Caught in a culture trap

In better times: MK Kaushik with the Indian women's hockey team

Controversy is raging around the Indian women’s hockey team, as its chief coach MK Kaushik resigned after Ranjita Devi from Manipur leveled allegations of sexual harassment against him. Reading about this led me on to thinking about the many other reports we have read in recent times about Northeastern women complaining about sexual harassment.

I experienced quite a culture shock when I moved from Mumbai to Delhi about 7 years ago. Delhities came across as being much more brash, nosier and definitely more close minded that those in Mumbai; the men are creepy; and it was the first time I felt afraid because I am a woman.

As I extrapolate those feelings to Northeastern women, I can’t help but feel enraged at the injustice that is meted out to them every day. Just because they enjoy partying and sex isn’t taboo for them the way it is for Delhites — due to which they are labeled “fast” — they are the target of unwanted male attention. Where does it say that just because a woman enjoys partying she’s lose; or if sex before marriage is no big deal for her, it’s an open invitation for men to paw her?

Freedom Jam in Manipur

There is a huge cultural difference between North India and Northeastern India — where the former is close-minded and largely patriarchal, the latter is more open and more, if I may generalize, Westernized. It’s common for girls to be out late, for youngsters spend the evening jamming together or to put up rock shows. When they come to Delhi, they find that their normal sources of entertainment are non-existent. So they do the next best thing — they go partying. For them, it’s natural. But for the close-minded North Indian men, it comes as an open invitation to be lustful. D-I-S-G-U-T-I-N-G.

When the issue got heated a couple of years ago, the police commissioner actually issued guidelines to Northeastern girlst telling them that they must dress “conservatively” and refrain from wearing skirts. What were you trying to say Mr. Top Cop? That men can’t control their urges, or that you can do nothing to protect women? That was a huge controversy at its time, just as the allegations leveled against MK Kaushik are creating an uproar now. That the lid has been blown off by a Manipuri girl just goes to show how deep rooted the prejudices are against Northeastern women.

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  1. Absolutely agree with you. North Indian men are really lusty when they see north eastern girl. In fact, in NE states, the social system is matriarchial, property, marriage, inheritance, women have huge rights there, hence their open culture.
    It can be a curse for a NE girl to be here in the preying eyes of north indian guys.

    good post.


    • Thanks Restless
      I think a matriarchal society is a more open and progressive society. I’m reading a book on the history of the Indus that tells of the existence of a women dominated society in what is present day Ladakh. And in most of the old Sanskrit epics, the freedom of women was integral to the utopia in the texts. Given that kind of cultural history and background, it’s a shame how women are treated in this country today.

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