Aletta Andre

4 Artikelen
Achtergrond: Jay Huang (cc)
Foto: Ramesh Lalwani (cc)

De maat is vol in India

ANALYSE - Het protest dat losbarstte nadat een verkrachtingsslachtoffer in India overleed wordt gevoed door twee dingen: de verontschuldigende houding van autoriteiten en de toenemende zelfstandigheid van vrouwen.

Toen ik voor het eerst hoorde over de groepsverkrachting van een jonge studente in een rijdende bus in Delhi voelde ik afschuw, maar geen verbazing. Zo vaak heb ik in de Indiase kranten over de meest verschrikkelijke misdaden tegen vrouwen gelezen, dat dit er in eerste instantie slechts één van velen leek. Een callcentermedewerkster die ’s nachts, onderweg naar huis, door een taxichauffeur en zijn vrienden is verkracht. Een jonge vrouw die vanwege haar zoons liefde voor een vrouw uit een andere kaste naakt door haar dorp is geparadeerd. Een studente die door een in zijn trots gekrenkte bewonderaar zuur in haar gezicht gegooid heeft gekregen, enkel omdat ze het lef had om ‘nee’ te zeggen. En honderden soortgelijke incidenten die de internationale media nooit hebben gehaald, omdat het hoofdstedelijk publiek er niet massaal tegen heeft gedemonstreerd.

Waarom nu wel? Misschien omdat de details en gevolgen van deze zaak bijzonder gruwelijk zijn. Misschien omdat het slachtoffer een studente was en de plaats waar zij en haar vriend door de bus werden opgepikt een wijk in het relatief welvarende zuiden van Delhi is. En misschien omdat de maat simpelweg vol is.

Foto: Eric Heupel (cc)

Indian discrimination

When you regularly travel in India with a mixed group – both Indian(s) and foreigner(s), you’ll discover that the tourist branch is not always prepared for this. My very first hostel in India, Broadlands in Chennai in 2008, was notorious for not allowing Indian guests to stay there. It had even been mentioned in earlier editions of the Lonely Planet, I discovered later and the local media kept reporting about it.

At the same time, a guest house in the same area, where my then colleague and friend, now boyfriend was staying, did not allow foreigners. They said that this required a police licence which they did not have.

Later I learnt that neither this guest house nor Broadlands are exceptions in India. Indian writers have mentioned it about other hotels in tourist destinations and I myself have encountered such hotels by travelling together with an Indian. They don’t always admit it – they would just all of a sudden say that they have no rooms, even if they were confirmed over email beforehand.

Just today, I called a hotel in Goa and after confirming availability and price, the receptionist told me that they don’t allow foreigners in this hotel. I guess foreigners in Goa might have a bad reputation for drugs and bikini’s, but still, isn’t this called discrimination? When I called the Tourism Department to report about it, all they said is that I should stay in one of their government hotels. Total indifference to my complaint.

Foto: Eric Heupel (cc)

Lodi Garden

Lodi GardenIn a recent article in one of India’s daily newspapers, Aravind Adiga (who wrote the Booker price winning novel The White Tiger), recalls how he once took an auto rickshaw to Lodi Gardens in New Delhi. When he arrived, the driver asked him if he would buy him a ticket for the garden, as he thought it looked so beautiful. The writer, surprised, explained to him that no ticket is required. The beautiful gardens are free for anyone to enter. But when he got out, he noticed the rickshaw driver driving away. Apparently he did not feel comfortable to go in.

The story seemed plausible enough to me, as I’d heard something similar not too long ago from a friend of mine. She had befriended her office’s driver and had great troubles thinking of places to meet him after work. He would not go to bars, cafe’s, restaurants, etc especially not with a girl. “What about Lodi Gardens?” I had asked. Its nice, free, public, and I thought, for everyone. But not for drivers, she had to explain to me. Not because there is a sign ‘forbidden for drivers’, but because he himself felt its not the kind of place he should go.

Foto: Eric Heupel (cc)

Sex, Religion and no Politics

lachende indiase mevrouw“A Delhi regiment of the army would just not stop honking their tanks. We would be the first country with weapons of mass irritation. A Mumbai regiment would queue up for a battle, they are too polite.”

“Hindu’s joke about Sikhs that they are stupid, but the next thing they do is worship a stone statue.”

“These gyms promise you the body of a goddess. They just fail to mention that its the body of an Indian goddess you get.”

“A Jat and a feminist- that relationship just does not work. A feminist would never go on her knees for a Jat.”

“There are no fat girls in Delhi. Check any matrimonial site. There are just a lot of healthy girls.”

Just a small selection of jokes from a night of Indian stand-up comedians in Delhi. I could not understand all the jokes, but enjoyed the loud laughter and interaction of the audience and in the end, I did learn a bit more about stereotypes of different groups, casts and religions within India. People in Mumbai more polite than in Delhi, people in Calcutta more up for protest, West-Bengalis sticking together a lot, Tamils very religious, Jats very macho…