Legalizing Abortion: A human right?

There has been a buzz going around all over the international news and social media since the Supreme Court of the USA ended the right to abortion.
By a decision of seven to two in the famous Roe v. Wade case of 1973, the Supreme Court determined that a woman has the right to end her pregnancy was guaranteed by the US constitution.
In the first three months of pregnancy (referred to as the “trimester”), the decision guaranteed American women the absolute right to an abortion; but, it also permitted limits in the second trimester and prohibitions in the third. However, throughout the years, access has been steadily reduced in more than a dozen states as a result of anti-abortion laws. Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a lawsuit challenging Mississippi’s restriction on abortion beyond 15 weeks, was being considered by the High Court during its current term. The conservative-majority court effectively put an end to the legal right to an abortion by deciding in the government’s favor. It is believed that this has the power to transform life for women in America. Half of the country’s states will come under the effect of this law.
Furthermore, there have been mixed reactions against this law as some review it as abortion as murder because they believe life is sacred and a culture where life is expendable is promoted through legalized abortion but the majority of them have argued that women should have a right to her body and not be forced to keep the child.
Whatever the case maybe it only depends on the citizens and its voter if the majority is contented with the decision or not at the end of the day.

Basic queries related to feminism. Part-1

Q1) What is feminism and when did it start?                                             

Feminism, one of the most influential ideologies, seeks to analyze the social position of women and lays the foundations for the reform and advancement of women in all areas of society.

This struggle for power, like class and race struggles, is potentially revolutionary. In fact, it is the oldest power struggle, the least public in its manifestations of conflict, and the most fundamental in its impact on society. In the Middle Ages or even ancient times, it makes more sense to start our studies at the end of the 18th century and the French Revolution. The Enlightenment and Revolution influenced women in France and other parts of Europe with the prospect of freedom and revolution. Mary Wollstonecraft is a leading early “feminist” writer and in her book “An Indication of the Rights of Woman (1792)”she says that women should have the same legal rights as men on the basis of equality of humanity, moral worth, rationality and freedom; It was wrong that women were defined by gender as denying their educational, legal, economic and political rights. She declared that there will be a beneficial revolution in the relationship between men and women.

As sensitive as these views appear today, they challenged the male-dominated power structures that ruled all levels of society in the 19th century. With men being liberated, women hoped their interests could be promoted through voting and parliament.

Three “waves” of feminism can be seen: the first between 1830 and 1930, focused mainly on legal and political rights; The second, in the 1960s and 1970s, focused on much more basic personal and relationship issues. The third over the past decade has also been essentially a reflection and re-evaluation of what has been accomplished.

Q1) Do you believe that only certain groups of people should be allowed to have an access to certain opportunities and rights? if no then why do we see this discrimination being practiced and why should anybody decide that?

Before answering the question, let’s deeply understand what equality of opportunity means.

Peter Westen, a renowned philosopher shows that an opportunity is a ternary relationship between a person, some obstacles, and the desired goal; however, a person only has an opportunity if he has a probability to achieve that goal. When you encounter insurmountable obstacles, you will have no chance. This makes it impossible to achieve a goal. For instance, one cannot have an opportunity to become the president of India if he is not a natural-born citizen. Many people, therefore, have no opportunity to become president of India. A person can have an opportunity even in the face of many, quite critical and severe, obstacles. So, a natural-born Indian citizen has the opportunity to become president, but he faces serious obstacles, such as accumulating the relevant number and distribution of votes, social obstructions, and gender obstructions.

For the opportunities to be equivalent within a group, each member of that group must confront obstacles that are not insurmountable. In our example, all Indian-born citizens have equal opportunities, when alterable obstacles such as race, gender, and religion are removed and when main barriers remain, such as getting democratically elected. One exception to alterable obstacles is that of biology. One can put a limit on sociological factors like racism, sexism, and casteism but not on the biological ones. Biology is the reason why men are preferred over women to form an army. The same reason goes for women as nurses are mostly women. You still can give equal opportunity to women to apply in the army but you can’t guarantee the equal outcome as a woman biologically has less stamina, power, and aggression than a man which are imperative to be a part of an army.

Now coming back to the question. No, I do not believe that only certain groups of people should be allowed to have an access to certain opportunities and rights. The real evaluation should be on the main obstacle. We should ultimately try to contain the alterable obstacles like racism, sexism, casteism etcetera. If we are able to minimize these obstacles, it will bring us quite close to achieve equality for opportunity.

The reason why discrimination is being practiced is because the alterable obstacles aren’t getting minimized as the sociological impact of flawed mentality taken from the society and the liberal provisions in the country are letting the young minds get corrupted.

They are taught from starting that, girls are only for household purposes and girls aren’t capable work outside the house.

They are also told that one cast is higher than another or one race is greater than another or one religion is purer than another. This impact does make the upcoming generation susceptible to becoming sexist and racist.

Transgender

Transgender is the Third Gender basically, who is not a male type or a female type. Transgender is defined as denoting or relating to a person whose sense of personal. Identity and gender do not correspond with their birth sex. A Transgender is a person who is unable to fit himself in any of the two categories specified beforehand, a Transgender right also comes under the concept of Gender Equality. They very much belong to our society, to our lifestyle, but the fact here is they are not widely accepted yet. People literally hate them or harass them for choosing their own likings over the “society norms” created. They also are human beings, just like us, nothing inferior. It is just that they practically loves themselves just the way they are, they shall be strong enough to be proud of their own skin. It is our duty to stand by their virtue, no matter what. It has been seen that they face a lot of social difficulties everyday. They do not get to live by common people, they are isolated from their residence and they had to form a separate community of their own for survival, especially known as LGBT Community. Right from birth, they are not treated as “Normal” and are repetitively pressurized to choose one amongst the two genders. People yet, in this generation aren’t ready to believe that there can be a third gender as well. But fitting into somewhat stereotyped categories is a must for the people, especially in India. They were not allowed to have proper sanitization, worst thing is that they do not have a separate washroom. They aren’t being taught in schools on colleges, hence education for them is a luxury. They do not even get proper food to sustain themselves. We can see the “transgender” begging for food, it is so heartbreaking to see that how much sorrows they face, yet holds smile on their face. No person has control over their choices, earlier as well several paintings has depicted the onset of “transgender” people. Sadly, they haven’t got their recognition yet and fighting day and night for their freedom. They just seek a life where they won’t be judged, or questioned or made fun of being a transgender. But we, the educated class of people disagree and contest against their liberty. Their privilege are snatched away by the ‘commoners’ around them. They do not get enough opportunities to pursue their talents. The most traumatic experience they face is regarding work places. It is rare that a transgender is working as an official even if that person is competent enough. Transgender community should not be deprived of their own equity or justice. It is so difficult for third-gender child to confess his inner feelings to his family of that sort because the family isn’t in a position to realize his situation, moreover try to brainwash the child for worse. The parents do not remain as a support system to them anymore, they just feel upset and betrayed of the “choice” the child has made. Secondly, choosing aa partner for one self is really difficult, because taking about this on the society is treated almost as a ‘crime’. That person is basically termed as “spoiled” and suffers a lot from loneliness and depressions. It is no way his “Fault”.

Sec 377 in IPC states that, whoever voluntarily has carnel intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years or with a death penalty, and shall also be liable to fine.According to The Times of India, The Supreme Court of India on September 6, 2018 decriminalized Section 377 making Gay Sex legal. The SC in its verdict mentioned that consensual sex between adults in private places which is not harmful to women or children, cannot be denied as it is a matter of individual choice. The apex court partially strikes down Section 377. “Section 377 results in discrimination and is violative of constitutional principles. Consensual Sex between Adult homosexuals in private is not an offence”, said by Supreme Court in its verdict.

The Paradox of Freedom of Speech

Freedom of speech is a wonderful liberty and health inducing function of society if, and only if, the citizens exercise their right to freedom of thought beforehand – exploring their ideas to see if they come from a place of love, good intention and virtue – or emotional indifference, entitlement and fear.”

The paradox of free speech and freedom of expression – at what level can one’s freedom of speech will involve limiting the freedom of speech of another person’s? Its really something to think about. The irony and the paradox of freedom of speech is this – in theory, every single citizen, regardless of who they are or where they come from, are entitled to their opinions and should be free to say whatever they please and the government should not try any means necessary to censor that person.. … except that someone else can who is not a part of the government can, or the government can censor that person through indirect means, or that person can be limited in their freedom of speech because of other reasons. Hate speech is one of them or speech that is deemed as offensive or crude.

Sure, saying homophobic slurs or racist slurs are deemed as hate speech, but what if this angrily-provoked language is done to antagonize a particular group of people who rightfully deserve it (like for example, a dictator or an social elite that have all the power but leave little of that power to the public)? Can that turn into censorship as well? Or what if someone has an opinion or makes a statement that is unpopular or controversial or unorthodox? For example, if a person says that he/she does not like a section of people following a particular religion because they possess an internalized paranoia about a religion that they do not know. That person can easily be deemed as being intolerant.

What about having unpopular opinions but you do not want to say anything about of the fear of being judged because of stigma or taboo like sexual fantasies or sexual orientations or having an opinion that is very unpopular like thinking that Communism is justified or thinking that the Earth is flat, even though scientific evidence will show otherwise? Or what about the political correctness movement that has been happening the past few years that replaces certain words with other words which at the same time limits the amount of speech that people are allowed to say or not say or else their words will have a negative effect on a certain demographic? (even though it is already well-known that whatever word or phrase you say, those words will shape our thoughts and may even reinforce already internalized schemas about certain categorized human groups like the mentally challenged as “idiots” will further reinforce the internalized image of an idiot).

What if someone makes a statement that someone else would find as unsettling or offensive? What gives the other person the right to censor the person who made their joke and limit his/her freedom of speech because that person did What if someone makes a statement that someone else would find as unsettling or offensive? What gives the other person the right to censor the person who made their joke and limit his/her freedom of speech because that person did not like it? Whether you liked the joke or not, that person given charges for hate speech and many people feel that his joke can taken out of context and his freedom of speech was taken from him just because some people did not like it.

What about people who have a lot of influence or in a very high position where their influence will influence the behaviors of others? Businessmen, lawyers, politicians, marketers and so on. If they say something that will eventually upset a lot of people, whether they are being genuine or not, they could be risking having their own image damaged such as when EA chief creative officer Patrick Söderlund said about the upcoming game Battlefield V having women in game despite the historical context, he said “either accept it or don’t buy the game” and a few months, it was reported that the number of pre-orders of BFV was low, possibly as a response to Söderlund’s comment (who now left EA). I think we all know that whatever you say, you are not going to please everyone but I sometimes feel that people are in an advantage or a disadvantage – if a person has a lot of influence and power, their freedom of speech will surely have a positive influence on others, regardless of what say or should be very picky on what they say or else their may be a backlash; or for those people who are in a severe disadvantage for having opinions or statements that are unpopular statement are of sound mind or not.

Despite the shortcomings, free speech is an error-correcting mechanism whose function is to prevent the entire structure from collapsing; the ability to constantly criticize ideas serves as a firewall to contain bad ideas and prevent them from spreading uncontrollably. It also serves as a guide to navigate grey areas where the right path is often hard to see. Having said that, everything has a cost and benefit, and free speech is no exception to this. However, I think that this is a commodity that is far too valuable to be jettisoned, such that the price we pay for not having massively outweighs the downsides of having it.

It should be also realized that freedom of speech is deemed to be a governor of other freedoms, and the erosion of it is usually a reliable signifier that some semblance of totalitarianism is beginning to take root. Freedom of speech is the natural extension of freedom of thought, and thus should be the most vigorously defended of all inalienable rights. If your right to free is being violated, it’s your duty as a citizen of a free country to make that known, and if all else fails, it’s a important enough matter to warrant violence if no other means will suffice. Free speech, especially free political speech, speech is the beacon of all other freedoms. It must be protected Is the costs, and at least here in America, our first constitutional government was created with the idea in mind that their constituents should openly rebel should their rights begin to erode. The last time that happened, it ended up being much more complicated than that. You know it as the American Civil War.

“If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.”

Noam Chomsky

Why Protest?

Protests are public expressions of discontent, disagreement, or objection to an authority, idea, or things that have public impacts. Our country has seen a large number of public protests and upheavals in the past one year. Globally, we have been living in times of great change and public displays of dissent in the recent past, from the Hongkong protests to the Black Lives Matter movement. Many are skeptical of protests and their ability to bring change. Protests have been considered as inherently violent and anti-establishment, and hence something that should be stayed away from. What can marches and slogans do anyway, is the attitude of many who stay on the sidelines. However, a quick look into history can reveal that protests have been an integral part of multiple struggles that have brought in moral progress and change to our societies. The manner of conduct and how those involved acted might vary but there is no doubt that such displays of disapproval have brought in changes big and small.

monochrome photo of resist signage
Photo by Sides Imagery on Pexels.com

The right to protest is one of the most important rights in a democracy since it ensures that the people’s voice is heard. The form of democracy that we practice in India is representative democracy, where people are represented by elected individuals in parliament. This means that the voice of a huge population is given a hearing through this one person. We cannot discount the biases and affiliations of these individuals when they present their demands, even though on paper we reassert that they are to represent the voice of the people even if they disagree themselves. Democracy is considered the rule of the people: a governing system for the people, by the people, and of the people. One of the downsides of democracy is the fact that it is often only the majority voice that gets to be heard and accepted, while there would be multiple other opinions which might be statistically a little less in number that goes unheeded. This is all the more dangerous if the voice of the majority turns out to be bigoted and discriminatory.

Protests are fundamental precisely because people have the right to disagree and do so freely without fear of repercussions. Protests bring people together as a group and imbibe a sense of strength and unity. They realize that they are not alone in their cause and that there will be others who will stand along. Protests are vital to create spaces of engagement, debate, and dialogue. It also provides minorities with an opportunity to voice their concerns, especially when they have no representation and are suffering from perpetual marginalization. The anger that often accompanies protesting voices is the expression of prolonged frustration by those who have suffered under the system. Those who tone-police by saying that people should not sound so angry are more concerned about the manner of protest than the reasons that force people out onto the streets. It is a sign of great privilege that one can live their everyday lives without having to demand anything that has been denied to them over the years. It is usually those who have not been affected at all by what is happening who ask why protest at all or give the excuse that protests are violent. People protest because they need to be heard, and because the system has so often failed them that waiting for change to come through office paperwork if they do not exert any outside pressure is almost illusory.

Protests are often not violent till force is exerted on them by state machinery. And using the excuse that protests tend to turn violent and so they should not be allowed is a way of discounting all the good that a protest can potentially do. One cannot use a deviant illustration to invalidate an entire expression. Being able to dissent and having the right to challenge authority, if taken away, would spell the death of democracy. Protests are not so much about winning an argument or agenda as they are about the right to disagree freely and make the voices of the people heard.  It might take decades to create any change but protests provide people with the strength to fight and the assurance that they are part of a larger whole. It enables those on the fringes of society to stand up for their rights and those who seek the attention of the authorities to do it quicker. At this time, we have to be vigilant that this right itself is not taken away from us and it is imperative that we understand the position that protests hold in a democracy.

Animal Cruelty


It’s June 2020 and currently, we are dealing with a plethora of crises around the world, but I believe that not the majority of people have deciphered that yet properly. The irony of the time is that at each point, where some of us are trying our best to give reminders or bestowing proposals to overcome the plight of the situation, the rest are busy acting despicably.

This is concerned with human civilization and it’s preceding and long-term support system, acting no less than any ‘ancillary’ – Animals.
We often overlook a very common thing, which ends up being stigmatic- every existence on this planet counts.
How could we act so cruel?

If we go back in time or could recall the memories of our childhood- watching animated shows on TV, and most of the time marking some of them as our favourites for the reason being that we could hear animals talking, like us. (at least it was mine for sure)
That was the time when we wanted to hear them and now, few of us are showing the barbarity towards them because they can’t talk!

We are witnessing these shameful acts for a long time and still waiting for the juncture that one day, things would change around us.
I still wonder at times, why the ruthlessness of humans is being compared to the savagery of animals? Because as of now, humans are less humane!

Recently, we heard the news of a pregnant elephant who died in Kerala because of eating a pineapple which had explosives inside.
People who were accused of feeding her had another angle of their tale. They explained that to protect their agricultural land from wild boars, they had planted those.
But the question that arises here is, who was at fault? The innocent animal or the rural people who did so for the protection of their only way of sustenance?
If the government of that state has allowed shooting the boars or killing them with any means, then how far it’s justified that the innocents get trapped unknowingly, get killed in the name of protection? Who will ensure their safety? We can’t just put an end to lives.

Laws aren’t just meant to be made, they need to be assessed well in the first place that how far their execution is going to be favourable to most of the beings.
Something similar had happened once to blue bulls (antelope) in Bihar. The government had the same reason to pass the order of killing them. 200 of them were killed.
We can’t just opt for the easy way out rather than making sensible decisions and then finding the ways in which we can protect all.

We have seen numerous incidents where humans have shown their heartlessness. Some of them are mentioned below-

Case of thrashing 20 stray dogs to death in Dehradun came out.

A Dog was beaten up brutally by a guard in Hyderabad.

In Himachal, miscreants blew off cow’s jaw with crackers.

It doesn’t end here, 49 people were arrested in Bareilly, U.P for illegal slaughtering of animals.

The list is endless but just hearing about the incidents is of no avail, it never was.

Many of us aren’t even aware of the laws that have been made for balancing the animal-humane society.
Here I am writing down six of them:

  1. Under Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960, it is a criminal offence to feed toxic food to stray animals.
  2. Sections 428 and 429 of the Indian Penal Code and the Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960 make it unlawful to maim or cause injury to any animal. It is also illegal for vehicles to intentionally injure dogs, cats and cows on the streets.
  3. Stray dogs are safeguarded under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and rules enacted under Section 38 of the act, particularly, the Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, 2001; Indian Penal Code, sections 428 & 429 and Article 51A (g) of the Constitution.
  4. It is the fundamental duty of every citizen of India to have compassion for all living creatures. Article 51A(g).
  5. Animal sacrifice is forbidden in every part of the country and considered illegal. Rule 3, Slaughterhouse Rules, 2001.
  6. Under Section 11(1)(i) and Section 11(1)(j), PCA Act, 1960, abandoning any animal for any reason can put you behind the bars for up to three months.
Enough of killing ‘humanity’ in the name of different motives at different times. We’ve screamed enough for human rights while violating much of the freedom given to us, and abovementioned were few of the examples. We can become the voice of the voiceless as well.
We need to act, need to be ‘humans’ in actual ways by saving animals and humanity!