Monday, August 26, 2013

Domestic Violence: When your best efforts are not good enough

This has been quiet a stressful week with us receiving SOS calls from women in distress and leaving abusive households looking for resources.

It was quiet unusual when my friend, Andaleeb ended up narrating back to back incidents of help inquiries she recieved from her networks in the Middle East.

One of the things being that many women who are ended up in Middle East with their husbands do not speak or understand Arabic at all. Saudi Arabia especially being hostile towards women further marginalises women who are partners of migrant workers. Such women have little to no protection in terms of their safety and access to local bodies for ensuring protection in abusive situation.

One woman in question was residing in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and the only information we were given that her husband [Pakistani citizen] after beating her up has held her hostage.

We were literally freaked out when we came to know about the incident and I immediately sent a call out over the web. The idiot who gave us the information did not provide us with further details but this is the response we got from twitter.
I think I was blown away when Indian Minister, Syed Akbaruddin, Minister of External Affairs, responded to it, as I know for a fact that not many Pakistani Ministers would show such courtesy.
One of the many reasons I love Twitter

Though it was extremely unfortunate that we were not able to reach out to the woman with all the in-tell we collected. The primary reason was the person who came to us with the issue, changed his mind and refused to assist the battered woman any further.
Here were some of his reasonings:

It was extremely depressing at least for me, that after spending all night trying to gather people and resources for this woman and who had a fair chance of being protected and taken to safety. And the only reason we were unable to assist her because one asshole of a guy thought that a safety of a woman, who was crippled with fear who most prolly thought that she had no where to turn to, especially being in such an isolated place, was nothing compared to his best buddy.

This "friend" who chose to protect an abuser and a wife beater and for all we know he might have raped her as well; because he thought it was in his right to do so.

So fuck you, Ali Zaidi and men like you who support and perpetuate the culture of violence.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Fleeing Domestic Violence - I wish it was different

Before everyone jumps on the bandwagon of, "we are so sorry to hear that", please DON'T!!

I decided to blog it because separation/divorce is such a huge taboo and our Muslim holier-than-thou community treats divorced women like plaque.

Calling quits on an emotional, financial, psychological abusive relationship is a good thing and not a bad thing. I know coming from the super desi household all women are told to stay in abusive relationships in an unspoken code. Because at the end of the day, marriage is a test from "Allah" and a woman has to go through it no matter what bullshit.... *fumes*

I have not seen God, I am not sure if he really exists but if he did and if he really "loved" or "took care" of his beings. He would not want you to suffer for the sake of his pleasure. He would not want you to be in suffocating unbearable relationships.

At least, thats what I think of God... it was hard for me to walk away from my 11 month old relationship so I can imagine the effort that my mother took to walk away from her 27 year old of pain and abuse.

I am not writing this because the woman I am writing about is my mother. My mother and I rarely agree on everything. In her view, I am too strong and a "free thinker" [whatever that means]

My mother has been scared, stressed out and depressed about the whole thing this time. I try to call her more often and check up on her but she worries about other things. For example, her main reason of worry right now is my youngest sister graduating from her school. She does not realises that she needs energy to take care of herself before she can invest in anyone else and that youngest sister is only 13 and that there is time for everything.

My mother says that she will stick by her decision and do not go back to the same nexus of abuse. But I guess that part is yet to be seen... Though I do remember the way he patronized her by saying that she would have zero support [you know being single, separated/divorced w/ kids, with financial debt caused by an abusive husband] and that everyone will take advantage of her emotional vulnerability.

I don't know how much she is ready to embrace the world on her own and if she realises that being on your own is not the end of the world. But I hope she sticks to her guns...

During this whole time [my mother fleeing her abusive relationship], I have been trying to be objective regarding behavior of my father. But I don't have any sympathy for him. Its not cos the way he behaved with my mother [ and I was the eldest child who witnessed each and every part of it]. Its cos he is abusive and the advocate in me refuses to have any leniency for him.

The other day, my father called me after kicking my other sister out of the house [the super diva one who chose to stay with him]. His grande scheme has been to ask me to return to his house because he has space [I live on my own and I am perfectly happy with my space]. This only arose as now he is feeling lonely. I guess he does not realises that I am not 15 anymore and I am way past his manipulation tactics.

In my short life, I have experienced that "good people" are not necessarily good partners. Some people might be great friends and do a lot of social and community work but they are some of the same people who are worst with their intimate partners. Claiming to have great politics does not makes anyone a great person, unless the politics is not applied into practice.

Divorce/Separation especially in South Asian community is seen as a failure of a woman. It does usually nothing to a man. It is only the woman who gets to be blamed for everything. Because its her "duty" to "make it work".

I wish it was OK for numerous women like my mother to stand up and leave. I wish they had the support they needed. I wish we did not have abuse as normalised practice and we did not use the excuse, "It happens with everyone" or "Its OK!"

I wish it was seen as an end to brutal past and the chapter of a new beginning. I wish it was different..

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Dating Violence: Things you need to know

Trust me when I say this, we have all been there. We have come across one person of whom we thought was abusive towards their partner and in my case it was myself at one point. We choose to do nothing about it... well, we thought it was none of our business and in cases where we, ourselves, were in an abusive relationship, we thought that we must have done something wrong.

When I talk about abuse, it doesn't mean that its physical abuse. Its also emotional, psychological and financial abuse [depending on which phase of relationship you are in]. Emotional and psychological abuse leaves deep embedded scars on your emotional and mental health which when treated comes in form of flashbacks.

Today's post is a re-post from "Dating Violence"

It can be pretty exciting when you are in your first relationship. There is love, passion and getting used to another person’s moods and behaviour. If you haven’t dated much, however, it can be hard to know when a relationship is unhealthy.

Being in a healthy relationship doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. You may disagree and fight with your partner but there should never be a time when you feel scared for your safety. In a healthy relationship, you are able to work out your disagreements and move on. In a healthy relationship there are more good times than bad times.

Sometimes in a relationship, though, one person may hurt, scare, belittle or demean the person they are dating. This type of unhealthy relationship is called an abusive relationship and the behaviour is called dating violence. Dating violence can happen to people of all races, cultures, incomes, and education levels. It can happen on a first date, or when you are deeply in love. It can happen whether you are young or old, and in heterosexual or same-sex relationships. Dating violence is always wrong. Dating violence isn’t only about physical abuse, though. It’s about making you feel bad about yourself, too.

Some signs of an abusive relationship include:
  • Constantly texting or sending instant messages to monitor you
  • Insisting on getting serious very quickly
  • Acting very jealous or bossy
  • Calling you names
  • Making you feel stupid or worthless
  • Posting sexual photos of you online without permission
  • Threatening to hurt you or themselves if you break up
  • Blaming you for the abuse
  • Any physical abuse like shoving, pushing, hitting, slapping or kicking
  • Unwanted touching and kissing
  • Forcing you to have sex
  • Not letting you use birth control
Anyone can be a victim of dating violence but it is never okay for someone to hit you. be cruel to you or make you feel bad about yourself. You may think alcohol or drugs make your partner abusive. Those things may increase the chances of abuse, but they never make it right. You also may think it is your fault that your partner has hurt you but it’s not. Nothing you say, wear, do or think gives anyone the right to hurt you. You don’t control how your partner acts, and you can’t make someone mistreat you.

Abuse in a relationship can happen slowly. At first you might not be sure that what is happening to you is wrong. It may start out by being called names so you feel bad about yourself. But feeling bad is not ok either and often the name calling turns to physical abuse over time.

Most people don’t want to admit or believe that they are in an abusive relationship. You may find yourself making excuses for your partner’s behaviour or thinking that you can handle it. Many teens experiencing dating violence may feel ashamed, depressed, anxious, anxious and confused. You may think that with time, you can change your partner’s hurtful behaviour. That if you change yourself, be “better” or more attentive to them, that they will stop hurting you. This won’t happen. In fact, it’s likely that their behaviour will only get worse.

If you are in a relationship where you feel scared or are being hurt, remember that you are not alone. Try talking to someone you trust. By sharing the secret you are taking the first step in taking care of and protecting yourself. If you’re not sure who to tell, try a teacher, counselor, friend or whom ever you trust. You always have the right to be treated with respect and to feel safe. Always.

Stories of courage: Meet the Supergoats

Repost from Nilendu Ganguly

Few days back, as a billion plus India slept, a handful of tribal girls proudly held aloft a trophy they won in their maiden entry in a football tournament in far-flung Spain.

It was the night of July 13. Hundreds of fire crackers lit the skies as the girls screamed Vande Mataram – their battle cry – for being placed third in the Gasteiz Cup, the world’s best testing ground for teenager football in Victoria Gastiez, also popular as Europe’s Green Capital.

They were the same girls who were slapped, kicked and made to sweep floors by arrogant bureaucrats in Jharkhand when the girls asked for birth certificates, a necessity to apply for passports.

But they eventually managed their passports, thanks to a strapping American, Franz Gastler, who pushed the cases of the girls with mandarins of the Ministry of External Affairs in the Indian Capital.

He was a lone ranger in his efforts.

The girls were lovingly titled the Supergoats by the organizers in Spain the moment they saw the girls playing barefoot in practice matches on arrival.


The girls had limited football gear and could not take the risk of tampering it before the tournament. They were overawed by international teams in the first tournament, the Donosti Cup, but came to their own in the second tournament.

Offering a consolation prize for the third team – winner of a match between losing semi-finalists – was a mere formality for the organizers.

But for the girls, it was a giant leap into global soccer from their impoverished Rukka village near Ranchi, considered one of the world’s epicenters of child marriage and human trafficking.

As soon as the announcement was made for the prize distribution ceremony, the girls rushed into their dressing room and returned, some barefoot, wearing red-bordered white saris, their traditional festive dress. Many had their plastic flowers in their hairs.

And when they huddled together after the mandatory photo session, some wept inconsolably because they had almost given up their hopes to participate in this tournament.

“They were over the moon. It was their night,” said Gastler of the girls, who subsist on less than a dollar a day.

For a country low on soccer, this was - arguably - good news for the mandarins of the game. But no one cared. All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel was not aware of the girls’ superlative achievement, nor was the country’s new sports minister Jitendra Singh.

“We could not sleep that night (July 13),” says Rinky Kumari, 13, captain, Supergoats. Once she bunked her school helped her mother do household chores. Today, thanks to football, everyone knows her name in the village.

She says she remembered the days she was slapped and sweep floors when she went to the Panchayat Office get birth certificates for her passport.

“That is the pain of being a tribal girl in India. I do not remember the slap, I remember the Cup,” says Rinky.

For her, and her teammates, it means a lot.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Labor Rights: Fuck you Tim Hortons

So what does Tim Hortons do when its employees get injured at work, they tell them to suck it up?!?

Apparently franchise owners tell their injured disable employees that they were not injured at work at all, though they are!

Things falling on top of partially-able employees and injuring the person is not considered "injury" by them.

The co-owner told the worker, “You must be having some bone disease.. your fracture is not our responsibility”

The manager and supervisor said,

“If you keep up with this drama, you will be fired....”

“How can you be in pain when I do not see the bleeding”

This incident happened in Mississauga, on Friday 26th after which what this worker received was series of harassment, intimidation and threat from each and every part of the management.

A doctor's note along with X-rays saying that the person is actually "injured" is not considered "injured" by them.

Franchise Owner of TimHortons told this employee: "Your report doesn't matter. You can't make me a fool" .. 

WOW.. just fucking WOW

When all this stressful remarks are not enough, the owners tell the employee: "We have seen this video tape [CCTV footage] 100 times. There is no way it hurt you that much. We are not responsible for it [the injury]."

The worker in question was harassed, intimidated and as a last resort threatened with termination... all of this humiliation and stress because the worker was injured at the workplace.

That was their only fault!

When we have laws in this country which are suppose to protect the labor and ensure them their minimal rights, then why the heck corporations and employers dare to violate them?

The Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, age and a number of other grounds. It came into force back in 1985. Since then it has been updated ongoingly.

Another piece of legislation in this area is the Employment Equity Act (EEA), which falls under the Department of Justice Canada. These laws are meant to protect the rights of four “designated groups” in particular: women, people with disabilities, Aboriginal people, and visible minorities.

The Canadian Human Rights Act functions alongside the Employment Equity Act. The major difference between the two is that the CHRA prohibits discrimination in general, whereas the EEA requires employers to use measures that improve employment opportunities for the four designated groups.

If we indeed have these laws and these are the laws in place then how the hell franchise owners of Tim Hortons think that they are above the law?

Why do I have to take the fight to social media and shame the company publicly so that their head office could look into the complaint and call the franchise owners and keep them in check?

Does it means that if some other worker who did not have access to social media and resources and if they were being harassed, threatened and intimidated, they would not be heard?

If social media didn't exist, does it mean that all of these violations would go unheard?

Tim Hortons' Human Resource Department said that all locations are independently owned franchises, then what the heck is their responsibility? Do they not keep their brand name in check or do they just give their brand to the most despicable people who just want to violate minimum rights ensured to us by our legal system?!?

Labor rights activists talk about the sanctity of workers everywhere, its about time, they looked into their own backyard and tried to help out their own people.

Fuck Tim Hortons & their franchise owner who promote violation of ‪#‎laborrights‬ & harass its employees.

Its about time Tim Hortons was unionized!

Website last updated 2013