Sunday, 13 May 2012


So now we are told that the 19th century Jack the Ripper was a woman after all. John Morris in his new book 'Jack the Ripper: The Hand of a Woman' has argued that Ripper who ripped the innards of five female victims in ten weeks in 1888 was a Welsh born Lizzie Williams. Mary Jane Kelly was the last of the victims and the book theorises that she was having an affair with Lizzie's husband Sir John who ran an abortion clinic. So, here was Lizzie who couldn't have kids killing someone who could have kids not with anyone but with her own husband.

If this is true, one would be instantly reminded of the English playwright and poet William Congreve who in his 1697 tragi-drama 'The Morning Bride' wrote: "Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned," spoken by Zara in Act III, Scene VIII.

Pic courtesy:
Then there is the recent case of Anjali, wife of Ajay Singh, a senior officer in Shipping Corporation of India who refused to accompany her husband on posting to Port Blair. She must have been aware that at one time, during our slavery days with the British, the freedom fighters (rebels as the British called them) were deported to Port Blair (Kala Pani or Black Waters) and whilst men used to be sent there, it was no place for women; certainly not the liberated women who live in Delhi, Mumbai, Lucknow etc and think of taking over the reigns of power; women who are advocates and not only know legal wranglings but are adept at the lingo that go with it; women who when they become chief ministers send the central government cowering in fear and pilots to fly planes to go and fetch their sandals; women who ask for a divorce because their husbands talk to their relatives in his language. The divorce court judge, in the case of Anjali and Ajay Singh invoked Ramayana and asked her, "Sita followed Ram, why can't you?"

With this background, lets now turn to Aamir Khan's Satyamev Jayate on the television. The first episode on female infanticide was so gripping and ably put up that it left people wondering why such an issue had not been discussed with such fervour before. On the television debates many of the champions of women's rights and causes went viral about their assertions that Aamir Khan was not the first one to air such views. They also disdainfully predicted that nothing would ever change.

I found all this rather strange. It is acceptable to us to have celebrities model for anything from detergents to cars; but, should they use their celebrity status to provoke active debate on issues that really affect us, they are clearly exceeding their brief. Of course, we know all about dwindling female to male ratios; of course we know all about the situation in Haryana where men don't have enough women to marry, where women work in the fields when men sit on their khaats (cots) and smoke hukkahs and expect their womenfolk to return and cook their meals too; of course we know how in Patiala in a well female foetuses were found discarded (Is There Reason to Celebrate Women's Day in India?). But, lets ask what's wrong with a celebrity asking us to look within and find answers before pointing finger at others? Should we leave to Mamata Sharma (even deadlier than the other Mamata) who, as chairperson for National Commission for Women (NCW) said it was alright to call women sexy? (Read: Hi Sexy - 'Gateway to Future' For Indian Women)

That's really what is wrong with our country: we slang ordinary people debating important issues since we assert that these should be left to experts. What experts? An ordinary citizen Anna Hazare starts a people's movement against corruption and the parliamentarians take him to task that issues such as these should be rightfully tackled by the elected representatives of the people (each one of them represented by an average of not more than 9 percent of the electorate (read: How Proud Should We Be Of The Indian Republic At 62?))

I think Aamir Khan has done right by instigating public debate (and hopefully action) on a very core issue. Today is the Mothers Day; will we have enough women left to become mothers?

As far as Jill the Ripper and Anjalis are concerned, these too are strange aberrations and certainly take the focus away from the real issue. In the northern part of our country, the incidence of reverse dowry (a phenomenon in which the bride and her siblings demand money and favours from the bridegroom failing which they would accuse him and his parents of demanding dowry and expose them to untold hardships and jail) are now becoming more common. Indeed, I wish Aamir Khan's programme's research team had brought out how Jill the Ripper, Anjalis, Mayawatis and Mamatas, by their abrasive and sometimes violent actions, spoil the cases of the majority women who have to suffer indignities and injustices on an everyday basis.

Left to myself I would give a lot of marks to Aamir Khan for Satyamev Jayate and the many unsung heroines who came forward to tell the tales of how they were stopped from becoming mothers simply because they would have given birth to female children.

Happy Mothers' Day.


  1. Nice read, I am simply happy to read this out from your blog. The show is indeed gripping and its construction and the way it comes out to us is impressive. In the present scenario, we do have such shows and in the past also we had such shows but the way SMJ is coming up is impressive. We definitely need good shows like this and Aamir Khan coming up with these issues is superb... In a country like ours, where we try to follow a lot like our celebs, itz good to see Aamir Khan's show. I so much hope that ppl try to imbibe what he wanted to say and support in accepting a child as a child, not as a male or female child.. :) Thanks for sharing this post... :)

    1. Thanks for your inspiring comments. Whilst the Indian society is searching for the rock-bottom in values, we have no place to go but up. Programmes like Satyamev Jayate are most welcome to show our society the mirror.

  2. Nicely written. Jack the ripper-a woman?! that was a perspective new to me. Mother India kills its own children?! Did not know it till Aamir Khan said so... Did know, did not care like every other Indian, did write, did criticize, did condemn, did debate, did score good marks in the essay competition on that subject, did take it up as an adult to entertain friends during coffee table conversations... yet did not do anything about it. Did you do anything different???

    1. Thank you. I feel that as far as common man is concerned, both in the case of such issues as female infanticide as well corruption is to refuse to succumb to baser instincts when faced with the situation. In case of corruption, for example, one has to vow not to be either a giver or taker of bribes. In case of respect for women and female child, one should prove by one's actions that one regards a child as a child irrespective of its sex. One really doesn't have to lead movements. I had the occasion to invite Dr Abdul Kalam to deliver a talk at the College of Naval Warfare. His approach towards eradicating corruption was simple: Start with yourself, and extend it to your family. I think the same goes for female infanticide and respecting women.

    2. i m not too sure whether Jack the ripper was a female or male but it certainly belonged to the royal family and that was the only reason he was never caught,where as satya mev jayate is concerned i totally support your views.


I welcome all your comments as long as these are not vituperative, use obscene language and are communal