#RIP – Tribute to Hassam , Friend and Human Rights Activist from Pakistan


aisha

Life partner of my first friend  from  Pakistan is no more

As I opened the Facebook page of Aisha  Gazdar to share

Neela  Bhagwat’ s  classical rendition of Faiz poem, “Bol”

As her page slowly opened, I wondered why

She had  removed her Profile Pic

and then

I felt a bolt from blue , I was numb, with a blank stare

The news stared at me

Rights activist Hassam Qadir no more amongst us, He was just 44

My Eyes closed, fervently wishing  this to be a bad dream.

 

I went to a Flashback

My friendship with  Pakistan began with  Aisha in 2000

My  Myths about  Pakistan started crumbling ,

thanks to our friendship ,

which happened as we met at a neutral ground in London

We both were Chevening  Scholars studying Human Rights

 

Our friendship beyond borders ripened

She came to India to make a film on women rights and CEDAW

I was her coordinator in India   and loved every bit of it

Hassam  also came with her in 2005,

My first reaction was WOW

This is a Marc Zuber look- alike from Pakistan

Kumbh ke bichade bhai ke samaan

 

His first morning in Mumbai,

This is what we see

He is standing in the Kitchen making his own Tea

Broad shoulders and  a broader smile

Behind the Robust Masculine exterior

Lay a  Gender Sensitive Man,within

 

A human rights activist and Lawyer

Hassam

was a Passionate Fighter

 Aisha , the most soft spoken person I have evermet

is a carnation of ‘  Tameez and Tehzeeb.”

Hassam  was a  True Punjabi from Lahore   in every sense of word

His jokes and crackling laughter, still echoes

He  forgot his Black Sandals

Every time I talked with  Aisha and him

We laughed and said

‘Tuhade chittar taan aithe hi reg gaye, ki kariye “

( Your sandals are still here, what to do ? )

He once jokingly said- Sambhal ke rakhna  Amitabh Bachchan na lae jaye !!

( Please take care Amitabh Bachchan does not take them !!)

 

 Left behind Memories , Jokes,  Vaccum

and yes

A pair of large sandals

sitting in a drawer

with hopeless anticipation ……

A pair of large sandals

befitting a  towering personality

Remains…………………………………………………………waiting forever

2013-07-01 21.58.53

 

#India- Sexual harassment complaint to #Jayalalithaa from #NWMI #Vaw


To
Ms J Jayalalithaa,
Honorable Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu,
Chennai.

Madam,

The Network of Women in Media, India (NWMI) is an association of women
journalists working across India. It is with deep anguish that we bring to your
notice a
violation of privacy and mental harassment that is being repeatedly caused to a  member of our network.

Kavin Malar, a Chennai based journalist, has been facing online harassment for
over a month now from one Mr Kishore K Swamy, a self-proclaimed
AIADMK supporter. Mr Kishore K Swamy has been repeatedly posting abusive messages
on Facebook targeting Kavin Malar’s personal character and
willfully causing harm  to her reputation
in  society as well as the  media. The allegations, besides being baseless,
are also a gross violation of privacy and human dignity.
We are also being told that Mr Swamy has been repeatedly and habitually
targeting women journalists, by indulging in character assassination. We find
this kind of behaviour not merely disturbing
but also threatening. It creates an unpleasant   environment for working women.
Kavin Malar  has  sought the help of the police department to
fight the harassment. However, her  complaint to the Commissioner of Police on May
13 has not been of much avail.  The cyber
crime cell has not
taken any action on the complaint beyond calling her for an enquiry.
We are attaching the screenshots
of abusive messages posted by Mr Swamy, a copy of which has been made available
to the cyber crime department.

We are aware of the steps taken
by your government to curb crimes against women. While placing on record our
appreciation of such action to promote women’s safety and security, we  urge you to personally intervene and take
action against Mr Kishore K Swamy for his misdeeds.

We believe such a move will help create a more agreeable atmosphere for women
journalists in the Tamil Nadu.

With kind regards and thanks in advance for your intervention in this case,
Yours sincerely,
(on behalf of the  NWMI)*
Signed:

Binita Parikh, Ahmedabad
Tanushree Gangopadhyay, Ahmedabad

Laxmi Murthy, Bangalore
Anita Cheria, Bangalore
Melanie P. Kumar, Bangalore
Ammu Joseph, Bangalore
Gita Aravamudan, Bangalore
Satarupa Bhattacharya, Bangalore
Satarupa Bhattacharya, Bangalore
Meera K, Bangalore

Lakshmy Venkiteswaran, Chennai
Nithya Caleb, Chennai
Kavitha Muralidharan, Chennai
Nithila Kanagasabai, Chennai
Jency Samuel, Chennai
Ranjitha
Gunasekaran, Chennai
Nithya Caleb, Chennai
Shobha Warrier, Chennai

Teresa Rehman, Guwahati

Satyavati Kondaveeti, Hyderabad
Susheela
Manjari Kadiyala, Hyderabad
Akhileshwari
Ramagoud, Hyderabad
Vanaja C., Hyderabad

Anju Munshi, Kolkata
Rina Mukherji, Kolkata
Rajashri Dasgupta, Kolkatta
Manjira Majumdar, Kolkata
Ranjita Biswas, Kolkata
Rajashri
Dasgupta, Kolkata

Linda Chhakchhuak, Mizoram

Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Mumbai
Jyoti Punwani, Mumbai
Geeta Seshu, Mumbai
Freny Manecksha, Mumbai
Sandhya Srinivasan, Mumbai
Meena Menon, Mumbai
Kalpana Sharma, Mumbai

Neha Dixit, New Delhi
Shahina KK, New Delhi

Shree
Ananya
Ramlath Kavil

 

#India – Dr Soonawala rape case in Mumbai shows how elite privilege works #Vaw


http://sunday-guardian.com/administrator/iupload/rape-case-final_1371904787.jpg

Illustration by Megha Roy Talukdar | Dev Kabir Malik Design

Police conduct, elite reaction and the manner in which this story was reported illustrate how hard it is for a poor woman to accuse a privileged man of rape in India, writes Richa Kaul Padte
Richa Kaul Padte  22nd Jun 2013
There are many stories within this story, often manufactured, and almost entirely contradictory. Perhaps then we should begin with the story that has been told the least: the story of a 26 year old woman who was allegedly raped by her general practitioner Dr. Rustom Soonawala on 17 May at 6pm at his clinic in Mumbai. The narrative begins clearly enough: on leaving the clinic, she told her husband what had happened. At 10.30 pm the same day, an FIR under Section 376 – rape – was registered at the Khar Police Station. The following morning, two police constables accompanied the survivor and her husband to Soonawala’s residence at Dadar Parsi Colony, where she identified the doctor as her rapist. Here, however, is where the story begins to splinter.

The constables sent the couple back to Khar, and told Soonawala that he must accompany them to the police station. Choosing to travel in his own car (questions around why an immediate arrest wasn’t made or why an accused rapist is permitted his own transportation remain unanswered), Dr. Soonawala revved up his engine with a police constable in the front seat and another in the back, along with two of his sisters. Here is precisely where all coherent narratives disintegrate, because over an hour later, the police officers returned to the station, saying that Soonawala had absconded. One account says that one officer had to leave the car to let a patient inside, and the other got out to prevent Soonawala from escaping. Another suggests that there was only ever one constable involved, who was lured out of the car on the pretext that everyone was getting out — before the car sped away. Any police account, however, raises several burning questions: why was the licence plate of the car not recorded? (‘We forgot,’ say the police) Why was the control room not telephoned with a description of the car to be halted at the next signal? (‘We didn’t think of it,’ they say).

On 11 June, over two weeks after the FIR had been lodged, the still-absconding doctor and accused rapist was granted anticipatory bail. And the shock-horror-anger following last year’s Delhi gang rape was nowhere to be seen.

Speaking at a public meeting organised by the Aam Aadmi Party on 18 June in Mumbai, Justice Suresh Hospet said, ‘This reminds me of what the first CPI Chief Minister of Kerala said: If in a court of law there is a rich, well-dressed, suited and booted person standing on one side, against an ill-clad, starving poor man on the other side, the court has an inherent tendency to lean in favour of the former against the latter. This is exactly what is happening today. It is the rich against the poor.’ As a member of the upstanding Bombay Parsi community, which has always held a position of social and cultural privilege dating back to British Imperialism, Soonawala’s respectability was vouched for from all sides. From a lawyer-community with personal ties to the doctor to medical professionals (‘if this can happen to him it can happen to us’: a perverse twist in the logic of vulnerability that normally exists between doctor and patient, says Sujatha Gothoskar from the feminist collective Forum Against the Oppression of Women) to the wider Parsi community, efforts to clear the doctor’s name were aggressive and multi-pronged.

{

The crux of the issue here lies not in Soonawala’s guilt or lack thereof, but in the fact that the law was prevented from taking its own course – singularly because of the social and economic standing of the accused.

Activists who had worked with Soonawala to strengthen laws against hawkers alleged that the case was fabricated by the hawker community in an act of vengeance. But the survivor is no hawker. She is a quiet, soft-spoken wife of a tailor from Orissa, with little money and no one to speak for her. In an unprecedented movement of support for a man accused of a crime that recently made every second Indian a feminist, over 300 people attended the first hearing for anticipatory bail in the Mumbai’s Sessions Court, where the victim was heckled from all sides. How does a judiciary rule in the face of such overwhelming, ‘respectable’ support?

he Order issued by the Mumbai High Court judge on 11 June was a regressive about-turn from the strides made by the Ordinance that resulted from the Justice Verma Committee Report. ‘Facts’ like ‘why didn’t she scream?’ and the 5 hour ‘lapse in time’ it took the survivor of a physical, sexual and mental assault to reach the police station took precedence over forensic evidence of semen on the examination table; an appointment book listing only the survivor’s name for the day; and clear police negligence in locating an absconding Soonawala. Other ‘facts’ cited were that the survivor was unsure about the extent of penetration, and that a forensic report dated 20 days after the incident found no traces of male DNA on her vaginal smear —factors that have been dismissed by the Supreme Court in several rape cases where the survivor is accustomed to sexual intercourse. In a note on the subject Justice Hospet writes, ‘In most…rape cases, there is the victim and the accused — and it happens in a closed room, and there are no eye witnesses.’ It comes down to what the judiciary believes. But as the evidence shows, this ‘belief’ does not exist free of classism and privilege. Aam Aadmi Party members Anjali Damania and Preeti Sharma Menon ask, ‘What if the case was reversed? What if a tailor raped a Parsi lady doctor? Would we say that he should get anticipatory bail? No, we’d say, “Arrest him and put him in jail immediately.”‘

Says Sujatha Gothoskar, ‘What [supporters of Soonawala] don’t seem to understand is that this sets such a dangerous precedent with much wider implications than the case itself…Whether you believe her or the doctor, let the law take its own course; let him be arrested.’ The crux of the issue here lies not in Soonawala’s guilt or lack thereof, but in the fact that the law was prevented from taking its own course - singularly because of the social and economic standing of the accused. Now being heard in the Supreme Court, if the current ruling is not overturned, will the Soonawala case be the new litmus test for rape cases of the future? Fast track for poor rapists, bail for the wealthy? The more support in court, harassment of the survivor and reportage from an uncritical media, the better the chance for acquittal?

If the public and media conscience and consciousness were so righteously raised by the aftermath of the Delhi gang rape, the Soonawala case shows the falseness and elitism of that consciousness to begin with. When it’s the tailor, the plumber, the masked villain in the night, the country (as represented by social media, at least) is up in arms against this ‘dishonouring’ and violent act against its women. When the culprit is ‘one of us’, the silence is chilling.

 

NWMI condemns insensitive media coverage of gang rape victim in West Bengal #Vaw


June 17, 2013

The Network of Women in Media, India, an independent forum of media professionals across the country, condemns the recent insensitive media representation of the 20-year-old college student at Barasat, West Bengal, who was recently gang-raped and violently murdered. In papers such as The Telegraph, Protidin and several other newspapers/channels, the victim’s name and her family’s have been freely used. More shockingly, Bangla newspaper Aajkaal  printed not only the victim’s name but also her photo on its front page.

The victim, a 20-year-old college girl, was gangraped and murdered on her way home from college on Friday, June 7, 2013 around 2 pm. Aajkaal printed her photo with related news on June 9.

Publishing her name is a clear violation of the Supreme Court’s order that the identity of a rape victim cannot be disclosed. Such disclosure is prohibited under Section 228A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, as well as the Norms of Journalistic Conduct issued by the Press Council of India (2010). Under the IPC, revealing the identity of a rape victim is punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years and shall also be liable to fine.

Section 228 (A to D) of the Indian Penal Code prohibits the disclosure not only of the victim’s name but also of facts that could lead to the identification of the victim, such as the victim’s place of residence, family or friends, university, or work details. This covers victims who are dead, minors and or have “unstable minds”. Even if the name is to be disclosed for welfare or legal reasons, this must be done in writing, only to the appropriate government authority, which does not include the media.

The reasoning for not disclosing the name of a rape victim is that such disclosure would invade the privacy of the victim and may render her open to further harassment and/or indignity. Revealing the identity of a rape victim could also make her (or her family in case she has not survived) vulnerable to pressure to drop the case.

In a context where the incidence of violence against women in West Bengal (and elsewhere) is rising, it is of grave concern that the media is flouting the law of the land as well as norms of ethics laid down by the PCI.

We demand:

1. Immediate pixellation and removal of all identifiers of the rape victim on online portals and the newspapers’ websites.
2. Issuance of a written apology in the newspapers, including their websites.
3. Institution of mechanisms for ensuring increased gender sensitivity while reporting cases of sexual violence. These measures could include, among others: on-the-job training, workshops, and evolving in-house norms for covering gender-based violence.

Sincerely,

Manjira Majumdar, Kolkata
Rajashri Dasgupta, Kolkata
Ranjita Biswas, Kolkata
Anju Munshi, Kolkata
Rina Mukherji, Kolkata
Ammu Joseph, Bangalore
Laxmi Murthy, Bangalore
Gita Aravamudan, Bangalore
Kavin Malar, Chennai
Kavitha Muralidharan, Chennai
Nithila Kanagasabai, Chennai
Jency Samuel, Chennai
R Akhileshwari, Hyderabad
Sandhya Srinivasan, Mumbai
Jyoti Punwani, Mumbai
Geeta Seshu, Mumbai
Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Mumbai
Kalpana Sharma, Mumbai
Sandhya Taksale, Pune
Linda Chhakchhuak, Shillong

 

#India – Nuclear utility grabs land #WTFnews


Author(s):
Akshay Deshmane
Issue Date:
2013-6-30

Public sector NPCIL encroaches upon mango plantations near its Ratnagiri plant

http://www.downtoearth.org.in/dte/userfiles/images/14_20130630(1).jpg” width=”457″ height=”296″ border=”0″ />Faded white line has been marked by NPCIL for building a wall, says Latika Pawar (Photo: Akshay Deshmane)

LATIKA PAWAR had just returned home after working at her mango plantation when she heard a loud noise outside. The 54-year-old called other residents and rushed to her field, a stone’s throw away from her house in Dhaniwre hamlet of Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri district. “A bulldozer was moving towards our mango plantations, which are in the vicinity of a proposed nuclear plant. Two days earlier (on May 13), boundary lines with white chalk and yellow paint were drawn through our plantations,” recalls Pawar. “Company officials (Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited or NPCIL) were preparing to build a compound wall of the plant through our plantations,” she says. “The corporation has persistently harassed us over the past one year to extend the wall,” adds resident Mahesh Ramchandra Waghdhare. At least 10 plantations with 250 mango trees are likely to be lost if the compound wall is built, say residents of Dhaniwre.

In 2010, NPCIL acquired 938 hectares from several villages in Ratnagiri’s Rajapur taluka amid much resistance from residents who are yet to accept the compensation package. The land on which Dhaniwre sits and the surrounding area was not part of the land acquired, claim the hamlet residents. The records of Ratnagiri collectorate support their claim: survey number 119, which stands for area under Dhaniwre and its surrounding, is not part of the project site. NPCIL itself has said several times that the land under the survey number 119 will not be acquired.

Bhikaji Wagdhare, sarpanch of Madban village, which includes Dhaniwre hamlet, alleges, “NPCIL slowly wants to force out all the residents from Madban and encroach on the land to accommodate the world’s largest nuclear plant. This is why they have not yet revealed the centre point where the reactors will be placed.”

NPCIL did not respond to Down To Earth’s calls, SMSs and e-mails.

On that eventful afternoon of May 15 when the bulldozer had almost dug a pit in the ground, the hamlet residents managed to stop it. “Since we were complaining, they asked us where would we like to have the extended compound wall. We said nowhere. They promised that if the wall comes up, our plantations would not be touched and water and power arrangements would be made. But we do not trust them,” says Pawar. The bulldozer left for the day and did not return. For Dhaniwre, home to 135 people, mango is the main source of income. “We earn Rs 1 lakh annually from mangoes. This year, however, our earnings were down by half,” says Pawar.

On May 31, the sarpanch wrote to Ratnagiri district Collector Rajeev Jadhav, complaining about the encroachment and overextraction of groundwater from the project site, leading to water scarcity in Madban. Jadhav is yet to respond.

The owner of a plantation which is abutting the compound wall approached the Mumbai High Court last year. Bhikaji Wagdhare’s petition stated, “… homestead has been encroached post impuned clearance (environment clearance) issued and without following due process of law”. Before this, he had filed a complaint against NPCIL’s alleged encroachment in the Nate police station in Rajapur. “The police did not act. They said the case is not in their jurisdiction,” he says.

In its judgement, the court directed Wagdhare to approach the National Green Tribunal for the clearance-related complaint and local courts for relief against encroachment. “I suffer from paralysis. How can it be expected of me that I should follow all the local courts?” asks Wagdhare, who now resides in Mumbai’s eastern suburb of Bhandup.

Collector Jadhav admits that “survey number 119 is not included in the list of land parcels to be acquired”. He denies knowledge of any encroachment near the plant site. However, in a telephonic conversation, he added, “We have asked NPCIL not to go beyond its (boundary) limits.” When asked if any written order was sent to the corporation, he said, “Verbal communication is enough.”

Pawar rues, “We have lost our paddy fields to the plant site. If we lose mango plantations to the compound wall, survival would be difficult.”


 

Areva seeks help of French govt on cost sharing for Jaitapur project in Maharashtra


Sanjay Jog  |  Mumbai  June 16, 2013 , BS

NPC insists that per unit tariff be equivalent to new coal based project during phase I commissioning

In a major breakthrough, Areva, which proposes to initially supply two evolutionary pressurized reactors (EPRs) of 1,650 MW each for Jaitapur nuclear project in Maharashtra, has sought the intervention of treasury officials of France government and banks to find a way out to address the issue of cost sharing. While the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and Nuclear Power Corporation, which is a project developer, are emphasizing the need for higher level of indigenization or localization, the French reactor supplier Areva does not want to reduce its share on supply of reactors and components by admitting to increased burden.
Areva spelt out its move to refer cost sharing issue with treasury officials of the French government and lenders during its recent meeting held in France on June 5 & 6 with a high level Indian team consisted of Dr CBS Venkataraman, additional secretary, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), Preman Dinaraj, director (finance), Nuclear Power Corporation and Sandeep Singhroy, Jaitapur project director. This is also important when DAE and NPC want the Centre’s intervention to provide a special package to share increased cost burden.
When contacted Areva officials declined to make any comment.
However, NPC official, who did not want to be identified, told Business Standard “Areva has indicated that capital cost per megawatt will be Rs 24-25 crore in the changed circumstances while we are insisting on Rs 12-14 crore. We are aware that Areva will not accept any compromise on its copyrights. However, we expect Areva to cooperate by accepting higher level of localization in order to reduce the capital cost. During the signing of inter governmental agreement between India and France in December 2010, NPC had projected the per unit tariff of Jaitapur project at the time of commissioning in 2017-18 will be equivalent to the per unit tariff of newly commissioned coal based power project in the country. This was estimated in the range of Rs 4 to 7 per unit depending on the nature of the boiler, turbine and generator used in new coal based power project in the country.”
NPC official admitted that the situation has changed as the cost escalation is quite imminent in view of the incorporation of additional safety applications necessitated after the safety review held globally following the Fukushima nuclear accident took place in Japan in March 2011.
NPC hoped that Areva’s move to seek the opinion of treasury officials of the company and lenders may give a necessary push for ongoing negotiations. It is also significant when Areva and NPC are unable to sign the commercial agreement for the Jaitapur project and resolve contentious issues with regard to India’s Civil Liability for Nuclear Damages Bill, credit arrangements for the construction and the final cost of the Jaitapur project. The official informed that Areva has indicated that the commissioning of first phase can be possible in 2021 if all these issues are settled at the earliest.
Meanwhile, Jaitapur project opponents including Konkan Bachao Samiti have estimated a per unit megawatt cost of Rs 38 crore and the per unit tariff of Rs 14. According to them, the total project cost works out to be a whopping Rs 3,76,200 crore. However, NPC officials have said that the project cost will be finalized only after its talks with Areva are concluded.

 

#India – Mumbai is 2nd-most crime-prone city, despite drop in cases in 2012 #Vaw


142.3% Rise In Robberies In City, 63.5% Spike In State

V Narayan TNN

Mumbai has gained the dubious distinction of being the secondmost crime-prone city in India, if one goes by the number of cases registered under the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The data, recently released by the National Crime Records Bureau, shows that 30,508 cases were registered under the IPC in 2012, making Mumbai second only to Delhi, which had 47,982 cases.
In 2011, Mumbai actually saw more cases registered, 32,647. But the city had ranked third then behind Delhi and Kochi, which saw 47,212 and 34,658 cases, respectively.
The 6.5% drop in cases registered in Mumbai in 2012 can be mainly attributed to fewer cases filed for theft, burglary, dacoity, hurt, death by negligence, attempted murder, kidnap, abduction, cruelty by husband and relative, cheating, rioting and counterfeiting.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra continues to remain the second-most crime-prone state in the nation, even though it saw fewer cases registered in 2012. The figure dropped from 2.05 lakh in 2011 to 2.03 lakh. Madhya Pradesh, which has topped the chart since 2010, saw 2.2 lakh cases in 2012. Tamil Nadu was third with 2 lakh cases.
Several crimes saw a spike in Mumbai as well as Maharashtra, but none more so than robbery, which went up by a huge 142.3% in Mumbai and 63.5% in Maharashtra. There were 467 robberies in Mumbai in 2011, which went up to 1,131 the next year. In Maharashtra, the number rose from 4,249 to 6,949.
Other crimes that saw a rise in Mumbai included crimes against women (rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment), as reported by TOI on June 15, and also murder, culpable homicide, dowry deaths, breach of trust and arson. Maharashtra saw more crimes against women, dacoity, death by negligence, culpable homicide, attempted murder, cruelty by husband and relatives, cheating, breach of trust and riots.
Experts and police said higher awareness in Maharashtra leads to more crimes being reported and higher statistics. Deputy commissioner of police (Zone V) Dhananjay Kulkarni said a developed state sees more reporting of crime and better response by the police. Former IPS officer-turned-lawyer YP Singh said, “In Maharashtra, there is less refusal to register a crime. That is why even though Maharashtra may be a more peaceful state than Bihar or UP, or even West Bengal, it would have more cases.” Joint commissioner of police (crime) Himanshu Roy echoed such views.
Both Kulkarni and Singh also cited rapid urbanization and population density in cities as causes of crime. “For semi-urban and rural India, cities have gradually come to signify prosperity, a better quality of life, higher income, a modern lifestyle and facilities. In their quest for the seemingly ideal life, people are increasingly migrating to cities, leading to an imbalance in supply and demand and basic resources,” Kulkarni said.

 

Men, Women and Other People: Understanding Sexualities #Sundayreading


breaking1

From left to right  ( Nine members of the research team ) – Hasina Khan , Kranti  ,  Shruti, Shalini Mahajan, Smriti Nevatia , Raj, Sabla , Meenu pandey, and Chayanika shah

Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Women Feature Service 

The concept of gender needs to be transformed. That was the central thrust of a recent study entitled, ‘Breaking The Binary’, released by the queer feminist collective, Labia, at an event organised in Mumbai’s well–known SNDT University.

Questioning the male–female binary, the study concluded that there can be no uniformity within these identities. Even when people use the same term like ‘man’, ‘woman’, ’transgender’ to define themselves, their lived realities may differ greatly. Such categories, therefore, should necessarily be less rigid because when the boundaries between them get blurred, individuals are enabled to exert greater agency and choice in moving across them. According to the study, gender needs to be consensual; it needs to get transformed from a hierarchical discrete, binary system to a porous, multiple–gender one.

‘Breaking The Binary’ was based on 50 life history narratives that explored the circumstances and situations of queer PAGFB (Persons Assigned Gender Female at Birth), who were made to, or were expected to, conform to existing social norms pertaining to gender and sexuality.

The research team for the study comprised 11 members, with Chayanika, Raj, Shalini and Smriti from Labia anchoring the work. Explained Chayanika, “Through this study, we looked at the experiences of our subjects within their natal families and while at school. We charted their journeys through intimate relationships and we attempted to understand what happened to them in public spaces, how they were treated by various state agencies, what were their sources of support and refuge when they came under the threat of violence or faced discrimination.”

The people interviewed came from a wide cross–section of society in terms of location, age, caste, class, and religion. These variations were critical, according to Chayanika, as the intention was to reach those living at the intersections of many marginalised identities. But achieving this was difficult, even impossible. As she put it, “The silence and invisibility around individuals who continually transgress gender norms meant that we were able to approach only those individuals who have some contact with queer groups.”

The 50 respondents were spread across north, east, west and south India – living in cities such as Bangalore, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Delhi, Pune and Thrissur. The representation of individuals living in rural areas was low, but two persons – one from rural Maharashtra and the other from rural Jharkhand – were interviewed, and 11 of the respondents had grown up in rural settings. Of the 50 individuals who participated in the study, 30 were from the dominant castes, 11 people were from the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes/Special Backward Classes, three were from Other Backward Classes (OBC) and six identified themselves as Others.

‘Woman’ as a biological category was one of the subjects that figured in the interviews. Persons whose biological sex did not correspond with their psychological sex, were branded as gender “variants”, even though women do not constitute a homogenous category and could belong to many different categories – including a category as unfamiliar as ‘working class lesbian’ or ‘dalit lesbian’.

According to Raj, a member of Labia, “We found that being from an upper class background was no guarantee of privilege. There was a 20–year–old from a business family. Because of family dynamics, she was unable to get the education she had wanted and was forced to support herself by earning small sums of money playing cricket. Another respondent, identified as upper class, was also deprived of a meaningful education.” Clearly, a privileged, upper class background does not protect queer persons, especially if they happen to challenge gender and/or sexuality norms.

The study identified three levels of violence the respondents had faced. The first is at the individual level, where harmful acts are perpetrated against people and property. This can range from taunts to forced marriage and even murder. The second is at the institutional level, where damaging consequences are perpetrated by social institutions with the idea of obstructing the spontaneous expression of human potential – as, for example, when an office denies promotion to an employee on account of sexual orientation. The third is at the structural – cultural – level as, for instance, when religious or political beliefs rule that homosexuality is immoral or illegal.

A woman’s sexual orientation can, among other things, determine her access to resources as well as her social status, according to the study. Women suffer severe material loss when their families desert them and many experience emotional and psychological trauma in their struggle against discrimination and ostracism. Mis–recognition and non–recognition can become a very perverse form of violence as it seeks to naturalise the power enjoyed by dominant groups over non–dominant ones.

For instance, families, friends and teachers could refuse to recognise the need of lesbians to be acknowledged as they are and treated with dignity, leading them to experience a severe loss of self–esteem. This constitutes a form of violence imposed by the majority on a minority. As Shalini, one of study team members, put it, “Every society has its own notion of what is normal and what is assumed to be normal. Going beyond that construct could invite violence on the individual. Many of the respondents felt that the gay rights movement was crucial precisely because people cannot hide behind identities that are not their own. Therefore, just as women defied patriarchy through the women’s rights movement, queer persons defy heteronormativity through the queer rights movement.”

This study, the first of its kind, has helped shed light on how queer persons have addressed the challenges of life and how they continue to search, negotiate, and challenge multiple boundaries. It has attempted to answer some important questions. Where, for instance, are the points at which gender binaries rupture? How are the normative gender lines being reinforced? What situations help to create varied gender identities? Most important of all, the study has helped to capture the experiences of Persons Assigned Gender Female at Birth and their negotiations with families, friends, communities, social structures, as well as the health and legal systems.

The team hopes to take the study forward to highlight areas of concern and conceptualise effective interventions. As one of the team members put it, “We are aiming to convey its insights to the more general category of people, at least those who are interested in taking proactive steps in addressing violence against any human being in any form and also for those who would like to understand the root causes of homophobia. We also want to take it to educational and governmental institutions, so that they can also help usher in change.”

The study was released not just in Mumbai, but in Kolkata, Delhi, Bangalore, Thrissur and Chennai as well. A Hindi translation of it is also on the cards. (WFS)

 

Babu Bokhariya, minister in Narendra Modi’s cabinet, convicted for illegal mining


Edited by Shamik Ghosh | Updated: June 15, 2013 , NDTV

 Babu Bokhariya, minister in Narendra Modi's cabinet, convicted for illegal mining
AhmedabadBabu Bokhariya, a senior minister in the Narendra Modi cabinet in Gujarat, has been convicted for illegal mining. He has been taken into custody.

Mr Bokhariya, who is Gujarat’s water resource minister, along with three others, has been sentenced to three years of imprisonment by a sessions court.

The three others convicted in the case are former MP Bharat Odedara, Bhima Dula and Laxman Dula. They all were accused of illegal mining of limestone from the land where Saurashtra Chemicals Limited holds mining rights.

Bombay High court rejects plea to direct his wife to undergo check-up for HIV #Womenrights


, TNN | Jun 15, 2013,

High court rejects plea for wife to undergo check-up for HIV
The HC said it was “absurd” for husband to say it was in the interest of his wife to go in for early HIV detection.
MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Friday upheld a family court (FC) order rejecting a man’s plea to direct his wife to undergo a medical check-up as he strongly suspected her to be HIV positive. The court said it was “absurd” for him to say it was in the interest of his wife to go in for early detection.

Justice Roshan Dalvi heard a petition by Santa Cruz resident Joel D’Souza (name changed), who met Joan (name changed) through a marriage bureau. Both professionals, they married on December 26, 2009. In June 2010, Joan had typhoid and went to her mother’s place nearby. Thereafter, Joel stopped calling or receiving her calls. On July 7, 2010, he took her call but told her he would not take her back, without explanation. The medical test report of July 7, 2010 confirmed Joan was cured of typhoid and tests included for HIV antibodies.

On July 10, 2010, on reaching her matrimonial home, she found Joel had changed the lock. On October 22, 2010, he filed for divorce alleging impotency/non-consummation of marriage and cruelty. Pending the petition, on March 16, 2011 Joel filed an application praying for direction to Joan to undergo HIV, TB and hepatitis tests along with tests for impotency/failure to consummate the marriage as he suspected she was HIV positive.

In his application before the FC, Joel gave many reasons, including fever, tiredness, body ache, dry cough, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and headache. He said Joan had a bloated abdomen although her face, hands and legs were very thin and due to this she wore long outfits. “On an official website of HIV, it is documented that HIV is medically caused due to accumulation of fat in the stomach,” he stated. He said she spoke in her sleep using the words ‘HIV’ and ‘AIDS‘ and mentioned ‘Jack Dorsan’, who he found on the Internet was in the prostitution business. He said his wife had stored Dorsan’s telephone number and spoke to him on the day of their wedding.

He said she applied lip balm five to six times a day “as the best treatment for Herpes Simplex Virus is keeping the lips moist”. Joan said Joel’s suspicion was “reckless, wild and cruel” and he himself needed treatment.

The FC on May 16, 2012 rejected his application with costs saying, however strong his suspicion, he had to prove the allegations by furnishing evidence so that the court can grant him relief. Joel moved the high court in October 2012.

Joan’s advocate Mini Mathew argued that the July 7, 2010 report confirming she was cured of typhoid was sufficient to hold that it was not necessary to send her for an HIV test. She said Joel had been spreading rumours about her. “These allegations are stigmatizing. Her reputation is ruined,” she said.

Joel’s advocate Uday Warunjikar said, “He caught his wife taking HIV medicines. If she is not suffering from HIV, why is she afraid of the test?” he asked. Justice Dalvi remarked, “I doubt the marriage can be reconciled. Both sides must move for an amicable settlement.” She added, “Why don’t you throw her out in a little respectable way? It will boomerang on you.