Mamta Sharma , NCW Chief is worried about dwindling child sex ratio , because MEN will be without BRIDES #WTFnews


2 crore men may soon be without brides: NCW chief

, TNN | Apr 18, 2013,

NAGPUR: Marriageable men in India would soon face difficulty finding brides. Female infanticide in the country has led to skewed gender ratio, National Commission for Women (NCW) chairperson Mamta Sharma said here on Wednesday. “What is more alarming is that gender discrimination is more in urban centres that are supposed to have higher literacy rate than in less literate rural areas,” said Sharma.

“The situation is worse in north Indian States like Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. In South India, the ratio is better but in those states the incidence of domestic violence is high,” NCW chief said. “In near future, NCW is apprehensive that the country will have around two crore bachelors who will face difficulty in finding a suitable match if the trend of female infanticide continued,” Sharma said quoting data with NCW.

The male-female ratio would drop to such a level that it would be difficult to bridge the gap, Sharma said. NCW was intensifying its awareness campaign to stop female infanticide and killing of female fetuses which was rampant in some parts, particularly north. “The practice continues in most state across the country. Even in Maharashtra, it was rampant in district like Beed,” she added.

Asked if recent stringent law against rape would make any difference, Sharma voiced her reservations saying: “A new set of laws would hardly make a difference. Strong laws were already there. What matters more is implementation. There is need for sensitizing the police force as well as judiciary for faster trials and better conviction rates. Victims, mostly from economically poor background, suffer as the police fail to press correct charges and a weak case does not stand in courts,” Sharma remarked.

The NCW chief noted that after the recent awareness campaigns by social organizations have been effective. “But there is a long way to go and there is need for change of mindset to give women the respect they deserve,” Sharma noted. NCW would soon sign an MoU with Western Railway for creating awareness among railway staff on suburban trains in Mumbai on how to treat female passengers and commuters while travelling and also how to protect and help them in distress.

Sharma, who was here for the inaugural function of “Padharo Rajasthan” festival, said NCW was also initiating steps to curb trafficking from Pakistan, Nepal, China and Bangladesh borders. She said NCW would hold meeting with heads of security forces manning borders to discuss measures to check trafficking.

 

Delhi HC issues notice to Prasar Bharati CEO on AIR #sexualharassment case #Vaw


RnM Team    03 Apr 13
image

MUMBAI: As the alleged sexual harassment case of women employees at All India Radio (AIR) reaches new heights, the Delhi High Court has issued a notice to the centre and Prasar Bharati CEO on a PIL seeking steps to ‘stop the sexual harassment and exploitation’ of female radio presenters at the FM Gold channel of AIR.

Issuing notices to Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and CEO of Prasar Bharti, a division bench of Chief Justice D Murugesan and Justice V K Jain sought response from them on the issue by 15 May.

The PIL filed by social worker Meera Mishra stated that she came to know of the sexual harassment of employees of the FM channel through media reports. The PIL mentions this complaint, adding that the AIRBPA plans to file a similar complaint with the National Commission for Women (NCW).

The plea was filed by advocate Sugriv Dubey who said that though these employees have been working with the channel for more than 15 years, they are sexually harassed and their services sometimes terminated without assigning any reason.

The PIL mentioned, “Female workers working under the control of respondents (I&B Ministry, Prasar Bharti) are being regularly either harassed or terminated from employment and those workers do not have the capacity to approach the court. Their right is being evaded and no one is there to stop the sexual harassment of these employees.”

The petition demanded that ‘strong measures’ should be taken by the central government and Prasar Bharti to stop the sexual discrimination, exploitation and harassment taking place in the offices of AIR throughout the country.

It said ‘adequate measures’ to ensure the safety of the women employees on night shifts were not being taken by the department.

The PIL prayed the court to direct the centre and Prasar Bharti to formulate concrete policies and guidelines in respect of the service conditions and other protections as required to female workers by the department.

It also asked that Prasar Bharti should implement the Vishakha Guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court pertaining to sexual harassment at the workplace, and sought that the ministry set up a committee to investigate all allegations of sexual misconduct.

As reported by Radioandmusic.com earlier, the All India Radio Broadcasting Professionals Association (AIRBPA) had filed a complaint with the Delhi Commission for Women stating that they were facing sexual harassment at AIR’s FM Gold. The complaint alleged unprofessional behaviour by the programme executives at the radio station, and specifically named FM Gold director general Leeladhar Mandloi for ‘attacking the self respect’ of the women presenters.

The AIRBPA has also stated that the staff on duty was sometimes intoxicated and misbehaved with the women employees, ‘but officials of AIR are not bothered about it’.

Inspite of repeated attempts, AIR officials remained unavailable for comment at the time of filling the report.

 

#India- Acid Is Not the Answer to Anything #Vaw #acidattacks


ACID

 

  S. Senthair EPW

The deaths of two young women in Tamil Nadu in February following acid attacks on them once again draw attention to the urgent need for measures to prevent this heinous crime and the need for punishment that will deter other males from seeing a bottle of acid as the balm for their wounded pride.

S Senthalir (senthalir83@gmail.com) is a Bangalore-based independent journalist.

On 24 February 2013, while All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam party members burst crackers and distributed sweets to celebrate the 65th birthday of the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, 20-year-old Vidya breathed her last at Kilpauk Medical College Hospital (KMCH) in Chennai.

The victim of an acid attack, Vidya succumbed to burn injuries in the early hours, just days after 23-year-old Vinodhini, who suffered 40% burns in an acid attack and battled for her life for three months, died on 13 February 2013. With 38% burns and without proper first aid, Vidya was taken to KMCH after a delay of four hours on 30 January 2013. Her family, which had to fend for itself, was at the mercy of the hospital staff and management. The victim was admitted to the general burns ward and remained there for 17 days. It was only when her condition worsened on the 18th day that she was moved to the intensive care unit (ICU).

Even after Vidya died, her family had to wait for nearly four hours for the doctors to permit them to fulfil her last wish of donating her eyes. Annoyed by the government’s neglect, her family demanded that the hospital management explain why she had died. After the postmortem, they refused to accept her body till late in the afternoon, wanting the health minister and secretary to visit the hospital. They accused the hospital of not providing the treatment an acid attack victim required and sought an explanation for the government’s callousness. Their pleas went unheard. Neither the health and family welfare minister nor any official from the departments concerned visited the hospital to console the family that lost its only daughter to horrendous gender violence.

KMCH alone treats four to six acid attack cases every year and almost all the victims are young women. The hospital’s doctors say there has been an increase in the number of cases in the past few years. The media has reported 27 acid attacks on women in Tamil Nadu since 2001.

Lack of Awareness

Regardless of this, there is no widespread awareness of the first aid to be administered to acid attack victims. Acid is a corrosive liquid that has the potential to seep deep into the skin and damage muscles, blood vessels, and bones. Burns experts and plastic surgeons point out that the injured part should be bathed in cool running water for at least 15 minutes so that the acid is diluted and washed away. Three hours after the first aid, depending on the part that has been injured, the affected layers of skin have to be removed.

But not many doctors or hospitals are aware of this. Vidya’s brother Vijay said that no water was poured on her immediately after the attack, and she was covered with a cloth and taken to a nearby private hospital, where the doctors did not know what had to be done. They cleaned the wounds and applied some ointment.

The 2011 “Combating Acid Violence in Bangladesh, India and Cambodia” report by the Avon Global Center for Women and Justice at Cornell Law School, the Committee on International Human Rights of the New York City Bar Association, the Cornell Law School International Human Rights Clinic, and the Virtue Foundation says that acid attack victims in India receive unacceptable treatment in government hospitals and it could be attributed in part to a lack of facilities. It notes,

Most government hospitals in India do not have plastic surgeons or medical facilities to conduct necessary procedures for acid survivors. In addition, there is a shortage of plastic surgeons in the country. According to medical experts, there are only around 2,500 plastic surgeons in the country of one billion people. Even if there were more trained professionals, hospitals do not have facilities and equipment to support them.

On the other hand, there have been no efforts by the government, including the various state women’s commissions and the Ministry of Women and Child Development, to curb acid attacks on women. The National Commission for Women had in 2009 proposed a Scheme for Relief and Rehabilitation of Offences (by Acids) on Women and Children, which emphasised disbursing Rs 50,000 for a victim’s treatment immediately after an acid attack. Depending on the nature of injuries and the treatment required, this could go up to Rs 25 lakh. Besides, the family or legal heir would be entitled to a compensation of Rs 2 lakh. But none of these provisions have been implemented.

While Vinodhini received a compensation of Rs 3 lakh from the prime minister’s relief fund and Rs 2 lakh from the Pondicherry government two months after the attack, Vidya’s family did not receive any compensation from any official source till her death. All that they got was the Corporation of Chennai mayor sympathetically saying Vidya’s case was an unfortunate incident, and callousness from the women’s commission, health ministry, and ministry of women and child development. Acid attacks on women did not figure in the state government’s statistics on crimes against women as late as September 2012. There is no record to indicate how many women have been victims of acid attacks in the state.

Changes in Law

The accused in both cases are in jail and have expressed no regret for their inhuman act. It was only on 3 February 2013 that the Criminal Law (Amendment) 2013 promulgated by the president of India inserted Sections 326(A) and 326(B) in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to deal with acid attacks. Section 326(A) states that

whoever causes permanent or partial damage or deformity to, or burns or maims or disfigures or disables, any part or parts of the body of a person or causes grievous hurt by throwing acid on or by administering acid to that person, or by using any other means with the intention of causing or with the knowledge that he is likely to cause such injury or hurt, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than 10 years but which may extend to imprisonment for life and with fine which may extend to Rs 10 lakh. Provided that any fine imposed under this section shall be given to the person on whom acid was thrown or to whom acid was administered.

Section 326(B) declares that

whoever throws or attempts to throw acid on any person or attempts to administer acid to any person, or attempts to use any other means, with the intention of causing permanent or partial damage or deformity or burns or maiming or disfigurement or disability or grievous hurt to that person, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than five years but which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Ignorant of the new ordinance, police officers initially charged the accused in both cases under Section 307 (attempt to murder) of the IPC, and after the women’s deaths, with murder under Section 302. This has tended to be the general practice in acid attack cases on women. However, under Sections 307 and 302, the prosecution has to prove that the accused threw the acid on a victim in an attempt, or with an intention, to kill her. According to a report by the Campaign and Struggle against Acid Attacks on Women (CSAAW), a Bangalore-based forum, this is often difficult to prove, and the accused walks away scot-free. It would therefore be more appropriate to book these cases under Section 326(A) along with Section 302. The families of the victims could claim compensation from the accused under Section 326(A).

Easy Availability of Acid

Studies have shown that the easy availability of acid is one of the main reasons for the increasing number of acid attacks on women. Bangladesh is the only country in the region that has enacted specific laws to not only criminalise acid attacks, but also control the easy availability of acid – the Acid Crime Control Act and Acid Control Act of 2002. Besides, business users of acid are required to obtain licences.

Harsher punishment for perpetrators, coupled with a sustained campaign in the media and other efforts by the CSAAW, have proved to be a deterrent in Karnataka. A report by the forum states that there have been 80 cases of acid attacks on women in Karnataka since 1999. After a judge imposed a life sentence on a man found guilty in an acid attack case in 2006, there has been a sharp decrease in such attacks. The report states that 15 to 20 cases of acid attacks on women were reported every year before 2006, but this fell to four to five cases a year after the court’s verdict.

Acid attacks cause death or permanent damage to victims, and untold suffering to them and their family members. Those who do not die suffer for the rest of their lives, unable to take care of themselves or afford proper treatment. Fact-finding conducted by the CSAAW in Karnataka and the “Combating Acid Violence in Bangladesh, India and Cambodia” report indicate that there has been an alarming increase in acid attacks on women who assert their independence by declining marriage proposals or refusing to act in accordance with the way male-dominated societies want them to.

What will happen to the families who have lost their women to this gender-related violence that punishes women who transgress their traditional roles? Will the legislation appropriately punish the perpetrators and deter others from reaching out for a bottle of acid? Will the government or society at large take the responsibility of putting an end to this sexual violence against women?

Let the deaths of Vinodhini and Vidya not be in vain.

 

 

#India -SC sets aside 2009 ruling, says kicking daughter-in-law is not Cruel #goodnews #Vaw


NEW DELHI: Four years after it shocked women by ruling that kicking a daughter-in-law was not an act of cruelty as defined under Section 498A of Indian Penal Code, the Supreme Court on Thursday erased it from court records.

Allowing a plea by National Commission for Women (NCW), a bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justices P Sathasivam and G S Singhvi set aside the July 27, 2009 judgment by which it had quashed the charges under Section 498A against Bhaskarlal Sharma and his wife Vimla Sharma who were summoned by the trial court for allegedly kicking their daughter-in-law Monica Sharma.

A bench of Justices S B Sinha and Cyriac Joseph had said in the 2009 judgment, “Allegations that appellant No.2 (Vimla) kicked the respondent (Monica) with her leg and told her that her mother is a liar may make out some other offence but not the one punishable under Section 498A.

“Similarly, her allegations that the appellant No.2 poisoned the ears of her son against the respondent, she gave two used lady suits of her daughter to the complainant (Monica) and has been giving perpetual sermons to the complainant could not be said to be offences punishable under Section 498A.”

However, if the mother-in-law takes away the gifts given to the couple at the time of the marriage, it amounts to ‘breach of trust’ as specified under Section 406 IPC, the bench had said.

Appearing for NCW, senior advocate Indu Malhotra on Thursday argued that if allegations of physical violence and taking away of ‘stree-dhan’ (valuables of the bride) did not constitute an offence under Section 498A of IPC, then it would send a very wrong signal and have retrograde effect on the object of the provision to curb violence and cruelty against women in matrimonial homes.

Malhotra argued that the complaint filed by Monica Sharma against her in-laws was quashed by the apex court when the matter was at the initial stage of issuance of summons by the trial court. “This will send a very wrong signal,” she said.

Solicitor general Mohan Parasaran, appearing for the government, supported the NCW’s plea for setting aside of the judgment and requested the court to consider the petition filed by Bhaskarlal Sharma and his wife Vimla Sharma afresh.

Vimla’s counsel U U Lalit questioned the locus standi of NCW in a criminal case and said the apex court did not rule that kicking of a daughter-in-law was not an offence under Section 498A but merely said after appreciating the entire evidence that a case of cruelty against the daughter-in-law was not made out.

But the bench agreed with Malhotra and Parasaran, recalled its July 27 judgment and posted the matter for fresh hearing before another bench.

 

 

Gujarat Cops don’t cooperate with women complainants: Activist


The Times of India, 15 March 2013

VADODARA: Days within the Supreme Court rapped the Punjab and Bihar police for their excesses on women, a city-based NGO has accused them of being insensitive towards cases of sexual harassment and domestic violence. Activist Trupti Shah, who runs non-governmental organization for women’s rights, said the city police don’t cooperate with women complainants and instead make them do rounds of the police station.

She cited a recent case of a working woman, who wanted to file FIR against her company’s chief operating officer (COO) for sexual harassment. “When she approached Chhani police in October last year, they asked her to strike a compromise with the company. They told her that it was in her own interests,” Shah told TOI.

“The victim had agreed to compromise if the COO tendered a written apology, but when it didn’t happen, she approached the cops. The police instead told her that registering such complaint would put blot on her name. The then police inspector even shouted at me and accused me of instigating the girl,” Shah said and added that while her complaint was taken in January this year, the police refused to register it as per the details provided by her.

Shah claimed that she got 10 cases of domestic violence and two cases of sexual harassment in last eight months. “In six cases of domestic violence, no FIR was registered as the police insisted the women strike a compromise,” Shah said.

Shah has written to city police commissioner, state DGP, National Commission for Women and Gujarat State Commission for Women informing them about the problems faced by women complainants.

IADHRI Demands Liberty and Justice for All Indian Citizens #India #republicday #vaw


Republic Day of India, 2013
Contact: iadhri.org@gmail.com

Calls for investigation and punishment of police officials Garg and Kalluri and withdrawal of their presidential medals

On January 26th, 2013, India celebrates its 64th Republic Day. The anniversary of the Indian Constitution’s adoption is always a time for not just celebration, but for reflection; a time to take stock of how far the nation has come in securing, for all its citizens, justice, liberty and equality as enshrined in the Constitution.

Over the last month, the rape and subsequent death of a young woman in Delhi – a particularly brutal incident, yet only one in an endless series of similar crimes that are reported, month after month, if they are reported at all – triggered international shock and outrage. The incident served as a stark reminder that, decades after the adoption of the Constitution, the liberty to live our lives without fear remains unsecured. For women in many communities across the country, especially those on the economic and social margins, such as dalits and adivasis, this insecurity permeates the fabric of day to day life – sexual assault, violence, imprisonment and threats thereof are commonplace. In any discussion of the questions that the gang-rape in Delhi raises, it is to these women and to these communities that we must look: the truest measure of a society lies in how it treats those who have the least power. None of us is safer or freer than the most vulnerable among us.

In the last few weeks, there has been much discussion on how to make sure that survivors of rape and violence receive justice consistently and rapidly. It is worth remembering, as these discussions take place, the spectacular failure of our judiciary and democratic processes in delivering justice to Soni Sori, the adivasi school teacher and mother of three from Chhattisgarh who has been incarcerated since October 2011 [1]. A year ago this January 26th, India awarded the Police Medal for Gallantry to an officer, SP Ankit Garg, despite compelling medical evidence that Sori was tortured and sexually assaulted while under his custody [2].

This is not an isolated case, but part of a pattern of such incidents. In a bizarre repetition of last year’s act of rewarding-the-perpetrator, the Government of India has decided to confer the President’s Police Medal for Meritorious Service this Republic Day, January 26th 2013, to Inspector General of Police S.R.P. Kalluri, who has well-documented rape accusations against him in Chhattisgarh [3, 4].

Sori’s petition in the Supreme Court as well as the cases in which Sori has been falsely charged have been subject to repeated delays. In the interim, neither the elected Government, nor independent bodies such as the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the National Commission for Women (NCW), have instituted serious investigations into the indications that Sori was tortured- her fingers seem to have been blackened from electric shocks and doctors recovered stones that had been thrust into her vagina and rectum. Indeed, the NCW revealed last October that it had closed its inquiry into the case, and has remained silent since, apart from making an anodyne recommendation of providing psychological counseling to Sori [5]. Although, on January 8th 2013, the Supreme Court granted Sori’s plea to be shifted to Jagdalpur jail, to be closer to her family [6], she remains in the custody of those who stand accused of torturing her.

Sori has spoken to a legal team of the humiliation and violence that she and other women prisoners are routinely subjected to. Besides this, jails in Chhattisgarh have an occupancy rate of around 256%, with 13,918 individuals incarcerated in space built to accommodate 5,430. The all-India rate is 110% [7]. Between 2001-2010, an average of four individuals died each day in police custody [8].

What makes these statistics all the more disturbing is that a majority of those imprisoned are under-trials such as Sori, who have not been convicted of any crime. The prolonged detention of these individuals – often for years altogether, as their cases move sluggishly through the judicial system amounts to an unconstitutional deprivation of the liberty of lawfully innocent citizens.

Indeed, the state increasingly uses the process of trial as a punishment in itself, as in the case of Kartam Joga, a man who, for years, tirelessly sought accountability for human rights violations by state forces in Chhattisgarh. On January 7th, 2013, a trial court acquitted Joga of all of a panoply of fabricated charges [9]; an innocent man thus spent the past two and a half years of his life in jail. Lingaram Kodopi (Sori’s nephew), a 25-year old journalist who worked to document abuses by security forces, remains imprisoned, awaiting trial, even as local police officers have been recorded admitting that the charges against him are fabricated [1]. Kodopi has also suffered custodial violence [10]. Numerous others have been thus imprisoned on the weakest of grounds seemingly as punishment for criticising the state’s actions or for otherwise challenging local authorities. Although we welcome the release of Kartam Joga and others who have been put through similar ordeals, the state must cease its intimidation and harassment of those who seek to hold it accountable to its own people.

In the 2G spectrum case, the Supreme Court recently commented that “this court has time and again stated that bail is the rule and committal to jail an exception… The courts owe more than verbal respect to the principle that punishment begins after conviction, and that every man is deemed to be innocent until duly tried and duly found guilty” [11]. This is a sound and practical principle; we ask that it be invoked not only in the trials of the influential but also in the trials of the weak and marginalized.

If we are to continue to place our trust in the rights that the Constitution upholds and seeks to guarantee every citizen in India, if we are to address the deep-rooted issue of violence against women, then we must be able to ensure liberty and justice to those who are the most vulnerable in our societies. To that end, we demand:

  • Ensure a speedy, free and  fair trials for Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi.

  • Conduct an independent and impartial investigation of incidents of sexual violence against women, including Soni Sori, committed by the police and other security forces; prosecute the responsible officers and impose exemplary punishment on those found guilty. Withdraw the Presidential Gallantry Awards given to Police Superintendent Ankit Garg and Inspector General of Police S.R.P. Kalluri.

  • Grant unconditional bail to undertrials from socially and economically marginalised communites, languishing in jails in Chhattisgarh and across India.

  • Ensure that all cases, particularly those against individuals from marginalised communities, are disposed of in a timely manner so that the process of securing justice is not a punishment in itself.

  • Constitute a grievance redressal mechanism for individuals who have been wrongly detained or subject to custodial violence.

International Alliance for the Defence of Human Rights in India (IADHRI)

[1] Tehelka: ‘The Inconvenient Truth Of Soni Sori’
http://archive.tehelka.com/story_main50.asp?filename=Ne151011coverstory.asp

[2] The Hindu: ‘Soni Sori case: HRW wants PM to order impartial probe on torture’
http://www.thehindu.com/news/states/soni-sori-case-hrw-wants-pm-to-order-impartial-probe-on-torture/article2971330.ece

[3] Statement of protest and demand for withdrawal of Meritorious Service award to S.R.P. Kalluri
http://iadhri.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/statement-of-protest-and-demand-for-withdrawal-of-meritorious-service-award-to-srp-kalluri/

[4] Ledha Bai’s Statement Against S.R.P. Kalluri
https://iadhri.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/ledha-bais-statement-against-srp-kalluri/

[5]Tehelka: ‘NCW first shuts, then reopens Soni Sori’s case’
http://archive.tehelka.com/story_main54.asp?filename=Ws101012Chhattisgarh.asp

[6] Press Trust of India: ‘SC allows Soni Sori to be shifted to Jagdalpur Central Jail’
http://www.business-standard.com/generalnews/news/sc-allows-soni-sori-to-be-shifted-to-jagdalpur-central-jail/106440/.

[7]National Crime Records Bureau: http://ncrb.nic.in/PSI-2011/TABLE-2.1.pdf

[8]Tehelka:  ‘Four custodial deaths daily over the last decade’
http://archive.tehelka.com/story_main51.asp?filename=Ws211111HUMAN_RIGHTS.asp

[9]Amnesty International: ‘India frees prisoner of conscience Kartam Joga’
https://www.amnesty.org/en/news/india-frees-prisoner-conscience-kartam-joga-2013-01-08

[10] Committee to Protect Journalists: ‘In India, imprisoned journalist’s plea for help’
http://cpj.org/blog/2012/06/in-india-imprisoned-journalists-plea-for-help.php

[11] The Hindu: ‘‘Respect principle that punishment begins after conviction’’
http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article2652745.ece

 

FAQs-Who needs moral policing, how much and why? #mustread #Vaw #1billionrising #Valentinesday


Love in the time of moral policing

The moral police are everywhere. Crawling out of the woodwork into our public spaces. In our legislative assemblies, in our board rooms, in court rooms, on the streets, in colleges, in cinemas and cyber cafes, gardens and pubs, even in police stations. Alas, and perhaps in our heads too. The rabid Sri Ram Sena or the Shiv Sena or the Bajrang Dal foot soldiers who demonstrate their love for ‘Indian culture’ by molesting girls wearing jeans and vandalising Valentine’s Day celebrations are unfortunately only the tip of the iceberg. They are supported openly and tacitly, by many ‘honourable’ others, ranging from chief ministers and health ministers to members of the National Commission for Women.

So many people in our country are in a state of moral panic over ‘western’ culture, pub culture, cyber culture and the many other ‘degenerate’ cultures that are polluting the sacred body of our Mother India and her pristine, fragile ‘Indian culture’, all of which call for more and more policing. Here are some Frequently Unasked Questions (FUQs, no pun intended) about moral policing in India.

Question 1: Who needs policing?

The list is long, maybe endless. At the top are impressionable young women and girls, who need to be protected from the corrupting effects of the afore-mentioned ‘evil’ cultures. Women are progenitors and homemakers — their sexuality needs to be strictly monitored, controlled and harnessed. If they have lost moral values, how can they become part of the eugenic project for a healthy and a morally sound generation next? What would happen to the sacred institution of the family if women got out of hand? Remember the Shiv Sena violence against a film like Deepa Mehta’s Fire? Love between two women leaves out the boys as arbitrators of women’s sexuality. Boys after all will be boys, they will settle down after marriage; but girls must be neither seen nor heard. Their ability to withstand the effects of ‘debauchery’ is far inferior to the male of the species. They cannot even handle cigarettes and alcohol. In other words, the moral police have to zealously shield all ‘less powerful others’ who are morally weak and can easily be perversely affected by stimuli of every kind: films, websites, beer, jeans, western music, birds and bees, in fact the list of provocative objects is infinite and ever growing.

This invention of a less powerful other is rampant and not confined just to the moral police, but informs the way in which ‘media impact’ is commonly framed. Our chattering classes are constantly exercised about the impact of the media on children, women, illiterates, poor people, villagers, slum dwellers — all subsumed under the category of the gullible and easily swayed ‘masses’ who have to be protected. This calls for a morally superior, intellectually more discerning ‘filter’ (in other words, people like ‘us’) who will decide what is fit for their impressionable eyes and ears. The censorship of the state is regarded as essential to uphold moral and aesthetic standards which popular cinema and television are prone to constantly violate.

This censorious mentality is widespread in our society and is perhaps uncomfortably close to the fine art of street censorship practiced by the Thackerays and Muthaliks.

Question 2: What needs policing?

Everything, but particularly all sites and signs of ‘modern’ ‘western’ culture, from greeting cards to cell phones, from pubs to cyber cafes: moral panic always hovers over frontier technologies. Our parents thought that films, or even radio, corrupted us. We worry about our children on the Internet; television has already become passé.

When printing was invented, our forefathers would have worried about its corrupting effects on young impressionable minds. In fact, in the medieval scriptoriums in European monasteries, access to certain texts was denied to younger writers. Today, sadly, no one grieves over the corrupting influence of books.

We forget that each generation has its own relationship with the cultural products of its own times. Personally, we have always thought of television as a ‘movie in a box’. When we took our daughter to her first movie, she asked us incredulously, when the first image appeared — “Is that a huge TV on the wall?” As someone who was born into a TV era, the relationship she has with the medium is qualitatively different from ours. Our collective inability to understand new technologies and our suspicion of what young people might be up to behind our backs makes us struggle to assert control — an essentially futile endeavour. Moral panic breeds behind the doors of the unknown.

Question 3: Why do we need policing?

The answer is simple: because ‘Indian Culture’ is fragile, because many Indians have delicate sentiments that are very easily hurt. And when these sentiments are hurt, maybe a few hundred people get massacred or raped, or maybe a shrine is pulled down or several thousand bar girls lose their jobs.

The state is assiduous in protecting the hurt sentiments of these sentinels of virtue. It usually turns a blind eye and sometimes even defends these actions — after all, how long can one hold back hurt sentiments? Our moral police know that they can strike with impunity; the chances are that the victims will get blamed for ‘provoking’ them.

Question 4: What is ‘Indian culture’?

The moral police are blissfully unaware of the contested nature of both the terms. Many years ago, a second generation ‘Indian’ child in London hesitantly admitted to us that she did not speak any ‘Indian’. Indian culture is as elusive as Indian food. In fact, one strong marker of it is the chilly. How many among the moral police, who lament about the fragility of ‘Indian culture’ know that the chilly first came to India with the Portuguese from South America not so long ago?

There are grids of exclusion at work, relations of power that begin to define the boundaries of Indian culture. A painting by Hussain done in the 1960s is suddenly a threat to our pristine traditions. Many of our 330 million Hindu Gods have spent the prime of their lives unclothed; the time has come to design moral robes for them. Khajuraho and Konarak now badly need saffron fashion designers.

Question 5: Why do the moral police indulge in policing?

Unfortunate tautology. How else would they grab the eyeballs of the nation? With very little work and no long-term investments, they can become famous overnight and reap rich political dividends. There are few risks involved, given the state’s sensitivity to their hurt sentiments.

Valentine’s Day provides rich opportunities. Dubbed as a threat to Indian culture, it throws up immense possibilities for great photo ops. The media has coined an endearing acronym to discuss certain goings on between young adults — PDA, roughly translated, it reads public display of affection. These acts are firmly handled by the moral police, who reiterate their faith in our great traditions by molesting the women publicly in front of television crews, who promptly arrive at the scene of the spectacle, forewarned and forearmed.

Question 6: Who gives the moral police the right to police?

Too many of us, through our sins of omission and commission. When the captains of industry cosy up to a champion of ethnic cleansing, when a leading television news channel gives an award to a staunch defender of the politics of hate, one begins to understand how deep and pervasive the rot is.

The normalisation of hate politics, the selective amnesia of the middle class — all these add up to strengthening the power of the moral police.

Question 7: What of love in the time of moral policing?

The moral police hate love and love hate. While the militant ones are easy to spot, the ‘soft’ ones are insidious.

They begin to define the realm of the ‘normal’. They censor our films, define dress codes, and make laws to control the Internet, all in the name of decency and order, of protecting the vulnerable and preventing social chaos.

While we must protest, firmly and loudly, against gross violations like Mangalore and Meerut, can we begin to speak fearlessly against the little everyday violations, the covert ways in which our spaces for love and freedom are encroached upon? And above all, we must never forget: Ayodhya and Mangalore are both manifestations of the same politics of hate and intolerance that we must resist till our last Valentine’s Day.

(The authors are professors at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai)

 

#India- Cop fired for beating Dalit woman on camera #Vaw


Sultanpur: In uniform, inside a police station, a cop slapped a young woman repeatedly. The 26-year-old Dalit gasped for breath, and tried to stop him, but he wouldn’t let her speak. A woman constable stood by watching.

This was what was captured on tape inside an Amethi police station. A freelance journalist who says he was in no position to help decided to film the incident so he could later use this as evidence against the policeman, Kailash Dwivedi. The tape has led to Dwivedi being sacked.

The woman’s husband was found dead on Wednesday. The police believes she is involved with his murder. Dwivedi, the Station Officer, was trying to extract a confession from her. Even if, during this assault, she did make any confession, it would not hold in any court. None of this seemed to matter to Dwivedi whose rage seemed unstoppable.

The National Commission for Women or NCW has asked for a report on the case. It also wants to know why a criminal case has not been filed against Dwivedi.

 

India – Single Women’s Association- A force not be forgotten #womenrights


Fellow members of the Jharol Block group of the Single Women’s Association in Udaipur, Rajasthan are an important source of strength and solidarity for one another.

Single, divorced or widowed women in India are customarily excluded from many areas of life, are often subject to significant discrimination and abuse, and can feel extremely ostracised and alone. www.flickr.com/photos/christianaidimages/sets/72157629130..

By Swapna Majumdar

Delhi (Women’s Feature Service) – ‘Namaste, main Radha hoon, ek paritakta. (Greetings, I am Radha, a deserted woman)’. When Radha Devi, 32, introduces herself her eyes brim with confidence, her voice is loud and clear. For a rural woman from Himachal Pradesh who five years ago did nothing even as her alcoholic husband thrashed her, this was a huge change.

 

But achieving this transformation was not easy. Radha had accepted that violence at her husband’s hands was her fate and was ashamed to tell anyone about the beatings. She was also afraid that she would be separated from her son if she complained. She would have probably continued this way had not she met members of the Ekal Nari Shakti Sangathan (Association of Single Women).

 

 

 

Says Nirmal Chandel, state coordinator of the Himachal Pradesh unit of ENSS, “Even after we met her, Radha was unwilling to leave her husband. It took us several meetings to convince her that unless she took some action, she would lose her son anyway because she would be dead.” 

Finally, Radha gathered the courage to leave her husband, along with her son. Since 2007, she hasn’t looked back and today heads ENSS’s state unit in Rakkar in Himachal Pradesh’s Kangra district.

 

Radha is not the only woman whose life has changed. Several ENSS members shared their stories of change at a recent meeting held in the Capital. Organised by the National Forum for Single Women’s Rights, the meeting brought single women comprising widows, abandoned, deserted, unmarried and divorced women from seven states together to discuss how their issues could be mainstreamed in the national discourse.

 

According to the 2001 census, more than 39.8 million women are single. This figure is expected to be much higher in the 2011 census, the results of which are presently awaited. The issues of single women were first raised in 2000 after the ENSS was set up in Rajasthan. Started by Astha Sansthan, an Udaipur-based non-government organisation, ENSS began with a handful of members. Over the last 12 years, the movement has gathered steam, with 80,000 members across eight states. Single women have formed state units in Bihar, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Other states expected to join the ENSS family soon are Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir.

 

As the movement grew, the single women’s collective broke several barriers, especially of silence. In Bihar and Jharkhand, support by the collective has helped to save many widows targeted as ‘daians’, or witches, from being lynched by violent mobs. In Rajasthan, the Sangathan has given single women the confidence and legal knowledge to claim their rights to land, while their counterparts in Gujarat have been helped to speak out against violence, discrimination and assisted in resuming their education. ENSS members in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra have helped each other break cruel traditional customs, stand up to sexual harassment and seek police and legal assistance. As single women came together, shared their experiences, grief and pain, they were inspired by the courage displayed by many of the other members of their group who had stood up for their rights and successfully accessed their entitlements, ranging from pensions to birth certificates.

 

Even while state units continued to reach out to single women, it was found to be necessary to bring their issues to the national fora in order to achieve policy level changes, according to Ginny Srivastava, founder of ENSS and co-founder, Astha Sansthan. To make that happen, in 2009, different state units of ENSS got together to form the National Forum for Single Women’s Rights (NFSWR) that lobbies for their rights at the national level. The NFSWR advisory committee is now focusing on strategies that could be translated, especially keeping in mind the upcoming general elections. “Getting politicians to include the issues of single women in their election manifesto is very difficult. We held several meetings with them to make them aware of the importance of single women’s rights. We also managed to get a few political parties to include some of our issues in their manifestoes during assembly elections, after convincing them that single women now form an important vote bank,” revealed Chandel, who was herself widowed at the young age of 23.

 

The Himachal ENSS unit, working through SUTRA, a NGO engaged with gender empowerment, has become a force to contend with. It is the recipient of the Ashoka’s Changemakers Award in 2010 for its success in enabling all 35 single women in Tikri village of Baijanth block to access government schemes.

 

Single women, as an entity, have also made it into the Twelfth Five Year Plan for the first time, which means that government programmes and policies can focus on their specific needs.

 

But the forum is not stopping with these achievements. One of the issues it is pushing is the allotment of land for collective farming to enable single women to access sustainable livelihoods. This demand has been supported by the National Commission for Women and the National Mission for Empowerment of Women, both of which have agreed that the government should help women claim community lands and form farming cooperatives.

Findings of a 2011 study conducted by representatives of the single women’s group have validated this demand. Entitled ‘Are We Forgotten Women? A study of the status of low-income single women in India’, the study found that in the absence of marketable skills, education, and ownership of resources, single women rely heavily on daily wage labour for survival. This makes them easy prey for exploitation and abuse. Conducted in six states, the survey covered 386 single women and noted that 75 per cent of single women survived on less than the minimum wage with as many as 90 per cent dependent on borrowings to make ends meet. Ironically, only 21 per cent managed to get recognised as living below the poverty line (BPL) by the government.

For single women, it is a long, hard road ahead. But they are determined to prove that while they may be single, they are not alone and will certainly not allow themselves to be forgotten.

Women’s Feature Service

 

Rapist in the family: The great Indian cover-up #Vaw


CHILDRAPE

by Jan 10, 2013, Firstpost

“It is true, trust me,” says Bina Jain, as she recounts one of the many incest cases she encountered in three decades of running Bapun Ghar, a women’s shelter in central Delhi. “She is my fruit after all. So what if I tasted her?” was the justification the man gave to the gynecologist for impregnating his 16 year old daughter, says Jain.

Every year, she says, the shelter gets custody of roughly twenty girls and women abandoned by families. It is a grim reflection of the treatment given to rape victims who, in some cases, are described by the families as ‘dirty’ and ‘untouchable’.

Jain rattles off cases where the rapist is the father, brother, uncle, tutor, neighbour – men known to the victim. In more than 90 percent of the rape cases booked across the country, the perpetrators are men known to the victim, according to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data.Lenient rape laws, pathetic policing, and politicians as rapists were discussed threadbare in the wake of the barbaric gangrape in the national capital past December. But the known devil, staring in the face of thousands of girls, was once again spared. And he always gets away with his crime as the girl is asked not to speak, for the family’s honour, for what the father owes her, for better future of her siblings, for the tradition of submission, for the sake of being an Indian girl.

The overall conviction rate in rape cases in 2011, as per NCRB, was an abysmal 26.4 percent. Soumya Bhaumik, legal consultant, Centre for Social Research, Delhi, says the pressure on the victim from her family is one of the primary reasons for the low conviction rate. “It is common in urban and rural settings. Therefore, it is extremely courageous when in such cases a girl testifies in court,” says Bhaumik, “As opposed to the cases when the family pressurises her or sweet talks her to withdraw the complaint.”

A girl in certain social set-ups in India does not have to go further than her home where an all-pervasive devaluing of the girl begins from the day she is born. “It begins with the news of the baby girl being born. Everything else follows. Throughout her upbringing, she is considered dispensable. This is why no one stands up to protect her when she is in trouble. Even the best of the people in the society follows this dominant trend,” says Akhila Sivadas, director, Centre for Advocacy & Research, Delhi.

As long as these dynamics will prevail, the victim will be expected to not only endure the crime but live in close proximity with the predator. The matter becomes a family secret. And the men in the garb of ‘family’ or ‘friend’ or ‘neighbour’ never feel guilty. In cases where the victims are firm about their decisions at the cost of ‘bringing shame to the family’, they face severe consequences. They are stigmatised. They are rejected. They are blamed for bringing disgrace to their families.

The decision whether to restore the victim to her family or not is often the biggest dilemma a practitioner of rehabilitation faces in such cases, says Dr Nimesh Desai, director, Institute of Human Behaviour & Allied Sciences, Delhi. “Ethically, we should bring the culprit to the book because we cannot become party to the cover- up. But there is always a hidden danger in convincing the victim to talk against the offender because ultimately the girl would go back the family and they might punish her for being courageous.”

There are various reasons why a rape victim in India cannot look for refuge outside the family. One is that fact that the very notion of a girl moving out of the home and thereby detaching herself from ‘relations’ has a negative connotation in the Indian milieu, writes Sudhir Kakar, novelist and psychoanalyst, in The Times of India. While Kakar is commenting on the women who have migrated to big cities to work or study, it applies just as well to rape victims.

Another problem faced by the victims of sexual abuse and rape in India is the lack of knowledge about governmental support or resources available for rape victims. “There is immense recognition of what she goes through, but no reactionary or proactive mechanism to address the causes of the same. We lack a coherent governance framework which can address the why and how of the problem,” says Sivadas.

For example, very few rape victims avail the compensation that they are entitled to from the state under the section 357A of the CrPC. Very few social welfare bodies are aware of the fact that the Centre has been delaying the implementation comprehensive rape victims’ relief scheme that was drafted following by the National Commission for Women following a Supreme Court writ petition in 1994. According to the draft of the scheme, a rape victim is entitled to financial support of upto Rs 3 lakh and vocational training, jobs from the government.

There are no easy answers to addressing a crime committed by a family member. And the answers that could have come to help aren’t out there known to people. There is no exposing of the great family cover- up anytime soon. And therefore continues a vicious cycle where the rape victim has no option other than to succumb to fate, tradition and family.