JK Rowling upsets Sikhs with 'hairy man-woman' depiction
Description of a 'mustachioed, yet large-mammaried' Sikh girl in The Casual Vacancy causes offence
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.