Obscenity case slammed against Arundhati Roy
George Iype lately in Pathanamthitta
Arundhati Roy's The God of Small
Things has stirred up a raging debate on
obscenity in her home state of Kerala, thanks to her
description of a sexual encounter between the
novel's Syrian Christian protagonist, Ammu, and a Hindu
untouchable man, Velutha.
"Inside of the legs" and "dark triangle" are some of the
erotic images with which Roy describes the sexual union between the
upper caste Ammu and the low-caste Velutha in her
internationally acclaimed bestseller.
But critics in the Syrian Christian community in Kerala
find these descriptions "repulsive, demeaning and
offensive to their sense of public decency."
As a result, Roy will appear before first class judicial
Magistrate Santheesh Chandra Babu of central Kerala's
Pathanamthitta district, on August 19 to defend her
literary debut against charges of obscenity.
Sabu Thomas, the lawyer who has dragged Roy
to court, says the sexual passages in the novel are an
affront to Indian tradition, culture and morality.
"Moreover, it deeply hurts the Syrian Christian
community on whom is the novel based," Thomas
told Rediff On The NeT.
Thomas, who has submitted the controversial,
'offensive pages' to the judge, says the sexual deeds
described in the book will corrupt readers minds.
'The influence of the book on our contemporary society
cannot be overlooked especially when much publicity
has been given by the author through various interviews
in the media,' the petition says, adding that Roy is
'inviting the public to read and enjoy obscenity' in her
Quoting extensively from the novel, the petition says
the novel was written to 'excite sexual desires and
Thomas also contends that the novel contains scenes
of violence and a detailed description of a sexual
assault on a young boy.
The God of Small Things deals with the
upheaval in a feudal Syrian Christian household of
central Kerala's Kottayam district. Therefore,
conservative Christians in the state feel the sexual
descriptions are an insult to the community.
"The novel is a fine literary work. But it has heavy sexual
overtones that hurt our community's feelings," says
Mathew Tharakan, a businessman in Kottayam.
According to Tharakan, Roy has taken the liberty to
write these offending passages "because she knows we
are a very peaceful community who will not come out
in the open on the issue."
Varghese Thuruthel, a rubber planter in the district, agrees.
"Roy has added the obscene passages in her novel with a
commercial motive. I find the sexual narrative repulsive." He
wants the offending portion deleted from the book.
But Roy's mother, the wellknown Kottayam-based educationist Mary Roy, says the
passages in the novel will not corrupt readers minds.
"The novel became great not because of the tiny portion
of sex scenes in it, but because of its superb portrayal of
life," she told Rediff On The NeT.
Mary Roy believes her daughter is being dragged to court
because the petitioner might be a rigid, closed person. "My
daughter will win the case because, in India, a writer's
freedom is much respected," she added.
The controversial extract: The passages are sexually explicit and may offend readers's sensibilities.