From the Editor - Radhika Chandiramani

Happy New Year!

Here we are with the first In Plainspeak of 2007, and once again we feature a range of issues from different countries. We have an interview with two lesbian activists in China, one based in Beijing and the other in Shanghai. They give us an honest picture of the difficulties and successes of lesbian organising in China and the context in which they do their work. The interviews were conducted in Chinese and translated into English. Despite the inevitable loss in translation, their courage and determination shine through. For obvious reasons they use pseudonyms in their activist work, and in the spirit of respecting that, we have used their pseudonyms as well and are not carrying their photographs. 

Issue in Focus takes us to Bengal, India, and showcases the innovative work being done with boys and young men on their sexual health. We hop across further East, to Bangladesh, in Shades of Grey to look at how women in an urban slum negotiate their sexual lives – how they are at the same time subjects that are oppressed and agents of action. 

We continue with a somewhat similar theme of oppression and agency in The Bigger Picture, this time reflecting on how the penalisation of same-sex sexual activity has come about and how it may be countered and what the implications might be for larger society.

Brushstrokes carries photographs of the Pride March in Kolkatta, India – pictures that reflect diversity, solidarity, and, of course, pride. Thanks to Pratyay for sharing this sneak peek into their forthcoming publication.

The Policy Alert reviews the new developments around domestic violence in India and offers an overview of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA). Did You Know takes you through a quick refresher on different kinds of contraception. 

With the I Column we move to Indonesia and what it might mean to be a young single woman living in a context where marriage fixes a woman’s worth in society. 

And as usual, we have an interesting book, Scar Tissue, reviewed in Hot off the Press – an edited book written by eight young women about their lives, aspirations, desires, and of course, sexuality. Reel Review looks at two new films, Babel and Volver, where sexuality plays an important role, despite not being the main theme.

So, that’s what’s in store for you in this latest issue. And, as always, we hope these articles will provoke some new questions for you. We welcome your contributions, ideas and suggestions. Those of you who make art, please do consider sending us some of your works for future issues. Other contributions are also welcome -  articles for In Plainspeak, ideas about future themes, and book and film reviews.

We are also hoping to get some honest feedback from you about what you think of In Plainspeak, what you like and what you don’t, and how we might make it more useful and exciting for you. Please do help us by filling out an online feedback form on our website. It will only take a few minutes of your time - that’s a promise.

This time’s cover is the last in the series of three donated to us by Cynthia Chauhan. Many thanks to her and to Charles Lavacek who did this one with her. We are very grateful. Here’s hoping that 2007 will be a good year for all of us and for work on sexuality and rights all over the world.

Radhika Chandiramani