#India- The Power of Shame #delhigangrape #Vaw


 

December 31, 2012, sarai.net

 

By Saroj Giri

‘National shame’, lajja – this is the sentiment most Indians feel, now that the raped girl has died. The rape has so far been essentially portrayed as a heinous but aberrant crime, a deviant behavior which apparently did not follow from the kind of society we inhabit. So, why should we, the entire society, feel the shame? This only means that shame has burst through exposing all the denials and attempts to contain the enormity of the problem and just make it a case requiring strong laws. Shame has come upon Indian society in spite of itself. Society as a whole stands implicated – this is what the sentiment of shame entails.

Shame, said Marx, is a revolutionary sentiment. Shame is introspective, loosens the inner resistance one can put up against looking into oneself. Now Indians might be willing to look into their society, their family, their institutions, their day to day life, their values, their civilization, their ethos, their human relations – and locate the recesses of patriarchal domination in them all. Indian society today, that real society where violence against women is normal, almost casual, and where love towards women is deeply patriarchal, seems to have loosened itself up a bit. It appears far less confident about its claims, its self-lauding proclamations. Its defences are down – a rare occasion. It is caught offguard today. It cannot act as though violence against women is only an external problem, exceptional and a deviation from ‘our’ social norms.

When Frantz Fanon revealed the horrors of French colonialism, Sartre pointed out that the French, even the liberal and humane ones, should feel shame. Feel ashamed. Similarly instead of pointing the fingers to this or that minister or the police or some such particular agency or authority as responsible for rape, society should open itself up for introspection. What will be revealed is simple: an out and out patriarchal society, male domination and female subjugation.

This shame has forced a realization even in the mainstream media. Here is the Times of India: “The Delhi gang-rape victim succumbed to her injuries at a Singapore hospital on Saturday morning. The death of 23-year-old Nirbhaya (a name given to her by TOI) not only leaves us sad and heightens our sense of outrage, but also makes it important for all of us to focus now on the real reason behind her agony — the lack of respect for women in our patriarchal society” (Dec 30, 2012).

‘Lack of respect for women’, ‘patriarchal society’ – the right noises are being made. The right noises are being heard. From this ‘real reason’ of course the media being media goes on to suggest that people take a pledge to individually refrain from engaging in violence against women. There is a problem here. For this ‘pledge thing’ again tries to turn the focus away from the internal power relations that constitute this society, the relations of domination through which most men relate to women in this society.

So people are introspecting. They are on their own making all the connections – putting two and two together. They seem to be secretly sensing that the capital punishment and death to the rapists will only serve to shield society, cover up its true character. ‘India’s daughter’ precipitated a process where the accusing finger can also slowly turn towards ‘India’. Every family, every bastion of patriarchy, every woman within the family, every ‘victim’ of patriarchy, is following ‘the news’ – and getting inspired to raise new questions and not just provide ready solutions about ‘preventing rape’.

‘India Rising’
So the question: will shame be the signage, the starting point for the movement against patriarchy? Or will it be, in the name of ‘fighting rape’, another addition to the Indian nation’s list of ‘fighting untouchability’, ‘fighting poverty’, ‘fighting communalism’.

Indeed ‘fighting rape’ might, I fear, soon enter the lexicon of the ‘tough administrator’ Narendra Modi vying to be Prime Minister. In surmising this I thought I was only being a slightly paranoid leftie – till I saw some placards at the protests.
Stop Sexual Terrorism, it said. Rape as sexual terrorism, like a bomb blast! Rape is here externalized, like terrorism from across the borders, an evil enemy which attacks your good society.

I can already hear those like Chetan Bhagat saying how this is ‘new India rising’ – how the youth are not willing to take all this lax laws and all this disruption of life in a decent society, this kind of barbaric treatment of our upwardly mobile women. ‘New India’, ‘India Rising’, by invoking the hyperbole of capital punishment against rape, secretly reinscribes the myth of an essentially good society – ‘Indian values’. After anti-corruption, is ‘fighting rape’ the new cause of the self-righteous, self-aggrandising upper middle classes? This moment of shame will provide the long overdue antidote to the self-righteous middle classes and at least lessen their confidence and aggression, slow them down.

The initial outrage

The protests however were initially not in a mood to feel this shame, not in a mood to introspect. They started off dominated by the feeling of outrage.
Outrage has a target – Shiela Dixit, the Home Minister, Delhi Police, private bus operators. It functions with an accusing finger towards something external. It is essentially non-introspective. To start with, the protests against rape had this basic tendency to regard rape as having nothing to do with the patriarchal power relations that constitute society. Instead rape is located in something external, external to an essentially good society – it is a deviation, a crime, a criminal act to be explained by say the rapist’s ‘psychology’ but not by the tissue of social relations. Rape as a result of a criminal and sick mindset rather than what would follow from the gendered power relations that constitute this society we inhabit.

So the ‘prevention of rape’ does not involve transformation of society. It can be achieved by delegating responsibility to an authority which stands at a remove from society. So ministers and police must fix this problem for the smooth functioning of this society. This delegation meant exoneration of society, of precisely that society where patriarchy is felt and sensed every moment. Rendering this society invisible! To achieve this feat, it had to generate its own histrionics, high drama, extreme emotions, extreme everything – the smokescreen of ‘death to the rapists’. ‘Hang the rapists’ and leave society as it is – this is the motto. The mythical good society must be left unquestioned.

So here violence against women is not always already happening, not already foretold. It ‘takes place’. It is an incident – when, where, who. This is the way violence against women is rendered contingent, exceptional, forever an aberration – it just so happened. It took place on that night of Dec 16th 2012. It takes place every other day, or the same day some other place, or perhaps every hour – but each is a separate case. Each can be explained by referring to the ‘background’ of those individuals involved. ‘They were from the slum area’. The bus in which the girl was travelling did not have proper licenses. They were ‘those types’.

Society here sits as the judge and takes the moral high ground – it exonerates itself. What is rendered invisible is the thousand and one ways in which the rape and violence against women are mandated by ‘society’ – from female infanticide, to bride burning, to dowry deaths, to sexual harassment, to getting groped in the metro, to rape within marriage, to honour killings… The list is endless. Not just the violence – even the love and care reserved for women is laden with inscription of male power. The ideal wife, the ideal daughter, the respectable woman, adarsh bharatiya nari, the super mom – these are notions, tendencies and inclinations that constantly push women towards precarity, a lack of confidence, a fear, an anxiety. These are indeed sometimes more dangerous than the committed ‘crimes’.

So the outrage overlooked all of this. And yet this outrage gave way to shame. This shame might inspire a movement which could irrigate the veins and arteries of resistance against patriarchy in the street, in the family, in the bedroom. It might lead to social critique. It might allow women to go beyond merely fighting for basic safety and security. It might, indeed must, allow them to freely assert their powers and desires, their thoughts and their sexuality.

Today women are on the defensive, seeking to be the beneficiaries of protection accorded by an essentially male dominated society. This is extremely infantilizing. Even if this movement might succeed this might not change. In fact it might actively contribute to this infantalising – women might be ‘safe’ and infantilized. For example, if Delhi Police gets better in protecting women from sexual attacks then will women also be obliged to follow some of the ‘do’s and don’ts’ put up by the police? Will this enhance or lessen women’s agency?

Social evil?
So how will this shame be mobilized? Should feminists now work with the government to help make good laws? Feminists might proceed by laying the statistics of so many other kinds of violence against women: bride burning, dowry deaths, sexual harassment and so on. Feminists might provide the inputs to good policy formulation. But will these inputs only mean that in this era of targeted policy making, patriarchy would start getting ‘measured’ in terms of ‘affected groups’ or stake-holders and the benefits they should get? If we demand so much protection from the police, then will women also be obliged to abide by some of the rules ‘for your own safety’ that Delhi Police might frame?

 

Too many voices are calling for ‘strong laws and speedy justice’ to deter rapists, a call for a strong state. Perhaps a technocratic or security-centric solution is in the offing. If not this, another bad option that might impose itself is to adopt an approach of something like ‘the unfinished task of social reform’ carried over from the 19th century. So, like fighting sati, or widow remarriage, or untouchability, violence against women will be identified as a social evil. Yes it is a ‘social evil’. But is violence against women, like untouchability, a malignant growth in an otherwise healthy ‘social body’, as Gandhi would have it? Or is it intrinsic to the ‘social body’?

 

It is not to a cool and calm deliberation for policy formulation that this shame must lead to. What we need is a much more enriched rage, now carrying the moment of shame, of social critique. The narrow focus of the rage – ministers, police, strong laws – must now give way to taking account of how this rage must also be directed against the manner in which rape and violence against women is routinely deployed by none other than the state itself. Just check out the reports coming from the North East, in Kashmir and elsewhere. Or the rape of over 30 women by the Rajasthan Rifles in Kunan Poshpora. Or the gruesome rape and murder of Dalit women in Khairlanji. This list is very long. These are neither the result of an exception, bad policing nor a social evil. It is instead a well calculated strategy to inscribe the power of the state through patriarchal violence.

Nuke activist Udayakumar tops TOI poll


Chennai: Anti-nuclear activist S P Udayakumar has topped the poll conducted by TOI on role models who made news in 2012 for their vision,work and commitment.
By winning over 50% of the votes,he left luminaries like acclaimed liver surgeon Dr Mohamed Rela,sportspersons Dipika Pallikal and Viswanathan Anand,actor-director Kamal Haasan and Carnatic singer T M Krishna far behind.
Even Magsaysay award winner Kulandei Francis ranked much lower as compared to the anti-nuclear activist,who is campaigning against the Kudankulam power project.
Speaking to TOI on Monday,Udayakumar said that the struggle of the people in Idinthakarai would continue in a peaceful and non-violent manner.He also promised that the people would stand their ground against the project and take the struggle to a political plane.

 

Madhya pradesh Women organisations protest against Govt anti women diktats and jeans burning #Vaw


 

Women’s organizations oppose anti-women statements of Ministers of M.P. Government and burning of Jeans

We condemn the incidence of burning of jeans in district Damoh. We are shocked that Babulal Gaur, Ramkrishna Kusumaria and Kailash Vijayvargiya have welcomed it and made many statements that blame women for violence against them. We oppose such thinking strongly. We want people to know that there is no connection between our dress and the violence perpetrated against us and to dress as per our choice is a part of our freedom and our constitutional rights.

When the issue of women’s rights is being raised all over the country there is need for serious fresh thinking and at this time such conservative statements that try to limit women’s freedom are in themselves criminal. Many other statements have been made to curtail the freedom of women.

It is a cause of concern that none of these ministers have retracted from such statements nor has the Chief Minister, who is making declarations of making the state safe for women, has intervened or remarked against his ministers.

The State Women’s Commission has also not taken cognizance of these incidents. We believe that these statements expose the lie of a democratic face of the government which is actually governed by feudal and patriarchal ideology. We also want to state that capital punishment or castration are not going to reduce crimes. We are opposed to the statement of chairperson of SCW that advocates such solutions.

We want to underscore the point that ground reality has to improve and the existing law and processes have to be put to better use. Timely registration of FIRs, medical examination, collection of evidence combined with a fast trial are some of the changes that are urgently required to be made.

It must be remembered that M.P. is at the top as compared to the other states when it comes to violence against Dalit and tribal women. In child sexual abuse also M.P. does not lag behind others. We want to ask what is the connection between rape of such women and girls and the dress they wear?

According to us such statements fan sentiments that lead to rape and are helping in saving rapists as the violence is being blamed on the dress, behaviour and character of the victim. This is an attack on women’s struggle for equality and their hard earned gains. Families are becoming insecure due to rising incidence of rapes and sexual harassment and are already trying to withdraw girls from schools. In such a situation statements of these ministers provoke more discrimination against girls and women. In such an atmosphere women cannot hope to be free.

We oppose the statements of these ministers strongly and demand that the Chief Minister takes strong action against them

M.P. Mahilla Manch, Women against sexual violence and state repression m.p., National Federation of Women
( translatiion courtesy kalpana mehta)

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#India-More than reforms, it is revolution which is required


CLAUDE ARPI | Agency: DNA | Monday, December 31, 2012

During the last few days, innumerable experts have commented on or analysed the gang rape that triggered one of the largest mass protests the capital has witnessed in recent years.

With the death of the 23-year-old woman after her doubtful transfer to a Singapore ‘specialty’ hospital, the pressure on the government is mounting.

The protesters have many demands, including removal of Neeraj Kumar, the Delhi Police Commissioner, immediate compensation for rape victims; registration of FIRs for all complaints relating to rape, sexual harassment and crimes against women and safety for women in public transport.

All this is good, but will it solve the problem?

Having lived in India for the past 40 years and closely watched the Indian society, I would like to offer a comment, which seems to me very basic.

Many have spoken of ‘fast-track’ tribunals for the rapists. This demand is an admission in itself: there is no justice in India today.

There are many reasons why it is so. To put the blame entirely on the judiciary would be wrong. As for many other issues, it appears that the system has somewhere gone berserk, and only a revolution could change the status quo.

Hundreds of examples of justice being denied can be cited, but in the end, the outcome remains the same.

The Bofors has been one of the main scandals in modern India. The then prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi, was suspected to have benefitted of kickbacks fromBofors to win a bid to supply 155 mm field Howitzers for the Indian Army. BoforsAB, a Swedish firm, was the main culprit.

The scam led to the defeat of the Congress in the November 1989 general elections.

Ottavio Quattrocchi, the middleman associated with the scandal, was an Italian businessman representing the petrochemicals firm Snamprogetti in India. He was reportedly close to the Gandhi family.

The Delhi High Court quashed all proceedings in the case in June, 2002. The order was reversed by the Supreme Court in July, 2003.

In January 2006, it was found that the CBI had unfrozen the bank accounts ofQuattrocchi who could flee the country. In 30 years, no justice has been rendered.

Then remember the Bhopal gas tragedy, one of the world’s worst industrial disasters. On the night of December 2, 1984, an accident at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal exposed lakhs of people to methylisocyanate gas.

The death toll estimates vary between 4,000 and 8,000. In an affidavit in 2006, the government admitted that the leak caused 5,58,125 injuries.

Civil and criminal cases have been pending for decades in the Bhopal District Court. In June 2010, Warren Anderson, the UCIL chairman, and seven UCILofficials were convicted of causing death by negligence and sentenced to two years imprisonment and fined about $2,000, the maximum punishment allowed by Indian law. Anderson could not be extradited and a meager compensation was paid to a few of the victims. Where is the justice?

Do you remember Harshad Mehta, the Mumbai stockbroker? He was charged with financial crimes that took place in 1992.

Cleverly exploiting loopholes in the banking system, Mehta siphoned off funds from inter-bank transactions and bought shares at a premium, triggering a rise in the Sensex. He was charged with 72 criminal offences, and more than 600 civil action suits were filed against him.

Of the criminal charges brought against him, he was only convicted of one, before his death at age 48, in 2001.

These are well-publicised cases, but there are thousands, if not lakhs, of smaller cases.

Take the case of road accidents. India has the dubious distinction of having the largest number of road casualties in the world. A government report says that in 2009, 1,25,660 people were killed in road accidents and another 5,15,458 received severe or minor injuries. It has probably increased since then.

The point is that inebriated or licenceless drivers are hardly punished and the family of the dead rarely compensated. It was reported that in Tamil Nadu, which has one of the highest number of road accidents, less than two-digit licences were withdrawn last year. No justice again.

Examples could go on.

It is unfortunate that the same thing happens for rape, sexual harassment or violence against women. More than reform, it is revolution which is required.

The street protests are perhaps a first manifestation of the ‘enough-is-enough’ popular sentiment. But the government is incapable of reading the writing on the wall.

One thing is sure, don’t expect the politicians or the judiciary to take the lead to bring more justice to the common men, it will never happen.

The author is a French-born journalist and writer

 

New Year breathes new life into anti-nuclear struggle at Kudankulam


 

Press Release: 1st January 2013

 

  • Activists, struggle communities along with other professionals from varied walks of life take midnight pledge to fight against the Nuclear plant and to fight the forces of death and destruction.
  • Trade Unions, environmental groups, human rights organisations, etc. extend solidarity to people’s struggle at Kudankulam
  • Scientists, senior activists, artists, film makers, lawyers & other professionals join the struggle on the eve of New Year 2013
  • Night-long celebrations at Idinthakarai beach reverberate the spirit of resistance, assertion, freedom and democracy

 

As 2012 came to a close and 2013 dawned, hundreds of people sang and danced together at the Idinthakarai coast, adjacent to the Kudankulam Nuclear Plant. Among the thousands who gathered were more than three hundred people who came from outside the region, to join the local people. They came to the coastal hamlets around Kudankulam to support the spirit of freedom, humanity, resistance and democracy represented by the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE). People’s movements from Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, West Bengal, Karnataka, Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu among other states along with activists, trade unions, professionals, artists, students and others have come to oppose the undemocratic imposition of a nuclear reactor within two kilometres of Idinthakarai. The local people have come from the coastal villages of Idinthakarai, Kudankulam, Vairavikinaru, Kuthankuzhi, Koottappuli and Perumanal.

 

The movement in Idinthakarai is representative of many people’s struggles in various parts of the country against the lack of local people’s participation in decisions that affect them and generations after them. With promises of dramatic changes for local people, mines in Jharkhand, thermal power plants in Odisha and hydro- electric plants are established. However, the experience of the local people show they are often left in the shadow of such development. This negligence of people has reached its peak with the bogus promise of electricity, energy, etc. taking the centre-stage on the issues around displacement and destructive development paradigm. This is demonstrated in the villages next to many thermal plants and dams in Jharkhand, Chhatisgarh, Odisha and places like Raichur. With corporations awaiting to grab the electricity generated at the Kudankulam plant, no different fate awaits the people of Idinthakarai, Kudankulam and even rest of Tamil Nadu.

 

31st December in Idinthakarai has turned out to be a memorable experience for the local people and those who came from different parts of India. The day began with children from all over India coming together to paint a mural against the nuclear reactor in Kudankulam. It was followed by a rally accompanied by music, song and dance through the coastal hamlets around Idinthakarai. The children took the lead to assert their right to live a life safe from the risks of nuclear radiation. With the beating of drums, the Janwadi Sanstrutik Andolan from Odisha opened the programme to welcome the people gathered in solidarity at the Idinthakarai Lourde Matha Church. Despite speaking various languages, they raised a joint voice against the proposed nuclear plant.

 

Hajirabi representing the people affected by Bhopal Gas disaster of 1984 highlighted how the people of Bhopal were continuing to live the tragedy despite all false promises of the government and Union Carbide (now Dow Chemicals). Many speakers highlighted how, when democratic people’s struggles were exercising their right to protest, they have faced difficulties, harassment, arrests and even death. The case of Sr. Valsa John was highlighted in Jharkhand, who was murdered when she was leading protests against the usurping of traditional forests of the Adivasi community for uranium mines. During this process of protests, they were labelled as traitors, enemies of the state and most recently terrorists, making it difficult to lead normal lives. Ashim Roy, General Secretary of the New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI is a national trade union of workers from varied sectors) affirmed that it is the duty of the new people’s movements to bring awareness to the old movements like trade unions, with regard to the assertive land protection struggles. He reaffirmed NTUI’s support to the struggle at Kudankulam.

 

Many speakers also highlighted how many villages across India were in a permanent siege, with many villages surrounded by the local police, the Central Reserve Police Force, the Rapid Action Force and other para military forces. In order to intimidate local resistance, thousands of fabricated cases are slapped onto protesters, who have to live with the constant threat of arrest. The experiences from Jagatsingpur (anti-POSCO struggle), Latehar (Jharkhand), Jaitapur (anti-nuclear plant struggle in Maharshtra), Chengara (land struggle in Kerala), etc. have not been different.

 

Selvam from the Tamil Nadu Eearkai Vyavasaya Sangam highlighted how the State has been painting a rosy picture for the people if they leave agriculture and other traditional livelihoods like fishing. However, speaker after speaker highlighted how various development projects have left them impoverished as lose access to their traditional livelihoods and at the same time cannot access the benefits promised by the State.

 

T. Peter from the National Fishworkers’ Forum highlighted the sacrifices the fishing community have made for the greater good of the country. It was the coastal villages and the fishworkers who sacrificed their land to establish the Thumba satellite launch station. But he asserted that for destructive developmental projects like the Nuclear project, the same fishworkers will give their life to protect land, livelihood and marine resources. It is a battle of life against the forces of death, he asserted. Peter also announced that fishworkers from across the country will hold January 21st as solidarity day in support of the people’s struggle in Kudankulam.

 

The day witnessed cultural programmes by Space theatre (Goa), Dynamic Action (Kerala), Delhi Solidarity Group, Susanta Das (West Bengal), children’s programmes from Idiantahkarai. The night witnessed songs, dances and cultural performances that lasted till the dawn of the first day of 2013. Eminent citizens and senior movement activists including Dr. Binayak SenAdmiral (Rtd) Ramdas, Achin Vinaik, Ajitha George, Adv. Colin Gonsalves, Adv. Clifton D’Rozario, Praful Bidwai, Gabriela Dietrich, Ashim Roy, Lalita Ramdas, Wilfred D’costa, Dr. Meher Engineer, T. Peter, Sr. Celia, Vilayodi Venugopal, Laha Gopalan, and others participated in the events held atLourde Matha Church premises at Idinthakarai. They were joined by eminent filmmakers, photographers, actors, singers, playwrights, scientists, and local movement representatives including Dr. S P Udayakumar, Mary, Malar Manickam, Inita Sahayam, Pushparayan, Milton and others.

 

During the evening, young activists from all over the country came together to share their dreams, hopes and aspirations of local people. They shared their hope that the development process would be more inclusive and participatory with local communities deciding on their common future. They highlighted their common dream of more democratic decision-making and a greater stake for local people in local development.

 

For details contact: Magline (09495531555), Bhargavi (09999563950) & Lakshmi (09791009160)

 

No candlelight protest for Lalli Devi #Vaw


THE HINDU

Published: December 30, 2012

Dalit women are always at the receiving end of societal oppression which takes many forms. Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma

 

Badri Narayan

The Hindu  Dalit women are always at the receiving end of societal oppression which takes many forms

The Sunday Story

While voices were rasied against the brutal gang-rape of the 23 year-old woman who tragically died on Saturday, what about the daily occurrences of rape and assault in the lives of Dalit women?

Who will listen to the voices of the margins? Margins mean those who are not in the capital, those who are not part of the urban middle-class, and those who are not in the gaze of the TV camera. Margins mean those who are silent because they have no one to tell their stories to.

Delhi citizens rightly raised their voices against the brutal gang-rape of the 23 year-old woman who tragically died on Saturday morning. But what about the other statistically established truth? That rape and assault are daily occurrences in the lives of Dalit women? Most crimes committed against Dalits remain unrecorded because the police, the village councils, and government officials reflect the biases of the Hindu caste system. Crimes against them also go unreported because of fears of reprisals, intimidation by the police and their inability to pay bribes.

A report released by the Amnesty International in 2001 found an “extremely high” number of sexual assaults on Dalit women perpetrated by the powerful combine of landlords, upper-caste villagers, and police officers. The study estimates that only about 5 per cent of the attacks are registered, with 30 per cent of the rape complaints dismissed as false. The study also found that the police routinely demand bribes, intimidate witnesses, cover up evidence, and beat up the women’s husbands. Even where rape victims are murdered, the culprits go unpunished.

Often rape and assault happen as part of caste warfare with militia-like vigilante groups, assisted by the local police, conducting raids on villages, burning Dalit homes and raping the women. Legal records, media reportage and personal testimonies reveal that upper-caste men claim sexual access to Dalit and lower-caste women as a matter of caste privilege. Consider this recent incident at Sheetalpur Tikari village under Tharwai police station, around 30 kilometers from Allahabad. Lalli Devi, 45, was constructing a house allotted to her under the Indira Awas Yojna when a local money-lender arrived there with other influential people and demolished the house. As Lalli tried to reason with the man, she, her husband Gulab and her son aged 12 years were beaten mercilessly by the goons. Her hut, where she used to sleep and cook, was razed to the ground. Even today marks of the Brahminical violence are visible on Lalli’s body. And yet, the police kept her in the thana for 24 hours and denied that any violence had occurred.

Worst victims

Dalit women are the worst victims of sexual violence because they face oppression at three levels — caste, class and gender. Indeed she faces atrocities as a Dalit, as a woman and as a member of the working class. Dalit women undergo sexual oppression, economic exploitation and socio-cultural subjugation. But the judicial system routinely fails them.

Immediately after V.P. Singh became Prime Minister in 1989, his constituency, Fatehpur in Uttar Pradesh, was rocked by the news of the gruesome murder of Dhanraj, a Dalit, by some Thakurs in whose fields he worked. Dhanraj had been ordered by the landlords to let his wife spend a night with them. When he defied the diktat, he was dragged out and burnt alive. Singh, who projected himself as a messiah of the oppressed classes, rushed to the spot and offered the widow Rs. 1,000 from his welfare fund and some land as compensation. However the land that was allotted lay within the boundaries of the land of the Thakurs, making it totally inaccessible to her. In the court case that followed all the Thakurs were acquitted of the crime.

In another case that occurred in village Dauna near Allahabad on January 21, 1994, Shivpatia, an old Dalit woman was paraded naked in the village because her son had objected to her vegetable field being plundered by some boys from the dominant Kurmi (OBC) caste. This incident happened when Mulayam Singh Yadav and Kanshi Ram were in an alliance and had formed a government in U.P.. The incident hit the national headlines, prompting both men to rush together to the spot. The victim was offered land and money as compensation and the culprits arrested.

Seventeen years have passed since the incident but the case is still pending in the sessions court even as Mayawati became Chief Minister of the State four times. The irony is that the case was on fast track. In reality, the harassment has increased for Shivpatia and her relatives who are forced to visit the court for their ‘sunwai’, thereby reliving the incident over and over. Today all that they want is that the case should come to an end so that they do not need to forgo their daily wages in order to answer summons from the court.

Dalit women are invisible not just for the media and the police but also seemingly for the judiciary, considering the glaring lack of genuine efforts to resolve their cases. For the public outrage against the Delhi gang rape to have real significance, it must also lead to the victimised Dalit women also getting justice.

(Badri Narayan teaches political science at Allahabad University)

2013- A New Year Wishlist # Humor


 

 

My New Year Wish List For 2013

By Satya Sagar

30 December, 2012
Countercurrents.org

Here are some things I fervently wish will happen in the coming year.

1. Scientists find a way to render in an instant every real or wannabe rapist (including scientists) permanently impotent.

2. All policemen are put away in prison and the inmates put in their uniforms to improve the law and order situation.

3. A fisherwoman is appointed Chairperson of the Department of Atomic Energy and the Koodamkulam nuclear reactor is turned into an aquarium.

4. Manmohan and Montek Singh finally become eligible for pension from the United States government and migrate leaving the people of India in peace.

5. Rahul Gandhi finally becomes Prime Minister, of Robert Vadra’s real estate.

6. Atal Behari Vajpayee’s knees finally get better while Narendra Modi’s get worse.

7. The Sheikhs of Saudi Arabia are overthrown by their people after it is found they are aliens with petrol instead of blood in their veins.

8. Mahinda Rajapaksa and his coterie flee Sri Lanka and seek asylum in the Congo and the company of the many genocide artists there.

9. Vladimir Putin tries to impress the Russian people by shooting off alone into space in a rocket, with enough fuel to reach Mars but not return to Earth.

10. Barack Obama undergoes plastic surgery and becomes a white man. Since he is no different from earlier US Presidents why pretend to be Black?

11. China and Japan decide to stop fighting over ownership of a tiny, insignificant islandand instead jointly take over the United States.

12. All those who predicted Apocalypse in December 2012 have their property confiscated and distributed to the poorest of those who didn’t believe their prophecy.

Happy New Year!

Satya Sagar is a writer, journalist and public health worker based in New Delhi. He is also an associate editor at countercurrents.org. He can be reached atsagarnama@gmail.com

 

Fettering the fourth estate: Free Speech in 2012 #Censorship #FOE #media


Icon for censorship

Icon for censorship (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

JANUARY 2, 2013, hoot.org

 

 

Fettering the Fourth Estate: Free Speech in 2012

report of the Free Speech Hub of the Hoot.org

The year 2012 ended with a Kannada TV reporter, Naveen Soorinje, in jail for more than fifty days after the Karnataka High Court denied him bail. Mangalore-based Soorinje, was incarcerated from November 7, 2012 after police charged him under the UAPA and under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for reporting on the raid on a homestay party by a Hindu fundamentalist group in July. Soorinje’s bail application was rejected on December 26.

The same month, a television journalist, Nanao Singh, was shot dead in a police firing in Manipur.

In 2012, India was a grim place for free speech. It recorded the death of five journalists. Another 38 were assaulted, harassed or threatened.    There were 43 instances of curbs on the Internet, 14 instances of censorship in the film and music industry, and eight instances of censorship of content in the print medium.

The year began with the brutal killing of journalist Chandrika Rai (42), his wife Durga (40) and their two teenage children — son Jalaj (19) and daughter Nisha (17) — at their residence in Madhya Pradesh’s Umaria distict in February. Other journalists to die this year were Rajesh Mishra in Rewa, Madhya Pradesh, Chaitali Santra in Kolkata and Raihan Naiyum, in Assam.

We list and detail below all the incidents which occurred in the course of the year.

 

1. Journalists killed

05

2. Journalists assaulted, harassed or threatened

38

3. Censorship of content in print medium

08

4. Censorship in the electronic medium

04

5. Censorship of literature, art, education, theatre

08

6. Censorship in film and music industry

14

7. Curbs on internet medium

41

8. Limits on mobile medium

05

9. Arson at media establishments

06

10. Hate speech

02

11. Information or access denied

10

12. Surveillance issues

05

13. Privacy and defamation

02

14. Legislative issues

03

That the death toll of journalists would have been higher, is clear by the brutality of the assaults and threats to journalists: Thongam Rina, associate editor of Arunachal Times, was shot at and critically injured in July; Kamal Shukla in Chhattisgarh was assaulted by a local politician because he wrote a story on illegal tree-felling in Koelibeda, the constituency of the state’s forest minister Vikram Usendi; in Gujarat’s Palampur district, television journalist Devendra Khandelwal was attacked with iron pipes by relatives of MLA Mafatlal Purohit for reporting their involvement in illegal construction.

Sec 66 (a) and internet freedom

The 41 instances of free speech violations related to internet use in the Free Speech Hub’s ‘Free Speech Tracker’ testify to the growing use and abuse of this medium. Shaheen Dhada and Renu Srinivasan, two young Facebook users, in Palghar, Maharashtra, in October, were arrested under the draconian Sec 66 (a) of the Information Technology Act, one for posting a critical status comment on the shutdown of the city in the wake of the death of Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray and the other for ‘liking’ the post! The nation-wide protest that followed forced a review of the charges against them and a closure report by police. However, they will still have to wait till January 2013 for the formal dropping of charges against them.

Already, the fears over the misuse of the controversial Section (66 A) of the Information Technology Act, 2000, were confirmed by other instances: the arrest of two Jadavpur University professors in April 2012 for their e-mails on the cartoons poking fun at that projected West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee;  the arrest of cartoonist Aseem Trivedi for sedition, for insulting national honour and for sending offensive messages under Sec 66 (a) of the IT Act in August 2012: two employees of Air-India, Mayank Sharma and KVJ Rao, who were sacked (and reinstated after the protests) after their arrest over a Facebook post, three youth arrested in Kashmir for allegedly anti-Islamic posts and the arrest of industrialist AS Ravi for tweeting about Karti Chidamnaram, son of Union minister for P Chidambaram.

Earlier, in June 2012, the union government ordered the blocking of  more than 250 sites and web pages following the widespread panic and exodus of people from the North East out of Pune, Delhi and Bangalore. Some accounts that disproved the morphed pictures and the propaganda were also blocked.

The Google Transparency Report put India top on the list of countries making demands to take down content.

Censorship in other media

Censorship continued in all arenas, from the literary and cinematic worlds, to art and theatre. Protests of vigilante groups against all manner of expression continued with political parties and social groups taking offence against film songs, dialogues and titles of movies, art exhibitions and theatre performances and even the use of mobile phones by women!

In May, the Human Resources Development Ministry’s attempt to expunge cartoons from NCERT and CBSE textbooks for their alleged anti-Dalit connotations sparked an inconclusive debate on casteism in educational content while the cancellation of Salman Rushdie’s proposed visit to the Jaipur Literary Festival in January only showed the pusillanimity of the state administration.

Covert state surveillance was on the rise, with an increase in government interception and monitoring of emails and telephone conversations, privacy violations and hate speech cases are also under the scanner.

(For further details of the cases and categories please click here)

 

 

 

#India-‘Don’t lock us up, make city safer’ #Vaw


By Ramaninder K Bhatia, The Times of India, 1 January 2013

VADODARA: Vadodara police’s order of banning tuition classes before 7am and after 9pm in the city after the New Delhi gang rape, has evoked harsh criticism from women across the city. They want the rule to be revoked.

Police commissioner, IG Satish Sharma, said the notification to ban tuition classes early in the morning and late in the evening applied to both girls and boys. “We took this step after the Delhi rape to ensure that youngsters are not compelled to venture out at these hours to attend tuition classes. This is not meant to restrict any movement of girls in the city. The force is fully capable of ensuring the security and safety of women on the streets.”

However, not many interpret this notification as a women-friendly move. MSU has reportedly advanced the closing time for women hostels to 8.30 pm from the earlier deadline of 10 pm.

“It’s highly unfair. There is no such condition for the boys’ hostels. The male students are free to roam off campus 24 hours of the day while we have to get locked in our hostels by 8.30 pm. The police could have said that they would increase patrolling on roads instead of asking us to stay locked up inside,” DeepikaThakkar, a hosteller said.

“It’s like an admission on the part of the state that it can’t take the responsibility of keeping women safe on city roads after 9 pm. Instead of instilling confidence among women about their safety, they are made to feel vulnerable,” said Trupti Shah, member of Sahiyar, a women’s NGO, who was part of the group which met the district authorities to discuss the controversial order.

Prof Amita Verma, founder director of Women Studies Research Centre, MSU, said, “Women have to be safe in the society and it cannot be done by asking them to stay at home and hide. It is for the state to ensure that they stay safe even when they step out of their homes. This order does not make any sense.”

Deeptha Achar, a MSU professor, said, “By telling women to stay at home does not mean that the roads would become safe for them. This reflects inequality.”

 

#Rape by man in uniform (BSF), abandoned, No action taken neither by BSF nor by police #Vaw


28 December 2012

 

To

The Chairman

National Human Rights Commission

Faridkot House

Copernicus Marg

New Delhi

 

Respected Sir

 

This is a sordid tale of a woman, who lost her family, livelihood and neighbourhood due to the river erosion of Padma and her woes further compounded with while her husband a person attached with Border Security Force left her without even informing her. The men attached with Border Security Force, used his position, made false promises of marriage and subjugate the destitute woman and had sex without providing her any financial and other supports in guise of marriage. 

 

Ms. Sundari Bibi, (actual name withheld) daughter of Mr. Aftab Ali Mondal, aged about 30 years of village- Parashpur, Post Office- D/ Parashpur, Police Station- Jalangi under Murshidabad district, started living at Sushil Colony, Char Parashpur with many others who lost their agrarian land and dwellings by the erosion. The entire village; Parashpur is now extinct from the map due to the river erosion of year 2005. From 2006 onward her father started living at the said place with his daughters and minor sons. The woman got crippled when her both palms were severely burnt while cooking.  Her minor brothers became adults by the time gone and left the family, her sisters got married and she developed animosity with her parents and became abandoned. In 2007, she moved towards the banks of river Padma adjoining to Sushil Colony and erected a hutment for her living. She started to fend herself by selling a small quantity of rice which she uses to buy from local market.

 

In the mid 2008, a BSF personal from adjacent Farazipara BSF- BOP Camp of 90th Battalion; Mr. Shamsuddin Barlaskar; son of Late Moinuddin Barlaskar; Identity Card No. 95145059, Rank- C.T (at that time), Identity Serial No. 202008 (Issuing Date- 15.1.98) has started visiting her during days and nights. The said BSF personal made proposals for sexual favours. While she refused those proposals, he made consecutive promises for marriage and the hapless woman was convinced of that and a physical relationship between them had grown from that time. The neighbourhood asked the couples to get marry and pressure from Sundari forced the culprit; Shamsuddin to marry her. On that time, he has to leave the Farazipara BSF camp for more than two months and later transferred to Madhugari BSF camp. From Madhugari camp he often visited the hapless woman and the neighbourhood of Sundari forced the BSF personal to marry her. After being married, Shamsuddin used to come to her house and started living as a married couple. Shamsuddin made several false promises that he would take her to his native place but never. Their marriage got solemnised and registered according to the Muslim Marriage Act, on 5.11.2009 at Domkal; Murshidabad.  But Shamsuddin never provided any money to the hapless woman for her living and forced her to penury. The woman with her challenged situation still living alone. In 2010, she came to know that, Shamsuddin has been transferred at Roshanbagh Head Quarter of 90 Battalion of BSF. Later our investigation revealed that he has been transferred from Roshanbagh to Jammu and Kashmir but details are not available with us.

 

On 5.11.2009 the hapless victim tried to lodge a complaint against Shamsuddin at Jalangi Police Station; Murshidabad but the police of that police station refused to accept her complaint.  On 19.4.2010, she made a similar complaint before the Sub Divisional Officer; Domkal, District- Murshidabad and on 22.4.2010, the SDO sent a notice to the Block Development Officer; Jalngi, District- Murshidabad to cause an enquiry with the Assistant Camp Commandant of concerned BOP of BSF and for submitting an action taken report to him.

 

But till date no appropriate actions have been taken by the authorities. In the meantime, the victim woman has undergone physical and psychological treatments at medical camps organised by us. Our psychological counsellor opined that she is under severe distress and anxiety. The woman is living under utter destitution because her name has not been included under any governmental schemes; BPL, Annapurna or Antodaya. She has not made further persuasion of her case because till recent, she obsessed with a faintest hope for a better conjugal relations which became shattered now.

 

In this given context I demand for:-

 

  • A specific case of committing rape by giving false promises must be initiated against the said BSF personal
  • Alimony and maintenance for throughout the period must be provided to the victim woman from the involved BSF personnel
  • The protection and safety of the woman must be guaranteed
  • The role of erring police personnel of Jalangi police station; who refused to register the complaint of the victim, must be investigated and appropriate actions should be taken

 

 

Sincerely Yours

 

 

(Kirity Roy)

 

 

Kirity Roy
Secretary
Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha
(MASUM)
&
National Convenor (PACTI)
Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity
40A, Barabagan Lane (4th Floor)
Balaji Place
Shibtala
Srirampur
Hooghly
PIN- 712203
Tele-Fax – +91-33-26220843
Phone- +91-33-26220844 / 0845
e. mail : kirityroy@gmail.com
Web: www.masum.org.in