india

Lord Ahmed, Pakistani-Indian bakwaas, and a Twisted Firestarter

It’s about 6 months since I was banned from Twitter. I closed my Facebook account 2-3 years ago when I couldn’t take the racist rape threats going unpunished anymore. To say I feel disconnected from the rest of the world is an understatement. However, I am still poring over the news and reacting in real time to the horror show that is modern times. I just don’t get to share my thoughts with as much frequency.

I’m going to attempt to address that on this here blog. I haven’t the strength to write about all the urgent issues as they arise but I could do a round up of my ‘wtf moments’ for the week.

lordrot

Lord Ahmed, a ROTHERHAM based life peer (recommended by Tony Blair in 1998) has been charged with the attempted rape of an underage girl and assault on a 13 year old boy. Most people don’t read past the headlines, and the media knows this. Lord Ahmed is charged with a rape he is alleged to have committed between 1971 and 1974 when he would have been between the ages of 14 and 17. Whilst it is still an offence, it is not as clear cut as the media would have us believe. Working as a temp for social services in the early noughties we had discussions around youth sex offenders and whether it was ethical to treat a 14 year old boy with the same contempt as we would an adult male in his 30s. It is illegal to have sex with underage girls, even if the perpetrator is himself underage. However the mind of a 14 year old boy is significantly different to that of an adult male. They’re still growing and learning. Is it fair to condemn a young person to a register for the rest of their lives? Depending on the severity of crime and the mind set of the perpetrator, there’s a sliding scale of offence. Surely the punishment should reflect that?

If Lord Ahmed had committed these offences now it would lead me to question his role in Rotherham and whether he was directly involved in the grooming gang cases and whether he was being thrown to the wolves by the rest of his establishment buddies. As it is, I can only consider the actions of a 14-17 year old Nazir Ahmed, a juvenile, not fully accountable for his actions. This presentation of historic abuse in the context of the narrative; Ahmed was not a grey haired media mogul sticking his fingers in knickers without consent. He should be tried, of course, but not through the lens we’re being handed by the establishment and their media buds. Consider the way Lord Lester was protected by his peers when a prominent women’s rights campaigner, Jasvinder Sanghera disclosed the harassment she experienced at his hands, where he offered her a peerage in exchange for sex. They closed ranks, and refused to bow to pressure, instead casting doubt on her version of events. They did not believe her, as has always been the case on rainy fascist island. He quietly resigned a short while later, no doubt the turning tide threatened to drag him out to sea and he scarpered before it could.

The movements that have shaped our world the past few years are winning. This doesn’t mean the establishment are going to stop perverting the course to justice, their modus operandi is to exhaust victims and re-traumatise us over and over again so that we give up. We mustn’t.

modimonkey

It’s been a nerve wracking week given the tensions over the other side of the world in my motherland. I have lots of cousins, many of them dotted along disputed regions between India and Pakistan. I’d very much like for them all to live into old age but they don’t seem as bothered as I am by the escalating drama. It took my breath away to see Imran Khan inform his Pakistani parliament they would be handing back the captured Hindu pilot and the sound of their hands drumming the table in agreement seemed historic. On talking to Pakistani born relatives however I was saddened to learn this is how it always goes down, the Pakistani government and armed forces graciously hand back captives and India responds by chatting a load of guff and extending the threat in some sick display of power, as though Pakistan is weak for showing them hamdardi (empathy). India seems to have gotten ahead of herself. Right wing alliances between white nationalists and right wing Hindus only carry so far as their usefulness. India has forgotten this.

Apparently India demanded the cricket association disallow the Pakistani team or they would withdraw in protest, only to be told to get a grip or else pay a fine and face expulsion themselves. How old are you, India? Grow up.

I value Prime Minister Imran Khan for his resistance to war, it is pointless bloodshed. However I am of the opinion that humanity is so fragile and so precious that those who would deny it to others do not deserve to have their own humanity protected. The world must condemn India for its violent posturing, we don’t live in a world where we’ll be kowtowed into fighting for an arbitrary border anymore. We look back at those ‘great’ wars and the loss of life and shudder. We’ve learnt to become intolerant of the intolerant.

Modi must go, moderate Indian brothers and sisters. He is a relic and a laughing stock and is winding back the years. You belong in the future.

flint

Sad news today, Keith Flint of The Prodigy was found at his Essex home having apparently ended his own life. The sheer number of suicides over the past few years has been unsettling, and moreso to those of us who are battling to stay alive. With each one we’re reminded that even if our problems right themselves, if we’re able to thrive and do what we enjoy, it still might not be enough. I tell myself that poverty, poor health and unfulfilled potential drive my depression and if I could just tick even 2 out of 3 my mental health would be significantly improved. Then I think of Robin Williams, Anthony Bourdain and now Keith Flint, among others, and I’m stumped.

RIP firestarter, twisted firestarter, you gave me and my school friends many giggles pretending to be just like you.

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Britain’s Rejects

My 72 year old immigrant grandmother died in 2002, prompting a rushed visit to Pakistan. She had specified her wishes to be repatriated to her final resting place when the time came. Growing up we’d always objected to their pipe dream plans to show us the motherland, even going so far as likening it to death, given that we were never short of a cautionary tale or two of what could go wrong if they were not truthful of their intentions. There was always talk of so and so’s kid who’d gone off the rails so the folks took them ‘back home’ to straighten them out. This usually meant a forced marriage but there was always the worry you’d never return.

For 20 years I’d ignored their pleas to at least give them a chance and see what they had built with their own hands, for us, so that we had roots and a place we could always call home. My gran, or dhaadhi as we called her, would look at us in disbelief and shake her head, unsure of how else to sell it to us; the stories she’d tell of exotic fruits abundant in the courtyard, trees grown especially for us, her face wrinkled up in a smile as she recalled the exceptional quality of, as she put it, the juiciest mangoes on God’s green earth and other fruits I don’t know the English word for.

Whilst I love listening to her and seeing her clear delight I wasn’t convinced. I considered myself British, English even, and harboured an unhealthy self hate; I wasn’t above sneering at Pakis. Eager to set myself apart I believed the things white people said about Pakistan and Pakistanis and asserted my Britishness whenever it was required of me. I do cringe whenever I think back to that mindset. I think about the sort of white person who’d get off on hearing my disgust for people like me, the kind to collect tokens and play brown people off each other, dividing Muslims and Hindus for example and profiting off the misery that inevitably follows. Divide rule and conquer works to this day.

It didn’t matter when she died though, I suddenly felt I owed her a trip. Almost immediately I was consumed with guilt that I hadn’t honoured this wish of hers whilst she had been alive but I hoped she knew I was with her for her final journey. Barely six hours after she took her last breath we (my twin, dad, aunt and I) were in business class on a PIA flight bound for Islamabad. It was the first time I’d ever flown and my nerves were shot, I’d barely slept or processed what had happened but the hot cloths and silver service made up for the turbulence a little bit. My dad even let twin and I smoke a cigarette! It was that kind of a day, normal programming abandoned, venturing into the unknown out of a sense of duty and family pride. I tried not to think of her, alone, entombed in a wooden box, along with the rest of the cargo.

We landed at Islamabad airport at 6am. I was hit by the heat, as if I’d walked into a wall of hot air and it would suffocate me, upon exiting the plane. The sun hadn’t been up long but it was already 27 degrees. My thoughts went to my gran and the effect these conditions would have on her lifeless body. We waited for her coffin to be released and clung to each other through the chaos and din of the arrivals lounge, we weren’t in Kansas anymore. Random strange men pawed at our luggage offering to carry it, not being entirely forthcoming about the tip they expected for this service. It smelt funny, and the people were scary, staring at us as if we’d fallen from the sky. An uncle herded us out of the terminal and explained we looked different to regular Pakistanis and they were probably trying to figure out if we were worth anything.

It didn’t feel like a homecoming but the worst day of my life and the natives weren’t exactly helping. I didn’t want my worst fears to be confirmed, that we were easy pickings and could be disappeared, never to return. Dad’s cousin thought we were hilarious, batting furiously at the flies that seemed to throng the air, shrieking at the various creepy critters that had dared to greet us. We were a novelty. Fragile. Typical of desis who’d lost their way. A highly amusing form of entertainment for the locals.

The funeral was as expected; the outpouring of grief par the course but I had never imagined my dear gran knew so many people. I was bewildered by the number of women sat around smoking, a practice that was almost entirely gendered amongst the older generations in Britain. I only ever knew one lady smoker, my granddad’s sister in law and she had a free pass on account of her mental status. Here it just seemed to be a way of life, the chilum, similar to a shisha, was a permanent fixture. Granted they weren’t holding penis shaped cigarettes as they do in the west (cigarettes were originally marketed to women on the basis that women envied the penis and smoking would achieve equality or something) but this was really a sight to behold for someone who’d been brought up in a strict household where women most definitely did not smoke. I was also surprised at the relative freedom my girl cousins had with regards to their personal grooming. We’d been forced to keep our hair long, our eyebrows natural and our sleeves below the elbow and yet my cousins had no such restrictions. It’s when I first started to believe our grandparents were trying to preserve something of our culture in the west, that we were a snapshot frozen in time of an era pre colonialism whereas the rest of the world had just moved on.

They referred to us as the English princesses, for being so vulnerable to the elements. In our hurry to bury dhaadhi according to Islamic law within 24 hours, we’d had to forgo the usual preparations; shots for foreign diseases and the like. Within 48 hours we were struck with a mystery bug that was determined to shoot itself out of both ends and stifling temperatures in the mid 50s weren’t helping the situation, especially when the electricity was guaranteed to give out at least twice a day. I had never felt more miserable in my life and decided there was nothing else for it, we had to go home. Everyone else had other ideas though; we hadn’t given it a chance, we needed to eat more and think about getting better, the airline wouldn’t carry us if we were too sick and for a brief time I was petrified they weren’t going to let us leave at all. Maybe this had been the plan all along.

Fortunately the bug seemed to attack in waves and a day later our uncle took us shopping, we hadn’t come with very much stuff, in my case I didn’t even own more than one pair of salwar kameez. All was going well until we actually spoke to the vendors and my uncle clocked they were hiking up the prices. He said if we liked the look of anything to point at it rather than say anything aloud. I was confused, we’d been conversing in Punjabi but apparently even that sounded different to them and English people could afford to pay more.

I felt personally attacked, not gonna lie. I didn’t belong here, as people were keen to point out with every interaction. I didn’t like the heat, I didn’t like the food, or the people even, they were rude and looked at me the way closeted racists did in England. I didn’t feel safe. All I wanted was a cheese and tomato sandwich and my bed, at home in rainy blighty. I asked for fries on one occasion, thinking there isn’t a place in the world you can’t get fries, and bawled my eyes out when they arrived dusted with chilli powder. In the end, I shook off as much of it as I could and sliced up some tomato and onion for the weirdest chip butty ever. I dreamed of Nandos. I vowed to kiss the ground when I got home and never complain about the cold ever again (delirious or delusional, you decide) and made it my mission to pester the folks at all times, ET had to go home. Eventually, 10 days after the ordeal began we boarded a flight home, excited like you wouldn’t believe I made lists in my head of everything I would drink and eat.

I wasn’t sorry to say goodbye to my dysfunctional country of origin, but I did think of what it might be like, 50 years on. There’s no doubting Pakistan is a hellhole for many reasons but it was made this way. It was a consolation prize given to the victims of the British empire, those who once considered themselves Indian, those of my grandparents generation who would’ve been young children at the time of partition. They’ve seen horrors we can only imagine. They are the product of such horrors. To show humanity you must be shown it and Pakistanis are amongst some of the first to be dehumanised. They are the losers of the empire and all the alliances that followed, between extremists bound by mutual desires for power and control and must be mocked and denigrated in order to maintain the global hierarchy. They are Muslims and they were once proud rulers of India, loved by moderates of all faiths. Their fall from grace is the only lasting legacy for young Pakistan, it simply hasn’t had enough time to recuperate.

Our grandparents were refugees of a kind, the land they occupied was destroyed by the British who busted a dam, destroying everything. Britain promised those people refuge from a disaster of their own creation and so they came, naive to the racism that awaited them. They never accepted they were British, my grandparent’s generations, their hearts were too broken, unable to mend. Such is the life of the stateless citizen. I had tricked myself into believing I belonged in the UK but 9/11 changed all of that. The unspoken hate bubbled to the surface and became impossible to ignore. It’s gotten exponentially worse in recent years, there’s no denying it now. They say we don’t integrate but when we do they want to ban us from getting involved, just look at the furore over the Xmas ads, life is impossible for those of us who do not belong anywhere.

There’s no love lost between me and centrist Sadiq Khan but I felt for him today. We don’t belong anywhere, we only have an idea of what it is to belong somewhere and our place of birth is the nearest we can get to realising it, despite what the racists might say.

Violence against women is pandemic (TW)

Whilst Sunny Hundal points his finger at the whole of India for its burgeoning rape epidemic, Jim Davidson has been arrested for sexual offences. In what seems to be a never ending spectacle of horror, Britain’s ‘National Treasures’ are being outed one by one for their abuse of women and children. The lead singer of The Lost Prophets has been charged with conspiracy to rape a child under 13, conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child under 13 and making, possessing and distributing indecent images of children. Rape Crisis Scotland responded to 12000 calls in the space of 12 months. End Violence Against Women revealed 41% of women aged 18-34 have experienced unwanted sexual attention. Meanwhile a New York police officer is accused of plotting to kidnap, rape and EAT women.

On doing a Google news search for rape, I went as far back as the 20th December only to discover that rape seems to have vanished from our streets. There were a couple of local reports of women being attacked by strangers in parks but the first 12 pages speak of India’s fall from grace. The whole world is rightfully appalled at the horrific way our sister met her end. But it seems to have had a magic effect on rapists the world over. Have they stopped raping?

I would love nothing more than for this to be true. But I feel it is unlikely when, on New Year’s Eve I stood waiting for a friend to collect me from Aldgate East station. It was 2am, I’d left one set of friends to meet another. As it drizzled, I stood under the canopy of the entrance, rolling myself a cigarette, hoping I wouldn’t be noticed. A group of lads exited the station and immediately gravitated towards me. I braced myself, angry that they would dare to do so. The leader of the pack stood in my personal space, less than a foot between us and stared at me square in the eyes. He had a sick cocksure smile planted on his face and leaned towards me. “Happy new year” he sneered. Of course all hell broke loose and I told him to fuck off in as many ways I could muster but he stood fast, my words barely making an impact. His friends were either side, all staring at me as they thought things and I felt sick. I remembered the woman from Delhi and I thought of whether she’d felt the same, did she think the approaching group of men were ‘just being a nuisance’? Did she know what they would do to her? Who could predict such a thing? It felt like they were there forever but then a male friend showed up. He saw me shouting at them and rushed over. I babbled at him, and he turned to them “if a girl tells you she doesn’t want to speak to you, you fuck off!” The whole party started shouting their excuses, denying their part, with no intention of backing down. A man passing by joined us and stood shoulder to shoulder with my friend. He threatened the other boys. So they skulked off.

I was shaken by this. I am no match for a group of men. My friend wasn’t much of a threat to them either. It was only as my situation drew attention they appeared to lose some of their power. Later that evening another group of strange men would surround my young friend and tell her she was a slut and should cover up with one of them stating Allah had granted him the right to put her in her place for being an apostate. This man was white with a ginger beard. Crowds of people stood around as they threatened us. Nobody spoke up.

Patriarchy is controlling each and every one of us right now. It’s telling us that the Indian rapist is a new breed of perpetrator, so horrific in his methods that we need to focus our attentions on sorting THAT country out. An epidemic suggests a rash of incidents, as if it’s a new problem or that somehow it has gotten much worse. That’s what patriarchy wants you to believe. India has always had a problem with rape. Just like the UK has always had a problem with rape. That’s how patriarchy works. And it keeps you battling the very same problems because it tells you it happened elsewhere. By pointing the finger at India and referring to the woman from Delhi as the Indian girl, it has become someone else’s problem. Instead of the global virus that it is. Rape is very widespread in India. But it’s widespread here too.

Damini’s rape will change India. It already has. Women are taking to the streets in solidarity. Global pressure and bad press will force Indian to review its penal code. If the mobs are successful, rapists will die. We hope. But when this happened to Mary Anne, what did we do?

It was 2006. Mary Anne was 16. She and a friend were abducted and then raped and tortured for several hours. The perpetrators had forced them to take drugs and they were repeatedly told they were going to die. Mary Anne eventually died from her numerous stab wounds. Her friend miraculously survived a bullet to the head. Where was the outrage for Mary Anne? Why are we not still angry?

Patriarchy minimises rape: “Do you honestly think a woman is treated the same in India as in the UK? REALLY?”. It defines it for you. When something like this happens to a woman, the menz trip over themselves to mansplain it to us. Instead of thinking, fuck those Indians need a telling off, why not think, fuck, rape is an evil thing and rapists need taking out? And then do something about it. Make it unacceptable to laugh or joke about rape lest the rapist thinks he’s got a friend in you. Raise your boys and girls with a clear understanding of consent. For a start, reason with your children why they must brush their teeth instead of forcing the brush into their mouth. Show them why it’s good to ask for permission.

Smash male privilege.

Smash the patriarchy.

Don’t feed the trolls.

This is not a race issue (which is one of patriarchy’s more evil inventions); this is about power and control of women by men. The only way to change things is to highlight them and keep the pressure on ALL governments. Let the rapist know we’re watching.

We’re watching the Indian ones right now.

Who’s watching ours?

White feminists, now will you listen? (Trigger Warning)

The more I think of the way she suffered, the more I feel an anger rising up amongst the bile. My stomach twisted as I heard of the ways in which she’d been savagely assaulted; having been violated with an iron rod, her intestines had to be removed. She was raped for over an hour by a group of men who did this only because she was a woman.

She could be one of my friends. She could be me aged 23. The rapists didn’t think about her family or her career as a paramedic. They weren’t bothered by her male chaperone. She wasn’t a person to them, just a thing to use, an object. While she lay fighting for her life in a hospital bed, another young woman ended hers. Oblivious to India’s extremely negative profile on the world stage, police officers in the Punjabi region of Patiala advised a 17 year old victim of rape to withdraw her allegations and accept a cash settlement or instead marry one of her attackers.

I am yet to understand the thought processes in this kind of practice. Growing up, I was exposed to a lot of Bollywood I might have chosen to switch off myself. It was a sort of link back to their (my grandparents) old country (even though they were from Pakistan). They just weren’t as in to Pakistani cinema (possibly because it was crap). Sex and sexuality were forbidden in old Bollywood. Romantic liaisons would end in a nose to nose display of lust and yearning and just as their lips threatened to touch, it would cut and zoom out to an image of a tree. The viewer was left feeling like a kiss had taken place and the mere suggestion of this was enough to fire my unbearably strict grandfather into an anti-Indian tirade on how they were all sinners and destined for Allah’s hellfire. “Like dogs!” He’d bark. “Rabid and starved!”

My dislike of my grandfather’s xenophobia aside, I would personally squirm in my seat. This was one side to the representation of sexuality in Bollywood I could begin to understand, however uncomfortable it made me. The snatched glances, inhaling the other person’s smell as they waft past, all little indicators that were the cameras not there, they’d be fornicating and enjoying it a helluva lot. It was either this or the other. Bollywood sexuality was very black and white.

The alternative was rape. The phrase “izaat looti” meaning “stole her honour” describes rape. The rapist stole something from the victim, the most important thing in her culture. And the only consequence to such an incident is certain death. I was horrified whenever I saw an actress fake plunge a dagger into her own chest. Her body and her reputation irreparably sullied so that only death can purify her. An honourable action some might say. Honourable for the men, maybe, seeing as they were the ones to invent the practice. Or maybe she was killing herself to avoid another kind of fate. The kind where the victim is made to marry her attacker. Just like the 17 year old from Patiala who, in the year 2012, was advised to do the same.

Where has feminism been for these women?

At present, we in the West are experiencing a second wave Backlash. The year 2012 gave a voice to the patriarchy in which they blamed victims for bringing abuse on themselves. Victims are not doing a good enough job protecting themselves against the animalistic urges of rapists and paedophiles and rape isn’t even rape unless the perpetrator agrees it is. For a while now, Western patriarchy has been feeding us the lie that they don’t treat us like the savages over in the East treat theirs. The recent focus on India and the lack of women’s rights may make our great land seem positively equal and fair. Except patriarchy thinks we haven’t been watching this past year when in fact, we have, with concerted efforts.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/2012-the-year-when-it-became-okay-to-blame-victims-of-sexual-assault-8432716.html

Perpetrators, Paedophiles and Patriarchy http://wp.me/p1V5N4-9c

Privilege Top Trumps http://wp.me/p1V5N4-94

2012 might have been the year where victim blaming was the norm but it will also have been the year when intersectionality became mainstream. Feminism was borne out of the need for equality. For some this meant equality in the Western world for white men and women. But true feminism is intersectional. It has to be. Otherwise we’ll have wise asses like the white friend (of a man married to an aunt) who praised non-white women for knowing who wears the trousers in a relationship. “The problem with our white women is that they don’t cook for us. They wait for you to get in the door and they’re off out drinking with their friends. Asian women take care of their men”. Hm.

The images of our Indian sisters protesting against the patriarchy swell my heart and enforce a renewed vigour with which we must now battle. Together. I am Savita, the woman who died in the name of Catholicism when she miscarried the foetus whose right to life undermined hers. I am Malala Yousufzai and I will fight to the death to be heard. I am the millions of women raped for being women, for (*amendment) identifying as women and not conforming to the patriarchal cis gendered stereotype. It doesn’t matter where we are, what we wear, what our life choices are; we have the right to move freely without fear of attack. All of us.

2012 – The year feminism came back with a vengeance. The year feminism fought for all women.

This time round it will work. This time we’ll have billions more women on our side.

Patriarchy won’t know what’s hit it.