Attitude towards Homosexuality

Homosexuality is a well-known concept nowadays in both developed countries and urban areas of developing countries. However, it still remains a topic of curiosity & prejudice in health professionals as well as other sections of society. Patients with alternate sexuality face problems from society, religious preachers, and individuals . This column is focused on various attitudes towards homosexuality.

Homophobia (from Greek homós: one and the same; phóbos: fear, phobia) is defined as an irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals, or individuals perceived to be homosexual.

It could also be defined as an unreasoning fear of or antipathy towards homosexuals and homosexuality, fear of or contempt for lesbians and gay men, as well as behavior based on such a feeling.

Internalized homophobia is thus a form of cognitive dissonance, that causes severe discomfort and disapproval of one’s own sexual orientation. The individual cannot resolve the conflicting conscious or unconscious sexual desires with values and beliefs gained from society, religion or upbringing. Such a situation may cause extreme repression of homosexual desires.

Attitude Of Society

By and large, our society is heterosexual all over the world and thus any behavior against the mainstream of society is considered as abnormal or is disapproved . Heterosexism is an ideological system that denies, maligns & stigmatizes any non-heterosexual form of behavior, identity, relationship or community.

 

Attitude In Educational Setup

Homophobic bullying is common in educational setup. Boys are stereotyped as sporty and strong decision makers while girls are expected to be emotional and expressive. As a result, boys who show their feelings or who are too intimate with other boys are often called ‘girls’ or ‘poofs’. Girls who are considered to be too boyish or who hold feminist views run the risk of being called ‘dykes’ or ‘lesbians. Almost half of sexual minority youth report experiencing harassment or violence in school; 1/3 of such students are missing school out of fear for personal safety.

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Attitude of Employers

Although there is a negative attitude towards an entire homosexual community, Transgenders and Hijra community are worst affected. Following are the examples of employment-related attitude:-

Workplace discrimination- which could be formal/informal, perceived/real, potential/encountered.
Occupational restrictions (e.g. military, sports, religion)
Little/no access to various community services like banking, traveling, pensions, & basic health services.
Religious Attitude
Homosexuality is prevalent in all the major religions throughout the world. Following are illustrations of religious attitude towards homosexuality.

Sharia Law: Islam forbids homosexuality. The death penalty is given in countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen, Nigeria, Somalia, Afghanistan.
Christianity: It is considered as “Sin to GOD”
Jew: accept the homosexuality with no restrictions.
Hindu: Generally negative attitude but a few instances of homosexuality are mentioned in Kamasutra and also in Khajuraho.
Attitude Of Health Care Professionals
The majority has negative, stigmatization attitude which leads to malicious gossip . Many consider homosexuality to be associated with mental illness or dysfunction but the concept is changing nowadays. Therapists may attempt to change a person’s sexual orientation ( especially under the pressure of relatives of homosexual individuals).

Violence towards the individuals

Homosexual individuals report incidences of violence in various forms. This may include threats, physical assault, sexual assault, rape, torture, attempted murder or even murder. This could be caused by cultural, religious or political mores & biases. A hate crime is when individuals become victimized because of their race, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual orientation. Hate crimes against homosexual people often occur because the perpetrators are mostly homophobic.

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It’s a high time that we all become more progressive in our thoughts and try to change our attitude towards homosexuality. I say why make it so special? Be more inclusive and let’s integrate the sexual minority with the mainstream of society. As a mental health professional, it’s my responsibility to increase awareness about our own attitude towards alternate sexuality and it is our responsibility to change it!

 

DR ANUP S BHARATI

Psychiatrist & Sexologist, Nashik

Have a happy sustainable period!!

‘Have a happy sustainable period’, Shipra waived to her new customers in valediction while they walked away. This immediately drew my attention as I was browsing through the irresistible raw silk sarees in the adjacent stall. ‘Eco-femme’ read her stall name. ‘Hmm, that’s interesting…’, I thought to myself and walked over.
To my surprise, there were no fancy bundles of silk and cotton or beautiful jhumkas on display; just an unassuming array of cloth pads in different colours, one silicone menstrual cup on the side and an enthusiastic woman at the counter. ‘Hey there, would you be interested in joining us in a positive healthy menstrual revolution?’, she asked. ‘Absolutely, but what are these?’
Eco-femme is a women-led social enterprise based out of Auroville and one of its initiatives is making cloth-pads. Over the last few years, non-biodegradable sanitary waste has been a big concern that’s got the world looking for solutions. So, how do we deal with this?

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Pads and tampons are marketed for hygiene and comfort but come with a huge price to pay It takes 500-800 years for a disposable to decompose. Not only do they pose risks to our skin but also to the environment. The plastics and components disposable products present huge waste management challenges around the world.
Cloth-pads is one solution. Traditionally, women all over the world have used a cloth to handle their monthly menstrual flow. Cloth washable pads are safe, hygienic and environmentally friendly alternatives to disposable menstrual products. They are made of cotton flannel and do not contact the skin with any plastics. This eliminates the risk of exposure to potentially hazardous substances. All that you have to do is wash them well, dry in direct sunlight and store them properly. They can be reusable for over 3 years. Eco-femme promotes sustainable menstrual practices for girl children in India by providing them with menstrual hygiene learning and free cloth pads. When you buy a cloth pad, you empower women who’ve made them become self-reliant and support families. Read more about them at https://www.facebook.com/ecofemmeindia.Cloth pads do good to your skin, to the society, and to the environment. Make your switch, now!

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Vandhana Krishnamurthy

A software engineer and a coffee enthusiast who loves to talk, cook, dance and drive around on all days.

Are you a Virgin?

The hymen is a membrane that surrounds or partially covers the external vaginal opening which rips or tears the first time a female engages in penetrative intercourse, which may cause some temporary bleeding and slight discomfort. (Wikipedia) No blood means the girl is not a virgin, moreover she is not chaste and therefore considered impure/immoral/unclean by the family. No tradition, at least not any that I have heard of, questions the premarital chastity of the boy.

A woman’s integrity is measured by the strength of her hymen… in-laws/husbands-to be are known to check for a woman’s virginity before agreeing to the marriage! Thus comes the demand for hymenoplasty

Hymenoplasty is the procedure of surgically reconstructing the hymen. The sooner it is done after the hymen breaks, the easier it is to reconstruct, using remnants of the broken hymen. If it is done a long time after the breakage- the procedure becomes more difficult. However, surgical challenges is not what is severely wrong with this process its the attitude of  women and also the society.

Firstly, hymenoplasty is a direct outcome of the restraints that society places on female sexuality. The idea of virginity is extolled, and an active sexual life pre-marriage is looked down upon in general, especially for women(the stud vs slut mentality that many people may have). Sex should be for procreation, not recreation; and a woman who is ‘loose’ may never find a husband and a home. Thus ensues a mad scramble for the nearest surgeon, and the guarantee of a happy married life is ‘sealed’.

It is unfortunate! But then again, a lot of women in this world in general, are unfortunate. Remember Sita’s agnipariksha to ‘test her chastity’ after she spent her time being held captive by a foreign king in a foreign land? I do not recall anyone asking for a similar test for her husband, Ram! No test for you, guys. Your purity is certified by the XY chromosomes, it seems!

Keeping jest aside, any man or any woman should be free to choose their sexual partner at any time after they reach legal age of consent, be it pre or post marriage. What should ideally exist between any couple, married or otherwise is mutual respect and trust, not a hymen. And, if any woman wants to reconstruct a piece of skin in her body, it should be because she chooses to, just like she can choose whether or not to put on makeup before going to work. It should NOT be a means to stain her bedsheets on her wedding night and prove to society that she is as pure and perfect as “they” require her to be.

Debadrita Jana

She is a geologist by day, an author by leisure. She has published a book, Mind on Paper ; and is a proud parent of Shadow, a beautiful calico cat.

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After thought, after PINK!

Do you think as a country we are actually free? Do you think woman are actually free to do what they want to? Wear what they want to and roam around late in the night with whom they want to? You guessed it right; the answer to all these questions still remains a big “No”.  How much ever we say India is a great independent country, there will still be thoughts about, the day someone touched a woman inappropriately in public, the day some aunty in the building commented on the length of our skirt, the day where every passer-by judged them because there was a mark of blood on their school uniform. What is the point of such freedom where women constantly live in a fear of what others will think about us?

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NO!! It’s not just only two letters but it’s a complete denial to the act. No means no and one should not force any woman against her will. Pink tries to convey a message to the society that a woman who wears a modern dress or consumes alcohol or is friendly doesn’t imply that she is an of a questionable character. The plot of the movie can be related to any independent woman who likes to enjoy her life but some people misunderstand this as a sign that she is too open minded and can easily get into her pants. How ironic it is! The woman outside our house becomes an object of pleasure to comment shamelessly or perform acts such as eve teasing or even rape. Why we forget that the victim of our act can be a mother, daughter, wife or sister of someone? Why we forget that every woman deserves the respect and gratitude?
In the movie a girl was being forced by a man for the sexual act without her consent, in order to protect herself she hits a beer bottle on his head and flees away. Later the girl and her friends were mentally tortured and arrested on the charge of attempt to murder and prostitution. The girl Meenal rightly says in the courtroom that who likes to be groped or touched inappropriately if he does gain I will again hit the bottle on his head. Mr. Amitabh Bachchan, who plays an advocate sarcastically, pointed out the ill and feudal thinking of our male dominated society. In his last dialogue he literally moved the entire crowd and gave a strong message to the society: We have to teach our sons that No.. Means No, whether she is a girlfriend. Wife or a Sex Worker!!

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Women should take a lesson from this movie that anyone who tries to force himself against your will must be taught a severe lesson so that in future he never repeats that crime. Also, Indian Penal Code section 100 gives power to women to severely injure the person who is trying to assault you. Always remember clothes, drinking habits, and friendliness can never be criteria to judge the character of someone, it’s all in our mind. Women have equal rights to enjoy their lives as we do. So let’s try to make the environment of our society safe and friendly so that women can enjoy their lives without any fear and without being judged. One can only dream of a day where a woman can wear whatever they want and roam around wherever they want, marry whoever they want and fall in love happily.

-Ankit Prakash

Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao

“Motherhood is a biological fact, fatherhood is a sociological fiction”, Nivedita Menon, “Seeing like a Femininst”

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When asked whom do you love most in the world, the one and the only answer is “Mother”. In many religions Mothers are compared to God. In India we worship many Goddesses like Mother Durga, Mother Lakshmi, Mother Kali. Why do we love our mothers so much? Why do we get so emotional when we hear the word mother? Mothers love us unconditionally and selflessly. They not only bring us to this world but also make us capable enough to face the cruel world. She herself will stay hungry but will always feed us. Without a mother or without a mother this whole world, the whole humanity can’t survive.

Recently, in an interview Kareena Kapoor told the press that she isn’t opting for a sex determination of her child and it doesn’t matter whether it’s a girl or a boy. She also added that “It’s very intrusive when people ask me if it’s a boy or a girl. I am a girl and I would love to have a girl.” However, that’s not the way every other would be mother thinks.

Doctor: It seems difficult to abort the child, it’s too late!

Woman: Please help me this is the second time otherwise my husband will divorce me and get married to someone else.

Doctor: Let me check the possible consequences. Still, would say it’s a major risk

Woman: I just want to get rid of this, please.

This is a fictitious conversation; however, if we try to do a sting operation in some hospitals in India I am sure this would be a regular story.

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Why female fetuses are killed?

 Killing a girl child is a common practice in some parts of our country. Female feticide is the process of aborting female fetus inside the womb of the mother before the birth. The sex determination tests like ultrasound scan reveal the gender of the child. Both female foeticide and sex determination are illegal in India.

In India boys are considered the bread winners and are expected to support their families. On the other hand, parents and especially the society considers a girl child a burden as they have to give a huge amount of dowry at her marriage, they also consider that the girl are the consumers whereas boys are the producer, there is also a myth that sons will carry the name of the family whereas the girl has to get married and go away one day. It is a shame for those parents who are desperate for the baby boy and abort the girl. India is a male dominated society, so women generally don’t enjoy the status and power that men claim to. Women are always considered to be as dependents, they are even deprived of basic rights. Illiteracy, insecurity and poverty in the society are some of the main reasons of such practices being followed.

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In India 10 million girls have been killed in the past 20 years. Of the 12 million girls born in India 1 million do not see their first birthday. It has been six long decades since India gained independence but many Indians are still trapped in age-old traditional beliefs. In 2011 Kerala’s Sex ratio was 1084, where as

Lakhanpal, a small village in Punjab has turned the tide, with 1400 girls for every 1000 boys.

It is high time that we stop seeing girls as a burden. She is a cure for our society. She is the creator of the society. We have so many great women leaders, writers, scholars, actors and educators like Indira Gandhi, Mary Kom, Mother Teresa, Kiran Bedi, Kalpana Chawla, Arundhati Roy, Sarojini Naidu, Neerja Bhanot, Sania Newhal, Sania Mirza, Rani Laxmibai P V Sindhu, Sakshi Malik and every indian mother, daughter, sister and wife. Do we need more examples?

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The boys won’t be on this planet if it was not for the women who gave birth to them.

A mother is also a woman “STOP” Female foeticide, Save Girl Child….

Save girls…

Educate Girls…

Empower Girls..

Otherwise the nightmare said in the beginning will come true…the choice is yours

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“Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao”.

 

शर्म रही है ना उस समाज को

जिसने उसके जन्म पर खुल के जश्न नहीं मनाया

शर्म रही है ना उस पिता को

उसके होने पर जिसने एक दिया कम जलाया

शर्म रही है ना उन रस्मों को उन रिवाजों को

उन बेड़ियों को उन दरवाज़ों को शर्म रही है ना उन बुज़ुर्गों को

जिन्होंने उसके अस्तित्व को सिर्फ़ अंधेरों से जोड़ा

शर्म रही है ना उन दुपट्टों को उन लिबासों को

जिन्होंने उसे अंदर से तोड़ा

शर्म रही है ना स्कूलों को दफ़्तरों को रास्तों को मंज़िलों को

शर्म रही है ना उन शब्दों को उन गीतों को

जिन्होंने उसे कभी शरीर से ज़्यादा नहीं समझा

शर्म रही ना राजनीति को धर्म को

जहाँ बार बार अपमानित हुए उसके स्वप्न

शर्म रही है ना ख़बरों को मिसालों को दीवारों को भालों को

शर्म आनी चाहिए हर ऐसे विचार को

जिसने पंख काटे थे उसके

शर्म आनी चाहिए ऐसे हर ख़याल को

जिसने उसे रोका था आसमान की तरफ़ देखने से

शर्म आनी चाहिए शायद हम सबको क्योंकि

जब मुट्ठी में सूरज लिए नन्ही सी बिटिया सामने खड़ी थी

तब हम उसकी उँगलियों से छलकती रोशनी नहीं उसका लड़की होना देख रहे थे

उसकी मुट्ठी में था आने वाला कल और सब देख रहे थे मटमैला आज

पर सूरज को तो धूप खिलाना था

बेटी को तो सवेरा लाना था

और सुबह हो कर रही

प्रसून जोशी

Sameera Mansuri

#trumpthetaboo by Indian girl

 

In southern India, when you get your periods for the first time it is a 11 day celebration. Day 01 starts with throwing turmeric balls from your back towards the wall. For the next 11 days , daily you would need to eat the ball and dal rice mixed with til oil. (When I turned 24  I realized how important it was to eat that food). At the end of 11th day there is a function to tell the society that this girl has changed from a child to a woman.

Years ago, I was 11 then, I had got my first periods. Firstly, I was scared as to why is there a red colour liquid coming out of my body and secondly, I had understood from my cousins experiences that I would be entering  the world of social stigma with it. I too underwent the same celebrations, I was dressed up and the married women from the neighborhood perform my aarti and sung songs. .

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Now, coming to my monthly experience; my mother taught me how to use sanitary cloths ( pads were less known at that point of time in my area). And along with this, comes the stigma on the way to not touch utensils,to not enter certain rooms,to not enter the garden area etc, but this stigma helped me in number of ways such as giving me time to take rest,  getting attention from my mother (which I loved to☺). Three years passed by, that’s when I came to know about Stayfree sanitary napkins when my friend told about them. These pads made my life so much easier. Unlike the cloth that used to get absorbed easily hence staining my skirts.

Years passed, and the social stigma during periods hasn’t changed however, the rebel in me understood that the stigma should no longer come in my way.  

-Indian Girl