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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

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

 (Shutterstock)
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

On hijab, don't ignore the ground realities 

If a mere headscarf can disrupt public order, then who is responsible: The student who wears it or the law enforcement agencies responsible for maintaining the peace?

A hijab-wearing student walks past a worker painting a wall to conceal a pro-hijab slogan, Hospet, March 16, 2022 (PTI)
Updated on Mar 19, 2022 04:51 PM IST

When school becomes a hostile place for students

A boy is dead apparently because he did not fit social ideas of what is “normal”. His mother is fighting for justice. No parent should have to ever go through this again.

The unpalatable truth is that bullying remains the most common form of violence across schools. (airdone)
Updated on Mar 04, 2022 10:21 PM IST

Hijab row: It’s about control, not choice

If you want to save Muslim women, then educate them. It really is that simple. Instead, school administrations, headed by politicians, deny girls education because of a piece of cloth on their heads

Burqa-clad female Muslim students arrive to attend a class at ATNC College, Shivamogga, February. 17, 2022 (PTI)
Updated on Feb 18, 2022 07:51 PM IST

Rule of law remains an alien concept in India

This tribalist culture is reflected in ways in which the mob metes out what it sees as justice. It has the sanction of the crowd, whether it’s dealing with a pickpocket, suspected ‘beef eaters’ or ‘honour’ killings

Rule of law, says psychologist Rajat Mitra, remains an alien concept over seven decades after we adopted our Constitution. Sometimes this lack of faith spills over to those sworn to uphold the law (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Updated on Feb 04, 2022 07:27 PM IST

Why rape victims hesitate to speak up

G Gopakumar’s acquittal of Franco Mulakkal, a bishop of the Jalandhar diocese, is the latest in misogynist rape judgments and tells you why sexual assault survivors remain reluctant to speak up. In two words: Rape trials

The acquittal of Tarun Tejpal in May 2021 falls into this pattern and is rife with graphic details about the survivor’s past sexual history, despite the law stating that it has no bearing on a rape trial. Like the Mulakkal judgment and like so many other rape judgments, it transgresses into the personal to become in a very real sense another violation of the survivor. And like the Mulakkal judgment, it is a cautionary tale on why women don’t speak up. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Updated on Jan 21, 2022 08:39 PM IST

A petri dish of deep distrust and hatred

The online ‘auction’ of Muslim women exists in an ecosystem of hate. But the sexualised attack of Muslim women is not new. Over the past year, there have been at least three “auctions” — May 2020, Eid in July, and November on Clubhouse

It reflects the divisiveness sown by media that makes free use of labels like “jihadi” and “anti-national” and, where hours after the arrest of an 18-year-old woman accused, anchors spin tear-jerker backgrounds of how she’s an orphan as if that justifies criminal behaviour. (HT Photo)
Updated on Jan 07, 2022 09:36 PM IST

2021: A year of quite a few silver linings

A year of loss and devastation still managed to have its undeniable hurrahs. More women judges in the higher judiciary, and the Delhi High Court, set to welcome its first openly gay judge, were a win for wider representation

In the end, it wasn’t institutions so much as women themselves who raised the greater cheers. Lovlina Borghain, Mirabai Chanu, and PV Sindhu went to the Olympics and showed what women are made of. (Getty Images)
Updated on Dec 24, 2021 08:28 PM IST

Mind The Gap | The case for and against raising the marriage age for women

Hello and welcome to Mind the Gap, a newsletter that adds perspective to the gender developments of the week.

Bringing the minimum age requirement for women at par with men falls in line with Constitutional guarantees of equality for all citizens (Shutterstock)
Updated on Dec 20, 2021 11:13 AM IST
ByNamita BhandareNamita Bhandare

Mind The Gap | No honour in these killings

Hello and welcome to Mind the Gap, a newsletter that adds perspective to the gender developments of the week.

‘Honour’ killings, where the families of daughters who exercise agency in their choice of marriage partners and so incur their family’s wrath for bringing disgrace, are India’s enduring shame (AFP)
Updated on Dec 12, 2021 07:37 PM IST

Women bus drivers: A ticket to greater freedom

Hiring women drivers and conductors will instill confidence and enable more women to use public transport

DTC hired its first woman driver, V Saritha, in April 2015 with announcements to hire more. Six years later, Saritha remains its sole woman driver (Hindustan Times)
Published on Dec 10, 2021 08:12 PM IST

Mind The Gap | The Indian woman’s quest for autonomy

Hello and welcome to Mind the Gap, a newsletter that adds perspective to the gender developments of the week.

Behind the various laws that seek to regulate women’s bodies lies the question of choice. How freely do women exercise agency when it comes to marriage, when to have a baby, or how many babies to have? (Hindustan Times)
Updated on Dec 10, 2021 03:54 PM IST

Mind The Gap | Wooing the Indian woman voter

Hello and welcome to Mind the Gap, a newsletter that adds perspective to the gender developments of the week.

We’ve come a long way from the days when parties promised free pressure cookers, mixer-grinders and gold for mangalsutras (Virendra Singh Gosain/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Nov 28, 2021 12:05 PM IST
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