Man gets FB ‘likes’ for sex with minor #WTFnews


, TNN | May 22, 2013,

MUMBAI: Noted gay rights activist Harish Iyer has approached the Mumbai police objecting to an offensive post on a popular social networking site that boasts of how the person who uploaded the post had sex with a minor. “Just had a sex with teen 15 year… boy… was awesome exp… Sunday to acha gaya (sic),” reads the post.

Iyer has made an online complaint to the cyber cell of the Mumbai police and has received a complaint number. Till Tuesday evening, the police had not acknowledged receiving the complaint, so TOI is withholding the name under which the post was made.

Sodomizing a minor, sexually harassing him, or engaging in “indecent or obscene representations of a child” on any media forum are offences under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.

The post was removed by the website after many users reported it as offensive. However, before it was removed, it received nine “likes” and comments from people asking for the 15-year-old to be offered to them. The comments included graphic details and the original poster replied to one of the comments that he had recently moved to Mumbai.

Iyer is a known face against child sexual abuse. He shared his painful experience of surviving abuse on the TV showSatyamev Jayate‘. He has taken a screenshot of the offensive online conversation. He subsequently sent an online complaint over the police website on Tuesday.

“Given the widespread prejudice against people who belong to sexualities other than heterosexuals, I would also like to add that as a 34-year-old homosexual man who is a survivor of child sexual abuse, I can state that the Indian LGBTIQ community strongly condemns sexual abuse; particularly child sexual abuse,” states Iyer’s complaint. He requests the police to “take appropriate action against the above-mentioned post and everyone who has commented on the same”, including those who were “soliciting sex with a 15-year-old”. Iyer said this could be a chance to nab a group that routinely solicits sex with minors.

Child rights activists said children are increasingly being exposed to threats in cyberspace. Pooja Taparia, of NGO Arpan, said, “I think there’s a lot happening online. Children are vulnerable and easy prey.” She said, “We advise parents to refrain from putting up portrait photos of children as there is no protection against people using them.”

Cyber cell officials said they had yet to receive Iyer’s complaint. When TOI forwarded a copy to them, the official in charge, Mukund Pawar, said he would look into the matter.

 

#India – Sodomy by BSF upon children, Protest ! #sexualabuse


To

The Chairman

National Human Rights Commission

Faridkot House

Copernicus Marg

New Delhi-110001

 

Respected Sir,

 

I want to draw your kind attention regarding the matter of sexual abuse committed upon the minor victim boys by the perpetrator BSF personal. The incident took place within the jurisdiction of Swarupnagar Police Station, District-North 24 Parganas, West Bengal.

On the date of incident the perpetrator BSF personal took sexual pleasure by forcing the minor victim boys to act at his whims. Our attached fact finding report gives details of the incident. The incident continued for an hour. The heinous incident sexual torture and abuse committed upon the victim boys was primarily complained to the BSF Official but the family of the victim boys did not get any relief. One written complaint was lodged before the Superintendent of Police, North 24 Parganas informing the whole incident of sexual offence committed upon the minor victim boys by the perpetrator BSF personal. But till date no action has been taken by the said authority.

Hence we seek your urgent intervention regarding the following matters: -

·       The whole matter must be investigated by Commission’s own investigating wing.

·       The perpetrator BSF personal must be booked under the law and should be prosecuted under Section 377 of Indian Penal Code and the criminal law and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 considering the complaint lodged before the Superintendent of Police, North 24 Parganas.

·       The victims and their families should be provided with adequate compensation as well as protection so that they do not come under threat or inducement.

 

Thanking You

Yours truly

 

Kirity Roy

Secretary, MASUM

&

National Convener, PACTI

 

 

Name of the victims: -

1.    Master Sundar Sarkar (Name changed), son of- Mr. Shankar Sarkar, aged about- 9 years,

2.    Master Hrishi Das (Name changed), son of- Mr. Rabin Das, aged about- 11 years,

3.    Master Sujay Das (Name changed), son of- Mr. Deben Das, aged about- 8 years, all are residing at Village- Gunrajpur, Post Office- Govindapur, Police Station- Swarupnagar, District- North 24 Parganas, West Bengal, India.

Name of the perpetrator: – Mr. Ramkumar being BSF jawan at Gunrajpur BSF BOP under Police Station- Swarupnagar, District- North 24 Parganas

Date and time of the incident: – On 17.03.2013 at about 1 pm

Place of occurrence: – Inside Gunrajpur BSF Border Out-Post (BOP).

Case details: -

It is revealed during fact finding that on 17.03.2013 at about 1 pm Mr. Ramkumar being the BSF jawan of Gunrajpur BOP, BSF called the victims inside the Gunrajpur Border Out-Post while they were playing with each other on the street adjoining to the said out-post.  After that the perpetrator BSF personal put off his wearing pant while they came inside the said out-post. The perpetrator BSF personal forced the victims to hold his genital and asked them to rub it by hands. The perpetrator BSF jawan started to enjoy sexual pleasure by abusing the victim boys. The victim Master Sagar Sarkar could be able to escape the place with fear. But other two minor victims could not be able to escape from that place. The perpetrator BSF personal forcibly penetrated his genital into the mouths of those minor victims and brutally seduced them for an hour. After that the perpetrator BSF personal illegally detained those minor victims after completely seducing them. The minor victims were seriously felt sick due to such inhuman sexual abuse the perpetrator BSF personal of that said BSF out-post. After that Master Hridoy Das and Sanjib Das returned to their homes and informed the whole incident to their family members. Ms. Laxmi Das, the mother of Master Hridoy Das went to that said BSF out-post to inform the whole incident to other BSF jawans of that said BSF camp taking with Mr. Sahidul Gaji, the member of local Gunrajpur Gram Panchayat. Mr. Sahidul Gaji talked with others jawans of that said BSF camp and told Ms. Laxmi Das to solve that matter in exchange of money. But she did not agree to do that. After that one BSF jawan called the Commanding Officer of the said out-post and informed him the whole incident. The Commanding Officer came to the camp and the whole matter was video recorded by them. After that he took her signature in a blank paper and told her that the total cost of medical treatment of those minor victims would be paid by them and also convinced her by saying that the perpetrator BSF personal would be punished regarding the matter of physical molestation upon the minor victims. After that the Commanding Officer threatened her saying that they would suffer if they dared to disclose the incident to anyone and also told the member of the Gram Panchayet not to disclose the matter to anyone.

On 02.04.2013, Ms. Laxmi Das lodged a written complaint on behalf of the victims before the Superintendent of Police, North 24 Pgs informing the whole incident of sexual abuse committed upon the minor victim boys by the perpetrator BSF personal. But till date no action has been taken by the said authority.

Inline images 1

Birth Certificate of a victim boy

 

#India – What Are We Doing To Our Kids ? #sexualabuse


Shocking statistics. Devastating stories. Our dirty national secret. Nishita Jha & Revati Laul bring you a horrifying report on the rampant sexual abuse of children in India
Nishita JhaRevati Laul

NISHITA JHA
REVATI LAUL

4-05-2013, Issue 18 Volume 10

Illustration: Anand Naorem

Illustrations: Anand Naorem

To begin with, hear the story of one child. On 17 December 2012 — just one day after the gangrape of a young paramedic in New Delhi shook the world — a three-and-a-half-year old baby girl returned from school with her clothes streaked with vomit and blood.

Her father, Gagan Sharma (name changed), had moved from Kolkata to a slum in west Delhi in 2003 in search of a better life. The little girl had been listless and reluctant to go to school for weeks. Now, when her mother asked her what had happened, she told the story haltingly, riven by fear.

She spoke of a bald man — the principal’s husband — who had threatened to hang her from a ceiling fan if she dared to open her mouth. She spoke of how he had taken her to the bathroom, made her lie down, and inserted his penis and fingers into her vagina and her anus, blaring music in his room to drown any noise. She spoke of how he had done this to her many times before, forcing her to keep quiet by saying terrible things would happen to her parents if she talked about it.

The girl’s mouth was full of ulcers from a drug the alleged perpetrator — a man called Pramod Malik — had forced her to take to render her unconscious while he raped her.

The fact of the rape is horrific enough. Here’s what came after. According to the parents, it took them 12 hours at the police station to get an FIR registered. They were taunted by a woman sub-inspector for living in a colony of “disrepute”; their own reputation was questioned; the little girl was asked to recount her story in front of three policemen. The woman sub-inspector prefaced the inquiry by telling the little girl: “Tell the truth or insects will crawl all over you and your mother and father will be beaten.”

Despite these threats, the little girl repeated her story exactly as she had told it to her parents. In the magistrate’s court, she was challenged again. She told her story again. The medical examiner, however, ruled out rape and left the report vague. The headmaster was let out on bail on 28 February. On the other hand, Gagan Sharma’s landlord asked him and his family to leave. They are still struggling with the case.

Now, hear the story of a second. Asha, an 18- year-old in Gowandi, a slum in Mumbai, is a volunteer with a community-based NGO called Aastha Parivar that helps slum-dwellers and sex workers — the poor and the marginalised — lodge complaints with the police. One day, her 14-year-old friend Neelima (name changed) complained about being harassed by a boy next door. Emboldened by her training at the NGO, Asha took her friend to the police to complain. They rebuffed the girls rudely. The boy stepped up his harassment, standing at his doorway and masturbating when Neelima passed. Asha went to the police again. This time the cop gave her a scrap of paper with a number: “Jab rape hoga, tab bulana,” he smirked, (“Call us when there’s an actual rape.”)

A month later, Neelima’s naked body was found cut in pieces and dumped in a drain. Her neighbour — the boy she had been complaining about — had disappeared without a trace. Incensed, Asha went to the police again with a description of the neighbour. This time she was ordered to leave the slum and create no more trouble.

Here’s the story of a third. In Ahmednagar, a city in Maharashtra, a 13-year-old girl was forced to inhale chloroform by her own father so he could knock her out and rape her.

And a fourth. In 2010, in Paravoor in Kerala, another father filmed his own 14-year-old daughter taking a bath before he raped her. He then pimped her out to customers across the state, before selling her. Over the next two years, she was raped by 148 men.

And a fifth. In April this year, the 16- year-old daughter of a rich mining baron based in Gurgaon confessed to her teachers and principal that her father frequently took her on “bonding trips” all by herself, raping her in anonymous hotel rooms across the country. Her father also used to beat her mother. A case was filed just as he was going to take her off to Dubai. By the time child welfare groups reached the girl’s home, however, relatives had had their way: the shutters had come down. Though the father had been taken into custody, in the presence of her family, the adolescent refused to speak. Mother and daughter have now withdrawn their story before the magistrate’s court.

And a sixth. A 50-year-old mother from Punjab speaks of how her husband sexually abused their daughter when she was four. He would lock her in a room and tell her that if she made a noise, her stuffed toy lion would eat her up. When she noticed the bite marks on her child, the mother began to ask questions and reported her husband to the police. The case took three years to reach the court. Since there had been no penile penetration, the case was registered under the arcane clause of “outraging the modesty of a woman”; the father was let out on bail within one day. The mother, herself a survivor of childhood sex abuse, filed for divorce. The father agreed not to meet his daughter till she was 13. However, when she turned 15, he petitioned the courts for visitation rights. His daughter testified in court that she wanted to have nothing to do with her father. She is 19 now and still has nightmares.

Child A - AGE 14 | Paravoor, Kerala

Occurred 2010 | Convicted in 2012
The nightmare began in 2010, when her father filmed this 14-year-old having a bath, and then raped her. After that, he pimped her out to customers across Kerala, before finally selling her. In the span of two years, she was raped by 148 people, of whom 102 were finally arrested and 19 given life sentences.
Child B - AGE 13 | Ahmednagar, Maharashtra

Occurred 2011 | Accused under trial
Her father would first sedate this 13-year-old with chloroform, then rape her. This Class VIII student was tortured, burnt and threatened with dire consequences if she dared tell anyone. She finally gathered the courage to talk to her uncle, who in turn contacted an NGO. The father was charged and arrested.

Hear these stories and then imagine them amplified thousands of times — in every brutal variation — in every part of the country. Imagine 48,838 children raped in just 10 years. Imagine what it means when you are told this staggering figure — which is a National Crimes Record Bureau statistic — is possibly only 25 percent of the actual child rapes going on in the country. And that only 3 percent — a mere 3 percent — of these make it to the police. Imagine what it means when you are told child rapes have seen a chilling 336 percent jump from 2001 to 2011.
illustration2

Imagine this, and you begin to have a small measure of how deep the inhuman phenomenon of child rapes runs in India.

THIS WEEK, the barbaric story of a five-year-old girl in east Delhi, raped and bitten by two drunk neighbours — who inserted candles and a plastic hair-oil bottle into her before trying to strangle her — has brought the phenomenon of raped minors into hard and timely focus.

Since this horrific story hit the headlines, others that were merely footnotes in the country’s consciousness have started getting foregrounded in the media. How a nine-year-old from Silchar, Assam, was kidnapped, gangraped and found with a slit throat on the same April day as the five-year-old in Delhi. How a 10-year-old Dalit girl was raped by a 35-year-old Rajput in Bulandshahr, Uttar Pradesh. How a compounder in Bhopal would rape his three-year-old daughter while his wife went to drop their five-year-old son to school. And how a 75-year-old man in Tripura was arrested for raping a 10-year-old.

While this intense but delayed media attention is positive, it is still selective — privileging only the most violent, the most sensational, and the rapes most ‘similar’ to the case in New Delhi. But to do only that would again be to miss the landscape. Violent rape of minors is only one aspect of a hellish self that India must now confront.

A 2007 Human Rights Watch report, which quoted a government survey of 12,500 children from 13 states across the country, found that 57 percent children — that is more than one in every two children — said they had been sexually abused in some way. Twenty percent of these children admitted to being aggressively assaulted: they had either been penetrated; made to sexually fondle an adult; or been forced to display their own genitals. And clearly, gender is no bias where child sexual abuse is concerned: of the 57 percent children who said they had been abused, more than half were boys.

One of the most crucial aspects of child sexual abuse and rape that must be acknowledged, therefore, is that it is rampant, indiscriminate and cuts across class, geography, culture and religion. It happens in cities and villages, by fathers, brothers, relatives, neighbours, teachers and strangers.

There is a temptation to cast only predatory working-class men in the mould of rapists. Both the paramedic’s rape and that of the child in east Delhi this week fit that narrative. It is easier — even comforting — to think such heinous crimes are only done by deviant, drunk men, incapable of processing their depraved sexual urges; men who can be hung and exterminated. It is much harder to confront the dark reality within the walls of one’s own homes.

As Enakshi Ganguly, co-director of HAQ: Centre for Child Rights, says, “Minors who live in slums are certainly vulnerable because, in most cases, both parents work and have nowhere secure to leave their children. But middle- and upper-middle- class children are also vulnerable because they live in such closed communities, they have no one to talk to about their abuse. They are under immense family pressure to preserve ideas of ‘family honour’ and not speak up.”

The scars the 50-year old mother from Punjab carries is emblematic of the wounding and unmapped silence that grips India. “I was sexually abused from the age of 10 until I was 19 by a member of the family who was like a father to me,”
she says. “This stayed unaddressed because there was no way one could talk about it. Being abused by a man who you look up to, seek protection from and who claimed to love me, completely changed a part of my soul. I suffered from a deep sense of self-loathing and blame. I could no longer connect with people or my inner self. I have always had trouble trusting people or asserting myself. Soon I found myself attracting the same kind of abusive relationships. There is also a deep sense of shame I feel towards my body. It has been 31 years since I was abused, but I’m still ashamed of wearing fitted clothes or deep necklines. And even today when I see a man with a child, I feel nauseated.”

Sociologist Shiv Visvanathan encapsulates the heart of the problem. “I think the Indian family is in deep crisis,” he says. “The violence in our families — the perversions, the sexuality, the silences — are creating a tremendous crisis that we are not looking at; that we don’t even want to look at. We focus on the ‘scandalous’ nature of these incidents. But it is a scandal that is taking place every day. Unless we look at its everyday nature, nobody is going to understand the heinousness of it.”

VIEWED FROM a different prism, the story of child rape in India is also a story of deeply ingrained callousness. When the parents of the five-year-old raped in east Delhi had found her missing and gone to the police, they refused to file an FIR and did not even undertake a cursory search. In the end, it was her shrill, insistent wailing that helped neighbours locate her, locked in a room in the very building in which her parents lived.

Look at the shocking data, based merely on reported cases, and you can almost hear the clamour of children still waiting to be found. The story of raped minors in India then is also the story of its missing children. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, a child goes missing in India every eight minutes. (Recall the gruesome Nithari murders when panicked parents from an east Delhi slum kept reporting their lost children but no action was taken till their bodies started turning up in raped and cannibalised parts.)

Where do these children go? TEHELKA cover story, The Nowhere Children by Neha Dixit, 1 November 2008, discovered that human trafficking was the third largest illicit industry after arms and drugs.

In a room cramped with young girls, the air thick with perfume and whispers, Reshma, 18, a sex worker in Mumbai, is no stranger to the epidemic of incest and rape in India. “Why do you think fathers or brothers are any different?” she asks with a hard-earned worldliness, “Hai toh voh bhi mard hi na? (After all, they too are men, aren’t they?)”

Trafficked from Chennai at the age of six when her mother died, Reshma was raped in every way imaginable — or “trained” to use her words — at seven different homes in Mumbai before being sent to a brothel madam when she turned 14. “The first time, I was asked to set his clothes out on the bed before he went to work. He came out of the bathroom, picked me up and forced me face down on the bed. He lay down on me. I started to cry and said, “Uncle I can’t breathe, why are you doing this?” The man told her if she shouted, he would tell everyone she had tried to steal from him.

Reshma soon learnt the easiest way to stay out of brutal harm was to remain silent. Soon after, she was sent with a pimp and groups of young girls to London, Dubai and Malaysia to sleep with men as old as 60 or 75, for a premium rate. She doesn’t flinch when she says civilian women in the country are safe only because there are sex workers in the world — warriors of a different kind — to ensure there is a vent for baser male desires. Each girl in the room has stories more barbaric than the other: chilli powder applied to genitals; hands and legs tied while one customer after another uses their bodies in any way he sees fit; daily beatings; in-house abortions. “Wives and daughters cannot withstand what we do,” says Reshma.

 Child C – AGE 14 | Kannur, Kerala

Occurred 2010-11 | Convicted in 2011
It was only when she could take it no more that this 14-year-old girl confided to her schoolteacher that her father, a daily wage labourer, had been raping her for the past year. After the intervention of a local NGO, the girl was shifted to a shelter home and her father sentenced to life imprisonment.
Child D - AGE 13 | Delhi

Occurred 2012 | Accused out on bail
This three-year-old came home from school with vaginal bleeding and vomitsoaked clothes. Her principal’s husband had been raping her, and had threatened to hang her from the fan if she told anyone. The medical examiner ruled out rape and registered a vague report, and only when local NGOs and political parties got involved did the case come to court.

Aastha Parivar, the Mumbai-based NGO, routinely finds young girls in brothels, who claim to be adults but are no older than 14 or 15. Asha — who had tried to help Neelima — recently rescued one such girl. She travelled to her village in Rajasthan, found her birth certificate, got a letter from the gram panchayat and finally came back to Mumbai to threaten her pimp to release the girl. But when she took the girl home to Jodhpur, the family, who had been perfectly happy to pick up money orders from the post office for the past six months, was suddenly too ashamed to take her back.

In most cases, once these young girls are trafficked, the pimps make a fresh set of false papers for them, which is how they are able to travel abroad with no trouble. Clearly, there is an entire system working in collusion: among the 148 men that slept with the young girl in Kerala, who had been trafficked by her father, there was an NRI doctor, an actor, a retired naval officer and various businessmen.

It is no surprise then that these children — the ones who are not the subject of Facebook pages and popular protests — should have learned to think like adults, to weigh morals against money and choose the latter. “The younger you are, the more you can charge,” Reshma says matter-of-factly, pointing to Bilquis, a dimpled 14-year-old who had her first abortion last month.

IN WHICHEVER diabolic form it comes — rapist fathers or rapist strangers, rape within the home or in brothels, whether it is with prepuberty children or adolescent girls — there is a systemic failure that needs urgent redressal.

Inevitably, the police is the first interface. And inevitably, like most stories in India, the story of police response to rape is a complex one.

At one level, there is plain brutishness and malevolent prejudice. A TEHELKA sting last year, The rapes will go on by G Vishnu and Abhishek Bhalla, 20 December 2012, captured the venomous chauvinism with which many police officers and constables view women and rape. Shockingly, this sometimes extends to children as well. Some of the cases mentioned in this story already illustrate that. But, depressingly, there are thousands more.

Sudha Tiwari, a child rights activist, recalls a case from the 1990s, when a 13-year-old was raped by her father. The parents had had a fight and the mother had gone to her parents’ place leaving her daughter behind. At night, the father climbed onto his daughter, stripped her naked and raped her. Hearing her screams, the neighbours came in and dragged the father to the police. They refused to register a case. The next day, Tiwari and other activists got involved and took the father to the police station again, forcing them to file a case. They did file the case but not before taunting the mother. “You are frigid,” they told her, “that’s why your poor man has no choice but to go to his daughter to satisfy himself.”

According to Tiwari, they see less of that level of criminal boorishness in the police now (though activists elsewhere in the country have different experiences). But, contrary to the clamour in the media and public domain, there are seemingly no shortcuts.

The presence of women cops, for instance — one of the great demands of all street protests — is no automatic safeguard. Bharti Ali, of HAQ, has some sobering insights. “We often have serious issues with women police officers,” she says. “They want to hush things up and refuse to register cases because they are facing so much brutality in their own personal lives, they have no empathy for others.” She speaks of how women cops are scared to go home wearing uniforms because they have no power within their own homes. “You can’t be walking in uniform into a place where an hour later the neighbours can hear screams of you getting beaten up.”

But frustration, prejudice and entrenched social bigotry do not account for the whole police story either. In the curious twists that India can be replete with, it appears the police are wrongly incentivised.

During Mayawati’s reign, the Uttar Pradesh Police were infamously loath to register any cases against Dalit atrocities because she had wanted the crime rate to be brought down: the only way to create such miracle change was to keep the books clean and pretend there was no crime.

In Delhi this week, the cops allegedly tried to bribe the parents of the five-year-old to bury the case. It’s unclear whether they were merely being venal and exploitative or were scared of having such a brutal crime happen on their watch.

Either way, Ganguly, also of HAQ, points out how ill-thought-out the incentives are. “The police are rewarded for being crime free. No one gives them credit for reporting cases in a timely and competent way; for lodging sound FIRs and investigating a case well. So where is their motivation to investigate and prosecute these cases? They would rather just stay out of trouble and wash their hands off it. Pretend their areas of jurisdiction have no crime.”

Child E – AGE 14 | Maliwada, Maharashtra

Occurred 2006 |  Convicted in 2010

An autorickshaw driver approached Childline when his 14-year-old daughter went missing. It took three years to rescue the girl, during which she had been sold into prostitution and taken to various places in the state and Goa. After a four-year battle, 20 high-profile individuals, including politicians and traders, were sentenced to two life-terms each.
Child F - AGE 14 | Mumbai

Occurred 2009 | Accused at large

She complained to the police twice that a 14- year-old girl in her slum was being sexually harassed by a neighbour. The police laughed it off, asking her to call when an actual rape took place. A month later, the girl’s naked body was found cut to pieces and dumped in a gutter. The boy had disappeared overnight.

Bharti Ali points out other imponderables. “Police sensitisation has been happening,” she says, “but though a lot of the rules are now in writing, all of it is contingent on how receptive a particular DCP is. For instance, we were having a monthly meeting with all stakeholders — the Child Welfare Committees, the Juvenile Justice Boards, social workers, the magistrate and the police — in the Outer Delhi district. But it’s all stopped now because the new DCP doesn’t think it is useful.”

childDelhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar may have been right when he said he would “resign a 1,000 times if that would prevent rapes”. The prevention of rape may not always be in his hands. But the response to it certainly is. He — and his peers in the system — have to square up to that.

IT IS crucial to drive home at each juncture of this story that more than anything else, it is families and parents who are failing India’s children the most. Apart from being the main perpetrators themselves, the violence of silence is all-pervasive. It is imperative to break this silence.

Harish Iyer, 32, an equal rights activist, believes he was “set free” when his best friend told his entire college that he was being abused. Iyer, the son of a well-to-do businessman and a homemaker, was raped regularly between the ages of seven to 18 by an uncle close to the family. “The first time he raped me, he forced my mouth on to his penis. If I tried to scream, he would choke me harder,” says Iyer. Soon after, when Iyer’s aunt was away, his uncle crawled into bed with him and sodomised him. “Every time I tried to scream or protest, he would hurt me more. I learnt the easiest way to make it end was to just stay quiet. After a point, whenever he entered my room, I would just take my clothes off, lie down and wait for it to be over.”

Iyer’s mother, who told her friends that her increasingly reticent son was “just different” from other kids, could never fully comprehend what her son meant when he told her he disliked his uncle. On the sole occasion Iyer, terrified and filled with shame, told her he was bleeding, she told him he was “probably eating too many mangoes”.

Over the 11 years that he abused him, Iyer’s uncle devised newer and increasingly more sadistic methods for his pleasure. He opened up his nephew with tongs when he was not receptive, poked him with needles to make him bleed, inserted various objects into his anus. On occasion, he even forced him to perform sexual favours on other men.

Ravi Kant, a Supreme Court lawyer and director of the anti-trafficking NGO, Shakti Vahini, says the maximum incidences of fathers raping daughters that he has witnessed happen in upper-class, elite families. But he hasn’t been able to take even a single case through to its just end. “There is so much pressure within the family, the fathers brothers, their wives, everyone suddenly appears on the scene once ‘family honour’ is at stake,” he says.

But even as one persists with these reiterations, it is important to map the other key vulnerabilities in the system. Juvenile justice homes are one such black hole.

A report by the Asian Centre for Human Rights has listed four reasons why these shelter and rehabilitation homes have become sites of such intense sexual assault and exploitation. First, most states have not formed Inspection Committees, which are mandated to inspect juvenile justice homes at least once every three months. Secondly, there are hundreds of unregistered childcare homes in the country that fall outside the purview of any regulatory mechanism. Thirdly, though the Juvenile Justice Act, 2007, provides for separate facilities for boys and girls, for the most part, this is not complied with. Finally, though there are 462 district-level Child Welfare Committees in 23 states mandated to verify the viability of childcare institutions, most of these exist only on paper. (Bizarrely, in October 2010, the Karnataka government even prohibited members of the welfare committees to visit childcare institutions without prior permission from the institution heads. In effect, this order prohibited any random or surprise inspections.)

Unfortunately, the judicial infrastructure and attitudes around child rape can often be as bruising and opaque.

Following the 2007 Human Rights Watch study, which revealed one in every two interviewed children had been abused, Parliament had passed a landmark Bill for the prevention of sexual offences against children last November. According to the Prevention of Child Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, separate and stringent punishments are to be meted out for each kind of violation of a child’s innocence, including exposing the child to pornography, taking nude photographs of him/her or exposing the child to one’s private parts. Further, the Act attempts to make legal proceedings ‘child friendly’ by decreeing that the victim’s testimony be recorded by an officer not in uniform (preferably female), at a place of the child’s choosing. Under no circumstance should the child be detained at a police station. Additionally, the Act declares that anyone who knows of a child being abused and fails to report the matter to the police can and will be punished.

There were other good interventions. The Act made it mandatory for legal aid to be provided to minors who have complained of rape. This was meant to be implemented by state-level commissions and Child Welfare Committees, statutory bodies set up to administer shelters and children in need of protection and care under the Juvenile Justice Act.

This was a path-breaking clause because even though a public prosecutor is appointed to all such cases, there was a desperate need for legal counsel for parents who don’t want to suffer the laborious process of filing a case, being threatened, or even putting their child through the repeated trauma of testifying before a magistrate.

But sadly — depressingly — on ground, all of this is just so much white smoke. As already mentioned, most of the state-level commissions don’t even exist. And recently, when the Ministry of Women and Child Development wrote to all the state secretaries asking them to report back on what had been done to set up state-level commissions to implement POCSO, only Odisha and Haryana wrote back.

Child G - AGE 8 | Delhi

Occurred 2008 | Accused set free by trial court
His eight-year-old daughter was raped by a neighbour’s son. When he filed a case, the court deemed the accused a juvenile despite electoral rolls putting his age at 20 and medical tests determining that he was at least 18 years and two months old at the time of the crime. After two weeks in judicial custody, he was let off.
Child H - AGE  3 | Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh

Occurred 2012 | Convicted in 2013
He would rape his three-year-old daughter when his wife went to drop their five-year-old son to school. A compounder by profession, he knew how to rape his daughter in a manner that would cause minimal visible damage. The abuse only came to light when he was caught in the act. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison in January.

India’s darkest, most ugly and hellish epidemic and no government functionary is even interested to write back. Like most Indian laws, POCSO too appears to be written for an imagined law-enforcing machinery.

This criminal absence of response becomes even starker when contrasted with how effective these interventions could be — if acted upon.

Bharati Sharma, former chairperson of a Child Welfare Committee in New Delhi, and founder of the NGO Shakti Shalini, describes one such case. In 2007, a five-year-old girl was briefly left alone at home by her parents. Her mother had gone back to the village with her younger sibling; her father had gone or work on night duty. A female neighbour was supposed to stay the night with her but got slightly delayed. In that short span of time, a neighbour entered the home and raped the child so brutally she was hospitalised for a month. The community banded together and informed a social worker from the NGO World Vision. They got an FIR filed.

This is where Sharma stepped in. Her outfit managed to get a lawyer from HAQ for free. It made all the difference. The parents had wanted to give the child up to a shelter home out of shame. But the Child Welfare Committee and the lawyer counselled them out of it. He used to visit them at home, patiently explaining the process to them — something a public prosecutor will rarely have the time to do. The magistrate, in this case, was so insensitive, the hearing for the child’s statement was fixed and postponed seven times, forcing her to appear repeatedly in court. The lawyer took this up with the Delhi High Court and had guidelines issued for all stakeholders: police, doctors and lawyers. The whole case took three years, but the perpetrator was sentenced for 10 years. And the family was able to go back to their existing home, without abandoning the child.

“That’s how crucial legal aid or the lack of it can be while dealing with rape of minors,” says Sharma. “Often parents have no clue what to do; they don’t have the finances and are under a lot of trauma. Under such circumstances, a dedicated lawyer for a minor victim can literally mean the line between life and snuffing its future out.”

Yet, despite all the public noise over rape in recent months, almost no government has paid acute attention to galvanise any of this on ground.

THE GANGRAPE on 16 December and the child rape this week have triggered unprecedented protests in Delhi and across the country. While these protests have undoubtedly been a powerful catalyst — breaking the silence, searing the country’s consciousness, ringing in at least some important legislative changes — their demands and their echo chambers in the media and political establishment have also veered towards two issues that threaten to derail more substantive changes. This is the demand for death penalty for child rape and the banning of pornography.

Apart from all the usual ethical and legal arguments against having death penalty in a civilised democracy, to ask for it in the context of child rapes is almost suicidal. Repeatedly, we have seen families loath to break the omerta and speak about their children being raped merely to save “family honour”. Imagine what a steel wall of silence — what a complex concertina of social backlash — will descend if speaking up will mean death for one’s fathers, brothers, uncles and neighbours.

The question of banning pornography is slightly more complicated, but perhaps equally inconsequential.

Bharti Ali of HAQ does believe that regulating of pornography might be necessary now, given the hyper-sexualised content available to children on their cell phones, computers and television screens. “Rather than changing the channel though, it might be a better idea to let a child watch a film where the actors are making out to the end, so that he or she can place sex in a context instead of looking at it as an isolated, unemotional act,” she says.

But Asha points out that pornography has existed before the Internet and will continue to do so. It is impossible to control. In any case, for children growing up in tiny, box-sized 8ftx8ft shanties, crammed children and adult in joint families, the sexual act can never remain hidden. Privacy is not a luxury the poor can afford. Even in the cases of juvenile rapists that she has encountered, Asha says boys find it easier to “scare a little girl” into doing what they want rather than look for money to watch a blue film at the local parlour or visit a brothel.

Our desire to weed out the scourge of rape from India has to start a lot deeper.

SUNITHA KRISHNAN refuses to engage with the din emanating from New Delhi just now. Twentyfive years ago, Krishnan, then 16, was gangraped by eight men. Among the many injuries the ordeal caused to her body and mind, it also left Krishnan partially deaf — this is her second ear surgery in four years. Despite social pressure to define herself as a ‘victim’ of rape, Krishnan has been not just a survivor of, but a champion against sexual violence. She has consistently refused to hide her identity or her face, insisting that rape survivors must be the first to “shift the shame”.

Yet, when TEHELKA contacted her to talk about the rape of minors, she chose to remain silent. “Do the story when there is no noise about it,” was her terse reply to our email. In a sense, it was not surprising. At our first meeting, she had lambasted the media’s biased coverage, saying that journalists never hounded rapists, and even when they did, it was always the lower class, anonymous perpetrator that they wrote about — never the father taking his daughter on solitary vacations, or the uncle always coming over when no one was home.

When Krishnan spoke of a “certain kind” of rape that is reported, she referred to the privileging of rape by strangers over rape by family or institutions. The insinuation is — New Delhi will take to the streets over the gangrape on the bus, or for the five-year-old raped by her neighbour, but never for the countless boys and girls violated as a matter of routine in their own homes, or the girls violated by officers of the state. Even the new anti-rape Bill, generally considered a step in the right direction, stays coy on the issue of marital rape, or rape by the armed forces. The only way to make sense of the sharply accelerating incidences of sexual violence against children is to stop looking at them in isolation. There is something that these rapes by strangers, families, caretakers and customers have in common: the noise that they create is not just getting incredibly loud, but it is also extremely close.

Child I - AGE 7 | Mumbai, Maharashtra

Occurred 1988-99 | Case never filed
He was raped regularly between the age of seven and 18 by his uncle. His uncle became more sadistic as time went by, opening him up with tongs when he was not receptive, poking him with needles, inserting foreign objects into his anus. When he told his mother that he was bleeding, she dismissed it, saying he had been eating too many mangoes.
Child J - AGE  8 | Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh

Occurred 2010 | Convicted in 2010

The eight-year-old was raped so brutally by her maternal uncle’s 15-year-old son over three months that she had to be hospitalised with severe vaginal bleeding. Her younger sister was also raped. The girls told their mother about the abuse, but she tried to hush it up. They finally complained to their father, who lodged a police complaint. After an inquiry, the rapist was sent to a juvenile justice home.

Two weeks ago, when we had met in New York at Newsweek’s Women in the World summit, Krishnan sat alone on the steps of the Lincoln Theatre eating her lunch, “I don’t feel too comfortable in crowds,” she smiled, as if to explain why we could not have this conversation in the banquet hall inside. At 4 ft 6 in, Krishnan is as tall as she was when she was 16. She says her case was “doomed” from the beginning because she could not recall the faces of a single one of her assailants. “All I remember from that night is a smell,” she says. A smell. And the lasting fear of being in crowds.

nishita@tehelka.com

revati@tehelka.com

 

#India – Little kids in slums more vulnerable to sexual abuse


CHILDRAPE

Ambika Pandit, TNN Apr 21, 2013,

NEW DELHI: The voices from 1,580 families in 28 slums, resettlement and unauthorized colonies of Delhi speak in unison about vulnerability of their children and why they are more likely to be victims of violence and sexual abuse than a child living in a planned neighbourhood.

With 75% of the mothers labouring to run the house, the children in the age group of 0-6 years are usually left in the care of an older sibling or the neighbour. But with more and more cases of sexual abuse by known persons, the neighbourhood is no longer the safest option, says a survey by a network of grassroot NGOs working on issues of children under six in urban poor settlements of the capital.

The survey, carried out last year by the network Neenv (Delhi Forces), was followed up with public hearings in various settlements to lay bare the struggles of these people in bringing up their children.

Chirashree Ghosh from Mobile Creches, an NGO which has been working with children in resettlements for over two decades, pointed out that the survey and public hearings brought to fore the vulnerabilities of children in these pockets, home to 64% of Delhi’s population.

The survey also found that just 59% families owned a house. Worse still, only 57% owned pucca houses, reflecting the poor economic status of the families. Adding to the difficulties is the social scenario, with 66% families being nuclear, 67% children below 6 years and 76% working mothers labouring hard to earn their daily bread.

In such a scenario, inadequate anganwadi facilities make survival tough. The survey found that just 20% children were benefitted from anganwadi centres. About 20% children were left under the care of older siblings who are often made to drop out of school to manage the smaller children . Nearly 18% kids are left with neighbours and 5% taken along by mothers. It was also seen that 9% accidents of children took place in the absence of parents.

According to the women and child development ministry’s 2010-11 report , the Rajiv GandhiCreche Scheme had reached 5.83 lakh children in India and 7,700 in Delhi. It is estimated that there are 16 crore children under 6 years in India and six crores require care.

The public hearings also revealed that the most vulnerable among the migrants living in the slums are also the children.

Chhattisgarh: Tribal girls reveal tales of violence, sexual abuse #Vaw #WTFnews


Chhattisgarh, Updated Mar 28, 2013

New Delhi: Last week, the government passed the much awaited Anti-rape Bill. The Bill promises to tackle sexual crime. But will it really make a difference, especially in the remote corners of this country. An IBN7 investigation exposed how young tribal girls are being sexually abused in government-run homes and schools in Chhattisgarh.

Minor girls studying in the State-run Ashrams meant to provide education and boarding facilities for poor tribals in Chhattisgarh are being sexually assaulted, pushed into prostitution by their own teachers.

Girls face violence and sexual abuse and admit on camera that they were raped and abused by hostel officials. In January 2013, medical tests confirmed 11 girls were sexually abused at Jhaliamari Kanya Ashram.

The ashram came under scanner after death of a 12-year-old in 2012. The Official cause of the 12-year-old girl’s death was given as jaundice. However, on a hidden camera the government hospital doctor admitted the girl underwent a pregnancy test.

Meanwhile, a 17-year-old girl alleged that she was being forced into sex racket by her own hostel warden Anita Thakur. After public outrage the police filed an FIR and arrested Anita.

In 2006, Chief Minister Raman Singh announced the Aadarsh Ashram and Chatravas Yojna – opening 2600 hostels to house and educate children from Tribal and other backward classes. The central government poured several crores into the project. But in January 2013, medical tests confirmed that 11 girls at the Jhaliamari Kanya Ashram had been sexually abused.

Singh sadi, “I have ordered that a fast track court in the district decides on this case.”

The Jhaliamari Ashram came under the scanner after the death of a 12-year-old in August 2012. Eight people were arrested – including a teacher, security guard and hostel warden at the ashram. Swastha Adhikari, Narharpur DOC, Dr Prashant Singh had said, “Water had accumulated in her stomach and she died of jaundice and severe anemia.”

On hidden camera, the same doctor admitted the girl was given a pregnancy test but did not test positive.

Her family admits receiving threats to stay silent. The mother of the 12-year-old who survived the abuse said, “He used to drink and come, he sexually assaulted my daughter, what he did to my child was wrong.”

The parents now want their children back but the administration has sent them to other government hostels. “They have told us that the girls will stay on in the hostels, we have been asked not to worry. If this has happened to other girls, it could happen to our children. We are scared,” said one of the parent.

Equally shocking is how the sexual abuse went unnoticed for four years, even though Ashram guidelines say the girls must have weekly health check-ups. The district collector, too, refused to meet us.

In violation of an order by state government, since 2009 there have been no monitoring or inspection at the local level. As a result poor, Adivasi girls had to pay the price for sheer callousness and negligence of the district administration.

After living in a state of terror for nearly seven years, two girls from the North Bastar region of Chhattisgarh gathered the courage to speak up. They recall the horror of how they were pushed into prostitution by their hostel warden Anita Thakur. The girls also said that many more were abused but are scared to speak up.

“I was told I had to work with other girls, when I went into the room, madam closed the door behind me,” said one of the victims.

In 2006, a 17-year-old girl forced into a sex racket allegedly by her own hostel warden. The girl was in class seven then, the trauma forcing her to leave school, sending her into depression for three years. Today she has regained the strength to speak out.

“There were a lot of girls like me, they had given statements earlier. But now they are afraid to speak up,” said the victim.

Her father who has three other daughters says he blames himself. “I have four daughters, I just wanted them to have an education, I should never have put them in the ashram, I could not imagine this would happen,” he said.

Shockingly, the Chhattisgarh government actually gave Anita the best hostel warden award in January 2013. The Balod collector could not explain how the alleged sex racket run by Anita at the Amatola Ashram, went undetected for seven years. Balod Collector Amit Kumar Khalko said, “We had not recommended Anita Thakur’s name for any award. This incident is from 2006, I am sure there was a probe into it at that time too.”

Even the Chief Minister gave no answers. “I cannot give you any answers in this regard,” said Singh.

But the girl was not the only student exploited at the Ashram. The investigation has accessed seven affidavits, given by students of the Amatola Ashram, clearly stating how the warden forced them into a sex racket. Another victim recalls when she was just 13, she was brutalised repeatedly in 2006. “I was called into a room, the warden closed the curtains. I was raped but I could not understand what was happening, I was very young at that time. They have ruined the lives of so many girls like me. How long will this go on for,” she asks.

Activists working on the issue in Chhattisgarh are demanding justice. Activist Ranjeet Markam said, “We demand a CBI probe into the sexual assault of our children we demand justice.”

The sexual abuse and violence faced by these girls, going undetected for years, raises serious questions about Chhattisgarh’s tribal hostel program.

 

#India – Young Love, old moralities #moralpolicing #ageofconsent #adolescentsex


Kamayani Bali Mahabal | March 23, 2013, Times Crest

The whole debate around the age of consent is clouded by foolish misconceptions, some of them legal and many of them cultural.

Do Baba Ramdev and others know what the implications of reducing the age of consent are? They have been crying themselves hoarse that the move will lead to a rise in the incidents of rape.
‘Age of consent’ does not imply the age at which you are allowed to consent for sex. It is a legal concept which means that this will be the age below which ‘consent’ will not be considered a valid defence against a rape charge. So if a 16-to-18-year-old boy is charged with rape, he will be convicted even if the girl tells the court she had consented.

There is also another misconception at work in this debate. The age of consent is not being reduced – in India, the age of consensual consent has always been 16. Consensual intercourse with a girl under this age was construed as “statutory rape”. The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, enacted in 2012, increased the age of consent to sexual intercourse from 16 to 18. The Verma Committee recommended that the age of consent in the Indian Penal Code should revert to 16.

Where does the age of consent stand in other countries? Britain, 16, France, 15, and in Spain, 13. In the United States, the age ranges from 16 to 18 years, depending on the state in the question. People need to understand that it is quite normal for people to have sexual relationship at 16 or 17.

The reason feminists are asking age of consent to be kept at 16 years is that we do not want to criminalise and send off young boys to prison when they are in a consensual sexual relationship. As Judge Kamini Lau in her judgment last year said in the absence of what she called a “close-in-age reprieve, ” the increase in the age of consent “would become regressive and draconian as it tends to criminalise adolescent sex. ” If the age of consent is raised to 18, any sexual contact between teenagers will be considered rape, period. And all big brothers who want to control their sisters’ freedom will use it to accuse any boy/male classmate/friend who befriends their sisters, strengthening the patriarchal stereotypes which the women’s movement has been fighting to eliminate for decades.

According to the apex body of child rights in the country, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, children’s homes are full of boys who have eloped or had consensual sex with young girls whose disapproving parents have filed cases of kidnapping and rape against them. This means that a later age of consent is widely used as a weapon by protective parents.

Then there is the other question: Would pegging the age of consent at 16 encourage trafficking and rape? How can it? Trafficking and rape are a crime, no matter what the age. If it is raised to 18, young boys, especially from Dalit and tribal communities, will face rape convictions for consensual relationships with upper caste/class girl.

We need to amend the law whereby a man who is 4-5 years or more older than a 16-to-18-year-old girl can be convicted of statutory rape, irrespective of the consent of the girl, as he can sexually exploit a young girl.

The issue here is not if teenage sex is good or bad but if consensual sex between teenagers is to be defined as rape or not. We are drafting a criminal law, not a moral or a social code like the Manu Smriti.
The various babas, religious groups and the khap panchayats believe that young persons, particularly girls, should not exercise any sexual freedom. They view marriage, as determined by their families, as the only destiny for young women. The decision to have sex or not is personal. The law cannot decide when and where a person should have sex, it can only frame laws to prevent crimes.

We should understand the difference between consensual sex and marriage. A marriage is not all about sexual gratification. It is a big social responsibility, which ties a person not only to his or her partner but also to the family and kids. So the age for marriage and consensual sex should be looked at differently. Are child marriages held with the consent of children? No, they are thrust upon them. The argument for keeping the age of consent at 16 years is to prevent the criminal law from interfering in the rights of young people to exercise sexual autonomy and agency. This will curb societal control along conservative lines of caste, class and religion.

While drafting the new law, there are some contemporary realities that government appears to have forgotten. It is medically accepted fact that the age of puberty has been coming down across populations around the world. Biologically, therefore, youngsters are starting to feel the effects of sex hormones raging around their bodies much earlier. According to the third National Health Survey, 2005-06 nearly 43 per cent of women aged between 20-24 had engaged in intercourse before they were 18.

Do we have anything close to sex education in India to allow young people to make informed choices? We need to equip teenagers so they can understand their bodies, and respect sexual attraction, not despise it, and deal responsibly with it. We should not criminalise that attraction. If we do, young men will only end up fearing and hating women, and developing a distorted perception of sexuality and women. This will only make them more violent towards women.

Is this the way we want to deal with violence against women? The criminal law should take into account a teenager’s ability and maturity to make decisions about sex. It should help them deal with their sexuality in an informed and responsible way. Law should strengthen our rights and freedoms and not be an instrument of social control or moral policing.

Now that the government has passed the Bill with the age of consent at 18, we have opened avenues for the prosecution of young boys and girls. We have acknowledged that the Indian society wishes to treat its young boys and girls as immature individuals incapable of making a responsible decision about their sexual lives. Now let us think, is this one step forward or four backwards?

The writer is a lawyer and human rights activist.

 

Abuse that women face on the Internet superhighway is targeted at their gender #study #Vaw


Highway harassment

The abuse that women face on the Internet superhighway is targeted at their gender, regardless of the subject of what they post, finds a new study

March 12, 2013
Mumbai
Asha Mahadevan, Midday, March 12, 2013

Giving opinions on the Internet is a lot like walking on the street of the real world. Both make women targets of sexual harassment.” That is what 17 women active on the Internet said to researchers of the Internet Democracy Project (IDP) who conducted a study on the kind of abuse women face online.

Sexual abuse

The researchers revealed their findings at a seminar in RD National College in Bandra recently. The researchers found that a woman need not make a political statement – such as in the Palghar case – to get sexually abusive comments. Even if a woman makes innocuous statements or simply uploads a well-dressed photograph of hers on her public profile on Facebook, Twitter, or a blog, she is very likely to get hundreds of comments that call her a sl*t, b***h and w***e.

Silencing
“It is an attempt to silence the expression of women in the Internet space,” said Dr Anja Kovacks, project director, IDP. New Delhi-based Anja (pronounced Anya) and her team of four spoke to women active online – via blogs and social networking sites – and the kind of harassment they face from trolls. Anja said they started this project because they realised there has been no proper study conducted on the sexual harassment women face online in India even though there have been such studies conducted abroad. Explaining the reasons behind the sample size of 17 and the scope of the project, Anja said, “In qualitative research, it is common to have small samples. Qualitative research has limitations. The study was very much of an exploration. We have no sense of how many shut up or just disappear (after receiving abuse) but we only know it happens.” Shehla Rashid Shora, project officer, IDP, called the study, “an attempt to start a conversation and it’s never been done in India before.”

Harrowing
The 17 women who were a part of this qualitative research narrated harrowing tales of the kind of harassment they have faced. Explained Shobha SV, a member of the team, “They can range from insults to physical attributes of the woman writer, threats of sexual violence (‘you should be gangraped in public and it should be telecast live’ was one of the threats received) to creating parallel blogs that mock everything in the writer’s actual blog and making and circulating hate pages.” One participant even narrated how one of her photographs was taken off her blog and reposted on a public forum after the abuser painted a moustache on it and defaced it.

Sexual
The sad fact is that this sex abuse was in response to some of the most innocuous posts these women made – about meeting an ex-boyfriend in the park or relocation from one country to another, or the frustration that their children caused sometimes. It’s worse if they go off topic – if a mommy blogger writes about caste issues or politics, she is the recipient of the choicest abuse. Any woman who talks about domestic violence or marital rape will find herself being called all sorts of uncomplimentary names. “Gender based harassers target the most visible part of gender – the body. There is a perception among harassers that talking about sex will get to women,” said Richa Kaul Padhpe, one of the researchers. “So harassers use sexuality threats to silence women and restrict their speech.”

Fears
Added Anja, “Studies have found that women can’t just hang around the street the way guys do. A woman on a road has to have a purpose to occupy that space. Similarly, women in our study referred to the Internet as a street, where you can’t just hang around.” The fears of the women are the same whether they are online or offline, she explained. “Many women don’t tell their families because they get or fear to get the same response as to harassment on the streets – why do you go there? What’s the point in doing this? Why don’t you stop going there?” This then results in self-censorship, said Anja. “You end up positioning yourself in a certain way, you don’t talk about certain topics, or don’t phrase things in a certain way.” Women’s speech is thus restricted.

Communication
Priyanka Chaturvedi, General Secretary North West District Youth Congress, has invited abuse with her tweets. The young mother of two has faced gender specific abuse. Says Priyanka, “I have faced so much flak for tweeting, even more so because I come from a political background. If I tweet or write something against Narendra Modi, I come in for a huge backlash from his supporters. Recently, a lie had been spread against me in cyber space saying that I was one of four persons who had gone to meet Sonia Gandhi with reference to the Delhi gang rape case. I got comments like: ‘you should be gang raped’ and ‘your behaviour is worse than that of a sl.t’.”

Priyanka says she has also received comments about flirting with men on Twitter. A change of profile picture leads to responses like: ‘you have a pretty picture but a low IQ’. “The abuse is very personal and can get very nasty.” Priyanka responds by going offline for a couple of days, blocking the abuse, using filters or ignoring it. People have asked me to file a cyber complaint at times. However, there is no way that I am deleting my account, it would mean victory for the abusers.”

Legal
Said Anja, “Women use a lot of interesting and wide-ranging strategies to deal with online abuse. Our study revealed that going to the police or taking legal recourse is only the very last measure.” There is an overwhelming reluctance to use the law as many of these women have found that the police are not supportive. When the researchers met police officials on the issue, they were told that women can prevent the abuse by not putting up their pictures online. “The whole discourse was about what women should not do rather than saying ‘don’t abuse,’” recalled Shobha. Added Richa, “The law tends to individualise the crime instead of looking at it as a systemic problem.”

Anonymity
Many women have tried to tackle the problem by hiding their identity. Anonymity gives women the chance to voice their opinion and make friends from different castes, class, religion and political affiliations. The researchers found this to be true especially of sex workers in Delhi. But with the right tools, it is not difficult for any abuser to find a blogger, tweeter or FB writer’s true identity, especially since women tend to use the same anonymous handle across platforms. The abusers on the other hand, are more capable of hiding their identity.

Questions
The significance of anonymity is just one of the many questions that this study has raised for Anja and her team. Said Shehla, “The importance of this study is underscored by the fact that it throws up more questions and paradoxes than answers. Anonymity (of the abuser) for example was flagged as a concern by many women. But the same women also said that anonymity gives them agency as well. The question around the law is an inconvenient one – should there be a hate speech law that is inclusive of gender (the current one isn’t)? But the women who themselves have an active internet presence are strongly against censorship.”

Attempt
The group had come up with a plan to create a hashtag #MisogynyAlert to organise the recipients of such abuse and drive away misogynistic trolls. “But after a few days, two bloggers criticised the way we used the hashtag. And some of the criticism was important – one feminist said that our responses were not compliant with feminist principles. This throws up more questions – while gentle reprimand may work with some people, there are trolls with whom it won’t work. In such a case, do women essentially need to ‘gang up’ to respond to such abuse?”

Ahead
Anja says, “I hope to take the findings to the government and hope that it will have a positive effect on their decisions regarding Acts such as the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act and those that define obscenity and hate speech.”

Glossary
Tweet: A 140-character text-based message that a user puts up on the microblogging site, Twitter.
Twitter handle: The online name of a user on the site – it can be their real name or a fake one.
Blogs: Online journals wherein users write articles called blogposts on any subject. The writer is called a blogger.
Mommy blogger: A writer who mainly writes about parenting issues for a niche audience. Daddy blogger trend is also picking up.
Troll: A user who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community to deliberately provoke the writer or to divert the track of the discussion.
Hashtag: A word or phrase prefixed with the symbol # . It is included in the message and is connected to the general topic of the message, so it is easier to search for all messages on one topic.

 

 

Our bodies, our selves #womenrights #gender #Vaw


Female homicides in Ciudad Juárez

 

 

 
NILANJANA S. ROY, The Hindu

 

Until we embrace the idea of consent in all relationships, including marriage, there can be no gender equality. Its absence makes discussions on sexual abuse meaningless

 

The man who was my abuser was a fine host, a good husband, a caring father, a respected elder whose generosity and kindness were as genuine as the fact of the abuse. These qualities were important, because they helped him conceal the abuse he carried out over a period of four years.

 

As a much-loved older relative, a close friend of my parents, he had unrestricted access to our house, and we visited him often. It was only at 12 that I began to feel uncomfortable. I didn’t know the term “child sexual abuse,” and had no words with which to describe my discomfort with the “games” he played — but I sensed there was something wrong about the silence that he demanded. When I was 13, I left Delhi for Calcutta, to study in that city, and left my abuser behind. But he didn’t forget, and when I came back to Delhi as a 17-year-old, he was there.

 

FIERCE, PROTECTIVE BARRIER

 

At 17, I knew now that he had no right to do this to me. When he sent poems, said that despite the four decades that separated us, we were supposed to “be together,” I broke my own silence — but only partly. I told my mother and my sister, and they formed a fierce, protective barrier between me and my abuser.

 

But the man who had started his abuse when I was nine was still invited to my wedding, because we were all keeping secrets, trying to protect one family member or another. (He was married, with grown children of his own.)

 

Years later, when my abuser was dying of old age and diabetes, I visited him. There was no space for a long conversation, but I did tell him that I would not forget, even if forgiveness was possible. The silence around the abuse festered and caused damage for years, until finally, in my thirties, the difficult, liberating process of healing began.

 

If this story saddens you, please think about this: my story is neither new nor rare, nor was the man who abused me a monster, or in any way out of the ordinary. According to a 2007 survey (the largest of its kind in India) conducted by the Ministry of Women and Child Welfare, over 53 per cent of Indian children have experienced some form of sexual abuse — a slightly higher percentage of boys than girls. I am only one of many.

 

As I learned to cope with the fallout from the childhood abuse, I made unexpected connections, found good friends, found strong mentors, found help, found my voice again and built a happier, more free life. If I bring up the abuse today, it’s to make a point about the importance of consent in the debate over gender equality in India.

 

Child abuse survivors are experts in two areas: we’ve taken a masterclass in the toxicity of silence and secret-keeping, and we have doctorates in our understanding of the importance of consent. It can take survivors, like rape survivors of either gender, years to reclaim a sense of ownership over their own bodies. The body is the site of so many violations, starting with the chief one: our abusers did not ask us for permission to use our bodies as they pleased. Children subjected to abuse learn one harsh lesson — their bodies are not their own.

 

RIGHT TO OFFER OR WITHHOLD

 

Over years, those of us who are fortunate enough to find counsellors and healers learn to reclaim our bodies. We learn as adults what children are supposed to know by instinct: we learn that we can be safe in our bodies, we learn to allow ourselves pleasure, to take care of ourselves, and most of all, we learn that we have the right to offer or withhold permission to other people, when they want access to our bodies, our selves.

 

In December 2012, a violent gang rape in Delhi took the life of a young woman and set off a raging debate over women’s freedoms and rape laws. In all the complex arguments we’ve heard in the last few months in India on rape, violence against women, we have not discussed consent as much as we need to. When we talk about rape, women’s bodies are often discussed as though they were property: how much freedom should the Indian family allow its daughters, wives, sisters, mothers?

 

Recently, rejecting the Verma Committee’s strong appeal that marital rape be made an offence under the law, the Standing Committee on Home said that (a) the Indian family system would be disturbed (b) there were practical difficulties and (c) marriage presumes consent.

 

These assumptions expose the toxicity at the heart of a certain view of the Indian family. For marriage to “presume consent,” you must assume that a woman gives up all rights to her body, to her very self, once she goes through the ceremony of marriage. You must also presume that a man is granted the legally sanctified right to access over his wife’s body, regardless of whether she finds sex unwelcome, frightening, painful, violent or simply doesn’t feel like it that day.

 

MEDIEVAL VIEW

 

This diminishes both genders, in its assumption that men are little more than lustful beasts, unable to restrain their libidos, that women are passive receptacles without desires of their own, forced to submit to demands for sex regardless of what they want. This is a medieval view of marriage and sex, and it is dismaying that Parliament appears to subscribe to it.

 

What is missing is the key question of consent — the consent of the woman, of any person in a sexual contract. All people — children, women, men — have a right to their own bodies.

 

In any equal partnership, the only possible basis for sex is on the mutual understanding that consent is an active process — to be offered freely and gladly, to be withdrawn just as freely. Underlying the principle of consent is the equally strong principle of respect; respect for one’s self, as much as for one’s partner. No one should be forced to share their bodies against their will.

 

On an active, day-to-day basis, consent embraces the idea that any woman or man is free to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to a sexual encounter, inside or outside marriage, regardless of whether they are, in the ugly phrase of the courts and police stations, “habituated to sex.”

 

Child abuse survivors and sexual violence survivors understand instinctively that true respect includes giving all people the right to say ‘no,’ the right to choose when they will be touched, and by whom.

 

If it is hard for Indian society to understand why everyone should have this right, then perhaps we should start with the basics.

 

You own your own body. Everyone has the right to live without their bodies being violated. Everyone has the right to demand that you ask for permission before you touch their bodies.

 

Perhaps in time, Parliament and the government might understand this. Justice Verma Committee and thousands of women trapped in marriages where they do not have the right to refuse sex certainly do understand. (For those who believe that marriage in India is a perfect, unsullied institution, read the statistics: over 40 per cent of women in marriages have reported domestic violence. That’s reported, not experienced. In addition, we rarely discuss the experiences of men who have gone through childhood sexual abuse — currently, the percentage is slightly higher for boys than girls, but men are doubly silenced, by shame and the demands of masculinity.)

 

FROM VICTIM TO SURVIVOR

 

My own journey from victim to survivor and then to a kind of freedom, took years. Even so, I had less to deal with than many whose stories are reported in Human Rights Watch’s recent study of child sexual abuse in India — no institutionalised abuse, no caste abuse, no extreme violence. In time, I became a writer, a listener, and a collector of stories. The shared stories of survivors allowed me to let go of shame — child abuse was too common and too widespread for that. I also learned that your memories, however dark, will not kill you, or prevent you from creating a better life.

 

Reclamation happened slowly, sometimes painfully. I was lucky to have the support of my partner, friends and great counsellors. But that journey started with believing that I did have the right to say ‘no,’ that my body did belong to me.

 

The debate in India over rape laws, particularly marital rape, is about such a simple thing: acknowledging that women (and men, and children) have a right over their own bodies. Why is this being treated as though it were a dangerous or radical idea? In a country that calls itself modern, as India does, it’s time we embraced the idea of consent, in all relationships.

 

Even though it’s so common — more than half of all adults in my generation of Indians have experienced some form of childhood sexual abuse — few survivors speak about their experiences because of the Indian family’s insistence on silence. That silence transferred the shame of the abuser’s act on to the child, and on to the family; it is powerful and crippling, and it actively enables abuse.

 

The silence around marital rape is strengthened when the Indian social and legal system refuses even to acknowledge that it exists; for an abuser, and for a rapist, these silences are frighteningly empowering.

 

Just as children have the right to ask that their bodies remain unviolated by the people they should be able to trust, a woman has the right to say, no, she does not give her consent. Even, and perhaps especially in, a relationship as intimate as marriage.

 

(Nilanjana S. Roy is a New Delhi-based writer)

 

 

 

 

Pune teacher sexually abuses 22 minor girls, arrested #Vaw #WTFnews


CHILDRAPE

TIMES NEWS NETWORK

Pune: The Chatushrungi police on Tuesday arrested a 50-year-old visiting academic of a prominent English medium school in the Aundh area here for allegedly sexually abusing about 22 girls from the fifth standard since the last two or three months.
The school authorities learnt of the abuse on February 5 after one of the girls complained to her teacher about the academic’s behaviour. The school conducted an internal inquiry and found that the academic, Pradeep Gothaksar, a resident of Panchvati, Pashan, had abused about 22 girls from the same class. The school contacted senior police inspector Bhanupratap Barge of the social security cell of the crime branch on February 22.
Barge, along with senior inspector Ajay Kadam of the Chatushrungi police station, held a meeting with the school authorities and the girls’ parents on Saturday. Barge said the parents were told of the sexual abuse during the meeting. “We also told the parents about the new Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, and requested them to lodge a complaint with the police,” he said.
Barge said some girls had already told their parents about the sexual abuse but they had not approached the school authorities. “These parents were reluctant to approach the police too. However, we managed to convince them to lodge a complaint and also told them it would be considered a crime as per the new law if they didn’t,” he said.
Barge said a senior official of the school lodged the complaint against Gothaskar on Tuesday. Gothaskar was arrested by the Chatushrungi police in the evening and charged under sections 7, 9(F) and 10 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.

#India -Policeman arrested for allegedly molesting woman in Goa town #WTFnews #Vaw


Jan 22, 2013   Panaji, Goa

Rape, maps4aid

Action Taken: Superintendent of Police (North) Vishram Borkar said the constable had been arrested and placed under suspension.
Description:

A policeman was arrested for allegedly molesting a woman on the pretext of conducting an investigation at her residence in Mapusa town near Panaji, police said on Tuesday. Constable Prashant Dawaskar, 30, was arrested on Monday after a woman lodged a complaint with Mapusa police that he, along with four other civilians, ransacked her flat and molested her, while trying to conduct a probe on a complaint against her husband, police said.
The woman and her six-year-old daughter were at home when the alleged offence took place, while her husband was out on his duty. The woman mentioned in her complaint that Dawaskar entered her house on Sunday at around midnight without a woman police constable and body searched her, amounting to molestation.
Superintendent of Police (North) Vishram Borkar said the constable had been arrested and placed under suspension. There was no formal complaint against the woman and the constable acted on his own, Borkar said. The woman alleged that all the persons entered the house forcibly claiming that her husband owed them money.