Jamaat , follows RSS, BJP on #moralpolicing -demands ban on co-education, live-in relations #Vaw #WTFnews


Jamaat-e-Islami Hind has told Justice Verma Committee to abolish co-education, set up proper education facilities exclusively for women and identify sex outside marriage as a crime.

In a statement, JIH said physically intimacy should only be permitted to those who are married.

“All sex outside marriage including live-in relationship should be declared illegal and punishable,” the statement issued by Nusrat Ali, secretary general of JIH, said.

The Jamaat expressed hope the Verma committee will reach the root of the “disease” and find out the cure for rape and gave 11 suggestions to the three-member panel, which has been asked by the government to submit its report in a month.

It also said that there should be provisions for capital punishment for heinous crimes such as rape.

These punishments should be given in public and there should be opportunity for people to witness the same so that it might act as deterrent to such heinous crimes.

The organisation was of the view that proper transport facilities for woman should be made available particularly in towns and cities, and police reforms should be implemented at the earliest.

#Chhattisgarh: Tribal girls allegedly raped in a school hostel #Vaw


rape

 Raipur , Jan 6,2012: In the latest addition to horrific rape stories,  about 12 tribal girls were allegedly raped over many months  in a school hostel in Narharpur, Chattisgarh.

While a hostel watchman has been arrested, a school teacher who was also allegedly involved in the crime has been absconding.

The watchman of a government-run residential school for tribal girls in Chhattisgarh’s Kanker district has been arrested for alleged sexual assault of the minor inmates, police said today.

Deenaram (23), the watchman of Tribal Girls Pre-matric Hostel located in Narharpur police station limits, was arrested following a complaint by Women and Child Development Officer yesterday, Superintendent of Police Rahul Bhagat told PTI.

Mannu Ram Gota (24), a teacher, who is also accused of sexual assault, was absconding.

After the news came out, Congress workers staged demonstration and blocked traffic at Kanker town, demanding action against the culprits.

A high-level probe has been initiated by the state government into the case.

#India- No Shortcuts on #Rape – Make the Legal System Work #Vaw #Justice


 #India- Chastity, Virginity, Marriageability, and Rape Sentencing #Vaw  #Justice #mustread

EPW Vol – XLVIII No. 02, January 12, 2013

The vigorous public discourse following the recent brutal gang rape and
mutilation of the 23-year-old in Delhi is a positive sign but hopefully the
demand for quick solutions will not ignore the complexities involved in
dealing with all forms of violence against women. There are also other
connected issues that require urgent attention including the description of
a rape as a “state worse than death”, making out certain acts of violence
to be rare aberrations when they are depressingly routine, ignoring the
sexual violence within families and the need to make the legal system
accountable to the female citizenry.

Now that the gang rape victim christened as “Nirbhaya”, “Braveheart”,
“India’s Daughter”, etc, by the media, has finally been laid to rest,
despite the Delhi administration’s best efforts to prolong her ordeal until
the protestors at India Gate were worn out, perhaps it is time to address
deeper concerns that surround the issue of rape in public discourse.

Though many of us would like to change the terminology from “rape victim”
to “rape survivor”, unfortunately that cannot be done in her case since she
did not “survive”. The brutal injuries inflicted on her body during the
gang rape took her life. One is therefore constrained to label her a
“victim” despite her heroic struggle.

Had she survived (as many of us wished she had) she could have been the
mascot for the movement against violence perpetrated on women. She might
have come out in the open in the wake of the massive support she received
across the nation, and by this very act made a strong statement to the
world at large that a rape victim does not have to survive like a *zinda
laash* (a living corpse), a title awarded to rape survivors by our
parliamentarians. Her fight for justice would have become a beacon of hope
for many others. Her struggle for justice may even have helped to lessen
the stigma attached to the term “rape” itself in public discourse and her
struggle might have inspired many youngsters to come out and report
incidents of sexual assault. But that was not to be. This mantle has now
fallen upon the protestors and the political leaders who collectively mourn
her death.

*Not a ‘Living Corpse’*

Rather sadly, the wishes of those demanding the death penalty to avenge her
rape seem to have been fulfilled, without any major changes taking place in
the rape law, since it has become a case of “rape and murder” and the
“rarest of rare” maxim can be applied to it. But if the death penalty is
all that we are seeking, then her heroic struggle would be in vain. Her
death is not something to be proud of, because death is not what she wished
for. In the few moments in which she could express her wishes after the
traumatic incident, she had clearly indicated that she wanted to live. Live
life fully, not as a mere shadow of her earlier self, like a “living
corpse” – complete her training, earn and support her family. I hope after
this, all of us will refrain from referring to a survivor as zinda laash* *or
describe rape as a “state worse than death”. With death one reaches the
point of no return, but as long as there is life, there is hope. An
incident of rape, not even a brutal gang rape, ought not to have snuffed
out the hope of a 23-year-old, eager to scale new heights. One can only
hope that this is one lesson the nation has learnt through this episode.

The nationwide protest which this incident helped to ignite and the clarion
call for reforms in the rape law are positive signs. But for the sake of
easy and quick solutions, hopefully the discourse will not flatten out the
complexities involved in issues concerning violence against women and will
help us to seek answers to complex questions which do not get resolved
through retributive justice measures such as the death penalty, public
hanging, castration or instant “justice”. We need to keep reminding
ourselves that the girl died due to the brutal attack on her with iron rods
which damaged her intestines and led to the poisoning of all her vital
organs. Nothing can be more brutal than this. When we describe rape as
“worse than death”, we need to remind ourselves that insertion of objects
such as wooden splinters, iron rods, glass bottles, knives and swords into
the vagina causes far more serious damage to the female anatomy, but
unfortunately it does not warrant the same kind of punishment as rape since
it is not perceived as a “state worse than death”. In cases of brutal
sexual assault on children one can observe this type of violence. One can
also notice this kind of mutilation of the female body during caste and
communal violence such as that during Partition, the Gujarat carnage and
atrocities on dalits (like the Khairlanji rape and murders in Maharashtra).
Therefore, we need to move away from the patriarchal premise of vaginal
purity while we are addressing issues of sexual assaults and stop awarding
a special status for peno-vaginal penetration as compared to other types of
violations.

Vaginal penetration is only one of the many ways in which women are
chastised and humiliated. Acid attacks, slashing of the face, stripping and
parading, dragging women to the ground and kicking them on their abdomen,
etc, are some of the other violent ways in which women are shown their
place in public. Even while the protests were going on in most of the major
cities, a young student in a local college in Mumbai stabbed his ex-girl
friend several times and then stabbed himself. While the boy died
instantly, the girl succumbed to her injuries after a few days. This
violence is no less gruesome than an incident of gang rape.

*Routineness of Violence*

If women’s lives are endangered in so many different ways, then castration
of the rapists cannot give us the answers that we are seeking as it
reinforces the same old value system that continues to view rape as a state
“worse than death”. It is too short-sighted and serves only to lay the
emphasis back on the patriarchal premise of the sanctimony attached to
vaginal purity and does not help us to move forward. We would then be
forced to move on to other barbaric and medieval forms of retributive
justice like cutting off the hands of all those who indulge in heinous acts
of violence against women. This demand obscures the routineness of the
violence that takes place in our society, in our homes, in our private
spaces and makes it seem like a rare aberration.

One wonders whether the protests would have been on this scale if they had
not raped her but only assaulted her and her male companion with iron rods.
Is it the titillating aspects attached to a gruesome gang rape that arouses
feelings of grief and vengeance? The brutal manner in which the girl was
attacked is indicative of a deep-rooted hatred towards women, particularly
towards those women who dare to cross the boundaries. They are seen as
“free for all” or rather, everyone thinks that they are the custodians of
women’s morality and that they have a right to “teach them a lesson”.

In some recent cases of gang rape the girl was out with a male companion.
Is the outrage against her an indication of the societal desire to curb any
expression of sexual freedom among young, unmarried girls? Recently, in
Bengaluru, a law student of the prestigious National Law University was
gang raped when she was in a lonely spot with a male companion. The doctors
who examined her were more concerned about the elasticity of her vagina
than finding forensic evidence of the gruesome crime. In 2010, a young
16-year-old Hindu girl travelling in a bus with her Muslim friend on the
outskirts of Mangalore was dragged out of the bus by members of an
extremist Hindu fundamentalist outfit and taken to a police station. A case
of rape was foisted against her friend. Her father was called to the police
station and was humiliated. That night the girl committed suicide.

It is these incidents that make us wonder whether the gang rape in Delhi is
meant to be a message to all youngsters not just to not venture out in the
dark but to not venture out with male companions. It is the same message
that the parents and the community give their daughters. It is the same
message that the moral brigade has been communicating through the raids on
young couples in Mumbai under the direction of Maharashtra’s Home Minister
R R Patil, who has now recommended the death penalty in rape cases. Perhaps
he and most protesters out on the streets in India today are unaware that
around one-third of all rape cases are filed by parents against the boy
concerned when their daughter exercises her sexual choice and elopes. Such
cases will only increase in the years to come as the recent enactment of
the Protection of Children from Sexual Abuse Act has raised the statutory
age for consent to sexual intercourse from 16 to 18 years and all
youngsters who are sexually active are prone to harassment through
collusion of the family and the state. These types of cases have led to the
use of phrases like “genuine cases” and “false cases” among the police,
prosecutors and judges. The recent Act has also shifted the burden of proof
to the accused which is an extremely dangerous proposition in the context
of human rights and rights of the accused within the criminal justice
system.

*Male Role Models*

There is another question which is worrisome. Is it possible to examine
this issue only within the framework of men versus women or, more
particularly, middle-class women versus lower-class men? The girl was not
alone, she was travelling with a male companion. He, too, was beaten and
thrown out. If he had lost his intestines in the scuffle that followed,
what would the public response be? What about the death of a young
19-year-old boy of Mumbai who lost his life while protesting the lewd
comments being passed against a girl from his housing society? Should not
his murder be avenged by awarding the death penalty to the accused? In
another well-publicised incident that took place about a year ago in
Mumbai, two young men, Keanan and Reuben, were brutally and fatally
attacked when they protested against the sexual harassment of some girls in
their group. Why is the loss of their lives less gruesome a crime? These
men were also role models to be emulated by the youth of today. We
desperately need such bravehearts who will stand up for women’s dignity in
public places because in most cases the public just looks on while the girl
is molested, stripped, raped and dragged naked in full public view. So it
is not just women, but also men who defend women, who are subjected to
brutal attacks.

*Wrong Popular Perceptions*

Despite all the positive impact of the campaign revolving it, the Delhi
gang rape incident does not foreground the different types of violations
that take place in our society. Rather, it reinforces the popular
perception that rape takes place in lonely places, late at night, by
strangers and that rapists are brutes or psychopaths who deserve to be
hanged. But most rapes take place in the privacy of our homes, in our
schools. Rapes by family members are seldom reported. They come to light
only when the girl is found to be pregnant and by then it is far too late
to have an abortion. The girl is then sent to a government run shelter home
where she languishes while her child is put up for adoption. The risk of
sexual abuse is even greater in these homes as some recent incidents that
have been reported in the media indicate.

In a case decided by the sessions court in Mumbai last month, the father
had been raping his daughter for two years. When the child confided in her
mother and the mother confronted her husband, she was silenced by threats
of desertion. It was only when the maternal uncle was alerted that the
complaint was registered. The case resulted in conviction only because the
uncle testified, but the mother refused to come to court and depose. In yet
another case of a father raping his daughter, the mother attempted to
register a case thrice and each time was sent back as the police refused to
record her statement. Finally, the case could be registered only after the
intervention of a local social worker. What should be the punishment for
fathers who violate the most sacrosanct fiduciary relationship of trust and
sexually violate their helpless daughters? And what should be the
punishment for those who through their silence or negligence abet the crime?

The infamous ruling of the Supreme Court (SC) in the Mathura rape case in
the late 1970s became the catalyst for a nationwide anti-rape movement. The
SC had acquitted two policemen who had raped a 16-year-old illiterate
tribal girl inside the police station while on duty on the ground that
since there were no injuries on her body she might have consented to the
sex. Further, the Court contended, since the girl had eloped with her
boyfriend and was not a virgin, she could not have been raped. The campaign
that followed resulted in bringing some changes in the archaic laws; the
most significant being the mandatory minimum punishment of seven years
which could extend to life imprisonment. It was perceived that it would
have a deterrent value. But when we examine the graph of reported cases
since 1983 (when the amendment was introduced) there is a steady increase
in reported cases. It is obvious that the amendment has failed to act as a
deterrent. Worse still, conviction rates are so low as to be negligible.
Even in these cases, the trial courts seldom award the statutory seven
years and give as low as three years or at times, just six months. Even
these result in acquittals at the appeal stage.

The conviction in the well-publicised Shiny Ahuja rape case in Mumbai is
not the norm, but an exception. In this case despite the complainant’s
retraction, the trial court convicted the accused based on forensic
evidence. There was a contradiction. While the actor denied that there was
ever any sexual intercourse between him and his domestic help, his defence
in court was that it was consensual. The judgment was condemned by Mumbai’s
socialites. A systematic media campaign was launched to clean up the
actor’s public image. And it is highly plausible that the conviction will
be set aside in the appeal which is pending before the high court. Three
other high profile rape cases in Mumbai – one involving the son of an
industrialist who was charged with raping a 52-year-old divorcee in his car
in his factory compound in the early hours of the morning and in which the
victim suffered a fracture of her wrist while resisting, the gang rape of a
student of a prestigious social work college in Mumbai and the rape of a
12-year-old ragpicker by a policeman – all resulted in acquittals, either
in the trial courts or in the appeal courts.

The retraction in the Shiny Ahuja case brings to the fore the important
issue of witness protection and compensation for the victim. Cases are
“settled” before the victim can depose, by the relatives at times with
active intervention of the police, sometimes even with the knowledge of the
court. We do not have any mechanism to protect a poor victim and other
witnesses against the onslaught of a powerful rapist from the time the
complaint is filed till the time of deposition in a trial court which may
take about a year or two at best. There are many constraints that work
against a girl from deposing in the court which calls for a strong witness
protection programme in order to ensure convictions.

*Fear of ‘False Cases’*

The trauma of rape and the stigma caused by it usually forces poor families
who file complaints of rape to change residences to protect their wards
from the stigma of rape. In most cases, the abuse is detected only when
these young girls in their early teens are taken to the hospital to
investigate delayed periods. The families are so poor that they cannot
provide even the basic care to their child. They need financial aid and
state support to overcome the trauma, the stigma and the adverse
consequences of rape. But each time the issue of compensation is raised,
the bogey of “false cases” is foregrounded to throttle the demand.

In Maharashtra, district boards were set up two years ago under the
district collector with high level officials of the home, health, law and
judiciary and women and child welfare departments’ along with
non-governmental organisation (NGO) representatives to scrutinise
applications for compensation, and the police were mandated to send in
copies of the FIR along with medical reports. An amount of Rs 2 lakh was
stipulated out of which Rs 20,000 is to be disbursed initially and the
balance after the girl deposes in court and an amount set aside for medical
aid, trauma counselling or skill training. But despite the grand “centrally
sponsored scheme”, the central funds have not reached the state government
and the victims wait in vain. This amounts to taking the most gullible and
most victimised for a ride. No one wants to act because of the all
pervasive fear of “false complaints”. One shudders to think how the family
of the Delhi gang rape victim would have dealt with the medical bills if
the case did not turn out to be a high profile one and the state
administration had not been forced to step in as a face-saving measure. But
then, is it wrong to expect this kind of state support to all survivors of
sexual abuse?

The fear of “false complaints” is all pervasive within our legal system
right from the time a victim tries to register the complaint to the time of
the trial. All stakeholders: the police, the medical officers who examine
the victim, the public prosecutors who are meant to defend her, the defence
lawyers who are out to tarnish her reputation and the presiding judge who
is supposed to be the neutral arbiter are plagued with this and constantly
look for evidence of falsity on the part of the victim. If this is the
present reality, one can just imagine what will happen if the punishment is
raised to a minimum of life imprisonment and maximum of death penalty. Then
even the few convictions which the judges award today will not take place,
and every accused will be given the “benefit of doubt”.

*Accountable to Women*

Instead, what we need is a criminal justice system that works with
responsibility, protocols for all stakeholders which are binding and most
important, a periodic audit that ensure that the protocols are followed.
This tedious process cannot be replaced by sensational measures such as
death penalty and castration which may momentarily satiate the public
thirst for blood, but will fail to have any deterrent impact at the ground
level. What we need most of all is a clarion call to make our legal system
accountable to the female citizenry in small but meaningful ways.

By-
Flavia Agnes (flaviaagnes@gmail.com) is a women’s rights lawyer and
director of Majlis which also runs a rape victim support programme in
Mumbai.

 

IMMEDIATE RELEASE-Statement of Support for Release Naveen Soorinje, – NWMI, Mumbai


 

The Mumbai Chapter, of   The  Network of Women in Media, India, released a statement   of support for Release of Naveen Soorinje

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE; JAN 6,2013
We are shocked at the continued incarceration of Managalore-based
television journalist Naveen Soorinje by police and demand both his
immediate release and the dropping of charges  against him forthwith.

Naveen Soorinje was arrested on November 9, 2012. His bail application was
rejected on December 26, 2012.

The Mangalore district reporter for Kasturi Newz24, Naveen Soorinje was
instrumental in exposing the July 28 attack by activists of the Hindu
Jagarana Vedike on a group of innocent boys and girls who were celebrating
a birthday party at a homestay in Mangalore. He was arrested by the
Mangalore police on charges under various sections of the Unlawful
Activities (Prevention)Act, the Indian Penal Code from “rioting with deadly
weapons,” criminal conspiracy, unlawful assembly, and using criminal force
on a woman with the intention of outraging her modesty. The police have
also invoked Sections 3 and 4 of The Indecent Representation of Women
(Prohibition) Act 1986.

Soorinje’s report, titled ‘The Talibanisation of Mangalore’, was actually
vital evidence of the brutality of the attack and the molestation and
assault on the youth. Instead, he was charged with the same offences as
that of the attackers. The police arrested 31 people in connection with the
attack and Soorinje was lodged in the same sub-jail as them until a protest
from the Mangalore Union of Working Journalists forced police to lodge him
separately.

In his order rejecting Naveen’s bail application, the Karnataka High Court
judge, Keshava Narayana, relied on police evidence that Naveen was
absconding, when in fact, he was very much present in the area and had
covered important and routine assignments between July and November,
including the visit of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi to the area.

In the short span of seven years, Soorinje had made a mark as a journalist
in the region for his coverage of powerful groups including Hindutva
organizations, the Jamaat-e-Islami, the Popular Front of India, the pontiff
of Pejawar Mutt Vishveshateertha, who is the guru of former Madhya Pradesh
CM Uma Bharti, and the powerful head of the Dharmasthala temple, the
Dharmadhikari Veerendra Heggade, among others. Besides, he wrote exposes on
corrupt policemen and even exposes on journalists taking gifts in return
for favors.

Clearly, the arrest and charges against him smack of vendetta and designed
to work as a ‘chilling effect’ on independent reportage in this region. His
continued incarceration cannot and must not act as a deterrent to fair and
accurate journalism and we demand that he be released forthwith and the
charges against him dropped.

 

 

Exclusive and Explosive : Public safety info not for public: DAE


Though the central information commission and the Bombay high court have both reiterated that public safety issues must be given precedence, the department of atomic energy (DAE) continues to reject RTI applications seeking information on public safety, citing this information as being of “strategic importance”.

In response to an application filed by DNA in October seeking information on the ground water contamination in areas close to a nuclear fuel complex, the DAE said: “The information on safety issues in respect of NFC, Hyderabad is of strategic importance.”

Yet another RTI application filed with nuclear regulator Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) on the same subject was rejected on the same ground. “The trend of rejecting is similar across all the nuclear establishments in the country,” said Arul Doss, a nuclear activist from Chennai who has filed several RTI applications with various nuclear power plants across the country.

In April 2012, the chief information commission (CIC) pulled up the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) for rejecting an application seeking copies of a safety evaluation report of the Koodankulam reactors. The public information officer (PIO) said the security, strategic and scientific interests of the state would be compromised by the disclosure, but was unable to justify such reasoning, said the CIC order.

The CIC directed the PIO to furnish the information to the applicant and place it on its website before May 30, 2012. “Public authority’s [NPCIL] unwillingness to be transparent is likely to give citizens an impression that most decisions are taken in furtherance of corruption resulting in a serious trust deficit,” said the order.

As far back as 1996, hearing a PIL seeking disclosure regarding 90 issues pertaining to nuclear power plants highlighted by the AERB, the Bombay high court said information on safety violations cannot be denied to the public. Despite this order, DAE has been denying information on public safety.

NPCIL took more than three months to furnish information on safety issues pertaining to the power plant at Tarapore. This correspondent had to send at least eight e-mails besides several phone calls to get the information.

There are other cases where the DAE refused to part with information saying such records do not exist. Replying to an application seeking information on action taken by the nuclear regulator on a report prepared by former AERB chairman A Gopalakrishnan highlighting nuclear safety violations by nuclear power plants, the AERB on September 28, 2012, said it does not have any information on this.

This is despite court records that clearly suggest that DAE agreed in the Bombay high court to constitute a committee to look into the 90 nuclear safety violations raised in the report. Finally, after pursuing the matter with higher authorities, the information was provided to DNA.

“It is relevant to point out that the nuclear power plants are in the civilian sector and not in the defence sector. Therefore, the DAE’s argument that information about nuclear power plants cannot be furnished is flawed,” said BK Subbarao, a nuclear scientist.

DAE spokesperson SK Malhotra did not respond to queries sent by DNA to his official email id.

Dr Sreeramappa Chinnappa, an employee of NPCIL, has filed several RTI applications over the last couple of years seeking information about public health. In his letter, dated August 27, 2012, to the NPCIL chairman and managing director, Chinnappa said: “In spite of my repeated request, NPCIL is delaying and refusing to provide information. I have not received any communication either from CPIO or from Appellate Authority as per RTI Act time frame.”
ARTICLE URL: http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_exclusive-public-safety-info-not-for-public-dae_1785681

 

#India-Villagers Wail Against Nuclear Power


Fishermen and their families protesting against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant. Credit K. S. Harikrishnan/IPSFishermen and their families protesting against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant. Credit K. S. Harikrishnan/IPS

KUDANKULAM, India, Jan 6 2013 (IPS) – Mahalakshmi, a housewife married to a farmer, is afraid for her family’s future. The fifty-two-year-old woman is also frustrated that Indian authorities have “betrayed” poor villagers.

A huge nuclear power plant under the control of the government-run Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) is the source of her woes.

The Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP), situated 24 kilometres from the world famous tourist town of Kanyakumari on the southern tip of the Indian peninsula, is likely to be commissioned this month.

Speaking to IPS, Mahalakshmi and dozens of women in Kudankulam, a village in the Tirunelveli district of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, charged that the energy project would ruin their futures, homes and livelihoods.

The plant is slated to produce an initial 1,000 megawatts of power, according to the NPCIL, no small contribution to a country saddled with a severe energy deficit.

But the proposed nuclear station has brought sleepless nights to scores of locals, who fear a disaster similar to the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan in March 2011, and the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe.

Locals have risen up in widespread protest over the proposed plant, which they claim has not been equipped with the best possible safety measures.

One of these protestors, Arul Vasanth, told IPS that politicians, scientists, and bureaucrats have made every effort to crush agitation against the potentially lucrative KKNPP.

“We, the poor, are at the receiving end of all false promises given by the authorities,” he said. “The risk has been put on our shoulders so the people will aggressively fight till the end.”

Indeed, the vast majority of those participating in the protests live below the government-declared poverty line.

Opposition to the energy project first began when India inked the KKNPP deal with the erstwhile Soviet Union in 1988.

Agitation gained momentum in 1997 when the country signed another agreement with Russia to revive the deal.

The controversial Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant. Credit K. S. Harikrishnan/IPS

Now, in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, which drew the world’s attention to the horrific dangers of nuclear power, the people in Kudankulam have brought their fight into the open.

People from the Idinthakarai, Koottappalli, Perumanal, Koothankuli and Uoovri villages, located close to Kudankulam, fear health consequences arising from the plant.

Talking to IPS, well-known anti-nuclear activist K. Sahadevan questioned the efficacy of government measures to safeguard the health of local people living in the vicinity of the plant.

“Radioactivity-related health hazards are a major concern for the people residing near the plant,” he said, referring to a survey of houses very near to the Rajasthan Atomic Power Station, which revealed a high prevalence of cancer and tumors.

Dr. Binayak Sen, human rights activist and member of the Planning Commission’s Steering Committee on Health, said in a statement after visiting the site that the Kudankulam plant posed serious health consequences, not only for those residing in the immediate vicinity, but for inhabitants of the entire region.

Opposition to the plant has created deep cracks in the villagers’ daily lives. Frequent protests by farmers, fisherfolk, students and coastal dwellers have sent a strong message to the authorities but simultaneously interrupted income-generating activities.

Explaining the ground situation in the villages, Peter Milton, an agitation leader in Idinthakari, told IPS that people are worried and frustrated about their future.

 

  • Farmers say the government has failed to compensate them for large swaths of arable land that have now been declared part of the official “construction site”.

 

 

One small-scale farmer who has suffered many bureaucratic hurdles in claiming compensation for his land told IPS he favours other sources of energy – such as wind farms – over the proposed atomic power station.

A group of students at St. Annes Higher Secondary School in Kudankulam also expressed distress over a future lived in the shadow of nuclear catastrophe.

“A disaster in the plant will eliminate our dreams. That is why we are agitating,” the students, who wished to remain anonymous, told IPS.

Meanwhile, police and intelligence agencies are stepping up their suppression of protestors. “The threat of the police has put more strain on our lives. Even students and women are not exempted from the harassment,” said Milton.

According to media reports, 269 persons have been arrested in connection with the agitation. Agitation leaders claim the number is much higher, with pending cases running into the thousands.

T. Peter, secretary of the National Fish Workers Forum, told IPS that many people have been taken into custody under the charge of sedition. He alleged that the establishment is trying to “sabotage” the protest movement and crush it with an iron fist.

“The fisher folk residing in the coastal area of Kudankulam are (acutely) aware about the impacts of a nuclear (accident) at the KKNPP. People living in coastal areas between Thiruvananthapuram and Tuticorin will be (particularly) affected if a disaster occurs,” he added.

The Russian envoy to India, Alexander M. Kadakin, branded the anti-nuclear protests “gimmicks” and “games” while speaking to reporters in Chennai.

Regardless, India’s highest judicial bodies have expressed alarm about the lack of safety measures at the proposed plant, going so far as to halt the process altogether.

Litigations are now pending before the Supreme Court of India and the National Green Tribunal.

In November, the Supreme Court instructed the Union Government to deploy all necessary safety measures at Kudankulam.

“There must be no compromise on safety and rehabilitation. We are making it absolutely clear that all the guidelines and safety measures for handling disasters must be put in place before the plant is commissioned,” according to Justices K S Radhakrishanan and Deepak Misra.

Attempting to allay fears of a disaster, nuclear scientists have expressed satisfaction over the safety measures at the Kudankulam plant. Former Indian president and scientist Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam declared the plant to be safe, following extensive discussions with KKNPP officials and a thorough inspection of the plant’s safety features.

 

 

IMMEDIATE RELEASE-6TH DAY slumdwellers Fast ,No Response from the Govt, Media Blacksout


RELAY FAST CONTINUES AT AZAD MAIDAN, NO RESPONSE FROM GOVERNMENT

           SUPPORT FROM ALL OVER COUNTRY

 

 

January 5, Mumbai : Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan agitation entered its 6th day today with 30 representatives from various slums of Mumbai, who had been fasting for the last 24 hours, broke their fast and the next 30 representatives began their fast. People who observed fast, with only water to drink, spoke passionately about the need to struggle against injustices happening to them in their bastis and middle class localities .  Shri Ajay Palande, from  Jogeshwari Indira Nagar, while breaking his fast, shouted the slogan “ Bhooke pyaase Ladenge, Andolan Chalayenge”. “We are trapped in the cruel web of SRA- Builders- duplicate notices- lack of basic amenities- fake allotments and have been fighting for the last 12 years. Now we wont go anywhere, they( the Government) have to come to hear us”, said Smt. Kanta Behen from Chandiwali. Today Shri Rashi Azmi from All India Milli Council,  Smt. Anita Vyas from Ambujwadi, Smt. Sabrunnisa Saha from Adarsh Nagar, Shri. Lakhan Mandal from Mandala, Smt. Gauri from Malwani 8. no., Moh. Shamim Ansari, and 24 others from different slums and middle class localities are fasting for their land rights and right to dignified housing.

 While there has been no response from the Government today also, people are determined to continue their agitation. Letters of appeal to the Government and the Centre are being drafted by the people and the supporters to take immediate decisions and interventions on the demands of the Andolan.Support from various organisations, senior activists and students is coming from all over the country which has intensified the energy and increased the enthusiasm of Andolankaris here at Azad MaidanSmt. Surekha Dalvi, Smt. Indavi Tulpade, Shri. Rambhau Wadu from Adivasi Sangathan and Shoshit Jan Andolan, Shri Byaneshwar Shedge and Shri Gyanoba Bhikule from Mosekhore Bachao Jan Andolan (fighting Lavasa)and many others came to show their solidarity with and strengthen the Andolan

 

Medha Patkar, Jamil bhai, Mohan Chavan, Madhuri Shivkar, Madhuri Variyath, Sumit Wajale, Santosh Thorat, Sandeep Yevale, Kishor Kardak, Girija Bahen, Prabhakar Narkar, Shilpa Sabale, Kamlesh S S, Siraj, Umar bhai, Shabbir Deshmukh

Organised by : Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, Janta Jagruti Manch, Shahar Vikas Manch, Ramabai Ambedkar Nagar Bachao Samiti, Nagari Niwara Haq Samiti, Waghini Sangathan, SRA Sangharsh Samiti, Bruhanmumbai Niwara Samanvaya Samiti

Affiliates of National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements

Contact: Madhuri Shivkar 09892143242 | Madhuri Wariyath 09820619174 | Sumit Wajale 09967875999 | Sandeep Yevale 09819307419

 

Previous Press Releases on this campaign :

Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan Continues, Thousands Continue their Sit-in at Azad Maidan, Mumbai

Thousands of Mumbaikars March towards Mantralaya Claiming Dignity and Equal Rights to City

A Sea of people marched on Streets of Mumbai to reach Mantralaya

Thousands of Mumbai’s Urban Poor to begin new year with long march on foot to Mantrayala

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glass Houses:Raped and Victim-Blaming in the Western World #Vaw


02 Wednesday Jan 2013

Apparently the U.S., unlike India, has moved past its own backward history of victim-blaming. Apparently, I am to believe, according to the New York Timesand Nicholas Kristof, that it is India which must deal with its sexual violence. And the Good Mr. Kristoff and the New York Times know this because the US has dealt with its own sexual violence. It’s now in the past, judging from the smug authority of the Times.

The victim of gang-rape in India, as many of us know, died several days ago after having been brutally beaten, essentially to death. From the moment that the rape made the international news, even before she died, there was a collective audible, transnational gasp.

That gasp turned—-rightfully–into a loud protest by Indians, against an environment of fear and danger that is perpetuated from various segments of society. These include the police, who have been unwilling to protect women or arrest men who have been accused of rape. They include courts, who are unwilling to arrest and try accused rapists. These include politicians and media, who engage in victim-blaming. These include communities who are unwilling to defend their female family members who have been sexually assaulted.

That gasp also induced a gaping at what Margaret Kimberley calls the pornography of suffering—where first world denizens are mesmerized, horrified, by the spectacle of rapes in non-first world locales with darker residents. In the cases of Congo and Somalia, the spectacle is amplified by the long-standing racist fetishization of black men’s sexuality.  While India may not have the same associations, it is nevertheless subject to its own version of Orientalism: India is either the peaceful refuge of Om Shanti Shanti yoga chants and ashrams, or invoked for its seemingly unmatched teeming poverty and malnutrition. The men in this picture, over the last 3 weeks, thanks to the focus by Western media, are now the singular demons of unchecked sexual predation.

Indeed, it is difficult to miss the incessant focus by first world denizens and media at the “backwards” culture of India, such that, as one interlocutor informed me, “they have a history of victim-blaming” there.

It must be a relief for denizens of the Global North to point fingers at the “regressive” cultures of the darker nations.  Perhaps the spectacle of Indians marching in protest at the rape allows for the convenient, momentary forgetfulness (or maybe continued avoidance) of the US’s state-led policy of “inadvertently” or deliberately killing and torturing children, some of whom had the audacity to be born to irresponsible terrorist fathers—as Robert Gibbs reminds us.  It allows Americans to be undistracted by the racial profiling thousands of Black and Muslim men, or incarceration of hundreds of thousands of Black men in a gratuitous war on drugs, renditions and imprisonment of hundreds of Muslim men—most without ever knowing the charges against them. But at least we know it is because “they are terrorists.” It is a good thing that the US doesn’t have a history of victim-blaming.

Perhaps the spectacle of 3rd world rape allows Americans to forget its own “rape culture”–the one where the US has had a long history of putting the victims of sexual assault on trial while ostensibly pretending that they were holding a fair trial for suspected rapists. The one where 11 year old girls are gang-raped– –continuously over a period of months. And in which the entire town and one of the nation’s leading newspapers—the same one which points to India’s need to straighten itself out—manages to blame the child. Yes, that moral beacon of colonialism and hypocrisy: the New York Times.

According to The National Women’s Study and the Bureau of Justice Statistics,683,000 women are raped annually in the United States. That equals 1.3 rapes every 3 minutes, 78 rapes hourly, and 1,871 rapes daily.  These numbers are hardly insignificant. And they only indicate reported rapes. Eleanor Bader points to a Department of Justice August 2012 study that states that 33% of sexual victimization of the general public goes unreported.

Combined, these numbers indicate a serious rape culture in the U.S., one where Sen. Todd Aikin can openly claim that “legitimate rapes” don’t cause pregnancy.  Or as Senate candidate Richard Mourdock claimed, rape “is something that God intended.”

Consider Steuben, Ohio, where members of the high school football team are accused of drugging, gang-raping, urinating on, and carrying an unconsconscious female teen from party to party. One is accused of taking a nude picture or video of the girl. And no one in the entire town stepped forward to say what they saw—despite reams of evidence that appear to be circulating on Facebook, and elsewhere. Including statements about how “Some people deserve to be peed on.”

But it’s India that has a culture of “victim-blaming.”  Clearly, the U.S. isn’t backwards at all. I now recognize the New York Times’ moral authority in wagging its journalistic finger at India’s “backward” culture.  If I didn’t, I might be a little shaken by the statistics of sexual assault that occurred in US state and federal prisons, and jails, ICE special confinement facilities, and Indian reservation prisons:

Out of 81,566 inmates interviewed in 2008-9, 11,600 reported an unwanted sexual incident with another prison inmate. 15,800 reported an unwanted sexual incident that occurred with prison staff. 3,400 inmates reported unwanted sexual incidents by both inmates and staff.

1% of prisoners report having been the target of nonconsensual sexual acts: or approximately 815 inmates. And these are only the reported sexual assaults. If we assume that rapes in prison go unreported at the same rate as those in the general public (and the likelihood is that the percentage is even higher), then there is a very strong manifestation of rape culture in U.S. prisons.

In an earlier 2007 study by the Department of Justice, as cited by Eleanor Bader, out of over 40,000 inmates in local jails, 5.1% of women and 2.9% of men experienced some form of sexual assault.

Of course, it is easy to compartmentalize these statistics by somehow assuming that they are occurring to members of a criminal(ized), therefore deranged, primitive segment of the population—which is “rightfully” in prison. Until we remember the range of laws that can easily land someone in prison: 3 strikes, you’re out; material support statute violations, excessive drug laws, hate crimes laws (which disproportionately target minorities), etc.

In other words, the victims consist of many folks who are dangerously similar to many of us: one mistake, or skin color, or religion, or race, away from prison time. And like the western focus on India, the visual spectacle of dark men raping or dark women being raped somehow lands a collective Western audience in a state of horror that is strangely absent when considering rape in a whitely context:

In March of this year, a few media sources reported the death of a Ukrainian teen, who was gang-raped, strangled and set on fire by the sons of government officials. She had burns over 55% of her body, and had both of her feet and one arm amputated in an attempt to save her. Before she died, she made a video from her hospital bed naming her assaulters. Hundreds of Ukrainians marched in protest of her death. There was very little outrage from the rest of the world. There was no NYT editorial warning the Ukraine to get its house in order, even as it reported that 2 of the young men arrested in the incident were released by prosecutors.

It is hard, then, to argue that the reason so much attention was paid to the circumstances of the Indian woman was because of the horrific nature of the crime. Because she was gang-raped and beaten to death. Our hearts, mine included, went numb.  But so did my heart when I learned of the 11-year old who was gang-raped.

So did my heart when I followed the news of the young boys induced to trust Jerry Sandusky, only to be brutally betrayed. Only to feel that they must keep silent because of the stigma surrounding male rape. Because their families relied on Sandusky to raise their boys, to provide care and a “male role model.”

So did my heart when I learned of the woman who was horrifically and brutally raped, beaten, and killed by members of a “cult.” Rape victims die in the US. They die horrific deaths. And somehow they don’t grab our attention in the way that the horrible fate of this young woman did.

But they should–in order to challenge the systematicity of rape in every single society. In order to challenge the patriarchy of every single society, the abuse of power that enables girl-children and boy-children, to be raped.

Ten of thousands of Indian citizens marched in protest of the fear and danger that surround Indian women.  Imagine if mothers and daughters across the US had marched in protest of the rape and murder of Lalita Patel, a 62 year-old South Asian woman, who was killed by a U.S. army veteran this past summer.

Or after U.S. troops raped several Afghan women earlier last month.

Couldn’t we have drawn attention to the horror of rape?  Many young women and their allies did march in Canada and across the US last year. It was called the “Slutwalk.” They marched in protest of victim-blaming—by a Canadian police officer who insisted that women learn not to dress like sluts. (Oh, wait—sounds a lot like the claims of Indian policemen who blame Indian rape victims). The name alone created such a distraction that the fact of the protests around the US and Canada was lost amidst the debates over the name.

Indian women fear traveling outside by themselves, or late at night, or traveling alone at all. So do many women in the US. Yet, only the horrific, horrible tragedy of a young woman in Delhi can make us pause and think about rape.

Shouldn’t the gang-rapes of children, teenaged girls, and women in the US, in North America, in France, by ordinary men as well as by political elites such as Dominique Strauss-Kahn, make us pause? Perhaps the NYT and Nicholas Kristof might be able to persuade the Western world to get its own house in order.

___________________________________________

As of the latest NDAA, which goes into effect  on Jan 3, 2013 , U.S. servicewomen will now be able to have Department of Defense-funded abortions in cases of rape and incest (Sec. 704). Sen. John McCain, feminist that he is, has endorsed a provision, according to NYT, that would “ensure” that U.S. servicewomen who are subject to sexual assault “will be treated with fairness.” This will be one of primary benefits of NDAA –a benefit that is not extended to women outside of the service, nor to those who are not federal employees.

How exactly does this ensure “fairness” for US servicewomen who are victims of sexual assault? It allows them to have access to coverage for abortions. It doesn’t exactly protect them or decrease the chances of sexual assault. Still, it is a huge feminist stance compared to Aikin or Mourdock’s positions, but alsoan admission of a rape culture in the U.S. Armed Services.

Police must be a public Service, not a political Force


Jan 06, 2013 - Maja Daruwala | , ASIAN age

In totalitarian states, police serves the regime and suppress es the population. In a democracy, the purpose of policing is fundamentally different. Before you can reform our police, you need a vision of what the purpose of police is.
In a democracy, its purpose is to be able to ensure the safety and security of life and property, prevent and detect crime and, most of all, create an environment in which people could enjoy their Constitutional rights. The work of the police, therefore, is to protect and enable. They must be a service, not a force, much like the fire or ambulance service. When in difficulties, people should be able to call on their services without any hesitation. That is not so now.
Police have not only to enforce the law, they have to uphold it. There is a difference. To uphold the law, you must always work within its four corners. Police has to be the role model for the public. Today, it is not.
A policeman is just a citizen in uniform. So the composition of the police must reflect the diversities within the communities they serve. For example, the national average of women in police is not even 5 percent. There is no reason why efforts should not be made very early on to have all-women recruitment drives.
Police cannot be apart from the communities they serve. How can they be invested in securing the safety of the community if they don’t live amongst it. How can they understand their fears, their worries, the risks they have to bear, if the police are deliberately isolated in quarters. That separation forces them into an unhealthy subculture that creates mutual suspicion. Their isolation from the public ensures that their reactions are defensive, impervious and often violent. This has to be removed.
The police leadership often says that the police come from society and therefore cannot be expected not to share society’s biases and prejudices. But we all have our prejudices, our likes and dislikes. We also have a duty not to act on them to the detriment of others. That, in fact, is why we are policed. The collective identity of the police cannot be based on defensiveness and isolation from the public, it has to be based on pride at providing admirable public service.
Merit, not patronage and pull, must be the criterion for career advancement in the Police. Promotions, and punishment for dereliction of duty or criminal wrongdoing, cannot be in the gift of patrons outside the police force. It must be part of the system. In Prakash Singh vs Union of India, the Supreme Court had directed that the police shall have a Police Establishment Board and four senior-most police officers will sit in the Board on promotions and transfers of officers. This gives the police leadership an opportunity to clean up its house and put in place clear criteria and transparent process, where the fairness of its choices will be very evident. This is also one way to break the circle of outside patronage and create a cohort loyal to the institution.
But in many cases, the leadership has chosen to be supine and continue to wait for the recommendation list to come from outside authority. If politicians are assured that only their recommendations will work, then their friends will pedal influence and effect positive outcomes for their favourites.
Police should be given operational autonomy. And with full control over management, administration and operations of the police, must come full responsibility. Giving operational responsibility to the police does not mean that the political executive and legislature don’t control or supervise the police. It just means that powers and functions need to be clearly defined, with police, politician and bureaucrat each understanding the limits of the other. This division of powers and functions is essential to found good policing.
A system of reporting and reviewing police performance every year to an attentive legislature is also part of the changes that will make for better policing. Today, serious discussions about police — the adequacy of their budgets, numbers, composition, infrastructure, capabilities, training, skills, specialisations, annual goals and performance — is seriously missing from legislative bodies and from public knowledge. Instead, the discourse is dominated by the need for tenure, the inconvenience of transfers and handwringing about the ‘plight of the poor constable’.
The proof of good policing lies in its performance. Today, the critic judges police only by its misbehaviour and illegality. The politician, by how low the crime registration is. To keep crime figures low, police simply don’t register cases.
Police performance must be measured against realistic goals set after wide public consultation with local communities and understanding what the police needs to be able to fulfill expectations. The most important measure of policing is how safe people feel, especially the weak and vulnerable; how peacefully we can all go about our business; how willing people are to assist and cooperate with the police.
The consequences of poor policing are there for all to see. We see around us the ascendance of the criminal from petty thief to politician. We see more and more brutality, more oppression of the weak and vulnerable, and no place to go when there is damage and danger. Police practice itself is too often imbued with illegality and institutional bias.
Police have to cleanse themselves. This doesn’t require us to wait on brand new laws. It just requires highminded leadership. But all too often, its bad apples are protected and impossible to bring to book. It is this breakdown that fuelled the public resentment and anger, which we saw erupt on the streets of Delhi last December. We were angry. Now, we need to be better informed about how we are policed, and work out with the police, policy makers and our communities how we can break through resistances and change the police that we have, into the police that we want.

Maja Daruwala is executive director, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (As told to Bala Chauhan)

 

Land acquired for SEZs in Maharashtra to be now turned into industrial hubs


Author(s):
Anupam Chakravartty, downtoearth
Issue Date:
2013-1-4

New industrial policy follows denotification of SEZ land after promoters backed out of 16 deals

Land acquired for Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Maharashtra will be turned into integrated industrial areas (IIAs), according to a new industrial policy announced by Maharashtra government. While land rights activists have slammed the government for the move which is likely to benefit real estate developers in the state, the policy will be giving tax incentives to  micro and small manufacturing enterprises (MSME) in the state. Further,  the new industrial policy envisages Ultra Mega Industrial Areas, attracting an investment of Rs 1500 crore each.

On Wednesday, the state Cabinet agreed on the industrial policy, which was delayed by one year. According to state industries secretary, Manu Kumar Srivastava, about 124 SEZs planned in the state over 23,000 hectares have now being denotified. Meanwhile, in the last one year, owing to the global recession and heavy taxes, 16 SEZ developers backed out from their deals, causing the government a loss of Rs 27,000 crore. The policy has called for the creation of the IIAs in which promoters of now de-notified special economic zones (SEZs) would have to put 60 per cent for industrial purpose, 30 per cent for residential and 10 per cent for commercial purposes.

In a statement issued to the media, state industries minister Narayan Rane said that the government is giving developers a chance to de-notify their SEZs and build IIAs. “This will allow developers to use 60 per cent land within the SEZ area for industrial purpose and 40 per cent land for non-industrial purpose, which includes building townships and developing social infrastructure such as schools and hospitals,” Rane said.

Developers favoured

The move has not gone down well with activists and state opposition parties, including Nationalist Congress Party. While political parties have labelled the industrial policy as “housing” policy, accusing the government for favouring real estate developers, what activists feared earlier during the anti-SEZ stir in the state has turned out to be true. “The land forcibly acquired or purchased from farmers will now be turned into real estate by the private developers,” said the Convenor of the Action Committee against Globalisation, Ulka Mahajan, from Raigad district in Maharashtra which witnessed large-scale protests against land acquisition for SEZ.

The new policy aims to target investments worth Rs 5 lakh crore, twice the projected amount in the previous policy of 2006. Interestingly, the state government is not looking at foreign investment or big investments from foreign companies due to the global economic slowdown. “Therefore, we have decided to boost the local MSME,” adds Srivastava. The policy now offers concessions in value added tax (VAT) for the sector. MSMEs proposed in the backward districts of Maharashtra, which has been classified as C, D and D+ category on the human development index, will get subsidy of 0.75 paise to Re 1 on every unit of power consumed by them.