Namita Bhandare

Namita Bhandare writes on gender and other social issues and has 25 years of experience in journalism. She has edited books and features in a documentary on sexual violence. She tweets as @namitabhandare

Articles by Namita Bhandare

Marital rape: The State must protect women

The National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS-5), released this past week, finds that when women are subject to sexual violence, husbands are the perpetrators in 82% of the cases. Yet 99.1% of sexual violence goes unreported when the perpetrator is the husband, found a 2018 analysis by Mint
“Women are being raped as we speak,” says lawyer Karuna Nundy who appeared for the petitioners. “It’s time to remove the patriarchal cloak that protects one class of rapists.” (Amal KS/HT PHOTO)
“Women are being raped as we speak,” says lawyer Karuna Nundy who appeared for the petitioners. “It’s time to remove the patriarchal cloak that protects one class of rapists.” (Amal KS/HT PHOTO)
Published on May 13, 2022 05:47 PM IST
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Why women are missing out on jobs

India needs a focused fight that involves government, the private sector and civil society. The government can pass laws and policies such as expanding paternity leave and providing tax breaks for companies that promote inclusion
 (Shutterstock)
(Shutterstock)
Updated on Apr 29, 2022 07:38 PM IST
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Focus on the crime, not on the rape victim

It is our convenient, shifting attitudes to rape, our unrelenting focus on the victim, not the crime, that make us all complicit. That an elected head of a state is part of this mob makes it tragic
Victim-blaming is not new. Survivors continue to be asked what they were wearing, why they were out, why they didn’t put up a strong enough fight. They continue to be subjected to banned practices like the two-finger test. If the case ever reaches court, they are asked humiliating questions; sexual history, for instance (REPRESENTATIVE PHOTO)
Victim-blaming is not new. Survivors continue to be asked what they were wearing, why they were out, why they didn’t put up a strong enough fight. They continue to be subjected to banned practices like the two-finger test. If the case ever reaches court, they are asked humiliating questions; sexual history, for instance (REPRESENTATIVE PHOTO)
Updated on Apr 15, 2022 06:45 PM IST
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It’s time for women to fight their own battles

For women who continue to fight for equal agency, there is something primitive about this modern version of throwing down the gauntlet
The time has come to say to men: We will fight our own battles. If you’re an ally, support us. If you’re not, get out of the way. (Biplov Bhuyan/HT PHOTO)
The time has come to say to men: We will fight our own battles. If you’re an ally, support us. If you’re not, get out of the way. (Biplov Bhuyan/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Apr 01, 2022 06:33 PM IST
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On hijab, don't ignore the ground realities 

If a mere headscarf can disrupt public order, then who is responsible: The student who wears it or the law enforcement agencies responsible for maintaining the peace?
A hijab-wearing student walks past a worker painting a wall to conceal a pro-hijab slogan, Hospet, March 16, 2022 (PTI)
A hijab-wearing student walks past a worker painting a wall to conceal a pro-hijab slogan, Hospet, March 16, 2022 (PTI)
Updated on Mar 19, 2022 04:51 PM IST
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When school becomes a hostile place for students

  • A boy is dead apparently because he did not fit social ideas of what is “normal”. His mother is fighting for justice. No parent should have to ever go through this again.
The unpalatable truth is that bullying remains the most common form of violence across schools. (airdone)
The unpalatable truth is that bullying remains the most common form of violence across schools. (airdone)
Updated on Mar 04, 2022 10:21 PM IST
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Hijab row: It’s about control, not choice

If you want to save Muslim women, then educate them. It really is that simple. Instead, school administrations, headed by politicians, deny girls education because of a piece of cloth on their heads
Burqa-clad female Muslim students arrive to attend a class at ATNC College, Shivamogga, February. 17, 2022 (PTI)
Burqa-clad female Muslim students arrive to attend a class at ATNC College, Shivamogga, February. 17, 2022 (PTI)
Updated on Feb 18, 2022 07:51 PM IST
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Rule of law remains an alien concept in India

This tribalist culture is reflected in ways in which the mob metes out what it sees as justice. It has the sanction of the crowd, whether it’s dealing with a pickpocket, suspected ‘beef eaters’ or ‘honour’ killings
Rule of law, says psychologist Rajat Mitra, remains an alien concept over seven decades after we adopted our Constitution. Sometimes this lack of faith spills over to those sworn to uphold the law (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Rule of law, says psychologist Rajat Mitra, remains an alien concept over seven decades after we adopted our Constitution. Sometimes this lack of faith spills over to those sworn to uphold the law (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Updated on Feb 04, 2022 07:27 PM IST
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Why rape victims hesitate to speak up

G Gopakumar’s acquittal of Franco Mulakkal, a bishop of the Jalandhar diocese, is the latest in misogynist rape judgments and tells you why sexual assault survivors remain reluctant to speak up. In two words: Rape trials
The acquittal of Tarun Tejpal in May 2021 falls into this pattern and is rife with graphic details about the survivor’s past sexual history, despite the law stating that it has no bearing on a rape trial. Like the Mulakkal judgment and like so many other rape judgments, it transgresses into the personal to become in a very real sense another violation of the survivor. And like the Mulakkal judgment, it is a cautionary tale on why women don’t speak up. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
The acquittal of Tarun Tejpal in May 2021 falls into this pattern and is rife with graphic details about the survivor’s past sexual history, despite the law stating that it has no bearing on a rape trial. Like the Mulakkal judgment and like so many other rape judgments, it transgresses into the personal to become in a very real sense another violation of the survivor. And like the Mulakkal judgment, it is a cautionary tale on why women don’t speak up. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Updated on Jan 21, 2022 08:39 PM IST
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A petri dish of deep distrust and hatred

The online ‘auction’ of Muslim women exists in an ecosystem of hate. But the sexualised attack of Muslim women is not new. Over the past year, there have been at least three “auctions” — May 2020, Eid in July, and November on Clubhouse
It reflects the divisiveness sown by media that makes free use of labels like “jihadi” and “anti-national” and, where hours after the arrest of an 18-year-old woman accused, anchors spin tear-jerker backgrounds of how she’s an orphan as if that justifies criminal behaviour. (HT Photo)
It reflects the divisiveness sown by media that makes free use of labels like “jihadi” and “anti-national” and, where hours after the arrest of an 18-year-old woman accused, anchors spin tear-jerker backgrounds of how she’s an orphan as if that justifies criminal behaviour. (HT Photo)
Updated on Jan 07, 2022 09:36 PM IST
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2021: A year of quite a few silver linings

A year of loss and devastation still managed to have its undeniable hurrahs. More women judges in the higher judiciary, and the Delhi High Court, set to welcome its first openly gay judge, were a win for wider representation
In the end, it wasn’t institutions so much as women themselves who raised the greater cheers. Lovlina Borghain, Mirabai Chanu, and PV Sindhu went to the Olympics and showed what women are made of. (Getty Images)
In the end, it wasn’t institutions so much as women themselves who raised the greater cheers. Lovlina Borghain, Mirabai Chanu, and PV Sindhu went to the Olympics and showed what women are made of. (Getty Images)
Updated on Dec 24, 2021 08:28 PM IST
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Mind The Gap | The case for and against raising the marriage age for women

Hello and welcome to Mind the Gap, a newsletter that adds perspective to the gender developments of the week.
Bringing the minimum age requirement for women at par with men falls in line with Constitutional guarantees of equality for all citizens (Shutterstock)
Bringing the minimum age requirement for women at par with men falls in line with Constitutional guarantees of equality for all citizens (Shutterstock)
Updated on Dec 20, 2021 11:13 AM IST
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ByNamita BhandareNamita Bhandare

Mind The Gap | No honour in these killings

Hello and welcome to Mind the Gap, a newsletter that adds perspective to the gender developments of the week.
‘Honour’ killings, where the families of daughters who exercise agency in their choice of marriage partners and so incur their family’s wrath for bringing disgrace, are India’s enduring shame (AFP)
‘Honour’ killings, where the families of daughters who exercise agency in their choice of marriage partners and so incur their family’s wrath for bringing disgrace, are India’s enduring shame (AFP)
Updated on Dec 12, 2021 07:37 PM IST
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Women bus drivers: A ticket to greater freedom

Hiring women drivers and conductors will instill confidence and enable more women to use public transport
DTC hired its first woman driver, V Saritha, in April 2015 with announcements to hire more. Six years later, Saritha remains its sole woman driver (Hindustan Times)
DTC hired its first woman driver, V Saritha, in April 2015 with announcements to hire more. Six years later, Saritha remains its sole woman driver (Hindustan Times)
Published on Dec 10, 2021 08:12 PM IST
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Mind The Gap | The Indian woman’s quest for autonomy

Hello and welcome to Mind the Gap, a newsletter that adds perspective to the gender developments of the week.
Behind the various laws that seek to regulate women’s bodies lies the question of choice. How freely do women exercise agency when it comes to marriage, when to have a baby, or how many babies to have? (Hindustan Times)
Behind the various laws that seek to regulate women’s bodies lies the question of choice. How freely do women exercise agency when it comes to marriage, when to have a baby, or how many babies to have? (Hindustan Times)
Updated on Dec 10, 2021 03:54 PM IST
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Mind The Gap | Wooing the Indian woman voter

Hello and welcome to Mind the Gap, a newsletter that adds perspective to the gender developments of the week.
We’ve come a long way from the days when parties promised free pressure cookers, mixer-grinders and gold for mangalsutras (Virendra Singh Gosain/HT PHOTO)
We’ve come a long way from the days when parties promised free pressure cookers, mixer-grinders and gold for mangalsutras (Virendra Singh Gosain/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Nov 28, 2021 12:05 PM IST
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The drastic rise in online child sexual abuse

Online child sexual abuse is worse than the pandemic that has resulted in its horrific rise. Increasing economic vulnerability and kids out of school have contributed to a 400% increase in the sexual exploitation of children in videos in 2020
On November 14, news of a raid in 76 cities by the CBI led to 83 arrests for making “obscene videos of children” (AFP)
On November 14, news of a raid in 76 cities by the CBI led to 83 arrests for making “obscene videos of children” (AFP)
Updated on Nov 26, 2021 07:37 PM IST
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Mind The Gap | The Indian woman’s search for agency

Hello and welcome to Mind the Gap, a newsletter that adds perspective to the gender developments of the week.
Under Indian law, sexual intercourse with a minor girl (defined as 16 years and younger) is defined as rape (PTI)
Under Indian law, sexual intercourse with a minor girl (defined as 16 years and younger) is defined as rape (PTI)
Updated on Nov 21, 2021 02:37 PM IST
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Mind The Gap | A corrosive crime that plays on loop

Hello and welcome to Mind the Gap, a newsletter that adds perspective to the gender developments of the week.
Victims of acid attacks are almost always young women from socio-economic marginalised communities who have turned down men (Sanjeev Verma/HT)
Victims of acid attacks are almost always young women from socio-economic marginalised communities who have turned down men (Sanjeev Verma/HT)
Updated on Nov 14, 2021 05:39 PM IST
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Sensitise teachers on transgender issues

India’s laws and the highest court have provided the direction. The challenge is to get its institutions to fall in line with the law
The bullying of transgender kids is routine despite the Supreme Court’s 2014 NALSA judgment that recognises the “third gender” as equal citizens (Shutterstock)
The bullying of transgender kids is routine despite the Supreme Court’s 2014 NALSA judgment that recognises the “third gender” as equal citizens (Shutterstock)
Updated on Nov 12, 2021 04:33 PM IST
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Mind the Gap | Coming out is not a ‘one-step process’

In India, there’s no one-size-fits-all coming out story. While some members of the LGBTQI community are lucky to have supportive families, others pay a heavy price
In a society where the Indian Psychiatric Association clarified only as recently as 2018 that homosexuality is not a mental illness, where there is as yet no explicit ban on unscientific “conversion” therapies and families can force LGBTQ children into an array of quack treatments, coming out can be daunting and, worse, downright dangerous. (HTPHOTO)
In a society where the Indian Psychiatric Association clarified only as recently as 2018 that homosexuality is not a mental illness, where there is as yet no explicit ban on unscientific “conversion” therapies and families can force LGBTQ children into an array of quack treatments, coming out can be daunting and, worse, downright dangerous. (HTPHOTO)
Updated on Nov 07, 2021 10:11 PM IST
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Mind The Gap | Report card: What is it like for girls being back in school?

Hello and welcome to Mind the Gap, a newsletter that adds perspective to the gender developments of the week.
As schools tentatively return to physical classes, the big questions are: How much learning has been lost? (HT PHOTO)
As schools tentatively return to physical classes, the big questions are: How much learning has been lost? (HT PHOTO)
Updated on Oct 31, 2021 05:17 PM IST
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Equal marriage rights for equal citizens

It’s time we celebrate love as the purest emotion between two individuals. It’s time we celebrate our Constitution for promising equality for all
At its core lies a clash between constitutional guarantees and societal morality (Amal KS/HT PHOTO)
At its core lies a clash between constitutional guarantees and societal morality (Amal KS/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Oct 29, 2021 06:31 PM IST
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Mind The Gap | Women leaders of India and the world

Hello and welcome to Mind the Gap, a newsletter that adds perspective to the gender developments of the week.
Only 268 of 2,839 Congress candidates — just 9.4% — who have contested a state election since 2017 were women (ANI)
Only 268 of 2,839 Congress candidates — just 9.4% — who have contested a state election since 2017 were women (ANI)
Updated on Oct 24, 2021 08:31 PM IST
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What it means to be a Dalit woman in India

Justice in one case does not signal the end of crimes against Dalit women. But it does signal one tiny step forward in a longer march against caste hierarchy.
Dalit women face sexual abuse daily, said Manjula Pradeep, convenor, National Council of Women Leaders. When rape survivors try to file police complaints, they are accused of filing false cases. “They don’t see us as human beings. The impunity is widespread,” she said. (PTI)
Dalit women face sexual abuse daily, said Manjula Pradeep, convenor, National Council of Women Leaders. When rape survivors try to file police complaints, they are accused of filing false cases. “They don’t see us as human beings. The impunity is widespread,” she said. (PTI)
Updated on Oct 15, 2021 04:21 PM IST
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Mind The Gap | The cost of being a modern working woman

From regressive comments on modern women to an obvious — and widening — gulf between girls and boys, the gender divide at home and at work appears to be deepening in India and the world
India is home to the world’s largest number of single women, but this is not a homogeneous group (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
India is home to the world’s largest number of single women, but this is not a homogeneous group (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Updated on Oct 14, 2021 07:27 PM IST
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Mind The Gap | From child marriage to MeToo, legitimising oppressive practices

This week saw child marriage back in the news. This and the Bombay High Court's new guidelines on sexual harassment at the workplace are worrying developments.
Child marriage is India’s enduring shame and we are home to the largest number of child brides in the world, with 1.5 million girls under 18 married every year, according to Unicef. Representative Image. (Manoj Kumar/Hindustan Times)
Child marriage is India’s enduring shame and we are home to the largest number of child brides in the world, with 1.5 million girls under 18 married every year, according to Unicef. Representative Image. (Manoj Kumar/Hindustan Times)
Updated on Oct 07, 2021 07:16 PM IST
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Mind The Gap | A week of triumphs, and trials, for women of the world

In India and parts of the world, women have had reason to celebrate this week. But systemic gender issues in a largely patriarchal society remain
As of January 2019, women make up 3.8% of the Indian Army, billed as the second-largest in the world. (Hindustan Times)
As of January 2019, women make up 3.8% of the Indian Army, billed as the second-largest in the world. (Hindustan Times)
Updated on Oct 01, 2021 07:05 PM IST
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The MeToo movement’s demand: A new deal at work

MeToo has a powerful message for women too, that of solidarity and a continuum. Feminist organising goes back to the reform movements of the 19th century. It has not always been united but we have seen its effectiveness through the anti-rape and anti-dowry movements of the 1970s and 1980s to the anti-rape upsurge in 2012. We know that we are linked with the past. We know that we are not alone.
Was the movement flawed? Indeed, it was. In a country where over 90% of employed women work in the informal sector, where were the voices of the factory workers, caregivers, farm labour, women on construction sites and brick kilns? Where were the LGBTQ+ voices? The Dalit voices? Moreover, despite #BelieveAllWomen, not every accusation fell under the rubric of workplace harassment. (AP)
Was the movement flawed? Indeed, it was. In a country where over 90% of employed women work in the informal sector, where were the voices of the factory workers, caregivers, farm labour, women on construction sites and brick kilns? Where were the LGBTQ+ voices? The Dalit voices? Moreover, despite #BelieveAllWomen, not every accusation fell under the rubric of workplace harassment. (AP)
Updated on Oct 01, 2021 03:34 PM IST
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A tale of Afghan women, music, and freedom

Music was an act of resistance for the girls in Afghanistan’s first all-women orchestra. Some managed to leave the country, but others lie low, their future uncertain, as they await clarity from the Taliban
Zohra, Afghan women’s orchestra, performs during the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in New Delhi, in 2017. (HT Archive)
Zohra, Afghan women’s orchestra, performs during the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in New Delhi, in 2017. (HT Archive)
Updated on Sep 17, 2021 05:52 PM IST
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Thursday, May 19, 2022