The Gender Beat: Challenge to Sexism of Army’s Legal Department; Dalit Student’s Father Wants CBI In

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

A photo of the Tibetan Women's Football team from 2014. Courtesy: Tibetan National Sports Association.

A photo of the Tibetan Women’s Football team from 2014. Courtesy: Tibetan National Sports Association.

Police call dalit student’s death ‘suicide’, her father demands CBI probe

The father of the 17-year-old dalit girl who was allegedly raped and murdered in Nokha, Rajasthan says that the police are not investigating the case properly.

Reports say that the police have ruled out murder, a decision that is being protested by rights groups. Her father has asked for a CBI probe, and for a murder charge to be included into the FIR that has been lodged in connection with the case.

The role of the police has been criticised by commentators and activists from the start, after reports emerged that the student’s body had been taken away by police in a truck meant for the collection of garbage. In addition, the police reportedly collected no video evidence at the time.

Tibetan women’s football team to play in Goa

The Times of India reports that the Tibetan women’s national team will be playing three friendlies in Goa next month. The matches begin on May 4, at Duler stadium in Mapusa.

The report quotes the Tibet women’s soccer website, which says: “Tibet Women’s Soccer aims to facilitate the expansion of the female Tibetan voice, nurture the idea that Tibetan women possess the talent and capabilities equivalent to men, forge the bonds of sisterhood and provide an arena in which they can safely experiment with these new developments.”

PIL seeks to recruit married women in Indian army’s legal department

A public interest litigation (PIL) has been filed with the Delhi high court in order to allow women law graduates who happen to be married to apply to work with the Indian army’s Judge Advocate General (JAG) department. At the moment, only men (married or otherwise), and unmarried women may apply.

A Hindustan Times report quotes the PIL: “This discrimination on grounds of gender is violative of fundamental right of equality before law, right not to be discriminated on the ground of sex, equality of opportunity in matters of public employment, fundamental right to practice any profession and occupation and human rights of the women.”

Sex-determination racket thrives in Mahendragarh

Two Rajasthan-based sex-determination centres have been found in the last two months by the district health authority, according to a report in The Tribune.

These illegal centres reportedly charge between Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 25,000 for clandestine sex-determination tests.

Mahendragarh district saw a sharp decline in its sex ratio only a month after receiving an award for improving it, says another report in The Tribune. The district’s sex ratio for the first three months of this year is 782 girls per 1,000 boys. Last year, it was 810 girls to 1,000 boys.

Two more women accuse jailed tantrik of raping them

A tantrik from Gir-Somnath who was arrested in connection with a rape case against him on April 5, has been accused of rape by two more women, says a Times of India report.

The tantrik reportedly threatened the women with physical harm to their families if they told anyone about the abuse. Two more cases have now been registered against him.

Study shows deep canvassing can reduce anti-transgender prejudice

A study published in the journal Science says that it may be possible to reduce prejudice with a ten-minute conversation.

Conducted by a Stanford professor, and a University of California Berkeley graduate student, the study reveals that deep canvassing – where the person doing the canvassing spends most of the time listening to a voter, instead of talking – can reduce people’s prejudice against transgender people.

The study shows that voters can become more willing to vote for more rights for transgender communities after a face-to-face conversation involving deep canvassing.

Black women make up less than 2% of leaders in private sector jobs, US study finds

Black and Hispanic women are hugely underrepresented in leadership roles in the private sector, a study from the American Association for University Women (AAUW) shows.

“Black women make up just 8% of private sector jobs and 1.5 per cent in leadership roles. It is even worse for Hispanic women, who represent 6% of the workforce and 1.3% of leadership roles,” says a report in The Independent.

Books: gender identity, feminism, and writing

The Guardian’s books blog has a trifecta of articles on gender and feminist issues: a profile of French feminist writer Violette Leduc, a piece on Fay Weldon’s upcoming book, and an interview with Maggie Nelson, author of The Argonauts.

Weldon, 84, has been heavily criticsed by commentators for her recent remarks about transgender people and women.  In an interview with The Sunday Times, she accused women of acting “like victims” and claimed that transgender women have sex-changes because they want to fight back “against the natural superiority of women.” She has now announced that the protagonist of her next book will be a character who wants to have sex reassignment surgery for reasons that are in line with her comments.

Transgender rights activists have long pointed out that the assumption that non-binary and  transgender people always want to or need to have sex reassignment surgery is inaccurate, and harmful.

As Sonia Joseph points out in her piece on Raiot, “It is important to understand that transgender identities are not linked to gender reassignment procedures. However, the decision to gender transition through a surgical process is a reproductive health right unique to transgender communities.”

In contrast, Nelson’s interview explores the author’s relationship with her gender-fluid partner, Harry Dodge, and the exploration of gender in her work: “…on the street or in restaurants they are often treated as a “normal” heterosexual family – man, pregnant woman, young child. Nelson interrogates how this feels, but is more interested in redefining what a family might mean. The Argonauts wants to untie the knots that limit the way we talk about gender and the institutions of marriage and childbirth.”

Do you know of any other incident we should highlight in this column? Write to me at [email protected].

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