India’s Penal Code section 294: A Prohibited Romance

India

India has on of the fastest growing economies and population in the world and its on the path towards globalisation. As it stands India is a conservative state with most of its laws derived from cultural influences. Laws such as the obscene acts law under section 294 of the Indian penal code, which prohibits any obscene acts in public. India being extremely conservative showing of affection to the opposite sex (hand holding, Hugging, kissing and even walking with the opposite sex) is seen as obscene. Due to this success a lot of the
youth grew up with access to western entertainment, this has started to create a clear generational divide
when it comes to societal issues such ass intimacy and dating.india map outline with flag

Leaving the youth in fear of public persecution as well as fear of being arrested by police resulting in a large divide within the country. Most of the younger generation does not believe this should be considered a crime calling it out date and out of touch, potentially having a negative effect on future generations.

Meet Karan

Karan Kumar
Karan Kumar

To get a better understanding of the issue I got in touch with young adults who lives in India to better clarify the state of the nation from his point of view. Karan Kumar is postgraduate student at the Asia College of journalism in Chennai, he was originally born in Siwan in the state of Bihar. Mr Kumar informed me on how he is studying 2000km from his home. Which for me, immediately brought a perspective on the vastness of India as a nation.

The immensity of such a large country could not be ignored as its possible that cultural views could change over distance, so I asked him the differences between his hometown and Chennai where he is currently studying.

“Bihar and Chennai are like two different worlds in the same country, India is so diverse that a lot changes even when you move few kilometres. Here we have totally different food from what we used to have in my hometown, culture is different language is different and even festivals too are different.”

I was curious as to how Karan Manages to communicate with others in a place with a completely different language he told me:

“So, major problem I face is food and language. The common language is English. And you can not communicate with those who do not know English”.

It was clear that some western culture has seeped into india and it is connecting people who would not normally have access to each other. Karan went on to tell me about his experience living in the capital city New Delhi whilst doing his undergraduate degree. We eventually got onto the topic of dating in India. . . Karan was a bit hesitant, he informed that many young couples don’t often talk about their love life, he was however happy to answer a few questions from his own perspective.

Karan On Dating in India

ON: I hear it’s quite a Conservative country and a lot of things are frowned upon for example physical affection

KK: Yes, but its conservative in terms of physical affection, Most of the people don’t like it, but it’s changing with new generations and in bigger cities

ON: What are your opinions on physical affection?

KK: It depends on the person, if both of them agree people should not bother about it but it should be avoided at public places

ON: What are the usual negative repercussions for couples being affectionate in public?

KK: No negative effects but its not culturally acceptable and its changing not no one cares in big cities there is no problem when you go in villages they have problem because in India there is a culture of arrange marriage

Karan had enlightened me on what dating is like from the perspective of a sinlge male in india. However I was still curious to find out from the male and female perspectives of couples who did live in the country.

The Couple

Like Karan had warned me. The couple was a bit hesitant about Speaking out on their opinions publicly. Being such a polarizing subject, they suggested I change their names for the sake of their security. For this Interview the boy would be represented, as Negi and the girl will be Naveena.

Negi

I wanted to know why they were so scared of this topic, Negi managed to divulge some of his fears to me regarding the subject of affection and proximity within couples

 “When you are talking about physical relationships and proximity there is this fear when couples are walking around there is this thing when you have fear of the police you have to be careful of the police”-Negi

It became apparent the reality of going to prison plays on the minds of couples in India and makes it difficult for them to be affectionate. He went to tell me how they have to be constantly aware of where they are and who is watching them when they are together. According to Negi the issue was not confined to public display of affection, they also had trouble finding a private place as society does not allow for young unmarried couples to live together, adding to their frustration. Furthermore Negi says even after securing your own place the danger of a police raid remains. However the young man is confident society is changing, not as quickly as he would like, but the movie industry is helping to break the barriers that have been built by the culture.

Closing on the conversation Negi, gave me an enlightened response on the question of where this problem originated from and how they are going to balance living under the “Obscene acts Law”

“The reason would be I wouldn’t exactly go by tradition, I would say it’s the cultural perception. The way we look at how our culture is meant to be practiced the way you are meant to maintain the name of the family

With all those things put together when we try to understand what Modern sensibilities are and we look at how our society is transforming

We are caught between a lot of things you know peer pressure, with teenage, there’s a lot of things that keep happening around us. 

Even with the visuals we see from videos and movies, there are a lot of influences that we have with us right now, what draws us in and what doesn’t there is a lot of differences and you know sometimes it’s up to us to make those differences clear and in that fine point we might get too comfortable for some people’s liking. Which again is per how people view it. “- Negi

Naveena

Naveen chimed in to share her perspective on the restriction she has face publicly and the role culture plays by confessing

“Talking about society and culture in India I must talk about not only the private spots but even whilst being in a vehicle you must have to be careful about how you are being with your boyfriend with a male friend even”

For Naveena the issue was not limited to how she held herself publicly with a partner. The issue extended to how you are viewed by the public when with any member of the opposite sex. She expressed that she experiences large discomfort stemming from being forced to not be herself around her male friends and siblings.

Parting Words

The young couple informed me that most india families are not open to dropping the obscene acts law as they fear the youths will begin to lose touch of their own culture and begin going towards a western culture. However Naveena is optimistic as she feels most families are beginning to accept the integration of the genders and the current young generation widely accepts having the choice to be able to show affection to a member of the opposite sex.

To end conclude the story I thought I would speak to a student who has had western experience. Azlan Hussain was the perfect candidate as he is also part of the indian upper class and in India class plays a factor on what you can and cannot do. To follow the story Click Here

Are the stigmas related to learning disabilities going

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I have spent most of my teenage years in the U.K, meaning I have had the privilege of going through the secondary school system and eventually I made my way to University

They say your youth years are your best years as they mold you to become who you  are, I feel as if this statement is true to me….however it got me thinking.

My origins are of black African, as a result in school I had my fair share of racist and bigotry statements. Which I never quite understood at the time. Why someone could hate you for simply being different. I’m not going to lie recall being frustrated at those individuals. I wondered if they knew if this was something beyond my control, that I was born this way. And my race did not define who I was. This is why I related in some ways with some of the pupils who suffered from learning disabilities. As they faced a lot of unwarranted hate and detest on a daily basis, on something they could not change or affect

In this story, I will speak to some individuals who work with some of these children regularly to uncover whether the issue of stigma and discrimination was an isolated case that happened in my school or if the issue is bigger and more wide spread than that, If so I will try to uncover the extend of the issue and the effects it has on its victims

 

SCHOOL PIC
PHOTO BY: Alexa_Fotos

Speaking to Loveness

 

Loveness Hook was the first person I spoke to. She has had more than a decades experience in social work, working with children in care homes, schools and even in their homes.

 

We dove right into the subject

ON: Do you feel as if the wider public stigmatizes your patients

LH: Unfortunately I do, these young individuals get treated as if they are not human on a daily basis and you can tell with some of them that it really has an effect on them

ON: Why do you think it is that produces this stigma

LH: I feel as if a lot of people are not educated on the matter, as humans we have evolved to value our mind more than anything. If they knew how devastating it would be to get your best tool taken away from you

ON: How have you seen this negative behavior manifest itself through out your career

LH: I work with children and a lot of them experience bullying in school. This can be in the form of verbal abuse, being segregated because the other children fear to be associated with them and the extremes are physical violence to some of these children.

ON: What is being done to combat such behavior in schools then ?

LH: You finished school recently right? What did they do to the naughty kids ?..Put them in detention obviously or some kind of punishment. I feel as if this is not the correct way to approach this. I feel as if children should start learning tolerance when they are in school. Punishing the children doesn’t help if anything it does the opposite. They begin to harbor ill will to the kid who got them in detention. Which is expected of children, as most of them do not understand the repercussions of their actions.

ON: So what effects does all this negativity have on some of these young children

LH: I feel as if they have been delt a terrible hand in life from the start and how people treat some of them really does take a toll. You get a lot of these young people suffering from depression, they become reclusive and in extreme cases you get some teenagers committing suicide

ON: Do you feel as if the attitudes have been changing over the years and are they continuing to change

LH: I would say, however it is not enough. Especially when it comes to the children. The adults are more intelligible on the issue now and they know not to behave in those manner of ways… unfortunately the children do not. The shame is most of the damage is done when they are children. Like I said schools should do better to educate these young children instead of just punishing them.

Luke

I decided to speak to another individual who also works in the mental health and learning disabilities sector to gain a second opinion on the matter click here to follow the story.

 

Australia: The Forgotten Natives

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Photo by: Skeez

The Australian indigenous population has been quietly suffering over the past few years, but their story is one of grief, sorrow and oppression systematically.

When the English first arrived in mainland Australia  in 1778 there  were roughly 750,000 of the natives in the country. By 1900 the population stood at only 100,000, most of the adult aboriginals where killed by the most settlers. The children where stripped from their families and put in British camps. They were forced to stop speaking their native languages, and told to conform to the British ways. Fast forward a few centuries later and the aboriginals are poised to regain their original population of 750, 000 as of 2021.

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Aboriginal Flag:

With this resurgence I wanted to know what the state of the nation is in regards to aboriginals. I spoke to Alfred Zaranyika a migrant who is currently residing in Perth

Introducing Alfred Zaranyika

alfred
Alfred Napwanya

ON: When did you first move to Australia?

 

AZ: I came to Australia in 2008, back then I was living with Katharine in the Northern Territory. They have the most aboriginals in all the states

 

ON: What was your first perception of the aboriginals when you got there?

 

AZ: At first I was quite shocked, coming from the capital city in Zimbabwe. Coming to a very remote place in Australia of all countries. I thought everything was developed. Most of them lived in shabby houses and you could see the poverty in the area

 

ON: Why do you think it was like that?

 

AZ: I just figured everyone was quite lazy because most of them did not go to work, in fact I would wake up to go to school and on my way there I’d at least encounter one aboriginal who’s drunk of their mind.

 

ON: So did the mentality ever change for you, “that they were a lazy, alcoholic bunch of people”.  If so when did this happen

 

AZ: It did actually; this was when I moved to Darwin to start my university education. Right there I knew things where different. This was a bigger cleaner city, a lot of modern buildings and cars. The only thing that was different was the number of natives. There were fare fewer natives.  I made friends with aboriginal people and native Australians. I actually started to have conversation on how things are and why they are like so. A lot of them told me how aboriginals are born into remote parts of Australia because they were put there years ago by “the white man”.  In most of these remote locations they don’t have access to a good education and jobs leading to depression and drinking has already been in the culture so that’s what they turn to for comfort.

 

ON: Aside from your own views what do you think Australians as a whole think of the Natives

 

AZ: They think like I used to, the funny thing is the majority of them don’t even have aboriginal friends they just hear it being said and they echo the sentiment. Which I feel is quite bad because a lot of these people need help and they aren’t going to get any if people keep thinking they are what’s wrong with this country.

After speaking to Alfred I realised to get the full scope of the situation I had to speak to an Aboriginal to expand on their experiences in Australia. I got in Contact with one of Alfred’s friends to hear the story from their perspective. Tien Hoang, who had an opposing view on the aboriginals. Jade Norman seemed like the perfect candidate, she is currently a university student fighting against the aboriginal stereotypes

Tien’s reservations towards the aboriginals

ON: Which part of Australia are you from

TH: I am from N.T Katharine 

ON: What are your views on aboriginal situation right now 

TH: What situation

ON: The fact that they only amount to 3% of the population but account for the highest mortality rates 

TH: Its probably because of all the drinking and drugs I’d say 

ON: Why do you think it is they drink and do as much drug 

TH: Well they don’t have to work for a living, I feel that’s the reason. They get money from the government and they get houses for free 

ON: I have heard the houses they live in are quite Shabby, do you think its right for them to be put in living spaces like that ?

TH: I feel as if they wanted to move from the shabby house they would be more inspired to get a job and get out of there 

ON: How would you expect them to get a job without an education 

TH: I was born and raised in N.T I’ve grown up with a lot of them. We went to the same school. If i got an education and managed to start doing well for myself. The same could be said for them

Jade’s view on the treatment of Aboriginal

jade
Jade Norman

ON: Hello Jade Thank you very much for speaking to me I know this is a sensitive topic and I appreciate you sharing you taking the time to share experience and knowledge

 

JN: That’s alright, I don’t mind talking about it actually, I feel as if this is a conversation that needs to be had. Not only with you, but with everyone in Australia and the world.

 

ON: As it stands how do you the rest of Australia views you

 

JN: That’s simple enough, like garbage really. We still people calling us savages,  they think we are druggies, Alcoholics and we are lazy which is not true. I am living proof that it is not true

 

ON: Are there a lot of alcoholic natives currently? If so why is that

 

JN: To be honest yes! However it is not from our own doing. We do have a part to play in the alcoholism but the issues stems from years of systematic oppression. How would you think it will end if someone came into your home took your children, put them all in these camps where they where forced to relinquish their culture and adopt to the “Australian way”. These children grew up with loss of identity and self worth and this has been passed down from generations

 

ON: How come it is that you don’t get a lot of aboriginals in the big cities

 

JN: You do get some in the cities but most leave in rural towns quite a distance from the city because that’s where they were put under colonization. Segregated from the world. At least then they had factory jobs. Most of the warehouses have shut now or the jobs have been moved to china. Now you get family communities secluded from the world with no jobs, education but at least they get grants from the government which does not help because the majority spend it on alcohol.

 

ON: Do you feel as if the government is doing much to help out

 

JN: No. I do not. Which is a shame because there are the ones that started the problem. They should be providing opportunities to better the future generations. Developing the settlements there-by giving jobs to the people in the area. Introducing better education systems so at least the young generation has a chance to step away from the path of alcoholism and unemployment that’s before them now.

 

ON: What about in society are things changes changing

 

JN: Slowly, there is change. Especially in the northern territory where more people get exposure to the natives and actually getting to know them as people as the stereotype. I have faith things are changing, especially in the age of the internet where people can Google and see the issue we as a people have been facing.

If Jade is hopeful for change to come with the resurgence of the aboriginal population I cannot help but echo her sentiment. There is still a lot to be done and changed. But at least after reading this you as will now know the issues being faced by the individuals who used to own the Australian Land