Herabai Tata: The Power Behind Indian Women’s Voting Rights

There is a need for women in India to know about and connect with the women in our past, who fought for the rights we legally claim today! Indian textbooks continue to take a stubbornly sexist view of the history of women’s rights in India, insisting that it is men who fought for these rights for women, and edit out even prominent feminists, like Herabai Tata and their works into complete oblivion. We must resurrect the women heroes of our past, and resuscitate the feminist movement they had started in India a 100 years ago!


by Rita Banerji

The name Herabai Tata will not ring a bell for most Indians! Unfortunately, not even for most Indian women, even though she is one of the main reasons that women have the right to vote in India!

Born in 1879 in Bombay, Herabai Tata was the Secretary of the Bombay branch of the Women’s Indian Association (WIA). In the early 1900s, she was a central figure in the fight for Indian women’s franchise – the right to vote. In fact she is referred to by Geraldine Forbes who documented the changing lives of Indian women in the early 1900s, as the “real soldier” of the movement.

So why don’t Indian women know of her? The fault perhaps lies with the sexist and patronizing view of the history of women’s rights in school textbooks. Students are taught that it is men who fought for and ‘gave’ women their…

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Why #Indian #Women Must Vote #NOTA in the 2014 #Election

As long as political parties house criminals, Indian women can never have a government that will be committed to stopping systemic violence against women.



vote none of the above

NOTA is a voting option provided to Indian citizens for the first time in the April 07- May 12, 2014 elections.  NOTA stands for “None of The Above.”When a voter presses the NOTA button they will indicate that they are rejecting all the political parties and their candidates standing for this election.


why are rapists sitting in parliamentOver the last two decades there has been serious concern about the escalating presence of criminals in Indian government and political parties.  With each election the inclusion of these criminals increases.  In the 2004 election, 24% of Members of Parliament (MPs) had pending criminal charges against them. In the 2009 election their numbers had risen to 30% with a majority of these cases carrying serious charges of rape, murder, extortion and other forms of violence against women, such as molestations, stalking, and dowry…

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The Psychology Behind #Rape, #SexTrafficking, and Women’s #Virginity

virgins wanted A 2013 survey by the India Today group and MDRA on the sexual habits and attitudes of men and women in India makes a surprising revelation.  It shows that despite the appearance of a certain sexual liberalism in Indian society, and increasing prevalence of premarital sex, 77% of men say that they will not marry a woman who is not a virgin!

In an article titled “Bride and Prejudice” [Title given by the magazine, not me!] in the India Today magazine, I explore the reasons why Indian men remain so fundamentally conservative, even in the educated, middle and upper class sections. I also explain why this fixation on women’s “virginities”  in its basic perception of women’s sexuality also feeds other forms of sexual constrictions and violence inflicted on women in India.

My Six-Yard Green Scarf For Afghan Women

A feminist friend, who I told about the Afghan women’s Green Scarf movement, said, “I don’t support the veil!”  And I suddenly realized that probably she’s not the only one with the wrong idea about what this is all about.

To support this movement all one needs to do is: 1) Put on a green scarf (Doesn’t matter whether you are a man or a woman, or how you want to wear it) 2) Take a picture of yourself wearing it  3) Upload it on this site  to show your solidarity with the Afghan women.

And to clarify: it does not ask for people to wear a veil!  It says ‘A scarf.’  It just needs to be green.  And you can wear it however you want.  My green scarf (in the picture to your left) is 6 yards long, (more…)

What the Real Reason Society Controls Women’s Clothing?

This picture was taken in May this year.  That’s me in the center with some local guys on the streets of Calcutta.

There are 2 things I’d like to point out about this photo:

1) If you walk down any street in India, it is not at all uncommon to find men partly clad like this — as they work, or sleep or, urinate, or play cards or just sit at the local tea vendor’s chatting with friends. 

2) You would never see a picture like this in the reverse — that is, a man sitting all clad in the center, with a bunch of semi- clad women prancing around him, on any street corner of India!

And when the Slutmarch came to India, the people who were organizing it were really not demanding the right for women to run around, tearing their clothes off.  They were asking “Why is rape the fastest increasing crime in India even though women go around fully clad and men have the freedom to take their clothes off anytime and anywhere?”  Do read this article “Slutwalk to Femicide” that I wrote for The WIP (The Women’s International Press) where I argue why the fundamental message of the Slutwalks was lost not only on India, but on the rest of the world, and why it is of significance not only to the issue of sexual violence against women, but also to the issue of India’s ongoing femicide. Click here for the article.

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