Grant bail to Maudany and try him in fast-track court, says Rajya Sabha MP


By Tariq Abdul Muhaimin1/5/13, NEWZFIRST

Bangalore – After visiting Abdul Nasser Maudany, a terror accused who has been lodged in a Bangalore jail for his alleged involvement in the 2008 Bangalore serial blasts case, a delegation consisting of Rajya Sabha MP, Senior Advocate of Supreme Court and several human rights activists on Saturday demanded that he should be granted bail on humanitarian grounds.

“It is very sad to see his health condition. He is suffering from many ailments. The Govt. and police are not ready to settle his case. They should stop dragging it any longer”, said Mohammed Adeeb, Member of Parliament in Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh, while addressing reporters at a press conference here.

“If he is guilty, he should be punished. If he is not, then he should be released. This is not what a just society should be doing”, he added.

Describing the deteriorating heath of Maudany, Mohammed Adeeb also demanded that he be released on humanitarian grounds and that all terror related cases in India, including that of Maudany, should be transferred to fast-track courts and disposed off as quickly as possible.

“Even after 2 years, only 35 witnesses have been formally examined while more than 300 witnesses have to be examined. It will take years before the case is completed. The state has no proof against Maudany”, Mohammed Adeeb told Newzfirst.

Abdul Nasar Maudany was falsely accused for the 1998 Coimbatore serial bomb blasts that claimed 58 lives. Maudany was imprisoned for nine years as an under-trial. However, he was acquitted of all charges by the High Court in 2007.

Maudany charged that there was a hidden political agenda in connecting him with the Coimbatore blast case. On 17th August 2010, Maudany was arrested again for his alleged role in the Bangalore blasts of 2008 and is presently languishing in Parappana Agrahara Central Jail in Bangalore.

“What is sad to see is that after spending 9 years in jail in connection with the Coimbatore serial bomb blasts case and being honorably acquitted later, he was made accused in another blasts case”, said Colin Gonsalves, Senior Advocate of Supreme Court.

“He made a very sad gesture when we went to visit him. He pointed to his leg and said ‘When I touch my leg, it feels like rubber’”, Gonsalves said in a tone of sadness.

Gonsalves said that Maudany has virtually no power in one eye and has lost 80% eyesight in the other one. He also has gangrene that continues to spread throughout his body.

In May this year, Human Rights Activist and columnist NM Sidheeq, who visited Maudany in jail, had said that he is suffering from various ailments like diabetic retinopathy, diabetic neuropathy, cervical spondylitis, urinary block, disc collapse, stomach ulcer, back bone ache, blood pressure and many other diseases which he developed during the last two imprisonments as he was denied basic medical assistance.

A ray of light in the darkness

Abdul Nasser Maudany’s bail application was rejected repeatedly by the trial court, High Court and Supreme Court in the last 2 years. However, the SC judge had directed the state government to make available all medical facilities required for his treatment.

But because Maudany asked the court to grant his wife and son permission to stay along with him during treatment, the trial court has ever since delayed his treatment by denying this request.

“When the matter went to High Court, the judge asked us to file an affidavit and clearly specify as to which hospitals we would be taking him for treatment. We did so. The High Court then directed the state government to grant permission for the same”, said P. Usman, Advocate of Abdul Nasser Maudany, while speaking to Newzfirst.

“This happened 3 months back. But the trial court granted permission for this today. It is saddening, but at least some good news in so much pain”, he added.

Maudany has been granted permission by the 34th Additional Sessions Judge H. S. Sreenivas to get himself admitted and treated immediately in Soukhya Ayurvedic hospital and Agarwal eye clinic. The Court has further directed that he shall be entitled to have his wife Sufia and son Omar Mukhtar as his attendants.

Maudany and politics

Following the Babri Masjid demolition in 1992, Maudany had launched the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with the stated objective of “Muslim-Dalit-backward caste” alliance.

In 1992, Maudany also became the target of an assassination attempt, allegedly by a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) activist, in which he lost his right leg.

Civil Society begins fast demanding release of TV journalist


 

By Newzfirst Correspondent1/5/13

 

Bangalore – Journalists, rights activists and members of civil society organizations Saturday began a three-day fast under the aegis of ‘The Forum Against Illegal Arrest of Journalists’ demanding immediate release of Naveen Soorinje, the TV journalist who reported the infamous home-stay attack at Mangalore in July this year.

The arrest of Naveen Soorinje is a blatant violation of press freedom. Instead of making him a witness, the Police have labled him as a perpetrator. The Government should drop all the charges against Soorinje and release him immediately, HR Ranganath, senior journalist and chief of Public TV told media-persons.

“The charges, which are generally framed against criminals, have been framed against a journalist, who conscientiously reported an outrage against partying youths.” he said.

Soorinje has been of booked under different sections of Indian Penal Code like 143 (unlawful assembly), 147 (rioting), 148 (Rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 354 (Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty, 447 (criminal trespass) and 395 (dacoity) and presently languishes in Mangalore prison.

Another senior journalist Laxman Hoogar said that the arrest of Soorinje is an effort by the police to curtail the freedom of press and to warn the journalists who go against the wish and whims of the Police.

Is covering violence or crime, a crime? he asked.

According to B. T. Venkatesh, a noted Advocate and rights’ defender, “If Soorinje had not covered the incident and reported it, the nation could never come to know about this heinous culture prevailing in our society”.

The listing of Soorinje as an accused and not as a witness is absolutely unjust to both the witness and the victims. And it will help criminals to getaway, he added.

The Karnataka Police had arrested Soorinje, a TV journalist working with Kasturi Newz24, on 7 November and accused him of committing various crimes along with the attackers who belonged to right-wing extremist groups.

The bail application moved by Soorinje has been rejected by both the lower court and the High Court.

Outraged over his arrest, journalists’ organizations, senior journalists as well as civil society groups have been protesting across the state and demanding that the government should drop its proceedings against him.

Despite several appeals by delegations of journalists to the Governor and the Chief Minister, no action has been taken by the Government in this regard. The issue was also taken up with the Home Minister on the floor of the State legislative assembly during the recently concluded session at Belgaum.

 

Glitches in Aadhaar cards enrolment- and pandora’s box opens :-P #UID


EK KA DO, EK KA DO :-p

200 px

200 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anantpur: While lakhs of people are waiting for Aadhaar cards even though they got enroled one year ago, the agencies are sending Aadhaar cards second time for thousands of people for the same people.
For instance, 14 branch post offices in Garladinne mandal have received a bunch of Aadhaar cards second time on Friday.
As already majority of people received Aadhaar cards through post four months ago, same people have received Aadhaar cards second time by speed post in Garladinne mandal in Anantapur district.
Second time issuing of cards was reportedly a burden on the government in the form printing and sending the cards through post. A postman lamented, “I have to hand over all the cards at the doorstep of addresses though they were receiving them for the second time.”Similar situation prevails in Housing Board Colony and Tapovanam in Anantapur city. Aditya, an MBA graduate, told this correspondent that he had received Aadhaar card second time.

 

 

 

Dissident Trinamool MP Kabir says Maoists helped Mamata win Assembly polls


Express news service Posted online: Sat Jan 05 2013,
Kolkata : Fresh Row: CPM demands CM to explain ‘TMC-Maoist nexus’Dissident Trinamool Congress MP Kabir Suman on Friday told a news channel that Maoists were very much involved in the Nandigram movement and that Mamata Banerjee’s party would not have won a single seat in West Midnapore had there been no Kishenji or Maoists.

“What I have learnt from my political friends is that if there were no Maoists or Kishenji, Mamata would not have won a single seat in West Midnapore. This is what I feel even though I do not know much about politics. People on the streets have helped me understand this,” Suman said.

After trouble broke out in Lalgarh, the CPM had repeatedly claimed that the Trinamool had a nexus with the Maoists in West Midnapore —- a charge that was dismissed by Mamata.

Referring to the Nandigram movement, Suman told the news channel that neither Mamata nor the Trinamool was (initially) in the Nandigram mass upsurge.

“Naxalite leader Sumit Sinha and many others including Siddiqullah Chowdhury were there in the Nandigram movement. The Maoist outfit was not banned in the country (when the Nandigram movement took place). They were declared banned much later. They operated openly (in Nandigram). Among others, Maoists were also there (in Nandigram). Maoists were there (in Nandigram) like many other independent persons. This is not a confession. I am stating the truth,” Suman said.

“If you ask me whether I have seen any Maoist leader building organisation (in Nandigram), I will say that I have not seen anyone,” he added.

Although Trinamool has not reacted to Suman’s statement, sources said the party neither wants to give importance to the rebel MP, nor to his allegations of a nexus with Maoists. This was evident from party secretary general Partha Chatterjee’s statement. Asked to comment on Suman’s statement, Chatterjee said, “I have not heard anything. I am busy in office.”

CPM central committee leader Mohammed Selim demanded that Mamata explain how she had “used the Maoists”.

“Land was not the real issue in Nandigram. The extremists and fundamentalists from both Hindu and Muslim communities got united at that time only to oust the CPM. The Maoists too were co-partners and were used by the Trinamool. The Maoists have accepted this. Now Mamata must explain how she used the Maoists,” Selim said.

 

Delhi BJP leader held on rape charges #Vaw


Press Trust of India | Updated: January 05, 2013 21:55 IST

New DelhiA Delhi BJP leader, who had unsuccesfully contested the 2008 Assembly elections, was arrested for allegedly raping a woman in outer Delhi, police said today.

Yogesh Attrey, who lost the elections to Delhi Minister Raj Kumar Chauhan, was arrested yesterday after a woman filed a complaint on Thursday.

Police said the case was registered at Vijay Vihar Police Station in Outer Delhi and that Attrey was booked under sections 376 (rape), 506 (criminal intimidation), 509 (intending to insult the modesty of any woman) and 313 (causing miscarriage without woman’s consent).

Attrey lost the 2008 elections to Mr Chauhan by a margin of 30,000 votes.

#India -The Bitter Truth Regarding Delhi Police’s Womens’ Help-Line #Vaw #Justice


January 5, 2013

An Account by An Activist.

Guest Post by Kavita, Stree Mukti League
Translated from Hindi by Shuddhabrata Sengupta

It would be natural to expect that in the wake of the barbaric Delhi gang-rape of December 16 and subsequent popular upsurge of anger the police and the state machinery would betray a modicum of sensitivity and alertness. The reality is just the opposite of what you expect. We have heard this from many women in the past few days, and a few evening’s ago, came face to face with this sad fact ourselves.

For the last few days, we (activists of the Stree Mukti League) have been going to different places in Delhi to hold meetings, demonstrations and to distribute leaflets against sexual violence. The leaflet has a contact phone number for the Stree Mukti League. Since the evening of the 1st of January this year a perverted male individual has been continuously ringing that number, abusing us, threatening us, using obscene and unprintable language. He even said ‘I know all you girls, and you cannot escape me. What I will do to you will terrify people…’, and several other things which cannot be repeated.

There is no question of us being scared of these threats. We have come on to the streets to fight sexual violence and patriarchy and we are not going to be scared off the streets by this kind of abusive ranting. Yes, patriarchal expressions such as these are repulsive, but what is much more disturbing, indeed shocking, is the conduct of the Delhi Police. We find it necessary to share with all of you what happened to us when we drew the attention of the Police to these calls. That is why I am outlining below a brief sketch of the facts of what happened.

On January 1, at 6:46 pm in the evening I received a phone call from the number 8505898894. The caller (whom I have talked of above) started abusing and threatening me using very obscene language. I cut the phone, and then he called again and said more, which was much worse than what he had said before. This continued, at intervals of every two to three minutes, from then onwards(around a quarter to seven) for roughly five and a half hours, till after midnight, till 1: 08 am.

In the middle, we tried to call the number that was harassing us, but the obscene and threatening caller hung up on us. Once, when he called at 8:46 pm, I told him that we had complained to the police about him and that his call would be traced. Hearing this, he cursed us. He did not stop calling, till late into the night.

The Helplessness of the Helpline

After several attempts, finally, we were able to get through to the new Delhi police helpline number 181 at 9:03 pm that night. The person at the other end of the line at 181 told us that our complaint has been filed, but that they were not in a position to give us a tracking number for ‘follow up’ on the complaint. To obtain this number, we were told to call at 12 pm the following day. Upon insistence,  we were given another two numbers – 27891666 and 1096. We were told that we could try calling on these two numbers ( 27891666 and 1096) We called several times on 1096 (the dedicated helpline number for reporting stalkers and obscene callers) but each time we got a message that we had reached an ‘invalid’ number. Finally, at 9:11 pm, we got through to 297891666, (the other number that we had been given by the policeman) and we were given a complaint tracking number – 36A-1. Despite this, the obscene and threatening calls from 8505898894 continued. Sickened by this continuing harassment, I tried calling again on 181. I got through once. But the person who received the phone cut the call without letting me finish what I was saying. I tried calling 181 several times after that, but no one picked up the phone.

The next morning, I called 181 at 9:17 am and 9:18 am. But there was no response. Finally, I called the chief public relations officer of Delhi Police, Rajan Bhagat, at 9:30 am on his mobile number. I told him all that had happened and gave him the complaint tracking number that I had been given the night before. I told him that I am a social activist and a journalist. He told me that I should register a complaint on 1096 and give him the complaint number. Subsequently, I called 1096 from three different phones but I still got the ‘invalid number’ message. When I called Rajan Bhagat again to tell him that this is what had happened, he shrugged the matter off by sang that what I was saying was simply not possible. When I told him that I had already filed a complaint last night, and that I had given him the complaint number, and asked why he could not follow up on the basis of last night’s complaint, he cut the phone.

Then I went to the Delhi Police website and looked up an ‘alternative number’ for the 1096 helpline number. This ‘alternative number’ is 27894455. When I called this number, I got through to a police-woman. She was the same lady who I had spoken to when I called the number (297891666) that I was given by the person manning 181 the previous evening. She told me that the process of ‘number tracing’ could take 2-3 days, because the police has to send an email to the phone company, and the phone company takes time to respond, etc., etc. She also said that in most cases all it takes for the harassment to cease is a ‘scold’ from the police, but there is a special class of ‘mean’ (‘kaminey’) and ‘rare’ type of scoundrels who persist, and that ‘your caller’ seems to be of that variety.

I told everyone from Rajan Bhagat (Chief PRO, Delhi Police) to the police-woman who spoke to me that the man who is harassing us has threatened us with violence, and that he has stated that he would attack us because we complained against him. I asked whether the police would act only once something terrible actually happened. We, the activists of Stree Mukti League are on the streets everyday, agitating on this issue, and this man says he knows who we are, that he recognizes us and he is threatening us. But the police do not seem to be taking us seriously, all they do is offer empty assurances.

We want to know whether any woman in Delhi can feel safe if this is the state of Delhi Police’s effectiveness, even after the death of the woman who was gang-raped on the 16th of December. This is what the state of the sensitivity of the Delhi Police is, even after massive public outcry. Can Sonia Gandhi and Shiela Dikshit see the reality of how the machinery that they run functions through the mist of their crocodile tears? Savage, perverted, bestial men still wander free of fear and women cannot even register their complaints. If this is the case when a social activist and independent journalist makes a compaint, imagine what would be the case when the complainant is an ordinary woman, a common citizen. On the other hand, the telephone-assaulter is getting bolder. He kept calling, even on the 4th of January.

Kavita, Stree Mukti League

NOTE : It costs money to call all these ‘helplines’ Why are they not free? If a woman who is poor is continually harassed, must she keep spending money on endless phone calls to try and get relief from that harassment ?

(Update , January 5, 2013 : Even after talking to people on all the police helplines and the chief PRO, all that we have been told is that the police now has the ‘call details’ of the phone-stalker, but they still do not know who is making the calls. When questioned further, the police personnel inevitably cut the call, saying they are busy, in court, or in the field. Eventually, the policewoman taking calls at the ‘alternative helpline number’ did refer me to the local police station. And a policeman from the local police station came to meet me in the afternoon. The seriousness with which he noted the complaint was evident from the fact that he did not have a carbon paper with him that would enable him to give me a carbon copy of the compaint. When I asked for a copy with his signature, he evaded the question, saying ‘why are you worried, a complaint has been filed, at the most you can get a photocopy done of this piece of paper.’ Subsequently, when I have called the local police station to know what progress there is in the case, I am told, what more do you want – a complaint has been filed, the ‘call details’ are with us, we just don’t know his address. Meanwhile, the man who has been harassing me continues to call and threaten me.)

[ This text was first published, in Hindi, on January 2, 2013 the author’s blog - ‘Der Raat ke Raag’ and on Sanhati. An update was published on the author’s blog on January 5, 2013. This translation combines the content of the earlier post and the update.  ]

 

The rapes that India forgot #Vaw


 

Anti-rape protest in Delhi on 3 Jan 2012
The BBC;s Geeta Pandey in Delhi remembers some of the prominent rape cases which made the headlines when they happened, but have now faded from the public memory.
 There have been widespread protests in India since the 16 December gang rape

Last month’s brutal gang rape of a young woman in the Indian capital, Delhi, has caught public attention and caused worldwide outrage. But here, the BBC’s Geeta Pandey in Delhi recalls other prominent cases which made the headlines, then faded from public memory.

On most days, Indian newspapers report shocking new atrocities – a 10-month-old raped by a neighbour in Delhi; an 18-month-old raped and abandoned on the streets in Calcutta; a 14-year-old raped and murdered in a police station in Uttar Pradesh; a husband facilitating his own wife’s gang rape in Howrah; a 65-year-old grandmother raped in Kharagpur.

But in a country where a rape is reported every 21 minutes, even these most horrific of crimes soon get forgotten – except by the victims and their families.

“Start Quote

Just drafting a better law will not be enough, it’s the society which has to change”

Indira Jaisingh Additional solicitor general

They are left to fight their long lonely battles for justice which, more often than not, is denied to them.

Travesty of justice

One of the most painful and lingering cases is that of the Mumbai nurse Aruna Shanbaug.

Aruna Shanbaug Aruna Shanbaug was left brain dead by the attack and remains in a vegetative state

Sodomised by a cleaner in the hospital where she worked, the 25-year-old was strangled with metal chains and left to die by her attacker, Sohanlal Bharta Walmiki, on 27 November 1973.

She was saved and survives, but barely so. For the past 39 years she has been lying in a hospital bed in a vegetative state, brain dead, unable to recognise anyone, unable to speak, unable to perform even the most basic of tasks.

“He was not even charged for raping her,” says journalist and author Pinki Virani, who wrote Aruna’s Story, a book on the nurse’s plight.

So Walmiki was given a light seven-year-sentence for robbery and attempted murder.

In what can be described as a real travesty of justice, while a brain dead Aruna remains confined to a hospital room, her attacker roams free – out of jail and able to rebuild his life.

Ms Virani told the BBC that she tried hard to track him down, but remained unsuccessful.

“I was told that he had changed his name and was working as a ward boy in a Delhi hospital. The hospital where he had sodomised Aruna and left her in this permanent vegetative condition had never kept a photo of him on file. Neither did the court papers,” she said.

Aruna is not alone – her story is repeated with a frightening regularity across the length and breadth of the country.

India shamed

Violence against women is deeply entrenched in the feudal, patriarchal Indian society, where for the rapist, every woman is fair game.

In 2003, the country was shamed when a 28-year-old Swiss diplomat was forced into her own car by two men in south Delhi’s posh Siri Fort area and raped by one of them. The rapist, whom she described as being fluent in English, spoke to her about Switzerland and is believed to have even lectured her on Indian culture.

Sonam (in the orange shawl) Sonam, 14, (in orange) was raped and murdered in a police station

In 2004 in Manipur, 32-year-old Manorama was taken away from home by the soldiers of Assam Rifles who accused her of helping insurgents. A few hours later, her mutilated body was found by the roadside, her pelvis riddled with dozens of bullets.

Last year, 14-year-old Sonam was raped and killed inside a police station in Uttar Pradesh.

During the 2002 riots in Gujarat, a number of Muslim women were gang-raped, and campaign groups routinely accuse the security forces in Indian-administered Kashmir and the troubled north-east of using rape as a weapon to punish the entire community.

In May 2009, Indian-administered Kashmir witnessed 47 days of violent protests and strikes after two young women were raped and murdered, allegedly by police, in Shopian town.

And in Chhattisgarh, Soni Sori has been in police custody since October 2011 when she was arrested on charges of being a courier for the Maoists. She has alleged in the Supreme Court that while in custody, she has been raped and stones have been shoved inside her vagina.

Most of these victims are still waiting for justice, sometimes years after the crimes have been committed.

The rapists sometimes escape with a light sentence because a judge accepts their argument that they committed the crime because they were drunk, or that they were living away from their family, or they had a family to look after, or that the accused was a high-caste man who could not rape a Dalit – low caste – woman.

‘No magic formula’

The Additional Solicitor General of India, Indira Jaisingh, says the current rape laws in the country are far from adequate and the “process of justice delivery is too slow and the rate of conviction too low”.

“We have to improve the crime investigation methodology, we have to make it more scientific and quick. In India a case takes so long to conclude that witnesses get dissipated, memory frays and conviction becomes tougher.”

She says many cases do not even get to court because there is a stigma attached to rape, and families would often discourage their daughters from complaining.

A graffiti on a Delhi wall on 4 January 2012 A rape is reported every 21 minutes in India

Ms Jaisingh says that just drafting a better law will not be enough, it is society which has to change.

“There is no magic formula to deal with the problem of rape. There’s a bias that operates in the mind of decision makers – stereotyping women, blaming the victim, trying to find out if she invited the rape.”

But every once in a while, an incident happens which ignites a spark.

The first such incident in India occurred in 1972 when Mathura, a 16-year-old tribal girl, was raped by two policemen inside a police station.

The courts set free the accused – they said she did not raise an alarm, she was not injured, and since she was sexually active, she would have “voluntarily” consented to sex.

Howls of angry protests from activists led to the government amending the anti-rape law in 1983 to accommodate the provision that if a victim says that she did not consent to sex, the court will believe her.

The outpouring of anger and grief after the recent Delhi incident has also given rise to hopes that things are about to change in India.

The government has formed a committee under retired Supreme Court Justice JS Verma to take a fresh look at the anti-rape law.

Justice Verma has invited suggestion from the public and his inbox is reported to be full of demands for the death penalty and chemical castration for rapists. Many are also calling for longer jail sentences of up to 30 years or even life in jail.

But campaigners say laws alone may not be able to solve the problem in a society which treats its women as “second-class citizens” and regards them inferior to men.

They say until social attitudes change and women are respected and treated as equals, the gains from the protests will be shortlived.

 

#India-Man gets life term for rape #Vaw #Justice


TNN | Jan 4, 2013, 02.24 AM IST

RAJKOT: An additional sessions court on Thursday awarded rigorous life imprisonment to a 38-year-old man, who was found guilty of raping a 12-and-a-half-year-old minor girl in Bharana village of Khambhalia taluka of Jamnagar district in 2011.

The Khambhalia court has also imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on Ikbal Juma Chamadia, a widower and father of five children, upon his conviction.

Public prosecutor K D Vadagama said the case was registered at Vadinar marine police station on August 10, 2011, by the victim against Chamdia.

The crime came to light after the victim became six-month pregnant. The victim later gave birth to a baby. “The minor girl’s family members had gone to Bhandaria village in Bhavnagar district as some relative was ill. Ikbal knew that she was alone. He entered her house and raped the victim at knife-point,” Vadgama said.

A DNA test of the minor, her child and the accused confirmed that the baby was that of Ikbal, the public prosecutor said.

Additional sessions judge P V Shrivastav awarded rigorous life imprisonment under Section 376 of Indian Penal Code and two years’ rigorous imprisonment each for IPC Sections 341 and 506(2). The sentence would run concurrently. If the accused fails to pay the fine, he would have to serve two more years in jail. The fine amount would be given to the victim, who had to go through a traumatic experience because of the accused.

 

We must find a new language of defining women #Vaw #Feminism #Patriarchy


All about my mothers

Monobina Gupta | January 5, 2013

 

We must find a new language of defining women because they can never be free, or safe, if we persist with old patriarchal notions of looking at them, says Monobina Gupta.

Driving to office the other morning, I heard a government commercial against sex selection  on the radio. It urged us not to kill female foetuses because men would soon be hardpressed to find wives. A few days ago, at the protests in New Delhi‘s Jantar Mantar, some among the protesters were heard using the widely prevalent mother and sister curse words to abuse the rapists;blithely oblivious to the vulgar dichotomy of their words and actions.

In that recent outpouring of rage and sorrow on the streets of the Capital, we heard repeated invocations to this land of ‘mothers and sisters’. Indian men, we were told, should learn to respect their ‘mothers and sisters’. But in cases like this, the redressal is also the malady. It’s part of our collective failure – starting right at the top of the political order and percolating down to every societal nook and cranny – to treat women simply as human beings. We are unable to think of women outside of their roles as mothers and sisters. This is the reason we keep reverting to that ineffectual conventional script.

The mother-sister platitudes, in more ways than one, convey a fixed patriarchal notion of women. Women are always perceived as existing in relation to somebody else, more often than not to the men around them. Seldom are they seen or portrayed as autonomous agents. Strangely, this perennial invocation hasn’t prevented us from coining abuses in the names of mothers and sisters. Some of the crudest parts of our mainstream culture of abuse, particularly in north India, hinges around our mothers and sisters. Consider the irony of singing paeans to maa and behen while stringing out abuses in their name.

You hear these abuses on crowded streets, in packed buses, inside homes, in casual conversations and during heated arguments. Public and private spaces are replete with the words. In fact, so common are these epithets, bandied about in day-to-day conversations, that they have almost been stripped of their poisonous misogyny. The curses have been transformed, as it were, into benign admonishments.

Take the latest case of the 23-year old paramedic student whose gangrape and subsequent death sparked off the nationwide protests mentioned above. The youngest rapist, a juvenile, asked the victim to board the bus, by calling her ‘sister’. That familial address must have evoked a sense of security.

There are countless cases where defence lawyers and even courts or traditional bodies have asked rape victims to marry their rapists. The implication is that by marrying the victims rapists perform an act of atonement and salvage the woman from sexual humiliation. Then there are numerous cases of domestic sexual assaults, sisters raped by brothers, daughters by fathers, wives subjected to marital rape. The last one isn’t even legally recognised as a crime.

In a society where rape occurs within families, violating the very relationships held up as symbols of sacred dignity and pride, we must find a new language of defining women. The absence of such a discourse is especially jarring when even our political class seems to make these relationships the reference points to condemn violence against women.

Such discourse valorises women as daughters, sisters, and mothers. Wives, though, are rarely mentioned in such invocations. Consider the manner in which our top political leaders expressed their anguish in the recent case of Delhi gang-rape. “I and my associate (Minister of State for Home R P N Singh) have three daughters each. . . we are concerned about their security. Such incidents can happen to them too, ” Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde told reporters. Days later, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said, “As a father of three daughters myself, I feel as strongly about this as each one of you. “

This problematic imagination of women is adding to the present crisis. There is a clear refusal, deliberate or otherwise, to take into consideration the radical choices women are making in terms of relationships and how they live their lives. For instance, though the law has now recognised livein relationships as legally acceptable, our political classes and society still mouth regressive ideas. The victim of the Kolkata Park Street rape case, a single mother who was out at night, drinking in a bar, has been portrayed as a sex worker by West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress. Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, a prominent party MP, has gone to the extent of saying the incident was not rape, but the result of a misunderstanding between the victim and her client. Do sex workers deserve to get raped?

Women are tired of being boxed into traditional roles. They are angry at being told what to wear, how to behave and lead their lives. Along with the maa-behen abuses, the streets of Delhi recently also reverberated with a revamped version of “Azaadi, ” one of the strongest legacies of the feminist movement of the 1980s. As women and men sang “din mein bhi azaadi, aur raat mein bhi azaadi, ” they helped break the barricades of patriarchal language. Its time to ensure that women’s freedom be guaranteed because they are women, not because they are mothers and sisters of men.

25 years’ court data proves RSS chief wrong; 75% of rape convicts from ‘Bharat’ #Vaw


By , TNN | Jan 5, 2013, 05.47 AM IST

25 years' court data proves RSS chief wrong; 75% of rape convicts from 'Bharat'
Activists hotly dispute Bhagwat’s attempt to draw a correlation between “modernity” and rape.
 

NEW DELHI: Women’s groups have criticised RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat‘s view on rape in “India” and “Bharat” for being regressive. But data shows that not only are Bhagwat’s views regressive, they’re also plain wrong.

While the National Crime Records Bureau does not split registered cases of sexual assault by rural and urban areas, Mrinal Satish, an associate professor of law at Delhi’s National Law University, used court data to find that 75% of rape cases that led to convictions over the last 25 years were from rural India.

For his doctoral dissertation at the Yale Law School in the US, Satish looked at all high court and Supreme Court cases involving rape reported in the Criminal Law Journal (which reports criminal law cases) between 1983 and 2009 in which at least one court (trial court, HC or SC) had convicted the accused. The data thus does not include cases in which the accused was acquitted at all levels. Satish also had to leave out cases that were not for some reason reported in the Journal.

He found that over 80% of these rape cases in high courts and close to 75% of rape cases in the Supreme Court came from rural areas. Close to 75% of gang rape cases in HCs and 63% of gang rape cases in the SC came from rural areas. Over 65% of cases involving the rape of a child (less than 12 years old) came from rural areas. On average, 75% of all rape cases in higher courts that had led to at least one conviction came from rural areas. While the numbers are fairly proportional to India’s rural/urban population, they do disprove Bhagwat’s statement that rapes do not take place in rural areas.

“Rape as a tool of caste violence is rampant in rural areas,” says Kalpana Viswanath of the women’s rights group Jagori. “The controlling of women’s bodies through institutions like khap panchayats is also a rural phenomenon,” says Viswanath.

Moreover, activists hotly dispute Bhagwat’s attempt to draw a correlation between “modernity” and rape. For one, custodial rape, which has little correlation with “modernity”, is rampant in India. The case that changed the history of rape law in India, the Mathura rape case in which two policemen in north-east Maharashtra raped a tribal girl in a police station, was a case of custodial rape. Rapes of disabled women, patients in hospitals, children and older women – all with little association with “modernity” – are extremely common, Viswanath adds. “Ultimately this is an attempt to take the debate back to making rape the fault of women, rather than focusing attention on where it’s needed, on society and institutions,” says Viswanath

shame