Kerala: Student Party Wings Attack College Zine Busting Period Myths
After the Bhuj incident where a college principal forced 68 female students to strip down to prove that they weren’t menstruating, a Magazine from People’s Cooperative Arts and Science College, Munnad in Kerala has come under fire for openly talking about menstruation, sexuality, same-sex love. The bold writings and illustrations on the Magazine, named ‘Ura Marachathu’ or ‘Shrouded in Rubber’ including a banana half-covered in a condom did not go down well with both BJP and Congress’ student wings – ABVP and Kerala Students’ Union (KSU) respectively.
The magazine was drafted during the previous academic year (2018-19) but was released late in February this year. “The magazine is thought-provoking not provocative,” said college students’ union chairman and SFI leader Ashik Mustafa, a third-year BA Malayalam student, TNIE reported. The magazine doesn’t shy away from nudity and has hard-hitting content when it comes to its writings. Its first piece is a poem called “Thoo” dedicated to the eight-year-old tribal girl from Jammu’s Kathua district who was brutally gang-raped and murdered last year. Vineetha C, a third-year BA Malayalam student’s poem ‘Avar Annu Ere Kithachu’ (They panted a lot that day) reportedly talks about the feeling after rape. Aswini C, a third-year BCom student, asked, “Is menstruation an impurity?” Malayalam student Parvathy’s ‘Lessapiens’ says same-sex love finds mention in religious holy books.
After the magazine was released, ABVP released a statement criticizing it. “The SFI is moving away from Marxism to embrace sex,” it said. Periods must be discussed, but a college magazine is not the platform for it, it added. “This magazine is intended only to get media attention,” stated the statement.
KSU, on the other hand, lodged a complaint with the police, collector, Kannur University, and on the Prime Minister’s grievance redressal portal. “It is full of obscene words and inappropriate images. We cannot take the magazine home,” said Martin Abraham, district secretary of the KSU, who filed the complaints. He is not a student at the college. He also adds that the Magazine “lets women down” despite the fact that most of its content is created by women.
“These topics will always be discussed and we are just carrying forward the discussions. But the reactions we are getting are contrary to what we expected. We wanted to say there is nothing taboo about sex and periods. But the attempt is to sweep these topics back under the carpet.”
“If there is a backlash, we did not want anyone student to face trouble,” said Anu Sebastian, staff editor and faculty member of the Department of English. Athira V, a Malayalam student and member of the magazine committee responded to these allegations and said, “These topics will always be discussed and we are just carrying forward the discussions. But the reactions we are getting are contrary to what we expected. We wanted to say there is nothing taboo about sex and periods. But the attempt is to sweep these topics back under the carpet.”