#India- Besides #Delhigangrape , there are rapes in #Kashmir #Vaw #Torture


Raped Twice

By Inshah Malik

21 December, 2012
Countercurrents.org

The gruesome gang rape that happened recently in the capital city New Delhi of India has knocked off the imagination of Indian Nation. The college going ‘girl’ was gang raped in a private bus, six men reportedly in a drunken state are involved in the crime. The barbarity of the incident of shoving iron rod in the private organs of the girl has sent jitters down the spine of conscious young people in the country. This news perturbed me quite irately. I went on to pour condemnation messages all over social media, very emotionally until I remembered Shabnam.

Shabnam was standing near the bus stop, when I arrived in a small local car. She was dim, her face was pale and wrinkled while she was just in her late thirties. In north of Kashmir, a twin village site, Konan-Poshpora which is known for the ‘mass rape’ of some 62 women in early 1990’s by the Indian army, every woman here has a gruesome spine chilling story to share. But Shabnam, She is a symbol of ‘existence’, she exists, quite plainly and different from the rest of the ‘mass’.

She escorted me to her tiny little house by the edge of the green fields that belong to the farming villagers. As I entered, a strange sense of apathy overwhelmed me, Shabnam’s five year old son sat across the room. The room was cold, dark and a repugnant smell engulfed it. This is a room, where Shabnam has lived all her married life, her best and probably the worst moments happened under this roof. As I was sensing it, Shabnam intervened, “I hate this house, i never want to live here. Last year, I had a terrible fight with my husband and first thing I wanted to do is burn this house down”. I almost did, she laughs and continues, “Just five minutes on this straight road from here is an army camp”, and she abruptly fell silent staring the road from the hole in her wooden window. I didn’t know how to progress the conversation in such a situation and I asked, ‘you fight with your husband’. She said in an irritated way, ‘of course, men never understand what happens to us’ and in the same breath, but my husband is an angel, if he was not there for me, I would have killed myself. No man can accept his wife back, after she is ‘raped’.

I was silent for a while, trying to imagine, what must have happened in this place, when in late hours the Indian army men entered each and every house, when there were shrieks of women coming from all the corners. Women were calling all the higher spiritual forces to come to their aid, as I am thinking now of the helplessness of a Delhi girl clutched by barbarians lone in a moving bus while hurt her friend severely.

Shabnam continued sharing her ordeal, ‘how can a man be happy with a woman who can no-longer satisfy his sexual urges, a woman whose genitals are electrocuted’. This detail surprised me because in the mass rape there were no reported instances of torture. She continued, “I was interrogated and raped again, a year after the mass rape happened in this village, they arrested me because my husband’s brother was a militant. Twelve army men raped me and after then gave electric shocks in my genitals. Even after this my husband took me back, for me, isn’t he a prophet? But, I am no longer an able person; he earns little and pays all for my medical treatments”
I was speechless; this was first time for me to face the reality of our political situation as well as my feminine self. I had by now forgotten all lessons of research and knowledge generation that my university prepared me with. I sat unmoved, thinking and listening.

She continued, “that year when the mass rape happened, it was my second year of marriage, a day before that myr husband brought me some gifts and we were still in love, now perhaps I don’t know what we mean by love, it has become such a grave realization. That night they dragged all the men of the village out in a crackdown to hunt militants fighting them for freedom, and they dragged my husband out of the house, it was winter they made him sleep on a six feet high heap of snow. I was watching from the window, I could not see my husband in this condition. I came out of my house and told the army men to leave my husband. My husband became furious and shouted at me, “don’t you see what they are doing to women? Get inside and lock the door. Let me die”.

‘A strange realization dawned on me, my sister who was still unmarried was in the house, I asked her at once to leave the house from the window. This irritated the army men. I ran inside and closed the door, they broke open the door, they were ten or twenty or more, I have no consciousness of that, I just remember, I was bleeding all through the way to hospital. I wish, they assaulted my memory too. I did not have the burden to remember it or narrate it’, she said
I slowly made my way out of that room, which was beginning to appear a hole of dingy darkness; I walked slowly, leaving behind Shabnam with her constant struggle with her memory.

The incident in Delhi that has perturbed us all alike, rape is not merely an assault on a body. Every such violation is an assault on memory which often forces women to shift from ‘living’ to merely ‘existing’. In fact when a woman is raped, she is raped twice: one of her body and another by silence of others. Today, the conscious young women of India must ask questions for Shabnam too because uniform does not remove the barbarity of neither the masculine militaristic state nor the patriarchal mind. In fact, Uniform furthers just these very aspects of cannibalistic colonialism

Inshah Malik is a PhD scholar at Jawaharlal Nehru university

 

#India- Unable to feed poor, Maharashtra makes them vanish #Wtfnews


Published: Monday, Dec 24, 2012, 7:00 IST
By Yogesh Pawar | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

The Maharashtra government continues to use a 2002 list denying over 50 lakh of below poverty line (BPL) people who barely earn enough for one meal a day, access to food, despite the fact that local bodies have sent fresh lists for 2012 to the state.

That this is being done by a government, which used targeted public distribution system for all poor, as a major plank in its 2009 campaign to come into power is baffling, say activists working for food security.

Many like Kishor Tiwari president Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti(VJAS) point out how this violates Supreme Court (SC) guidelines in its 2001 order (while hearing a PIL by People’s Union for Civil Liberties) asking state governments to update BPL lists in keeping with local civic bodies’ lists. “We found this out when the government submitted an affidavit to the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court which is hearing a PIL filed by VJAS following large scale starvation deaths among Kolam tribals in Yavatmal five years ago. The local collector on one hand told the court that the state strictly follows the SC 2001 order and updates BPL lists annually. On the other, he admitted that on the ground a 2002 BPL survey is considered for selecting families for food security under the PDS.

What’s worse despite deaths, in a clear case of a mockery of the ‘right to food,’ Maharashtra has denied food security to more than a lakh tribal and Dalit BPL families facing malnutrition and starvation in Yavatmal. To highlight this, a huge protest rally is being organised, on December 26th in Pandharkawda, Yavatmal.

“These are desperate people battling hunger and death. The government should realise what it means when people with nothing to lose take to the street,” warned Tiwari.

This is not a problem of rural Maharashtra alone, in fact it is worse in urban areas. Particularly in Mumbai, the country’s financial capital where a Mumbai University study has already established that how both malnutrition and hunger are much worse than in remote tribal areas.

“Mumbai has one of the highest number of hungry in the country. Almost half of our children are malnourished and as per global hunger index (GHI) 2011. Given that India is home to one fourth of world’s hungry, its position is already the worst not only in South Asia, but also among sub-Saharan countries, you know how scary that makes Mumbai look like. It is strange to understand that this should be a problem of the financial capital of India which positions itself as an emerging economic super-power,” pointed right-to-food activist Ananda Pawar who works in Dharavi.

The minister for food and civil supplies Anil Deshmukh has often taken the stand that there is limited availability of food under government sponsored schemes. “Despite the shortfall, Maharashtra has one of the best records in food distribution and supply,” he insists but seems at a loss to explain why the BPL lists have not been updated for over a decade. When asked about the regular rotting food grains for lack of adequate storage in government run godowns he passed the buck to the Centre. “We are cracking down on pilferage and losses,” he offered and raised the issue of bogus cards.

According to him a state government drive to detect bogus cards which began in 2005 has led to the cancellation of 5.3 million such cards till 2011. Over 3 years, from 2005 to 2008, the state cancelled about 2.9 million cards. Then, over 2009-2010, the government cancelled about 1.2 million cards. Finally, in 2011, during the detection drive, about another 1.1 million were cancelled. Incidentally the government’s own figures show that as on 1st April, 2012, the state had a mere 22 million ration cards in a total population of 112.37 million!

Activists however allege that the government raises the bogey of bogus cards only to abdicate from PDS. “This is a ploy to get private players in and throw the poor to their mercy,” says Tiwari. “Even if one goes by 2002 survey figures there are more than 6.6.million BPL families covered under PDS. By claiming three million of these cards are bogus the state’s trying to keep away 50% of such families out of reach of new subsidised food schemes. A garibi-ko-nahin-hata-sakte-toh-garibonko-hatao policy seems to be put into place,” laments Tiwari.

FIGURES THAT BITE::

- Over 60% of India’s wheat and 27% of its rice is pilfered from the system before reaching the ration card holder.
– Maharashtra has cancelled 5.3 million cards saying they are bogus.
– SC guidelines need updating of BPL lists annually.
– Maharashtra still goes by the 2002 BPL survey figures
– Less than 25% of the total population in the state has a ration card.

 

#India- #Chhattisgarh Minor girl raped, video clip posted on internet #Vaw #WTFnews


CHILDRAPE

Minor girl raped, video clip posted on internet

TNN | Dec 24, 2012, 02.58 AM IST

PITHORA: Amid the countrywide uproar against the gangrape in Delhi, a minor girl was raped, filmed and later a MMS clip was uploaded on the internet in a village in Mahasamund district of Chhattisgarh.Police in Pithora, 94 km from the state capital, have lodged a case against seven youths on the charges of rape and under the provisions of the Information Technology Act for circulating the MMS clip on mobile and also uploading it on the internet.Though the incident took place on November 19, the minor girl did not inform anyone about the incident.

Minor girl was also robbed

When the MMS was circulated in the village that the girl’s family was informed about it by some people who recognized her in the clip. According to the complaint, the incident took place when the minor girl was waiting for a conveyance to return from Tendukona village to her village Khuteri.

A youth, identified as Bholaram Sinha, who was known to her, offered her a lift and raped her on the way at Darri Dongra area, which is usually isolated.

Meanwhile, six more youths including Yogesh Bariha, Parasmani Bariha and Suman Bariha, clicked pictures and recorded videos. According to the reports, they also robbed the minor of the money she had.All the accused are on the run.

 

Thinking about Rape from India Gate #Vaw #Delhigangrape #mustread


( pic courtesy hindu )
December 23, 2012

Dear young women and men of Delhi,

Thank you for the courage and the honour you have brought to Rajpath, the most dishonorable street in our city. You changed Delhi yesterday, and you are changing it today. Your presence, of all twelve thousand of you, yesterday, on Rajpath, that street that climbs down from the presidential palace on Raisina Hill to India Gate, getting soiled by the excreta of the tanks and missiles on Republic Day each year, was for me a kind of purificatory ritual. It made a claim to the central vista of ‘Lutyen’s Delhi’ as a space for democratic assertion in contravention of the completely draconian, elitist and undemocratic prohibitory orders that make the heart of this republic, a zone of the death, not the life and sustenance, of democracy.

From now onwards, consider the heart of Delhi to be a space that belongs, first of all, to its citizens. Yesterday, when thousands of you gathered peacefully, intending to march up Raisina Hill to the president’s palace, you were charged with batons, tear gas and subjected to jets from water cannons. The violence began, not when protestors threw stones, but when the police started attacking people. Stones were thrown in retaliation. The television cameras that recorded what happened show us the exact chronology. The police were clearly under orders not to let people up Raisina Hill. Why? What is so sacred about Raisina Hill? Why can a group of unarmed, peaceful young people not walk to the gates of the president’s palace? So, lets be clear. Violence began when the state acted. Of course, the protest got hijacked by hooligans. But of course it had to be. When hooligans in uniform are let loose on an unarmed crowed, there can be no possibility of averting the possibility that hooligans out of uniform will respond in kind.

But do not let this stop you, or distract you. Do not be scared away from the heart of the city by this violence. Prevent the hijackers from taking over your anger and twisting it to their purposes. But most importantly, never, ever be scared again. You have all given us the gift of a fearlessness. This city is no longer what it used to be, and it is so because of you. Rajpath is yours. This city is yours. its days and nights are yours. Do not let anyone take this back from you. Keep the city. Keep the city safe, make it safe. Make it yours and mine again.

Thank you for doing this in the name of an anonymous 23 year old woman. She is someone like you, like millions of others who wants to lay claim to this city, by day and by night. You demonstrated that the presence of women and men, out on the streets, in public, is the only guarantee by which everyone can feel safe in this city, or in an city for that matter. It is not by making pubs close early that this city will be made safe. It is by ensuring that as many women can be out and about in any place in the city, at any time of day and night, in buses, on the metro, in public spaces, in work spaces, cinemas, theaters, at home, and even in pubs, that this city will be safe for all of its citizens. By being together, in public, as free and equal men and women, in the place where prohibitory orders and Section 144 forbid you from being, you made sure that this city belonged to the 23 old woman who was asked by the men who raped her (Sharma, Sharma, Thakur, Gupta and Singh) what she was doing out and about at nine at night. You were together, as young women and men, safe, secure in each others company, drawn together by friendship and solidarity, and by your friendship and solidarity with the 23 year old woman who is fighting so bravely for her life. She could have been one of you. Any one of you could have been her, or her injured and brave friend.The young men amongst you demonstrated that you were not there to assert your control over women. The young women amongst you demonstrated that you could hold your own with young men, and feel the opposite of being threatened and insecure.  Our city, so ashamed of its reputation for misogyny, can only be grateful for this organic, spontaneous and public demonstration of the solidarity between the bodies of young women and men.

You made me proud of Delhi again, just as much as the men named Sharma, Sharma, Thakur, Gupta and Singh had made me ashamed a few days ago by the way in which they brutally raped and nearly killed that anonymous young woman, and assaulted her companion.They cannot be called beasts, because no animals behave as terribly as these men did. They make us ashamed to be human, and make me ashamed to be a man. I am ashamed by them just as much as I was ashamed by the bystanders on a busy street who pulled down the windows of their cars to gape at a nearly naked and clearly injured woman and man, or just stood around, staring, but could not find enough humanity within themselves to come up and offer help,  or comfort, or even cover the two young people on a cold December night.

But yesterday, you, the twelve thousand mostly young men and women who came to Rajpath to express your anger showed the world that Delhi has a different face as well.  Thank you for restoring humanity to this city.Today, the several more than yesterday’s twelve thousand have been joined by a fringe consisting of the storm troopers of some political parties, especially the BJP, and the agent-provocateurs of the Congress, neither of whom have any hesitation in fielding people with accusations of rape against them for elections. Here, in this fringe, you will find the ABVP, the Bajrang Dal, the NSUI, the Ramdev Wallas, the hooligans of the unfortunately named Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena,  the anti-corruption brigade, all manner of busy-bodies, goondas and do-gooders, and some goondas who are do gooders. Do not let them distract you. Overwhelm them with your numbers, make your protests decentralized, and impossible for them or the police to direct and control. Do not, under any circumstances let them speak for you, or tell you what to do, or dictate the agenda. Take back the protest by making it go viral all over the city.

Do not forget that when Sushma Swaraj, the BJP leader made the disgusting comment ‘ uski zindagi maut se badtar ho chuki hai’ (‘her life is now worse than death’), in Parliament, she was actually endorsing the Patriarchal value system that produces rape. It is your responsibility, and the responsibility of all of us, to ensure that Sushma Swaraj’s political career dies it’s deserved and timely death just for that one remark. Let us make sure that she can never be elected to any office again, that she can never insult and humiliate the young women of this country with her patronizing platitudes. She, and other politicians like Mamata Bannerjee, who have questioned rape victims testimonies in recent times, do not deserve our confidence, they deserve an eternal political exile. Just as brutal rapists only deserve an eternity of imprisonment and confinement in solitude in order to reflect on the violence that they have committed.

Remember, the rapist’s intention is not sexual pleasure (because the ONLY way in which pleasure can be had is through the reciprocity of desire, through love, through erotic engagement, not through taking away someone’s agency by force and without consent). Rape is not about sex, it is about humiliation, its intention is precisely to make the raped person think that now that they have been subjected to sexual violence, their life will no longer be worth living. The rapist and Sushma Swaraj are in perfect agreement about the worth of the life of a rape victim.The reason why some men rape women or others who are in their power is because they believe that some lives are more important, worth more, than others. That is the key to patriarchy.

Dear young women and men of Delhi, I am writing this to you so that in the middle of all your anger you can find a space to reflect on the force that patriarchy has over all our lives, and I hope that you will find the means, burnished by your anger to dethrone it from its underserved position of power in this city. I want yours to be the generation that changed Delhi forever. And i know you can make that happen, and that is why I am writing to you.

Let us think about patriarchy together. Patriarchy is what makes you ashamed, not delighted when you have a period, because your traditions teach you that a menstruating body is a polluting body. Patriarchy is what tells you that there are things you cannot or should not do because of the way your body or your desires are shaped. Patriarchy is the secret to your nightmares, the reason for your deepest, most personal fears and anxieties. It seeks control of your body, your mind, your speech, your behavior, even the ways in which you raise and lower your eyes. Behind this lies a clear identification between property and the sexual body that patriarchy tries to perpetuate at any cost. When anyone says that a raped person, say a woman, is defiled, what they mean is that the violence done to her sexually is identical to the violation of their personhood, which ‘properly’ understood, is the property of someone who can legitimately ‘husband’ her body and being. Any woman, according to this view, either is, or will eventually become some man’s property. If she is ‘defiled’ she will become ‘broken goods’, the legitimate claimant to the property which her body constitutes will no longer have any interest in ‘husbanding’ her. That is why they say that her life, laid fallow and waste by rape, will no longer be worth living.

That is why courts in India are so reluctant to admit marital rape. They are bewildered by the reality of marital rape because they cannot understand how someone can ‘violate’ their own property. To understand clearly this you have to think about kinds of injury other than rape.

How is it that violent attacks, or injuries that are non-sexual in nature, do not lead anyone to say that their ‘life is now worse than death’. Imagine an injured soldier, a war veteran whose legs have been blown off, being told by a mainstream politician his ‘life is now worse than death’, and you will immediately see how ridiculous the identification between the destiny of your sexual being and the worth of life is. The injured soldier is feted, decorated, celebrated. The rape survivor is made to feel something quite different. An episode of rape is horrible, but it is not necessarily always more physically painful than a blown off limb. The only reason why women are disciplined and made to fall in line with the threat of rape dangling over them (either by their rapists, or by their would be ‘protectors’) is because rape is seen as a crime against property. And the property in question is inevitably patriarchy’s right over the woman’s body, over the body of any person that patriarchy deems to be without agency. The woman who is raped is made to feel ashamed because she was not vigilant enough to safeguard the orifices of her body from being accessed by an inappropriate other, or a stranger against her will (not that her will counts, necessarily). Had it been an ‘appropriate’ other, say a husband, or a boy-friend, she could be made to feel equally ashamed for the revulsion she might feel in submitting to his sexual will, on occasion, or at any time at all, against her own wishes and desires.

The reason why Sushma Swaraj and others like her hyper-ventilate in this way is because they are the architects of the patriarchal order that produces rape. If Thakur, Sharma, Sharma, Singh and Gupta have committed the rape that needs to be condemned by everyone, than Swaraj needs to be held accountable for perpetuating the value system that leads Thakur, Sharma, Sharma, Singh and Gupta to think that rape is the natural and normal thing for them to do. After all a vast number of men in India, routinely rape their wives. And Sushma Swaraj throws Karwa Chaut parties to celebrate the thrall which patriarchy allows husbands to hold over their wives. No young self respecting woman in Delhi should ever take anything that someone like Sushma Swaraj ever says seriously.

Dear young men and women of Delhi, When you see your legitimate protest contaminated by the BJP cadre, ask them about how they are going to deal with their misogynist leadership. How are they going to deal with those who justified the rape and murder of Muslim women in Gujarat? Ask them about how they intend to deal with the fact that even in the recent Gujarat elections, one of the victorious MLAs (the sitting MLA for Dhari) Mansukh Bhuva, has  a charge of leading and participating in the gang-rape of the wife of a panchayat member of Amreli district by seven people.

Investigation in this case is currently in progress, and while the MLA has said that the charges are false and politically motivated, does it not indicate that a party like the BJP is actually not committed in any way to taking the rights of women seriously when it gives a ticket to a man who stands accused of gang rape. Should it not have waited for this man’s innocence to be proven before blessing him with an election ticket? Ask Sushma Swaraj, ask Narendra Modi, dreaming of Raisina Hill and Lutyens Delhi, what they have to say about Mansukh Bhuva.

Even as I write this, some people are expressing their concern at the way in which your protest is getting out of hand. They are saying that you should not be indulging in violence. On Facebook, I see young Kashmiri men and women ask whether or not the authorities in Delhi will now begin to say that you have been paid to throw stones at the buses of the Delhi police by the Pakistani ISI (after all, that is what was said when young people in Kashmir throw stones at the forces of law and order after the administrations insensitivity in rape cases forced young people to take to the streets, so it is quite natural that they should ask this question when you throw stones in Delhi.)

Learning from your peers in the frontiers of this unfortunate union (governed in part by an unwieldy, creaking but sort-of-working constitution and in part by the precise and lethally efficient Armed Forces Special Powers Act), to throw stones at the force that needs stones thrown at them is not something I feel you need necessarily to be ashamed of. A Tehelka investigation (‘The Rapes Will Go On’) by G. Vishnu and Abhishek Bhalla pointed out in April 2012, that several police officers in positions of responsibility in this city and in the National Capital Region (Gurgaon, Noida, Ghaziabad and Faridabad) think that when women get attacked it is their fault. While writing this, I checked with one of the correspondents who had filed this story. He told me what I had suspected. The Delhi police did order a departmental enquiry, and the concerned officer was ‘transferred’. Not suspended, demoted, punished or reprimanded. No disciplinary action of any consequence was taken. The Gurgaon, Ghaziabad, Faridabad and Noida police were even more ‘sensitive’ to the morale of men in uniform. They did nothing at all. A force that does not punish those amongst its ranks guilty of making such statements, and thereby perpetuates a naked sexism, deserves all the stones that get thrown at it in retaliation for its egregious use of batons, tear gas and water cannons against a peaceful gathering.

But throwing stones at policemen is one thing, and having your protest hijacked by the storm troopers of political parties like the BJP and the Congress is quite another. I think you need to think carefully about how you can prevent your anger from being abused by political opportunists of all stripes for their own ends. Do not lose your resolve. Do not let lumpen political mercenaries ride the wave in the the upsurge that is your anger.

Many of you carried banners that asked men to think, with which I whole heartedly agree (and I am writing this in order to do this thinking with you, and as the mark of my gratitude to you) and some of you asked for capital punishment for the rapists, a demand that i cannot agree to, but am willing to argue with you about, in friendship and in solidarity. The rapists should in my view, spend their entire lives in prison, in isolation, considering what made them do what they did. Hanging, (which one of the accused has even demanded for himself) is the easiest way out for them. It will be the least severe punishment that we can imagine for these horrible and violent men. Moreover, if would-be rapists think they might be hanged, they will go the extra mile to kill their victims, in order to destroy the possibility that someone may testify against them. Under no circumstances has the death penalty ever been known to reduce any crime. It is not the death penalty that will stop rape. To stop rape we have to think about the attitudes that make rape imaginable, that normalize rape. But we can debate this question in depth at another time (and I will be thinking with you a little bit about what these attitudes might be and where they come from later in this piece). Right now I want to think about what your presence on Raisina Hill means to me.

The water cannons that dowsed all of you on today and yesterday’s cold december mornings were cleansing – not you, but this filthy, disgusting state, that can guarantee only the insecurity of its citizens. Remember, that this is not the only rape and murder that has shocked our conscience in recent years. Remember, Manorama, a woman in Manipur who was allegedly raped and then murdered by soldiers of the 17th Assam Rifles Regiment. This happened in 2004, a full eight years ago. Eight years have passed and the rapists and murderers of Manorama have not even been produced in court. They have not been produced in court because they are not civilians like Sharma, Sharma, Thakur, Gupta and Singh. They are men in uniform, not bus drivers, fruit juice vendors, cleaners and gym instructors. An enquiry was ordered and conducted, and its contents still remain secret.

Here is a link on NDTV’s youtube channel to a report on the Guwahati high court’s decision on August 2010 to open the Upendra Commission of enquiry report.

But immediately afterwards, the defense authorities, petitioned the Supreme Court with a ‘Special Leave Petition’ against further proceedings in this case. Here was the state, and the army, doing the opposite of what needed to be done to speed up the course of justice in a matter that had to do with rape and murder. In the summer of this year, eight years after Manorama was raped and murdered, the Supreme Court permitted the special leave petition to be heard, and the proceedings in the Imphal bench of the Guwahati High Court, and the opening of the Upendra Commission enquiry had to be suspended. This enquiry into her rape and murder remains, as far as I know, suspended and wrapped within secrecy. Manorama’s family are exactly where they were eight years ago, as far from justice as it is possible for anyone to be. I do not know what progress there has been on the hearing of the Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court. There seems to be little information available on the matter apart from stray reports that the Supreme Court was hearing the SLP. I would be curious to know what the apex court decided. Whatever be the outcome, we can say this much for certain -  the Manorama case did not get ‘fast track treatment’.

So when Sushma Swaraj demands ‘fast track courts’ to treat cases of rape and sexual violence, ask her why she is so disinterested in making sure that ‘fast track courts’ can track Manorama’s rape and murder. Is it because the fact that when rape and murder are deployed as instruments of national security policy in order to contain insurgency, different standards are automatically assumed to apply? Is it because the BJP thinks that rape is ok as long as it is done in the interests of national security (as in Manipur and Kashmir)  and in order to uphold the honour of Hindutva (as in Gujarat)?

Remember the Kunan-Pushpora rapes in Kashmir, which occurred on February 23, 1991, twenty one years ago? You probably don’t, because Sushma Swaraj, nor any other prominent politician for that matter, has never thought it necessary to demand ‘fast track courts’ to try the guilty rapists of Kunan Poshpora. At least fifty three women were raped on that night by soldiers of the Fourth Rajputana Rifles. No police investigation was conducted, despite a complaint by the villagers. A district magistrate and a sitting chief justice of the Jammu and Kashmir high court conducted their own enquiries and found that the soldiers of the 4th Rajputana Rifles had ‘acted like beasts that night’. But no cognizance of their reports was taken by the civil or military authorities in Jammu and Kashmir, or at the centre.

The charges were dismissed as ‘baseless’. Three months after that incident, the Press Council of India was invited by the Army to conduct an enquiry, and the Press Council of India found that the charges were baseless. Not a single soldier of the Indian army has ever been booked for Kunan Poshpora for all of these twenty one years. Now imagine that the Delhi police and administration invite the Press Council of India, or let us say, the Metereological Survey of India to determine whether or not the unnamed 23 year paramedic was raped on a Delhi bus. How can a mass rape by soldiers be investigated and judged by a body designed to look into complaints regarding the running of newspapers and media organizations? This is what ‘justice’ in cases of rape has by and large meant in the outlying territories where the writ of the Indian Union runs. Now, we are facing a situation that alarms us in the very heart of the republic. Perhaps it is time we learnt that we cannot have different standards at play in Delhi and Kunan Poshpora. And that if that is how they do play out, then it is time to admit that those who run this country run large parts of it as if they were colonies. If you, the young women and men of Delhi can begin to understand this, as a result of what you have been experiencing today and yesterday, then all the tear gas and water cannon jets that you faced may well have been worth the while.

Granted, public memory is short, but how short? Remember the rape and murder of Nilofer Jaan and Aasiya Jaan in Shopian, Kashmir, as recently as May 2009, which saw a cover up and reversal of forensic findings at the highest level, with the connivance of the highest levels of the security forces, bureaucracy and the political establishment, so that two raped, killed women could be shown to have ‘drowned in ankle deep water’ in an apparent ‘accident’. You can read the entire contents of a carefully written ‘citizens’ report on the Shopian Rape and Murder case here

Remember how the enquiry report on Nilofer and Aasiya Jan’s rape and death was tampered with so that suspicions about the women’s ‘character’ could be inserted to make it appear that any evidence of sexual abuse could be wished away as the natural consequences of the ‘waywardness’ of young women? Remember, that Omar Abdullah, Rahul Gandhi’s dear friend, who sanctioned and endorsed these lies, continues to be in office, presiding over the violent occupation of Kashmir. Remember that the denial of rape and murder is a key element in his strategy of governance. Remember all of this when politicians and the media praise you for your idealism, and condemn you for throwing stones. Remember that when your peers in Kashmir or Manipur throw stones out of the same anger that motivates you today, their stone throwing is met not with water cannons and tear gas but with bullets and condemnation, but their ‘idealism’ never finds praise in the salons and studios of New Delhi. Remember now that here, now, this winter of 2012, is the time for you, in the streets of Delhi to find a kinship with your friends, your peers, in Srinagar and Imphal. Remember that the safety and freedom of a young woman is always more important than the safety and security of the abstraction that you have been taught to think of as a nation. Remember that a raped woman is deserving of your friendship, your solidarity, you courage and love, wherever she may be, in Delhi, Srinagar or Imphal.

For the last few days, I have been wondering how I can even begin to think about the rape and assault that the brave twenty three year old paramedic (who is now fighting to live, and to live well in a Delhi hospital) and her friend had to undergo. You have asked all men to think. I am a man. I am not a celibate man who can wish away his sexuality. And so I am trying to think this through with you. I hope that all men in Delhi join me in this exercise.

As a man, I have looked at myself in the mirror, each of the past days, and thought about whether, ever, under any circumstances, in any condition of sobriety or intoxication, I have ever entertained even the thought of compelling a woman, a man, a boy or a girl – a lover, a friend, an acquaintance, a colleague, a neighbor, a relative, a stranger to act against her  (or his) consent. I think every man should look at himself and think hard. All of us men have to think because only men rape. Only men entertain the thought of rape. They (we) rape mostly women, and girls, but they (we) also rape other men, and boys, and those of indeterminate gender.

They (we) rape, not because rape has anything to do, as I have said already, with sexual relations, but because rape has to do with the assertion of power, of the compelling power that can make one body do what another body wants against its will. And just as only upper caste men and women can insult and commit violence on to those they consider lower than themselves in a specifically ‘castiest’ way, so too only men can rape, because they (we) think of themselves as occupying the summit of a sexual pyramid.

This pyramid, which we could call patriarchy, is built out of the sexual equivalent of slavery. The protocols of slavery indicate that some bodies be seen as being bereft of agency. Sometimes these bodies are marked by racial difference, at other times by gender, or by other markers. What is understood is that these agency-less bodies (howsoever their agency-lessness is constituted) can be transacted at will by other bodies that are deemed worthy of agency.

Wherever and whenever a certain kind of body (a woman’s body, a child’s body, a prisoner or captive’s body, a slave’s body, a ‘junior’s’ of ‘freshet’s’ body in the ritual of ragging or hazing on campus, a gay man’s body, the body of a caste or race ‘other’) can be thought of automatically as an object that one can bend or break or punish at will, just because of what it is, there and then lie the foundations of rape. The reason why an upper caste landlord can demand his ‘right’ over a lower caste woman’s body and simultaneously insist that she is ‘untouchable’ has to do with how he understands the difference between his body and hers. He rapes her to punish her husband for trying to assert his rights as a tiller over the land he thinks he owns. Or he rapes her because the thinks he can, and because she is there. Thakur, Singh, Sharma, Sharma and Gupta, the men who raped the unnamed paramedic, did not do anything that has not been done before. Men like them did it in cities and in villages, in fields, warehouses, plantations and factories, under trees, beside wells and rivers, in thickets and in clearings, in public and in private, in ruins and bedrooms, even in temples and kitchens, for thousands of years. They did it, not only to strangers and captives, but to their wives and their sisters and their daughters too.

This understanding has nothing biological about it. It is hard-coded into the cultural protocols that teach a man, even as a young boy, which kind of body has agency, and which kind of body is there for the taking.

Our dominant traditions denigrate a character like Ravana who would not touch the abducted Sita without her consent. At the same time it valorizes the Rama who exiles the same Sita when his advisers suggest that the population is not convinced of her ‘purity’ because she had spent such a long time in the home of her abductor, the same Ravana. Here, Rama is the one who underlies the code of rape. He cannot understand that a man can actually not rape a woman within his ‘power’. His decision to abandon Sita is based on the idea that she cannot not have been in sexual contact with Ravana. Ergo, either she willingly had sex with her captor, or if she did not, she must have been raped. In either case, being thus defiled, and broken, she is no longer fit to be his ‘property’. In other words, just as Sushma Swaraj said, her life, either is, or must be made, worse than death.

The assumption that women are automatically available for sex at the appropriate ‘clean’ time is hard-coded into the Hindu tradition. Rama as an upholder of that tradition, cannot act outside its dictates in the way in which women’s agency is viewed.  Remember that the Brhadarankya Upanishad says – “..surely a woman who has changed her clothes at the end of her menstrual period is the most auspicious of women. When she has changed her clothes at the end of her menstrual period, therefore one should approach that splendid woman and invite her to have sex. Should she refuse to consent, he should bribe her, if she still still refuses, he should beat her with a stick or with his fists and overpower her, saying – ‘I take away the splendour from you with my virility and splendor’

(Bradaranyaka Upanishad, Chapter 6.4.6 -  see especially pages 88 and 89 of the Patrick Olivelle translation of the Upanishads published by the Oxford University Press, 1996)

When one thinks this passage through, it is not difficult to understand why rape should be such an endemic practice within our society.  Marital rape is the original, scripturally sanctioned template on which all rape is founded.  The fear of death penalty can never be a deterrent when you have scriptural and cultural sanction for the codes of property and agency that underlie the control that some bodies are armed with over and above others.  In our society, this includes the sanction for the control that men have over women, adults have over children, and that dominant castes have over others. This normalization of domination and control is the key to the phenomenon of rape and humiliation. In such a situation, carrying placards that demand death penalty for rapists is the easiest thing to do. The difficult, challenging and interesting thing to do, the real thing to do, is to try and understand what are the cultural factors that actually go into the making of a rapists mind. Thakur, Sharma, Sharma, Singh and Gupta were not eccentric, abnormal characters. They were normal young men. One of them even functioned as an occasional priest in a neighborhood temple. Think carefully of the traditions that he would have imbibed that would have helped, not hindered him in doing what he did.

On the very day after Thakur, Singh, Sharma, Sharma and Gupta did what they felt like doing. We had reports of a Mohammad Rashid who raped a six year old in Turkman Gate in Delhi. A father was found to have raped his daughter in Kerala for over a year. All of these men had found ways of telling themselves that whatever they were doing could be done. A few days ago, a garment trader in Metiabruz, Kolkata, cut off his sister’s head because he suspected her of having an affair with someone he did not approve of and walked with her decapitated head, sword in hand, to the police station, in defense of his family’s honour. There are people who have praised him for his commitment to his family’s honor. None of these men were deranged, or otherwise criminally inclined. They were all, all honorable men. We need to figure out what gives them this idea of honor. We need to understand and confront the ways in which men read codes of tradition and honor and translate them into the grossest forms of misogyny and the generalized hatred of women.

Dear young women and men of Delhi, if you want rape to end, you will have to confront those traditions. Confronting those traditions, confronting the known history of patriarchy is not the same thing as demanding capital punishment. In fact, they can be the opposites of each other. By demanding ‘death’ for the rapist, you are tacitly entering into a compact with those who see rape not necessarily as a crime against a free agent, but also as a property crime, as an assault on honor and dignity. My understanding is, and my appeal to all of you is -  stop treating rape as a matter of honor and dishonor altogether, and expose and boycott those who would insist it is a matter of honor and dishonour. Treat it as ordinary, disgusting, evil violence, as the naked expression of power, and you will see that the expression of power is never challenged by the demand for death. It is easy for those who think of women as property to demand death for those who violate their property rights over women. That is why many men who will demand death penalty for rapists will happily go home and rape their wives. (Because in their understanding they cannot ‘rape’ their wives, only strangers can rape ‘their’ wives.)If you want to end rape, to end the forced sexual subjugation of one human being by another. You will have to look elsewhere than the gallows for comfort.

Rape and sexual assault, and other kinds of violence centered on the enjoyment of humiliation are different from other kinds of violence. You could be in the company of violent men, as a man, in a bus, and they would not necessarily slap you around just for the heck of it (unless you ‘looked’ racially different, or were different because of the way you expressed your sexual orientation). But imagine or remember what it is to be a woman on that bus, or to be the ‘wrong’ kind of male – queer, child, racially other, submissive because you are held captive – and things can suddenly go wrong. This is what happened on that bus that the 23 year old paramedic and her friend had boarded. This is what happened when Sharma, Sharma, Singh, Gupta and Thakur and their unnamed juvenile accomplice, decided to assert their position as bipedal upper primates on top of their imagined sexual pyramid. Let us not forget that the matter spiraled when one of the assaulters taunted the woman and her friend for being together at night in Delhi. In their eyes, she had broken the code of sexual slavery, by being a person who had acted as a free agent, as someone who could choose to enjoy her claim to the city, its entertainments, with a companion who happened to be male.

Of course she need not have acted as this free agent for this horrible event to happen. She could have been at home, confined within narrow domestic walls where most rapes in Delhi, and India occur. (I have yet to hear of policemen and politicians advocate the abolition of marriage in the same breath as the closure of pubs, although more rapes happen within marriage than do at or around pubs, clearly neither marriage nor pubs are in themselves the causes of rape, but it is always curious that one should be asked to be banned, though sometimes judges do ask rapists to marry their victims, though no one has yet asked a woman who was attacked or molested at a pub to return to the place where she was assaulted). In this instance, were we to go by the law of statistical averages, the brave 23 year old paramedic was not, but could easily have been the sister, niece, daughter, daughter-in-law or wife of one of the accused. Because the majority of those who get raped in our society are sisters, daughters, daughters-in-law, nieces and wives – and they are raped by brothers, fathers, uncles, fathers-in-law and husbands. Or she could have been a worker raped by her boss, or her colleague. She could have been a student raped by a teacher, a patient raped by a doctor or a warden in a hospital or clinic, an undertrial raped by a policeman, an insurgent or suspect raped by a soldier. She could have been dressed in clothes that she felt helped her enjoy and assert her sexuality, or she could have been dressed in work clothes, she could have been dressed in a burqa, a sari, salwar kameez or in a nun’s habit. She could have been a three year old infant, a teenager, a young woman, a post menopausal woman, even a grandmother.

Anybody at all, other than a man in a position of real or imagined power, can be raped by a man in  a position of real or imagined power. We might as well call this the first and most important law of rape.

This means that you can be raped in order to punish you for having broken the code of sexual slavery (patriarchy) – which is what happens when you are ‘accused’ of being up and about in the night in the city with a man who is not related to you. Or, on the other hand, you can be raped, in order to enforce it, maintain it, irrigate it,  generally show the world – how it works, who’s on top – which is what happens when rapes happen within the four walls of homes, work places, institutions and prisons.

Where does this sense of impunity that seems to govern the actions of so many men come from? It cannot come from biology alone. Because, thankfully, not all men, not even all men in positions of real or imagined power, are rapists. Rapists choose to access a cultural code of permission. There is something in the cultural baggage or vocabulary available to us all that normalizes sexual violence, even renders it trivial, as a bit of horseplay at worst, or the hallowed order sanctified by tradition, at best.

Dear young men and women of Delhi. There are things you can do to stop rape.

  • Shame any man who casually passes misogynist, sexist, remarks.  Shame all those cowards who try to humiliate anyone because of the way their bodies or desires are. Shame them in public.
  • Young women, do not retreat from public space. Take back the night. Insist on being out and about. Insist on the conditions that enable your safety. Ask why there are no women bus drivers, women cab drivers. Ask what the Delhi police is doing to punish misogynist officers and constables.
  • Young women, please understand that when you hear songs that are violent and misogynist, you can choose to boycott the radio stations and recording companies that put them out. Leave a party or a celebration that plays a Honey Singh song. If you are young man who is a friend of a young woman at any such gathering, leave the celebration with your friend. Call the radio stations, phone in and demand that they stop playing misogynist songs.
  • Demand more public transport. Demand a thousand more buses that ply all night. Demand a metro system that stays open late into the night. Demand street lighting. Ask why the car lobby in Delhi can systematically stymie the expansion of public transport in Delhi. If there are not more public buses and metro trains, understand that those who run this city are responsible for rape and assault.
  • Take your traditions seriously, and recognize that every religion teaches the subjugation and humiliation of women. Ask men and women of religion what they are going to do to recognize the misogyny in their traditions, to confront and challenge them. Insist that under no conditions can any woman pollute anything around her. insist that women are not property. Not of their fathers, brothers, boy-friends or husbands. Not of the state. Not of God. Understand that people can never be property and must never be viewed as such.Combat and confront anyone who says they can be.
  • Shame and expose those politicians and police or army officers who try to cover up cases of sexual assault and rape in Kashmir and the North East and elsewhere. Do not create a hierarchy of more and less important victims.
  • Young men, decide now, and for all time, that you will treat the women you encounter first of all as friends, as equals, as people who have as much right to your city as you. Learn to respect a woman’s right to pleasure. To her right to say yes and no. Do not think that ‘no’ means ‘yes’.
  • Young men, if you confront a situation in which any man harasses another woman, or any other person, make sure that you will stand up and protest, call attention to what is going on,  and make sure that this stops.
  • Young men, and young women, do not reduce the matter of confronting rape and molestation to one of asking the attacker whether or not he has ‘sisters and daughters’ at home. Rapists prey on their sisters and daughters just as easily as they do on strangers.
  • Young men and young women, do not ever let anyone tell you that under any circumstances, that your life is not worth living.

I hope you change Delhi forever. I hope that the rest of the country follows your example.

I remain hopeful because of what you did yesterday and today. Do not disappoint me, do not disappoint yourselves. Make your protest viral. Take it everywhere, to workplaces, schools, streets, parks, the metro, to dark and unlit streets, to lit streets and corners. Take over the city. Make it a city that belongs to you and me and the brave 23 year old paramedic still fighting for her life.

#India- #Delhi- Women Helpline- 181 #Vaw #mustshare #mustcall


Three-digit number allotted for women’s helpline in Delhi

Edited by Shamik Ghosh | Updated: December 24, 2012 18:24 IST, NDTV

Three-digit number allotted for women's helpline in Delhi

New DelhiA three-digit helpline number, 181, has been allotted by the Centre to the Delhi government for its ‘office for helping women in distress.’

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit had reportedly requested Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal for a three-digit number for the department. Usually, the ministry is short of three-digit numbers for allotment; however, this request accepted in less than two hours, according to reports.

The ministry of telecommunications has said that now it is upto the chief minister‘s office to set up the mechanism.

This comes after widespread outcry for strong police vigil on Delhi streets and tougher punishment for sexual crimes after a 23year-old medical student was gang-raped on a moving bus last Sunday.

 

#India- Immunity given to security forces must be abolished #Vaw #AFSPA #Rape


Dec 23, 2012, 10.28PM IST TNN

GUWAHATI: Supreme Court advocate Vrinda Grover on Sunday said immunity given to the army and other Central Armed Police Forces under various acts should be abolished. The perpetrators accused of sexual violence belonging to these forces should be tried before ordinary criminal court, Grover, also a human rights’ activist, added.

Grover, while taking part in a discussion organized by Women in Governance (wing), a network of women fighting for women’s rights, said victims in the northeast and other conflict zones in the nation have been given a raw deal. She stressed on the prevention of shielding criminals in the army and security forces.

The discussion ‘Consultation on State, Sexual Violence and Impunity: Facts from the Field’ was held in view of the escalating violence against women and the July 13 incident of attempted rape of a girl by a soldier at Dolopa in Sivasagar district.

“Such heinous crimes question the morale of security forces. Afspa and other such acts provide systematic impunity to the perpetrators and each time such incidents occur, the security forces deny the allegations made against them and the women are not given justice,” said Grover.

She also stressed on the point that the impunity given to the forces in the conflict zones are at par with that of dealing with an external enemy. “All the cases of violence against women in these zones should be placed before an ordinary criminal court. Court martial provides little scope of justice for the victims. The United Nations have also said the court martial proceedings are unfair,” added Grover.

Criticizing the attitude of the army and security forces in handling cases of sexual attack on women, Grover said, “These institutions give excuses saying boys will be boys and that soldiers have been away from their homes for too long.”

Grover, in the discussion, laid emphasis on the requirement of meticulous documentation and the need to expose and push the system. “We should keep filing cases against the army and security forces when such incidents occur so that these institutions can be exposed and embarrassed. The RTI gives broad strokes,” she said.

The activist said it is important for the conflict zones to learn from one another through different case studies and the similarity of the regions on the legal front. “The people need to speak about Afspa as there is a lack of understanding of the act and some people at the helm of affairs are quite ignorant,” said Grover.

Speaking on the Delhi gang rape incident, Grover was critical of a politician, who called the rape victim a living corpse. She added that politicians do not take violence against women seriously.

“Women are not part of the political constituency. There is a need for certainty of punishment, but not severity of punishment. Women have never considered themselves as goddesses, but only to be treated at equal par with men. We don’t want Dabbang men, only considerate men,” Grover added.

 

#India- Women not safe in their bedrooms too #Vaw #Maritalrape #WTFlaw


IPC  entitles husband to have forced sex

Dec 24, 2012, 06.22AM IST TNN[ Hetal Vyas ]

Forget roads and public transport. Married women in India are helpless even in their own bedrooms. For, the Indian Penal Code (IPC) does not even categorize ‘marital rape‘ or ‘forced sex by husband’ as a cognizable offence.

With the law of the land silent to their plight, many married women have no choice but to surrender to their husbands’ sexual whims.

Earlier this month, a bench of the Delhi high court turned down an appeal filed by a woman seeking action against her husband for marital rape. The court said there is no provision in the IPC to seek action against a husband for forced sex. The judge noted that if the couple is legally married, then it is the husband’s right to have sex with the wife.

Advocate Geeta Menon says, “In India, marital rape happens only if the couple is legally separated and the husband still has forced sex with the wife. Else, there is nothing called marital rape. Also, there is no provision in the IPC to seek action against the husband for forced sex.”

But the absence of law does not mean that rapes don’t happen within marriages. Advocates dealing with family matters admit to receiving several briefs where women complain of being forced to have sex by their husbands notwithstanding their psychological and physical state. Sex without consent is at most addressed as an issue of cruelty in a marriage, they say.

Senior counsel Pramila Nesargi says: “I have come across several cases where the wife has been forced to have sex without her consent. Not many women come out openly to discuss marital rape and seek divorce on this ground.”

The trouble, experts say, is that marriage in India is seen as a licence to have sex. Lawyers admit that differences in perception are at the root of most marital disputes. There is no family or legal support for Indian women when it comes to marital rape. They just have to suffer it silently. This can be changed only with the help of women’s empowerment

Dr Shaibya Saldanha | Gynecologist and co-founder, Enfold India Trust

Any sex without love or affection is rape. Many a time women are forced to have sex even during menstrual cycle or illness, which is no less than rape

Pramila Nesargi | Senior counsel

It is seen as a right of the husband to have sex with the wife with or without her consent. Marital rape just does not happen in our society within the marriage

Geeta Menon | Advocate

Lurking depravities

Sunayana and Anil (names changed), a well-educated couple residing in Ulsoor, were married for 10 years. The couple had two sons. Anil used to travel at least 10 days every month on business. Anil used to turn into an animal once he returned home from his business trips. “He used to straightaway drag Sunayana into their bedroom. Sunayana was fed up with sex and she sought divorce. But once the court granted custody of her children to Anil, a distraught Sunayana killed herself.

 

No crime to rape wife under sex assault bill #WTFnews #Vaw #Nocountryforwomen


By , TNN | Dec 24, 2012, 03.23 AM IST

No crime to rape wife under sex assault bill
While over 100 countries have criminalized marital rape, the bill shows India in a poor light as it perpetuates the notion that a man is entitled to rape his wife.
NEW DELHI: The sexual assault bill introduced in Parliament, just 12 days before the Delhi gang rape, is out of sync with the spirit of zero-tolerance displayed by the protests at Raisina Hill and elsewhere. For, even as it tweaked the existing provisions in the Indian Penal Code(IPC), the bill retains the patriarchal mindset of the law enacted in 1860. While over 100 countries have criminalized marital rape, the bill shows India in a poor light as it perpetuates the notion that a man is entitled to rape his wife.Rather than outlawing non-consensual sex in all circumstances, the bill is content to make incremental reforms to the clauses allowingmarital rape (Sections 375 and 376 IPC). In the anachronistic outlook of IPC, marital rape is committed only when the wife is below 15. The bill improves on this by increasing the cut-off age for marital rape by one year.

The saving grace is that, although it forbids marital rape only in the aggravated circumstance in which the wife is below 16, the bill is unsparing when it comes to laying down the quantum of punishment. It proposes imprisonment from seven years to a life sentence for husbands raping wives below 16. This is an improvement on the existing clause under which a man raping his wife aged between 12 and 15 is liable to a term of no more than two years.

Another significant reform relates to the indefinite period between a judicial separation and a divorce. From the existing penalty of two years, the bill has raised the prison term to seven years for somebody who has raped his wife after they had been judicially separated.

The bill has also increased penalties for molestation (from two years to five years) and sexual harassment or eve-teasing (from one year to three years). However, as with marital rape, the bill has failed to rid these provisions of attitudes that don’t belong in the 21st century India.

In the provisions relating to molestation and sexual harassment, the bill has refrained from amending the expressly-stated notion that those offences are committed against the “modesty” of a woman. Section 354 IPC is about “assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty” while Section 509 IPC is about “word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman”.

The retention of this Victorian language — and the sexist notion of modesty — will continue to legitimize social sensibilities that are offended by a young woman staying out late in male company, as allegedly was the case the night on which the gang rape took place.

 

#India- From outrage to empowerment #deligangrape #Vaw #Rape


SUBHASHINI ALI, The HinduTHE SUNDAY STORYThe Delhi bus rape has galvanised the country on the neglected issue of women’s safety. A look at several cities shows the need for large scale reform – of the police, the law, the legal process, and security in public places.

One thought, one hoped, it would not happen in this case but most unfortunately, it did. In all the outrage, the outpouring of horror, grief and anger, that devastating but familiar comment was made. A policeman standing near one of the many groups of those protesting against the brutal assault on a young woman in a bus in Delhi was heard saying: “She must have been doing something with her boyfriend that got those young men excited.”

The shifting of responsibility for a crime of sexual violence and assault from the male perpetrator or perpetrators to the female victim cannot be disassociated from the unending and ever-increasing spiral of violence against women and girls.

This most reprehensible aspect of patriarchy helps to create and perpetuate the societal conditioning and circumstances responsible for the horrors that are visited on the female sex from the time of conception to the time of an often unnatural and brutal death. It permeates consciousness at all levels. Ministers, politicians, administrators, policemen and members of the judiciary all subscribe to it in varying measure.

This conditioning is often attributed to age-old but strongly held traditional beliefs, feudal and outmoded social attitudes. Unfortunately, what is today the most powerful social arbiter — the market — continuously and in a myriad ways devalues and commodifies women and young girls in its unquenchable thirst for profit. Its insidious reinforcement and re-packaging of the most regressive patriarchal attitudes ensures the continued subordination of women so necessary for its rapacious growth.

Tehelka magazine recently published a series of interviews that its correspondents had done in parts of the National Capital Region with police personnel at various levels. Except for two honourable exceptions, every one of them said that women and girls who lodged complaints of rape were either immoral, or guilty of loose behaviour, or were either blackmailers or prostitutes. This National Capital Region today has the dubious distinction of being the National Rape Capital Region.

This year alone, more than 600 cases of rape have been registered here. In the last four days, after the incident of rape in a bus that has left much of the nation in a state of shocked horror; two gang rapes; one assault by minor boys on a woman at a Metro station; and the rape of his six year-old daughter by an alcoholic father have been reported.

Most of the rapes that occur in this area are of minors, of poor women daily wage-earners, and women working as domestic help. None of these facts, however, seem to have made the slightest impact on those charged with guaranteeing the security and safety of women and children and, when they fail to prevent a violent attack from occurring, additionally charged with bringing the guilty to justice. They, however, continue to hold on strongly to the prejudiced view that women themselves are responsible for the violence that they are subjected to. This can only increase both the insecurity and the incidence of violence.

New legislation

This intolerable situation needs immediate remedial measures. The role of the law-enforcement agencies and the judicial system is crucial, and any improvement in the situation has to start with much more serious attention being paid to this aspect. There is certainly a need for some new legislation — the Bill on Sexual Assault is still to be enacted; the unsatisfactory Bill against Sexual Violence in the Workplace needs to be amended before it is passed in the Rajya Sabha. There is also need to revisit the existing rape laws to make them more sensitive to the needs of the victim and to ensure conviction. At the same time, there is much that can and needs to be done immediately. Prevention of crimes against women has to be treated as a priority by the law-enforcing and legal machinery. This has to be guaranteed by all those who are in positions of power and responsibility.

Everything that can possibly be done to make homes and public spaces safe for women must be ensured, and for this to happen, laws must be implemented without bias.

A beginning has to be made with improvements in the quality of policing. In Delhi the ratio of police to the population is 500:1 lakh, in neighbouring UP which contributes several districts to the National Capital Region, it is only 170:1 lakh. While the Delhi numbers seem to be satisfactory, it is also true that they include all police personnel, including clerks, and they are on duty for only 8 hours each. Of these, more than 10 per cent are deployed on VIP duty and this number increases whenever threat perception to these VIPs increases. These problems, compounded with the low priority accorded to making public spaces safe for women, is responsible for the fact that when a Central Minister took a bus ride at night two days after the incident of gang-rape in the bus, he found no policemen on the roads.

Addressing the problems of policing, and prioritization of ensuring the security of women can ensure immediate registration of FIRs, prompt arrests and filing of charge-sheets. This must be followed by court hearings on a daily basis so that conviction and stringent punishment can be delivered within a period not exceeding six months. Trials of rape cases in our country have, as a process, subjected rape victims to the worst kind of punishment imaginable. Years and years of constantly having to relive a traumatic experience, often in the presence of those responsible, is an unbearable price to pay for justice both delayed and denied.

The victim of the gang-rape in the bus is a courageous woman. She battled with those who attacked her along with her friend. Today she is battling for her life. She cannot speak but she wrote a few words on a piece of paper – “Have they been caught,” she asked. She needs to be told that not only have they been arrested but, by the time she is well again, they will also have been punished.

(Subhashini Ali is president of the All India Democratic Women’s Associationsubhashiniali@gmail.com)

 

IMMEDIATE RELEASE- Statement condemning sexual violecne and opposing #deathpenalty


STATEMENT BY WOMEN’S AND PROGRESSIVE GROUPS AND INDIVIDUALS CONDEMNING

SEXUAL VIOLENCE

AND

OPPOSING DEATH PENALTY

On 16 December, 2012, a 23-year old woman and her friend hailed a bus at a crossing in South Delhi. In the bus, they were both brutally attacked by a group of men who claimed to be out on a ‘joy-ride’. The woman was gang raped and the man beaten up; after several hours, they were both stripped and dumped on the road. While the young woman is still in hospital, bravely battling for her life, her friend has been discharged and is helping identify the men responsible for the heinous crime.

We, the undersigned, women’s, students’ and progressive groups and concerned citizens from around the country, are outraged at this incident and, in very strong terms, condemn her gang rape and the physical and sexual assault.

As our protests spill over to the streets all across the country, our demands for justice are strengthened by knowing that there are countless others who share this anger. We assert that rape and other forms of sexual violence are not just a women’s issue, but a political one that should concern every citizen. We strongly demand that justice is done in this and all other cases and the perpetrators are punished.

This incident is not an isolated one; sexual assault occurs with frightening regularity in this country. Adivasi and dalit women and those working in the unorganised sector, women with disabilities, hijras, kothis, trans people and sex workers are especially targeted with impunity – it is well known that the complaints of sexual assault they file are simply disregarded. We urge that the wheels of justice turn not only to incidents such as the Delhi bus case, but to the epidemic of sexual violence that threatens all of us. We need to evolve punishments that act as true deterrents to the very large number of men who commit these crimes. Our stance is not anti-punishment but against the State executing the death penalty. The fact that cases of rape have a conviction rate of as low as 26% shows that perpetrators of sexual violence enjoy a high degree of impunity, including being freed of charges.

Silent witnesses to everyday forms of sexual assault such as leering, groping, passing comments, stalking and whistling are equally responsible for rape being embedded in our culture and hence being so prevalent today. We, therefore, also condemn the culture of silence and tolerance for sexual assault and the culture of valorising this kind of violence.

We also reject voices that are ready to imprison and control women and girls under the garb of ‘safety’, instead of ensuring their freedom as equal participants in society and their right to a life free of perpetual threats of sexual assault, both inside and outside their homes.

 

In cases (like this) which have lead to a huge public outcry all across the country, and where the perpetrators have been caught, we hope that justice will be speedily served and they will be convicted for the ghastly acts that they have committed. However, our vision of this justice does not include death penalty, which is neither a deterrent nor an effective or ethical response to these acts of sexual violence. We are opposed to it for the following reasons:

1.    We recognise that every human being has a right to life. Our rage cannot give way to what are, in no uncertain terms, new cycles of violence. We refuse to deem ‘legitimate’ any act of violence that would give the State the right to take life in our names. Justice meted by the State cannot bypass complex socio-political questions of violence against women by punishing rapists by death. Death penalty is often used to distract attention away from the real issue – it changes nothing but becomes a tool in the hands of the State to further exert its power over its citizens. A huge set of changes are required in the system to end the widespread and daily culture of rape.

2.    There is no evidence to suggest that the death penalty acts as a deterrent to rape. Available data shows that there is a low rate of conviction in rape cases and a strong possibility that the death penalty would lower this conviction rate even further as it is awarded only under the ‘rarest of rare’ circumstances. The most important factor that can act as a deterrent is the certainty of punishment, rather than the severity of its form.

3.    As seen in countries like the US, men from minority communities make up a disproportionate number of death row inmates. In the context of India, a review of crimes that warrant capital punishment reveals the discriminatory way in which such laws are selectively and arbitrarily applied to disadvantaged communities, religious and ethnic minorities. This is a real and major concern, as the possibility of differential consequences for the same crime is injustice in itself.

4.    The logic of awarding death penalty to rapists is based on the belief that rape is a fate worse than death. Patriarchal notions of ‘honour’ lead us to believe that rape is the worst thing that can happen to a woman. There is a need to strongly challenge this stereotype of the ‘destroyed’ woman who loses her honour and who has no place in society after she’s been sexually assaulted. We believe that rape is tool of patriarchy, an act of violence, and has nothing to do with morality, character or behaviour.

5.    An overwhelming number of women are sexually assaulted by people known to them, and often include near or distant family, friends and partners. Who will be able to face the psychological and social trauma of having reported against their own relatives? Would marital rape (currently not recognised by law), even conceptually, ever be looked at through the same retributive prism?

6.    The State often reserves for itself the ‘right to kill’ — through the armed forces, the paramilitary and the police. We cannot forget the torture, rape and murder of ThangjamManoramaby the Assam Rifles in Manipur in 2004 or the abduction, gang rape and murder of Neelofar and Aasiya of Shopian (Kashmir) in 2009.Giving more powers to the State, whether arming the police and giving them the right to shoot at sight or awarding capital punishment, is not a viable solution to lessen the incidence of crime.
Furthermore, with death penalty at stake, the ‘guardians of the law’ will make sure that no complaints against them get registered and they will go to any length to make sure that justice does not see the light of day. The ordeal of Soni Sori, who had been tortured in police custody last year, still continues her fight from inside aprison in Chattisgarh, in spite of widespread publicity around her torture.

7.    As we know, in cases of sexual assault where the perpetrator is in a position of power (such as in cases of custodial rapeor caste and religionviolence), conviction is notoriously difficult. The death penalty, for reasons that have already been mentioned, would make conviction next to impossible.

We, the undersigned, demand the following:

  • Greater dignity, equality, autonomy and rights for women and girls from a society that should stop questioning and policing their actions at every step.
  • Immediate relief in terms of legal, medical, financial and psychological assistance and long-term rehabilitation measures must be provided to survivors of sexual assault.
  • Provision of improved infrastructure to make cities safer for women, including well-lit pavements and bus stops, help lines and emergency services.
  • Effective registration, monitoring and regulation of transport services (whether public, private or contractual) to make them safe, accessible and available to all.
  • Compulsory courses within the training curriculum on gender sensitisation for all personnel employed and engaged by the State in its various institutions, including the police.
  • That the police do its duty to ensure that public spaces are free from harassment, molestation and assault. This means that they themselves have to stop sexually assaulting women who come to make complaints. They have to register all FIRs and attend to complaints. CCTV cameras should be set up in all police stations and swift action must be taken against errant police personnel.
  • Immediate setting up of fast track courts for rape and other forms of sexual violence all across the country. State governments should operationalise their creation on a priority basis. Sentencing should be done within a period of six months.
  • The National Commission for Women has time and again proved itself to be an institution that works against the interests of women. NCW’s inability to fulfil its mandate of addressing issues of violence against women, the problematic nature of the statements made by the Chairperson and its sheer inertia in many serious situations warrants that the NCW role be reviewed and auditedas soon as possible.
  • The State acknowledges the reality of custodial violence against women in many parts of the country, especially in Kashmir, North-East and Chhattisgarh. There are several pending cases and immediate action should be taken by the government to punish the guilty and to ensure that these incidents of violence are not allowed to be repeated.
  • Regarding the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2012, women’s groups have already submitted detailed recommendations to the Home Ministry. We strongly underline that the Bill must not be passed in its current form because of its many serious loopholes and lacuna. Some points:

-      There has been no amendment to the flawed definition of consent under Sec 375IPC and this has worked against the interest of justice for women.

-      The formulation of the crime of sexual assault as gender neutralmakes the identity of the perpetrator/accused also gender neutral. We demand that the definition of perpetrator be gender-specific and limited to men. Sexual violence also targets transgender people and legal reform must address this.

-      In its current form, the Bill does not recognise the structural and graded nature of sexual assault, based on concepts of hurt, harm, injury, humiliation and degradation. The Bill also does not use well-established categories of sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault and sexual offences.

-      It does not mention sexual assault by security forces as a specific category of aggravated sexual assault. We strongly recommend the inclusion of perpetration of sexual assault by security forces under Sec 376(2).

Endorsed by the following groups and individuals:

 

  • Citizens’ Collective against Sexual Assault (CCSA)
  • Purnima, Nirantar, New Delhi
  • Sandhya Gokhale, Forum Against Oppression of Women, Bombay
  • Deepti, Saheli, Delhi
  • Mary John, Centre for Women’s Development Studies (CWDS), New Delhi
  • Jagori, Delhi
  • Vimochana, Bangalore
  • Stree Mukti Sanghathan, Delhi
  • Madhya Pradesh Mahila Manch
  • Kavita Krishnan, AIPWA, New Delhi
  • Anuradha Kapoor ,Swayam, Calcutta
  • Kalpana Mehta, Manasi Swasthya Sansthan, Indore
  • Nandita Gandhi, Akshara, Bombay
  • Indira, Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression, (WSS), New Delhi
  • National Alliance of people’s Movements (NAPM)
  • Mallika, Maati, Uttarakhand
  • Meena Saraswathi Seshu, SANGRAM, Sangli
  • GRAMEENA MAHILA Okkutta, Karnataka
  • WinG Assam
  • Arati Chokshi, PUCL, Bangalore.
  • Action India, Delhi
  • Majlis Law, Legal Services for Women, Mumbai
  • Sahiayar (Stree Sangathan), Vadodara, Gujarat
  • Vasanth Kannabiran (NAWO, AP) Asmita
  • Sheba George, SAHRWARU
  • SAMYAK, Pune
  • Shabana Kazi, VAMP
  • Sruti disAbility Rights Centre, Kolkata
  • Forum to Engage Men (FEM), New Delhi
  • MASVAW( Men Action for stopping Violence Against Women), UP
  • Breakthrough, New Delhi
  • V Rukmini Rao, Gramya Resource Centre for Women, Secunderabad
  • LABIA, a queer feminist LBT collective, Mumbai
  • Law Trust, Tamil Nadu
  • Men’s Action to Stop Violence agaisnt Women (MASVAW), UP
  • National Forum for Single Women’s Rights
  • NAWO-AP, Arunachal Pradesh Women’s Welfare Society (APWWS)
  • Indigenous Women’s Resource Centre (IWRC)
  • New Socialist Initiative, Delhi
  • Gabriele Dietrich, Pennurimai Iyakkam
  • Sangat, a South Asian Feminist Network
  • Stree Mukti Sanghatana, Mumbai
  • SWATI, Ahmedabad
  • Tamil Nadu Women Fish Workers Forum
  • Subhash Mendhapurkar,SUTRA, H.P.
  • Mario, Nigah, queer collective, New Delhi
  • Sushma Varma, Samanatha Mahila Vedike, Bangalore
  • Priti Darooka, PWESCR (The Programme on Women’s Economic,Social and Cultural Rights), New Delhi
  • Pushpa Achanta (WSS, Karnataka)
  • AWN, Kabul
  • AZAD and Sakha Team, Delhi
  • Ekta, Madurai
  • Empower People
  • Vrinda Grover
  • Chayanika Shah, Bombay
  • Aruna Roy
  • Kalyani Menon-Sen, Feminist Learning Partnerships, Gurgaon
  • Nandini Rao
  • Pratiksha Baxi
  • Amrita Nandy
  • Farah Naqvi, Writer & Activist, Delhi
  • Nivedita Menon
  • Urvashi Butalia
  • Kaveri R I, Bengaluru
  • Dunu Roy
  • Harsh Mander
  • Anil TV
  • Laxmi Murthy, Journalist, Bangalore
  • Rahul Roy
  • Rituparna Borah, queer feminist activist
  • Ranjana Padhi, New Delhi
  • Trupti Shah, Vadodara, Gujarat
  • Vasanth Kannabiran
  • Sudha Bharadwaj
  • Veena Shatrugna,  Hyderabad
  • Kamayani Bali Mahabal
  • Kiran Shaheen, Journalist and activist
  • Lesley A Esteves, journalist, New Delhi
  • devangana kalita, assam
  • Aruna Burte
  • Anita Ghai
  • Mohan Rao, New Delhi
  • Rakhi Sehgal, New Delhi
  • Geetha Nambisan
  • Charan Singh, New Delhi
  • Manjima Bhattacharjya
  • Jinee Lokaneeta,Associate professor, Drew University, Madison, NJ
  • Kavita Panjabi, Jadavpur University, Kolkata
  • Albertina almeida, Goa
  • Satyajit Rath, New Delhi
  • Prerna Sud, New Delhi
  • Priya Sen, New Delhi
  • Aarthi Pai, Bangalore
  • Kalpana Vishwanath, Gurgaon
  • Aisha K. Gill, Reader, University of Roehampton, London
  • Ammu Abraham, Mumbai
  • Anagha Sarpotdar, Activist and PhD Student, Mumbai
  • Anand Pawar
  • Anuradha Marwah, Ajmer Adult Education Association (AAEA), Ajmer
  • Asha Ramesh, activist/researcher/consultant
  • Bondita
  • Gauri Gill, New delhi
  • Sophia Khan, Gujarat
  • Niranjani Iyer, Chennai
  • Dyuti Ailawadi
  • Gandimathi Alagar
  • Gayatri Buragohain – Feminist Approach to Technology (FAT), New Delhi
  • Geetha Nambisan, Delhi
  • Sadhna Arya, New Delhi
  • Vineeta Bal, New Delhi
  • Suneeta Dhar
  • Geeta Ramaseshan, Advocate, Chennai
  • Sonal Sharma, New delhi
  • Anusha Hariharan, Delhi/Chennai
  • Jayasree.A.K,
  • Gautam Bhan, New Delhi
  • Jayasree Subramanian, TISS,Hyderabad
  • Jhuma Sen, Advocate, Supreme Court
  • Teena Gill, New Delhi
  • Kannamma Raman
  • Karuna D W
  • Kavita Panjabi
  • Shalini Krishan, New Delhi
  • Lalita Ramdas, Secunderabad
  • Manasi Pingle
  • Madhumita Dutta, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
  • Manoj Mitta
  • Pamela Philipose
  • Parul Chaudhary
  • Preethi Herman
  • Sunil Gupta, New Delhi
  • Radha Khan
  • Rama Vedula
  • Rebecca John
  • Renu Khanna, SAHAJ
  • Rohini Hensman (Writer and Activist, Bombay)
  • Rohit Prajapati, Environmental activist, Gujarat
  • Roshmi Goswami
  • Shipra Nigam, Consultant Economist, Research and Information Systems, New Delhi
  • Shipra Deo, Agribusiness Systems International Vamshakti, Pratapgarh
  • Rukmini Datta
  • Sridala Swami
  • Sarba Raj Khadka, Kathmandu
  • Satish K. Singh, CHSJ
  • Shinkai Karokhail, from the Afghanistan Parliament
  • Sima Samar, Kabul
  • Smita Singh, FTII, Pune
  • Subhalakshmi Nandi
  • Sujata Gothoskar
  • Swar Thounaojam
  • Inayat Sabhikhi
  • Jaya Vindhyala, Hyderabad