These last few months when I’ve been bed-ridden and vacationing, I read for over 8 hours a day. Yes, I counted.
I love reading long articles.
Most websites are not designed to help you with reading long form articles. Till Readability happened, I would tweak websites via firebug to make long articles readable. Readability has changed everything for me. One click and 2000 word articles in NYRB are not an eye sore.
I cant find Indian long-form writing easily
Yes, Caravan tries, ugly typography notwithstanding, but I have a suspicion that the best longform writing by Indians on the web happens in blogs. Are there other outlets? I know about Longreads. I was thrilled to find a movement that cares about reading. I even have my own page on Longreads. But Longreads, now, is all about American/British writing.
Help me out here
I care about the beauty of the writing. I care about what you have to say. I like writing that goes beyond the usual conclusions. I know this country is messed up, I know women are treated badly, I know healthcare sucks. Stating that much is not enough. Tell me a story. Or give me a new idea. Say something hilarious or outrageous. Make me think. Please.
I will help you
On my blog, I will run a regular digest of such long reads. I will also tag them with #longreads or #longreadsindia on twitter.
Oh, and spare me politics.
Long-form, for the web, is anything 1500 words or more but not 6000 words. Plus/Minus 10% is fine.
According to a photo essay by Andrew Biraj on Bangladesh’s legal brothels, madams dose (often underage) sex-workers with Dexamethasone, a steroid, to make them look older and fatter. The photographs are sexually suggestive and made me uncomfortable, but the issues are worth examining.
These kids, as young as 12, are bought from parents or lured into sex-trade as an escape from penury and then literally fattened before they are pimped to costumers.
Dexamethasone is a powerful corticosteroid. It suppresses inflammation in the body and is used in the treatment of various disease like Rheumatoid arthritis and other AutoImmune diseases.
One of the most visible and early side effects of corticosteroid use is deposition of fat on the upper body. Typically, short term use will result in chubby cheeks, rounder shoulders and some deposition of fat on the chest. This might give the appearance of being chubby or healthy but is a side effect, and not a pleasant one.
Corticosteroids have a darker side, CDC lists some of the side effects
Possible side effects of short-term corticosteroid use:
- Increased fat on the face (rounded face), upper back, and belly
- Upset stomach
- Increased blood sugar
- Increased hunger
- Behavior changes, trouble sleeping, irritability, depression
- Increased risk of pneumonia, thrush (white coating in the mouth), and other infections
- Weight gain, salt and water retention
- High blood pressure
- Stretch marks on the skin, acne, poor wound healing, increased and unusual hair growth
Possible side effects of long-term use (3 months or longer):
- All short-term side effects
- Poor growth in children (can be severe)
- Brittle bones (bones break easily, problems with hips and shoulder joints)
- Muscle weakness
- Eye problems
As you can see, not only are these kids subject to being sex-slaves, but also face a lifetime of illness for a decade of two of sex-work.
There is very little medical data from Bangladesh about steroid abuse, The only people who seem interested are news outlets. UNICEF in its “Background Paper on Good Practices and Priorities to Combat Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children in Bangladesh” mentions it in passing and refers to an 2010 BBC story about the same.
Most public health and medical research into sex-work looks almost exclusively at Sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS, a few look at violence, but the longer term health and non-psychoactive drug abuse often gets sidelined.
One could dismiss this problem and say “if you are not going to live to be 40, STI’s are more a priority than Diabetes”.
Read more at
- CDC page on Corticosteroids
- Background Paper on Good Practices and Priorities to Combat Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children in Bangladesh Author: Heissler, K.
- Bangladesh’s dark brothel steroid secret BBC
- Sex-trafficking, Violence, Negotiating Skill, and HIV Infection in Brothel-based Sex Workers of Eastern India, Adjoining Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh Kamalesh Sarkar, Baishali Bal, Rita Mukherjee, Sekhar Chakraborty, Suman Saha, Arundhuti Ghosh, Scott Parsons J Health Popul Nutr. 2008 June; 26(2): 223–231. PMCID: PMC2740670
Cathartist, who has written on Cerebral salad before, mailed me with her response to the criticism that Meena Kandasamy was facing for her article about domestic violence. I am turning the mail into a post. As usual, she is brilliant. Follow her on twitter.
A guide to life – General edition
Can doctors be unhealthy? Yes
Do comedians cry? Yes
Can dentists have bad teeth? Yes
Do priests sin? Yes
Can shrinks get depressed? Yes
Do teachers smoke? Yes
Can athletes dope? Yes
Do clowns feel sad? Yes
Can geniuses fail school? Yes
Do deaf people compose music? Yes
Can scientists be atheists? Yes
Do scientists believe in god? Yes
A guide to life- Animal edition
Can elephants have sex? Yes
Do whales have body hair? Yes
A guide to life – Family edition
Can little boys love dolls? Yes
Do little girls love guns? Yes
Can mothers hurt their children? Yes
Do fathers protect their children? Yes
A guide to life – Gender edition
Can men cry? Yes
Do women laugh? Yes
Can men love women? Yes
Do men love men? Yes
Can men hate men? Yes
Do women hate men? Yes
Can women hate women? Yes
Do women love men? Yes
Can men rape? Yes
Do men get raped? Yes
A guide to life – Feminist edition
Can feminists be men? Yes
Do feminists love men? Yes
Can feminists hate men? Yes
Do feminists hate women? Yes
Can feminists be strong? Yes
Do feminists go wrong? Yes
Can feminists abuse? Yes
Do feminists get abused? Yes
A guide to life – Work In Progress
Is Meena a writer? Yes
Is Meena a good writer? Yes
Is Meena a bad writer? Yes
Does Meena write fiction? Yes
Does Meena write non-fiction? Yes
Is Meena an activist? Maybe
Is Meena a dalit? No
Does that matter? No
Is Meena a feminist? Maybe
Was Meena married? Maybe
Was Meena abused? Maybe
Do I believe her? Yes
Can I be wrong? Yes
Is that okay? Yes
Background: Poet and Dalit activist Meena kandasamy recently wrote about her story of domestic violence. She is an evocative writer and her article has resulted in a lot of conversation on various web-platforms. Among the usual “hear, hear” and “she must be lying” comments were a few a few questions that are earnest and need to be answered. This is a post addressing those questions.
Note: I am not trying to explain Meena Kandasamy’s story, I have no business doing that. I am strictly answering general questions on the topic of Domestic violence.
How can feminists be victims of violence?
One of the earliest reactions to this story was “how can someone so “strong”, a fierce feminist, put up with domestic violence?”. I hope this leads to people searching for truths about domestic violence, and not concluding that her story is fabricated based on a presupposition that strong women do not get beaten up. On my timeline on twitter, stories were pouring in about VP’s of companies, Doctors, and NGO owners who were victims of violence who suffered in silence for a long time. This is, no doubt, puzzling and I hope to explain why it happens.
Continue reading Some Questions that need to be answered on Domestic Violence