Asian women doing it for themselves

It is not often that women, specially Asian ladies are focus of the media. But that was clearly the case this week.

On television and radio the topic was Asian women, though in very different contexts. One was about the porn industry and the other about women seeking the right to pray in Mosques.

The documentary on BBC Asian network, which tackled the first subject, was billed as "hard hitting". It was to be presented by Blue Peter's Konnie Huq before she was "suddenly re-assigned" to an appearance in Oman by Blue Peter according to the Sunday Telegraph.

The newspaper said it was a "most unsavoury programme, analysing the appeal of explicit DVDs with lurid titles", which would have done "the presenters wholesome image no good at all". Asian Network say it was nothing as ominous, and simply that she had been asked by Blue Peter to go out there.

Either way, after Konnie's escape it was left to the charming Anita Rani to present the programme. And though the paper said that it "wished something will come up to divert Anita, too, from this prurient enterprise", it didn't and the documentary was duly broadcast.

Although it was apparently re-scheduled to take the month of Ramadan into account.

The 30 min programme looked at the demand for Asian women in the British porn industry, comparing them to "gold dust". I couldn't understand why they kept asking why these women were so highly sought. Doesn't everyone know Asian women are highly desirable?

They have well proportioned figures, European women pay lots of money to have their skin as as golden as theirs, the list goes on!

And though Asian culture finds sex and anything to do with it a taboo, preferring no discussion of the subject, the Indian film industry churns out thousands of movies every month.

Girls gyrating and getting soaked in rain so their sarees can cling to them and magnify every curve suggestively. Given there is such emphasis on the subject and lots of money to be made - why the big noise if Asian girls want to be porn stars?

It is true the industry also exploits women who are vulnerable. I once watched a documentary on Eastern European women who were brought here with the promise of employment and then pushed into prostitution and the porn industry.

There were harrowing tales of women being kept under lock and key and paid a pittance. I remember feeling outraged .

I think we should feel outraged for every woman who is forced to follow this trade while remembering that there are women who choose to go into this profession. So what is the big deal if Asian women want to make good money?

On the Asian Network a discussion ensued with Asian men phoning in, enraged that Asian women should do such a thing. But instead why not blame the men who consume that very material? After all if the demand is there, the supply will follow.

There is a distant parallel with the documentary on C4 earlier this week that opened with the words: "these women are trying to fight the sexism in their communities".

I chuckled when one man from the mosque, when asked why the women were not on the Mosque management committees, said that women were not capable of management. And this is after countries such as Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Israel, Bangladesh and the UK have had women Prime Ministers.

A lot of Asian women suffer with depression due to isolation and not knowing English. They are reluctant to come out and participate in community activities. The Mosques could become a hub of such activity and provide much needed support and language and life skills.

In their own way both these documentaries provide hope that Asian women are choosing what they want and going about getting it. I say more power to them.

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