Feminine view on sex is forbidden
[ Thursday, November 17, 2005 01:49:51 am TIMES NEWS NETWORK ]
CHENNAI: Don’t speak the truth in Chennai. And don’t behave like you are living in a 21st century Indian metro. Movie star Khushboo did that and is now paying a heavy and heart-rending price for it.
And just what did the actor do? She said, rather innocuously, that men should no more expect their brides to be virgins. She also said that when youngsters indulge in premarital sex, they should use protection.
Anywhere else, Khushboo would have been called an anti-AIDS spokesperson and perhaps even feted but not Tamil Nadu with its insular politics and blinkered politicians.
It was almost as if the state was being guided by some Taliban-type morality inspectors. Police have in recent weeks closed a star hotel after local papers published pictures of a private party where couples were seen kissing and hauled up other couples just walking in parks.
While the police are cracking down on citizens, men in the political and cultural spaces have been drawing lakshman rekhas for women.
Over a year ago, a few women poets were lambasted by their male colleagues for writing about women’s sexuality. One said these women should be slapped!
As for Khushboo — there was a PIL complaining she was corrupting innocence. At last count there were 25 defamation cases against her. In fact, charges seem to have been erroneously slapped against her and the court’s impartiality is being debated.
“Chenglepet and Villupuram magistrates dismissed the cases against Khushboo. Probably, the Mettur case was not dismissed because the complainant was a PMK lawyer, A Murugan. The Mettur case was filed under wrong sections.
Criminal defamation and obscenity does not apply in her case,” said K Chandru, a senior lawyer. As courts and police hounded Khushboo, few in Tamil Nadu appear to be ready to defend her.
Another actor, director Mani Ratnam’s wife Suhasini, who apologised to Khushboo on behalf of the Tamil people, had to eat her words and under tremendous pressure apologise to Chennai’s filmdom instead.
An exception, PUCL leader Sudha Ramalingam said, “It never becomes an issue when men speak on sex. But when women speak their mind there is chaos.”
Another feeble resistance came from ‘Saner Chennai’ of lawyer P V S Giridhar. “We had taken up three issues when we started — dress code in colleges, backlash on Khushboo and the Park Hotel incident. Did you know that in Sathyabhama College, girls and boys are not allowed to talk to each other?” Giridhar said.
The Congress didn’t show much spine either. Jayanti Natarajan, a party leader, merely said that people have a right to express their views “but it is unfortunate that it (Khushboo’s statement) hurt a section of people,” The media too has largely been silent.
No one wants to be seen as too forward and defending the actor against political parties. Both Khushboo and Suhasini found little help from the industry.
Officially, though, South Indian Film Artists Association general secretary R Sarathkumar, who said Khusboo had hurt public sentiment by saying men should not expect virgin wives, denied the actresses were out in the cold.
Since cinema and politics are so closely linked here,E V Ramaswamy Periyar had equated chastity to enslavement of women when the Dravidian movement or Tamil nationalism began.
Today, two parties, Patali Makkal Katchi (PMK) and Dalit Panthers of India (DPI) are equating chastity to Tamilhood and resorting to witch hunting. Actors Khushboo and Suhasini are easy targets, given the moral reputation attached to the film industry.
“I do not believe Khushboo has transgressed any law,” said Rajya Sabha member and political analyst Cho S Ramaswamy. But dubious agenda-laden netas don’t think so and the TNT _ Tamil Nadu Taliban _ is happy to blast away voices of reason in the state.