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#India- Militant Durga Vahini Camp In India Is Training Young Women To Hate Themselves And Accept Their Weakness #WTFnews

“Can you really hide your natural weakness or character as a woman?”posted on May 26, 2014, at 1:39 a.m.

BuzzFeed Staff
  

The Durga Vahini is the women’s wing of a Hindu nationalist organization in India — the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. The militaristic camp aims to empower young women to fight for the Hindu nationalist cause and to espouse the traditional roles of women.

The Durga Vahini is the women's wing of a Hindu nationalist organization in India — the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. The militaristic camp aims to empower young women to fight for the Hindu nationalist cause and to espouse the traditional roles of women.

A clip from the film The World Before Her shows how young women at the camp are brainwashed into believing they are naturally weak and need to be tamed. (WARNING: The video contains disturbing scenes towards the end.)

At the camp, women between the ages of 18 and 35 are trained in self-defense to combat those who go against their religious ideals. They are also taught to adhere to the idea of a male-dominated society and to reclaim their roles as wives and mothers.

At the camp, women between the ages of 18 and 35 are trained in self-defense to combat those who go against their religious ideals. They are also taught to adhere to the idea of a male-dominated society and to reclaim their roles as wives and mothers.

One of their aims, as listed on their website, is to stop religious conversions by “cautioning our sisters of the conspiracies of alien faiths like Islam and Christianity.”

Women who “forsake their normal female tenderness and affinity” and “protect their brothers” are considered role models.

 

The World Before Her is a documentary film that highlights two distinct groups of Indian women: beauty pageant contestants, and militant Hindu fundamentalists.

It won the best documentary feature at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2012 and releases in India on June 6.

In the clip, a social worker, Aparnatai Ramtirthakar, talks to the camp’s girls about their “duties as a woman.”

In the clip, a social worker, Aparnatai Ramtirthakar, talks to the camp's girls about their "duties as a woman."

She tells them that women should be married by the age of 18 because “by the time they’re 25, they’ll become so strong-willed, you won’t be able to tame them.”

She tells them that women should be married by the age of 18 because "by the time they're 25, they'll become so strong-willed, you won't be able to tame them."

She emphasizes that girls should never leave their homes, and blames Westernization for women wanting an education and a career.

She emphasizes that girls should never leave their homes, and blames Westernization for women wanting an education and a career.

“Is it really necessary for you to leave your homes, just for your ego and go chasing you career? Have we become so Westernized?”

She talks about how her mother slapped her for looking at herself in the mirror.

She talks about how her mother slapped her for looking at herself in the mirror.

The Durga Vahini camps focus on “de-feminizing” and desexualizing the female body, while blaming Westernization and Islam for increased sexual violence against women.

While dismissing gender equality, the social worker asks the girls, “Can you really hide your natural weakness or character as a woman?”

While dismissing gender equality, the social worker asks the girls, "Can you really hide your natural weakness or character as a woman?"

The clip then ends with disturbing scenes from a 2009 incident where members of a Hindu extremist group attacked women for drinking alochol at a bar in south India.

The clip then ends with disturbing scenes from a 2009 incident where members of a Hindu extremist group attacked women for drinking alochol at a bar in south India.

In this FirstPost interview, director Nisha Pahuja discussed the most disturbing part of filming at the camp.

“You know, more than the physical training the girls at the Durga Vahini camp are given, it’s the brainwashing and the blood curdling chants they are taught that shocked and depressed me. On the bus ride they take en route to their parade, they learned a few phrases that I simply refused to include in the film. Those were the sorts of moments that were hugely trying for me and my crew as well. We saw how easy it was to manipulate young minds.”


Read more here — http://www.buzzfeed.com/tasneemnashrulla/a-militant-hindu-camp-in-india-is-training-young-women-to-ha?sub=3279126_3012608

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#India – Brainwashing in VHP’s Durga Vahini camp – The World Before her #Film #Sundayreading

 

‘It’s the brainwashing in VHP’s Durga Vahini camp that shocked me’

 

A young Indian girl at a militant training camp proclaims, “We have learned to use guns and we’ll use them if we have to. We will kill people if we need to”. Another young child, attending a camp called Durga Vahini for the first time, is seen wearing jeans, a rebellious attitude and a mischievous grin. After ten days at Durga Vahini, she is ready to kill for her country.

Durga Vahini is the female counterpart of the Bajrang Dal, a subsidiary of the Hindu nationalist organisation Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP). Canadian filmmaker Nisha Pahuja’s documentary The World Before Her chronicles the workings of Durga Vahini to stunning effect. Hers was the first film crew to be allowed inside the camp. Four years in the making and extensively researched, The World Before Her goes back and forth between a Durga Vahini camp and India’s fashion industry – two worlds that contrast, and surprisingly, even draw parallels at times.

]Courtesy: Facebook Courtesy: Facebook

Pahuja’s film follows the lives of Prachi, a twenty-year-old trainer at Durga Vahini, and a number of Miss India (2011) contestants. It’s a classic ‘nationalist’ point of view versus the ‘Westernised’. Prachi has no qualms about killing Gandhi or people of other religions who attack Hinduism, and manages to terrorise even her fellow Durga Vahini members. Ultimately, however, Pahuja is able to create empathy for Prachi, who comes across as a victim of a long-standing social campaign to brainwash women for political mileage.

Pahuja, who divides her time between Mumbai and Toronto, eschews sensationalism in The World Before Her, making it a balanced, understated and powerful film. It won the award for Best Documentary at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival and Pahuja is currently in talks with distributors to release the film later this year in India.

How and when did you find out about Durga Vahini? 

Nisha Pahuja: I found out about the Durga Vahini camps actually through Prachi. I met her in 2008 on my first research trip for this film. Just after five minutes of being around her, I knew I had found an exceptional documentary subject. She’s hugely charismatic – funny, strong-willed and intelligent. I remember there were a number of activists from the Bajrang Dal and Durga Vahini that I was meeting, and the men were definitely trying to dominate and steer the conversation, but she was simply irrepressible.

This is the first time cameras were allowed inside Durga Vahini. How long did it take you to convince the VHP/DV management to grant you permission to film them? What were their first reactions and what finally convinced them?

NP: It took nearly two years to get access. I realised early on after meeting Prachi that I would only be allowed in if people felt they could trust me. So I decided I needed to divide my time between India and Toronto, primarily to make inroads into the movement and to give people the time to get to know me. It got to the point where I was almost a normal fixture at Hindutva rallies!

I made it very clear to the organisation and the people I was meeting that I had real issues with their politics and their vision for the country. But I also emphasized that I had no intention of making a film that was sensationalist, demeaned them or judged them in any way. I simply wanted to present them as they see themselves and I wanted to try to understand them. After nearly two years of forging these relationships, they gave me permission.

Are you prepared for controversies and consequences of a theatrical release for The World Before Her in India?

NP: I don’t think the film is going to be particularly controversial. Elections are coming up and the RSS will try to avoid any kind of agitations. It is in their best interests to be non-reactive, especially as you point out, the film is not sensationalist. That said, yes, I am aware that there is potential for controversy, but I believe in the film. We’re coming up to one year since the Delhi Gang rape, and we have Narendra Modi poised to become an important force in National politics – that is terrifying to me. These are conversations that are important to continue. And the film was made with an intention to create a dialogue, not to further divide.

A lot of people ask me which of the two sides – the pageant world or the fundamentalists – did I prefer, and I have to say that in the end, I had more respect and affection for the Hindutva activists I filmed with. They were struggling with big ideas: right vs wrong, the direction India should take, what was their responsibility to the nation? They refused to embrace without questioning this new India where consumerism means modernity. I liked them immensely. I just wish they didn’t hate so strongly.

Have you showed the film to Prachi and her family? Has anyone from the VHP seen it? What was their reaction? 

NP: Yes, the film was seen by Prachi and her family and they all really liked it. Prachi’s dad is somewhat nervous still about the VHP response, but he was relieved that it was balanced and did not sensationalise. Interestingly, they all really liked, Ruhi the Miss India contestant I focus on, and they really wanted her to win! At the point in the film when the stories touch on female infanticide, Prachi’s father cried. I had no idea he’d be that moved. That screening actually is what gave me hope. I felt perhaps the two sides could actually empathize with each other. Ruhi, the Miss India contestant had the same response – she found Prachi fascinating.

Which was the most disturbing discovery for you while filming?

NP: You know, more than the physical training the girls at the Durga Vahini camp are given, it’s the brainwashing and the blood curdling chants they are taught that shocked and depressed me. On the bus ride they take en route to their parade, they learned a few phrases that I simply refused to include in the film. Those were the sorts of moments that were hugely trying for me and my crew as well. We saw how easy it was to manipulate young minds. As filmmakers we needed to be objective and not react, but as people we were torn between affection for the leaders of the camp and our rage and sadness at what they were teaching these young girls.

How did you react to listening and recording to Prachi and her family’s warped views on religion and culture?

NP: There were definitely some heated discussions! It was hard to get past what to me, felt like their blind hatred toward Muslims and Christians. And there were certainly times when I was completely exasperated by Hemantji’s (Prachi’s father) assertions that Prachi had no rights other than what he gave her. But in the end, their prejudices made me realize one crucial thing: that all of us and our belief systems – whether they be democracy, fundamentalism, patriarchy – all of them, like us, are constructs, products of time, place, and numerous other things beyond our control. Once I realized how fundamentally similar I was to them it became a lot easier to put their prejudices into context. That is not meant as an apology for the hatred or violence they espouse, but for me it became very important to see them through a different lens and to be free from malice.

 

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Why the Govt’s Ordinance is an Eyewash and a Mockery of the Justice Verma Recommendations

Bekhauf Azaadi Campaign

The UPA Govt, in a Cabinet meeting held on 1 February, has introduced an ordinance that it claims will address the most urgent concerns on sexual violence. In fact, the Government has been completely reluctant to acknowledge and implement the Justice Verma Committee recommendations: the PM refused to accept it from Justuce Verma, the Ministry of Home Affairs removed it from their website, the Govt never adopted any transparent process of discussion to decide the way forward on implementing the recommendations, rather they said Justice Verma ‘exceeded his brief’. Now, they claim that their ordinance has ‘implemented’ the Justice Verma recommendations. Is this true?

The fact is that the Government’s ordinance is a mockery of the letter and spirit of the Justice Verma recommendations.

Why? Let us take a closer look.

The Justice Verma report radically redefined the way in which sexual violence is understood, because it firmly called for safeguarding women’s autonomy – including her sexual autonomy. This means that sexual violence should be understood as any sexual contact that is forced on a woman unless she has explicitly said or indicated ‘Yes’ to it. It is irrelevant whether she is married or not, or whether the perpetrator is a policeman, judge, magistrate, public servant, politician, or army officer: the accused/perpetrator cannot enjoy impunity in any case! The ordinance completely mocks this basic principle.

 

The ordinance is nothing but the Govt’s old discredited Criminal Law Amendment Bill 2012 with some extra window dressing. What’s WRONG with this ordinance?

 

  • Rejecting Justice Verma’s recommendations to ensure gender-specificity (male) of the perpetrator of rape and gender-neutrality for victims, the ordinance makes rape a ‘gender-neutral’ crime. This means that a man can accuse a woman of rape!!
  • The ordinance criminalises consensual sexual activity between 16-18 years; such sexual activity, even by consent, will automatically be seen as rape. This will give a handle to the moral-policing brigades and communities who harass inter-caste and inter-religious friendships and relationships, by branding young boys as ‘rapists.’ See what is happening in Mangalore now: Bajrang Dal and Durga Vahini brigades have been entering ice-cream parlours, rounding up teenage couples and handing them over to the police; the Chhattisgarh police in Bhilai is doing the same. Such forces will get a handle to use the rape law against boyfriends.
  • The ordinance refuses to include marital rape in the rape law – and it continues to give a lesser punishment for rape of a separated wife by a husband. The Govt’s press release about the ordinance shamelessly says that “Verma criminalises marital non-consensual sexual intercourse” but the Govt will not do so! So, according to the Govt, not every ‘non-consensual’ sexual act is rape; a husband is allowed to force sex on his wife! Even if the wife is separated from her husband, the law will be ‘understanding’ and ‘lenient’ towards him if he rapes her, since she was ‘once his wife’! This means that the ordinance continues to see the wife as the husband’s sexual property, rather than as a person is her own right, with the same right to say YES and NO to sex as any unmarried woman! We know domestic violence is common in marriage: can’t the husband who batters his wife, also rape his wife?! Our govt is saying he will have the right to rape his wife!
  • The ordinance rejects Justice Verma’s recommendation of the principle of ‘command responsibility’ in case of custodial rape by police or army: i.e the principle that a superior officer will be held responsible if a junior officer commits rape or sexual assault. This principle is crucial if one considers the manifold cases of custodial rape like that of Soni Sori – where a senior officer Ankit Garg ordered his juniors to sexually torture her; or a case like Kunan Poshpora, where an entire village of women in Kashmir was gang-raped by the Army – something that could not have taken place without the awareness and blessings, even orders, of higher officers!
  • The ordinance fails to include sexual violence in the context of caste/communal massacres in the category of ‘aggravated sexual assault’ – as recommended by Justice Verma report (p 220).
  •  The ordinance rejects the Justice Verma’s recommendation that no sanction be required to prosecute judges/magistrates/public servants who are accused of sexual violence; and similarly that the AFSPA be amended to do away with the requirement for sanction to prosecute an army officer accused of sexual violence. Justice Verma’s argument was clear: no army officer nor any judge or public servant can claim to have raped in the course of his duty! The ordinance, by rejecting Justice Verma’s recommendations, ensures impunity for powerful rapists.Similarly the ordinance makes no move to implement the electoral reforms called for by Justice Verma, specifically against candidates and elected representatives accused of serious sexual offences.
  • The ordinance introduces death penalty in the rarest of the rare cases of rape. This is a deliberate red herring. For one thing, death sentence is already a possibility in cases where rape is compounded with murder. By introducing it in the rape law, even Congress leader and advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, speaking on NDTV, expressed the ‘personal opinion’ that this would further lower the conviction rate because it would deter the court from sentencing! Currently, let us remember that the Courts are reluctant even to give the minimum 7 year sentence for rape, and keep finding excuses to reduce it to as low as 3! Will the same Courts not become even more reluctant to convict, if conviction will mean death? 
  • The Justice Verma report recommended imprisonment for 5 years for a policeman who failed to follow the law (i.e registering FIRs or proper investigation); the ordinance admits for a jail term of just one year for this offence.
  • The ordinance completely ignores the recommendations of changes in medico-legal protocol, including prohibition of the two-finger test and ensuring rape crisis centres and proper medical care and examination of rape survivors; as well as police reform, public transport and other measures. 

 

The ordnance makes of mockery of all those recommendations of the Justice Verma committee that actually reflected the idea of protecting women’s autonomy: be it a 16-year old girl who has sexual contact with her boyfriend to a married woman who says no to her husband, the ordnance just fails to accept a woman’s own autonomy and consent as crucial to deciding if rape occurred or not! The ordnance continues to make excuses for certain powerful perpetrators of rape: it continues to ensure that certain institutions of power (marriage/police/army/judges/magistrates/public servants/politicians) remain protected from prosecution for rape.

We refuse to accept this eyewash! We demand full implementation of the Justice Verma Committee Report!

We can defeat the Govt’s ploy to dilute and subvert the JVC recommendations only by being on the streets and continuing to fight! 

Bekhauf Azaadi has called for a protest against the ordinance and demanding implementation of JVC on 4 Feb at 2 pm at Jantar Mantar. Please do join. There will be several other protest and campaign actions in the days to come, please do join each of them, and make sure the Govt does not get away with betraying our movement and the JVC Report.

  • PRESS RELEASE- #India – President urged not to Sign the Ordinance by Women’s Organizations (kractivist.wordpress.com)
  • #India-The Official Emergency Continues – The Ordinance on Sexual Assault #Vaw (kractivist.wordpress.com)
  • #India – Changes in Criminal Law vs Justice Verma Recommendations #Vaw (kractivist.wordpress.com)

 

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Mangalore vigilantes at it again, #Bajrang Dal #durga vahini #moralpolicing

Mangalore Bureau, The Hindu

ONE MORE INCIDENT: The open terrace at Roxx from where the seven-member group was bundled off to the police station. Photo: R.Eswarraj
ONE MORE INCIDENT: The open terrace at Roxx from where the seven-member group was bundled off to the police station. Photo: R.Eswarraj

Students at lounge harassed by Bajrang Dal activists

Vigilantism raised its ugly head again in Mangalore when members of the Bajrang Dal and its women’s wing, Durga Vahini — accompanied by the police — traumatised a group of seven young people meeting at an ice-cream lounge here Wednesday evening.

The group, all undergraduate students, were hauled off to the Pandeshwar police station after the vigilantes accused them of ‘immoral’ activities. At the station, they were made to wait for 45 minutes before being sent away without being charged.

Open terrace

According to the manager of Roxx, on Attavar Main Road, some 10 Bajrang Dal activists, with two policemen in tow, marched up to the smoking area on the open terrace leading from second floor where the four girls and three boys were, around 5.30 p.m., and asked them to come to the police station for their “immoral” and “uncultured” behaviour. When the young group protested, one of the intruders used foul language against a girl, the manager said, adding that the group were regulars there.

At the police station, the vigilantes, who said they were from the Bajrang Dal and Durga Vahini, told reporters there were complaints from neighbours that young people smoked cannabis at the lounge.

No case booked

Commissioner of Police Manish Karbikar said the police went to the spot to defuse the situation. “As smoking on the terrace was not an offence, the police have not booked any case,” he said

To this, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee secretary Ivan D’Souza, who visited the police station, countered: “If no case was booked, why bring the students to the police station?”

A constable who accompanied the vigilantes said a Bajrang Dal activist had called the police station about “immoral activities on the terrace”. He said that of the seven young people, three were found smoking while the rest were having soft drinks.

‘A family joint’

B.M. Ashraf, managing director of Roxx, who spoke to the The Hindu on the phone from New Delhi, described the lounge as “an ice-cream parlour, a family joint, a clean place… there is no liquor, nothing of that sort.” He said he was surprised and saddened by the incident. “We don’t know why they had to do that.”

He said he would not take any action or follow up with the police and he didn’t “want to make it an issue”.

 

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