SANGATI Don Bosco Magazine | Province of Panjim (INP)
Apr - Jun 2018 | Volume - 11 | Issue 02
Imagine a World without Her !
When Democracy Fails Its Mother
“Blessed is the Womb that Bore You”
Editorial Editor Joaquim Lobo, sdb Editorial Team Francis Xavier, sdb Jason Pinto, sdb Layout & Cover Design Joaquim Lobo, sdb Cover Photo Brendon Marques Consultants Fr Felix Fernandes, sdb (Provincial) Fr Avil Rodrigues, sdb (Vice Provincial) Fr Jose Sequeira, sdb (Economer) Distribution Lazar Vaz Printed at James Arts Crafts, Sivakasi Published by Boskon Communications Don Bosco M G Road, Panjim, Goa 403001 Ph : 0832 2221986
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This is a sad story. Girls/women in India are treated badly. They are unwanted before birth, subjugated after it. The upbringing of both girls and boys, men and women, is faulty. Of course that is a generalization but it is true. Indians have a devious distinction of going with the crowd, without much independent thought to it. This has lot to do with the quality of our education. The status of women has always been unequal to men. The criteria used is the physical strength. Animal strength. May be with or without intelligence but not without emotional immaturity. Emotional maturity is something that helps one recognize the feelings that one is going through, name them and use the information to interact and behave with others. When the boys at their tender age are given the tag of a ‘strong boy’, they seem to presume that they are powerful. And thus dominate girls who are ‘weak’. Our ancient India has produced men and women of great stature: people of their word, wisdom and discipline. Some traditions won’t even hurt a fly, they are treated as the creatures of God. When wrong people get elected to power through manipulative tactics, the future of India and that of women, obviously remains questionable. Bible says that God created man/woman in his own image, male and female He created them. A man is born of a woman, without whom he will not see the light of the day. Imagine a world without her! Joaquim Lobo, sdb This is a Salesian Panjim Province Magazine, and is directed towards the Salesian works in the regions of Sindhudurg, Goa and Karnataka. For private circulation only.
COVER STORY Chris Valentino SDB
Imagine a World
Turn over to the Classifieds page of any Newspaper. Throw a quick glance at it. Yes, generally most of us would just gloss over this section, since we are glued onto our smart gadgets! Apart from the numerous adverts for very many things, very significantly one will notice a huge list of requirements under the two title-headings â€“ Brides W a n t e d and Grooms Wanted. Of course, by comparison, without an iota of doubt, the Brides Wa nted outperforms the Grooms wanted section! Incredulous!? M a y b e , but one cannot escape the fact that there is indeed, in an economics manner of saying, a great demand for women, the world over, as partners for life [in a good way, not considering the other horrific causes for this demand]. Just as a case in point, this exemplary scenario is what one finds under the Brides Wanted section: , Neatly arranged by caste, religion, language, profession, remarriage, etc. , Agarwal-Bisa, Brahmin, Vaishnav, SC/ST, Rajput, Catholic,
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Christian-Protestant, Hindu, Doctors, Engineers, Bengali, Gujarati, Sindhi, Tamil, Punjabi, etc. , Brahmin Veg Girl tech-qualified working in reputed firm; well-educated fair slim beautiful bride wanted; god-fearing educated spinster/ widow/divorcee above 40 of Karnataka origin willing to relocate to US; proposals from Vaishnav Jain women fair skin willing to settle in Canada required; well-qualified homely homely girl knowing to cook well needed caste no bar; compatible cultured issueless divorcee preferably below 40 contact; protestantChristian beautiful willing to partner born again Christian ready to marry by may-end solicited, etc. Imagine a world without her! Think the Statue of Liberty. Yes, that famous icon of the US of A! Imagine a world without her â€“ which incidentally is a famous book [with the Statue of Liberty as its front cover], authored by an Indian immigrant turned New York Times bestselling author
Dinesh D’Souza, later made as a motion-picture, uncovering the various aspects of American government and life, painting a grim portrait of what the world could have been without America. Recollect, that the Statue of Liberty is a neoclassical universal symbol of democracy, freedom, friendship, wisdom, inspiring hopes and representing eternal ideals; an imposing figure gifted by France to the US of A: actually a depiction of a woman holding a torch in her raised right hand and a tablet in her left, with her face said to be modeled after that of the French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi’s mother! In her tribute, Emma Lazarus penned the celebrated poem ‘The New Colossus’ in 1883, with optimistic enthusiasm: Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,/ With conquering limbs astride from land to land;/ Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand/ A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame/ Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name/ Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand/ Glows worldwide welcome;/ her mild eyes command/ The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she/ With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,/ Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,/ The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,/ I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” A genuinely feminine epitome to provide succor to the disenchanted masses, indeed! Imagine a world without her!
Beasley, who invented the life raft in 1884. Think Marie Curie without whom surgery itself would be impossible, for were it not for her investigation of radioactivity, discovery of the elements polonium and radium crucial for developing surgical X-rays, where would we be!? Think Mary Anderson who invented the windshield wiper. Think Amelia Earhart who attempted to circumnavigate the globe at its widest point, the equator, but unfortunately perished trying. Think Kathryn Bigelow, who was the 1st woman to bag the Best Director Oscar for her Iraqi wartime journalese film ‘The Hurt Locker’, triumphing over her former husband James Cameron and edging out his epic sci-fi ‘Avatar’! Think Maya Angelou poet and civil rights activist, who said “You may shoot me with your words, you may cut me with your eyes, you may kill me with your hatefulness, but still like air I’ll rise.” Think Coretta Scott King, author-activist-civil rights leader, who said “women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul.” Think Frida Khalo, feminist painter; think Sylvia plath; think Jane Austen; think Cleopatra; think Malala Yousafzai; think Susan Anthony, the suffragist; think Margaret Thatcher; think Golda Meir, think Sunita Williams; think of the scores of phenomenal women the world over – in politics, in sports, in literature, in medicine, in art, in every sphere where human beings have managed to leave their imprint. Imagine a world without her!
Think Jehanne la Pucelle or if you please, Joan d’Arc, a peasant teen who with a heart full of courage and her head filled with voices, inspiration for the bob-cut, emerged out of an obscure northeastern French village to outwit the English and champion the French to victory during the 100 years war! Think Maria
Closer home, think of the many devis, matas, bhens that we cherish, honour and feel proud of. Think of the various ‘her’ achievers, without whom the world would undoubtedly lose its sparkling flavor. Think: Razia Sultana, Meerabai, Kittur Chennamma, Laxmibai-Rani of Jhansi, Savitribai Phule, Capt. Laxmi Sahgal,
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Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay, Vijayalakshmi Pandit, Sarojini Naidu, Kasturba Gandhi, M. S. Subbalakshmi, Indira Gandhi, Pratibha Patil, Justice Anna Chandy, Justice Fathima Beevi, Shakuntala Devi, Capt. Prem Mathur, Sucheta Kriplani, Asima Chatterjee, Kiran Bedi, Sania Mirza, Lata Mangeshkar, Saina Nehwal, Phoolan Devi, Anita Sood, P.T. Usha, RukminiDevi Arundale, Aruna Asaf Ali, Mallika Sarabhai, Mrinalini Sarabhai, Aruna Roy, Anna Rajam Malhotra, Begum Akhtar, Sonal Mansingh, Amrita Pritam, Bachendri Pal, Flight Lt. Harita Kaur Deol, Priya Jhingan, Janaki Ammal, Amrita Shergil, Rita Feria, Mother Teresa of Kolkata, Neerja Bhanot, Medha Patkar, Tessy Thomas, Nandita Das,
Arundathi Roy, Shabana Azmi, Gauri Shinde, Indira Nooyi, Nirupama Rao, et al. Now, imagine a world without her! Furthermore envision a world without all those of the feminine sex that we hold dear at our homes, within our familial circles – mothers, sisters, aunts, sisters-in-law, cousins, etc. Imagine a world without her! Imagine a world without love, romance, fascination,
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beauty, wisdom; imagine a world without someone whom we could share with, laugh alongwith, care and be cared for; imagine a world where we men without women would have to do everything under the sun by ourselves. How boring such a world would be. And how grateful we ought to be for this wonderful beautiful world where He made us to be man and woman! Just imagine the stark imbalance or the convoluted irony that would be our world, if, if only we were to be living in a world without her! Just imagine then, the pathetic and horrific practices of sex determination or the preference of the invitro method to be able to select only the male over the female or the deplorable practice of female foeticide thus skewing the global gender balance and worsening the child-sex/ malefemale ratio! Imagine the horrendous practice of girl-infants being buried, the numerous girls trafficked across the globe and the traditional practice of fraternal polyandry in coupled with bride-buying in some parts of India, still! Imagine the emotional and psychological impact of a nation, a world, a society without her – which incidentally was the subject matter of Manish Jha’s critically acclaimed 2003film ‘Matrubhoomi: A Nation Without Women’. It is our responsibility to imagine the consequences of our attitudes and examine with accountability the extreme possibilities of a world without her, which eventually in the long run will be the downfall of humanity as a whole. Imagine a world without her! Chris is a Salesian priest, passionate about Christ, Peace, Youth and Media.
HER STORY Aliester D’Souza SDB
With Great Power comes Great Responsibility I had the unfortunate privilege, or the rare misfortune, of watching Avengers: Infinity Wars in theatres twice. The hundred-andsixty-minute-long tragedy was aggravated by the fact that super-persons from all over the Marvel Universe couldn’t defeat Thanos and his cronies. But, when such a movie includes planet hopping, whizzing through space and meeting surrealistic creatures you wouldn’t see elsewhere, it is worth the agony. That’s the point. Superhero movies have taken it to the next level. From fighting thugs, villains and evil-scientists they are now fighting extra-terrestrials. Apparently, humans are not wicked enough. They need a higher sense of purpose. They want to go after the real bad folks – aliens. And aliens bring along apocalyptic times which motivate these superheroes to save the world. Usually, they are men dressed in sleek and tight clothing that reveals their brawny selves. With an utter disregard for fashion, they move about dressed as animals and insects – bats, spiders, panthers and ants. And because they are to save the world, there’s no use having women around. Because, saving the world was, perhaps, a task given to men,
and women would not have the faintest idea of what is going on. Occasionally, we do find a woman lingering about the team…just for some variety. We also find women in such movies who play the role of fiancée and we do notice how the hero is in a dilemma whether or not to explain to the woman what he is doing. Oh, she might not actually understand. So, if men are busy fighting aliens and saving the world, what are the women doing? Well, cooking food for instance. To feed the men who are fighting aliens and the kids who are at school. And, at the same time, washing clothes. Of the men and the kids who are off to their respective duties. And, meanwhile, cleaning the house. So that the men would plan on coming to the comfort we call home. Also so that the kids could wreak havoc all over again. And marketing for supplies regularly. Heroes have to be given healthy food so that they grow brawnier. So do kids. They are the future. Of course, the younger kids have to be dropped off at school and picked up once school ends. Well, with kids back at home, multi-tasking levels up. While washing utensils, slicing tomatoes and drying laundry, now she also
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has to look after the children who haven’t seem to have had their fill of mischief at school. Change their clothes, feed them and help them in their homework. Later, she would also tell them some stories, sing a song, hum a lullaby and turn off the light. There are also some special tasks that a woman ought to do and should have tacit knowledge of. Paying off the bills, withdrawing money and meeting the class teacher. Dressing up wounds, listening to heart-aches, staying up late for a sick child, bargaining prices, hosting parties, knowing how to fix every silly thing from amnesia to a zipper, being an alarm clock for the family and a calendar to remind everyone of their appointments and concerns… all of these while making sure that the rice is not over-cooked, the milk has not spilled over and the toast has not gotten burnt. More oft than not, as the kids grow up into adolescents and teens and youth, the woman stands as the
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primary intercessor before the dad on their behalf. Who is actually saving the world? Of course, the film industry has indeed put men at the vanguard. For whenever the world is threatened by aliens, villains and Thanos, they send along supermen with vengeance… and sometimes a woman to accompany them…just so that they wake up on time, eat their meals and get their suits ironed. Yes, in most cases men are the breadwinners of the family. Every morning we see most men commute to work and back – fighting crowd, competition and exhaustion in order to fulfil their responsibility as protector and provider of the family. They toil by the sweat of their brow. I don’t deny any of these. Here’s the problem. The story of man keeps resounding in the narratives we hear, in the education we undergo or in the movies we watch. They are seen as doctors, police, politicians, scientists, labourers, drivers and so on. The story of the woman on the other hand is mostly confined to the realm of home. In mainstream society, they are seen as teachers, nurses or maids because these are jobs that need patience, love and care – the foremost traits of a woman. Also, because the principal and doctor are depicted as men. Subordinated. It is always history and never herstory.
But, we know from experience that it is not true. We know that women are as capable as men in most aspects. They can do more than just little things: by the very fact of their humanity, they are born for greater things. Speaking of little things, they matter most and cannot be ignored. An ironed shirt, a tasty meal or even a tender kiss makes a huge difference to the outcome of the day. And women see to these little things in the family. Trifles though it may seem, these quotidian nitty-gritty of the home require much attention, fervour and dedication. God has blessed the woman with endurance, forbearance and fortitude much more than her counterpart, man. Thus far I havenâ€™t even made a mention of the immense responsibility of childbirth and infancy, nor have I spoken of mothers who go out to work just as men.
they save the world not just once in a while but every single day. They keep the home clean, the food warm and the family happy. The first to wake and the last to eat, she shies away from praise but takes the blame for wrong decisions, works all day but is rarely tired. What should we name this marvellous creation of God? Call her mother or wife, daughter or sister. Though born a woman, responsibility makes her Superwoman. P.S.: Since the entire Marvel Universe couldnâ€™t stop Thanos they have requested Captain Marvel for help. P.P.S.: Captain Marvel is a woman.
Money is not everything for, by itself, it cannot sustain us. It is exchanged for goods that can. So, someone has to bridge the gap between money and actual sustenance. A mother does so. Perhaps on her birthday and on Mothersâ€™ Day we might take time out to appreciate the fact that she wakes up much before us, goes to bed much after us, and efficiently manages the realm of family and home. Rain or shine, our women work overtime. But they do without a moan, groan or complain. Motivated by love
Aliester is a Salesian Brother of Mumbai Province doing his particular formation in Philippines.
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MIND YOUR HABIT Cedric Prakash SJ
MEN need to CHANGE THEIR BEHAVIOUR On 19 June, five women activists in Jharkhand were abducted, gang-raped and were further brutally assaulted in the most horrendous manner. The women were in the remote villages as part of a troupe performing street plays to make people aware of the ills of migration and human trafficking. What will come of this dastardly deed is anyoneâ€™s guess. However, the way women in India are generally treated by the men is an act of shame and in several cases a crime against humanity.
perpetrators of these heinous acts are, in most cases, powerful men- either members of or connected with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP); the families of the victims have had desperately to run from pillar to post seeking justice and above all, the law and order mechanism which should have acted with a sense of urgency and expediency have done all they can to deny justice to the families of the victims and to try to sweep these unacceptable crimes under the carpet.
The gang rape in Jharkhand is not a one-off deed or an aberration. In the past few months, the country has witnessed one of the most sordid chapters in her history. Rapes and murders were unravelled- in Unnao, Kathua, Assam, Surat and elsewhere. Almost every day a new rape incident is brought to light. The added horrible dimension of these rapes are that the victims are mostly minors, the
There has been a natural groundswell of outrage against these despicable acts. Hundreds of protest rallies and candlelight vigils have taken place all over the c o u n t r y . Social media is filled with condemnations and comments about what is happening. Thousands have changed their personal profile and/or their DPs to the face of Asifa â€“ the little innocent girl who was brutally gang-raped
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and murdered. Large numbers supported the hashtag #justice_4_Asifa. Because of the pressure from social media, some of the socalled ‘mainstream media’ in the country have had no choice but to give coverage to these incidents. Leading international newspapers had incisive editorials on these terrible incidents. The Prime Minister who was then on a visit to the United Kingdom and other countries, had to face plenty of public protests (these were very conveniently blacked out by most Indian media).
The New York Times, in an unprecedented editorial on 16 April 2018, said, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India tweets frequently and considers himself a talented orator. Yet he loses his voice when it comes to speaking out about the dangers faced by women and minorities who are frequent targets of the nationalist and communal forces that are part of the base of his Bharatiya Janata Party…Mr. Modi said that these cases had brought shame on the country and that “our daughters will definitely get justice.” But his remarks ring hollow because he waited so long to talk about the cases and spoke in broad generalities — describing the crimes as “incidents being discussed since past two
days.” He has taken a similar approach in the past when addressing cases in which vigilante groups affiliated with his political movement have attacked and killed Muslims and Dalits — members of India’s lowest caste — who they falsely accused of killing cows, which are sacred to Hindus”. It was indeed an editorial with a scathing attack on Modi. What the editorial fail to mention was that in 2002 Modi has Chief Minister of Gujarat presided over the Gujarat Carnage, one of the bloodiest Chapters of post independent India. More than two thousand Muslims were killed during that carnage besides several women were brutally raped. Raping women and children has often been a weapon of fascist forces. Ever since right wing majoritarianism has begun ruling India the ‘culture of rape’ is on the ascendancy. There is no doubt about that. A group of activists from Gujarat in an open letter to the President of India wrote, “The present cases of rape – Kathua, Unnao, Surat, Assam, and many many more are indeed an indictment of our governments, our law and order machinery and us as a people. We recognize that these are not the first nor will they be the last, alas! While we condemn all and every such incident, we feel constrained to single out the two incidents of Unnao and Kathua. The perpetrators of the crime are political persons with political affiliations. Unnao and Kathua rape incidents are political, no more no less”. On 25 April, Asaram Bapu, a ‘godman’ from Gujarat was sentenced to life imprisonment
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for raping a 16-year old girl in 2013. Asaram Bapu has powerful political connections, which include the Prime Minister and other bigwigs of the BJP. The grapevine says that there will be an appeal in a Higher Court; since there are so many pliable Judges everywhere (as we have seen in so many of the high-profile cases recently) Asaram Bapu will certainly be “set free” sometime. What is sadly and totally lacking is the political will to deal with this ‘serious sickness’ which seems to have reached epidemic proportions. The ‘culture of rape and murder’, seems to have become an integral part of today’s way of proceeding. The national outrage is certainly justified, but perhaps the only way to halt this culture of death and bring about change, is to ensure that the party of rapists and murderers, do not succeed in the forthcoming elections! Rape is a heinous crime. When anyone is raped, particularly a little innocent child, Bharat Mata (Mother India) is being raped! We need to hang our heads down in shame! We also need to act fast in order to preserve the little dignity we have kept for Bharat Mata! Most mainstream religions continue being highly patriarchal, reinforce stereo –types and refuse to acknowledge gender parity. Pope Francis in some ways has been trying to restore the image of women in the significant role she plays in the world and needs to play in the Church. All his major teachings refer to this fact. As an example, he began washing the feet of women during the Holy Thursday Services; this significant act unfortunately has not been taken too kindly by sections of the male chauvinists within the Church. In his Apostolic Exhortation, ‘Evangelii Gaudium’ Pope Francis says, “the legitimate rights of women
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be respected, based on the firm conviction that men and women are equal in dignity, present the Church with profound and challenging questions which cannot be lightly evaded.” UN Women (http://www.unwomen.org/) which focuses on the situation of women in the world has an interesting presentation on its homepage. Consisting of fifteen slides, it is entitled ‘Timeline: Gender Equality, 2017 Year in Review’. Going through the presentation, there is certainly much to cheer about. Women in 2017 seem to have made some strides, there have been movements which have focused on their rights, in some countries newer legislation will now protect women more effectively; all this and more! Whilst the presentation highlights several positive initiatives, in many ways it is also reflective of the reality, which grips millions of women throughout the world. Most societies are still very patriarchal: the man is the decisionmaker. As a homemaker, the woman is often condemned to be doing all the household chores: from bringing up the children to cooking for the entire family. It is no longer a secret that domestic violence is on the rise. At work place, the wages earned by women for the same job are normally lower than that of men. Sexual harassment in the most celebrated of industries is now out in open. Women in most parts of the world hardly own land and are conveniently denied inheritance. Some years ago, several newspapers across the country highlighted a report brought out by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA). The report contained data for 150 countries over forty years and had blatantly stated “an Indian girl
child aged 1 to 5 years is 75% more likely to die than an Indian boy, making this the worst gender differential in child mortality for any country in the world”. A boy (particularly the first-born) is always preferred to a girl. Abortions of the female fetus is always higher than those of the male. It is generally a losing battle for girls in several countries to pursue higher education or a career of one’s dream. In May 2012, Aamir Khan in his popular serial on social issues “Satyamev Jayate” focussed on female foeticide – of how the female unborn child was killed all across India. As part of this well researched serial was the case study of Amisha Yagnik from Ahmedabad who had to undergo the nightmare of abortion after abortion when her husband and in-laws forcibly had her tested and did away with the foetus when it was found to be female. Ultimately, she had to escape to her maternal home a few years ago to give birth to her only child Kamya who is today eleven years old. Naturally, the story of Amisha created an uproar in the urban educated middle-class society of Gujarat. Several TV channels also blacked out the serial in Gujarat. Amisha is not an isolated example but the hard and stark reality of what is happening to the girl child, across India today. India is a highly patriarchal society and this is clearly reflected in the social ethic which governs the country; that a girl child is not wanted and women are not treated equally with men is just taken for granted. Women in India as a whole are condemned to a life of drudgery and there is a very small percentage of women who are professionals or who hold executive positions in the corporate sector.
A global poll conducted by the Thomas Reuters Foundation and released on 26 June (http:// news.trust.org/item/20180612134519-cxz54/) says that ‘India most dangerous country for women with sexual violence rife’. The release goes on to state that “experts said India moving to the top of poll showed not enough was being done to tackle the danger women faced, more than five years after the rape and murder of a student on a bus in Delhi made violence against women a national priority. India has shown utter disregard and disrespect for women ... rape, marital rapes, sexual assault and harassment, female infanticide has gone unabated. The (world’s) fastest growing economy and leader in space and technology is shamed for violence committed against women.” Every India, particularly the men folk should hang our heads down in shame! Right from the time boys are little they should be made aware that all the children in the family (boys and girls) are equal. Parents must never differentiate between the genders. Men need to participate in gender sensitivity training. They should share with the women of the house all the chores: looking after the children, cooking, doing the washing. Men need first to change their mind-sets and their behaviour towards women: to treat them as equals, to give them the dignity and the respect they need. This is certainly a tall order. Sadly, the plain truth remains- that it is not easy for women today- in India and elsewhere. Crimes against women, every type of hostile attitude and action against them has to stop! Change must take place now: beginning in the hearts, minds and behaviour of men!
Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ, is a human rights activist. Contact: email@example.com
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NEXT FIVE MINUTES Monce C Abraham
Phenomenal Wom‘e’n Not sure how many individuals here would have read Maya Angelou’s, “Phenomenal Woman” from ‘And Still I Rise’. If you haven’t, I highly recommend you do - It’s worth your time, and then some more. I have been invited by Don Bosco Publication to share a small thought on how we can build a better environment and society by acting in a manner which gives respect to its women, simply for no other reason that they happen to be incredible human beings, as you, or me. I have frequently voiced my thoughts on how we need to create the right environment at the family level wherein we consciously seed out patriarchal/ matriarchal traits which differentiate between a boy and a girl (one which gives privileges to one child more than the other, at different levels/ instances/ ages etc); treating the children equally in terms of love and care, and enabling both to find and pursue their greatness in thoughts, words and deeds. This time around, I will focus around the concept of personal choice, and how we can move the needle forward, as individuals. One of the few chosen leaders I mutually follow on Twitter is Tom Peters, a prominent globally renowned Management Genius who is often found living up to his label of “The Red Bull of
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Management Thinking”. Tom is the co-author of “In Search of Excellence” a book that is tagged as amongst the best business books out there, and I personally remember learning a lot from reading his work in my early twenties. One of his more recent tweets is shared below. Excellence is your next email. Excellence is a smile. Excellence is bringing flowers to work on a dreary winter morning. Excellence is the essence of short-termism. Excellence is the next 5 minutes--or it is nothing at all. — Tom Peters (@tom_peters) January 18, 2018 If there was ever an “excellent” tweet, above definitely qualifies as one (no pun intended). Extrapolating the learning from Tom’s tweet, one might be served well to remember that life as we know it, is created and experienced next few moments at a time: Should we take care of the immediate next moments... We can be rest assured that life will, somehow, overtime, take care of itself. Now how does this apply to Society, or Women, or Respect, or any of this combined? The answer works out to be not so complex should one think of how one has the power to reflect and act on his/ her choices every single time one has a path to choose.
• You come across “Locker Room Talk” (college/ workplace/ parties/ gym/ anywhere) You have the choice to not participate, or even bother to weakly smile, or even try giving that setting your approval. Over time people will respect you enough not to bring up such, in your presence. • Regardless of how stressful the day/ week/ month/ year was - When at work, when your co-founders, clients or colleagues light heartedly try asking how “hot” the woman CEO/ peer from a meeting was - You have the choice to bring back the conversation to saying you didn’t manage to notice that, but sharing what the meeting actually yielded for the organization. Your co-founders, clients and peers will know better than to ask you again. • You are in the presence of senior individuals at an informal setting (Bosses in a Corporate setting / Senior guys in your industry) and casual crude or sexist banter is being exchanged - You have the choice to not play along and appear cool on the outside by sharing sexist/
misogynistic/ crude comments simply to gel into the “power” group. • Add in succeeding events where you have the choice to act in accordance with your higher self. Over time, with consistent effort and practice, you will notice how these small thoughts, words and actions compound not just within but also outside; and how people behave and act when around you. Disclaimer: None of us, including me, are perfect. Having said this, I also believe that we all are learning each and every second, each and every interaction... and have the power within us to move the world (within and outside) forward or backwards, with each and every thought, word and action that we commit out to the world. As Maya Angelou would concur, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” - Maya Angelou Now let’s see how that makes you and others around you think, feel and act; as you keep moving the world, next 5 minutes at a time. Founder & Chairman, THEV Consulting Link to original post: http:// monceabraham.com/phenomenalwomen/
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DAUGHTER OF ABRAHAM Banzelão Teixeira SDB
from EXCLUSION to INCLUSION Jesus’ Radical Response to Gender Inequality Gender Inequality in Jewish Society Jewish society, at the time of Jesus, was no different from most other societies in the Middle-East. It was exclusively patriarchal – male dominated. Women were excluded from the social, cultural and religious life of the community. A Jewish woman had no identity without a man to own her. She lived under the authority of her father or husband. In fact, she was expected to address her husband as ‘master’ or ‘lord.’ He provided her protection and she was expected to bear him children, rear them and take care of the home. When it comes to social life, a bias in favor of men was clearly evident. The law of inheritance, for example, completely favored the male gender. The wife could not inherit from her husband, nor the daughter from her father. She owned nothing; even if she earned something, it belonged to her husband. A man enjoyed the right of divorcing a woman for any trivial reason by simply giving her a writ of divorce, but the woman had no right to seek a divorce, even for grave reasons. A vow made by a woman required the consent of her father or husband for it to be valid; without their approval, she could not take a vow. Similarly, the testimony of a woman was not considered
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valid before a court. When we move to the religious sphere, the condition of women was deplorable. Women were considered unclean, especially when they were menstruating. They had to keep away from men so as not to distract and tempt the latter while they were engaged in prayer and religious duties. For the Sabbath prayer at the local synagogue women were separated from men; similarly, in the temple of Jerusalem, women were restricted to the outer court. While the study of scriptures was a sacred duty for men, women were not permitted to study the holy book. From the above discussion it is evident that women, in general, were considered inferior to men and were treated as ‘second class citizens.’ From Invisibility to Recognition Jesus challenged the social norms of his time that restricted the movement and social space of women. Men, for example, were not expected to greet women in public nor acknowledge their presence. They were almost invisible and their contribution to society minimal. Jesus, instead, acknowledged the presence of women, treated them with respect in public places, permitted them to join his group of
followers, and restored the dignity that is due to them.
a daughter of Abraham, Jesus recognized the dignity that is due to a woman.
The Gospel of Luke (chapter 13) draws our attention to the healing of a woman who was crippled for 18 years. She had been part of the social scene for years, but no one had cared to look at her misery. It was a Sabbath day – a day of rest when no activity could be undertaken – and Jesus was present in the synagogue. In the presence of the religious leaders and elders, Jesus laid his hand on her and declared, “Woman, you are set free of your infirmity.” When the leader of the synagogue expressed his displeasure over the healing taking place on a day of rest, Jesus gave a strong reply: Should not a daughter of Abraham, who was bound for 18 years, be freed on the Sabbath day from her bondage? I wish to draw our attention to the phrase “daughter of Abraham.” Male Jews were often addressed as “sons of Abraham,” indicating their dignity as the chosen ones who shared a sacred covenant with God. But the expression “daughter of Abraham” was never used. By introducing this expression and addressing the crippled woman as
We also know that a group of women constantly accompanied Jesus and his apostles during the 3 years of public ministry. It is pretty clear that Jesus was ushering in a new era where women and men could share the same social space and enjoy similar rights. From Exclusion to Inclusion Another incident in the gospels that calls our attention is Jesus’ interaction with the Samaritan woman. We are often made to focus on the “many husbands” this woman had and how Jesus redeems her out from her sinful condition. I believe the story has more to tell than what most p r e a c h e r s indicate. Jesus first challenges the exclusion of people on the basis of race and gender and then goes on to share his philosophy of inclusion and empowerment.
When Jesus asked for a drink, the Samaritan woman is surprised at Jesus’ disregard for social and religious norms that were held sacrosanct for centuries (Jews considered April - June 2018
Samaritans as an impure race and avoided any form of contact with them). She asked, “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman for a drink?” When the disciples returned they were quite shocked to see what was unfolding before their eyes – Jesus was engaged in a deep conversation with the Samaritan woman. Though they had strong reservations they refrained from asking him: why are you interacting with this woman? The gospel of John, I believe, did not include the above account only to show Jesus’ compassion towards Samaritans and his successful confrontation with a ‘sinful woman’ eventually leading to her transformation. Through this incident the gospel clearly demonstrates that women, with all their strengths and weaknesses, can be fully involved and integrated in the evangelizing mission of the Church. When Jesus revealed himself as the long awaited Messiah, the woman runs to the town and announces with great enthusiasm: come and see! Could he be the messiah? And many Samaritans came to believe in Jesus because of her testimony. Jesus empowered women to come out from the confines of their homes and they became agents of transformation within society. He acknowledged their capacity and shared his mission with them. While it is true that women did not form part of the group of 12 apostles, the gospels clearly indicate their presence as his close collaborators. The postresurrection narratives also
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clearly indicate the crucial role played by women in the proclamation of the good news. Looking forward to the Future Jesus calls us… to believe that all persons are made in the image and likeness of God and therefore there should be no discrimination on the basis of race, creed, caste and gender. to reject ideologies, social norms and cultural practices that deprive people of their basic rights and dignity. to provide equal opportunities to all especially those who have been ignored or silenced by the system. to deconstruct the negative image that we have created of a woman as someone impure, weak and incapable. to empower those who have been oppressed, especially the poor, women and the marginalized that they may work for their own liberation. to recognize the contribution that women can make to build a just and egalitarian society. to include those who have been excluded from our society. Our society has a long way to go when it comes to the inclusion of women. Jesus came to recognize, empower, and liberate women. Today, it is our task to carry forward his mission of liberation and inclusion. Fr (Dr) Banzelão is the Principal of Divyadaan, an institute of philosopy in Nashik
BRING IN THE NEW Jason Pinto SDB
Jesus and Women An English professor once wrote the following words on the blackboard and directed his students to punctuate it correctly. Woman without her man is nothing The men wrote: “Woman, without her man, is nothing.” The women wrote: “Woman! Without her, man is nothing.” A caring mother, a loving sister, a lively daughter, a faithful wife or an understanding friend the presence of a woman in man’s life in various forms complements humanity. Women have played an important role in the history of humankind and God’s economy of salvation. What was the role of women in the life of Jesus? As we read the gospels we get very little information to derive about the role of women in the life of Jesus. This is because the gospels were written in the context of a strong Jewish patriarchal society, its composers were all men. With a little Old Testament background we can get an insight into the life of women in the New Testament Jewish society. This will help us a great deal to reflect, understand and follow Jesus in his approach towards the complementary sex.
mostly engaged in domestic duty, confined to all household work. They did the cleaning, washing, cooking and other household chores. They were expected to be obedient to their fathers and husband. The Old Testament Jews considered woman as part of their household property. Hence marriage was called as “taking a wife”, adultery was a capital offence, a childless wife could call herself a mother by giving her maid-servant to her husband as a second wife, as we see in the case of Sarah, a widow had the right to marry her husband’s brother, polygamy was allowed, divorce was easy for a man, but almost impossible for a woman and the like. Women like Eve, Rebecca, Delilah and Jezebel were all wives of great biblical heroes. However they were seen as carriers of evil and deception. Stories like the daughter of
Woman in the Old Testament In the Old Testament context women were 18 SANGATI
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Jephthah, and the concubine reflect modern women’s struggle for the right to life, justice, dignity and wholeness. We also have biblical heroines such as Shiphrah and Pua, Miriam, Hannah, Huldah, Deborah and Jael, Esther and Judith who were endorsed and distinguished in God’s choices in the Old Testament. Thus we can conclude saying, God did choose women to participate actively in God’s project for humanity, despite their despicable position in the patriarchal Jewish society. Woman in the New Testament Probably with the Persian, Greek and Roman influence there was a bit attitudinal change in the Jewish society. Centralization of Jewish worship around the Temple of Jerusalem, the Babylonian exile, and Hellenization were some of the key events which marked Jewish history before the advent of Jesus. Talking to other men publicly, entering the sacred places in the temple, leadership roles, and all such
liberties were strictly forbidden for women. This was because the New Testament Jews had a very low opinion regarding women. In one of the Morning Prayer there was a sentence in which a Jewish man would give thanks to God for not making him ‘a Gentile, a slave or a woman.’ The same Old Testament bias that a woman was not a person, but an object continued in the New Testament times as well. She had no legal rights and she was absolutely her husband’s possession. She received no education, not even religious education in the learning of Torah. One rabbi who lived at that time said, ‘Rather should the words of the Torah be burned than entrusted to a woman. Whoever teaches his daughter the Torah is like one who teaches her to be lustful? Such was the deplorable state of woman in the New Testament. Woman in the Life of Jesus Against such a pitiful background we have Jesus with a new vision for woman, whose attitude and approach towards them spins across all time and ages. His life begins with a woman, ends with a group of woman and he makes his first appearance after his resurrection to a woman. Three woman find a mention in the genealogy of Jesus. He had a group of woman who followed him. The gospels even mentions their names. His interaction with woman, his friendship
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with them prove that he was different from the Jewish men of his times. When others despised the woman caught in adultery, Jesus was compassionate towards her. When it was absolutely forbidden for a menstruating woman to enter sacred places, Jesus the Son of God allowed himself to be touched by a woman, allowed himself to be anointed by a woman before his death. Further the sisters of Lazarus – Martha and Mary were his close friends, he surprised his disciples by chatting with a woman at mid-afternoon near Jacob’s well and many other instances like this present Jesus as a revolutionary in his outlook towards women. A closer look into the actions of Jesus reveal to us, God’s plan and vision for women as part of his creation. Woman are called to contribute their power and energy in the safeguarding the whole of creation. It is she who brings forth life into the world. They are partners in the economy of salvation as well as in the history of human civilization. Women with
their creative insights and caring attitude teach us and challenge us to be different. We need to stop stereotyping women and bring forth their uniqueness to the male-dominated machoworld. Women challenge men to look at reality from another perspective, a perspective which is wholesome and harmonious. I conclude this short reflection with a quote from the world famous British novelist Sir William Golding’s view about woman. He states “I think women are foolish to pretend they are equal to men. They are far superior and always have been. Whatever you give a woman, she will make greater. If you give her sperm, she’ll give you a baby. If you give her a house, she’ll give you a home. If you give her groceries, she’ll give you a meal. If you give her a smile, she’ll give you her heart. She multiplies and enlarges what is given to her. So, if you give her any crap, be prepared to receive a ton of shit!” The writer is a Salesian priest studying in Rome
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FEMALE GODDESS Charlene Farrell
When Democracy Fails its Mother The year 2018 has seen one of the most drastic increases in the incidences of rape and other crimes against women and children. Waking up each day to more bad news from across the country. The sheer volume of these reported cases makes it difficult to digest that this is the very same India that worships female Goddesses. Those that go unreported only make up for a huger volume and thus, this social evil should make us nothing but ashamed. As we read about these crimes on a daily basis, we slowly but surely become immune to the horrid facts and soon these atrocities too, lose their shock value. It is when we allow the sheer magnitude of the situation to turn into an expected norm, that we lose the fight for justice. Today, every woman is at risk. The sick mentality of this patriarchal vortex, has stolen the very definition of democracy from under the feet of women in every nook of this nation. India never fails to surprise when it comes to such debauchery. From remote villages up north being used as free for all brothels of the rich and powerful to little children being mercilessly brutalised, we just keep pulling them out of a bottomless hat. Whatâ€™s worse is when so called representatives of the people stand shoulder to shoulder in support of
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criminals. These behaviours that have become so rampant turn our judicial system into a mockery. It is quite clear that India, in the year 2018, is ruled not for the people and by them but for the rulers and thus by them. No stone was left unturned when certain pockets pushed for a beef ban. Yes, every flight inbound to beef banned states were scrutinised with a microscope and defaulters were immediately punished. Perhaps, today, being a cow is way more safer than being a woman. Here in Goa, thousands thronged the streets to demand justice for the little innocent â€˜Asifaâ€™. Every day, however, tourists and residents of this beautiful state become victims of lecherous outsiders who come to Goa to enjoy the sea, the alcohol and in their twisted minds, the women. There is absolutely no substantial measure taken by the government to curb this behaviour. When we speak about failure of democracy, we speak about feelings of insecurity, inequality and of fear. Some years ago, as I was researching for a paper at University, I came across a very eye opening case study. This was a few years ago when a foreign exchange student moved to India, to complete her sociology thesis. She was here for three weeks only and went back completely disturbed. So much so that she was diagnosed
with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Yes, you read it right, PTSD. The cause of her trauma? The way men in this country gawked at her and rubbed up against her every chance they got. Aren’t these experiences common place for all of us hardy Indian women? Being stared at and ‘checked out’ practically every day by practically every man, be he young, old, economically challenged or even extremely well to do. Yes, this is a generalisation, I have met a huge number of extremely lovely, decent men, but those numbers pale in comparison to the majority. With a government that treats women’s rights as a subtopic of discussion when time permits, there is no wonder that our state of mind and wellbeing is deplorable. A few months ago, in Goa, we treated this as a problem that affects the North. Right up until the atrocities started raising their ugly heads in our own backyard. Yes, Goa has joined the ranks. A once peaceful, fun loving state has now turned into one like the rest where women
are being taken advantage off while the police, our protectors and law upholders drag their feet to bring justice. Violence against women is getting closer to home by the day. Who do we look to for help? All over the world, inequality is rampant. From Hollywood to corporate offices here in India, women are constantly forced to work ten times harder to prove themselves worthy of the same salary as their male counterparts. The glass ceiling is a reality, one that we have got too used to. Equality and justice for all is the only demand we have, but why do we have to fight for something that is actually ours by right? As women in the 21st century, our voices have got louder and more persistent and so to silence and punish we have to pay for our safety. Is it just a coincidence that the brutality against women has gotten worse over the year? Well as they say, the stronger the voice the greater the oppression. Party manifestos speak about better days, better economy and better employment rates. It’s time these promises be fulfilled to include women as well. Using political clout and religious bigotry won’t work anymore. We demand that the umbrella of democracy shields us from the storms of violence, and we won’t back down till we get it. The writer is a Counsellor and a psychology teacher. She is also a TEDx speaker
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WOMEN OF COURAGE Sr Irene Pias UFS
You Have it in You We all have role models. The role models have a great influence on us. They are the people we look up to and attempt to pattern our own lives after. As kids we often played the roles of a mother, father, priest, nun, doctor, teacher etc. The young boys and girls are inspired by Superheroes and heroines. They want to be as strong as Captain America and as fast as Spiderman, beautiful and glamorous as film stars. As we grow into responsible adulthood there is a greater need for a stable, virtuous and purposeful life. St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). That is the Bible’s definition of role modeling. The Bible also richly affirms the dignity and value of women, and many of its characters provide us with spiritual insights and lessons through their lives. As we read through the Bible we come across several women with different roles. We
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can learn a lot from them. We find women who were compassionate, brave, praying, beautiful, wise, protective, nurturing, just, faithful, trustful, mother, sister, and a loving daughter. Whether they were leading an army, negotiating a peace treaty or serving the poor of the community, they acted with strength, wisdom and love that encourage all of us men and women generations later. These Godfearing women may have lived in completely different societies and times than us, but they are still relevant to our times. They teach and inspire us in some of the toughest of situations
of our life. In decisive moments of our lives, we realize that God’s purpose for creation could not be fulfilled without the equal participation of ‘woman.’ We shall take a few women who can be our role models to accomplish what God asks of us to do. Jochebed: Mother of Moses : Exodus 6:20, and Numbers 26:59. Jochebed was the mother of Moses. When Jochebed gave birth to a son. Instead of letting him be murdered by pharaoh, she took a basket and coated the bottom to make it waterproof. Then she put the baby in it and set it among the reeds on the bank of the Nile River. She also took the risk of nursing and taking care of the boy, her own son, for Pharaoh’s daughter until he grew up. Jochebed had faith in God’s protection of her baby. She knew that God would take care of the child. Jochebed showed great trust in God’s faithfulness. When she placed little Moses in the Nile River that day, Jochebed could not have known that he would grow up to be one of God’s greatest leaders, chosen to rescue the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt. By letting go and trusting God, an even greater dream was fulfilled. Like Jochebed, we won’t always foresee God’s purpose in letting go, but we can trust that his plan is even better. The lesson we learn is that in our testing and challenging moments of life such as unhappy marriage, unsuccessful career, or some other worthwhile goal we need to bravely place the circumstances in the hands of God.
harsh and evil man. When Abigail’s husband refused to show kindness and generosity to David and his men, she showed strength of character and bravely stepped up to create peace between the two parties. She was a smart, strong, young woman who acted with courage and initiative, independently of her wicked and drunken husband to protect her family. In her, charm and wisdom blended. She had intelligence as well as beauty. A beautiful woman with a beautiful mind as she had is surely one of God’s masterpieces. Each woman is a masterpiece of God blended with wisdom, intelligence and beauty given the responsibility to transform our family, parish and society from evil influences. Deborah : Israel’s Only Female Judge (Judges 4)
Abigail: Beautiful and wise (1 Sam 25) Abigail demonstrates wisdom and compassion (1 Samuel 25). She was truly virtuous, beautiful and wise woman who was married to Nabal, a 24 SANGATI
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Deborah was both a prophetess and ruler of the people of ancient Israel, the only woman among the twelve judges. Deborah served as a wise and brave judge, obeying God’s commands. Jabin, a king of Canaan was oppressing the Israelites. Barak a warrior of Israel was hesitant to obey the Lord, but Deborah boldly reminded him of God’s promise to go before them. Deborah, acting on guidance from God, assisted Barak, to defeat Jabin. A prophetess and honoured judge, Deborah is one of the most awe inspiring women of the Bible. One of the hallmarks of Deborah’s leadership is her willingness to follow God’s call and to give Him the credit rather than leading out of her own strength. She followed God faithfully, acting with integrity in her duties. Her bravery came from relying on God, not herself. In a male dominated culture, Deborah did not let her power go to her head but exercised her authority with audacity. Deborah challenges us to place our trust in God to act justly in life’s worst times. Queen Esther (Esther 4) Esther is an inspiring story about a remarkable woman who was willing to risk her life to save her people. As scripture reveals, Esther is a Jewish woman living in Persia raised by her cousin Mordecai. The king of Persia, disappointed by the disobedience of his first wife, chose Esther a beautiful Jewish woman as his new wife. She was a woman of principle who was willing to put the lives of others ahead of even her own life. She was an outstanding example of serving others even under the most stressful circumstances. Faced with the possibility of death, Esther chose to act despite fear when the people she loved were placed in danger. She was a prayerful woman, praying
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and fasting, waiting upon to God to His will in her life. And through her intervention, she was able to prevent the genocide of the Israelites in her kingdom. Most of the time our lives may be pretty routine, but all of us have a few defining moments when we may be called on to avert the evil actions above personal profit. What will be your answer when you encounter defining moments in your life? Esther shows all of us the way, and we can be inspired by her example. God gave women the wisdom, courage, leadership and family. The inner strength we all posses are in the fact that we are able to bear and raise children, the next generation. Let our voices be heard about injustice, let us be strong as did Esther, Miriam, and the other courageous women of the Bible. Men and women, God does not discriminate. Do you perceive something in your family, church or even nation that you have a role to play? Do you feel a strong calling to assertive action like Abigail, Deborah, and Esther? These women will shine for all eternity for their faithfulness and even today, there are many other living heroines. We have it in us. What we need is to draw inspiration from these women who got awakened and arose for the need of their time and community. Maybe there is even a woman you live with; your mother, your grandmother, or your aunt. Know that you are the image of God called to fulfill your purpose. Listen hard to that call inside and be prepared to Awake and Arise!!! Sr Irene is the Ursuline Franciscan Sister of the Mysore province. She is the Ex-novice mistress, presently pursuing MTh in Spiritual Theology
APPALLING STATISTICS Ian Pinto SDB
Domestic Violence A Scar on Indian Society Domestic violence is a reality in many families around the world. Since I come from a relatively secure environment I am nothing short of appalled by the fact of domestic violence. I used to think that this was a problem mainly in developing regions and among uneducated people but stood corrected once I became sensitive to ground realities. According to the global estimates published by the World Health Organization, 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime. Domestic violence isnâ€™t something that happens merely in purely and if I may add, harshly, patriarchal structures, but also in so called progressive cultures. It is as much of a problem in America as it is in India, although the levels and kinds of interventions may differ. Domestic violence is a sad occurrence for it reveals the lack of respect and honour given to women not only in society at large but within the boundaries of their own homes! The National Crime Records Bureau reveal that a crime against a woman is committed
every three minutes; a woman is raped every 29 minutes; a dowry death occurs every 77 minutes, and one case of cruelty committed by either the husband or relative of the husband occurs every nine minutes. This occurs despite the fact that women in India are legally protected from domestic abuse under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. The Act provides a definition of domestic violence that is comprehensive and includes all forms of physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, and economic violence, and covers both actual acts of such violence as well as threats of violence. Despite having such systems in place, domestic violence still continues to carry on its demonic existence within families. In the case of domestic violence, the victim is usually the woman who is perceived to be subservient to her male counterpart. According to the National Family Health Survey â€“ 4 (2016) conducted by the Union health ministry, every third woman, since the age of 15, has faced domestic violence in various forms. The survey reveals that 27 percent of
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women have experienced physical violence since the age of 15 in India. These are pretty disturbing figures. It doesn’t matter that such cases are more common in rural areas than in urban ones. The cause of concern here is that something as demeaning and barbaric as this is even occurring in our country. India’s listing according to a report by Thomson Reuters, as the “fourth most dangerous country” in the world for women doesn’t help our cause. No country is without its flaws but for a country that worships women deities… it doesn’t speak very well about us. When we think of domestic violence, we are prone to think that husbands are the primary perpetrators. While this is true to a certain extent they are not the only offenders. 31 percent of married women, according to the survey, have experienced physical, sexual, or emotional violence from their spouses. While married women are prone to receive trouble mostly from their husbands besides other family members like in-laws, unmarried women have also reported physical violence mostly from their mothers or step-mothers (56%), fathers or step-fathers (33%), sisters or brothers (27%), and teachers (15%). As if this wasn’t enough to sour the mood, the surveyors discovered a chilling fact: Women in India are supportive of domestic violence! Yes, you read that right. Data shows that women between the ages of 40-49 were most supportive of domestic violence, with 54.8% in agreement. The percentage justifying abuse is surprisingly only marginally lesser among younger women. 47.7% of girls between the age of 15-19 agreed with domestic violence. 54.4% of rural women agreed with domestic abuse while 46.8% of urban women supported it.
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Take a minute. Go over the numbers again and think about what they have to say. The Indian family is definitely not a healthy place. Nearly 50% of families are marred by domestic abuse be it from husbands, parents, in-laws, siblings, children or other relatives. This brought home to me the grave situation our country’s women are in. For most of my life, domestic violence was something I read about in the newspaper or watched on television. But after listening to a colleague who shared her experience of domestic abuse, I couldn’t ignore its ugly existence any more.
This got me thinking: How can we prevent domestic abuse from taking place? Education has a pivotal role to play in alleviating this somber situation. The main distinguishing factor in acceptance of domestic violence is education, much more than income, or even age. The report stated that instances of domestic violence, including physical and sexual violence decreases sharply with schooling and education. Cases of physical or even sexual violence are significantly lesser among educated people than among uneducated ones. But this alone is not enough.
(Cont. to pg 29) 27
MADE EQUAL Ethan Fortes SDB
Returning Back to the Beginning In the creation story, woman is made as an equal of man – since they are both “created in the image and likeness of God.” But, from the time of the Fall, the approach towards women had changed. In the Jewish tradition women were rarely in the forefront of public life. Women were believed to be the cause of sin and the downfall of man because it was Eve who had disobeyed God before Adam. The image of women was corrupted and disfigured. It was in this atmosphere that Jesus had been born into. However, as he began his public ministry he also began to recreate the image of women. He took the people back into the beginning to show them what God truly intended when he created man and w o m a n . He tried to show that women too have their rightful place in society – which is at the heart, because they are mothers who bring life into the world. At the time of the Resurrection, Jesus again showed how much he valued women in society by making them the first witnesses of his
resurrection. Mary too played an important role in lifting up a woman’s position when she was chosen to initiate the Salvation story. Throughout the history of the Church, women had been degraded. Their opinions were never taken into consideration. In fact, if a woman wished to start a religious congregation she had to first get authorization from a priest before going to a bishop. Moreover, many of the cases when approved were given certain restrictions like cloistering. In the pre-Beguine era, women weren’t even allowed to go out and offer their services to the needy. The image of a woman was that of a temptress and so if they wished to embrace the religious life they were ordered to remain cloistered. But, even after such ideologies, there were some women who ‘swam against the current’. Some of these noted people were St. Joan of Arc, who dressed like a man so as to join the A r m y and St. Teresa of Ávila who reformed the Carmelite order
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with the help of St. John of the Cross. These were women who took up leadership roles in a male-dominated era. The idea of male-dominance in the Church underwent a drastic change with the Second Vatican Council. The Church then began to open up to different views. It tackled male dominance in the Church and gave way to accepting the services of women in the Church. As I searched on the internet for some Church documents on women I found only a handful. But what I did find interesting was St. John Paul II’s thoughts on men’s and women’s role in the Church. In a series of talks given by him under the title The Theology of the Body he takes us back to the beginning where God created male and female in his own image and likeness. By doing so he tries to correct the corrupted image we have of men and women because of sin. In the 21st century, the Church has carried forward these reflections of Pope John Paul II. Part of the Church’s mission today is to strike a balance between feminism and maledominance. Thus the Church is urged to try
and give equal opportunities to both men and women without having favoritism to either gender.
Domestic Violence: A Scar on Indian Society
and the battle has already begun. But have the soldiers prepared for the war? The side-effects of domestic abuse as well as those of external interventions are numerous and threaten the overall fabric of the family and society but justice must be done. How and by whom are important and urgent questions but if each one can take the bold step to prevent and/or address abuse appropriately, they would be playing no small in restoring the integrity of society’s character.
(Cont. from pg 27)
A legal framework is set up to tackle issues of domestic violence but often such issues don’t make it to the court or even to the police because of the culture of conservatism and shame that is attached to them. However, women need to be made aware that there is the strong arm of the law behind them. Numerous NGO’s are working around the clock to ensure that women’s rights are met and their grievances heard. Domestic abuse is a blot on any society’s character and concerted efforts must be made to erase it all together. The way ahead is tough
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We on our part need to be collaborators with the Church. We can do so firstly by promoting equal rights for all and secondly, by standing up against male dominance and degradation of women. Though there are many cultures that promote male dominance over women, it is our mission to preach by the lives we live that a woman has an equal standing in society as compared to man. Their presence in the Church and in the world is needed no matter what way of life they have chosen. However, a caveat, while we work towards all this, let us remember that our mission to make the world understand the true worth of men and women: that they were both made in the image and likeness of God and that they are both equal in the eyes of God. Ethan is a student of Philosophy at Divyadaan, the Salesian Institute in Nashik
Ian is a Salesian of Panjim province pursuing a degree in Masters of Philosophy.
GOD MADE MAN MADE Anthony da Silva SJ
‘Male and Female God Created Them’ Intro: From Sex to Gender God created us male and female and assigned us our “sex”. Culture and society created genders and assigned us masculine and feminine gender roles in society. As culture evolves in the course of human history, it shapes our expectations of masculine and feminine gender roles. For example, thanks to their physiological make-up, strength, muscle, height etc. society associates masculine roles with more strenuous or physically demanding tasks; similarly, thanks to their ability to bear and nurture children, society associates feminine roles with nurturing, caring or lifegiving tasks. Thus, though gender roles are distinct, they are freely interchangeable because they are the result of cultural expectations and not of biological demands.
overwhelming amount of social information. For example, through TV, films, social media, the print media etc. we are continuously bombarded with an abundance of information and images. Information that is considered more valuable or “typical” is more readily stored in the memory for future use. It may also be speedily recalled whenever needed or when a similar situation triggers the memory. Hence this kind of “typical” information about people and events is sometimes referred to as “stereo-types” or behaviours widely accepted as “typical”. Thus, we have numerous stereotypes referring to sex as well as gender. Stereotypes are both favourable and unfavourable. Favourable stereotypes about others promote good relations, harmony
From Gender Roles to Gender Stereotypes These gender roles which society has evolved over the centuries are also closely related to gender stereotypes. Stereotypes are kinds of images or mental pictures we associate with people and events in our culture. In the course of our upbringing we are continuously surrounded by 30 SANGATI
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and peace in society; however, unfavourable stereotypes have negative consequences and tend to encourage negative, or sometimes even violent or aggressive behaviours towards others. For example, perpetuating unfavourable stereotypes of women as being emotional, lacking in logical thinking, timid, physically weak, objects of sex etc. oftentimes encourages violence against women. Stereotyping males unfavourably as being aggressive, violent, insensitive or sexually exploitative is likely to promote violent retaliatory behaviours in society. Unfavourable stereotypes should be of utmost concern to us because they drive our negative attitudes, which in turn drive our violent and cruel behaviours.
Understanding Gender differences and their implications 1. A manâ€™s sense of self is defined through his ability to achieve results. A womanâ€™s sense of self is defined through her feelings and the quality of her relationships. 2. Coping with stress: Men feel better to withdraw and prefer to solve problems alone; women get together and openly talk about their problems. The writer is a Jesuit priest and works at Xavier Centre, Porvorim, Goa
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AMPLE PROOF Fr Alex D’Mello
A ray of hope for women in the church Many people call Pope Francis, a gift of God to the Church. Some of us believe that he is almost a symbol of the Catholic Church. His pontificate has brought hope to the lives of many. People are returning to the church because they like his teachings. He is the most followed religious leader on the social networking sites. He has slowly but steadily brought newness in the church and its thinking. His contribution is immense but sadly hasn’t yet understood by some. Pope Francis has meticulously toiled towards lifting up the image of women in the church. He wants women to get their due respect in their families and in society. He has not only spoken for women but put his thoughts into action. He has strongly urged Christians to work for equality of men and women. In his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, he says that equality among men and women makes us happy to see old forms of discrimination of women disappear from the society (no. 54). He believes that the role of women is irreplaceable in the family. While talking to his audience he said, “Woman is not a replica of man; she comes directly from the creative gesture of God. God made woman when man was asleep. It shows that she is in no way creature of man but of God.” Pope Francis is convinced that women
must be given equal rights in society and in the church. There are two factors that affirm his stance about women: He has experienced generosity and love from women in his personal life and he recognizes Our lady’s role in the life of the church. Women in his personal life Pope Francis talks about many women in his life who are worthy of a mention. He fondly remembers both his grandmothers. They had different natures yet they loved him. He also remembers his own mother who taught him not to waste anything. He admires the Paraguayan Communist and the Jewish psychoanalyst who helped him in his priestly life. He once said, “I was enriched by being always in relationship with women.” Women see things in a different way from men in the face of a decision and a problem. Therefore, he says that, it’s important to listen to both. Mary’s supremacy and iconic place in the Church A church cannot be imagined without women. Pope Francis compares it with the Apostolic college without Mary. Mary played very important role in the lives of the dispirited apostles after the death of Jesus. She stayed with the apostles in the upper room. She
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prayed earnestly for them and encouraged them to remain firm. Pope Francis says that Our Lady is more important than the Apostles; she is more important than the bishops and the priests too. The church has rightly recognized the importance of Mary and therefore, she is identified with the church. The church is feminine. She is a spouse. She is a mother. It is with these convictions Pope Francis’ actions indicate a hope for the women in the church. Let us have a glance of Pope Francis’ important decisions that boosts women’s involvement in the affairs and the life of the church. 1. Appointment of two women in the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments In January 2017, Pope Francis appointed two women to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments: Prof. Donna Orsuto, an American who teaches at the Gregorian University and is a director of the Lay Centre at Foyer Unitas in Rome, and Dr. Valeria Trapani, an Italian who teaches in the Pontifical Theological Faculty of St. John the Evangelist in Palermo, Sicily. This congregation looks after the affairs
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related to liturgical practices and of the Latin Church. It safeguards the regulations of the administration of the sacraments. 2. Appointment of two women in the Congregation for Laity, Family and Life Pope Francis has appointed Professor Gabriella Gambino and Dr. Linda Ghisoni as undersecretaries of the office for the Laity, Family and Life on November 2017. Prof. Gabriella, an Italian who holds a doctorate in bioethics, married woman and mother to five children, is appointed an undersecretary of the office for life of this dicastery. Dr. Linda, another Italian who has a doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, is married and has two daughters. After the synod on families Pope appointed both these women because of their expertise and competence in their respective fields. The redefine dicastery has an additional responsibility for promoting a deeper reflection on the role of women in the Church and society. 3. Appointment of three women in the congregation for the Doctrine of the faith In a historic decision, Pope Francis appointed three women as consultants to the Congregation of the Faith in April 2018. Dr. Linda Ghisoni, an Italian, undersecretary for “the section for the lay faithful” in the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life; Prof. Michelina Tenace, an Italian, who teaches theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome; and Prof. Laetitia Calmeyn, a Belgian national, who teaches theology at the Collège des Bernardins,
Paris. It is for the first time ever that women or laity have been appointed as consultants to the Congregation. This congregation is one of the oldest and the most powerful of the nine congregations of the Roman Curia. It promotes and defends the doctrine of the faith and its traditions in all the possible ways. 4. Participation of women in the General assembly of bishops of Latin America In the month of March 2018, the bishops of Latin America had a general assembly. Under the direction of Pope Francis, forty women were called to take part in a discussion on the role of women in the life of the church. In addition to this plenary meeting, Pope Francis had called a four days meeting with the cardinals and bishops. Eight lay women and six religious women from Latin America participated in the meeting. They proposed that there be women professors actively participating in the seminary formation. The appeal was made to get more women involved in the decision making in the parish and diocesan level. There is also a proposal to have a synod on the theme of women in the life and mission of the church. 5. Commission to study the viability of female deacons To study the topic of the ordination of women, the commissions were created but none have produced substantial findings on the topic. St. Pope John Paul II therefore has closed the topic of women ordination by siting the reason of tradition in which Jesus chose the men to be his disciples. There is one reference though to the deaconess in the Bible but her role is not clear. In such a situation, Pope Francis created a commission to study the viability of female deacons at the request of a group of major superiors of women religious congregations.
The commission is composed of both women and men and they are in equal numbers. 6.Washing of feet of women on Holy Thursday Pope Francis made headlines in the early days of his pontificate by washing women’s feet. The symbolic washing of the feet by the celebrant of the Mass is to commemorate Christ’s washing the feet of His Apostles on Holy Thursday. In January 2016, he officially altered the Church’s practice to allow for washing women’s feet on Holy Thursday. This alteration is much appreciated and welcomed by all the faithful.
7. The feast of St. Mary Magdalene Pope Francis elevated the feast of St. Mary Magdalene to the same level as those of the male apostles. Her feast was celebrated as a memorial on July 22. Thus, Pope Francis has recognized the role of St. Mary Magdalene who was the first witness and the proclaimer of Jesus’ resurrection. The elevation of this feast gives due recognition to the women who played important part in the early Christian communities. Pope Francis took this decision in the Jubilee year of Mercy to show how Jesus was merciful to Mary Magdalene; hence, we must imitate our Lord by respecting women in our societies.
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Conclusion: Prof. Donna Orsuto, an American lady, an expert in marital spirituality, who has lived for many years in Rome and works as a director of the lay center, reading the signs of the time during the recent interview in Rome said that, “the church is slow but there are some positive changes happening right now in the Church.” She sees a new hope in Pope Francis. Pope is personally convinced that
women should be given due respect. It is his personal conviction that made him take some historical decisions. He says, “A church cannot be imagined without women as we cannot imagine Church without Our Lady.” We must imbibe the spirit of Pope Francis and encourage women in the participatory structures of the church. Fr Alex is the director of the Family Commission & the Judicial Vicar in the diocese of Sindhudurg
EMPOWER WOMEN Shikha Lagali
Are We Evolving? We are living in a generation of the world that is continuously evolving. In every aspect, whether it is from a small 10 button mobile phone to having a touch screen one, from hunting for vehicles to travel to just sitting at home and booking a car for a short distance, we have evolved. From waiting hours together to heat something on the gas to heating it in less than 2 minutes, we have evolved. From chanting support for our political parties to chanting slogans for same sex marriage, we have evolved. But when it comes to the better treatment for our women, have we really evolved? Today women are still afraid to step out of the house as the darkness fall, worse still, even day time has become dangerous for them. Pictures of Nirbhaya, a girl in her 20’s, who was brutally raped is still fresh in our minds. And the rape of Asifa Bano, a child of 8 years, shook us up. Have we really evolved? The statistics point out to us that one woman in India is raped every two minutes. But we are content with broadening the roads, wifi-ing the places and
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doing online transactions. Will the changes in the outward appearance of our nation without any internal changes in the way we treat one another, make us an evolved nation? Indian movies still portray women as cheap and a thing. ‘Item song’ fills our theatres. Women are made to seem dumb and out for sale. It influences the mindset of people. Are we really evolving? When a girl child is considered a burden and killed in the womb, is it a development? Today the state of Haryana is suffering. The imbalance of the number of girls to that of boys has reached to the alarming proportions. It will happen to the other states soon, the signs of which are seen everywhere. Are we evolving? All life is precious, and the life of a female is no exception. Let us evolve! Shikha is a student of Mass Communication at Don Bosco College Panjim. She loves to sing and write.
OPEN TO LIFE Valentine & Anna Coelho
“BLESSED IS THE WOMB THAT BORE YOU And the breasts that gave you suck…” Anna: As a teenager, I often resented being a woman as I had to be careful how I played and what I did on certain days of the month. I could not understand why women had to suffer discomfort every month. When I got married to Vally, I was happy that I could become one with him but not happy with the consequences - when I had to suffer labour pains. What is so great and noble in this vocation of being wife and mother? How could it be an honour to be ‘chained’ to my breastfeeding child? It was only when we read the “The Art of Natural Family Planning (NFP)” by John and Sheila Kippley (The Couple to Couple League) – after 13 years of our marriage that I could appreciate how “carefully and wonderfully” I was made and how privileged I was to share in the same dignity that Mary enjoyed. St Pope John Paul II says that it seems like God created Woman almost as an afterthought when He realized that Adam was alone. If Adam was the “crown of creation” then Woman was God’s Masterpiece! He created sex - male and female - and stamped his intention right into our very bodies. Thus a man’s body is so shaped by God to be a gift – a self-donation - to the woman whose body is shaped complimentarily –to receive the gift of her husband and, with God’s blessings,
conceive new life and give a gift back to her husband! Not even the angels enjoy this Godlike privilege of bringing forth new life. What an honour I now feel! Only we, women can conceive another human person in our bodies, nurture him/her and bring forth a potential saint for all eternity! Vally: According to tradition Angel Lucifer (or Satan) was jealous because he knew that Man would be placed higher than him and so he tried to destroy God’s plan to divinize Man. But why did he attack the woman? Satan realised that woman, in her very body, symbolized humanity’s ‘openness’ to God. Since he could never stop the Father loving His creation he tried to stop the creature from ‘being open’ to the Father’s love. He seduced Eve into believing that God was not a loving Father. If He was, then why did He forbid her to eat of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? Eve fell for the lies of the “Liar from the beginning”. She ate of the fruit and we, her children, inherited the stain of Original Sin. Since then Satan has been attacking the womb: contraception and the fruit of the womb: abortion. Original Sin is the belief that God is not a loving Father who wants to give us everything as a gratuitous gift so therefore
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I must reach out and grasp the forbidden fruit instead of trusting him to “give us today our daily bread”. But God did not give up on us. It was another Woman who had a place in His plan of Redemption. Being born without Original Sin, Mary became the new Eve. Our whole salvation depended on Mary’s freely given “Yes” - as freely given as Eve’s “No” to God. Mary, as an unmarried virgin had good reason to reject the creative intention of God. She could have said “No”. But her “yes” to the gift of God’s love was so perfect that she conceived God Himself in her womb - the second person of the Blessed Trinity. Mary’s womb was the Tabernacle of the Most High for 9 months. Her words “Let it be done to me according to your word” showed her ‘openness’ to the gift God was giving her. What a great honour for Mary and for all women who open their bodies to let God create a new soul for Heaven! Anna: I feel sad that many women are not open to life. Before learning NFP (after our 4th child), I too was like them. I was always afraid of getting pregnant. How wrong I was! So, bringing our 5th child into the world and nursing her for 3 years and 9 months took on a completely different meaning for me. I realized that God was trusting me with one more soul even though I did not do a goodenough job with the first 4 children.
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Vally: The greatest difference in the world is the difference between male and female. And Pope John Paul II declares that all the confusion and sin in the world is linked to man’s attempt to obliterate this difference. Yes, when women get themselves sterilized permanently (tubectomy) or temporarily (by using contraceptives) they become like men – incapable of getting pregnant. The womb is made barren by desecration. Our contraceptive acts are a slap in God’s face. Since woman symbolizes humanity in her openness to God’s plan, sterilization declares that we do not wish to be the bride of Christ. John Kippley, has likened contraception to receiving our Lord in Holy Communion and spitting out the sacred Host in the next instant. This is sacrilege! Just before communion, the priest prays: “Let it not bring me condemnation but health in mind and body”. In practicing contraception, are we not heaping terrible condemnation on ourselves and our future generations? Anna: We pray for women to respect their bodies and treat their wombs as a holy place. We pray for men to respect women, treating them with the dignity they deserve and to guard their eyes even when severely tempted. A group of men called the E5 men (named after Ephesians 5) fast on bread and water on the first Wednesday of every month for their brides whom they have hurt consciously and unconsciously. They also fast on any other Wednesday for the sins they have committed against other women. To join this international group of men, visit E5men.org. --Valentine and Anna Coelho,“BE-ATTITUDES”2414628 / 9850489544
JUSTICE FOR WOMEN Fr Nelson Lobo OFM cap
BETI BACHAO…FOR WHOM? Has anything changed after Nirbaya?
First it was Nirbaya now it is Asifa; the two sensational rape cases in India. The main stream Media and the social media have given enough coverage to these two cases. Unfortunately all the rape victims (the number could be in millions) in India do not get such coverage and therefore neither moral support nor justice is meted out to them. When people come on streets during such times, sympathy towards the victim and its family and hate towards the rapist is generated. Such strong social protest sometimes compels the police to jump into action and start working on the case. If the police neglect their duty or the politicians interfere the NGOs or the family of the victim are then forced to demand justice towards the victim and punishment to the victimizer. But the question is can justice really be done? Life time in jail or death sentence for the rapist and monetary
compensation even if it is in lakhs (for the victim) can it be called justice? Hamurabis code of eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth is a poor replacement for justice. However some justice is better than nothing. It will at least reduce future crimes. Worldly justice does not take into account lifelong trauma and the fear of the victim. The Choked Tears: Nirbaya and Asifa received international attention and moral support (Justice is a question mark). In both the cases people demanded death penalty for the rapists. What about the ‘silent’ rapes that are taking places in their very homes, on their first dates after their engagements? Out of shame and social stigma girls and women do not report such cases. They too have “Me-Too” stories but no unbiased platform to share. I myself have heard stories about girls being
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sexually abused by their fathers or uncles or cousins and wives being raped by their husbands or the friends of the husband. Who will give justice to these silent choked tears? 93 rape cases everyday in India. 95% the offender is known to the victim. The very people who are supposed to be protectors turn out to be monsters. The fear of the female many times is not outside on the dark street rather under the very roof of their houses. If you are caught you are a rapist. And that too someone has to prove in the court that you are a rapist. If your crimes go unnoticed you are a saint. That’s the way of the world. That’s the limitation of our legal system. How many men are innocent lambs outside their door but ferocious wolves waiting to devour inside it. Religion and Common Sense: For us Indians the religious structures are much more important than human beings. Sometimes in our religiosity we forget our humanity; Cows on the pedestal human beings on guillotine, cows should be fed humans can starve; Menstrual blood a taboo in religious structures but a rape is not, communalize the issue forget the justice. This is India. This happens only in India. A so called terrorist state gives death penalty to a rapist but a secular state harasses the victim. In the case of Asifa, the lawyers and the police the two important institutions of a country who are supposed to defend the law and order in the country extends support to the
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rapists. It’s not for nothing Voltaire (some say Mark Twain) said common sense is not so common. The national feeling is when a little 8 years old child is raped and murdered how these guys (lawyers and police and politicians) support the rapist? Is that common sense? When the choice is crystal clear what to support and whose side to take they take a stand that does not appeal to common sense. Only those with common sense can truly respect humanity. Politicians and Inhumanity: Politicians have common sense. They know the truth. They know what needs to be done in cases of crimes. They have the power to take action. They can give so called ‘justice’ to the victim. But they will not. For them political advantage and mileage is much more important than justice to the victim. It’s very interesting to note that even women in politics holding important public offices turn a deaf ear when such brutal crimes happen. The political mantra is to oppose the ruling government, politicize women issues and after election when they become part of the ruling government, turn a blind eye to the same issues. Therefore it’s important to vote for those politicians who are married and who have children who understand and sympathise when poor parents have to face such inhuman trauma when their girls are being raped and murdered. Rape and Sexual Pleasure: Are all the rapes happening because boys and men are crazy for sex? Are rapes
happening because girls and women are wearing provocative dresses? Psychologists suggest various reasons for sexual assault. Some rapists rationalize rape saying “when a woman says no, she really means yes”; blaming the girl/woman for drinking too much, for not shouting “no” loud enough, for not physically resisting their advances, for flirting with them or for their previous sexual history. Negative views about women lead some perpetrators towards violent behavior. They think and believe that females were created only to satisfy males. Not only satisfy them but also entertain them so for them a female is a toy to be played with; But what about child rape? The Indian Mentality: A couple of years ago a woman whom I knew was coming home late in the evening on her bike. It was not later than 9 pm. She was a few hundred feet away from reaching her house when she was attacked by two unknown men. Serious head injury left her in the pool of blood on the road. Thankfully a Good Samaritan was passing by who alerted the neighbours. When I inquired about this incident with another lady the victim’s acquaintance she said “Father, it is her fault. Why did she come home late?” In another words Indian mentality too falls short of common sense. The traditional Indian mind is to blame the victim. Whether it is a date rape or a brutal rape blaming the Indian nari is the quick fix solution of Indian mind. It’s shocking to know that the so called ‘educated’ minds hold on to such stupid beliefs. Yes! women’s brains are wired differently. They think and act differently. But can
men by making girls/women scapegoat for all their limitations and weaknesses be excused? Is being born without a ‘pendulum’ a curse in India? For centuries parents preferred boys. Girl child even before she saw the light of the day was axed in the mother’s womb. With this in mind prime minister called on the nation with a slogan ‘beti bachao…beti padao’. Today with so many rape cases happening we need to rephrase the question ‘Beti…Bachao for whom’? Was ‘Beti Bachao…’ a slogan or a warning? If the government can change currency overnight and introduce new tax system in such a short period can’t that same government provide safe environment to India’s daughters? If the Indian government has the guts to challenge terror states to attack us doesn’t that same government have the nerve to challenge the rapists? Are not rapists terrorists who instill fear in the hearts of our girls & women? It’s not for nothing they say where there is will there is way. Lack of political will (to create safe environment for our daughters and mothers and sisters) is a clear writing on the wall. Has anything changed after Nirbaya? Yes! Regrettably for the worse, for rapes have not declined. How come? Politicians, Police officers and lawyers are all hand in glove with each other. Modern man has learnt to fly in the sky like Eagles and dive in the ocean like dolphins. Sadly he has not yet learnt how to live on earth like humans.
The writer is a Franciscan Capuchin priest of Goa province based at Shanti Niwas Cuncolim, Goa. He has authored six books, gives motivational talks and retreats. April - June 2018
SILENT FIGHTERS Danuska Da Gama
Violence against women
Respect your women, violence is cowardly Women in India have always been on the receiving end in terms of violence. It’s an open secret that here women can be beaten up by the men in their lives – husbands, fathers, brothers and sometimes boyfriends. In some communities young boys grow up believing that violence against women is acceptable.
Domestic violence has physical, mental, emotional and psychological effects besides being a violation of basic human rights. Violence at home against a woman is an open secret in India and in many other countries too. However, many countries in the west have begun working towards providing relief to victims. Though India has also identified domestic violence as a crime and provides relief and protection to victims, what sets it apart from many other countries is the silence that surrounds the act of domestic violence. Fortunately, while there are those who believe that ‘when a man resorts to violence, he does it out of care, concern or protection,’ there are many women who refuse to take violence sitting down. The study ‘Masculinity, Intimate Partner Violence and Son Preference in India’ by UNFPA and International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW) in 2014 revealed that about 60 per cent men admitted to using violence in asserting their dominance over their intimate
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partners in the seven-state study. Uttar Pradesh and Odisha have the highest incidence of such violence at 75 per cent followed by Punjab and Haryana at 43 per cent and Maharashtra at 37 per cent. It is sad to know Goa has similar cases and that no one says or does anything -- not because they are scared, but simply because it is either an everyday affair or something that women have just learnt to accept and suffer (many don’t even think they are suffering). Our women don’t mind taking a beating. They don’t stand up against the violence meted out to them. Why? The Silent Fighters A psychiatrist associated with a mental health foundation in Goa attributes various factors to the growing problem. He says: “Especially in the Indian context there is a clear bias in the relationship between man and wife. The Indian society is predominantly patriarchal. Traditionally, there are stringent gender roles wherein the woman is subordinate to the man.” Issues such as, religion (wherein the husband is the primary upholder of the dharna), practices like sati and dowry, and a more stringent prescription for marriage in women are all linked to lowering the status of women
in society. Because of this the primary duty of the woman is unfortunately defined to be ‘subservient /loyal to her husband, his family and her children’. He goes on to explain that with this background very often a woman with a traditional mindset devalues herself allowing herself to be abused; often accepting it as her fate and karma. A woman sees herself as the nurturer/binder of her family and hence often refuses to speak up lest she be the one to break down the family and destroy its name. She sacrifices self respect and dignity to do the ‘right’ thing. In some traditions, women accept that they are supposed to be beaten by their husbands to help them relieve their stress. Traditionally, man is recognised as the primary upholder of the dharna, the main recipient of all ritual honours and is considered superior to his wife who holds a subordinate position. The vedas suggest that a woman’s primary duty is to help her husband in performing obligatory duties and enable him to continue his family tradition. It is the cultural mindset about women that has allowed the problem to spread across communities, irrespective of economical or educational background. The ‘superiority’ of men versus ‘inferiority’ of women (both within private spaces like the family, and public spaces like the workplace) coupled with ‘public’ domestic violence in the form of honour killings, community courts and the myth of male marginalisation used to support withdrawal of progressive legislation (like reservations) is a major reason why women don’t mind being beaten up. Women think it’s absolutely okay considering it a part of their fate.
It is also to do with the patriarchal attitudes that still govern our life, family, community and society. A patriarchal society ensures the supremacy of male by socially legitimising all forms of violence against women. Insecure men feel they are in control when they beat women. As children if they have seen violence in their homes they think that is the norm and thus expect women to conform to what their mothers and sisters have endured. In Goa, there are also those children who have been beaten by their fathers or have felt helpless when their mothers were beaten who then grow up to seek revenge. This phenomenon of physically abusing women is seen across cultures. It is the relationship between the man and woman which determines to what extent she is willing to accept abuse. Besides, the other reasons why women remain silent about the issue is low self esteem, dependency, both financial and emotional, children, religious beliefs and mental illness. I think the problem lies in gender inequality and discrimination against women as a weak sex. Economic stress is also a major factor where a man’s belief in their own abilities is threatened which leads them to be more controlling and violent towards their partners. On the other hand, it could also be the mindset of the perpetrator and supporters of violence which is where the problem lies. Wives and girlfriends, in the beginning, feel that it is because their partner loves them or is trying to correct them for the wrong they have done that they are hitting them. This, unfortunately, is something that is taught to girls at home by parents and relatives. They are subconsciously trained to be submissive to
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violence. Very often, they are made to believe that the man cares and he has a right to exercise control over them. Many women donâ€™t want to come out in the open to take their husband/ partner to task. It is not because they really donâ€™t want to but due to other factors such as social stigma, being ridiculed by society, taken advantage of, loss of residence or economic destitution. If there are children, the problem only gets heightened by further responsibilities, including the guilt of taking the children away from the abusive father. Time to Put a Stop Domestic violence is against the law. However, implementation of the law has to take place to ensure prevention of such violence. Sabina Martins informs us that in Goa there have been numerous instances when violence has actually stopped, but not without the police playing an important role. It was noticed that when the police have been stern with perpetrators, women have reported that the beating had actually stopped. However, there are also times when police side with the accused for obvious reasons. This leads to the accused getting emboldened which thus leads to further violence, for he now uses violence as a means of revenge to teach the woman a lesson and condition her mind that no amount of complaining will help her. With the current law, the systems collapse in the absence of honest, sincere and sensitive
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people who have the skills and efficiency. It fails further when there is no political will to provide infrastructure, budget and adequate powers to safeguard women citizens who are beaten day in and out for no rhyme or reason. In Goa Bailancho Saad is working to prevent such issues of domestic violence and beating. They have been trying to have meetings with authorities to prevent such violence in the state. A recent meeting with the Director of Women and Child Welfare along with BDOs, organisations and service providers was quite fruitful where suggestions have been provided. However, there will be no support for women in such situations from the political class as there is no political will to solve the problem. Ultimately, it all comes to education or economic prosperity. First, enabling boys to change their attitude and behaviour can help improve gender equality. There is a need to coerce boys to work together with girls so that it can hasten the change in norms and do away with stereotypes. Thus by understanding the consequences of their actions boys will get motivated to develop the much needed skills to manage relationships. Besides, engaging boys also impacts gender stereotypes and power dynamics at community level. Tactfully positioning boys as role models in preventing, stopping and ultimately ending harmful practices can have positive outcomes. Danuska is a journalist and a teacher, loves to write about society, gender, folklore and culture.
SHE CAN BE STRONG Pranjali Dessai
Who I was, I am & will be… The history of women in India has been eventful. Women, from the beginning of civilization, have been looked down upon. In ancient civilizations, women were considered as deities or goddesses. Ironically, in those same places women are being mistreated and disrespected. Women had to fight each and every step, of the way, for acceptance and respect. The status of women in India has been subject to many great changes over the last few centuries. Being a woman was never easy, nor will it be. Growing up I have always seen my mother manage our family so well. She was an example of beauty, grace, love, care, simplicity, concern and tenderness. She was efficient and well organized in whatever she did; and she did it alone. But if one of us attempted carrying out even one of her chores by ourselves, it would be a total disaster. She never referred to herself as an independent or strong woman. We didn’t think of her as one too just because she did not earn money. For us she was never the ideal woman.
Women’s role in society has changed a lot from what it was a while ago more women are moving out of their homes to work, and many girls are graduating from colleges, today. I am part of that generation which worships the ideal woman. The “ideal” woman of our age is glamorous, sophisticated, aggressive, powerful, outspoken, career-minded, independent, self-sufficient, and sensuous. She is not dependent on any one and needs nothing. She is in control of her own life, as well as the people and circumstances around her. We picture strident, angry women
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marching for their rights and equal pay as the ideal type. On the other hand, we imagine a “non-ideal woman” to be a mousy, helpless, timid, dull, utterly incapable, non-thinking robot—a lifestyle I avoided at all costs. And so I started walking around with an ‘I don’t care’ expression. I even got myself a haircut to give myself that aggressive ‘do not mess with me’ look. I went bald because I wanted to look and feel empowered. I wanted to be one of the men so that I don’t have to compromise my opportunities. The biggest obstacle in women empowerment is the mindset that there is a need to compare men and women. What I learnt was that women are very different from men. Having long hair does not make her weak. The truth is women are vastly different from men, not only physiologically, but also emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually. Womanhood is a gift to be treasured, valued, and received with gratitude. But it is a privilege that comes with certain inescapable responsibilities. Those responsibilities are rooted in the purpose of being a woman. A woman who understands and appreciates her history, her health, her mind and her body will not accept any form of abuse whether psychological or physical. Education has made women more independent and active. Today women in India are supported and encouraged to participate in fields such as sports, politics, media, education, science and technology. But it saddens me to see even today, well educated women not standing up against their abusive partners. This is because she has been taught to endure pain, told that, however successful she becomes, without a man, she is
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incomplete. Her husband, even though jobless and dependent on wife, will always have the upper hand with her. Every Indian woman has experienced some sort of sexual harassment or physical harassment at some stage of her life. One of the reasons I tried acting and looking like a man was to avoid getting harassed or abused by other men or women for that matter. Sexual harassment has become one of the most serious issues in the Indian community in both rural and urban areas. Some of the sexual harassments that are common in India are eve teasing, molestation and rape. These are faced by Indian women in their everyday lives. Physical harassment is one of the reasons for India ranking low on the gender inequality index. These crimes are perpetrated on women to prove the masculinity of men. In spite of so many laws, women still continue to live under stress and strain. Women should be loved, but not like objects. Women need to be understood as well. Today’s woman should be able to lift her veil and see her real face in the mirror of society. She can look hardcore and aggressive but be soft and timid. She can be both, or better yet, she can be whatever she wants to be. She might work and earn money or be a homemaker. She deserves a prominent place and respect for what she is, and what she does. Overall, women have proved themselves in the past, in the present, and have the mindset to do so in the future. I would like to end with a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt, “A woman is like a tea bag- you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” Pranjali is a student of BSW at Don Bosco College, Panjim
TEACH THEM YOUNG Sr Melissa D’Souza FMA
Respecting Women begins at Home
I recall viewing a very touching video on You tube on the topic ‘Respecting woman begins at home’. A couple along with their little girl go to wish their neighbour on her birthday. There, after sweetly wishing the woman, the girl proceeds to play with the son of the family. Both kids were quite small and surely didn’t understand anything of marriage, violence or the like. While the parents of both the girl and the boy were immersed in their conversation about ‘the kids of the modern generation’, they were surprised when their little ones interrupted them saying that they want to get married. All this sounded quite humorous to the parents, who further questioned their kids on what they would do after getting married. And the boy began, “I will get ready every morning, and she will give me my bag. I will then go to office and earn a lot of money”. The parents found this ‘So cute’ and amusing. The girl’s father further questioned, “And what will you do after returning home?” And the boy innocently went on, “I will beat her”. The parents were shocked and put down their heads in shame. There was silence…But the boy went on, “Then I will slam the door and go to sleep”. Here the girl interrupted, “No, no, I will bring the plate with food and you will throw it away”. The boy sweetly replied, “Okay”.
Don’t you think this is today’s reality? Our children learn disrespect for women from their own families. There may be the mother who gives more importance to the boy of the family just because he is the heir and will carry on the name of the family. Or just because the girl will go to another family with dowry. Or there may be the father who ill treats his wife, and abuses her either physically or sexually. What can be the impact of this on innocent growing kids? Most of them grow up with the understanding that this is the way it should be. In many of our families today, we consider it ‘normal’ that the woman does all the house work, that she rests less than the man, that she prepares food or tea for the man even when she comes home tired, that she always should be the first to rise and the last to sleep. Why? Why is it that the woman is treated like the servant of the family? Isn’t the man and the woman ‘One’, with equal dignity and equal rights? Recently a woman of almost seventy years of age shared with me her sad and touching story. She had gone for shopping along with her daughter who was soon to get married and reached home at 10 pm. She said, “Sister, can you imagine, neither my husband nor my daughter stepped into the kitchen to get the dinner ready. Though exhausted, I had to go to the kitchen and prepare dinner”... Don’t
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you think this is ridiculous? This behavior is surely inhuman and insensitive. It is very important today to teach all couples preparing for marriage that they are ‘EQUAL’. There is no job that only the man or only the woman should do. As companions, as partners, as equal both can help in the household chores without allowing ‘only one’ to be pressurized. No doubt, there can be an understanding about the jobs, but this should always be accompanied with mutual respect and love. Furthermore, parents SHOULD always remember that their children learn or imitate them and hence need to be extra careful in their dealings with each other especially in front of their kids. I liked the idea given by a wife to her husband, “Disagreements between us are bound to happen, but let us have our discussions and fights after the kids sleep”.
inculcated at home. I know of so many women that are beaten by their husbands and stay quiet about it. Their children mutely look on and it becomes an almost acceptable reality since the father is never punished for his actions. The children grow up and beat their partners or accept being beaten up because it is a familiar and un-punishable behaviour. Respect towards women is something the parents have to inculcate in their children in the firmest possible manner and also leading by example. Tell them that no matter what the provocation, raising a hand on a woman is unacceptable and it will always be condemned and severely punished, never condoned. If you are the victim of domestic violence, put an end to it now, because such men need to be taught tough lessons that unfortunately, their parents failed to teach them.”
I came across this small article of Pooja Bedi dated December 30, 2012, written after the terrifying Nirbhaya rape case entitled ‘Have you taught your child to respect women?’. Though written years ago, its contents are valid even today...after we have recently heard the atrocious rape and murder of little Asifa. Pooja Bedi writes, “We were all shocked by the brutal gang rape of the girl in Delhi and followed the news with rising anger and horror. With the news of her death, we all experienced incredible sadness and our hearts went out to her parents that have lost their beloved girl in the most horrific and tragic manner. Society tearfully watches on, but how many parents have sat their children down and discussed this case, discussed violence against women, the repercussions of it and a zero tolerance attitude towards it? Rapists aren’t aliens, they are born to women and families, and respect or disrespect to women is
Let me conclude with another short film that had a strong impact on me. The film talks about how boys are taught at every stage of their lives that “Boys don’t cry.” The way the film unfolds, we see boys at each stage from infants to elementary school kids to teens to college students, all being given the same message: that boys don’t cry. In the end however, the film takes an unexpected twist, when you see a man, physically abusing a woman who is badly bruised and is seen crying bitterly. It’s then that Madhuri Dixit appears on screen and says, “From the beginning, we teach boys not to cry. Perhaps it time we taught them not to make others cry”.
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The safety of our girls and women is in ‘OUR HANDS’. Sr Melissa is a Salesian nun belonging to the Mumbai province, working at Caranzalem, Goa
STRIVE TO BE BETTER Nandini Cardozo
Respect for Values
Good Values Earn Respect You may be an Nobel winner, a sports champion, president of a large company –– or even the leader of a nation. But none of this automatically entitles you to respect.
Just because you’re famous and we’re members of your fan club, or we wish we could walk in your shoes for a day, doesn’t mean that we respect you. Some people believe that because they’re rich, powerful, or famous, they deserve our respect — regardless of their behavior. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. That Good values earn respect. How to Gain Good values and Respect of Others and yourself So, how do you earn the respect of others? It’s easy to respect someone who displays the following qualities: Authenticity. You are proud of who you are and what you stand for. You’re neither intimidated by someone else’s opinion nor worried about what people think of you. You don’t play games, have a personal “agenda,” or pretend to be someone you’re not., so refreshing. Knowledge. You might be very smart, but you don’t give the appearance of being a know-
it-all. You’re curious about the world around you, eager to learn, and hungry to improve yourself. Integrity. You have high ethical values and are true to your beliefs. You follow the spirit of the law, not because you signed an agreement or are afraid of being caught, but because it’s the right thing to do — and that’s good enough reason for you. Honesty. Your life is an open book because you have nothing to hide. You’re passionate about being straightforward, and you’re happy to deliver good news without sugarcoating the bad. You don’t make promises lightly. In fact, your promise is as binding as a contract. Fairness. You believe in building long-term relationships rather than settling for short-term gains. You strive for win-win relationships, knowing that if a solution isn’t evenhanded, no one wins. Tolerance. You are receptive to ideas, beliefs, and cultures other than your own. In the process, you always try to evaluate all sides of an issue rather than forcing your personal opinion on others. Humility.
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achievements, comfortable in your own skin, and quietly proud. You shift your focus from taking to giving, from talking about yourself to listening to others, and from hoarding the credit to distributing the praise. Selflessness. You give to others because you want to, not because you expect anything in return. You believe that your kindness helps to build trust, strengthen relationships, and enhance everyone’s sense of self-worth — not to mention, adding to your karma. Compassion. You go out of your way to treat others kindly even though you’ve reached the top of your game. You remember your roots and give credit to everyone who helped you along the way. You bring out the best in people in an effort to make everyone feel special, and you help those in need of a break. Personal responsibility. You take charge of your life rather than feeling that the world owes you something. You set your goals high, make the commitment and sacrifice required to succeed, and accept the consequences of your choices. Of course, if things go south, you don’t play the blame game or fall back on excuses — you remain positive and steadfast. Quality Associations. You are vigilant about the people with whom you surround yourself, knowing that you win or lose respect based on the company that you keep. Good values and Respect begins with you You may be able to fool others, but you can’t fool yourself. If you want self-respect it’s important to set high standards, remain true to your beliefs and values, listen to your conscience, and never stop trying until you
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do yourself proud. Sure, you’ll make mistakes and you may even fail along the way. But at least you’ll know, in your heart, that you gave it your best effort and you lived your life the right way. And that has self-respect written all over it. Now, think about the people with whom you come into contact each day. Some of those folks demand respect because of their age, wealth, or position. Others feel entitled to respect because they’re popular, have a big office, or because they’ve won awards. And still others think that everyone deserves respect regardless of their actions. The truth is, many of them don’t even respect themselves. It doesn’t matter whether you’re young or old, rich or poor, work on the top floor or down in the basement, everyone earns respect the same way. You can’t acquire respect or demand it. You can’t cut deals or take shortcuts. You can’t buy respect or even place a price tag on it. And that’s because respect is priceless. Earn it every day! And so do Good values. Respect Creates Harmony If we would all attain the appropriate level of self-respect, have and show respect for all others, and live so others will respect us, the world would be a harmonious place to live. There would be no hatred, no violence and no wars. Indeed, we would live in a world of peace. Nandini is a school counsellor. She loves working with young and strives to make a difference in their lives
LOVE AND RESPECT Valentine D’Souza
Growing with Respect
Diogo and Rita were a devout, conservative Goan couple who had two beautiful sons, David and Mario. They raised them in the traditional Goan way and the sons acquired the authentic Goan flavour. The sons grew up, got married and brought home their wives. The younger son Mario settled abroad and raised his family in alien surroundings. On David rested the responsibility, of the extended family of father, mother, wife and his only son Brian.
How do we treat our daughters? Many families value their sons more than their daughters to varying degrees. The difference is subtle and it affects the girl making them less confident, subservient and with a feeling of being unloved. This often leads to a low self esteem. In adolescent years these girls easily fall into unhealthy relationships.
On Brian’s second birthday, David called all the family and the neighbours together for a birthday party. His neighbour Keith brought his one year old daughter Kaira along and she looked like a little doll in a flowery pink dress. Diogo instinctively reached out to the little girl and took her in his arms in a tight embrace. Little Brian called out “Papa! Put her down she is a girlie ! Innocuous it may seem, but already the little boy is learning to believe that girls are to be treated differently. Different they are, but no less than boys and should be shown the same respect, the same dignity and the same equality. 50 SANGATI
This attitude carries on even when the son brings home a wife. Oh! How we fuss over the son, his needs and his desires. But the daughter in law? She ranks lower than the children she bore, nursed a n d
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nurtured. Haven’t we heard the line “I am not asking you, I am asking my son! This tells it all, do we need to know more? Boys will learn to respect girls if they see it done at home. The way we respect our mothers, our wives, and daughters and daughter in law too, will show our young growing boys the way to respect the girls in their company and society at large. When a father storms out of the house if “the fish curry” is not to his liking and comes back in the evening all worked up and angry, it will not do the woman of the house any good but she will fall in the esteem of her children to the detriment of the family. If the daughters are taught to be “Pom Pom girls” with no interior values, no moral compass, no strength of character, they will never be able to be enlightened mothers or carers capable of bringing up responsible children.
So what is the bottom line? Treat every woman with respect. Teach every woman that she should be loved and respected and not objectified and abused. The future of our world lies in the way we treat our women. No race can be really strong and progressive whose women are abused, subdued and exploited. For it is she, who will bring up, nurture and educate, the men and women of tomorrow. A Roman Catholic Cardinal once said: “Give us the children until they are seven years old, and you can keep them the rest of their lives.” The Cardinal only emphasised that much is learnt in the formative years of children from their mothers, for the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. Valentine is the president of the ADMA in the Salesian province of Panjim
The way the women are treated in society is largely the way society looks at them. If as young girls, daughters are dressed up in noodle straps and short revealing dresses, they will do the same as young women much to the delight of every lecherous man.
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OH MY INDIA Neil Fernandes SDB
A Perfect Response & Deterrent of Violence It disappoints me to see our own species kill innocent people, for yet another time in such a brutal way. My mind is in a state of shock, and my eyes are filled with tears when I see the television replay the same news feed over and over again, pushing the blame of the rapes on various people. Iâ€™m tired of seeing people, people that were kind, people that were just out and about or doing what they love, being violated and killed. In light of the recent events, India is soon becoming a country that is being considered unsafe for women. We cannot let that happen and need to do something about it. In the first book of the Bible, when God created woman, he created her from the side of man. He did not create her from the head or the foot but from the side. This means God created man and woman to be equals. We began with two, and expanded to many, producing more and more until we were truly the new species in an old world. Human is what we call ourselves. We have our ways of expressing anger, happiness and love, like any other animal. But what makes us different from animals is our humanity. However, we forget that. We say that we learn from our mistakes. We have passed through two world wars, a brutal cold war. I guess we should have learnt to respect humans by now, but no. We are slow learners. We still need to learn how to respect our fellow human beings. In India, women are
raped instead of being treated as our sisters. In 2012 Jyoti Singh Pandey went out with her male friend for a movie and was returning by bus. Some men on seeing a boy and a girl together in the night felt that this was inappropriate, so they took matters in their own hands. They battered the boy and then brutally gang raped the girl, so much so that a few days later she succumbed to the rape injuries. Hundreds of people took to the streets to protest against such an act. Women, men, both young and old, all were present. India promised a lot to help rape victims. Women saw a beacon of hope that they would be less at risk of sexual violence and harassment because of the jolt to the national conscience from a case that shook the country to its core. But, today women are just as vulnerable as before. Their daily lives are still ruled by fear. This fear is magnified after Asifa, an eight year old girl was brutally gang raped and murdered by some goons. Instead of receiving help, the family was chased from their home. Is this how we treat our own fellow countrymen? I feel ashamed and so should all other Indians. In India, sad to say, crime is no longer seen as it is, but as a means to blame another political party for not taking proper measures. The last time, a rape which shook the country was politicised. The ruling party was blamed. Now, once again, when a rape has left us in shock, the politicians and leaders are busy
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blaming each other and showing no sympathy to the bereaved family. It appears that for our leaders, votes are more important than the person who votes. But, before looking at the politicians, we, the common people, need to change our ways of looking at women. We want an India which is on par with the western ‘more advanced’ countries. Technologically, we are arriving there, but in terms of respect for the opposite sex, we are far behind. This is mainly because of a conflict between tradition and modernity. The regressive attitude towards women is rooted in our deeply traditional and conservative culture, in which women are considered to embody a family’s or community’s honour. The clothes she wears, the places she visits, at what time, with whom, all this must be controlled lest she brings dishonour to the family. I’m not against our culture, but I feel that it is a bit orthodox. If we want progress, we need to be open to modernity. We can’t just keep blaming girls, for dressing badly, for their own rape. It’s like giving the rapists a good reason to rape. Can’t we control our hormones? Forget about girls who wear scanty dresses which show a lot of skin, what about infants who are raped? Are they, too, scantily dressed? I’m not putting down India and raising up the west. They, too, have their share. The Harvey Weinstein incident took the world by surprise. It started with a single voice but then ended up giving life to #metoo campaign wherein women, from all over the globe took courage to say that they have been defiled. Weinstein and others used their power and influence to sexually molest, not only the common woman, but those of high reputation. Women actors have complained that in order to win a role in a movie they have to play nude.
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To what do we owe this behaviour? Experts say that the number of rapes and rapists have arisen as an after effect of the viewing of pornography. Pornography is a fast growing business wherein men and women have just sold their bodies. But, to what end? It is just a means to pacify a person’s pain, the pain of emptiness. Their hearts are empty and wanting for love. They have not received it from the proper source and are now forcing it out from other. When we fail to treat others with love, I feel, we may be, creating the rapists of tomorrow. According to the words of the song ‘Photograph’ by Ed Sheeran, “Loving can hurt... but it’s the only thing that makes us feel alive... Loving can heal... Loving can mend your soul.” To love is difficult. We need to make a lot of sacrifices in love. To love is to will the good of the other. So, when we love, we are actually helping a person to live a life of love. If we love one another we can change the world for the better. Jesus Himself told us, “Love one another as I have loved you,” and “Love your neighbour as yourself.” He, too, emphasised on the need to love the other. If this world is filled with love, I feel it will be a better place, as the words of another song goes thus, “Love changes everything.” I will end with the words of King T’Challa from the movie ‘Black Panther.” “We will work to be an example as how we as brothers and sisters on this earth should treat each other. Now more than ever, the illusions of divisions run in our very existence. More connects us than separates us. In times of crisis, the wise build bridges and the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another.” Neil is a Salesian studying at Divyadaan, a Salesian Philosophy Institute in Nashik
MARRIED SAINT Joanne D’Souza
THANK YOU MOM
Among all the relationships in the world the relationship between the mother and the child is the most beautiful one. It has always amazed me to think about the extent a mother can go for the well being of her child. Sometimes it surpasses all reason and meaning. St. Gianna Beretta Molla is a wonderful example of a mother’s true selfless love. She was an Italian paediatrician who lived and worked in Italy and was the mother of three children. In 1961, while expecting her fourth child the doctors discovered that she had developed a fibroma in her uterus, meaning she was carrying both tumor and baby.
After examination, the doctors gave her three choices: an abortion, which would save her life and allow her to continue to have children, but take the life of the child she carried; a complete hysterectomy, which would preserve her life, but take the unborn child’s life, and prevent further pregnancy; or removal of only the fibroma, with the potential of further complications, which could save the life of her baby. Gianna made a heroic choice; she chose the surgery to remove the fibroma, the option with the best chance to save the life of her unborn child– even though it was the option that put her own life the most at risk.
After the operation, complications continued throughout her pregnancy, but Gianna spent the remainder of her pregnancy with an unparalleled strength and insistent dedication for her tasks as a mother and a doctor. A few days before the baby was to be born, Gianna prayed the Lord take any pain away from the child. She recognized she may lose her life during delivery, but she was ready. Gianna was quite clear about her wishes, expressing to her family, “If you must decide between me and the child, do not hesitate: choose the child. I insist on it. Save the baby.” On April 21, 1962, Gianna Molla successfully delivered a baby by a Caesarean section. The doctors tried many different treatments and procedures to ensure both lives would be saved. However, on April 28, 1962, a week after the baby was born, Gianna passed away from septic peritonitis. Gianna was beatified by Pope John Paul II on April 24, 1994, and officially canonized as a saint on May 16, 2004. Her husband and their children, including Gianna Emanuela, attended her canonization ceremony, making this the first time a husband witnessed his wife’s canonization. She is the patron saint of mothers, physicians and unborn children and her feast is celebrated on April 28.
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The fact that St. Gianna chose to save the life of her child over her own is an example of true courage and love. Being a physician herself she was well aware of the impact of her illness and since she was already a mother of three children she would not be without children if she lost this baby; yet she chose to save the life of her daughter over everything else. I work in the District Early Intervention Centre at Mapusa District Hospital where I treat children with cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome, autism and other neuromotor impairments. I have been surprised time and again by the remarkable strength and determination of the mothers who bring their children for therapy. They may not be well educated or connected and sometimes they come from the lowest economic strata but their fierce drive to see their children improve and achieve their milestones pushes them to do anything to help them. Sometimes it means travelling with young children across many kilometres by bus in order to bring them for therapy to me. I remember asking a mother of a child who was severely affected with Cerebral Palsy with profound intellectual disability on how she was coping with her child being this way, was she frustrated that he was unable to do things that other children would do? Isn’t this child be a burden to her? She replied saying that for her child, she herself was his whole world. She did not see him as useless and a burden because
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the love that she receives from her child, who is completely dependent on her is not something that any other child would be able to give. And she was grateful that he was her son. This made me realise that we have to be so grateful for our mothers because they see a potential in us that even we don’t see in ourselves; a potential to better ourselves in every way and reach beyond our limits. As I was contemplating on what I should write for this article I spent a lot of time thinking and reflecting on the impact my own mother has in my life. She gave up her promising career as a teacher to raise my sister and I so that we could be well balanced and secure individuals. I am sure it was a big sacrifice on her part but she has never made us feel responsible for it. Her compassion and kindness has taught me so much in my life and it has shaped me to be the person I am today and for that I will forever be grateful to her. You don’t need a Mother’s day to express your gratitude for your mother and all that she does for you. Never miss a chance to express your thanks to moms because they deserve to hear it. I conclude my article with a note for my own mother: No matter how hard I try, no matter what I do, I would never be able to show you how much I appreciate everything you’ve done for me. You are my hero, you are my strength. Thank You Mother. Joanne is a Physiotheraphist and an ADMA member
INTERVIEW Sharlaine Menezes
Judith Almeida, a public spirited citizen, Secretary of Colva Civic and Consumer Forum, relentlessly fights against the issues of violation of human rights & for the enforcement of environmental laws and regulations in Goa. She spoke to Sharlaine about her work, her passion and her inspiration. 1. Give us a brief overview of your work. My group and I have taken up several issues and filed various PILs connected to the environment before the High Court of Bombay at Goa and National Green Tribunal, and successfully argued the cases in person by obtaining orders and judgements on behalf of the forum with guidance from advocates like Ms Norma Alvares and Adv. Nigel Costa Frias.
under the siege of menâ€™s greed leading to unplanned and immoral development, that my creative talents have intentionally been put on the back burner. My work is my way of giving back to society and the future generations what I am given. If I succeed in empowering even one, I would feel it was worthwhile.
2. What inspired you to become an activist? My Dad inspired me when it came to rights and my Mum when it came to the environment. They have taught me gender equality and to stand against injustice. I was never exposed to division of class, caste and gender, realisation of its existence dawned on me in the fifth decade of my life. 3. What are you most passionate about? I become passionate about whatever I do, because it is a decision I make with responsibility. My Creator has blessed me with many natural gifts of creative talents. I can work successfully at anything I set my mind to. It is only that having committed to the issues of the Environment, which is presently 56 SANGATI
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4. What in actuality your work entail? My work involves a lot of reading & research, filing applications under the RTI, follow ups, complaints to various authorities of violations, collection of data/information, if any, available to prepare for the PILs filed, sharing information, spreading awareness, guiding people who defend their villages against violations, liaising with govt. officials to execute orders, take action to stop violations and join protests against violations. 5. What challenges do you face? The challenge is always to get the government departments to act in a fair and independent manner. They themselves have to face the challenge to work objectively and independently due to constant interference from politicians and other influential persons. There are some officials who are, by their actions corrupt, it is easy to find them out, sending a common man to them to address their problems is the give away. Whilst I believe and have met several honest officials who would prefer to execute the laws/rules/ regulations laid down, they have the sword of the selfish and self centred politicians to endure and deal with which actually hinders good governance. It is a constant process to plan and devise ways to use the laws and work within the system to address issues. There is also the challenge of the people with vested interests that create hurdles in issues of public interest.
It is important to gain knowledge of the issues by reading, attending workshops, interacting with experts of various disciplines connected to them. The learning process is continuous and unending. When working in public interest, one must at all times remain focused on the cause, understand that there will be various forms of concerted attempts to intimidate, character assassinate and create unnecessary hurdles by the opposition to slow down seeking justice. It is very important to take a step back, analyse and find ways to move forward. Remain objective, never take things said to you personally, being patient at all times is crucial when seeking Truth and Justice. It helps to keep the focus. Setbacks must never deter, infact they are stepping stones to achievement if only one will give experience a chance. My personal bedrock is to solidly do what I do with unconditional love towards the cause, be spiritually strong with a connect to oneâ€™s inner being that goes a long way in achieving any goal one sets for oneself. Sharlaine is a Mass Communication student of Don Bosco College Panjim, who writes to create awareness in society esp. among the young
6. What are the lessons for the youngsters today who might be embarking on a passion similar to this yours?
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BENAULIM FATORDA LOUTULIM HONNIHALLI ODXEL DABOLIM OROS KUDAL PARRA PALIEM PANJIM SIRSI
DB VTI Quepem begin with a bang
The students from various schools, who had discontinued their formal schooling as well as some who have completed their Std X, found a new lease of life by joining the various skill development courses at Don Bosco Vocational Training Institute (VTI) at Quepem on July 1, 2018. Unlike traditional methodology used in teaching, the electrician trainees at Don Bosco VTI first do project work under the able guidance of their experienced trainer Mario Rodrigues. The electrical course students do all the work which is required to develop their skill and become independent. The Food & Beverage Service course got off to an encouraging start with Taj Exotica Benaulim offering to help in the training of students and offering them on the job training in their reputed resort. They are given the basic rudiments of proper grooming. After the initial hiccups they aligned themselves to the needs of the hospitality industry. The home nursing students were initiated to the basic rudiments of health care. They began with personal hygiene, and soon began handling the instruments for basic health care. They have already been introduced to bed-making and other simple hospital procedures.
Nerur celebrate San Joao
Christ the King Chapel, Nerur, Sindhudurg enthusiastically celebrated the feast of San Joao by gathering together with the Salesian pre-novices, taking a procession through the village, thanking and praying at the cross. They danced wearing the traditional ‘Kopel’. 58 SANGATI
Jackfruit festival at Sulcorna
Nandesh Gaonkar won the first place at the Jackfruit festival organized by Don Bosco College of Agriculture, Sulcorna held at College premises on June 15-16, 2018. The second prize was bagged by Master Amit Kullu and Rohit Devidas picked the third slot. The judging was done by Dattaprasad Desai, Sanjeev Mayekar and Satyavan Desai, all from the Directorate of Agriculture, Goa. Jackfruit product was judged by Ms. Sneha Govekar, Nutritionist at FTC, Ela Farm, Eunice de Sa and Rena Menezes. Asilda Vaz bagged the first place for her Jacada or Jack Fruit Doce; Riya Metri second prize for her Jack Fruit meat Biryani while Kavita Pujari’s Jack Fruit Shake and Bhushan Sawant Dessai’s Jack Fruit Chillie were tied for the third prize. April - June 2018
PINGULI QUEPEM SHIRVA KELMBET SULCORNA SUTGATTI TRASI TUEM CORTALIM GHATAPRABHA TIVIM
Engineering students develop disabled friendly wheelchair & Beach Sand Cleaner
Mechanical Engineering students of Don Bosco College of Engineering, Deepak Kolur, Prashant Gaonkar, Vinay Naik, Saideep Naik and Anay Kalghatgi have developed and tested a prototype of a Disabled friendly wheelchair.The Project was guided by Prof. Swapnil Ramani, Assistant Professor and Prof. Ajit Salunke, HOD Mechanical Engineering Department. The project deals with design and fabrication of disabled friendly wheelchair with features like converting wheelchair into seating to sleeping/standing position, automatic bracing system etc. The system is less power consuming and economical compared to the existing models available in the market. The project was selected for the Second Level Screening of the National level DRDO Robotics and Unmanned Systems Exposition (DRUSE) in April 2018 and won a prize money of Rs.10000/. Kaygun Pereira, Vallon D’Silva, Mark Ferrao, Selvin Pereira and Akshay Phadte have successfully developed and tested a prototype “Beach Sand Cleaning Machine”, under the guidance of Prof. Suraj Marathe. This project aims to eliminate dirt and keep the beach sand clean and thereby reducing time and cost of cleaning.
Kelmbet boys play to build team spirit
Through the help of the games the Bosco Boys of Kelmbet were introduced to the spirit of team building on June 8, 2018.
April - June 2018
DB Hubli PTA meet
Don Bosco School, Sutgatti-Hubli had a PTA meeting on June 23, 2018. After the prayer and introduction, Principal Fr Patrick Dias gave important instructions. Rector Fr Francis Silveira asked parents help to educate children better. Fr Santaremend Lopes also spoke.
Oros Jr College Freshers day
Don Bosco Junior College, Oros organized a freshers welcome party for Std XI batch of 2018-19 on July 2. The purpose of this event is that every ‘fresher’ of Don Bosco feels like an integral part of the Bosconian family and readies to take on challenge of the year ahead. The older students performed cultural shows welcoming the fresh batch students. The campus was reverberated with the songs, skit and other programs.
Counselling skills for Salesian Family
A workshop on Basic Counselling Skills was conducted by Fr. (Dr.) Edison Fernandes on Sunday, July 1, 2018 at Don Bosco, Panjim. Thirty participants comprising Don Bosco teachers and lay members of the Salesian Family attended the training program. The workshop started with Fr. Edison clearly distinguishing between merely giving advice and serious counselling. After highlighting the basic counselling skills, each participant was encouraged to arrive at his own counselling philosophy. The afternoon session was more interactive as each participant had the opportunity to seek a solution to a case example given. The workshop helped the participants to rate the severity of a problem and know how best the client can be helped.
SOUTH ASIA NEWS
6 books released of one author
Release of six books on a single day by a single author, sounds impossible? Dr. Francis Karackat sdb, principal of Don Bosco Arts and Science College Angadikadavu has this rare feat to his kit of accomplishments; 28 titles to his credit so far. In a function held at the Chamber of Commerce in Kannur on June 23, 2018, Prof. Gopinath Ravindran, the Honourable Vicechancellor of Kannur University, released the six new books in Malayalam and handed them to personnel from the mainstream media. Wide-ranging topics like Challenges in Marital Life, Value Based Life Vision, Role of Media and Our Responsibilities, Spiritual Role Models, Students and Teachers, and Safety and Wellbeing of Children, are dealt with in each of the volumes. To the sentiments of admiration and appreciation that several speakers voiced, the author shared that it was not only his passion but his duty to write, and nothing would ever deter him from his mission.
Fr Jose Kuruvachira Don Bosco Centre for Learning wins Gold appointed new part of the selection process for Provincial of Dimapur As World Skills Competition 2019,
The Rector Major, Fr Ángel Fernández Artime, with the consent of his council has appointed the new provincial for the Province of Dimapur, India: Father Jose Kuruvachira. Father Jose Kuruvachira succeeds Father Nestor Guria who is now laying down his office in August 2018, after six years of service. Kuruvachira, currently a professor of Philosophy at the Salesian Pontifical University at Rome, is aged 60. He becomes the 7th Provincial of the Salesian Province of Dimapur which was erected on 8 December 1981.
slated to be held in Delhi in July, seven students from Don Bosco Centre for Learning participated in the Regional Skills Competition, organised by the National Skill Development Corporation India (NSDC) in Jaipur from May 2426.Saifali Khan from St Joseph ITI - Don Bosco Kurla, won Gold in air-condition and heating and will now represent Maharashtra at the national competition. The contestants were asked to prepare a refrigeration unit from scratch and he successf ully completed the task. He was awarded a gold medal and a cash price of 21,000 rupees.
International Gold medals for HSS Tura
The Taekwondo team of Don Bosco Higher Secondary School, Tura did the school and Garo Hills proud by winning 5 gold, 6 silver and 1 bronze medals in the 4th International Kyorugi and 3rd International Taekwondo Poomsae Championship that was held from June 2-4, 2018 in Thimpu, Bhutan. This is the first time that a school team has won medals in an international competition.
Salesian bishop gets Bharat Gaurav Award
A Catholic bishop (Dr.) George Palliparambil of Miao diocese in northeast India was awarded Bharat Gaurav Award at a ceremony held at U.K. House of Commons in British Parliament London on April 13, 2018. ‘’You are one of the iconic personalities of our nation who always encouraged each and every one to bloom into a next idol of tomorrow. You are the pride of our country and we feel privileged to recognize your contribution with Bharat Gaurav Life Time Achievement Award 2018’’, the citation read. April - June 2018
Brazil - Salesian Youth Mission Week
China – Br. Henry Hung: one of the most famous EAO Salesian Brothers
In the Salesian Province of BrazilSão Paulo (BSP) the month of July is characterized by the experience of the Salesian Youth Mission Week. This year around 1050 young people are serving in 26 communities of the country’s various cities, accompanied by their parents, 18 Salesians, 50 Salesians in formation and representatives in charge of Youth Ministry. This project gives young people the opportunity to experience God among the people, through relationships of charity, spirituality and fraternity.
Italy - The relics of “Camerette di Don Bosco”
Italy - In Rome there are the “Camerette di Don Bosco”, the rooms that hosted the Saint of the Youth during his last trip to the capital of Italy, from 30 April to 18 May, 1887. Some of the objects that he used constitute the sign of his presence.
Ethiopia - New opportunities for the future of refugees
She is only 22, but has to take care of four children. Two are hers, two belong to her sister, killed with her husband during the clashes in South Sudan. Nyanthiay took the little ones with her and walked for twenty days to Ethiopia: “I was forced to leave my husband and my mother. My objective was to bring the children to safety, in a safe place where there is no hunger and war.” Nyanthiay is among the more than 17,000 refugees from South Sudan who arrived this year at the Nguenyyiel camp, in the Gambella region, which hosts almost 100,000.
Salesian Brother Henry Hung Lingyeung (1944-1998) was probably among the most prominent and internationally known Salesian Brothers in the East Asia-Oceania (EAO) Region. His specialization in Electronics Engineering, in Turin, Italy, empowered him to serve his “second homeland” in Taiwan (Republic of China) in his mature years.
“Girls with no name”: UN applaud Salesian work in favour of girls
“Misiones Salesianas” - the Salesian Mission Office in Madrid - in collaboration with the “International Mary Help of Christians Institute” (IIMA), “VIDES International” and “Jugendhilfe Weltweit”, organized at the United Nations in New York a side event of the 38th session of the Human Rights Council taking place in Geneva. The goal was to give visibility to the most vulnerable minors who are forced to work as prostitutes to survive, a harsh reality presented in the documentary “Love”. Thanks to the documentary “Love” and the testimony, narrated in a video-message, of a girl who left the streets of Freetown to learn a trade and become a protagonist of her life, the Salesians showed the good practices carried out to steal the girls away from the streets, and the successes that education can offer in countries like Sierra Leone, Benin and India, where child prostitution is widespread. In addition to the young woman’s testimony, at the event entitled “Girls with no name”, experts of the IIMA and VIDES and of the Salesian missionary Fr Jorge Crisafulli, for years active for the most needy minors in Sierra Leone, spoke to the audience on the issue.
April - June 2018
Pope at Mass: exploiting women is a sin against God
Communicating in the network: “this is the problem”
Italy - Carlo Acutis, a model of youthful holiness
Among the four decrees that Pope Francis authorized to promulgate on 5 July, there is also one concerning the heroic virtues of Carlo Acutis, (London, 3 May 1991 - Monza, 12 October 2006), a teenager of our time, similar to many others: busy at school, among friends, a computer enthusiast. At the same time he was a great friend of Jesus and entrusted to the Virgin Mary. Reading his biography we can appreciate the perennial validity of Don Bosco’s pedagogical intuitions.
Carlo Acutis died at 15 years of leukemia; just a few days before, he had offered his life for the Pope and the Church. His mother, Antonia, narrates: “The figure of Carlo can be summarized in this sentence: The Eucharist is my highway to Heaven. My son from an early age, and especially after his First Communion, never missed the almost daily appointment with the Holy Mass and the Rosary, and with a moment of Eucharistic adoration. Despite this intense spiritual life, Carlo lived fully and joyfully his fifteen years, leaving a profound trace in those who knew him.” The Pope’s appeal to “Proclaiming the Gospel of mercy to all peoples ... through the means of communication that the new digital cultural context makes available to our contemporaries” is a great challenge.
Pope Francis condemns violence against women and ‘machismo culture’ in Latin America
The Church continues to take decisive steps in this direction and on 23 June, the creation of the Dicastery for Social Communication was announced, designed to renew the presence of the Holy See in the world of communication. The changes, especially with regard to the digital world, are not limited to the Vatican, but also to all the religious congregations and institutes that announce the Gospel through the media, and even more, we, the Salesians, as evangelizers of the Young people.
Peru’s most dangerous areas.
has denounced femicide and other genderbased crimes that have turned Latin A me r ic a into the most violent place on Earth for women, calling for legislation to protect them and a new cultural mindset as he visited one of
April - June 2018
YOUTH CORNER Jason Coelho SDB
'Girls can do anything’
Poorna Malavath Poorna Malavath, now 16, has known fear only twice in her mountain climbing career. The first was during her maiden attempt at climbing, when she scaled the steep face of Telangana’s Bhongir rock; the second, when she saw the graves of those who had attempted to scale Mt Everest, on her journey to its icy peak. Nevertheless she persisted, becoming the youngest girl to climb Everest at 13 years and 11 planting the Indian tricolour at over 29,000 feet on May 25, 2014. At GQ Men of the Year Awards in Mumbai, Poorna accompanied Rahul Bose who made a film on her incredible journey. She says, “I climbed Everest because I wanted to prove girls could do anything”. Since then Poorna has scaled Elbrus, Europe’s highest mountain, met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and has been the subject of a major motion picture. What makes Poorna’s journey to (literally) the top of the world even more special is that she had to battle just to get to the starting line of the race.
Before she transferred to Telangana Social Welfare Residential Educational Institutions Society (TSWREIS), the teacher of her old school would not allow girls into the class and several of her peers, who did manage to get an education, were pulled out of school and married off upon hitting puberty. As an Adivasi girl born to parents who worked as farmhands in Pakala, Nizamabad, Poorna neither had access to the kind of resources needed for a mountaineering expedition nor the dream to be a part of one at the time. Were it not for the teachers at her new school spotting her athletic prowess (built up by years of volleyball and kabaddi) and her mentor Dr RS Praveen Kumar, the retired IPS officer who has made it his mission to give TSWREIS schools a much-needed makeover, Poorna’s potential might have gone unrealized. It was only when Dr Kumar encouraged her to climb the
Bhongir rock, that marked a turning point in Poorna’s life. The rest is history. And from the looks of it Poorna does not intend to stop making it. Like most mountaineers, Poorna hopes to scale the seven highest summits of the seven continents. “I have done three so far (Everest, Elbrus, Kilimanjaro)” she says. The life of Poorna is a remarkable story. There are two roads that lead to success. One is strength, which is the lot of a few privilege persons and the other is austere perseverance, which is employed by everyone. Many who face failure quit. In a world of competition, failure should make us determined, to work hard and persevere in our endeavour. Success is never ending and failure is never final. Dear young people, Poorna Malavath climbed the Mount Everest, which peak would you want to climb? Jason is the director of the youth services in the province of Panjim
Message of the Rector Major Fr Ángel Fernández Artime
DON’T FORGET TO PRAY FOR US -- this is what they told me in Syria
Damascus and Aleppo has been destroyed and lie in ruins. Many have lost their homes, members of the family or relatives to the bullets and bombings. Yet I experienced in the young DIGNITY, STRENGTH, HOPE, and FAITH. Hundreds of youngsters and animators in the oratory welcomed me in both these places. Salesians and FMAs are constantly at their side. At Damascus, I was touched by a gift I received - a STOLE with words in Arabic 'Don't forget to pray for us'. I am doing this wherever I go. At Aleppo, I received a gift of $ 200 - a veritable treasure collected by the people who themselves have lost everything, to be given to those still poorer then them. I gave it to the oratory at the boarder of Tijuana who received it with joy.