Newt In A Tea Cup

{February 23, 2007}   …T’ill my mood does us part…

February 24, 2007
Married and abandoned – the 30,000 wives ‘duped by Westerners’
Jeremy Page in Barapind

October 28, 2002, was the happiest day of Parveen Paul’s life: she was 26 years old, newly graduated from university and she was getting married.

What is more, within three months she planned to leave her village in Punjab and move to Bedford to live with her new British Indian husband.

As she watched the 300 guests dancing and feasting on sticky Punjabi sweets at the Anand Palace wedding hall, her head spun with excitement.

“I felt like I could fly,” she said , leafing through the wedding album that she keeps under her bed. “What a joke.”

Five years after her wedding, Mrs Paul is still sitting in her village with no hope of joining her husband in Britain and few prospects of marrying again.

She is one of tens of thousands of Indian women abandoned by Indian émigré husbands — many of them British — after hastily arranged marriages.

Some husbands simply lose interest after their brides fail to obtain visas, but many pocket their wives’ dowries or demand money to support their visa applications.

Others are already married and use their Indian brides as “holiday wives”, often leaving them to bring up children on their own.

There are no official statistics, partly because so few victims speak out, but the Government estimates that 30,000 Indian women have been duped in this way since 2004.

Of them, an estimated 15,000 come from Mrs Paul’s native district of Doaba, which accounts for the majority of Punjabi émigrés.

“This is ruining the lives of thousands of Indian women,” said B. S. Ramoowalia, an MP and former Cabinet minister, who is campaigning against the practice.

“The boys in Britain or wherever have absolutely no fear of any legal action against them in India. They can exploit this craze for emigration.” The problem is not new: Indians, especially in Punjab, have long regardedthe marriage of a daughter to an Indian émigré as a way to get the whole family to the West.

It has become so acute in the past two years that the Indian Government now wants Britain and other Western countries to deport errant husbands. It also wants Western governments to carry out background checks on nonresident Indians (NRIs) applying for Indian visas to find out if they are already married.

It wants foreign laws tightened to stop NRI husbands getting divorces without the wife being represented in court, and it is drafting new laws at home to protect abandoned wives’ rights. The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs announced that women who are divorced or deserted within two years of marriage to NRIs would be entitled to legal and financial aid of up to $1,000 (£510).

“We need more dialogue because it has become like a disease in the last few years,” Girja Vyas, head of India’s National Commission for Women, said.

“We are also raising awareness in India so these girls realise that all that glitters is not gold.”

The British Government has yet to receive any formal requests from India, although British officials say that they have also become increasingly concerned about the problem.

Mrs Paul and her husband, Gulshan first met through a relative when he came to look for a bride in October 2002. He was divorced and a little on the old side at 35, but she was marrying late and could not afford to be picky. Also, his family did not want a dowry.

So the two families arranged a meeting and six days later the couple were married. Three days after that Mrs Paul applied for a British visa and Mr Paul returned to Bedford alone.

The problems began when her visa application was turned down because the couple falsely stated that they had known each other for two years.

Mr Paul says that was a genuine mistake. Mrs Paul says he instructed her to lie on the application form and then deliberately contradicted her in front of consular officials. She also alleges that her husband demanded 500,000 rupees (£6,000) to continue supporting her visa application. When she refused he filed for divorce in Britain.

“That’s a lie,” Mr Paul said. “Why would someone in Britain demand money from someone in India?” He says he helped his wife to appeal the High Commission’s decision twice and filed for divorce only when it was clear that she could not live in Britain.

“I’m ready to live with her in the UK but I don’t want to move to India — what would I do there?” he said. “Her family must accept that the marriage is over and find a new husband while she is young enough.”

That is easier said than done in a small village in Punjab, where divorced women are strongly stigmatised.

“I want him to come back to get divorced and face trial here,” Mrs Paul said. “He took my youth. Now my life is ruined.”

Wedding list

For a husband or wife to be allowed to settle in Britain, the married couple must:

— Prove the marriage is legal and that they have met

— Prove that they intend to live together permanently

— Prove that the British partner can support the emigrating partner without relying on public funds — providing evidence in the form of bank statements or a letter from their employer

— Show that they will live in unshared accommodation

— Fiancées are also eligible, provided the couple can show that they plan to marry within a reasonable time, usually six months If a man has more than one wife, only one will be allowed to join him in the UK

Source: UK Government

The thing that strikes me about this is the very strong dependence that the women have on men. The woman in the first paragraph is educated at university, strong, and still she hinges completely on her absent husband. Their financial, social and emotional standing is literally in these guys hands and yet the alternative isn’t that great either – why else would you marry someone you’ve only known for a week?

With the rate of marriage in the UK at an all time low this reinforces what’s been there all along. For no matter how beautiful a loving, mutual, equal marriage can be, it is founded in a tradition of ownership. Perhaps the women are valued, but in the same way as property, and harm against them is a type of human vandalism. For women dependent on men to live a marriage is joyful because she is now told she is guaranteed a good meal and bed. However what she is told is not always true. If a guy doesn’t place much worth in his “property” it is much too easy for him to throw her away without a second glance. I’m not saying they should stay with those jerks but they have to bear an unjust weight of consequences. A single, older and especially divorced women is obviously a disgrace- why else would he have left her?

Women don’t have a leg to stand on either way. Doomed if you’re married, doomed if you aren’t. Marriage has not been a successful institution because it was a success in of itself. It’s been successful because for many women there aren’t many other options. That and dowries, which don’t exists here any more and are also illegal in India but still common. It’s the physical gain from the union that has always been at the forefront.

It’s so important to teach all women how to develop financial independence – one of the reasons why the pay gap needs to be universally closed. Women should never have to be scared of being single, and they should never suffer for their partners thoughtless actions in such a way. Being in control of your finance, of what you own is a huge part of this.

Don’t be scared to end up single. That is not alone. Single can be one of the most satisfying states of being if you are comfortable with yourself and secure with the world, emotionally and financially and intellectually.

It is when you have had your promise of love and protection grabbed away from your hands and are left gasping for it, that true loneliness invades.

When your self is dependent on someone else- when that someone haunts your self respect without caring; One can be very alone with that company.


I believe in the power of stories to not only create worlds but reinforce our own. I believe that fiction has been a more constant force throughout peoplehood’s history than science has been. I also believe that a lot of the dissonance between religious myths and scientific fact has more to do with people wanting the story. I’m not saying they can’t go together- I’m saying that there are are two different brush strokes used to make those subjects and without a clever artist who understands both mediums the canvas breaks. Metaphysical world is not the physical.

I also believe that film is the medium through which our modern Odysseus and Achilles battle it out.

Nothing changes does it?

Of the current top ten films all of them are directed by men. There is only one woman who co-authored one film.

Here are some more facts:

# Nineteen percent (19%) of films released in 2005 employed no women directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers or editors.
– Celluloid Ceiling 2006 Report

# Women accounted for only 7% of directors in 2005, representing a decline of 4 percentage points as compared with 11% in 2000.
– Celluloid Ceiling 2006 Report

# A comparison of women’s employment on the top 250 films in 2005 and 1998 shows that the percentages of women directors, writers, executive producers, and cinematographers have declined, while the percentage of women producers has increased.
– Celluloid Ceiling 2006 Report

# Women working behind the scenes influenced the number of on-screen women. When a program had no female creators, females accounted for 40% of all characters. However, when a program employed at least one woman creator, females comprised 45% of all characters.
– Boxed In: Women On Screen and Behind the Scenes in the 2003-04 Prime-time Season, by Martha Lauzen

# In Academy Award history, only three female filmmakers have been nominated for best director award (Lina Wertmuller in 1977, Jane Campion in 1994, and Sofia Coppola in 2004), but none have won.
– Women’s E-News

It’s important to choose your battles. I decided not to pursue script writing because I don’t have the energy to break through such a marble ceiling. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to write – I will. Hopefully I will be able to write successful books with crisp cover and themes that people care about. Maybe I will write a script one day.

But most of all I want to write women.

Because most of the women I read about or nothing like women I live and hear or want to hear about.

I want to write women that are ambitious and ruthless without wearing a power, leather type suit and being evil.

I want to write women who don’t need to be saved by a guy to cement the love interest (because he always needs that hint of superiority doesn’t he?). I want to write women that don’t even have to pine for a guy to be considered rounded.

I want women who get PMS and cramps, women who have greasy hair and pimples and hangnails and don’t get a makeover but are still cool.

I want women that fight crime in a comfortable jogging suit and trainers, with a realistic muscular build and hair cut short so it won’t get in the way.

I want women to be involved in social issues and to be the heroes of my own film noire, detective novel, without being as perky as Nancy Drew.

I want a woman who is empowered through her intelligence and compassion and love not her body and who isn’t considered a pushover.

I want women who aren’t thought of as bodies and types first.

Because people tend to write best about what they know, in an overwhelmingly male domain women tend to be badly presented. Some men do write fantastic female characters and perspectives and that is where the gift of empathy comes in. But a lot of the time those female characters are moulded as the supporting role.

There is a degree of wish-fulfilment in fiction. Men write about the type of men they want to be and the type of women they want to be with. Titular characters are often male because men have the prerogative of getting on and saving the world without the expectations of looking like a shop-window mannequin whilst doing it. Men’s life’s are limited by stereotypes but they are active stereotypes with a wide range of interests.

Which goes a way towards explaining why girls will read about boy’s lives but boy’s won’t read about girl’s.

Because here’s a little truth – the stereotype of what interests and consists of femininity can be really, really boring.

That’s not to say that it doesn’t deserve exposition- in fact there are many great novels that explore that issue and lives restrained by that- but that women are more than a pink apron or high heels and lipstick.

But, hey! It’d be nice if a woman-like-me could save the world for once.

{January 8, 2007}   What Brave New World Is This!

When I was little I was naive. I used to believe that the world was a very fair place and if it wasn’t all you had to do was say “That’s not fair!” loud enough for an adult to hear and they’d fix it for you.

And then I started maturing and I started to look at the world. Not just look – analyse. And it so happens that the world does not play by the rules I imagined.

Here’s a report that shocked even my cynical self:

The glass ceiling is still holding back 6,000 women from the top 33,000 jobs in Britain, according to new research from the Equal Opportunities Commission. Thirty years after the introduction of the Sex Discrimination Act, women are “woefully under-represented” in the country’s boardrooms, politics and courts, it says.

That’s a hell of a lot of women missing out. And these are in important jobs that represent where the real power is. These are the jobs that affect the way we live.

Help from nannies has not enabled successful women to maintain their careers after having children, the research suggests. The EOC blames a male-dominated culture in the professions for resistance to flexible working.

So, here’s the rub. Women are saddled with not only working but also with bringing up children -and they might as well be alone in that task. A childless older woman with a successful career is not considered fully successful. A man is. For a woman, others – the husband’s career or her children – must always, always come first.

There are two solutions to this that I see at the moment.

One is that men do their share of the housework and childcare.

The other is that every workplace installs better and free childcare centers in the building.

Since nannies are said to not be working it appears that it is up to men to make the difference on the work load at home and by changing the flexibility of working hours.

I dream of a time when a single income will support a whole family and each partner works part-time.

The upward trend in the proportion of women in top jobs is “painfully slow”, the report says, and in some sectors there is even a decline. The proportion of women in parliament has slipped in the 12 months since the EOC’s last Sex and Power survey and is now at 19.5% – lower than in Iraq, Afghanistan and Rwanda.

First of all – Rwanda is actually on top of the list with women leader’s world wide. But the reason is that all the men died in the Genocide. Women are in charge because there are no men left. Kinda like why women got jobs and suffrage after the first and second World War.

Crap, is the fallout of a Genocide the only way to get equality in this world?!

But seriously people – we have less women in government then Iraq and Afghanistan!?

There are no words. Except a sound rebutal of all those claiming we have reached the end of the road.

Here’s some numbers to get into –

At the current rate of improvement it would take 20 years to achieve equality in the civil service, 40 years in the judiciary and 60 years among FTSE 100 companies. But it would take 200 years – at least another 40 elections – to achieve an equal number of MPs in parliament. The proportion in the Scottish assembly is nearly 40% and in Wales the figure is 51.7%. The EOC said it was an argument for parties to use all-women shortlists, as in Wales.

Now, I only got a B in my Maths GCSE but even I know that’s pathetic.

And it gets worse.

But figures for women from ethnic minorities are worse. There are only two black women MPs, four non-white top 100 FTSE directors and nine top civil servants from ethnic minority backgrounds.

That’s right. Racism effects women too. Surprise!

I don’t think it’s conscious racism or maybe even sexism. It’s just that when no one sees women in power, women become invisible eventually completely disapearing from the higher concerns. We are defined by other people and as such we have no voice. Invisibility is associated with something not existing so there is no need to adress it.

This invisibility is present since the dawn of time – you only need to look at women’s history to notice.

The research suggests that women are experiencing the same barriers to getting the jobs they want as women in lower paid jobs. The pay gap between men and women is 3.7% in their 20s, rising to 10.7% for thirtysomethings, a change which is largely attributed to the impact of childbirth on women’s earnings. The same is not true for men who become fathers.

Small injustice on all fronts leads to big oppresion. That last sentence is the key.

Female workers in the UK suffer one of the biggest pay gaps in Europe – 17% for full-time staff and 38% for part-time – because they are more likely to be in low-paid jobs and then slip further down the career ladder after having children, the Women and Work Commission found last year.

*Sigh* Le plus ca change…

Katherine Rake, director of the Fawcett Society, which campaigns for equal rights, said: “This demonstrates how much of a male preserve power remains in the UK. If decisions are only being taken by one group of the population they will not reflect the lives of ordinary people. It proves beyond a doubt that life at the top is white and male.”

The annual report is the last from the EOC, which is due to be amalgamated with the Commission for Racial Equality and the Disability Rights Commission from next year into a new body called the Commission for Equality and Human Rights.

There have been concerns that the women’s rights agenda could be sidelined in the new body, which will be headed by Trevor Phillips, current chair of the CRE.

“There is so much more to be done. This demonstrates that we haven’t solved the problem of sex discrimination,” said Ms Watson.

So here I am. Typing away on a keyboard and angry at the world I’ve inherited. Where does this leave me, I ask perhaps because I’m selfish, perhaps because I care?

It leaves me not represented in a government that styles itself a democracy.

It leaves me handicapped in a seld stylled meritocracy.

It leaves me unequal in a self-styled equal society.

But more than that it leaves me screaming. And I’m not going to shut up. Yeah, I’m pissed. But I’ve got a damn good reason.

And I’ve grown up and I’ve analised the situation- this is my conclusion:

For so long we’ve been treated as children and in some ways, us women have been children not given the chance to mature. Now we believe the world is a fair place and that surely if something is wrong we can call the kindly big white man and he’ll fix it for us. When it comes to social justice for women this has been a prevailing attitude – just wait a little longer, have another tea party and maybe they’ll fit in the rights of 50%+ of the population in their tight schedules – must be busy destroying all those countries).

But life isn’t fair and the big white man isn’t going to fix it. We need to grow up and grab our share with both hands even if it means throwing a tantrum (or participating in mass peaceful civil disobediance) along the way.

[ Bolds all mine. Article from

et cetera