Wednesday, December 27, 2006


From The Telegraph's Editorial

The irony of her mother — a widowed farm hand in a Bengali village — being called Unnati, or Progress, is perhaps the least brutal thing in the life of Tapati Biswas.

The police, the local party office and the panchayat could do nothing while all this was going on.

Why was Tapati beaten up? Was it because the neighbours took her for a man when she kept visiting her married friend? Was it because she generally refused to behave like a girl even if she was known to be one? Were the men reacting to something more unspeakable: an intense, possibly ambiguous, friendship between two women? Or does the collective brutality confound all three responses to transgression and ‘difference’? Krishnagar and its villages form that grey zone between the rural and the suburban where other forms of gender-transgressive behaviour are not similarly brutalized. There are assigned and more-or-less tolerant spaces, however marginal and precarious, for hijras (eunuchs) and kothis (effeminate homosexual men) for instance. It is only when women break the sex-laws that this collective violence — versions of which also exist in the cities and towns — is publicly unleashed.

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