The Mommy Market #Sundayreading


 

When Rape is not Rape #Vaw #Womenrights


 Adrienne Rich`s #Rape- but the hysteria in your voice pleases him best #poem #Vaw

Majlis Team, Mumbai

Sometime around August, 2012* newspapers reported that a 14 year old girl was raped. The girl was 8 months pregnant and had been admitted to hospital. The rapist, a Muslim youth, was arrested. We decided to follow up the case and so approached the concerned hospital but were informed that the girl had been discharged. We then contacted the local police station who directed us to the girl’s  home.

Our first image of Monica was that of a very pregnant, chirpy and vivacious teenager. She was at home chatting with some friends around her own age. Her mother was away at work. Monica lives on the attic of a hutment in the fisherman’s colony, situated in one of the posh areas of South Mumbai. When we enquired about the incident she told us that Iqbal was her boyfriend and that they were to be married. According to her, there was some misunderstanding and Iqbal would be released soon. She seemed quite relaxed and oblivious of the gravity of the situation. Her only request was for us to help her meet Iqbal in the Arthur Road jail where he was lodged.

We introduced our work on socio legal support and as she grew comfortable she revealed her story. Monica’s father had abandoned them and was living with another woman in a slum nearby. Her mother worked a 12 hour shift as a private helper-nurse. Her father continued to visit their place in a drunken state. He would beat up her mother and demand money and sex from her. In her growing up years, Monica had been traumatized by these recurring incidents of violence.

Initially Monica attended a local municipal school but after school hours she had to fend for herself till her mother returned from work. Monica couldn’t cope and so she dropped out of school. She would then spend the entire day with her friends who were also school drop outs.

Soon Monica got into a relationship with Iqbal aged 20. He lived in a nearby slum and worked as a driver earning Rs.15,000 per month. Iqbal would visit Monica at home when her mother was away at work. It was only when Monica visited a public hospital with stomach pains that she realized she was five months pregnant. She had crossed the permissible period for abortion and hence had no choice but to continue with the pregnancy.

Monica’s mother was very upset. She approached Iqbal’s family and proposed marriage. However Iqbal’s family rejected the proposal of marriage of their son to a lowly Christian girl. But Monica was confident of her relationship and convinced her mother that in due course of time Iqbal would surely marry her. Her mother had no choice but to bide time.

As her pregnancy advanced, Monica continued to suffer from acute abdominal pain. It was thus in her eighth month Monica again approached another public hospital. At the registration counter, Monica was asked routine questions about her age and marital status. On realizing that she was 14 and unmarried, the hospital, without her knowledge, contacted the local police and all hell broke loose!

When the police arrived Monica’s mother tried desperately to convince them that they were in a relationship and were to be married soon. But the doctors insisted that it was a case of statutory rape (as Monica was below the age of consent). The police and doctors compelled her to file a criminal complaint.

Iqbal was arrested. The news was splashed in local newspapers and cable networks. Iqbal was immediately sacked from his job. He was the sole earning member of his family, so the family was furious with Monica and her mother and blamed them for his misfortune.

Monica pleaded with us to help her meet Iqbal in jail.  We tried counseling her and placed various options before her. Give the baby up for abortion, pursue her studies.  We suggested her moving to a shelter so that she could distance herself from the situation and reflect and explore her options. Her mother liked the idea, but Monica was not interested. Marriage was the only reality for her. Every time there was a pause in the conversation, she kept asking whether we will help her to meet Iqbal in jail. She had even come with cooked food to take for him.   However the jail authorities informed us that only blood relatives were allowed to meet under trials. The fact that she was carrying his blood in her stomach, did not matter at this juncture!

Then started the legal rigmarole. Iqbal’s family hired an expensive lawyer. Under his advice Monica personally appeared before the judge to plead for the release of Iqbal. They promised to arrange her marriage as soon as he was released. But this strategy did not work and even bail was not granted, so Iqbal remained in judicial custody. Monica attended court on each date to have a brief interaction with Iqbal despite her advanced pregnancy and health issues, but every time the bail application was rejected, his family grew more antagonistic towards Monica.

After several bail applications were rejected, the lawyer advised Monica  to stop contacting us as they feared that being a women’s  rights organisation our only interest would be to secure a conviction. But Monica’s mother kept in touch. Somehow she felt that we could mediate between the police, the court and Iqbal’s family to secure the future of her daughter.

As the charge sheet was getting filed, Monica delivered a baby girl. The trial started four months later.  Monica came to court carrying her tiny daughter in her arms, both fully covered in a Hijab! Perhaps, she thought, this would give her a semblance of respectability within the court environment or that by accepting the cultural norms of Iqbal’s family she would gain acceptability.

The trial concluded within two hearings. There was nothing much to decide. Monica turned hostile and deposed on oath that she does not know Iqbal, that it was a case of mistaken identity by the police. Everyone cooperated – the Investigating Officer, the woman public prosecutor, the court staff, and even the judge herself! Iqbal was acquitted. We have not been able to contact Monica or her mother thereafter. We do not know whether Iqbal actually married her.

This is a case where a young girl with multiple levels of marginalization tries to find a meaningful resolution on her own terms. She is then caught in a web of state laws and its moral codes. Young girls in consensual relationships, who accidentally get caught in this legal web will have no other option but to turn hostile in court.

More recently, the situation of girls like Monica has been rendered even more precarious. The recently enacted Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 prohibits all sexual activity for children below 18, as consent of children is not recognised. It also introduced the provision of mandatory reporting, hence non reporting of sexual activity of children below the age of 18 has been now rendered an offence.

The Act aims to deal with child marriage, rape and trafficking of children and is based on the  underlying premise that a young girl is incapable of giving valid consent. However these same girl are routinely exposed to discrimination, vulnerabilities and a range of exploitations.  Women’s groups appealed to protect the interest of these children and campaigned, not to criminalise normal sexual exploration during growing up years. But in the fight with a conservative and regressive moral brigade, we lost.

When will state and civil society begin to take responsibility and address marginalities of poor young girls rather than sitting on a moral high ground, and criminalizing its consequences? What is the future that awaits these young girls?

*The names of both the survivor and the accused as well as the month in which the newspaper report appeared, have been changed to protect the identity.

 

Mexican Indigenous Moms Pushed, Pulled by Fertility #Vaw #Womenrights


By Vania Smith-Oka

WeNews guest author

Mexican Indigenous women

 

Credit: Shawna Nelles on Flickr, under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC 2.0).

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(WOMENSENEWS)–Most women in Amatlan consider themselves, their neighbors and their friends to be good mothers.

Almost all the women in the community labor in the domestic sphere–they cook the food, wash the clothes and generally look after the house and children. Making lonches — lunches for the men in the fields and for the school-age children — is an integral part of their mothering. A good mother frets about what she is feeding her children. Though the terms the women use to talk about each other’s mothering are similar to the good-bad dichotomy used by the main­stream, their interpretations and the reasons behind their interpretations are more nuanced.

For the state, good mothers follow the rules, have few children and invest in them emotionally; they are also expected to live in a nuclear family. For the women I met, good motherhood entailed a significant amount of investment, but also drawing from one’s extended-kin network to achieve a child’s success; abuelas and ahuis (grandmothers and aunts) were frequently key to the socialization process of any child . . .

Not Suffering in Silence

In Amatlan, many mothers suffer alongside, or because of, their children. While marianismo – -the all-suffering, passive motherhood epitomized in the Virgin Mary — is very present in many corners of Latin America, it is not much in evidence in this region. The mothers who do struggle with their children neither view themselves as martyrs nor do they suffer in silence.

Esperanza often despaired at the laziness of her son Adrian, one day exclaiming, “He is no use to me here. He should go away to work but he doesn’t want to. I don’t know what to do with him.” I suggested, “You should stop feeding him.” She replied, laughing, “That’s true, then he’ll go away. . . . [If he is here] I worry when he doesn’t get back [or] whether he has been beaten or something. But when he is far away I don’t worry. My head can rest.”

All the mothers I spoke with worried about their children’s future. Emma said, regarding one of her sons who was attending university in the city of Morelia, “A student is a lot of money. My son always asks me for money, 70 pesos, or 50, and it is a lot of money. As he doesn’t work. . . . And when there is money we can [help] but often there is none. I tell [my husband] to go to Mexico and to work in a house, or as a bricklayer, to make some money.” She added with a smile, “But he says he is too old.”

Women in Amatlan were the primary caregivers to children, whether their own or their extended kin; their main duties were domestic. Emma’s eldest daughter, Cristina, irritably pointed out that mothers, and women, had to do everything with never any rest.

Exhausting Anxieties

She constantly worried about her children and hoped that they would be able to make something of their lives. But her anxiety was exhausting, as she said, extending her emotion to all aspects of motherhood:

“It’s just that as women we have to do everything, get pregnant and be nauseated for the first few months and when everything makes you feel sick. And [cleaning] the pigsty made me feel so sick. And then in the last [months] it is difficult to stand up and do everything. It is so much trouble. And then the pain of the birth, and to breastfeed, and to get up to change the baby in the middle of the night. Your husband is happily asleep but not you. And then to have to control yourself so you don’t get pregnant. We [women] have to do everything. There is only the condom and the vasectomy for men, but they don’t want them. We have to do it if we don’t want to get pregnant. And well, one has to satisfy the husband and also not have so many children.”

This centrality of women as caregivers and men as providers is echoed in the structure of Oportunidades, a federal social assistance program in Mexico. When some of the men of the village on occasion asked to receive the money alongside the women, they were scolded by the authorities and told that it was only for the women. They were told that they should work, not be lazy and support their families. This response somehow implied that women’s natural job at the home could be rewarded and encouraged with money, but men needed to be out in the public sphere without complaint.

Excerpted from the new book, “Shaping the Motherhood of Indigenous Mexico,” by Vania Smith-Oka, published by Vanderbilt University Press, 2013. Reprinted with permission. For more information:www.VanderbiltUniversityPress.com.

 

Immediate Release- Norwegian child confiscation case


CHILD WELFARE COMMITTEE, BURDWAN

163, BELHATI ROAD, DHALDIGHIPAR, BURDWAN-713101

PRESS RELEASE

8 November 2012
The Child Welfare Committee of Burdwan (CWC) has today passed interim
orders for release of the siblings Abhigyan Bhattacharya (4 yrs) and
Aishwarya Bhattacharya (23 months) from foster care and restoration to
their mother, Smt. Sagarika Chakraborty.

With the help of a panel of experts, we have evaluated the children,
their condition in the foster home and the capability of their mother
to care for them. We have found the mother to be fit to take care of
the children and their foster carer to have failed in his duties
towards the children.

The care of Abhigyan and Aishwarya is governed by Indian law by virtue
of their residence in India and the agreement under which the children
were given in foster care to their paternal uncle. Under Indian law,
foster care is a temporary measure with the aim of restoration of
foster children to their parents wherever possible. Notwithstanding
any agreements or court orders as to foster care, the Child Welfare
Committee is duty bound to change the foster carer or restore foster
children to a parent if continuation in foster care is no longer
necessary or beneficial for them. Foster children have a right to the
love and care of their parents, if the parents are able to raise them.
In this case, the father does not reside in India and the children are
being restored to the mother as the parent present in India.

The Norwegian orders under which the children were released to foster
care of their 26-year-old bachelor uncle do not justify an absolute or
permanent separation of the children from either of their parents. Our
findings as to the fitness of the mother and her interaction with the
children at visitations arranged by us establish a reasonable basis
for giving an opportunity to the children to be re-united with their
mother. We are keeping the case open for further review once the
children re-commence life with their mother.
We were unable to take charge of the children today for handover to
their mother owing to unavailability of police assistance to control
an unruly mob that had gathered around the foster home. We have
ordered police to ensure law and order so that the children can be
peacefully handed over at the earliest.

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Why did they take my children away

 

End of the road for mentally ill?


End of the road for mentally ill?

Arita Sarkar

Chennai, June 7, 2012, The Hindu

Patients who are not claimed by their families continue to live in the wards and are employed in the industry therapy unit

Two months ago, 26-year-old D. Sundar Raj, a patient at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), craved for his family’s attention to such an extent that the desperation drove him to climb up the terrace of the ward and escape the premises, only to get accidentally hit by a passing lorry. This unfortunate incident sends out a strong message about the lack of social support and growing negligence of the patients at IMH.

A 206-year-old institution, IMH is the only government residential facility in the State for the mentally ill. The institute has about 1,300 patients, housed in eight wards designated for women and 12 wards for men including one for male criminal patients.

S. Ambika, a social welfare officer at IMH, said, “There are six units at IMH and on an average, every unit comprises 70-100 patients. In each unit, a maximum of ten patients get visitors on a regular basis.” In the third unit that she supervises, there are only two patients who have family members that visit occasionally.

“After the first few months, most people stop visiting their relatives admitted here. As a reminder, the families are sent postcards and letters at least once a month persuading them to visit the patients more often,” she said.

In some cases, the families give fake addresses making it difficult for the hospital officials to track them down. A 35-year-old patient, admitted at the IMH for five years, was in a similar situation recently. “After his treatment, when he was sent home with a male attendant, the address turned out to be a fake one. He was brought back here,” said Ambika.

Patients who are not claimed by their families continue to live in the wards and are employed in the industry therapy unit where they learn how to stitch uniforms and bind books.

According to the on-call psychiatrist and associate professor, V. Sabitha, “No matter what the illness may be, there is always an improvement in the condition of the patient within six to eight months. Most of them are then fit to be discharged.”

Though advised to come between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m., the families will categorically visit after working hours so as to avoid meeting the medical officer since most of them have no intention of taking their discharged family member back home, she said.

Highlighting the importance of the presence of families in the treatment of patients and discouraging the prolonged stay of a patient after treatment, Dr. Sabitha said, “After being healed, if one continues to stay in the same environment, then eventually, their condition will deteriorate.”

Woman accepts sweeper’s job, faces social boycott


By Ejaz Kaiser | HT Media – Mon 4 Jun, 2012

Raipur, June 4 — If you thought the caste system comes alive only during elections and weddings, think again. Nearly 300 km from Raipur, the stigma of a “menial” job is threatening to blow apart the lives of 22-year-old Pinki Rajak and her family.

A member of the dhobi samaj (washermen community) in Koriya district‘s Bardiya village, Pinki invited the wrath of her people for accepting the job of a sweeper at a school.

The community has handed the family an ultimatum: Forget the job or be ostracised for 60 years. Quitting the job is not an option for Pinki.

Repeatedly ill-treated by her husband, she had returned home to her parents. But her father Budhulal Rajak, who has a small cycle repair shop, already has three daughters, a son and wife to support.

Pinki got this job after running from pillar to post for a long time. Then the community struck – notwithstanding Budhlal’s position as a regional secretary of the samaj. Pinki’s husband Kapil Dev was told that he would not be allowed to live with her till she quits the job.

“No one can live without money. Why should the caste system be tied to employment now?” asked Pinki. Her family stands solidly behind her. “Instead of appreciating her efforts, the community is bent on punishing us,” said Budhulal. “Pinki should not quit the job,” said her mother Rambai.

But they are yet to gather the courage to lodge a complaint with the police. “We are looking for a compromise,” said Budhulal. The police are reluctant to intervene. “How can we take action without a complaint?” Koriya SP Abhishek Pathak asked.

In Mumbai, buy a baby boy in seven days for 2 lakhs


  Feb 20, 2012 -Mumbai: In an explosive sting operation that lasted for about a week, MiD DAY blows the lid off a thriving baby-selling racket in the city, in which infants are sold like commodities for Rs. 2-3
lakh.

Two MiD DAY reporters posed as a couple and approached the syndicate operating out of the innocuous, even respectable, setting of an orphanage for disabled kids in the far suburb of Ulhasnagar. At the end of the seven days, a six-day-old male child was sold to the undercover scribes for Rs. 2.30 lakh, with zero paperwork and no waiting time.

A resort for innumerable childless couples in this city desperate to enjoy the joys of parenthood without the hassle of the long-winded legal adoption process, the orphanage offers many options for the illegal transaction.

The easiest of these is pay the cash and take the child home within a week, bypassing the interminable waits (anywhere over 2 years) and the extensive documentation required to establish your credentials and financial status. All one needs do is produce an identity proof — authenticity no bar — and the alleged racketeers hand over the child along with the birth certificate with your name on it.

The babies are procured from marginalised couples, who perforce or willingly, sell their offspring for a few thousand rupees: the promise of square meals or some extra money is enough to induce the poor women into being exploited and making reproduction their trade. While they get a minimum amount, the few employees abetting the illicit trade pocket a major share of the rewards.

The kingpin of the racket has been supplying newborns to builders, businessmen and other affluent people across the state, deprived of natural parenthood.

Other than the straightforward purchase, the alleged offenders offer the alternative of surrogacy at the price of Rs. 10 lakh. The surrogacy option included choosing to establish sexual contact with
a woman who would then bear the child in her womb, rather than the more traditional IVF (in-vitro fertilisation). For this, the rate card is contingent on the financial standing of the customer, and the demands of the surrogate mother. She may ask that her accommodation and medical expenses be borne till the time she delivers, other than her fee of a couple of lakhs.

After confirming the presence of the syndicate, we decided to ‘buy’ a child to establish the existence of this child trafficking.

The following is an in-depth account of the sting — as narrated by MiD DAY reporters Bhupen Patel and Shubha Shetty-Saha — starting from February 13, when they found out where the racket is taking place, and concluding seven days later with the sale of a baby.

Read more here