Sex by the numbers

Last November, India Today (with AC Neilsen and others) reported on their fourth ever national sex survey [Thanks reader sohwhat!]. This time round they focussed on India’s youth. Here are some highlights (from behind the subscription wall, although you can see a summary of their findings in this Reuters article):

  • “46% single 16-25-year-old males have had sex, 10% higher than the 2004 survey”
  • “37% single young men have had a homosexual experience, compared to 31% in 2004″
  • “The average age of first sexual encounter for men has come down from 23 in 2004 to 18.”

Some of these findings, by the way, don’t quite add up. For example, while only 46% of young males claimed to have had sex, “49% young men have had sex with sex workers. In Ludhiana, it as high as 63%.” That seems a bit bizarre. After all, if you’ve had sex with a sex worker, you’ve had sex.

Also, the idea that close to 50% of all males have had sex with a sex worker, if true, is trouble from the perspective of the spread of HIV.

As for the women, some admit to having sex, but not as many, and they’re starting later than the boys:

  • “In 2005… only 24 per cent single women between the ages of 18 and 30 … had had sex.”
  • “42 per cent [of single women] said they had their first sexual encounter between the ages of 19 and 21.”

Despite this busyness in the sack for both sexes, both men and women say women should stay virgins until they are married:

  • “63% single young men expect the woman they marry to be a virgin, 10% lower than in 2004″
  • “In the 2005 survey of single women, 66 per cent agreed, saying women should remain virgins till they are married.”

The most disturbing finding was one about the prevalence of incest, which implies that a large number of females are having forced sex with family members:

  • “14 per cent [of single males] claim to have had sex with family members.”

That number is horrifying enough, but when you consider that there was likely under-reporting, it’s even more disturbing.

All quotes from the India Today Sex Survey Cover Article, “Men in a Muddle

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No One’s Perfect, not Even Indian Girls (updated)

Listen, my children to your Akka so old,
For she has a story, which today should be told.

Once upon a time, well over a decade ago
Akka received a call from a voice whispering lowÂ…

“Help. Oh my GodÂ…I don’t know what to doÂ…”
“Wait—Gigi? What’s happening to you?”

“Anneka, I can’t take it anymore; I just want to dieÂ…”
“Shhh, stopÂ…you’re a devout Catholic, I know that’s a lie.”

“WhatÂ…no smile? That’s hilarious, G. Laugh.”

But my own laugh faltered and fell back in my chest,
This was no cry for help, this didn’t feel like a test.

“Anneka, I love you, please always remember that,”

“You stupid bitch Geee, stop, take that back!”

“I won’t let you say Good-bye, this isn’t the end,
I refuse to let you take away my best friend.

I know you feel like you are already dead,
I know about the demons in your heart and your head.

But please, don’t do this, it’s a permanent answer
To a temporary—

She sobbed, “This is worse than cancer,”

“At least then people would feel sorry for—”
“Screw them, and if they judge youÂ…well, fuck them more.
I know; they and your past are impossible to ignoreÂ…

But I also know that I’ve never met anyone with a purer heart,
That you are spun from light and goodness, unlike this tart.

Gigi, where are you, I’m already in my car
Damnit, this is Davis, you can’t be that farÂ…”

“No, please, don’t. I’ve been enough of a burden to you—”

“Gee, I swear to God, I’m going to find you and slap you.”

“Anneka, please don’t hate me for what I’m about to do,
Promise me you’ll forgive me, I’m so sorryÂ…I love you.”


“GIGI!” I screamed in to an ominously silent phone,
yanking the german car she loved over to the shoulder, alone.

Redial, redial, redial, at least twenty times
Tachycardiac beats and my breath form rhymes. Continue reading

Our Foremost Political Philosopher

dineshbook.jpg“The worst nonfiction book about terrorism published by a major house since 9/11″ is what Warren Bass, senior books editor at the Washington Post (and, the byline notes, a former staff member of the 9/11 Commission), calls the latest from desi Talking Android nonpareil Dinesh D’Souza. The book is called THE ENEMY AT HOME: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11, a title that begs little further explication. Indeed, Bass points out at the end of a sharp review that’s less blustering and more cutting than that of Alan Wolfe in the New York Times, the whole exercise of D’Souza’s book seems so plainly intended to cause a kerfuffle in the blogosphere that I feel tawdry even bringing it up here, despite the Desi Angle (TM). As Bass notes:

Either D’Souza is blaming liberals for 9/11 because he truly believes that they’re culpable, or he’s blaming liberals for 9/11 because he’s cynically calculating that an incendiary polemic will sell books. I just don’t know which is scarier. One has to wonder why his publisher, agent, editors and publicists went along for the ride, and it’s hard not to conclude that they thought the thing would cause a cable-news and blogosphere sensation that would spike sales — a ruckus triggered not despite the book’s silliness but because of it. This sort of scam has worked before (think of Christopher Hitchens’s gleeful broadside against Mother Teresa or the calculated slurs of Ann Coulter), but rarely has the gap between the seriousness of the issues and the quality of the book yawned as wide. This time, let’s just not bother with the flap; this dim, dishonorable book isn’t worth it.

And perhaps, indeed, it isn’t. Still, as the rituals of the publishing biz dictate, Brother D’Souza has been getting his publicity on since the book’s release last week. Yesterday he had an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle that begins with a piece of logical reasoning that might have done Descartes proud:

The Pelosi Democrats sometimes appear to be just as eager as Osama bin Laden for President Bush to lose his war on terror. Why do I say this? Because if the Pelosi Democrats were seeking Bush’s success, then their rhetoric and actions now and over the past three years are pretty much incomprehensible. By contrast, if you presume that they want Bush’s war on terror to fail, then their words and behavior make perfect sense.

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One Indian’s Kenyan Nationalism

If you are looking for an alternative take on Kenya’s Indian community, speak to Zahid Rajan, editor of Awaaz, a magazine focusing on historical, political, and cultural issues in the South Asian community in East Africa. The local Indian community traces its roots to the late nineteenth century laborers imported by the British to build the Uganda Railway and grow sugarcane and to the generations of traders who settled along the Indian Ocean coast in Mombasa, Dar es Salaam, and other port towns. The Indian community quickly prospered and became managers instead of laborers (the current issue of Awaaz has a great article on the cultural dynamics that promoted their rapid success). In short order, Indians built businesses, hired black Kenyans to do the work, and banked their considerable profits.


Today, the community in Kenya is perceived, not without justification, as wealthy and aloof. Rajan is critical of what he sees as the community’s lack of engagement with Kenya’s many challenges. ““The South Asian diaspora in Kenya is completely nonpolitical,”” he says. ““It stays behind its security fences in [the Nairobi suburb of] Parklands.””

Historically, Indians were engaged at all levels, leading labor unions, participating in the struggle against British colonialism, and building schools and hospitals, but that civic drive was sapped somewhere along the way.

Rajan attributes the Indian withdrawal from politics to three factors: the “Kenyanization” programs of the late 1960s that redistributed land, awarded contracts and licenses and reserved government jobs for black Africans; Idi Amin’s expulsion of Asians from Uganda in 1972; and a failed coup attempt against Kenya’s president, Daniel arap Moi, in 1982. Fighting during that conflict resulted in significant destruction in downtown Nairobi, where many Indians ran businesses.

“”I know Indians who have never been back to the city center,”” he says. Continue reading

Girlfriends, Start Your Engines

To counterbalance my earlier post, I decided to blog about something more fluffy today. Reader Pauravi emailed this link to the bunker with the following message:

So finally, there is a calendar us South Asian women can feast our eyes on :) . Enough of the gawking at scantily clad women, check this out!

I was swamped at work on Friday so I had one of the monkeys take a look to give me his expert opinion:

The calendar is SO worth a looksie…I went through all 50 men and honestly I don’t have any drool left yet.

So what exactly is this calendar, you ask? Asiana Magazine — a UK lifestyle and bridal magazine for Asian women — has a feature on the “ultimate 50 single Asian men in Britain.” Each man’s photo comes complete with an interview and biodata such as age, profession, car that he drives, and salary range. (Am I the only one who finds the last two kind of tacky?)

I’m all for the objectification of beautiful brown men (such as this one, this one, and this one). But in this publication, I found the interviews much more entertaining than the photos. Take, for example, the priceless interview with Rehan Bhatt:

Age: 28 Drives: Lotus & BMW Biggest turn-off: Women that judge a man by the car he drives. Your ex would describe you asÂ… The greatest real dream she ever had. She actually said that! Pulling outfit? IÂ’m not that vain but jeans, crisp shirt and my pink g-string never fails! Most outrageous thing youÂ’ve ever done: I got randomly attacked once so I chinned the guy, only the guy turned out to be a butch lesbian.

Translation: I want a woman to like me for me. But in case any of you are wondering, I drive a BMW. I’ve also beaten up a woman. Call me. Continue reading

Shilpa Shames Them All

I’ve never seen a movie starring Shilpa Shetty. I’ve never watched Big Brother. I had no idea until this post on SepiaMutiny that Shilpa Shetty would be on Big Brother. Frankly, I didn’t read it because I didn’t care.

So why, in in the name of all that is sacred, have so many of my conversations in the past few days involved the unholy combination of a mediocre Bollywood actress and a revolting reality show?

Sajit recently tackled the growing controversy surrounding the show, so please refer to his post if you need to catch up. That’s were it began for me.

Then Mr. Cicatrix and I randomly channel-surfed our way to a ABC Nightline News segment on the how Shilpa’s quiet dignity was “Uniting India’s Warring Muslims and Hindus.” So sixty years after Partition, THIS is what finally unites?!

190_britain_2.jpg The House of Commons has weighed in. Tony Blair. The British Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Indian Parliament has lodged a formal complaint with the British government. All this over remarks variously described as “girly rivalry,” “bullying,” and “racist abuse.” (link) Remarks made by people so stupid, one thought “Winston Churchill was the first black president of America.” (link)

The talking heads pontificated and culture critics scibbled op-eds. Is it jealousy? Class conflict? Bigotry? Ignorance? (link). Insecurity? Stupidity? (link). A set-up by the show’s creators? (link). Shilpa’s own fault? (Yep. Germaine Greer said it).

The semiotics of racism, of “poppadoms,” “can’t even speak English,” “Shilpa Fuckawallah” and “live in a house or a shack,” have been tossed about selectively and dissected to the point that it’s all just meaningless chatter.

So it was a relief and a surprise to read Martin Jacques’ article in the Guardian (thanks ultrabrown). Jacques, a Fellow at the Asia Research Center at the London School of Economics, roots around the muck to find a very solid reason for why this show is more than a tempest in a teapot, why it resonates so violently in Britain and abroad:

The test of our behaviour, of how racist we are, is no longer what the white British think. That started to change with the self-awareness and growing confidence of our own ethnic minorities. But the matter does not end there. The test now, in this instance, is what Indians in India think, how they perceive us.

As Goody raged and railed against Shetty on Wednesday night’s TV broadcast, she was like a cornered animal, lashing out in every direction against something she clearly detested but also feared and felt threatened by. She was confronted not only with the Other, but a hugely self-confident Other. What could be worse? It was a metaphor for the world that is now rapidly taking shape before our very eyes. (link )

I think he nails it. Continue reading

On Defending The Others

My friend Ansour forwarded me this beautifully written Anant Raut article which appeared in earlier this week. Raut is a corporate litigation attorney in DC who is representing five so-called “enemy combatants” in Guantanamo. He wrote his piece as an open letter to deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs Cully Stimson, who urged the corporate clients of Raut’s firm to take their business elswhere in response to Raut’s decision to defend these individuals.

According to the article, Stimson stated,

When corporate CEOs see that those firms are representing the very terrorists who hit their bottom line back in 2001, those CEOs are going to make those law firms choose between representing terrorists or representing reputable firms.

I actually don’t disagree entirely with Stimson. (Yes, you read that correctly.) Corporations do have a right to boycott law firms if they disagree with the causes that those firms support through their pro bono work. Similarly, I have a right to boycott Domino’s Pizza, since its founder, Tom Monaghan, is a philanthropist for causes that I disagree with.

That all being said, however, Mr. Stimson comes off as terribly paranoid. If you have to go as far as to bully law firms out of representing certain pro bono clients, it seems as though you must be afraid of those clients receiving a fair trial. Continue reading

Why Can’t They All Be Like Us?

whacamole.jpgIt’s like playing Whac-A-Mole: Every time you think this “model minority” BS is swept away for good, in comes yet another set of generalizations based on wishful thinking and selective observation, deployed by some so-called expert who sets him/herself up to make claims about the community as a whole.

This time it’s Manjeet Kripalani, the Bombay bureau chief of Business Week and currently a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Kripalani, who first came to the US in the 1980s, has a piece today in the Los Angeles Times that a tipster kindly brings to our attention on the news tab. Behold the brilliant lede:

THE 2.2 MILLION Indian Americans in the U.S. constitute a model minority, highly educated and well paid. And now, following in the footsteps of earlier immigrant groups such as the Irish, the Jews and the Cubans, Indian Americans are emerging as an influential force in Washington.

I’m not going to rehash the whole critique of the concept of a “model minority.” At this point, either you get it or you don’t. Instead, I simply want to point out that by writing entirely in generalizations, some conveniently free of backing evidence and others normative and therefore unprovable, the sister not only has carried out very shoddy journalism, but also — thanks to the L.A. Times editors — been set up as an expert voice rather than a reporter investigating an issue. Continue reading

Diplomatic Impunity: Slavery in the Suburbs

According to a complaint filed this week in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. (thanks, tipster Ashwini!), in the summer of 2005 a Kuwaiti diplomat and his wife brought with them to the United States three Indian women as domestic workers. In order to obtain for the workers the appropriate visas, they presented contracts in which they promised each woman a monthly salary in the range of $1,300 for 8 hours of work per day, 6 days per week.

You know where this story is going. Once established at the residence at 7027 Elizabeth Drive in McLean, Va., according to the complaint, the couple proceeded to demand of the three women that they work non stop, 7 days a week, 18 hours a day, for which they were paid in the range of $250 each month, which they never saw as it was sent directly to their families.

The defendants, Waleed al-Saleh and his wife Maysaa al-Omar, abused the workers physically and emotionally:

They were subjected to threats and verbal and physical abuse, including one particularly violent incident in which Sabbithi was knocked unconscious after being thrown against a counter by Al Saleh. The women were often not allowed time to eat or to use the bathroom and frequently were deprived of food. Two of them were allowed one hour off a month to attend church. The workers had their passports taken away and they were isolated from contact with the external world.

“I was scared of my employers and believed that if I ran away or sought help they would harm me or maybe even kill me,” said Kumari Sabbithi, who is now living in New York. “I believed that I had no choice but to continue working for them even though they beat me and treated me worse than a slave.”

Some examples from the complaint: Continue reading

Posted in Law

Asha Rangappa: hottest female law school dean 2006

There are certain honors that most lawyers aspire to such as clerking for the Supreme Court, or being selected for it. And there are others that descend unwished for, like a boon sent by the gods to the wrong supplicant. One of these is winning the annual contest for hottest law school dean. In 2006, this “honor” went to Yale Law School Assistant Dean Asha Rangappa who the sponsoring web page called “as hot as a fire in a crowded theater.(That’s a little Con Law joke for those of you who don’t remember high school civics) “

Here’s what one of the nominations had to say:

“I write to nominate Asha Rangappa in your beautiful law school dean contest. First, she’s a genius: Princeton, Yale Law, a Fulbright, a First Circuit clerk. Second, she’s totally badass: from 2002 to 2005, she worked in the FBI as a Special Agent, focusing on counterintelligence investigations in New York City. How cool is that?

“Third, and most importantly, Asha is simply gorgeous. There hasn’t been this beautiful a woman in federal law enforcement since Jennifer Lopez pretended to be a U.S. US Marshal in ‘Out of Sight.’ This South Asian beauty — with her milk-chocolate skin, lively eyes, Julia Roberts smile, and reddish black tresses — will demolish the rest of your field…” [Link]

As if all that wasn’t hot enough, she also “founded the Yale Law School’s first theater troupe, the Court Jesters.”

For all you guys who are lining up to play George Clooney to her Jennifer Lopez, settle down, she’s taken:

Rangappa said she realizes the contest is not meant to be taken seriously. “More than anything I’m amused, because there’s some irony to winning a hottest anything contest when you’re eight months pregnant,” she said. [Link]

Her response to the award shows that the title hasn’t gone to her photogenic head:

It’s heartening to know that, despite the terrorists’ attempts to destroy our way of life, a healthy objectification of lawyers continues unabated [Link]

Those looks, a former spy and sense of humor to boot? Smoking hot most definitely, but are you sure she’s a lawyer? [Ducking ...]

BTW, in a coda to the whole story:

A month later she gave birth to a boy. Law School dean Harold Hongju Koh dubbed him “America’s hottest law baby.” [Link]

A whole family of hotties it seems …

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