Recent posts

Rape In Southeast Asia

(Trigger warning for descriptions and depictions of sexual assault)

Thanks to a long-term study conducted by the UN, we now have some numbers on the prevalence of rape and sexual assault in southeast Asia. On average, one in four men included in the study (of over 10,000 total men) admitted to raping at some point in their lives. One of the key aspects of this study was that researchers did not intentionally use the word for “rape” in their questions. The questions instead described forcible sex acts. Additionally, the researchers distinguished between forcing sex with intimate partners and with strangers, and found that rape between married partners was more prevalent than between those not involved in a relationship. Continue Reading →

Daily Sexual Violence, In India And America

The rape and murder of Jyothi Singh Pandey in New Delhi brought the world’s attention to the problem of sexual violence in India, with many calling for police reforms as well as culture-wide changes. And it is a culture-wide problem: as this article in The Atlantic demonstrates, there are a host of subtle cultural oppressions, which add up to “ongoing attacks on women, be they decisions to feed them last, marry them as teenagers, skimp on their medical care, or gang rape them on a bus.” But then read this piece, which focuses on the sexual violence American women face. With our rape rates -  there is a reported rape every 6.2 minutes, and one in five women will be raped in her lifetime – we also have an epidemic of ongoing attacks on women. Sexual violence is not an isolated phenomenon, and it’s not something our modernized culture has stamped out: it is systemic oppression. Continue Reading →

Challenging Rape Culture In India (Trigger Warning)

A 23-year old medical student was gang-raped on a public bus in Delhi, India, leading to nation-wide protests. Protesters point out the pervasive rape culture in India, such that rape is horrifyingly common and the legal consequences are few. Many protesters are hopeful about both cultural and legal reforms, using this latest incident as a means of opening a public dialogue about a troubling problem. I’m hopeful on their behalf, too. Continue Reading →

Hijra In India

What if you were born male, but identified as female? For many people, that would make their gender female (and I personally agree). In India, they have a “third gender” of people called hijra. As with transgender individuals in just about any country, hijra face discrimination and abuse. However, there seems to be more and more articles demanding support and equality, and there was even recently a Hijra Habba (festival). Continue Reading →

Sex-Selective Abortions And The Value Of Girls In India

It is poignant to note as I originally wrote this post on International Women’s Day that South Asian women face incredible challenges. As noted in The Himalayan Times, South Asia “is at the bottom of a global ranking of gender inequality using the five indicators of maternal mortality, adolescent fertility, parliamentary representation, education and labor force participation.” Millions of girls are estimated to have been killed in infancy, in childhood, or aborted after ultrasounds that revealed the gender of the fetus, leading to a not insignificant population imbalance. In India, for example, it is estimated that there are eight girls for every ten boys due to these practices. This video report provides some cultural context for the reasons for sex-selective abortions in India, showing some heart-rending interviews from unwanted girls and women who were pressured into aborting their female fetuses. Continue Reading →

Why You Should Know Who Sunita Murmu Is

While in Chennai, I was reading a newspaper (The Hindu) and saw an article about a sixteen-year-old named Sunita Murmu. I’d never heard of her before, and I expect most Westerners haven’t. But you should know her story. As one news story summarizes, Sunita faced persecution in her village in West Bengal when she got romantically involved with a non-tribal boy from a nearby village. The local tribal panchayat, or self-proclaimed governing body, sentenced her to be stripped publicly and endure sexual harassment while walking around her village. Continue Reading →

Condom Sign in India

While in Shillong, Meghalaya (a state in the north-east of India), I saw this sign in the middle of a bustling marketplace:

I saw a handful of signs like this around the city, but I don’t know where local folks can get condoms, so is the message really doing any good? Follow us on Twitter @mysexprofessor. Follow Jeana, the author of this post, @foxyfolklorist. Continue Reading →

Sex Education in India

Greetings, MSP readers! I just returned from 3 weeks in India, and I can’t wait to go back! While I was mostly occupied with sightseeing and attending talks at a conference in my home discipline, folklore, I was also attuned to what was going on with sex education and sexuality in India. Here are some interesting facts that I learned while there. Sex education is not universally offered in Indian schools. Continue Reading →

Urban Legends About Travel And Sex

Dearest MSP readers, posts from me will be scarce for a while as I’ll be traveling through India for roughly three weeks. I’m incredibly excited because I’ve been interested in Indian cultures for a while (for example, I’ve researched women’s dress in India), and this will be my first time visiting. I’ll be presenting a paper at the International Society for Folk Narrative Research in Shillong, and also visiting friends of my aunt. Continue Reading →