Archive for November, 2009

From South Africa: Selwyn Milborrow sent me a poem

Selwyn Milborrow (1967) is a poet, living in Port Elizabeth, Nelson Mandelabaai, South Africa. We know each other through Facebook. One day he saw a picture of me (24 years young in this pic) on my Facebook profile, which inspired him to write a poem. The picture was taken while I was hitchhiking in French Guyana, tired and sitting beside the road.  What an honour. Thank you Selwyn! Also for quoting me.

is it a sweet spring day

as you sit next to the road
in a strange country?

what’s in the bag next to you
is it filled with rainbows & hopes
does the city’s inner heart hear
your dreams of a better tomorrow
have you written it down in your journal
for years later to ponder on?

go on
lay your dreamy head on your hand
& enjoy the bird’s-eye view.

©2009 Selwyn Milborrow

India Today: ‘The Iceberg of Rape’

by Usha Marhé

“A rapist creates an opportunity that allows for a situation where there is privacy so that his control over the victim is complete.”

“…in most cases rape is well-planned and a considered act. The rapist actually enacts the rape in his mind for many times before he actually carries it out; the opportunity in most of the cases is created by manipulating situation carefully.”

These quotes are from an excellent article in India Today: The Iceberg of Rape. (Thank you Annie Paul, for drawing my attention to it.)

tapusjenvoorkant1In 1996 my book ‘Tapu Sjen/Conceal Your Shame’ about incest among Surinamese people was published. Incest is sexual abuse by family members or other caretakers who can be considered family. In this book victims of Indian, African, Chinese and Javanese origin tell their stories. I myself suffered from incest, which is the reason why I had so many questions. Nobody could answer them, so I went searching for answers. I wrote those answers and the stories I found along down in my book, breaking the taboo about this subject in the Surinamese society with it once and for all.

Through study and lots of interviews I came to the same conslusion as stated in the article: with incest (sexual abuse) the abuser creates an opportunity that allows for a situation where there is privacy so that his control over the victim is complete. And in most cases rape c.q. incest is well-planned and a considered act. The abuser actually enacts the abuse in his mind for many times before he actually carries it out; the opportunity in most of the cases is created by manipulating situations carefully. The article in India Today also states that in ‘as many as 90 percent’ of the cases of ‘Date Rape the victim is known to the rapist’.

Make no mistake about this, always keep in mind when you read about sexual abusers: creates an opportunity and well-planned and a considered act. Because people don’t believe this or don’t want to see this, they silence themselves and by doing that, they protect the rapist instead of the victim. They rather acuse victims of enabling the abusers, because it is easier handling somebody who is already victimized. As a society, we thus enable sexual abusers to do what they are addicted to and want to relive time after time for the high they get out of it: dominate and control others, destroying their lives and spirits.

Do you want to be a part of the problem or a part of the solution? Then stop enabling sexual abusers, as university officials are reported to be doing in this article in The Australian: Women in jeans no-no on Kanpur campus! Quote: WOMEN students have been banned from wearing jeans in India by university officials who blame Western dress for rising incidents of sexual harassment and assault. “We found the offenders mostly target girls in jeans. (The decision) was necessary as we keep receiving complaints from parents and students who expect us to act against the offenders,” said Dayanand Degree college principal Meeta Jamal. “We inform the police about the incidents but the college’s authorities have jointly decided to refrain girls from wearing jeans or using cell phones on campuses.”

Duh… How stupied can one be? This is a perfect example of blaming the victim and enabling sexual abusers.

Luckily, there are smarter persons walking around too. Quote: “Simpy Sinha, 27, said she suspected a political motive in the harassment in Kanpur, similar to the annual campaign by Hindu nationalist groups to prevent Valentine’s Day celebrations. “These people, they just try to create some havoc to get attention. Why not tell these boys not to leave their houses after 6pm?” she said. “Even girls wearing salwar kameez (long shirt and pants) or saris get raped.”

Educate yourself and help spreading awareness. Because this is a big problem in our world. If in the United States, a country considered to be modern, democratic and leader of the ‘free’ world, 1 out of every 4 women has been/is sexually abused, which is the tip the rape-iceberg in that country, ask yourself: what is happening in the rest of the world?


First published on my blog on June the 17th, 2009. Link:

Column by Usha Marhé

Sholay. This movie about courage, friendship and love made quite an impact on me, when I first saw it as a little girl at the age of ten. Because of that, it probably always will be in my top three shortlist of favourite Indian movies. The song ‘Yeh Dosti, Hum Nahin Torenge’ (This friendship I will never break) is an ode to the true depths of real camaraderie, or to say it in a hipper word: brotherhood. Sholay was a big success and also the movie that was Amitabh Bachchan’s breakthrough with an international audience. The combination of his tall, lean body, his thick black luscious looking hair and the code of forgotten honour he brought so well through his roles in movies made women fall for him by bundles. For men he was their new role model: they wanted to be (as) him, also to enhance their success with women. Amitabh sure brought new life to romance.

I saw the movie in a cinema with the name De Paarl (The Pearl), in Paramaribo, the capital city of my birth country Suriname. The management had to put extra chairs in the walking isles between the seats. Too many tickets were sold: they didn’t want to disappoint the crowd that put on their best clothes to go meet & greet in the cinema on this Sunday afternoon. Because that was what going to the cinema mainly meant in Suriname, before the curfew of military dictator Bouterse in the eighties, in combination with the arrival of the then new video player, destroyed many of the cinema’s and the social life it brought to the city. Cinema De Paarl has been rebuild and now houses dancing Zsa Zsa Zu. But then long rows of pretty dressed grown ups and children stood in front of the ticket boot, almost every weekend. It was wise to come earlier, so you could be sure to get a ticket. Also, you had the time to meet friends and family, to buy soft drinks or chips. Or if the movie was in the chique Cinema Star or the then new and hip Cinema City, enjoy the feeling of being in the cinema, standing in the hall.

Can you imagine how I felt, when I had the chance to interview Amitabh himself, in the Krasnapolsky Hotel in Amsterdam, about seventeen years after swooning as a ten year old in De Paarl? Never imagined or dreamed that this ever could or would happen; it’s almost indescribable how all kinds of experiences and environments came together, in those moments. That day I finally concluded that I had made a good move travelling the road of journalism. As a remembrance of the interview I have four black and white pictures caressing the walls of my home: two of me with my Amitabh, and two of him alone. My piece was published in a national Dutch paper, and was reprinted in Suriname’s daily paper De Ware Tijd; it was certainly big news that one of Suriname’s own journalists had an encounter with this idol. After Sholay he became The Big B.: a trademark for Indian cinema, a gauge for success. In the later years of his career he started making social committed movies like Black with Rani Mukherjee. You can say a lot about him, but not that he is a dull person. He lives life to his fullest potential.

A while ago I found a small cinema in Amsterdam, where I can programme movies now and then, especially Indian ones. A month ago I started with Laaga Chunari Mein Daag (with Rani Mukherjee). Sholay is on my shortlist. Meanwhile, I have met people from different cultural backgrounds (Iran, Marocco, Turkey, India, The Netherlands, Suriname, etc.) but with one love: Indian cinema. And to be more specific: for Sholay. One day we will sit in the dark and travel the road to memory lane together, make Basanti (Hema Malini) soften our hearts, be impressed again by that dirty low down bastard of a criminal Gabbersingh (Amjad Khan). We all will long for that moment where Amitabh Bachchan and Dharmendra playback their song ‘Yeh Dosti, Hum Nahin Torenge’ and smilingly listen to this ode to friendship. Maybe, this time, with tears in our eyes. Because all these characters have become our beloved friends. And because now we already know how the story of this friendship will end. ♥