New Internationalist

Loving Women – Being Lesbian and Unprivileged in India

July 2007

A journey through lesbian working-class India

‘You ask me if I have heard the word “lesbian”. No, I have not heard it,” says factory worker Vimlesh, one of the women interviewed by Maya Sharma in this extraordinary book. Vimlesh continues: ‘I am attracted to women. Why create these categories, such deep differences between male and female? We are all human beings, aren’t we?’

‘Groundbreaking’ is an over-used epithet, but in the case of this journey through lesbian working-class India it is entirely warranted. The movement for lesbian rights that has emerged in the country during the past decade has been predominantly privileged. Only women who can afford to live independently of tight family networks and the enforcements of tradition can live as lesbians. As for the women-who-love-women in shanty towns and villages, who knows who they are or how they live or even whether they exist?

With patience, determination and sensitivity, Maya Sharma has managed to make contact and get to know these ‘invisible’ women; the stories with which they slowly entrust her make for compelling and moving reading. These are powerful testimonies of love, courage, despair, accommodation, violence, endurance, passion, prejudice and rebellion. There are surprises aplenty, and ingenuity too; with little or no access to the ‘movement’, the women have to navigate their way around compulsory heterosexual marriage, stultifying patriarchal tradition and the omnipresent threat of violence. Some interviewees are fiercely memorable. Juhi, for example, who says: ‘It’s a blessing to have daughters. I did not want sons, I know what men are all about. All my daughters are lesbians. Oh yes! I know the word lesbian. So do my daughters.’

Vanessa Baird

This column was published in the July 2007 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

Comments on Loving Women – Being Lesbian and Unprivileged in India

Leave your comment







 

  • Maximum characters allowed: 5000
  • Simple HTML allowed: bold, italic, and links

Registration is quick and easy. Plus you won’t have to re-type the blurry words to comment!
Register | Login

...And all is quiet.

Subscribe to Comments for this articleArticle Comment Feed RSS 2.0

Guidelines: Please be respectful of others when posting your reply.

Loving Women – Being Lesbian and Unprivileged in India Fact File
Product information by Maya Sharma
Star rating5
Product link http://www.yodapress.com
Publisher Yoda Press

Get our free fortnightly eNews

Multimedia

Videos from visionOntv's globalviews channel.

Related articles

Recently in Books

All Books

Popular tags

All tags

This article was originally published in issue 402

New Internationalist Magazine issue 402
Issue 402

More articles from this issue

  • Burundi

    July 1, 2007

    A small landlocked state in central Africa, sandwiched between its vast neighbours Tanzania and Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi has suffered as much from ethnic conflict as its other (equally tiny) neighbour, Rwanda. Yet while the 1993 Rwandan genocide continues to commandeer international attention, Burundi’s travails tend to slip under the radar.

  • Of robbers and plants

    July 1, 2007

    Economic crunch in Mauritius

  • Edible Earth

    July 1, 2007

    In search of bright ideas, David Ransom begins by learning some very basic lessons about how to design a more sustainable, permanent culture.

New Internationalist Magazine Issue 436

If you would like to know something about what's actually going on, rather than what people would like you to think was going on, then read the New Internationalist.

– Emma Thompson –

A subscription to suit you

Save money with a digital subscription. Give a gift subscription that will last all year. Or get yourself a free trial to New Internationalist. See our choice of offers.

Subscribe