Skip to main content

The Arithmetics of Gender

In which century are things going to change? In the realm of politics, it is no secret that the male-dominated political parties employ brazen tactics to marginalize women. The political history, of this so -called progressive state-Kerala, is also the subverted history of gender marginalization. Over the years, the female electorate has increased considerably in Kerala and today the women account for 1,10,26,801 of the total electorate of 2,13,19,036, a whopping seven lakhs more than the men. But since independence there hasn’t been adequate female representation in the state’s political structure. And election 2006 is not going to better the situation. Stagnancy in the gender figures will continue to rule. The number of female candidates who have filed their nomination papers is a mere 71 as against the masculine figure of 859. All competing for 140 Assembly seats. God bless them.

Playing gender politics, the main parties have cleverly ensured that some of their women candidates who are making electoral debuts are pitted against the heavy weights. And parties like Indian Union Muslim League have not even bothered to field a single woman candidate. Why pretend?!! How many women will win the intra party and inter party games and make it to the Assembly is another story.

Interestingly, the manifestos of both the UDF and the LDF have sections of rosy promises exclusively designed to woo the women voters. But there has been no move to increase the feminine number within the parties, thereby excluding them from decision making and framing of laws. Perhaps as a direct fallout of the insensitive male-centric laws is the prevalent malady of sexual exploitation that afflicts the state.

And the parties are ready with their excuses. Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee President Ramesh Chennithala had one too many, “The sitting MLA’s are powerful and we had to give them tickets and also make seat adjustments with our partners. The problem is that there has been a dearth of good women candidates. I am sure that this will change gradually.” Writer Sara Joseph pooh-poohed such excuses, “We see very strong women take their own decisions at the panchayat –level. So why aren’t there enough women in the state and national level? Some women in the forefront are mere puppets. Men cannot think like women and so how can we expect them to understand us or frame laws that are gender- sensitive?’’

While the CPM State Secretary was in mood to engage in such silly discussions. He had other problems to discuss- like who will become Chief Minister? (Bah! Women and their vital statistics! Guess men think that only! Perhaps only that!) Give them thirty three percent reservation stuff and they run like hell. One hell of ice breaker I guess?!!! SFI state president Sindhu Joy of course was all promises. She promised that she would solve all the women’s problems through strikes! “Doesn’t that only add to the ordinary woman’s problems?”

“No!” She replied. Still reveling in the idea of strikes and abandoned ideologies, she promised strikes if she came to power. “Women in Kerala are not safe anywhere- while traveling, working and even on campus. Only strikes can solve women's problems.”

The Political Female is a rare species in many parts of Kerala. If this state has to be truly progressive then the political structure has to be changed. And women don’t need the 33 percent to survive in this field. They just have to find other ways to survive.

(Author: Minu Ityipe. First published in the New Indian Express. Some changes have been made.)


Popular posts from this blog

Free Masons: All about them

Free masonry- the 'spiritual society' of sacred brotherhood with its origins in antiquity has always been shrouded in mystery. Their initiation rites, rituals, symbolisms, secret signs and code of conduct have further enhanced the aura of mysteriousness. Is Free Masonry a remnant of an ancient religion that worshipped the Sun or is it just an exclusive, elitist boy's club that indulges in secret charity missions?
In 1961 the Grand Lodge of India, which is an off -shoot of the Grand Lodges of Scotland, England and Ireland was constituted. The Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of India Mr.Arun Chintopanth was recently here in Kochi to preside over the meeting of the Regional Grand Lodge of Southern India. In an exclusive interview with the Grand Master sought to demystify the Masonic Lodge. Arun Chintopanth in full regalia. Dont miss the apron. What is Free Masonry? It is not a service organisation. It is not a religious group. It is not a mutual benefit society but it is a combi…

The Suryanelli Girl: Her Story

Suryanelli: The place of no sun. 
  Roofs weighed down by rock bags to keep the wind from blowing them away
Off the Kerala state highway that connect the small, brash towns giddy with foreign remittances, sits an unassuming, modest home that goes by the name: Lovedale. A septuagenarian couple, a retired postmaster and a retired nurse, live here with their younger daughter and, a ghoulish past that continues to taunt every waking moment of their lives. The 33-year-old daughter smiles shyly revealing an innocence frozen in time. 17 years ago, the daughter, then a 16-year-old girl, had left home wearing a skirt and a blouse to go to school and returned sexually violated and terribly traumatized: her transformation from a carefree school girl to a bloated individual was violently shocking. The girl had been kept captive, fed sedatives and alcohol, traded for sex and raped by 42 men in a span of 40 days in the months of January and February 1996. The family’s tryst with rapists, the police, …

Book Review: An Autobiography Of A Sex Worker by Nalini Jameela

I am 51 years old. And I would like to continue to be a sex worker.” This is how the candid and defiant opening statement in Nalini Jameela’s autobiography in Malayalam, Oru Lymgika-thozhilaliyude Atmakadha, goes. It at once throws a challenge at society’s double standards — harsh on prostitutes and soft on the clients. Nalini Jameela, who is the coordinator of the Kerala Sex Workers’ Forum, reveals her sordid story with no trace of compunction.
Nalini was a 24-year-old widow when she entered the profession to feed her two children. At that time she did not think about the repercussions of her act. She writes, “I was earning Rs 4.50 at a tile factory near Trissur. My mother-in-law served me with an ultimatum to either give her five rupees a day to look after my children or leave the house. I recounted my woes to a friend, who introduced me to Rosechechi. Rosechechi promised me Rs 50 if I spent time with a man. The first thought that came to my mind was that my children would be looked…