The Gender Beat: Transgender Candidates for West Bengal Elections Threatened; Bangladesh Queer Rally Cancelled by Authorities

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

Bangladesh Rainbow Pride Rally, 2014. Courtesy: Gaylaxy.

Bangladesh Rainbow Rally, 2014. Courtesy: Gaylaxy.

Study on sexist video games and their impact on real-world empathy

Young men who strongly identify with male characters in sexist and violent video games, such as Grand Theft Auto, are not as empathetic towards survivors of real-life violence against women as those who don’t, according to a new study.

The study was carried out at Ohio State University in the US using three kinds of games: games that are considered violent and sexist, games that are considered neither and games that are considered violent, but not sexist.

According to the researchers, young men who identified the most with male video games characters were likelier to agree with ‘masculine beliefs’.

The sexism and gender-based violence depicted in video games has long been criticised by commentators. In mid-2014, a group of people ostensibly concerned with the protection of the ‘gamer’ identity against alleged violations of journalistic ethics launched a campaign of harassment against video game developer Zoe Quinn.

Since then, the harassment and attacks perpetrated by the movement – known colloquially as ‘GamerGate’ – spread across social media, and targeted prominent critics of misogyny in video game culture, such as feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian, as well as their supporters.

Pune to give financial support to women with no sources of income

The Pune Municipal Corporation has approved a scheme that will give women who have no sources of income a thousand rupees a month. The money is meant to go to over 25,000 women in the city. However, according to a report in The Times of India, the women who want to avail of the scheme have to produce evidence that they have less than one lakh rupees in their possession.

Woman launches petition directed at redBus

A woman who was reportedly sexually abused  during a journey booked via the company redBus has started an online campaign asking the company to ensure that women passengers are safe from violence during their journeys.

The woman, Rashmi Bachani, has started an online petition asking the company to take steps to increase accountability towards women passengers, including an emergency complaint system on their mobile application, and a phone number to call in case any harassment is perpetrated during the journey. “We can expect basic facilities & respect, considering we are spending 12-14 hours of our lives in their care,” reads the text of the petition.

West Bengal elections: trans candidates intimidated into not filing nominations

Two transgender election candidates who were going to be fielded by the Lok Janshakti Party have allegedly been threatened and intimidated into not filing their nominations. Bobby Halder, who was planning to contest elections from Bhawanipore, and Sankari Mondal, who was going to do so from Jadavpur, said they’d been threatened by people belonging to the Trinamool Congress party. Their party’s state president has been quoted as saying: “Ever since their candidature was announced, both were constantly threatened, humiliated and intimidated by Trinamool goons.” She adds that nobody could be found to officially propose them as candidates. The party will be approaching the Election Commission for further action.

Bangladesh queer rally cancelled by authorities

A rainbow pride rally that queer activists wanted to hold during Bengali New Year celebrations had to be cancelled after authorities refused to let them organise it.

Islamists had threatened to beat up participants of the rally, saying that it is was ‘un-Islamic and haram.’ Four unnamed queer activists were arrested by the police, who accused them of attempting to hold the event despite the official cancellation. The group which organises the rally, Roopbaan, said that they had not attempted to hold it.

More male babies born to Indian-origin families in Canada: study

Indian-origin women in Canada who already have two or more children have a disproportionately high number of male children, a new study reveals, giving rise to worries that the community is practicing sex-selective abortion.

Between 1990 and 2011, Indian-origin women in Canada who had two children gave birth to 138 boys per 100 girls. Those with three children had 166 boys per 100 girls. In an Ontario-specific study, it was found that women who already had two daughters gave birth to 196 boys per 100 girls.

Speaking to The Globe and Mail, Amrita Mishra, project director at the Indo-Canadian Women’s Association in Edmonton, says: “I see Canada as enabling as such practices. And I refuse to have this turn into an Indian issue that’s been imported like vegetables or fruit into Canada.”