Monday, April 18, 2005

Morality impact reports

Of all things, they (a certain brand of local activist) are worried about dams leading to 'bad character' amongst tribal women. They actually seem to invest a great deal of time in ascertaining the impact of a dam on the moral climate of the region.

When I last spoke to a certain activist about the impact of constructing dams in the hills, he lowered his voice and said, "Madam, I felt ashamed to tell you this but the worst thing of all is - our women are losing their character. They have begun to go to the houses of these construction engineers and other big people on the site. And there is a distinct (he said, in a gasping whisper) prostitution-trend."

And then, the real issue: "Madam, these engineers are all Biharis and other such outsiders. Imagine, our women going with these Biharis!"

This guy went on to give out dates, times, number of women being snooped on, and how he could prove that the moral climate was changing for the worse.

I held my peace, though I was sorely tempted to ask him if he knew what the going rates were and whether the women were getting a good deal... but I needed the guy to keep talking... move on from with the moral climate of the dam-site, to the environmental impact reports.

Racism/regionalism apart, what really bothers is not that the local women are perhaps selling their bodies, but that the men should snoop around, 'report' the movements of the women to others and then collectively pass judgement on 'character'.
If these men had spent as much time and energy investigating the movements and motivations of the local administration, police and the officials in the ministries of environment and power, they'd probably have enough evidence to file a PIL and get a stay order on the dam.

I know, I know, everyone has an opinion on prostitution and everyone wants some form of coercive law hemming women into 'acceptable' moral codes...
But it doesn't stop bothering me: the presumptousness of it all!

2 comments:

Pawan said...

I agree. And not everyone, Annie

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