Sunday, December 1, 2013

Delhi’s sexual revolution

We are well aware that the gang rape of a 20-something woman in Delhi during December 2012 – now dubbed the Delhi Gang Rape – has catapulted numerous exposés on the egregious lack of security for women in Delhi. We are less aware that the voices on this issue are part of a longer-running movement, as emphasized by scholars such as Professor Ananya Mukherjee-Reed of York University in Toronto. Debates on whether slutty women cause rape are now longer, louder. We might even suppose that the current incident involving Tehelka magazine’s editor, Tarun Tejpal, raping a junior colleague, is receiving much of its attention given the new social climate. From a comparative and theoretical perspective, we might parallel this social revolution to the Arab Spring, in which a self-immolation in Tunisia sparked violence political revolutions throughout the Middle East which were rooted in longer-standing cracks of the status quo regimes.

In addition to these long-running demands for equality among the sexes, Delhi has been brimming with demands for greater equality among the genders. I observed this second stream of Delhi’s sexual revolution at the city’s Queer Pride Parade 2013. One-thousand people were present, which was double the attendance of the previous year – progress, but nonetheless tragic since cities like Delhi, Bombay, and so on, are hardly short on population size. Organizers distributed leaflets reminding the community of their recent achievement in pressuring Delhi’s High Court to finally repeal section 377 of India's Penal Code, which had criminalized homosexual existence.

The relatively small crowd made the affair delightful intimate. The parade was like the baaraat ceremony of a Hindu wedding; dancing down Tolstoy Marg to the beat of a Punjabi dhol drum, replete with joy that pride and dignity would be brought home.


Some expressed themselves through poster art...

Madhubala would be proud, am sure. Pyar kiya koi chori nahin = love is not a crime. Instagram

One India, Ek Bharat. Instagram

Spectators of all colors caste & creed were abound; snapping shots through the lenses of their cameras and especially their minds.  After all, a social revolution implies that reforms must extend beyond formal quarters such as law, but also to informal areas such as attitudes.  

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