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Religious discrimination against Women must end

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On Gudi Padwa, women enter Shani Shingnapur temple for the first time Image source: www.ibtimes.co.in

It’s a common trend that where social, political and religious systems fail, the judiciary steps in – as in the case of the entry of women to the Shani Shingnapur temple.

A centuries-old bastion of the patriarchal social construct was smashed to smithereens. The women activists from the Bhumata Brigade, led by Trupti Desai, were successful in entering the sanctum sanctorum of the Shani temple. Trupti hailed the decision of Shani Shingnapur temple trustees to open the gates of the sacred chabutra (platform) for men and women devotees, and said it was a prudent step on their part.

“Der aayad, durust aayad!” said a spirited Trupti and hoped the trustees at the Trimbakeshwar and Mahalaxmi temples in Nashik and Kolhapur too would follow suit to treat women devotees at par with men.

One would congratulate Trupti for her stoic resistance as it was after her activism that TV debates were generated and many storms raised in teacups besides the national print media highlighting the issue.

Priyanka Jagtap, another member of the Bhumata Brigade, celebrated the court’s observation at the temple premises by distributing sweets. “It’s a big victory for all the womenfolk of Maharashtra and the country. It is an occasion to celebrate,” she said.

The main question that needs to be asked is whether this outburst of activism against ritualistic practices in Hindu temples is a legitimate effort to break the almost 400-year-old tradition.

What’s unfortunate is that most religions talk about gender equality, but it is either totally defunct or reduced to lip-service as totem. The question is whether it is the followers of Hinduism or Islam or any other religion,who vie with one another to deprive their women of equal rights.

The aim of these lines is to convey a message to the custodians of women’s rights – the men – to remind them of the cultural traditions that are mired in gender discrimination. In this context, whether it is Shani Shingnapur, Haji Ali Baba or Kerala’s Sabarimala temple, all these famed religious places have banned the entry of women.

Politically, the BJP has been accused of vitiating the atmosphere in Sabarimala. However, it would be preposterous to suggest that all villagers in this temple town are BJP or right-wing activists. According to social commentator Sreemoy Talukdar, the patriarchal mores lie so deep that even women (and probably more so) were the first ones to take umbrage of the ‘breach’ which they fear will bring calamity on their families.

Talukdar feels that Kerala’s Sabarimala temple authorities have stuck to their stand – in the face of legal scrutiny from the Supreme Court of banning all women between the ages of 10 and 50 from entering temple precincts citing ritualistic practices and traditions.

They claim Lord Ayyappa, who attracts more than 50 million devotees each year, is a sworn celibate. They do not want the apex court to interfere in religious practices.

In Mumbai’s Dargah Haji Ali Baba, it is really something totally inexplicable that women are not allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum in spite of the fact that Islam has granted equal rights to woman. During the days of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), Muslim women used to go to the mosque to pray. However, after him, some myopic and orthodox Muslims asked women to stay at home.

Nevertheless, the larger question is about the general exploitation of women by men from all religions.

They are not given their rights and, at the slightest provocation, are maltreated, beaten, divorced and even murdered.

Trupti’s campaign – that of challenging the patriarchal hegemony over religion, its practices and ending stigmas against women – would only materialize truly if the activism continues. (IANS)

 

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Bisexuals are at Greatest Risk of Suffering from Mental Health Problems, Suggest Studies

Bisexuals- Sexual minority community, who are at the greatest risk of falling into depression

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Bisexuals
Bisexuals get subjected to more discrimination than other communities of the society. Pixabay.
  • Studies reveal that the social stigma of bisexuals have lead to cases of mental illness becoming prevalent among people of their community.
  • Their decision is questioned by both heterosexuals and homosexuals.

A recent study done by researchers of an American university has stated that the “B” (Bisexuals) in the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) community are people, most prone to falling into depression or suffer from mental illness. The research published in Prevention Science is based on data collected from 503 participants aged 18 to 64, who identified themselves as bisexuals, people attracted to both men and women. They were questioned as to how their bisexuality affected their lives. And, many said that they were invalidated and often looked down upon.

Also Read:  5 Women Whose Caliber, Achievements Would Inspire You 

Various studies have proven that Bisexual people are more mentally affected than homosexuals or heterosexuals. They feel as if they do not have an identity or they believe in one society. The preconceived notion of bisexuals being a threat to the society and incapable of commitment affects them the most. They are called promiscuous, and their sexuality is considered illegitimate.

A qualitative study conducted with 55 bisexual people across Ontario revealed the typical stereotype- individuals who are confused and unsure of their desires. The participants of the study expressed the strange reactions coming from their families. They are being ignored and relegated by both heterosexuals and homosexuals. Their community needs a separate identity, and support like other communities do. Their needs and place in the society are not identified as much those of the Lesbian, Gay and Transgender community.

The stereotypes against them have made them socially isolated leading to severe mental illness.A Canadian study states that bisexual men and women are 6.3 times and 5.9 times respectively, are more likely to have suicidal tendencies than heterosexual people.  A Bisexuality report of 2012 suggests Bi people are more likely to suffer from depression as compared to homosexuals.

As individuals, it becomes our social responsibility to willfully respect the people who have identified themselves as being bisexuals or any characteristic different from ours. Stereotypical and hurtful comments can never be the mark of a progressive society. After all when we all were born with the same fundamental and human rights, where we have the right to choose.

-by Megha Acharya of NewsGram. Twitter @ImMeghaacharya.


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Increasing Number of Elderly Chinese-American Citizens Contemplate Suicide Because of Discrimination, Claims New Research

The research by University of Michigan traces the relationship between discrimination and suicidal thoughts, also understood as suicide ideation among aged Chinese-American

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Chinese American
Discrimination at public spaces and work, alike often prompts aged Chinese-Americans to feel like they are not ‘welcome’ in the area. Pixabay
  • A new research examined how racial bias prompts elderly Chinese-Americans to contemplate suicide 
  • Discrimination can impair an individual’s physical, emotional and mental well-being
  • The study revealed that individuals are twice as likely to think about taking their own life when subjected to discriminatory behavior 

Chicago, September 2, 2017 : According to World Health Organization (WHO), about 800,000 people end their lives every year, and there are countless more who attempt suicide. These deliberate deaths have long-lasting effects not just on the families of the people involved, but also on the larger society. According to a new research, people who experience discrimination of any form are twice as likely to contemplate taking their own life in comparison to those who didn’t experience similar thoughts.

The research by University of Michigan traced the relationship between discrimination and suicidal thoughts, also understood as suicide ideation among aged Chinese-American citizens.

Lydia Li, associate professor at the University Of Michigan School Of Social Work and a co-author of the study believes prejudicial treatment or racial bias is an extremely challenging experience for the elderly that can hamper not just emotional, but also mental and physical well being, according to a report by ANI.

“It’s a serious matter. It’s not something you can just forget” she said in an interview with HuffPost, further adding, “It cuts into peoples’ thoughts about their place on this planet.”

The Research

The research examined over 3,000 Chinese American seniors aged 60 years and above in the greater Chicago area, who had immigrated to the United States and have been living here for more than twenty years.

Further, 57 per cent of the study participants were women.

Professor Li along with the team obtained and analyzed the background information of all participants, including their age, education, and marital status through a detailed questionnaire. The participants were also asked to share specific experiences of discrimination, if faced any. Additionally, the questionnaire gauged their take on suicide and questioned if they had ever harbored suicidal thoughts.

Revelations Of The Study

The study revealed that about 4 per cent of the participants had debated suicide all within a period of 30 days. Furthermore, 21 per cent had reported experiencing discrimination in a variety of situations.

The participants in the research revealed experiencing prejudicial discrimination at public spaces and work, alike which often prompts them to feel like they are not ‘welcome’ in the area.

According to the study, participants who experienced discrimination were twice as likely to contemplate taking their own life in comparison to those who didn’t experience similar thoughts.

Chinese-American
The study asserts that the impact of racial bias on health shouldn’t be underestimated, or ignored. Wikimedia

According to Professor Li, apart from raising a sense of vulnerability and isolation, discrimination among older Chinese-Americans also impedes them from seeking help. In her opinion, “Assimilation difficulty, cultural beliefs and family pride may preclude them from seeking help. Consequently they may come to see suicide as a viable alternative”, as reported by ANI.

The participants of the research belonged to the ethnic minority of Chinese-American immigrants who did not face any such bias in their own country. Delving on this fact, Professor Li noted that it gets increasingly difficult for the aged people belonging to this group to cope with the indifferent behavior because “It’s not something they’ve been trained to deal with.”

Risk Factors And Remedial Mechanisms

The study revealed noteworthy risk factors that can potentially prompt the older population to contemplate deadly actions. These include,

  • Age
  • Depression
  • Seclusion
  • Pain

The research also noted that the treatment imparted to citizens can vary among people settled in the rural areas.

ALSO READ Suicide is Preventable: Alarming Effects of Self-harm on Families, Communities, Societies

However, the problem can be combated with sufficient support from the family. Professor Li also noted the positive contribution of clinicians, who must recognize the gravity of the situation and its impact on the ethnic minority in the old-age bracket.

The need of the hour is to make the larger public aware of the health hazard that discrimination of any kind poses to individuals. Efforts must also be taken to empower people who are at the receiving end of racial bias and bigotry treatment in a way that makes them feel an intrinsic part of the larger society. Professor Li suggests doing so by particularly helping new immigrants establish themselves in the mainstream society and assuring them that these vile instances are not their fault.

 


 

NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt.
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Hope “Real” Issues Concerning Muslims will Also Get Attention: Swaraj Abhiyan

Swaraj Abhiyan's leader Yogendra Yadav said educational inequality, discrimination in jobs and housing, and framing innocent Muslim youth with terror charges are their next major issues to focus on

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Muslim lady seeking for justice. Pixabay.
Muslim lady seeking for justice. Pixabay.
  • Post triple-talaq settlement, the Yogendra Yadav-led Swaraj Abhiyan said that now attention should be given to other real serious issues of Muslims
  • Apex court should stop the abandoning of women without divorce
  • More attention should be given to the serious issues such as educational inequality, discrimination in jobs and housing, and framing innocent Muslim youth with terror charges

New Delhi, August 23, 2017: The Yogendra Yadav-led Swaraj Abhiyan on Tuesday said with the triple talaq issue settled, now attention should be paid to the “real” issues concerning Muslims such as education, discrimination in jobs and habitation etc.

The Swaraj Abhiyan, while welcoming the Supreme Court decision banning instant divorce in one sitting by Muslim men, added that now anti-women rights practices in other religions, such as abandoning women without divorcing them, should also stop.

“We believe triple talaq is not only unconstitutional and inhuman, it is also un-Islamic. We hope that with the legal wrangle settled, now the country’s attention will go towards other big problems of the Muslim community,” the party said in a statement.

“Today, the Muslims across India are living in fear. It is high time that Muslim leaders and the so-called ‘secular’ parties paid attention to real serious issues like educational inequality, discrimination in jobs and housing, and framing innocent Muslim youth with terror charges,” it said.

The party also said that as the apex court had set aside the triple talaq, in the same spirit discriminatory practices against women in other religions, such as abandoning women without divorce, should also stop. (IANS)