JK Rowling upsets Sikhs with 'hairy man-woman' depiction

Description of a 'mustachioed, yet large-mammaried' Sikh girl in The Casual Vacancy causes offence

LAST UPDATED AT 09:29 ON Tue 2 Oct 2012

JK ROWLING has enraged Sikh leaders in India with a depiction of a "moustachioed" girl in her first adult novel The Casual Vacancy.
 
The novel, about social tensions in a small village in the west of England, includes a Sikh character called Sukhvinder. She is teased for her hairy skin and referred to as "the Great Hermaphrodite".
 
One of the characters, Fats, describes her as "mustachioed, yet large-mammaried", adding that "scientists remain baffled by the contradictions of the hairy man-woman".
 
Sikh believers are forbidden from shaving or trimming their hair and religious leaders have said they will demand a nationwide ban on the book in India if they decide Rowling has insulted their faith.
 
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, which manages places of worship in India, said yesterday that it had received several complaints about the "provocative" language.
 
Avtar Singh Makkar, head of the committee, said the descriptions were "a slur on the Sikh community” and that “there was no need for her to use provocative language, questioning her gender.”
 
He added that if it was deemed offensive to Sikh ‘maryada’ (dignity), he would write to India's prime minister Manmohan Singh and urge him to "take up the matter with the government in the United Kingdom for action against Rowling".
 
A spokesman for the group said that its leaders also had the power to “make sure it doesn't sell in India".
 
Rowling has previously said she included Sukhvinder's experiences as an example of "corrosive racism". She has spoken of her admiration for the Sikh faith and said she was fascinated by a religion in which men and women are "explicitly described as equal in the holy book".
 
A spokesman for Hachette, Rowling's publisher, told The Daily Telegraph the remarks were made by a character bullying Sukhvinder. "It is quite clear in the text of the book that negative thoughts, actions and remarks made by a character, Fats, who is bullying Sukhvinder, are his alone. When described in the narrative voice, the depiction of Sukhvinder is quite different to this," the spokesman said. · 

Disqus - noscript

FFS... More professional offense-takers looking desperately for any excuse to get apoplectic. Avtar Singh Makkar; grow up. It's just a book. Media: don't give these fools the oxygen of publicity. It just encourages them.

I've read the book, and I suspect that Avtar Singh Makkar has not. The taunts about the girl are made by a bully and are obviously being used to show the effects that long term bullying has on victims. Sadly, the girl is not only bullied by the boy in the book, but also by her own mother. How about if we focus instead on the terrible impacts of bullying?

As a young asian girl my own father teased me about my moustache, just as other fathers of different ethnicities may tease their daughters about their 'big curly hair' or 'chubby cheeks', I don't think this is something for the Sikhs to get cross about, JK is merely illustrating a point about abuse and bullying that compunds the tensions of this small community. And that is speaking as a Sikh.
What has pleased my is that by speaking up the Sikhs have reminded people that they do exist and its not just the Islamic faith that gets upset...atleast the Sikhs haven't threatened to blow up their own turbans in crowded places.

Why does our community get so up tight about things getting published...first the cartoonist and now this.
I personally have not read the book. However I do not think that an author as established as JK is out to tarnish her name! My response is get a grip and get out the stone ages!

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.