Next Chief Justice of India favours reservation in higher judiciary


 

R. BALAJI
New Delhi, July 1: Chief Justice of India-designate Justice P. Sathasivam has favoured reservation for members of the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and the Other Backward Classes in the higher judiciary, such as Supreme Court and high court judges’ posts.

Justice Sathasivam, who will take over as the country’s Chief Justice on July 19 from the incumbent, Justice Altamas Kabir, felt that members of the SCs, STs and OBCs could be elevated to the higher judiciary by giving them certain concessions in the appointment process, provided they fulfilled minimum requirements.

In an interview with The Telegraph here today at his residence, Justice Sathasivam said that such an arrangement would go a long way in assuring all sections of the society that their well-being was taken care by the country, irrespective of their social moorings.

“Yes, you are correct. We need to have some sort of reservation and representations for SCs, STs and OBCs. But at the same time we cannot ignore the minimum standards which are already in vogue for appointment. It does not mean we have to select a person far junior or who lacks merit. But we have to give them some concession,” the judge said.

“But they must satisfy the minimum requirements. It is in our (judges) mind. You can also say it is in my mind. I am anxious that persons from SC, ST and OBCs are appointed. Of course, there are members of the OBCs who are already in the higher judiciary,” Justice Sathasivam said in response to a query.

Although not specifically related to the ongoing tussle between the Bengal government and the state election commission on the former’s plea to re-schedule the panchayat polls in view of the Ramazan month, the Chief Justice-designate said courts and the election commission have to take note of public sentiments.

Refraining from directly commenting on the Bengal situation, Justice Sathasivam said: “Normally, the courts and the election commission have to take note of the sentiments of the people if the majority of the people feel inconvenienced. For example, during the Ramazan month, many employees leave their offices early. Even judges leave the courts early… that is because a devout Muslim is not allowed even to swallow his saliva. So we can’t have rigid rules or any straitjacket formula for such an issue. It all depends on the facts of each case.”

He rejected the government’s bid to bring in a judicial appointments commission to replace the present collegium system. Justice Sathasivam said the government could not claim that it would have its own representatives in the judiciary.

“The government cannot include their names as, by and large, the high court and the Supreme Court collegiums keep everything in mind while giving representations to all sections. Law officers like advocates-general, additional advocates-general, central government law officers, government pleaders are provided representation in the appointments,” he said.

The Chief Justice-designate agreed with a suggestion that judges of the Supreme Court should have a cooling period before accepting post-retirement jobs in tribunals like TDSAT (the Telecom Disputes Settlement Authority Tribunal), CAT (the Central Administrative Tribunal), NCDRC (the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission) to insulate the judiciary from allurement from political executives.

Conceding that the judiciary was not 100 per cent free of corruption, Justice Sathasivam said that the institution was still transparent unlike other wings like the legislature and the executive.

He pointed out that if a presiding judge in a subordinate court passed an order on the basis of some extraneous considerations, it was liable to be set aside by the higher judiciary — a remedy not available to the citizens before the other wings of the government.

 

 

 

Action Alert- Stop another planned #Uttarakhand- Challenge drowning of 2 lakh population in the Narmada Valley


 

Challenge drowning of 2 lakh population in the Narmada Valley

 

Dear saathi,

 

We are writing to you amidst a situation of extreme urgency. The two lakh population of adivasis, farmers, fish workers, potters etc. in the Narmada valley – in the three states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat in the 245 villages require your immediate support to save their lives and livelihoods.

 

Reportedly, the state governments have submitted reports of ‘complete rehabilitation’ to the R&R Sub Group of the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) and the NCA is to take a final decision on the 2nd of July at Indore, regarding permission to raise the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam from the present 122 mts to final height of 138 mts.

 

Thousands are yet to get land, thousands more alternative livelihood, fishing rights, house plots at R&R sites and other amenities and entitlements. Corruption worth, 1,000 crores is under judicial investigation. Major environmental non-compliance has been exposed by MoEF’s expert committees’. In such a situation, drowning the 2 lakh population in the living village communities would be a human massacre, worse than the painful Uttarakhand disaster.

 

Please intervene to stop the political conspiracy to complete the dam by violating all laws and judicial dicta, when only 10% of its claimed benefits have been realized and the financial, social and environmental costs have increased ten-fold. Please find enclosed our press release, which describes the situation in detail.Please do immediately write to the PM, Water Resources and Social Justice Minister and others to act by law.

 

With sincere regards,

 

Medha Patkar (09423965153)        Mukesh Bhagoria (09826811982)

 

Meera (09179148973)            Kailash Awasya (09009147868)

 

 

 

Contacts:

 

Shri Manmohan Singh,
Prime Minister,
Government of India
South Block, Raisina Hills,
New Delhi 110 101
Fax: 011-23019545, 23016857
E-mail: manmohan@sansad.nic.in
Kumari Selja,
Minister,
Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment,
Government of India
Shastri Bhawan, Dr. Rajendra Prasad Marg, New Delhi

Ph: 011- 23381001 and 011-23381390
Fax: 011-23014432, 011-23012117
E-mail: min-sje@sb.nic.in andpsmsje@gmail.com ;Shri Harish Rawat,

Minister,

Ministry of Water Resources,

Sharam Shakti Bhawan

Rafi marg

New Delhi-110001

Office: 11-23714200 , 11-23714663 and 11-23711780

Residence: 11-23791352

Fax: 11-23710804 (O) and 11-23793184 ( R)

E-mail: minister-mowr@nic.inMs. Sonia Gandhi

President, United Progressive Alliance

10, Janpath

Fax: 011-23794616 / 23014481

E-mail: soniagandhi@sansad.nic.in

Shri Afroz Ahmed
Director,
(Rehabilitation and Impact Assessment),
Narmada Control Authority,
Narmada Sadan, Vijay Nagar, Indore.
Fax: 0731-2554333
E-mail: dir.rehab.nca@nic.in
afrozahmad@hotmail.comShri Sudhir Bhargav,
Chairman, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Sub Group (SSP) and
Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment
Government of India
Shastri Bhawan, Dr. Rajendra Prasad Marg,New Delhi

Ph: 011- 23389184 ; Fax:011-23385180
Email: secywel@sb.nic.in ,

secywel@nic.in

Shri Shivraj Singh Chauhan
Chief Minister,
Government of Madhya Pradesh,
Vallabh Bhawan,
Bhopal, M.P
Fax: 011-2441781
E-mail: cm@mp.nic.inShri Prithviraj Chavan,

Chief Minister, Maharashtra

Phone +91-22-22025151,22025222

Fax: 022-22029214,

23633272, 23631446

Email:

chiefminister@maharashtra.gov.in

Dr. Patangrao Shripatrao Kadam

Minister for Forests, Rehabilitation and Relief Works, Earthquake Rehabilitation,

E-mail: Min_Forest@maharashtra.gov.in

Office Ph: 91 22 22025398 and +91 22 22024751

Residence Ph: +91 22 23635688 and +91 22 23632748

Mantralaya, Mumbai.Shri Milind Mhaiskar, IAS

Secretary, Relief Commissioner,

Project Director

Relief & Rehabilitation

NAB

14th Floor

Ph: 22025274

sec_r&r@maharashtra.gov.in

   

 

===============================================

National Alliance of People’s Movements
National Office : 6/6, Jangpura B, Mathura Road, New Delhi 110014
Phone : 011 26241167 / 24354737 Mobile : 09818905316
Web : www.napm-india.org

Twitter : @napmindia



This mailing list is for dissemination of news and views on the communities struggles in India defending their land, water, air, rivers from hungry predatory corporations, policy formulations, announcements on struggles, action alerts and request for support.

 

#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

 

Conduct fresh probe into Maruti violence, demands rights group #Ileadindia


The old logo of Maruti Suzuki India Limited. L...

 

NEW DELHI, June 20, 2013

 

Mohammad Ali

 

Accuses police investigations of being a “farce, pro-management”

 

A year after violence broke out at Maruti Suzuki’s plant in Manesar, in which company HR manager Awanish Dev died and several others were injured, the People’s Union for Democratic Rights has termed the police enquiry into the episode a “farce” and demanded a fresh probe.

 

Arguing that the July violence should be seen in the context of history of unfair labour practices and workers’ struggle at Maruti, the rights group said: “What makes the Maruti story extraordinary is certainly not the company and its cars, but the extraordinary struggle of its workers that has continued despite ruthless repression by the management and the police and failure of the labour department and the judiciary to provide any justice to them.”

 

While releasing its fact-finding report highlighting the episode’s implications, the rights group has demanded that investigation into the July 18 incident carried out by the Haryana Police should be nullified and a fresh investigation initiated by an SIT comprising police officers drawn from other States.

 

Differing from the police version of the events about last year’s violence, PUDR alleged that a large number of workers and their family members were harassed by the cops in the course of a “deeply flawed” investigation.

 

“As a result of the police investigation, workers were arrested, jailed, and have been denied bail till date. The company at the same time terminated hundreds of workers accusing them of involvement in the incident well before the police investigation was completed,” said PUDR secretary Ashish Gupta.

 

“The Haryana Police have been consistently acting in a partisan manner favouring the management since the incident, and therefore cannot be entrusted with this task. The lack of an independent investigation into the incident has amounted to grave miscarriage of justice, which is why we are demanding investigations into the role of hired bouncers, who were present at the spot, and also that of the Haryana Police officers responsible for violation of legal guidelines regarding arrest and for custodial torture of arrestees, and harassment of their family members,” he said. The fact finding report highlights “collusion” of the Maruti management, administration and police in workers’ harassment.

 

 

 

‘Location tracking’ of every Indian mobile user by 2014 #WTFnews


Exclusive:FIRST POST
by Danish Raza
#Department of Telecom #HowThisWorks #Location Tracking #Mobile Services
New Delhi: The government has directed all telecom service providers to make location details, a mandatory part of call data records (CDR) of all mobile users in the country, starting mid- 2014, according to a Department of Telecommunications (DoT) directive obtained by Firstpost.
 
Effectively what this means, is that in addition to the contact number of the person you spoke to, duration of the call and details of the mobile tower you used, CDRs will now also reflect details of where you were when you made a call. The DoT directive is titled ‘Amendments to the unified access service license agreement for security related concerns for expansion of telecom services in various zones of the country’ and has been issued to all unified access service licensees.
 
Telecom companies are known to have assisted investigative agencies in probing criminal and terror cases by providing such details in the past. It is also common for agencies to tap mobile phones. But this exercise  which aims to track the location of every mobile user in the country, is unprecedented in sheer scale and intention.
 
What is noteworthy here however, is the accuracy with which the government wants to know where you are- more than 90 percent accuracy in urban (sic), defined as more than one million mobiles in a municipal unit. While the location tracking exercise has its genesis in a DoT order issued in May 2011, its effect on the ground should be visible from mid- 2014.
 
To start with, these details will be provided for specified mobile numbers. “However, within a period of three years location details shall be part of CDR for all mobile calls,” said the directive.
 
The DoT directive says that while detecting the location of the mobile users in urban centers, the telecom operator should achieve 80 percent accuracy in first year followed by 95 percent accuracy in the second year. But it is not clear from the note that to achieve these accuracies, the starting year is 2011 (when the order was issued) or 2014 (when location details shall be part of CDR for all mobile calls).
 
A cyber security analyst has called this an ‘alarming’ development and did not rule out the possibility of the government feeding citizens’ CDR information into the central monitoring system (CMS) – the centralised project through which the union government plans to monitor phone and internet activity in the country. Civil rights groups have also criticised CMS, describing the move as ‘chilling’.
 
“Through this DoT directive, the government is merely asking mobile operators to maintain location details. But for CMS, mobile companies have to transfer all such details to the government. Therefore, eventually, I believe, these details will be fed into the central server,” said Commander (rtd) Mukesh Saini, former national information security coordinator, government of India.
 
Alarming as it appears, but India is not the only country to conduct location tracking of its citizens. “This is a standard practice in European countries which use GSM technology, said V K Mittal, former scientist with National Technical Research OrganisationHe added that obtaining location details of targets is an integral part of agency modules while cracking criminal and terror cases. However, to do this for every mobile user, Mittal said, is illegal, unethical and unconstitutional as the state will be able to continuously target its citizens. “This is a clear indication that we are now moving towards a totalitarian regime in the name of security.”
 
Jiten Jain, Delhi based cyber security analyst, said that going by the kind of information which the government already possess, it is not surprising if location details become part of CDR. “But monitoring the location of every citizen is like creating a monster,” he said

 

 

#India – Tribal Woman raped in bus, helper arrested #Odisha #Vaw


RAPE

Odisha Tribal woman raped in moving bus

PTI : Bhubaneswar/Cuttack, Wed Jun 19 2013, 1

TOP ST

A 25-year-old tribal girl was allegedly raped by the helper of an air-conditioned luxury bus in which she was travelling, police today said. The accused identified as Susanta Hembram has been arrested for allegedly raping the tribal girl, resident of Mayurbhanj district of Odisha, in the moving bus on Sunday night when other passengers were fast asleep, they said.

In her complaint, the victim alleged that Hembram raped her in the rear seat of the private bus en route Jagatpur near Cuttack, between 3 to 3.30 am when there were only few passengers and all of them were asleep, City DCP S Praveen Kumar said.

Hembram is believed to be an acquaintance of the victim,who works as a domestic help in Jagatpur, on the outskirts of Cuttack city. The incident came to light when the girl was rescued by some people at Gatiroutpatna, about 5 km from Cuttack on Cuttack-Jagatsinghpur road yesterday.

The Mahila police station of the city after registering a case sent both the accused and the victim for medical examination on the day. A police scientific team is also assisting the city police in investigating the case.

The State Transport Commissioner Surendra Kumar informed that the permit of the passenger bus in which the crime was committed has been cancelled. “It is one of the primary duties of the bus staff to ensure that the passengers boarding the buses travel safely and reach their destinations unharmed,” Kumar said. Meanwhile, the Private Bus Owners’ Association condemning the incident has demanded that stringent punishment should be given to the bus helper and urged the bus owners to ensure that the credentials of the persons are verified properly before they are recruited to perform duties in the buses plying at night.

#India must address worrying stock out of tuberculosis drugs #healthcare


 

 

Indian government drug tender process leads to deadly delay in drug supply

 

New Delhi, 17 June 2013 – The Indian government must urgently address the persistent issues and almost routine delays of procuring drugs to treat tuberculosis, international medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said today. The issues are behind a worrying stock out of TB drugs which the country is currently experiencing.

 

“As a country with such a high burden of tuberculosis, MSF is deeply disturbed that India is experiencing stock outs of critically needed drugs to treat children and those with drug-resistant TB”, said Leena Menghaney, India Manager of MSF’s Access Campaign. “In this instance, it’s a stock out that can cost people’s lives and the government must act urgently to fix the problems.”

 

India is currently experiencing stock outs across the country of both paediatric TB drugs and those used to treat drug-resistant TB (DR-TB). Under India’s public TB treatment program, the government is responsible for buying drugs and distributing them to the states which then provide treatment.

 

The stock out is related to the never-ending issues with drug procurement that India faces in many of its public health programmes – the routine but deadly delay in tendering for these drugs – and the resulting drug stock outs are one of the reasons why India has one of the world’s highest burdens of DR-TB.

 

“As a TB treatment provider, MSF is witnessing the impact this is having on our own patients”, said Dr. Homa Mansoor, the TB Medical Referent for MSF India. “In our Mon, Nagaland project, I’ve seen a 12 year-old girl on treatment arrive with her father after a long journey to get her medicine. The medicines were out of stock, but luckily we had six days’ worth of drugs available from a patient who had died. Otherwise, we’re having to resort to breaking adult pills to give to children, which is really dangerous as it could over- or under-dose them.”

 

Other patients have been forced to purchase medicines from private pharmacies, but have received lower-dosage drugs, which – if it causes a patient to under-dose on that drug – could lead to resistance.

 

“A continuous, sustainable supply of quality-assured medicines is vital for TB patients to have even half a chance of being cured”, Dr Mansoor said. “As a doctor, I know the disease, I know how to manage it, but I feel powerless because we don’t have the medicines to treat.”

 

“It’s just not good enough that India talks of scaling up DR-TB treatment, but finds the medicine cabinet empty at a time when the most vulnerable patients – those diagnosed with DR-TB – are most desperate to get the medicines that can treat them”, Dr Mansoor added.  “The Indian Government must act now to address this dire situation.”

 

The stock outs in India are occurring as the World Health Organization late last week issued interim guidelines on bedaquiline, the first new drug to treat TB in 50 years, approved by the US Food and Drug Administration at the end of 2012. MSF has welcomed the release of the guidelines, but has said use of the new drug needs to be regulated and controlled, and studies must be undertaken to find combinations with the new drugs in shorter, more effective and less toxic treatment regimens.

 

 SOURCE- http://www.msfaccess.org/

 

#India- Supreme Court agrees to hear PIL on US surveillance of Internet data


PTI : New DelhiWed Jun 19 2013,
Court
Supreme Court. (IE Photo)
The Supreme Court today agreed to give an urgent hearing to a PIL on the issue of US National Security Agency snooping on Internet data from India and seeking to initiate action against Internet companies for allowing the agency to access the information.

Agreeing to hear the PIL filed by a former Dean of Law Faculty of Delhi University Professor S N Singh, a bench of justices A K Patnaik and Ranjan Gogoi posted the case for hearing next week.

In his plea, Singh has alleged that such large scale spying by the US authorities is detrimental to national security and urged the apex court to intervene in the matter. He has claimed that the Internet companies are sharing information with the foreign authority in “breach” of contract and violation of right to privacy.

“As per reports, nine US-based Internet companies, operating in India through agreements signed with Indian users, shared 6.3 billion information/data with National Security Agency of US without express consent of Indian users.Such larges cale spying by the USA authorities besides being against the privacy norms is also detrimental to national security,” the petition, filed through advocate Virag Gupta, has said.

Singh has submitted that it is a breach of national security as government’s official communications have come under US surveillance as services of private Internet firmsare being used by them. He has sought directions to the Centre to “take urgent steps to safeguard the government’s sensitive Internet communications” which are being kept outside India in US servers and are “unlawfully intruded upon by US Intelligence Agencies through US-based Internet companies under secret surveillance program called PRISM”.

47 yrs after being gang raped by Army men , two Mizo women compensated #Vaw #AFSPA


FP

The Central government has given Rs 5 lakh each as compensation to two Mizo women who lost their sanity after being allegedly gangraped by Indian Army soldiers 47 years ago, at the beginning of a 20-year insurgency in what is now the state of Mizoram.

Relatives of the two women told The Sunday Express that they “wept for joy” at the Centre’s gesture, which came after former members of the Mizo National Army (MNA), the armed wing of the Mizo National Front (MNF) that fought a guerilla war against Indian armed forces between 1966 and 1986, lobbied with Union home ministry officials for compensation for the women.

Sources said the ex-MNA members, who were helped by retired Mizo IAS officer H V Lalringa, visited Home Secretary R K Singh in New Delhi on May 16. Singh is learnt to have advised them to open bank accounts for the women in order to channel the compensation.

Official sources confirmed that the money was recently paid from a secret fund after clearance from the highest authorities in the home ministry. The home ministry declined to comment officially on the matter.

“I wept when I heard the news from bank officials on Wednesday evening,” J Laldula Sailo, a brother of one of the women told The Sunday Express over the phone from East Lungdar in Mizoram’s Champhai district.

“I immediately hugged my sister and told her God has been kind to her after all the suffering,” he said.

Sailo, who retired as a teacher from a government middle school and the son of the erstwhile tribal chief of Mualcheng village where the alleged sexual assaults took place, said that his sister these days sits around smoking most of the time, with a blank expression on her face.

He said she can do almost nothing by herself, and needs help to go to the bathroom or relieve herself. “She eats very little, and can only perform small tasks like putting her plate in the sink after she has eaten,” Sailo said. “But she is generally not at all troublesome. She just sits quietly in a corner.”

Sailo said his sister and her childhood friend were raped one night in November 1966 at Mualcheng, after Army personnel advanced towards the village after being fired upon by MNF rebels in East Lungdar. The soldiers were fired upon again as they came close to the village, and in retaliation, they herded all the villagers together and set fire to their homes.

Lalnghakliani Lailung, a state government employee and the younger sister of the other woman who was raped, said the two girls were kept separately in a small shack, where soldiers allegedly took turns raping them. Both the victims were daughters of prominent villagers — while the father of one was the erstwhile chief, the other was the daughter of the head of the village council.

“Since our parents died long ago, my siblings and I take turns to look after my sister. She has extreme paranoia, and for many years after she was raped, she would sew together long nightgowns and refuse to sleep alone. Even now she keeps talking of a big dark man she sees in nightmares, and is very suspicious of everyone. She says we are impostors who have dressed up like her siblings to harm her,” Lailung said over the phone from Kolasib, the headquarters of a nothern district, where she plans to build a house to live with her sister. Her sister currently stays with relatives in another small town.

“I was so happy that I wept and prayed when I was told the compensation had come. The former MNA men have been very kind to us, pursuing the issue all these years,” Lailung said.

“In a sense, we feel this gesture is an acknowledgment and an apology by the central government for the atrocities committed during those troubled times,” she said.

 

In India – ‘Good girls don’t drink, flirt or party’ #Film #Vaw #moralpolicing


New Documentary Shows That Urban India Blames Women For Crimes Against Them

Mithila Phadke TNN

When filmmaker Padmalatha Ravi decided to make a documentary on society’s perceptions of women, she kept it straightforward. A motley crowd of people—from college students to domestic help—were asked what they thought a “good girl” and a “bad girl” were. “A good girl is supposed to be docile,” says a silverhaired lady. “She wears a dress which covers her wholly.” Two college-going boys giggle and say it’s the front-benchers who are tagged as good. On the other hand, “slut”, “goes to discos” and “flirts with boys” are the primary identifiers for a bad girl.
The 14-minute crowd-sourced venture, titled ‘Good Girls Don’t Dance’, is Bangalore-based Padmalatha’s response to the theme of most drawing-room discussions that follow reports of sexual abuse. Invariably, the argument returns to the same question: what was the girl doing outside at a late hour anyway? “After the Delhi incident, the issue of rape was being spoken about like never before,” she says. “I wanted to look at why women are blamed.” The film was completed earlier this year and has been uploaded online for free viewing.
Through the opinions of students, couples, seniors, and families, a troubling picture emerges. The ideal woman keeps herself covered up lest she “provokes” men, abstains from smoking, drinking and flirting. Not having an opinion of her own is also an asset, says a respondent.
The answers were a revelation, says Padmalatha, especially when people were asked who they would hold responsible in case of a rape. Only a handful said “rapist”. A majority blamed society and women. Aside from illustrating how deep stereotypes run, the documentary also disproves that progressive mindset is synonymous with education and financial wellbeing. “We asked a domestic worker if clothes play a role (in instigating rape), she was clear that a person is free to wear what he or she wants,” says Padmalatha. This was in stark contrast to numerous middle-class respondents who held a woman’s attire culpable, at least in part.
Mumbai-based filmmaker Paromita Vohra came across a similar mindset among the middleclass while filming the 2002-documentary ‘Unlimited Girls’. “Sometimes, women who had the chance to experience freedom were the ones least able to recognise that it came from a long legacy of people working for them,” says Vohra. The idea of freedom, as something to be protected, nurtured and recreated for the next generation was shrugged off, or made respondents uncomfortable. Both ‘Unlimited Girls’ and Padmalatha’s film look at how women navigate the urban jungle.
Another film that explores the same idea is ‘Mera Apna Sheher’, by Sameera Jain. Set in New Delhi, the documentary looks at how women are expected to negotiate public spaces. It had college lecturer Komita Dhanda being filmed by a hidden camera as she spends time at a park, a street corner and a paan shop. The camera records the reactions of men to her presence, ranging from confusion to lechery. “It’s something that happens around us every day,” says Jain. Only by choosing to record it does the indignity women face become a subject of debate.
However, the filmmakers have no illusion about their works offering quick solutions. “We are trying to start a conversation on a subject that people are hesitant to talk about,” says Padmalatha. After her film’s first screening in Bangalore, an elderly viewer argued for stringent punishment to keep men in line. A 16-year-old girl stepped in and asked him why there shouldn’t be a balanced approach to solve the problem. That a documentary can spark such debates is what the makers hope for, says Padmalatha.

SEX AND THE CITY: While a domestic worker (left) said people have the right to wear what they want to, students and couples who were interviewed felt that women needed to be covered up; Contemporary dancer Shabari (right) in a shot from the film