I wanna let you in on a Secret….

So just the other day, while watching TV, I came across a commercial for Secret Clinical Strength Antiperspirant. Now, I’ve seen a few of the ads in this Stress Sweat campaign namely the office party one, the transit one, etc., but this new one just really blew my mind. Not in a good way.

I tried to find a video for it, but it doesn’t seem to have been uploaded yet.

The ad I am talking about is the one where the stress situation is….a TV game show. And ta-da she is in the audience and a man (presumably her boyfriend or husband or partner) is the contestant.

I’m sorry, but WTH!

This is an ad about female stress sweat, which was a concept I had to Google, but anyway, her stressful situation is being in the audience? Why could she not be the contestant? Why does she need to be the ever-so-supporting partner who watches while her husband/boyfriend/partner uses his knowledge to win the game-show?

This ad stinks of sexist stereotypes that expect women to be the devoted and supportive partner who passively watch as their spouse/partner ‘earns’ the dough. Really? I’m not buying what you’re selling Secret. Neither your product nor your sexism. Your ridiculously outdated and disgustingly misogynistic mindset is showing.

Misogyny also begins at home…

An old (male) neighbour from my hometown recently threw a celebration in honour of his 60th birthday. News came to us a few days later, and the discussion went to, “This was the first big celebration in their family.”

Now, as a background, this neighbour has only one sibling, a sister, who is married, and has a daughter. The neighbour, also married, has no children. His niece got married a couple of years ago.

So my first response to the above comment was, “No, [the niece] just got married”, meaning that this wasn’t the first big celebration in their family.

The instant reply was that she isn’t in their family, presumably because she is the daughter’s daughter, and has a different last name.

I was just stunned for a minute hearing this. I couldn’t process this notion – so one ceases to be family because one’s last name is now different? Because one got married? Is [the niece] not equally family to her mother’s family as she is to her father’s? 

I was very hurt by this string of comments, because as a girl, it is very upsetting to hear that should I choose to get married some day, I will cease to be considered as part of my parents’ family, and my future children will never have been their family. That is tragic. It is despicable. And it is completely untrue. WIll I not love them the same way I do now? WIll I not need them the same way? Why does my signing of a piece of paper suddenly mean I am a stranger? WIll they stop loving me the way they do now? Will the celebrations in my life not be part of theirs anymore? 

(Sigh) Questions I really do not want to think about as I go to bed, but oh well. 





“As a human rights issue, the effort to end violence against women becomes a government’s obligation, not just a good idea.”

This quote by Charlotte Bunch has been a favourite of mine for a while. And it was the first thing I though of this morning.

Saw this article shared on Facebook today, and I must say, I actually ran out of words to express my indignation.

To begin with, the title – “Number of Afghan women jailed for fleeing abuse soars” – confused the heck out of me, even before I read the article.

And then came the rest of the article.

About 600 women and girls are in prison for offences including running away from their husband or family, even though fleeing abuse is not a crime under Afghan law.

The law student in me immediately asked, “But, but, what have they been charged with then?”

More than half of Afghanistan’s female prisoners are in jail for “moral crimes”, and their numbers are rising faster than the overall numbers of women in detention, despite a shaky legal basis for many of their sentences.

“Moral crimes”??? Because of course abusing your daughter, sister, wife, or mother is COMPLETELY moral, while the basic human instinct to ESCAPE from harm is immoral.

“Shaky”?? Well, if fleeing is NOT a crime (and why would it be???), then what exactly is this legal basis for their continued detention? Or their arrest, to begin with?

Running away is not illegal under the Afghan criminal code, but the country’s supreme court has ordered the prosecution of women who flee their families. Senior government officials have confirmed it is not a crime but those views have not translated into policy, HRW said, calling on the president to free all women jailed for leaving home.

How in the world can the judiciary overrule a piece of valid legislation and institute their own form of law?

Rape victims are also imprisoned for “forced adultery” because sex outside marriage is a crime in Afghanistan, and judges and prosecutors ignore questions of consent.

Because of course, whether she consents or not, what matters is that she (was forced) into having intercourse with another man. How dare she let him do that to her? How dare she do that to her husband? Pffft! Really, like I said, I have no words.

There were some positives mentioned, like the increase (albeit modest) in the number of shelters for women, that silver lining seems much too fragile in comparison with the dark and heavy cloud it accompanies.

Waking up to this news (though I know it was published 2 days ago) was really disheartening. Having been a part of an organization that supports survivors of domestic violence, this news just broke my heart. SO not only are these women and girls subjected to cruel treatment at the hands of their husbands, fathers, brothers and sons, but they also face the very real possibility of being IMPRISONED for escaping the violence that pervades their lives? (Sigh). NO WORDS.

“As a human rights issue, the effort to end violence against women becomes a government’s obligation, not just a good idea.”

Wish someone would pass on this message to the government in Afghanistan.


We often hear about the so-called ‘fight-or-flight’ response – in the face of a threat, our body either chooses to stay and fight, or leave the situation before it escalates. Read more about this here.

But, is this necessarily true? Are we always confined to one of these two choices? Can our body react in other ways, when confronting a source of threat?

I think so (and so do many researchers). Faced with danger, sometimes, our body shuts off, and chooses to neither fight nor take flight. I think of this as the freeze response – when you can see the threat, and feel it, but are unable to do anything. Your mind and your body freezes – literally. Read more about this here. Sometimes, freezing may be the optimal response – it may save you from further injury, or even death.

In light of all the recent attention focused on sexual assaults on women (and children, and girls, and sometimes men), I couldn’t help but think about the ridiculousness of public reactions. Of the lack of recognition of this third and equally legitimate response to danger.

When a rape survivor fights, people say she shouldn’t have resisted, but rather allowed her attacker(s) to do what he (or they) pleased. Example: this, where a doctor suggested that the 23-year-old Delhi gang rape victim could have prevented serious injuries by submitting.

Conversely, if her mind (and consequently her body) freezes, and she is unable to fight, OR if she realizes that resistance may lead to more serious consequences, such as death, and she unwillingly submits, she may be told that she was consenting. That there was no evidence of resistance. That she ‘wanted it’. In fact, she may be unable to secure a conviction against her assailant if she cannot prove that she resisted, that she did more than just saying ‘NO’. For example, this.

In essence, she is damned if she does, and damned if she doesn’t. No acknowledgement of the fact that she may decide to do whatever she can to save her life, whether that means fighting or no fighting. Or the fact that every individual’s body and mind will respond differently when confronting a threat; there is not ‘one reaction fits all’ model. (Sigh)

Why is it that many people are unaware of this basic fact? Why are we so quick to jump on the victim (survivor) and her actions or inaction? Why can we not recognize that she has done what she thought was best in her situation? Why do we, as a society, continue to re-victimize her?

A letter to Braveheart

Dear Fearless,

I can’t really remember what I was doing when I first read about you. I will be honest, I did not know then what the butterfly effect was – I do now. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you and what was done to you since then, and I doubt I will ever be able to forget.

Let me start off by saying I AM SORRY. From the bottom of my heart. I know these are just 3 little words, and cannot really do anything to help you. But I need to say them, because I really AM sorry. My apology cannot bring you back, it cannot undo the damage that was done to you, and yet, I hope you can hear it.

Your story has angered me, brought me to tears, and terrified me. I am angry that you were violated in such a brutal way; sad, because you didn’t deserve the end you met (and neither does anyone else); and terrified, because it could have just as easily been me.

You were young – I am young. You wanted to build a career and help people – so do I. You had hopes, and dreams, and desires – as do I. You were just out trying to have fun with a friend, and then making your way home – I do that as well. So when someone says “Why do you care so much? You didn’t even know her”, I cannot put my feelings into words. Because it doesn’t matter that I didn’t know you, that we were strangers, that you lived on the other side of the planet. All that matters is that you were a girl who wanted to do something with her life – just like me. So I do care, I AM angry, and I AM upset. Because you deserved better, and what happened shouldn’t have.

While I am scared, I cannot even imagine the fear that must have gripped YOU that night, as you faced your attackers. I can’t breathe when I try to think about it. It scares me like nothing ever has before.

But, true to your name, Jyoti (“light”) you have been a beacon of light, of hope. You fought, with every fibre of your being. You did what you could to help yourself. I know some say that you shouldn’t have done that; that you would be alive if you hadn’t resisted. I don’t know if they are right. I wasn’t there that night; neither were they. You were, and you did what was right for you. I cannot see anything wrong with that. You struggle, against them, against death can only be called inspirational.

You were just trying to get home safely. But those boys, those men, those monsters, had other plans. They stole into your world and took what wasn’t theirs to take. They broke your heart, your soul, and your spirit. And yet you fought. I wish with all my heart that we could all be as brave, as courageous, as fearless, as you. But, a bigger part of me wishes that this courage was not needed. That we could walk down the street with our head held high, without the constant fear of being watched, teased, touched, or worse, killed.

You give me hope that this may be possible someday – maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but some day. Your bravery has sparked an entire nation – they fight today for our rights, the ones you tried to exercise that night – to be free, from fear, from persecution, from attack.

I hope you can see them, see us, from where you are. I hope you are in a better place now, where there is no more pain, no tears, no fear. I hope you can find peace there. I also hope your parents, your family, and your friends, and everyone whose life you touched can also find peace, and can be proud of you for fighting – fighting those who hurt you, and hanging on, fighting for your life. I know I am.

Most of all, I hope you are never forgotten. That we never give up. That we can fight just as bravely as you did to have our rights recognized, so that one day, we may all be able to be free.

With much love and a sincere apology,


And another innocent girl succumbs to a tragic fate…

Just read this article about a young girl in Mumbai, India. She was stabbed to death by a classmate who had been stalking her, even after she had made repeated complaints to the police. Payal Balsara’s story is tragic and heartbreaking. But what upsets me more is the way this story is being reported.

Some of the absurd wording used includes:

In a heart-rending climax to an unrequited love story

Really? “Unrequited love story”???? So stabbing someone to death is love? In what part of the world???

The sensational drama on the premises of the Chetna College

Who made it sensational? Hmm? It was a violent crime, not a drama.

Nikhil confronted her yet again and threatened her to accept his love – a proposal that she had spurned many times over during the past three years. Payal once again told Nikhil to stay clear of her.

What made him repeatedly pursue her in such a way, after having been clearly told that she was not interested? Why was nothing done to stop him from harassing her in such a way? Especially on a college campus, which ought to have taken action to curb such behaviour.

A wordy duel followed between them. In a fit of raze [sic], Nikhil whipped out a sharp kitchen knife that he had carried from his home and stabbed her “seven to eight” times on various parts of her body, leaving the fellow collegians, including friends who were accompanying her, and faulty members benumbed.

“Wordy duel”???? What does that even MEAN? And what century is this news reporter living in? This was a girl frustrated by the repeated unwanted attention from a classmate she was unable to avoid, and he/she has the nerve to call it a “wordy duel”?

“In a fit of rage”, really? So this was a so-called crime of passion was it? Hmm, and he just happened to have that knife, right? Always carried it on him? Puh-lease! It clearly seems like a planned crime to me, based on the limited and biased view this article provides, though I am no judge or jury.

Nikhil had desperately been in one-sided love with Payal for the past three years. Despite having been spurned by Payal, Nikhil continued to stalk her – albeit harmlessly.

Again, “love” is definitely not the the appropriate word. You do not violently and brutally stab to death someone you love. Not so harmless now, was it?

the victim girl’s uncle had lodged separate complaints against Nikhil with the local police station and the college management, which had in turn held counseling sessions for him. Efforts from various quarters to dissuade him from perusing his love for Payal notwithstanding, Nikhil nursed hopes of winning his classmate’s approval someday. However, the repeated rejection of his love proposal by Payal had rendered Nikhil sulking and irritable.

So the attacker’s “harmless” conduct continued in the face of police complaints. And the college administration was aware of the problem, and gave him “counselling”. What did that entail? Was his behaviour being monitored? Was campus security alerted?

He “nursed hopes of winning his classmate’s approval someday”. Hmm, I wonder why? Oh! Of course, how could I be so naive as to forget the multitude of Hindi and English films and TV shows alike which promote such stalkerish and criminal behaviour on the part of men who seemingly pursue their “lady loves”, and voila, time and time again, she succumbs to his charms, and falls for him. No wonder Nikhil held the same hopes.

He was “sulking and irritable” because of her repeated rejections? Geez reporter, you really do have it in for this poor girl don’t ya? She did not WANT his attention or his “love”! And she seems to have made that plenty clear. If anyone had the right to be “sulking and irritable” it was her!

(shakes head repeatedly) I am now “sulking and irritable” (among other things), thank you very much!

Really, the world might not have ended on the 21st, but don’t such pieces of news, reported in such a manner indicate that a world with freedom and rights for woman never existed in the first place?

We’re alike, you and I

Your stares, your leers
Your hands, your thoughts
Your words, your voice
Your taunts, your winks

They lurk, they trap
They cut through the soul
They slice and stab
They bruise and burn

Invisible wounds
Unnoticeable pain

What mistake have we made?
What sin is ours?
What do you punish us for?

We’re people, just like you
Our blood doesn’t bleed blue
We hurt, just like you
But you haven’t got a clue

You whistle, and stare
You wink when we glare
You covet what isn’t yours
You touch and you tease

Don’t we deserve to walk
with our heads held high?
Aren’t these street ours
to come and go by?

You blame us, and shame us
in order to silence our voices

You cage us and restrain us
controlling everything we do

Why can’t you see?
We’re people, just like you
Our rights and our freedoms
they matter, they do.