Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Pinki Pramanik! ...Is It She?

It's time that we look at genders beyond the paradigms of Male and Female. There are genders beyond those defined by anatomy. And the fact is that no one has the right to define my gender but me. Not the country, not the medical council. 

Pinki Pramanik’s case has been stuck in the web of controversy. She is accused of rape by her partner. Her partner is a woman. And her partner insists that Pinki is a man. The same Pinki who has won India a gold medal in the WOMENs relay. I wonder if she is a HE then how it went unquestioned for so long. I am sure they have screening tests in international competitions like the Asian games and the common wealth games. 

This raises an important question. Why do we need to put people in brackets of Man and Woman. There are genders beyond the genders that we know. 

Some moons back Santhi Saunderajan, the DAUGHTER of a kiln worker rose to heights of popularity after she won the silver medal at the 800m race at the 2006 Asian Games. She was ripped off her medal after she underwent a sex test. The test result read "does not possess the sexual characteristics of a woman". Later the then Chief Minister, Tamil Nadu :  Karunanidhi offered her a cash prize of 15 lakh rupees and a Television Set. When Karunanidhi was quizzed about the controversy that surrounded Santhi, he simply replied “this is the same body that won India her medal.” That was the wisdom of the chief minister who stood up for Santhi. And what a statement it was. Reflect on it – how did her gender matter. Santhi was diagnosed as someone with the Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome – a condition that causes hormonal changes in the body and makes it more masculine. 

Gender is a social construct. And gender is not just black white and grey. Gender is but just a biological accident.

In pinki’s case, most of us are caught in disgust to even fathom the fact that a woman could be raped by a woman. It has to be a man, always. A woman is a devi, a man is the devil. Well, that’s not the truth always. 

Yes! Investigate the rape allegations against Pinki thoroughly. I was in a show with NDTV yesterday at the 9 O clock news with sonia singh, about child sexual abuse and someone just sent me an email saying SUCH MEN SHOULD BE HANGED. I simply replied “don’t give the abuser a gender. It could be a woman or any other gender too”. The whole definition of rape and sexual assault has to change to include all genders as both the accused and the abused. Here probably the Child Sexual Abuse bill leads the way by being gender neutral. Is not that possible? Cant lesbians rape? Cant women rape? Does one need to be a man to rape? Rape has to always be penetrative? 

I am all for a thorough investigation. Let pinki go through a trial. Let pinki be punished if she is found guilty. But i cant help but ask some obvious questions. 
Were there no Tests done when she had been to the international sports events? 
Did she suddenly become a man? 
She should be having some magic wand or something, if she could swing from woman to man so easily. If you ask me, this looks like a classic case of domestic drama between 2 woman lovers going public. 

Tell me to lodge someone who has a vagina and identifies as a woman in a male prison, squeeze her teats to determine her gender. And to shoot an MMS that goes viral the course of law of rape investigations against Pinki Pramanik? 

Here is a song composed by Kabir Sumon

(Credit:  this is a rough translation by my friend and equal rights activist - Aditya Bondyopadhyay )

Are you a man, or woman, clear your stand?
I'm a policeman & I wants to know, 
If needed, by pressing your tits with my hand..

Do see the picture printed in the newspapers...
Your body is today a public circus
Police hands wield the whip
But they are helpless

All they can do is to aggressively grab 
your face with their hands 
"Prove it Pramanik, are you a man, 
or a woman..??"

They can't wait want to see you naked

Who cares about the gold and silver medals
you brought for the nation
that you are our national hero
shall not be of consideration

They captured your gender test
in a mobile cam video that day
and because they thought it best
its all over the internet today

To see that vid now, many will rush
after this song they hear
burn my sadness is all I can do
In the fire of my anger...

This is happening in a state with a woman chief minister who has yet not come forward to help. As another cliche goes "women are an epitome of empathy" and mamata banerjee is silent about this mistreatment .... I don't believe all women are devis! But if people believe in sterotypes, they might just pop the question to her highness- "dear chief minister, are you woman enough? 

an edited version of this post has been published in Tehelka CLICK HERE to view

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