And now, baby bleach
Oh no! Not content with limiting their bias against dark skin to the hapless masses of dusky Indian women, a company is now targetting little babies! The propaganda pamphlets of the particular brand of body oil in question have photographs of a healthy baby in three stages of pigmentation. In the third one ' six weeks after the first photograph was taken, according to the company ' the baby is shown a couple of shades lighter. What's worse, is that the oil is being sold in medical stores inside some nursing homes and clinics. All we can say is, can we please leave kids alone'
Another trend that emerged in Hindi cinema during 2004 ' male bonding ' scored big-time at the box office. From Bachchan-Sanjay Dutt in Deewar, Ajay Devgan-Vivek Oberoi-Abhishek Bachchan in Yuva, to Abhishek Bachchan-Uday Chopra in Dhoom, and Shah Rukh Khan- Zayed Khan in Main Hoon Na. In Raj Kumar Santoshi's Khakee, Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar, Tusshar Kapoor and Atul Kulkarni waged a war, while the female character played by Aishwarya Rai had to make her presence felt as 'one of the boys'. Women-oriented films didn't do well, unless they were skin flicks like Murder and Julie. Qualitatively superior, female-centric films such as Phir Milenge, Morning Raga, Dance Like A Man, Khamosh Pani and Ek Hasina Thi had a tough time keeping their heads above water. Guess they're not ready for us, sis.
If all goes according to plan, April will see the Assam government reserve 30 per cent of jobs for women. According to chief minister Tarun Gogoi (right), there will be an increase in scholarships given to girl students. Gogoi also instructed that women's cells be set up in the existing police stations across the state in order to check the spurt in crimes against women. What's more, the number of women police stations would be increased and 10 per cent of police jobs will be reserved for them.
Heaven be praised. Iran's guardian council has now decided that women can actually run for President in the June elections. There has been a great deal of debate on the topic. The Iran constitution states that the President must be elected from among the political 'rijal'. The word is an Arabic one that can be interpreted as 'men' or simply political personalities. The governing council rejected the 'male' interpretation and stated, 'The word 'rijal' doesn't indicate gender.'
Theo was right
The Netherlands can hardly call itself a haven of tolerance. Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh had been slaughtered in Amsterdam by extremists angered by his film, Submission, about the abuse of Muslim women. But that Van Gogh was only speaking the truth ' and cutting too close to the bone while at it ' is proved by the rising incidence of 'honour killings' of Muslim women in the country. While Muslims account for less than 6 per cent of the Dutch population, Muslim women are 60 per cent of those in battered women's shelters. It is figures such as these that Somali-born Dutch parliamentarian Ayaan Hirsi Ali (right) is trying to make public. Driven into hiding by threats by Dutch Muslim extremists, she has ' fortunately for her sisterhood ' recently re-emerged to continue her battle.
Recommended' a book called The Changing Status of Women in West Bengal, 1970-2000, published by Sage and edited by Jasodhara Bagchi. The product of painstaking research by a team of eminent academics, the book is a study of the way women's lives evolved, delving into virtually every sphere of human activity imaginable ' from economic empowerment to health to legal issues. The book will be released on February 3 at the Book Fair.