Debating sex work

Nandita Haskar has truly captured the essence of the problem in sex work, the agony of those women and the irony of the situation (“Sex work or slavery?: Why human rights discourse is no longer a tool for liberation”). When women have the opportunity to earn decent amounts doing some other work but choose to become prostitutes, only then can we say they made an informed choice. This argument has been missed by the section of feminists who advocate legalisation of the profession.

Calling them sex workers has not earned them any dignity, health care or even decent earnings. This does not even recognise that sex work is not like other work, sex organs are not like limbs. Changing the terminology may have actually harmed them. Gloria Steinem also underlined this recently in the Jaipur Literature Festival.

In Amsterdam, I visited the museum of prostitution and asked the woman at the desk why there were no men in the display windows. She told me that women do not go shopping for sex like men do, from windows or in brothels. They do it, all right, but they do it discreetly, on the phone or through contacts. Is that enough indication of a patriarchal mindset? – Anjali Deshpande


To hear this argument from Nandita Haksar, one of the most respected activists on human rights, serves as a wake up call for those of us who have been are swinging between the view that it sees it as rightful employment and those who see it as enslavement. In the desperate quest for a means of survival many go through excruciating experiences in poor countries like India. So it is tempting to argue that this work is no less injurious than many other hurtful and occupations. But, as Nandita has pointed out, this is the most striking and ugly exhibition of patriarchy. Sexual acts can be rapturous and when bought for a price, the buyers claims can be torture. Thank you, Nandita, for clearing my mind. – Devaki Jain

Money move

Thanks to the NGO for carrying out this independent survey (“Demonetisation led to an increase in domestic violence rates, claims NGO”). Not just domestic violence, demonetisation has lead to an increase in suicide rates and road accidents also, particular in my city, Surat. – Ishwar Patel


I am disheartened by the article titled “Three months after demonetisation, Adivasis in Maharashtra are still getting IOUs instead of cash”.

It seems you too have joined the band-wagon of media outlets that twist the news.

Your article claims demonetisation is responsible for Adivasis not being paid, whereas it is more of an issue of the inefficiencies of the state’s infrastructure and of the employers in the area who aren’t willing to accept government measures. Demonetisation is not the only factor for the sad plight of Adivasis.

You mention one Manoj Nimbhal who has not been paid because he doesn’t have a bank account. I am sure Manoj and all the villagers have heard about the Jan Dhan Yojana. If they haven’t, it’s the state’s fault. Effective implementation of central policies and upliftment of backward regions are the state’s responsibility. Stop making everything an fallout of demonetisation. We are prisoners of our own inability to to step out of our comfort zones. Sneh Soni

Tamil Nadu Turmoil

It’s not Sasikala’s lack of polish that bothers us; what bothers us about our supposed chief-minister-to-be is rather her notoriety, secrecy and the hooliganism associated with her name (“The TM Krishna column: What our disdain towards Sasikala tells us about ourselves”). In fact, the overwhelming discussion on social media is on how she amasses wealth (a Supreme Court verdict on this is pending!). This leaves me wondering if she is the right person to run our state. It is the fear of doom and of the future of our state that makes me oppose her candidature and not her “unpolished” nature. – Sharada Ramasubramanyan


Addressing feudalistic ideals is a larger issue that is applicable in every walk of political life of all political leaders. Most of the values attached to communist leaders are feudalistic in nature. But putting this forward as the central point of debate in Sasikala’s case is dangerous. The main problem is her and her family’s Mafia style of functioning. They don’t have a clue about democratic values and practices. The problem with elite artists is that they want to come close to the masses but always stay away from them in spirit. – Padmanabhan Dhanapal


Did this TM Krishna dare to criticise Jayalalithaa when she was alive? Such writing is highly hypocritical. – Chitralekha Nagaraj


If everything functioned by the rules in our democracy, then we wouldn’t be facing a situation like this in Tamil Nadu. That said, the author has conveniently ignored the many facts on which politicians win constituencies. Caste and money are significant players in deciding who is elected as the local representative, not just the face of the leader of the party.

In Tamil Nadu, people who vote their caste outnumber those who caste their vote. Add to this money power, which has made politicians believe they can get away with anything and win elections regardless.

The writer implies that people would have accepted Sasikala if she was convent-educated. That is purely hypothetical! If that was so, Jayalalithaa would have won the 1988 elections, which she contested without the party symbol, on the merit of her education, but she was defeated then. Her victory of 1991 was only because she could fight on the AIADMK symbol that she acquired after becoming its general secretary, implying that it was not her education but MGR’s legacy and charisma that helped her win. – AR Row

Textbook row

Let someone put the authors of this textbook in a box without holes to see if they survive. Animals hurt and suffer just like humans (“Wait for a kitten to die in a closed box to learn about air, suggests a Class 4 textbook”). Those who wrote this book don’t have a heart. – Rebecca Marshall


This is so disturbing. I can’t believe anybody would suggest this experiment. I am beyond horrified’ I am mortified! – Deborah Ford


The students should put themselves in a box to see how long it takes for them to run out of air! Why hurt the innocent? Better still, try this experiment on a convicted murderer, child molester or animal killer! – Rebeca Salas


Why don’t the irresponsible air heads have this experiment tested on them? Oh, I forgot, it would be called murder. I bet they wouldn’t do this to their children. – Lorraine Guy


The thought of an innocent animal being suffocated is appalling. Whoever came up with this terrible idea should be used in the place of a kitten. – Alice