Namita Bhandare

Namita Bhandare writes on gender and other social issues and has 25 years of experience in journalism. She has edited books and features in a documentary on sexual violence. She tweets as @namitabhandare

Articles by Namita Bhandare

Freewheeling women

Can we reimagine ways in which the humble bicycle can improve mobility for older women?

India’s heaving metropolises are simply not designed for women. The focus on multi-lane highways and flyovers ignores women—and the differently abled and elderly. The metro rail does provide a speedy commute; what’s lacking is last-mile connectivity and affordability (HT PHOTO)
Updated on May 26, 2023 08:19 PM IST

The wrestlers’ protests can save the akhada

In the patriarchal dustbowl of India, sport has been the key to transforming the lives of girls. Now, a generation of girls stands to lose what their predecessors laid out for them

A prolonged protest could derail the progress of the past few years. The website Scroll reports that the wrestlers’ agitation has already resulted in many budding female wrestlers rethinking their careers. A whole generation of girls in sport stand to lose what their predecessors laid out, despite the challenges, for them. (ANI)
Updated on May 12, 2023 07:41 PM IST

Who’s afraid of marriage equality?

At the heart of the Supreme Court marriage equality hearings lie a host of patriarchal anxieties over the challenge to the definition of family

Nobody can predict which way the courts will rule. But to listen to the proceedings, is to hear the story of a nation where people fall in love and dream of building lives and setting up their own families. It is to hear of what senior advocate Saurabh Kirpal calls “lavender marriages”, where gay men are married off to women under family pressure. (Biplov Bhuyan/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Apr 28, 2023 07:55 PM IST

For gender equality, go beyond symbolic steps

A gender-neutral uniform of pants for all students is welcome. But the message must go beyond symbolism

According to a 2015 Dasra report, 23% of girls eventually drop out of school because of a lack of menstrual hygiene facilities (HT PHOTO)
Updated on Apr 14, 2023 07:25 PM IST

Acing the game

There’s never been a better time for women athletes in India

The first time Anne Aiza Khan wore a pair of shorts was at a football tournament in Kolkata. (Courtesy: Anne Aiza Khan)
Updated on Mar 31, 2023 09:52 PM IST

Marriage equality: Be on the right side of history

There’s a unique opportunity for the five-judge bench that will start hearing arguments on same-sex marriage from April 18. What it will decide will send a signal to India and the world

What is the havoc that solicitor-general Tushar Mehta fears? If personal religious laws don’t recognise same-sex marriage, then there’s the secular Special Marriage Act of 1954 that allows interfaith couples to marry. A government that talks of a common civil code can easily extend this common law to sexual minorities. It’s hard to imagine that Armageddon will be unleashed by extending marriage rights. (HT PHOTO)
Updated on Mar 17, 2023 07:43 PM IST

Why Seattle’s new law on caste bias is needed

he leadership of a new generation of Dalit women--articulate, clear about strategy and utterly fearless despite death threats and opposition from groups including the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Hindu American Foundation

When Indians migrate, they can carry the prejudice of caste with them. The first comprehensive UN report on caste-based discrimination found at least 250 million people worldwide face dehumanizing discrimination, with women and girls vulnerable to sexual violence. (Shutterstock)
Published on Mar 03, 2023 08:34 PM IST

Why turning 60 is special in many ways

Turning 60 is not like turning 50, when old age still seems a long way off. It’s not like turning 70, where the clock ticking to where we’re all headed must only get louder. It’s that muddled place of no longer middle age, but not quite old age

At 60, you know you’ve lived longer than the years left in the tank. So much still to do in the time when you can do it. That road trip. Dance classes. A marathon — well, maybe, an easy hike. Sinking the patriarchy. (Shutterstock)
Updated on Feb 17, 2023 06:42 PM IST

When libraries become a safe place for children

Karnataka had a head-start as one of the earliest states, along with Tamil Nadu and Kerala, to have a public libraries act. In 2019, it decentralised 5,623 rural libraries and handed them over to the panchayats

Across the state, 2.8 million kids now have library cards. Senior citizens, self-help groups, and accredited social health activists are all welcome (Namita Bhandare)
Updated on Feb 13, 2023 08:39 PM IST

A mother’s courageous fight against the system

Trial by Fire quietly unpeels the dignity and grit of families who should never have had to be so brave, but were

In 2010, Neelam met with the law commission asking for a separate law for man-made disasters that enhanced jail time from the current two years. A report was prepared in 2012. Then, nothing even as other disasters raged: Kumbakonam school, Victoria Park, AMRI hospital, Sum hospital. (HT PHOTO)
Updated on Jan 20, 2023 07:34 PM IST

Not protection, women need autonomy, equality

A decade after a brutal gang-rape in Delhi led to our toughest laws, the National Crime Records Bureau continues to report an upward trend in crimes against women.

The problem is not a lack of laws but sheer callousness when it comes to the lives of women. (Amal KS/Hindustan Times)
Updated on Jan 06, 2023 08:39 PM IST

Muslim women are smashing stereotypes

The demand for banning polygamy and halala remains. For how much longer will Muslim women be excluded from the gains won by other Indian women?

Caught in the crossfire between prevailing majoritarianism and the need to defend minority rights, Muslim women bear a double burden. For how much longer will they be excluded from the gains won by other Indian women, gains promised by the principles of a modern Constitution? (PTI)
Updated on Dec 23, 2022 09:46 PM IST

10 years after Delhi rape case, we need a new rights blueprint

In the decade since, data has recorded a rise in numbers not just of rape but also of all crimes against women.

Ten years ago, we claimed ownership of the 23-year-old as “India’s daughter”, bestowing on her an unasked for martyrdom by calling her Nirbhaya. (File Photo)
Published on Dec 14, 2022 07:07 PM IST

The insidious prevalence of domestic violence in India

For as long as girls are taught that marriage is their only goal, they must compromise and a bad husband is better than no husband, they will continue to remain in abusive relationships.

Until the monstrosity of his alleged crime, Aaftab Poonawala was your average abusive neighbour. (Anshuman Poyrekar/HT Photo)
Published on Nov 25, 2022 08:41 PM IST

Motherhood and job, not an easy balance

For too long, too many of us have remained silent about just what it takes to be an employed mother, believing the lie that if we lean in enough, it will all magically work out. It won’t

It won’t. If we want workplaces and society to acknowledge, if not understand, what it takes to be employed, we need to articulate our priorities, instead of hopelessly trying to catch all the balls in the air. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Updated on Nov 11, 2022 08:33 PM IST

Women’s safety: A hollow slogan in the India of today

I can’t help but wonder at the depths we have plumbed in the decade since the brutality of the December 16, 2012 gang-rape led an outraged nation to demand justice, compelling the then Congress-led government to tighten rape laws.

Since 2012, violent crimes against women have only gone up, a reflection perhaps of both rising crime and greater willingness to report it.
Published on Oct 28, 2022 07:43 PM IST

Do India’s women have the right to choose?

The hijab row is now headed to a larger Supreme Court bench and all eyes will be on the Chief Justice of India. The composition of this bench will be crucial to determine what is at heart a simple question: Do India’s women have the right to choose?

Justice Shudhanshu Dhulia’s dissenting opinion trends towards this option (though, of course, karva chauth is not part of his remit). “It is a matter of choice, nothing more and nothing less,” he ruled. The thing which was uppermost in [my] mind was the education of girl child…. Are we making her life better?” (PTI)
Updated on Oct 14, 2022 07:54 PM IST

Iran to India, let women decide their hijab rules

The choice between the right to education and allowing girls to wear a headscarf with their uniforms is a no-brainer. The girls must be allowed their fundamental right to expression, privacy and autonomy.

There is no contradiction. The fundamental point in both countries is a woman’s right to choose.
Updated on Sep 30, 2022 09:10 PM IST

The precarious lives of India’s interfaith couples

In an era where seven states have “love jihad” laws, marriage seems like an ambitious project. Just this week, a Dalit man and his Muslim girlfriend were killed in Uttar Pradesh

In a country where 93% of urban Indians choose arranged marriages, the course of true love is not always smooth. (Unsplash)
Published on Sep 02, 2022 08:15 PM IST

Are some women in India more unequal than others?

How do you continue to hold out hope with the weight of the State’s boot on your neck? The message is clear: In their quest for justice, women are unequal citizens, some more unequal than others.

The men were garlanded and feted at the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) office in an utterly obscene display of triumphalism that mocks every woman who seeks justice for rape. (PTI)
Published on Aug 19, 2022 08:11 PM IST

When the sight of a handbag greatly upset the patriarchy

When a handbag made news this past week, it would not be out of place to remember that sexist attitudes have not changed much since the Gandhi-Thatcher era.

In her earlier avatar as an investment banker, Moitra would have been able to afford a designer bag, or three. But few things upset the patriarchy as much as the sight of an outspoken, independent woman. 
Published on Aug 05, 2022 07:20 PM IST

Devise policies to help young girls dream big

It’s been seven years since the PM’s Beti Bachao mission to address the child sex ratio. But, without its corollary, Beti Padhao, reaching its potential, the scheme is incomplete

If there was ever a measure for aspiration for young women, it is to be found in the surge in numbers seeking to better their lives through education. (PTI)
Updated on Jul 22, 2022 08:10 PM IST

Can Murmu’s election emancipate the tribals?

The election of Murmu cannot be an empty symbolic gesture, mere lip service to inclusion. It must signal a new era where it cannot continue to be business as usual

National Democratic Alliance presidential candidate Draupadi Murmu in Patna, Bihar, July 5, 2022 (Santosh Kumar/Hindustan Times)
Updated on Jul 08, 2022 08:53 PM IST

Menopause is real. We need to talk about it

While we’ve been chipping away at the traditional silence around menstruation, its progression to menopause is still deemed too awful to talk about

A recent survey in the United Kingdom (UK) finds that one in 10 women has quit a job due to menopausal symptoms. The Indian Menopause Society estimates that 150 million women in India live with it, symptoms of which could include hot flushes and night sweats (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Updated on Jun 24, 2022 08:21 PM IST

Mithali Raj’s impact went beyond cricket

Raj normalised the idea of girls at play in a deeply patriarchal society where the sight of girls on the field is still rare. Kitted out or not, she told these girls and their parents that it was ok for them to kick a ball or twirl a racket

Mithali Raj bats during the Women's Cricket World Cup match between South Africa and India at Hagley Oval in Christchurch, March 27, 2022 (AFP)
Updated on Jun 10, 2022 08:45 PM IST

There is near-silence on domestic violence

We are in a crisis. For years, traditionalists have placed Indian families on a culturally superior pedestal and insisted that marriage is a sacrament despite data that tells us emphatically that the home is not the safest place for women

In this Oct. 31, 2019 photo, the word
Updated on May 27, 2022 07:31 PM IST

Marital rape: The State must protect women

The National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS-5), released this past week, finds that when women are subject to sexual violence, husbands are the perpetrators in 82% of the cases. Yet 99.1% of sexual violence goes unreported when the perpetrator is the husband, found a 2018 analysis by Mint

“Women are being raped as we speak,” says lawyer Karuna Nundy who appeared for the petitioners. “It’s time to remove the patriarchal cloak that protects one class of rapists.” (Amal KS/HT PHOTO)
Published on May 13, 2022 05:47 PM IST

Why women are missing out on jobs

India needs a focused fight that involves government, the private sector and civil society. The government can pass laws and policies such as expanding paternity leave and providing tax breaks for companies that promote inclusion

Updated on Apr 29, 2022 07:38 PM IST

Focus on the crime, not on the rape victim

It is our convenient, shifting attitudes to rape, our unrelenting focus on the victim, not the crime, that make us all complicit. That an elected head of a state is part of this mob makes it tragic

Victim-blaming is not new. Survivors continue to be asked what they were wearing, why they were out, why they didn’t put up a strong enough fight. They continue to be subjected to banned practices like the two-finger test. If the case ever reaches court, they are asked humiliating questions; sexual history, for instance (REPRESENTATIVE PHOTO)
Updated on Apr 15, 2022 06:45 PM IST

It’s time for women to fight their own battles

For women who continue to fight for equal agency, there is something primitive about this modern version of throwing down the gauntlet

The time has come to say to men: We will fight our own battles. If you’re an ally, support us. If you’re not, get out of the way. (Biplov Bhuyan/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Apr 01, 2022 06:33 PM IST
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