“The Bitch”

A friend once joked about how much easier it is for him to be gay in India than in some parts of the U.S. In India, it is not uncommon to see two men demonstrating their affections for each other openly in public. Holding hands, hugging, entwining fingers, engaging in kitten play or riding pillion on a motorcycle wedged together like bread and butter. Are all these men gay? Who knows? Yet the same is not permissible for heterosexual couples.

Last year, walking down Camac Street, in an upscale neighborhood of Calcutta, I witnessed a disturbing incident. A man and a woman, probably in their early twenties, were walking ahead of me, laughing and joking, when the woman playfully reached out and grabbed her friend’s hand. They walked along, still talking and swinging their locked hands in a carefree manner, when a group of men, vendors who run little snack stalls that line the pavements, came charging. The men stopped short a few paces of the couple, and began to shout at them. “Bitch!” “Whore!” And a string of such epithets. The young couple released their hands and ran like their lives depended on it.

The couple had clearly violated an unpublished public code of morality!!  While it is perfectly acceptable for men to unzip and urinate just about everywhere and anywhere in India, in full public view, with no concern for anybody else’s sensibilities, it is lewd and offensive for a man and a woman to hold hands in public. Were this couple lovers or just friends? No one really knew. And it didn’t matter. All that mattered to the men who were standing there by the road, straining their necks and howling like dingoes about to attack a prey, was they were guarding public moral territory.

For me, the most unsettling aspect of this incident was how the rage was directed towards the woman. Why only the woman? What was it about this woman that was so threatening to the men? Was it in that she was the one who reached for the man’s hand and in doing so, exercised choice and free will which to the men was daunting? Or would the woman still be the “bitch” if the man had reached for her hand? Is there a potential “bitch” in every woman regardless of what she does or doesn’t do?

So, for all those brave couples who want to hold hands in public in India,  WikiHow has  step-by-step do it instructions for you! 🙂  Go on!!  Be a maverick!

Leave a comment


  1. WTF? I think it’s a localized incident.

    • Rita Banerji

       /  October 2, 2010

      No, I think it speaks to a much larger attitude towards women in India — and how plays out in terms of how men think they can treat women even in public places! By ‘localized’ if you mean that this happens elsewhere but not in bengal — then think again. What kind of a mentality do you think a society has when something like this incident happens and nobody — not even the women politicians like Sonia G., Mamata di, and dear Ms. Patil — talk about it! — In August in Bengal a teenage girl was stripped and mob molested by hundreds of men. Why — because she fell in love with a boy! see here

  2. Sweet Marmot

     /  June 27, 2012

    The more Satan has it’s grip on a culture, the more it will hate women, children, and Jews. A female child has a double whammy, and a Jewish, female child has a triple whammy. Only a Godly culture can accept kids who fit into such combinations.

  3. emery

     /  June 28, 2012

    a lot of people will just dismiss it by saying “they just got unlucky and ran into a group of salifists.” while there are salifists in India most likely the men were just ordinary Indians who could not stand the thought that people can actually decide for them selves who they should be with. such incidents happen every day in India and sometimes such couples being assassinated. once they are done everyone blames the salifists and the whole thing is soon forgotten.

    • Rita Banerji

       /  July 1, 2012

      Yes you are right emery. They specially don’t like women choosing for themselves — since the family believes it owns its daughters and decides who she will marry, whose children she will bear. And this is just a mild expression of control. The worst are what are called “honor” killings which happen ever so often here.

  4. emery

     /  September 6, 2012

    I read your how to guide for hand holding and the one thing they left out was in India at least one partner (ideally both) should have a loaded assault riffle with them. this will make even the most die hard Hindu nationalist or salifist think twice about causing trouble. its vary sad that in India people need to be heavily armed just to be a little bit friendly.

    • Rita Banerji

       /  September 7, 2012

      They could be getting married and if their families don’t like it, that could get them killed! The odd thing is there is special law for ‘honor’ killings. Why? This is murder. There is a law for murder in India and the punishment is death by hanging. Why doesn’t the govt go ahead and implement that law?

  5. Tom

     /  January 19, 2014

    This is actually a very strange and scary account.


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