soma Sengupta, director of SANHITA, and activist Rajashree Dasgupta also addressed the session.
Mother of all
'My mother was a lady of strong convictions,' reminisced national security adviser J.N. Dixit. 'She was unorthodox in the sense that she had the courage of her convictions even if they did not entirely conform to accepted customs or social norms.' The occasion was the posthumous launch on Wednesday of From the Dusk of Life by Konark publishers, the autobiography of Ratnamayi Devi, who had been in her time an indefatigable freedom fighter, advocate of women's liberation, extraordinary scholar, writer and thinker. For her son, it was a poignant moment charged with fond recollections of his beloved mother whose 'sustaining and nurturing effect' on his life would remain etched in his memory forever.
So, 32-year-old Mia Hamm has now hung up her boots. If you want to know what it feels like to be twice selected FIFA women's World Player of the Year and also to be named People magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People, ask Hamm. She inspired a generation of young girls while leading the US to Olympic and World Cup titles, as the most prolific scorer ' male or female ' in the history of international soccer. A gifted finisher, Hamm scored a record 158 goals. WUSA, a professional women's soccer league, was founded largely under her auspices, and though it folded up, it hopes to make a comeback next season.
Sisters in arms
'Terrorists are surprisingly intimidated when faced with resistance from unexpected quarters.' Thus spake a member of an unusual new group, the village defence committee (VDC), formed in Kashmir's Poonch district. And who make up the units of the committee' Why, women, of course. With their menfolk away on work in Gulf countries, the women took up arms to protect themselves. They now graze cattle with guns on their shoulders in Marha and Kullali villages, once hotbeds of terrorism. One of them actually singly foiled an attack by eight LeT terrorists earlier this year. Inspired by their courage, more and more women are joining up.
It's another life
It has been selected by Los Angeles critics as the year's finest documentary, but its story really began in Calcutta. Born Into Brothels, a 85-minute-long film, was shot by US-based directors Ross Kauffman and Zana Briski when they visited the city's redlight area, Sonagachhi, and were moved by the plight of the children of sex workers in the area. The poignant film focuses on Briski teaching a group of boys and girls to shoot and edit pictures from everyday life. The filmmakers promised the mothers of the children that Born Into Brothels wouldn't be shown in the city, but since it has made it to the list of documentaries eligible for an Oscar, it should be possible to see it some day elsewhere in India.
Overheard... that the Delhi police have discovered that 40 per cent of the city's cyber crime targets women. The victims' faces are morphed on pornographic websites or posted on message boards to tarnish their image.