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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Kushboo and Pre-marital Sex in Tamil Society

A Few Facts about some Issues Women in Tamilnadu Face that we are aware of - the protectors to Tamil Culture and Freedom of Speech would better start taking note of the ordinary women of Tamilnadu and their pre-marital and marital problems.

A software engineer working in Chennai gave us this: In her batch of 18 classmates (all girls), 8 are yet to be married and out of the 10 that were married, 8 are divorced. She has been out of college for 3 years now. Why are protectors Tamil women (this is not an urban college) and their honour and interests (whether cultural or freedom of speech) not addressing this issue. Why are so many families going split so early and so fast in Tamilnadu?

If you blame it on urban Indian phenomenon, please wait, rural Tamilnadu is not far behind. A resident school that is situated in a rural area in Tamilnadu had advertised for applications for post of teachers. Out of the 300 applicants (all women) 75% were divorced or separated. These were teachers, not urban software engineers. What ARE the issues facing women in rural Tamilnadu?

And talking of pre-marital sex - a girls high school in villupuram was conducting regular medical check-up for its students between class 8 and 12 (age 14 – 18) last year, when 2 of them fainted. On suspicion, they were examined and found to be pregnant. Then the school decided to do the pregnancy check for all its students and found that 28 students were pregnant. This is reality of rural Tamilnadu, this information came from an organisation addressing women's issues for long in that district and obviously very worried.

The real issues are being missed in the fight for media space in this issue. Why not a status report be done be done to ascertain the pre-marital status of both guys and girls in Tamilnadu; to understand the magnitude of the lack of sexual awareness and need for safe sex among young girls and guys in this state.

Film Stars for a long time have determined and dominated the public space and media in Tamilnadu. I was hoping some one will raise the issue of what is the reality of tamil women, their status in society, their abuse, sexual or otherwise in the course of this issue.

However, even the most responsible media has got caught into the dichotomy drawn by their own colleagues - about freedom to express opinion on one side and responsibility of popular persona in talking about sensitive issues on the other. Tamilnadu as a state has had a good history of both - very vocal women who have stood up for what they felt strongly about and hyperbolically irresponsible and ridiculous utterances by film personalities on all kinds of issues. That national and international media have got involved in this issue proclaims the real victory of the Tamil visual media’s ability to dictate public discourse far wider than its linguistic reach.

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