Gender Beat: Punjab Ups Women’s Quota in Local Bodies; Ayush Ministry’s Tips for Pregnant Women

A round-up of what’s happening in the worlds of gender and sexuality.

A rainbow flag is held up with the name of the gay nightclub where the worst mass shooting in US history occured in Orlando,Florida, during a vigil in front of the White House in Washington, US, June 12, 2016. Credit: Reuters/Joshua Roberts

In US, killings of LGBT rose in 2016

A recent report released by advocacy group National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs has estimated that in 2016, the killing of LGBT people in the US rose 217% – with the total number augmented by the death of 49 in a shooting at a Florida gay nightclub, Reuters reported. However, not all of those killed in the Pulse attack identified themselves as LGBT.

Excluding those, 28 others who identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, were also killed last year, pushing the figure was up by 17% from the 24 killed in 2015. The coalition, according to Reuters, said that members of the LGBT community remain vulnerable to violence in what it described as the “incendiary political climate.”

The report further stated that 35% of survivors such violence who reported the incidents to the police experienced indifference, while 31% claimed that the police were hostile towards them.

“Recent executive orders as well as ongoing efforts to pass anti-LGBTQ legislation and roll back protections at the city, state, and federal level make LGBTQ people vulnerable to identity-based discrimination,” Beverly Tillery of the New York City Anti-Violence Project said.

Kerala appoints panel to study gender problems in its film industry

In an effort to address the gender problems plaguing the Malayalam film industry, the state cabinet on Wednesday appointed a three-member committee to study the various issues and suggest solutions, IANS reported.

The committee, led by retired Kerala high court judge Justice K. Hema, and comprising veteran actor Sharada and former bureaucrat K.B. Valsalakumari, was formed just weeks after several women professionals from the industry approached chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan requesting for such a panel. According to The News Minute, in a memo presented to the chief minister, the collective stated that the film industry had not even reached a point where “basic human rights or wage related issues can even be discussed.”

“It’s no longer a lonely camerawoman or editor in cinema, the tide is turning. There is a critical mass of women in cinema now. As more women come in, this place needs to be safer. Many people are still not welcoming of the women in their families entering the industry,” filmmaker Anjali Menon told The News Minute.

The collective had demanded addressing wage disparity, a fund for women who could not work during pregnancies and reservation for women in government-owned studios, awards for films that talk about gender equality and subsidies for production crews that have 30% women, among other things.

Record number of women, LGBT win seats in UK general election

With the election of 208 women in UK’s general election last week, there will be a record number of female MPs in the House of Commons – exceeding the 196 elected in the 2015 election and subsequent by-polls, The Guardian reported. Apart from the women MPs, over 40 openly gay, lesbian or bisexual parliamentarians also won seats.

Women’s rights group, however, believe that even though there has been progress from the previous years, “we are moving forward at a snail’s pace”.

Sam Smethers, chief executive of the women’s rights and equality group Fawcett Society, was quoted by The Guardian as saying, “The number of women MPs in parliament has broken the 200 barrier for the first time. But while this is progress the fact remains that just 32% of our MPs are women, up from 30% before the election.”

Israel’s gay pride parade draws thousands

‘Love is a terrible things to hate’ read one of the many signs, floats, banners and rainbow-coloured flags and umbrellas that filled the streets of Israel’s Tel Aviv for the city’s annual gay pride march on Friday, June 9.

About 200,000 people attended the parade, The Denver Post reported, making it the largest of its kind in the deeply conservative Middle Eastern region. According to Reuters, even though same-sex marriage is against the law in the country, polls have suggested that nearly three quarters of Israeli Jews supported permitting it.

Punjab ups women’s quota in local bodies to 50%

The Punjab cabinet on Tuesday, June 13, approved increasing the women’s quota in Panchayati Raj institutions and urban local bodies from 33% to 50%, Times of India reported.

According to a Hindustan Times report, if the Bill to amend the Panchayati Raj Act, 1994, the Punjab Municipal Act, 1911 and the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act, 1976 is passed by the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, women will be eligible to become members of more gram panchayats, panchayat samitis, nagar panchayats, zila parishads, municipal corporations and municipal councils.

Even as the state has taken a step towards the political empowerment of women, the Women’s Reservation Bill – which called for reserving 33% of the seats in the Lok Sabha and all state legislative assemblies for women – continues to languish in the lower house for over two decades.

No meat, no lust – Ayush ministry’s tips for pregnant women for healthy baby

In its booklet titled ‘Mother and Child Care,’ the Ayush ministry has suggested pregnant women stay away from meat, and desire, and hang “beautiful” pictures on their walls to deliver a healthy baby.

“Pregnant women should detach themselves from desire, anger, attachment, hatred and lust,” recommends the booklet compiled by the Modi government-funded Central Council for Research in Yoga and Naturopathy under the Ayush ministry, according to an Indian Express report.

Union minister Shripad Naik said the booklet was published three years ago and suggests yoga practices that are believed to help pregnant women, adding that “The booklet does not contain any advice on abstaining from sex.”

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