Why the Govt’s Ordinance is an Eyewash and a Mockery of the Justice Verma Recommendations


Bekhauf Azaadi Campaign

The UPA Govt, in a Cabinet meeting held on 1 February, has introduced an ordinance that it claims will address the most urgent concerns on sexual violence. In fact, the Government has been completely reluctant to acknowledge and implement the Justice Verma Committee recommendations: the PM refused to accept it from Justuce Verma, the Ministry of Home Affairs removed it from their website, the Govt never adopted any transparent process of discussion to decide the way forward on implementing the recommendations, rather they said Justice Verma ‘exceeded his brief’. Now, they claim that their ordinance has ‘implemented’ the Justice Verma recommendations. Is this true?

The fact is that the Government’s ordinance is a mockery of the letter and spirit of the Justice Verma recommendations.

Why? Let us take a closer look.

The Justice Verma report radically redefined the way in which sexual violence is understood, because it firmly called for safeguarding women’s autonomy – including her sexual autonomy. This means that sexual violence should be understood as any sexual contact that is forced on a woman unless she has explicitly said or indicated ‘Yes’ to it. It is irrelevant whether she is married or not, or whether the perpetrator is a policeman, judge, magistrate, public servant, politician, or army officer: the accused/perpetrator cannot enjoy impunity in any case! The ordinance completely mocks this basic principle.

 

The ordinance is nothing but the Govt’s old discredited Criminal Law Amendment Bill 2012 with some extra window dressing. What’s WRONG with this ordinance?

 

  • Rejecting Justice Verma’s recommendations to ensure gender-specificity (male) of the perpetrator of rape and gender-neutrality for victims, the ordinance makes rape a ‘gender-neutral’ crime. This means that a man can accuse a woman of rape!!
  • The ordinance criminalises consensual sexual activity between 16-18 years; such sexual activity, even by consent, will automatically be seen as rape. This will give a handle to the moral-policing brigades and communities who harass inter-caste and inter-religious friendships and relationships, by branding young boys as ‘rapists.’ See what is happening in Mangalore now: Bajrang Dal and Durga Vahini brigades have been entering ice-cream parlours, rounding up teenage couples and handing them over to the police; the Chhattisgarh police in Bhilai is doing the same. Such forces will get a handle to use the rape law against boyfriends.
  • The ordinance refuses to include marital rape in the rape law – and it continues to give a lesser punishment for rape of a separated wife by a husband. The Govt’s press release about the ordinance shamelessly says that “Verma criminalises marital non-consensual sexual intercourse” but the Govt will not do so! So, according to the Govt, not every ‘non-consensual’ sexual act is rape; a husband is allowed to force sex on his wife! Even if the wife is separated from her husband, the law will be ‘understanding’ and ‘lenient’ towards him if he rapes her, since she was ‘once his wife’! This means that the ordinance continues to see the wife as the husband’s sexual property, rather than as a person is her own right, with the same right to say YES and NO to sex as any unmarried woman! We know domestic violence is common in marriage: can’t the husband who batters his wife, also rape his wife?! Our govt is saying he will have the right to rape his wife!
  • The ordinance rejects Justice Verma’s recommendation of the principle of ‘command responsibility’ in case of custodial rape by police or army: i.e the principle that a superior officer will be held responsible if a junior officer commits rape or sexual assault. This principle is crucial if one considers the manifold cases of custodial rape like that of Soni Sori – where a senior officer Ankit Garg ordered his juniors to sexually torture her; or a case like Kunan Poshpora, where an entire village of women in Kashmir was gang-raped by the Army – something that could not have taken place without the awareness and blessings, even orders, of higher officers!
  • The ordinance fails to include sexual violence in the context of caste/communal massacres in the category of ‘aggravated sexual assault’ – as recommended by Justice Verma report (p 220).
  •  The ordinance rejects the Justice Verma’s recommendation that no sanction be required to prosecute judges/magistrates/public servants who are accused of sexual violence; and similarly that the AFSPA be amended to do away with the requirement for sanction to prosecute an army officer accused of sexual violence. Justice Verma’s argument was clear: no army officer nor any judge or public servant can claim to have raped in the course of his duty! The ordinance, by rejecting Justice Verma’s recommendations, ensures impunity for powerful rapists.Similarly the ordinance makes no move to implement the electoral reforms called for by Justice Verma, specifically against candidates and elected representatives accused of serious sexual offences.
  • The ordinance introduces death penalty in the rarest of the rare cases of rape. This is a deliberate red herring. For one thing, death sentence is already a possibility in cases where rape is compounded with murder. By introducing it in the rape law, even Congress leader and advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, speaking on NDTV, expressed the ‘personal opinion’ that this would further lower the conviction rate because it would deter the court from sentencing! Currently, let us remember that the Courts are reluctant even to give the minimum 7 year sentence for rape, and keep finding excuses to reduce it to as low as 3! Will the same Courts not become even more reluctant to convict, if conviction will mean death? 
  • The Justice Verma report recommended imprisonment for 5 years for a policeman who failed to follow the law (i.e registering FIRs or proper investigation); the ordinance admits for a jail term of just one year for this offence.
  • The ordinance completely ignores the recommendations of changes in medico-legal protocol, including prohibition of the two-finger test and ensuring rape crisis centres and proper medical care and examination of rape survivors; as well as police reform, public transport and other measures. 

 

The ordnance makes of mockery of all those recommendations of the Justice Verma committee that actually reflected the idea of protecting women’s autonomy: be it a 16-year old girl who has sexual contact with her boyfriend to a married woman who says no to her husband, the ordnance just fails to accept a woman’s own autonomy and consent as crucial to deciding if rape occurred or not! The ordnance continues to make excuses for certain powerful perpetrators of rape: it continues to ensure that certain institutions of power (marriage/police/army/judges/magistrates/public servants/politicians) remain protected from prosecution for rape.

We refuse to accept this eyewash! We demand full implementation of the Justice Verma Committee Report!

We can defeat the Govt’s ploy to dilute and subvert the JVC recommendations only by being on the streets and continuing to fight! 

Bekhauf Azaadi has called for a protest against the ordinance and demanding implementation of JVC on 4 Feb at 2 pm at Jantar Mantar. Please do join. There will be several other protest and campaign actions in the days to come, please do join each of them, and make sure the Govt does not get away with betraying our movement and the JVC Report.

 

The rapist in the mirror #delhigangrape #Vaw #gender


PRAVEEN SWAMI, The Hindu

If we are to combat sexual violence in our cities, it is time to begin discussing the dysfunctions of young urban men

“I remember seeing a documentary about some animal being eaten from behind while its face seemed to register disbelief, fear, and self-hate at its own impotence,” recalls Roy Strang, the rapist at the centre of Irvine Welsh’s supremely disturbing Marabou Stork Nightmares, of one of his victims. “That was what she reminded me of,” says Strang, watching his victim’s eyes, “frozen,” “dead,” through the mirror he forced her to hold up to her face as he raped her.

Last month’s gang rape in New Delhi has focussed nationwide attention on the epidemic proportions of sexual violence against women in India. Long overdue debates on criminal justice and gender have begun — along, predictably, with bizarre calls for schoolgirls’ bodies to be concealed under overcoats and curfews. Yet, there have been only the awkward beginnings of a discussion on the problem itself — men.

It is time, though, to start looking at the rapist in the mirror.

RITUALS OF MASCULINITY

To anyone familiar with young men in India’s cities and towns, Strang’s world is far from alien. For many youth worldwide, violence against women — a spectrum that runs from gang rape to domestic violence and street sexual harassment — is part of the system of masculinity-making rituals, along with sport, drinking and brawling. 58 per cent of men arrested for rape in India in 2010 were aged 18-30; in the United States, 55 per cent are below the age of 30. 53.92 per cent of men held that year for molestation or sexual harassment were also from the same age group.

This is not to suggest that a dysfunctional masculinity is the root of rape; few human behaviours have a single cause. Yet, from the testimonies of women, we know that this cohort of young men have made homes and streets the site of a pervasive gender terrorism.

Rape, though, is something rapists do, not who they are. Precisely why particular individuals find pleasure in inflicting violence on women is a question everyone from evolutionary biologists to cultural theorists have weighed in on; there is no consensus, and may never be. Yet, as Welsh noted, strange behaviour “always has a context.” Five such contexts suggest themselves as possible keys to the production of India’s urban-male dysfunction. Together, these contexts ensure young men are rarely fully weaned; able to lead an adult life characterised by agency and individual choice. The consequence is a deep rage that manifests itself in nihilist behaviours.

India’s transforming urban economy has, firstly, produced a mass of young, prospectless men. The parents of these children, many first-generation migrants to cities, worked on the land or were artisans. Though this generation’s position in the economy may have been inequitable, its agency as workers was not. The young, though, find themselves fighting for space in an economy that offers mainly casual work. This casualisation has come about even as hard-pressed parents are spending ever more on education. Even the pressures on middle-class and lower middle-class men are enormous. Frequently coddled in son-worshipping parents, young men are only rarely able to realise the investment and hopes vested in them.

For a second context to hyper-violent masculinity, we must look at culture. Increasingly, cities have no recreational spaces for young men. Films, long one of the few cultural activities that a working-class audience could participate in, now target élites; movie theatre prices exclude large parts of the youth population. There is diminishing access to theatre, art, music and sport. In its place, the street becomes the stage for acting out adulthood, through substance abuse and violence.

Thirdly, a number of young men, particularly in new urban slums, are being brought up by no-parent families — families that fathers have abandoned or are largely absent from, and where mothers work long hours. Elsewhere in the world, too, this social crisis has been linked to sexual violence. South African researcher Amelia Kleijn, in a 2010 study of child rapists, found most had deprived childhoods marked by “physical and emotional abuse, as well as neglect.”

Fourth, there is a crisis of sexuality. Few men, working class or rich, have access to a sexual culture which allows them sexual freedoms or choices. The crisis is exacerbated by the fact that sections of urban élites participate in a sexual culture which is relatively liberal — a culture that young men can watch on television and in public spaces, but never hope to participate in. For some, the sexually independent woman is thus enemy to be annihilated. In his hit song C**t, the rape-valorising rap star Honey Singh voices his yearning to kick a woman after raping her, to drive out the bhoot of ego from her head. Similarly, Strang sees on the streets a wash of “blonde and auburn wigs, lipstick smeared on those deadly pincer-like insect jaws.”

COMMODITIES

Young men of all classes, finally, see women as status-enhancing commodities — emulating the long-standing gender privileges tradition has vested in élite men.

None of these five contexts is new. Particular stresses linked to the reordering of India’s social fabric, though, are giving new lethality to gender inequity. In a 2008 paper, Jon Wolseth showed how neoliberalism created the conditions for a murderous surge of youth gang violence in the Honduras during the 1980s. Economic policies, he argued, had not just impoverished the poor; they also tore apart community networks, diminished public spaces and closed the door to political participation. Evangelical Christianity and the assault rifle-armed gang emerged as mode of liberation. Elsewhere in Latin America, scholars have observed much the same.

In India, women’s bodies appear to have become the principal terrain on which male rage is venting itself. It isn’t that young Indian men are inherently violent than they were in the past. In 2011, according to the National Crime Records Bureau, 29,937 men between 18 and 30 were arrested for murder. Twenty years earlier, it was 38,961. In 1991, 270,602 men of this age group were arrested for rioting; in 2011, the figure was 72,867. Sexual violence data, though, trends the other way. 8,864 18-30 men were arrested for rape in 1991; 16,528 in 2011. Molestation and sexual harassment arrests from this cohort have also almost doubled, from 23,075 in 1992, the first year for which data is available, to 32,581 in 2011.

Lacking agency isn’t, obviously, the cause of sexual violence: women aren’t responding to their disenfranchisement by attacking men; men with power can, and do, rape. The point here is, rather, that the large-scale disempowerment of urban men is lending intensity to a pre-existing culture of sexual violence.

ILLUSION OF EMPOWERMENT

For many men, then, violence against women works much as drugs do for addicts: it offers at least the illusion of empowerment where none exists, fixing feelings of rage and impotence. This, in turn, points to a wider malaise. Marxist scholar Antonio Gramsci noted that Fascism arose in a society “where mothers educate their infant children by hitting them on the head with clogs.” How men behave — on the streets with women, with other men, with animals — is taught. In our society, violence is not an aberration; it is the tie that binds us.

In 2007, the Ministry of Women and Child Development surveyed 12,477 children to learn of their experience of abuse. 68.99 per cent of children, over half of them boys, reported suffering physical violence. One in 12 children, again a majority boys, reported suffering sexual violence. It is a staggering fact: half of all Indians have encountered abuse before they became adults.

For the overwhelming majority of Indian children, the education in violence begins in the family. The survey found 59 per cent of the 2,245 children who did not go to school located home as a source of violence. In institutions like orphanages, the survey recorded levels of violence very similar to homes. More than 65 per cent of the 3,163 school children surveyed said they received beatings along with classes in maths, science and languages. Employers of child labourers, interestingly, were significantly less cruel than teachers; 58.7 per cent of working children said they experienced beatings at home, at work, or both. In each of these categories, boys were overrepresented.

Maulana Azad Medical College researcher Deepti Pagare discovered, during a survey of boys at New Delhi’s Child Observation Home, that 76.7 per cent reported physical abuse. Half of them actually bore clinical evidence of violence — the perpetrators, in more than half of all cases, their own fathers.

Elsewhere in the world, figures like these would almost certainly have provoked a national scandal — followed by demands of criminal prosecutions. Look through Delhi’s crime statistics, though, and you will find not one father prosecuted for everyday crimes against his son.

India needs a masculinity that does not involve violence. Moral sermons, though, won’t cut it: respect for women can emerge only from a culture that genuinely values rights for all.

 

Sexual violence: a global awakening, from India #delhigangrape #Vaw


The rape and murder of a 23-year-old female physiotherapy student from Delhi—six men have been arrested for the attack, which took place on Dec 16—has rightly caused outrage and anguish across India. Immediately after her death, following treatment in a hospital in Singapore, Delhi was locked down by police to prevent outbreaks of public protest. Despite these measures, thousands of Indian citizens took part in peaceful vigils to express their anger at the violence inflicted against this young student, as well as the harassment experienced daily by thousands of Indian women.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called for “a constructive course of action”. But there is agreement that India has failed to address a pervasive culture of sexual violence and gender injustice. This political neglect has created a permissive environment where men can rape, beat, and kill a woman with impunity. India is a respected democracy that has delivered phenomenal economic success for its growing middle class. But the country’s inattention to fundamental protections and liberties for its citizens reveals a nation facing a moral turning point. We endorse the campaign by the The Times of India and others to address “the lack of respect for women in our patriarchal society”.
Yet it would be a grievous error to conclude that sexual violence is a predicament confined to India. It is not. Rape and other forms of violence against women and girls are a feature of all societies. In South Africa, for example, as many as a third of men have taken part in acts of rape.
As a first step, sexual violence must be acknowledged as a reality by all of us, and its causes discussed. We must support the creation of safe systems for preventing, reporting, and remedying acts of sexual violence. As advocates for women’s health, health professionals have a special role in defeating rape. It’s time we exercised our voice more strongly. The greatest respect we can give to the memory of the Indian student who died on Dec 29 is by protecting and strengthening the political and social rights of women worldwide.

 

London-Protest against sexual violence in India @7thJan 2013


7th January 2013 at 4-7pm

Outside the Indian High Commission, LondonWC2B 4NA

WARNING: The details below of the gang rape that took place recently on 16 December might be graphic and/or upsetting for some.

Please share this with your friends, colleagues, activists, feminists and blog, tweet, facebook and other social networks.

Update: 3rd January 2013
Please note the Protest has now been extended to 7pm
The 23-year-old medical student died from her injuries on 29th December

We have all been shocked by the recent case of a young woman who was gang raped by a group of six men on a bus in Delhi. When she was taken to hospital, the doctor found that she had severe injuries to her intestines and all over body. ” that a rod was inserted into her and it was pulled out with so much force that the act brought out her intestines along. That is probably the only thing that explains such severe damage to her intestines.” She remains critically ill.

Shocking as it is, this is only one of many acts of horrific sexual violence that take place every where and every day in India. The world’s largest democracy was named the worst country in the G20 countries for violence against women (after Saudi Arabia) in the recent Trust Law/Reuters Survey. This is the heart of darkness in ‘India shining’. By drawing world wide attention to this horror and solidarity for Indian women, we hope to shame the Indian government into acting now by making public spaces safe for women, starting with implementing the laws and bringing the perpetrators to justice.

Southall Black Sisters invites you to stand in solidarity with Indian feminists who are demanding:

  1. Increased patrolling and deployment of police, including police women in public places so that such incidents can be prevented, and women’s safety assured; improved infrastructure to make cities safer for women.
  2. Fast track courts to deal with rape cases, hearings to be held on a day to day basis, so that sentence can be delivered within a period of 6 months. Police investigation to be conducted in a time bound manner.
  3. Standardized investigation procedures to be circulated to all police stations, with action taken against police personnel who do not implement them properly;
  4. Increased sensitization, effective investigation and accountability of the police in dealing with heinous crimes against women.
  5. Immediate relief, legal and medical assistance, and long term rehabilitation measures to be provided to survivors of rape, without delays and hassles.

SAFE ACCESS TO PUBLIC PLACES IS A RIGHT, NOT A PRIVILEGE FOR WOMEN ALL OVER THE WORLD!

Please bring banners, placards, whistles, songs, slogans and all your friends and let the our anger echo from the Indian High Commission all the way to India.

Hope to see you there.

For further information please contact us

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#India- “Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression” to the Justice Verma Commission #Vaw #Justice


(Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) is a non funded grassroots effort initiated in November 2009, to challenge the violence being perpetrated upon women’s bodies and societies. We are a nationwide network of women from diverse political and social movements comprising women’s organizations, mass organizations, civil liberties, student and youth organizations, mass movements and individuals. We unequivocally condemn state repression and sexual violence on women and girls by any perpetrator(s). We have conducted fact findings and brought out several reports of cases of sexual violence in conflict areas, notably in Jharkhand, Odisha, and Chhattisgarh; and have collaborated with women’s organizations in Kashmir and the North East in their struggles in such situations. We attempt to support women victims, approach courts and human rights institutions for redressal, and conduct awareness campaigns.)

Representation by  “Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression” to the Justice Verma Commission.

(Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) is a non funded grassroots effort initiated in November 2009, to challenge the violence being perpetrated upon women’s bodies and societies. We are a nationwide network of women from diverse political and social movements comprising women’s organizations, mass organizations, civil liberties, student and youth organizations, mass movements and individuals. We unequivocally condemn state repression and sexual violence on women and girls by any perpetrator(s). We have conducted fact findings and brought out several reports of cases of sexual violence in conflict areas, notably in Jharkhand, Odisha, and Chhattisgarh; and have collaborated with women’s organizations in Kashmir and the North East in their struggles in such situations. We attempt to support women survivors of such violence, approach courts and human rights institutions for redressal, and conduct awareness campaigns.)

WSS notes with concern that the entire public debate arising out of the recent Delhi gang rape incident has centered round the issues of “enacting a strong law” and “prescribing harsher sentences”. It has failed to recognize more basic issues – the enormous social obstacles encountered in registering complaints, in the conduct of thorough investigation, in the protection of witnesses, in fast and efficacious prosecution and in unbiased adjudication – in other words, the issues of implementation of the law, and the functioning of the police and judicial machinery – which necessarily precede sentencing. The debate has also largely failed to take into account the deeply patriarchal character of our social institutions, and law enforcement machinery which render women vulnerable to violence in the family, in the larger community, in their work places and public places.

In particular, in this representation, WSS would like to focus on the even more serious situation that arises when patriarchal attitudes are reinforced by caste, communal and class inequalities or perpetrated by the state, that is, when sexual violence is inflicted as a part of an assault by a dominant community as in a caste attack or communal riot; or when sexual violence is inflicted on women in custody in a police lock-up or jail or state institution; and when sexual violence is perpetrated by the police, security forces or army. Rapes occur daily in this country and adivasi, dalit, working class women, women with disability, hijras, kothis and sex workers are especially targeted based on the knowledge that the system will not support them when they file complaints of rape. We also note with concern that our suggestions are limited to what will affect women and our suggestions on sentencing must be also interpreted to mean that at least equivalent sentences should be imposed on perpetrators of the same crimes upon children. The current sentencing laws on those are woefully inadequate.

However, our reach in terms of getting input directly from these communities is still limited by the people we know and have worked with, and we hope that our submissions do not contribute to limiting the discussion to those groups and people who have access to information via the internet and English newsmedia, and we hope the Justice Verma Commission carries out wide ranging consultations with women in every locality, with dalit groups, rural groups, labor groups, and groups working on communal sexual violence and sexual violence against adivasi women, groups working in areas in conflict with the state, and groups working on disability and transgender issues.

Here are our suggestions:

A. In regard to Sexual Violence by Police and Security Forces

Defining custodial violence: Any incident of sexual assault by police/ security forces or SPOs accompanying them, irrespective of where it occurs, should be treated as custodial violence since the perpetrators exercise power and control over the people of that area owing to their position of authority. Such sexual assault should be considered to be a case of aggravated assault.

Security of women detainees:  The lack, especially in remote/ small police stations, of women constables (in whose presence women under-trials and prisoners are more likely to be safe), is a serious issue. If there is no woman constable on duty, that particular police station must not be allowed to detain women. Women constables must be present throughout any interrogation of women detainees. Arbitrary or proxy arrests and illegal detention of women and children during search operations in conflict areas, which render women extremely vulnerable, have to stop.

Rule of law:  There must be strict adherence to the procedures and safeguards for protecting women in custody and women should be produced before the court at the earliest opportunity, even before the mandatory 24 hours, to be able to disclose original violations as well as further ill-treatment (if any) while in custody of police or jail authorities. Their families also must be intimated within this time period of their whereabouts.

Detention of women: The rules about arresting and detaining women at night should strictly apply to all women and transgender people, including sex workers. Transgender people must be handled only by women police officers and not male police officers, given the history of custodial violence against them.

Judicial recognition:  The judiciary must take suo moto cognizance of any irregularity in the arresting procedure and delays in presenting the accused before the magistrate. Any non-compliance of the D.K. Basu guidelines and other provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code should attract strict action and accountability from the Court. Once the woman has been presented before the magistrate, it is the responsibility of the judiciary, to ensure that her dignity and safety are ensured and her complaints of violations of her rights addressed. If any violation of the rights of a woman takes place in police or judicial custody, the judiciary should take the strictest action against the perpetrators in a time bound manner, and she must immediately be given the option of being transferred to custody outside the state.

Investigation and registration in cases of custodial or state violence: It cannot be expected that an aggrieved person/family who has been violated by personnel of the police station of her/their area, will go back to report the violation to that very same police station. She should have the option of registering cases in another district or state, and the case must be investigated by an authority not involving local police if they are the perpetrators. Special guidelines must be evolved for such cases along the lines of the NHRC guidelines for encounter killings.

Vulnerability in conflict situations:  There must be a quick and effective response from the district and state administration when a woman shows the courage to make a complaint of sexual violence. Instead, the rape survivor, her family and other witnesses are only further terrorised by the people in authority. The administration should take suo moto cognisance of such complaints, whether they come directly, through the media or any other source. Third-party complaints of custodial sexual violence should also be allowed to initiate the process of safeguarding the survivor behind bars from further assault in custody.

All state-supported private militias and vigilante groups, such as Salwa Judum and others in the conflict areas of Central India, Manipur and Kashmir must be disbanded. Action must be taken against the members of these groups accused of sexual violence and other human rights violations as it would apply to the police and security forces, i.e., treating their cases as aggravated sexual assault.

Registering cases:  The FIR of all victims should be registered, even where the perpetrators are from the Central Armed Police Forces or the Army, and refuge must not be taken under impunity provided under unjust laws such as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. In particular if a Superintendent of Police receives a complaint that a particular police station has refused to register an FIR, he must be made personally liable to get the FIR registered immediately and to conduct an enquiry against his erring subordinate, with legally enforceable consequences for not doing so within 48 hours of being informed. .

Criminal prosecution: Sexual assault by the Central Armed Police Forces or the Army must be brought under criminal law. In cases of sexual offences, the law should clearly state that the Army has no jurisdiction to prosecute the accused member of the armed forces. The accused must be handed over and all investigation must be done by the police strictly in accordance with the law, and supervised by a senior police officer. The requirement of sanction for prosecution under Sec. 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code should be done away with in cases of custodial sexual violence and other human rights violations.

Facilitating investigation:  Immediate arrest of the accused and suspension of all accused from their posts, once the FIR is registered or suo moto cognizance of the crime is taken, is essential. The accused should not be allowed to exercise any authority in the area where the complaint of sexual violence is made, till the final determination of the complaint. Armed forces personnel and public servants against whom there are serious charges of violence against women, or who have been named in FIRs alleging violence, should not be considered for national awards and military honours or promotions until their names are cleared.

Command responsibility:  In cases of sexual assault committed by State personnel, the authorities higher up in the hierarchy (SP and the Collector or any other senior officer in the chain of command of the Central Armed Police Forces) should be held criminally liable for crimes committed by those under their command or within their control. Ignorance or lack of information about sexual violence committed in his/her jurisdiction cannot be an excuse for inaction.

Sentencing: The sentences for custodial rape and sexual assault must be enhanced compared to the sentences for civilian rape and sexual assault, to act as a deterrent for security officers misusing the power they have derived from being officers of the state.

Speedy investigation: The responsibility of a proper investigation falls on the investigating agency. Any delay, shoddiness, partisanship and inefficiency in collection of evidence, and lack or delay in medical examination etc should be seen as a criminal offence and negligence of duty, and the concerned officers or personnel should be penalised for negligence or dereliction of duty and/or charged with complicity in the crime.

Protection of victims and witnesses:  Protection of victims and witnesses has to be ensured, from the pre-trial to post-conviction stages, in accordance with the recent jurisprudential developments, the Law Commission’s 198th Report of August 2006, and decisions of the Supreme Court.

Liability and damages:  It is the government’s responsibility and duty to protect the rights of women, the responsibility grows manifold when the woman is in the custody of the State. Considering the gravity of the crime, the rape survivor has a right to reparation for all the costs incurred in fighting for justice legally, to recover medically, and to recover loss of livelihood or shelter or even ability to stay in the same area as before, as a consequence of fighting a case against the perpetrator.

Reparative Justice:  The State must be obliged by law to make provisions for free and high quality medical treatment, psychological care, shelter and livelihood in order to overcome possible destitution and social ostracism. This should be done through effective implementation and budgetary support of existing legal provisions and schemes for compensation/ rehabilitation for sexual assault. Such compensation should not be linked to the criminal trial and prosecution. Schemes include, but are not limited to, the Victims Compensation Scheme (brought about through a 2008 amendment to section 357A of the Cr PC) as well as the National Commission for Women’s scheme for assistance and support services to victims of rape.

B.  In regard to sexual violence against marginalized groups or by dominant  groups.

  1. While dealing with the violence against women belonging to marginalised groups like Dalits, Adivasis, denotified groups, religious, gender, sexuality and other Minorities, the dominant position of the perpetrators must be kept in mind and such cases should be probed under the specific laws applicable to these atrocities. Sexual assault in situations of conflict based on community, ethnicity, caste, religion, gender, sexuality and language, ought to be treated as specific circumstances of aggravated sexual assault.
  2. Since there are specific kinds of sexual violence documented to be specifically perpetrated against dalit women, such as parading naked, groping, tonsuring of hair and mutilation; against minority community women during communal riots such as mutilation the genitals and womb, cutting breasts; against transgender women like stripping, burning or mutilating the genitals, forcibly cutting hair, stripping and/or redressing in clothes to fit assigned gender, confinement, rape by insertion of objects – all of which are intended to sexually assault, degrade or humiliate women who are so targeted, these specific offenses should be defined along the scale of aggravation with specific punishments which are not dependent on the discretion of the judge.
  3. Meeting the burden of proof that an offence was committed with an intent to humiliate and intimidate a member of the Scheduled Caste/Tribe in the Prevention of Atrocities Act has been made impossibly difficult leading to low rates of conviction. When the perpetrator is of a dominant caste/class/religious/gender/sexuality group and the survivor of assault is of an oppressed group, the power difference will always mean that the police, criminal justice system, media, and public will be fearful of taking the side of an oppressed community. This means that dalit, adivasi, religious and gender/sexuality minority community women, and women with disabilities are routinely targeted for the reason that it is harder for them to fight a legal case against the perpetrator. Thus when the perpetrator is of a dominant caste/class/religious/gender/sexuality group and the survivor of assault is of an oppressed group, these acts should be defined to automatically be in place and the burden of proof that such targeting did not take place should be on the perpetrator.
  4. Refusal to file an FIR based on caste, class, gender identity, profession, or disability of the survivor must be legally punishable through reporting to superior police officers or officers at other police stations. Once such a complaint is made, the  officer who hears it must be legally liable to file an FIR immediately and conduct an enquiry against the police officers who refused to file the FIR. Likewise refusal to provide medical care on these grounds should be prosecutable by law.
  5. Acts like the Karnataka Police Act and the Hyderabad Eunuch Act that place the entire transgender community under suspicion like the colonial Criminal Tribes Act, and demand their routine reporting to the police act as a vehicle for police harassment and sexual violence against transgender women. These should be immediately repealed.
  6. Khap Panchayats, casteist-communal organizations and other kinds of vigilante groups are responsible for spreading and normalizing misogyny. The perpetrators of honour killings, honour-related crimes and other moral policing, including those who abet this brutal crime, must be promptly prosecuted and awarded severest punishment. Specific legislation must also be introduced to punish the full range of violent and abusive acts that attempt to restrict the choices of women including socio economic boycott, expulsion from the home or community, etc.

C. In regard to the definition of sexual assault.

Expansion of definition of sexual assault: The expansion of the definition of penetrative sexual assault under Sec. 375 IPC, beyond peno-vaginal penetration (rape) as proposed in the Criminal Law Amendment Act is a step in the right direction.  It is imperative that the definition of sexual assault is broad enough to include anal, oral rape, digital rape, rape with objects etc. and also includes sexual assault against transgender people. Section 377 should be repealed as it criminalizes consensual same-sex relations and all its provisions for punishing

Gap in law of sexual offences: However, there continue to be serious gaps in the codification of crimes of non-penetrative sexual assault. The gap between ‘outrage of modesty’ (S. 354 IPC) and ‘penetrative sexual assault’ remains large. We believe that sexual crimes form a continuum, and that the graded nature of sexual assault should be recognized, based on concepts of harm, injury, humiliation and degradation, and by using the well-established categories of sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, and sexual offences.

‘Outraging modesty of a woman’ to be replaced with ‘violation of bodily integrity:  S.354 and S. 509 IPC, which contain archaic notions of ‘outrage of modesty’, ought to be repealed, and a clear gradation of offences and punishment as mentioned above should be inserted. We believe that ‘sexual assault’ should rest firmly on the concept of violation of bodily integrity and dignity, and sexual harassment should be defined as it is in the Vishaka Guidelines.

New sexual offences to be defined: New crimes need to be formulated to punish acts of attempt to rape, stripping, parading naked, groping, tonsuring of hair and mutilation which are intended to sexually assault, degrade or humiliate women who are so targeted. Further stalking, flashing, gesturing, blackmailing as well as sexual harassment must be codified as crimes under the rubric of sexual offences. These should include any electronic and other forms of technology which promote rape as a game, promote electronic stalking or forced viewing of pornography, etc.. We welcome the introduction of a specific offence for acid attack.

Gender neutral sexual assault: The formulation of the crime of sexual assault as gender neutral in all circumstances, as proposed in the Criminal Law Amendment Act, makes the perpetrator/ accused also gender neutral, i.e a woman or man can be accused of sexual assault. We believe that the perpetrator has to remain gender-specific and limited to men as perpetrators, as there is no empirical evidence to support a finding to the contrary, and in light of this gender neutrality of perpetrator can be used to file false cases against women who complain of rape. Hence we strongly oppose the gender-neutrality clause in relation to perpetrators under Sec. 375 IPC.

Gender neutrality of the victim: The survivor of sexual assault should be treated as gender neutral with respect to the law, even if the perpetrator is still defined as male. With respect to all forms of violence, the victims/survivors should not be described just as women, but as ‘person’, as transgender people face immense targeted sexual assault and in some cases of state and custodial violence the victims can also include men. In cases of abuse of children also children of all genders are targeted.

“Purpose”: We also express a deep problem with the expression ‘penetrate for a sexual purpose’ in Sec 375(a) of the proposed Criminal Law Amendment Bill 2012. We maintain that any contact without consent is what must be punished and the intent of the perpetrator is both irrelevant, and impossible to prove.

Consent:  Consent must be clearly defined as verbal agreement which can be withdrawn at any point during sexual activity. Initiation of sexual activity or sex work is not an invitation to rape or sexual assault and battery. The lack of marks on the body can not be used as evidence of consent (as in the Suryanelli case) because sedation, rape based on threats of retaliatory violence, and rape where the perpetrator holds economic, caste, communal, custodial or state power over the survivor can all be perpetrated without leaving signs of force.

No exception to consent rule for marital Rape: Rape within marriage should be recognized and should be strictly penalized.  The punishment for rape should be the same irrespective of whether the perpetrator is married to the survivor of rape or not.

No exception to consent during medical procedures: Consent should be required even when penetration/genital exam of a patient by a doctor occurs for “proper hygienic or medical purposes” which is currently a defined exception for rape under the Criminal Amendment Bill 2012. Unless the patient is unconscious, doctors must have the consent of a patient for any form of penetrative or genital physical exam, and punishment for doctors abusing their privilege as doctors should be higher than for civilians.

No exclusion of prosecution of Public Servants: We suggest an exclusion of the application of S. 45 and S. 197 Cr PC to the provisions of sexual assault, in order that the existing widespread impunity for sexual assault where it is committed by public servants, is ended.  We believe that no sexual assault can ever be construed as being perpetrated “in discharge of official duty” and therefore the statutory requirement of prior sanction from the government for prosecution of public servants ought not to be extended to the crime of sexual assault;

Age of consent: The age of consent should be kept at 16 years of age since the reality of caste, communal and moral policing particularly when it comes to young people from different religions and castes falling in love and running away, makes misuse of the age of consent law possible to  prosecute young lovers who go against parental dictates of ‘arranged marriage within the fold of one caste/religion’.

Consent during sex work: Rape during sex work must be recognized explicitly as a sexual offence.  Sex work should be decriminalized so that what takes place without consent can be clearly distinguished from the specific acts the sex worker is paid for and has consented to.

Inclusion of women in drafting process: Local womens’ groups in India, including those of adivasi, dalit, religious minority women, transgender women, self help groups  and woman panchayat representatives must be consulted in drafting laws upholding women’s rights at home and in public.

D. In regard to pre-trial, trial and evidence procedures.

  1. SOPs like those of Delhi police should be reviewed to ensure that they reflect a gender sensitive and meticulous approach to investigation and officially adopted by all police departments in states and UTs, and should be made publicly accessible. Violation of the SOP by police should be made punishable by law, especially with respect to refusing to file FIRs.
  2. The two finger test and checking of old tears hymen which are widely used during medical examination of the rape victims to determine whether they are ‘habituated to sexual intercourse’ or not, must be explicitly barred and only fresh damage relevant to the sexual assault in question should be recorded. Likewise build and health of the survivor of rape and presence of marks on her body to determine whether she had or could have “resisted the assault” is irrelevant as mentioned above – use of threats, weapons, sedation, etc can all be forms of coercion that do not leave marks or allow the survivor to fight back. Testing should be done by women doctors if possible, and if not by any doctor the survivor is comfortable with –no survivor should be turned away for lack of a female doctor, and the survivor should be able to be accompanied by a chosen family member at all times during medical tests. Hospitals turning away survivors of sexual assault should be punishable by law. Victims should not be subjected to lie detection tests as is done in some parts of the country, and forensic tests must include DNA tests for which central laboratories and a DNA database must be set up to which samples can be mailed.
  3. Police personnel and all state officers who deal cases of sexual assault must undergo compulsory sensitization about handling these cases, so that they do not traumatize the survivor of assault with irrelevant and traumatic questions or statements of judgement or dismissal. They must also be sensitized specifically to deal sensitively with survivors of sexual assault who are dalit, adivasi, religious minority, transgender women, sex workers, and women with disabilities. Each complaint of sexual harassment and molestation must be taken seriously and failure to file an FIR must be punishable by law.
  4. Women police officers should be available and visible at a women’s help desk in every police precinct for each step of processing a sexual assault or harassment complaint, although no survivor should be turned away for lack of a female police officer. The number of women at all levels of the police force must increase to 50%, and within this dalit, adivasi, religious, gender and other minority women police officers should be represented according to their proportion of the local population. For their retention, proper housing, women’s toilet, and training facilities as well as a cell to address sexual harassment complaints within the police force must be made available. A minority of policewomen deployed to ensure safety for women prisoners are not able to be effective if they are pressured by a male majority in their workplaces.
  5. Trials in rape cases should be concluded within a 90 day period, with trials postponed only to the next working day and without any unnecessary delays. All pending cases of rape (all India-100,000, Delhi 1000) should be dealt with by specially constituted courts with both rural and urban accessibility within 90 days.
  6. Trials pertaining to sexual offences should be conducted as far as possible by women judges, and in cases of SC/ST or communal violence, by women members of the minority community. The number of judges, especially women judges, must also be increased in lower level courts and vacancies in these courts must be filled up. A special cadre of Public Prosecutors must be trained to prosecute cases of sexual assault. The trainings should include understanding of the crimes of sexual assault, gender sensitivity in the conduct of the trial and a comprehensive understanding of the laws relating to sexual assault.
  7. There should be specific provisions for recording the testimony of disabled survivors of assault or witnesses. Cases involving sexual assault against disabled women often end in acquittal as their testimony is either not recorded at all, or is recorded without the help of independent interpreters.
  8. Guidelines for victim and witness protection should be available for victims of violation of bodily integrity (outraging the modesty in the current law) as well as all forms of sexual assault, and bail should be canceled for cases where intimidation can be shown.
  9. In trials of sexual offences, the victim/survivor, her family members or members of women’s organizations representing the complainant should ordinarily be permitted to engage a counsel of her choice to assist the prosecution. In addition free legal, medical, psychological and rehabilitative services should be made available to enable working class women to pursue legal justice.
  10. Even in an in-camera trial, on the request of the victim/survivor, her representatives should be permitted to remain present.
  11. Guidelines must be laid down for the cross examination of a survivor of sexual violence, particularly highlighting the changes in the CrPC sections which now do not allow character assassination or looking at past history of the survivor.
  12. There should be a strict code of conduct and binding jail-time punishment for officials holding public office, including ministers etc while commenting on cases pertaining to sexual assault or rape. Judges who deal with sexual assault/ rape cases should be sensitized and held accountable with legally enforceable punishments for dismissing rape cases based on violating the constitutional right of every person to a fair hearing – by disbelieving the rape of a dalit woman as in the Bhanwari Devi case, or for suggesting extra-legal remedies or marriage to the accused instead of strictly pursuing legal justice for the crime.
  13. The pending cases against security forces, police and wardens of Nari Niketans and other protective homes for girls and women must be dealt with on a priority basis so that instead of inflicting further violence these institutions play their role of providing thorough investigation and appropriate support.
  14. The chosen gender of a transgender or intersex person should be respected during trial.  Transgender people are often punitively raped for crossing the boundaries of assigned gender and the rape trauma is compounded by their bodies and minds being handled in ways to remind them of their assigned gender. The trial should not further increase that aspect of the trauma.
  15. A date base of cases of sexual assault be maintained online and be publicly accessible, to track the implementation and performance of the law in each registered case, to help identify weak links. The name of the survivor must not be mentioned, but the neighborhood where the assault took place, and the progress on the case must be made publicly known on the internet and must be available at each local police station.
  16. Any media establishment that publishes the name or contact information of a survivor of rape should be routinely punished. Likewise there should be punishment for media reports that witness and broadcast images of sexual violence without having first immediately contacted law enforcement authorities. There should be publicly available letter boxes and an online site where reports on such media misuse can be directly sent.

E. In regard to punishment for rape.

In cases of aggravated sexual assault, punishment should be for life imprisonment with no remission or parole.

Sentences should run consecutively instead of concurrently in sexual crimes.

Sentencing should be spelt out as much as possible for different extents of punishment, degradation, harm and repetition of the act of sexual violation, so that judicial discretion is limited to small difference in the nature of the crime rather than focusing on the socioeconomic standing of the survivor and perpetrator.

WSS does not support death penalty or chemical castration as a punishment for rape. We need to evolve punishments that act as true deterrents to the very large number of men who commit these crimes. Cases of rape have a conviction rate of as low as 26% showing that perpetrators of sexual violence enjoy a high degree of impunity, including being freed of charges.  Our vision of justice does not include death penalty, which is neither a deterrent nor an effective or ethical response to acts of sexual violence. We are opposed to it for the following reasons:

  1. We recognise that every human being has a right to life. We refuse to deem ‘legitimate’ any act of violence that would give the State the right to take life in our names. Justice meted by the State cannot bypass complex socio-political questions of violence against women by punishing rapists by death. Death penalty is often used to distract attention away from the real issue – it changes nothing but becomes a tool in the hands of the State to further exert its power over its citizens. A huge set of changes are required in the system to end the widespread and daily culture of rape.
  2. There is no evidence to suggest that the death penalty acts as a deterrent to rape. Available data shows that there is a low rate of conviction in rape cases and there is a strong possibility that the death penalty would lower this conviction rate even further as it is awarded only under the ‘rarest of rare’ circumstances. The most important factor that can act as a deterrent is the certainty of punishment, rather than the severity of its form.
  3. As seen in countries like the US, men from minority communities and economically weaker sections make up a disproportionate number of death row inmates. In the context of India, a review of crimes that warrant capital punishment reveals the discriminatory way in which such laws are selectively and arbitrarily applied to disadvantaged communities, religious and ethnic minorities. This is a real and major concern, as the possibility of differential consequences for the same crime is injustice in itself.
  4. The logic of awarding death penalty to rapists is based on the belief that rape is a fate worse than death. Patriarchal notions of ‘honour’ lead us to believe that rape is the worst thing that can happen to a woman. There is a need to strongly challenge this stereotype of the ‘destroyed’ woman who loses her honour and who has no place in society after she’s been sexually assaulted. We believe that rape is a tool of patriarchy, an act of violence, and has nothing to do with morality, character or behaviour.
  5. We also believe the law should punish rape with murder more strongly than rape without murder, so that the law does not provide an incentive for the perpetrator to kill the survivor of rape.
  6. An overwhelming number of women are sexually assaulted by people known to them, and often include near or distant family, friends, husbands, workplace superiors and partners. The awarding of death penalty rests on the logic that rape and battery are rare events. Awarding equal punishment for the same crime would lead to a large portion of the male population being awarded death penalty and any penalty has to be feasibly equally applied to the entire population of perpetrators.
  7. With death penalty at stake, the ‘guardians of the law’ and the perpetrators will make sure that no complaints against them get registered and they will go to any length to make sure that justice does not see the light of day. Who will be able to face the psychological and social consequences of having reported against their own relatives when the penalty is death? In cases of sexual assault where the perpetrator is in a position of power (such as in cases of custodial rape or marital rape or caste and religious violence), conviction is notoriously difficult. The death, penalty, for reasons that have already been mentioned, would make conviction next to impossible.

Chemical castration is also a problematic sentence since

1. It violates the fundamental right to bodily integrity and this can not be violated by the State.

2. It misrecognises much of the violence in rape. Assault and battery are carried out with fists/rods/acid and other weapons and chemical castration may not prevent a perpetrator from using these

3. We feel that this penalty would also, like death penalty, not be awarded equally to all perpetrators irrespective of class, caste, religion and socioeconomic background, but be used selectively in some cases.

F. In regard to the urgent need for making workplaces and homes of women more safe.

  1. The Committees against Sexual Harassment which are to be constituted in various state and private establishments, including informal sector worksites, houses where domestic workers work, construction sites, homes where women gather to do piece-work or beedi/agarbati rolling, sex work sites, and NGOs, should be constituted with priority and urgency as per the Vishakha judgment. Renewal of formal workplace licences to employ workers should be made contingent on this. The said Committees should function independently and effectively and not be nominated by the employer to avoid conflict of interest, and they should create an atmosphere of no tolerance to sexual harassment. This would go a long way in ensuring dignity and empowering women at their workplace.
  2. Section 14 of the proposed 2012 amendment to the sexual harassment bill which punishes a woman for a so-called false complaint must be scrapped, as must clause 10 suggesting a conciliation as the first step – this would amount to covering up sexual harassment which is a criminal offence. The Bill should also take the caste, class and religious dimensions of the perpetrator and the victim into account, and mandate that women should not be forced to comply with gender specific dress codes and women employees should be able to able to choose their dress code.
  3. It is a common observation that the Domestic Violence Act is poorly implemented in most States with government servants being given additional charge of Protection Officer, lack of proper Shelter Homes for women victims of domestic violence, abuse within those shelter homes and on the streets for those rendered homeless by domestic violence, and poor understanding of judicial officers of the powers of civil injunctions and specific reliefs available to them
  4. Women employees working in night and early morning shifts should be
    provided safe public transport facilities by the employer, and both public and private forms of transport must be effectively regulated and monitored for safety by the government. The routes from public transport sites to housing areas must be well-lit and tinted window vehicles should be strictly monitored.
  5. There should be an expansion of the public transport system and the government should bring a public-transport-for-women-on-demand facility for any neighborhood with a number of working women coping without public transport, including dispersed adivasi settlements and urban slums, functioning in the same manner of response to demand as anganwadi-on-demand. Strict implementation of women’s general compartment in all trains and women’s seats in all inter-city buses is necessary.
  6. The number of affordable working-women’s hostels to ensure safe accommodation for single working women must be increased. All out-station girl students studying in colleges must be provided cheap and safe accommodation by their respective institutions.
  7. Due to its impact on physical and mental health and a high degree of mortality, rape is also a public health issue. The public health workforce (ASHA and ANM workers) need to be trained in sensitizing at the family and community level in destigmatizing rape-survivors, enabling them to file FIRs and access legal provisions, providing medical care and counseling, and encouraging women to speak out and seek justice. The ASHA workforce should also have dalit, adivasi, religious, gender and other minority women represented among them according to their presence in the local population to enable local women to feel comfortable reporting sexual assault. All public hospitals must be trained and equipped to immediately file an FIR and conduct a proper preliminary medical exam on behalf of patients who have survived rape For this the budget allocation of the government to the women and child, health and public transport departments must be accordingly increased by the next Budget.
  8. Effective and 24 hour functional women helpline and other emergency services should be provided around the clock and should be well advertised by video and audio messages in rural and urban areas. Emergency telephones to this helpline must also be available at all bus and train stations. Calls should be addressed around the clock by enough specially trained staff to meet the demand, and calls should be automatically recorded for later review, and the staff should be able to dispatch immediate vehicles to assist women facing an emergency. Disciplinary action must be taken against staff for inappropriate or inadequate responses.
  9. The state should take over agencies that provide women domestic workers, the conditions of service of domestic workers must be laid down and effectively implemented, and complaints of sexual violence made by them promptly redressed.
  10. Institutions such as the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), National Commission for Schedule Castes (NCSC), National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST), National Commission for Minorities (NCM), National Commission for Women (NCW) and the corresponding State Commissions, created for safeguarding constitutional provisions and protection of vulnerable groups must be more proactive. They should be made to respond to all complaints lodged with them in a time-bound manner. There should be systematic and regular review processes by independent bodies involving women’s groups, put into place to audit the work of these institutions
  11. The system of shelters for women should be greatly expanded, and every state-based shelter home for women, nari niketans, remand homes, juvenile delinquent homes, shelters for disabled children, orphanages, as well as schools, prisons and areas under army patrolling or combing operations should have a schedule of inspections to probe for ongoing sexual harassment or assault by committees whose members are independent of the government. The people confined within should have the right to insist on 1 person whom they trust outside jail to accompany the team when it does these surprise checks
  12. The current policy of clearing the streets of vendors, closing shops by a specific hour of night and chasing away other people who occupy public space at night makes the street more unsafe for women. This policy should be stopped as a greater presence of people and well-lit public areas at night are essential in reducing the danger to women traveling to and from work as well as homeless women.  Women should be given priority in being given vendor licenses and employment in public transport.

G. In regard to Discouraging Patriarchal Culture.

  1. All those persons against whom charge sheets have been filed for rape cases must be tried and either cleared of those charges, or sentenced and barred from contesting elections for public bodies by the Election Commission.
  2. Advertisements, movies and public materials that condone, trivialize or misrepresent violence against women and sexual harassment should be banned.
  3. Women have been carrying out powerful movements against liquor which is found to be connected to increase in domestic violence and incidents of sexual assault. The demands made by women in their local areas must be responded to by local authorities, who must act against the liquor mafia.
  4. Restrictions on movements and intimidation of women’s groups and democratic rights groups, while conducting fact-findings of incidents of sexual and other forms violence in conflict areas, have to stop. Repression, labelling and intimidation of women activists and human rights defenders must end.
  5. Mass visible and audio messages on what constitutes sexual offenses and what are the facilities available to address it and punishment for the same, should be displayed in all public vehicles and public places such as markets, bus stands, train stations, etc. These areas should be accessible by people with disabilities to reduce their vulnerability due to being confined at homes or shelters.
  6. School curricula should include basic information on how stalking, harassment, and touching another person without consent constitute unacceptable and illegal behavior, and the government should set up a training module for at least 2 staff members from each school to help children to report cases of domestic sexual assault. Such teaching should also happen in prisons. Caste, communal, gender identity and disability based discrimination against dalit, adivasi, religious minorities, gender and sexuality minorities, people with disabilities, homeless and working class people, etc. should be clearly and unequivocally taught to be unacceptable. This will greatly decrease their vulnerability to sexual assault.
  7. All departments that deal with disability pension administration should have a clearly marked desk where people can go to report sexual harassment and assault. They as well as police stations should carry information for complaints procedure and all awareness material in accessible formats to cater to people with disabilities  (Braille, audio, audio-video with same language sub-titling, large print, easy to read and pictorial guidance and availability of sign language interpreters). The inaccessibility of police stations and their present lack of capacity to interpret complaints from women with disabilities must be addressed in the long run.
  8. The legal age for young girls, transgenders, and boys to legally leave their biological homes and exercise autonomy as individuals, due to abusive situations at home should be lowered to 16 to give them enhanced protection against false cases filed by families and family violence. They should be able to chose a guardian instead of having to go to a juvenile detention home.
  9. Implement 50% reservation for women in elections at all levels, with reservation for minority communities in proportion to their presence in the local population.
  10. Create a National Commission to monitor implementation of the CEDAW.

Rape Cultures in India- #mustread #Vaw #Torture #AFSPA


DECEMBER 23, 2012, Kafila.org

Guest post by PRATIKSHA BAXI

Delhi has tolerated intolerable forms of sexual violence on women from all backgrounds in public spaces for decades. It is a public secret that women are targetted in streets, neighbourhoods, transport and workplaces routinely. There have been countless campaigns and appeals to all agencies concerned to think of safety of women as an issue of governance, planning and prevention. However, prevention of sexual violence is not something, which features in the planning and administration of the city. It is not seen as an issue for governance that extinguishes the social, economic, and political rights of all women.

It is a public secret that rape of women in moving vehicles is popularly seen as a sport. The sexualisation of women’s bodies accompanies the projection of cars as objects of danger and adventure. Private buses now participate in this sexualisation of moving vehicles as a site of enacting pornographic violence. In this sense, safety is not seen as a commodity that can be bought, purchased or exchanged. Men consume images of a city tolerant of intolerable violence. City planners enable rapists to execute a rape schedule. Streetlights do not work. Pavements and hoarding obstruct flight. Techniques of surveillance and policing target women’s behaviour, movement, and clothing, rather than policing what men do. The city belongs to heterosexist men after all.

The brutality of the assault on the 23 year old student who was gangraped and beaten mercilessly with iron rods when she resisted has anguished all of us—generating affect similar to the infamous Birla and Ranga murders decades ago. The nature of life threatening intestinal and genital injury has shockedresulting in angry protests in the city and elsewhere.Yet most remain unaware that the brutality accompanying sexual violence such as assault with iron rods, swordsand other objects; mutilating a woman’s body with acid;stripping and parading women; and burning them after a brutal gangrape routinelyscar the pages ofourbloodied law reporters. There is no political or judicial framework to redress such forms of aggravated sexual assault.

The judiciary, tall exceptions apart, construct rape as sex. This perspective from the rapist’s point of view, does not frame rape as political violence,which posits all women as sexual objects. Rape is repeatedly constructed as an act of aberrant lust, pathological sexual desire or isolated sexual deviancy.

Politicians for most part do no better. The parliamentary discourse on rape, after the brutal attack on the 23 year old woman who is fighting for her life, uses sexual violence as a resource for doing politics, and therefore re-entrenches rape culture. By arguing that rape is worse than death and rape should attract death penalty, rape survivors are relegated the space of the living dead. The social, political and legal mechanisms of shaming, humiliating, and boycotting rape survivors are not challenged. Nor are the mechanisms of converting rape narratives into a source of further titillation and excitement displaced. Rather most political actors convert rape into a technique of doing party politics. No one reflects seriously on why India sports a rape culture—surely the political and social toleration of intolerable sexual violence in everyday and extraordinary contexts of violence produces an effect of immunity and impunity to men who enjoy rape.

The right wing politician who is exhausting lung power on death penalty for rapists is not concerned with how a strident Hindu nationalism is built on violated bodies of women. Nor are such politicians concerned with what may happen to women if rape is punishable by death—surely there will be more murders and even more acquittals, since judges prefer to give lower than the mandatory sentence in rape cases. They have not marked the upsurge of the phenomena of burning and mutilating women after rape, as reported in the media, after a spate of such cases in Uttar Pradesh last year. Nor has any political party even acknowledged or apologised for the sexual violence during mass scale violence. Surely if chief ministers who get elected year after year dismiss mass scale sexual violence as a figment of imagination, this generates, endorses and even celebrates a new national rape culture.

The men (and even some women in positions of power) who lead India are successfully able to de-link the celebratory stories of neoliberalism, militarisation, nationalism,growth and development from the toleration of sexual violence as a sport, a commodity, as collateral damage, or a necessary technique to suppress women’s autonomy. Fact of the matter is that Surekha Bhotmange and her daughter were stripped, paraded, raped and killed in Khairlanji for expressing and asserting their autonomy. The men who assaulted and murdered them were not tried for rape.  Does anyone even remember that Bhanwari Devi’s appeal still languishes in the Rajasthan High Court? A courageous woman in whose debt all middle class women working in universities and everywhere else remain for the promulgation of the Vishaka judgment. We got the guidelines on sexual harassment in the workplace, but Bhanwari Devi did not get justice.  All of us remain in the debt of BilkeesBano who is perhaps the first survivor of mass scale sexual violence in Independent India to secure a prosecution in a rape and riot case but only after the trial was transferred. Manorama’s gangrape and murder by the army did not result in the withdrawal of AFSPA, which gives the army the licence to rape as ifto rape is in the line of duty. Can we de-link these issues from what Delhi protests today? Surely we must make these connections since we have benefited from the courageous litigation by women whose lives have been made absolutely abject.We must then equally resist the politics, which institutes public amnesia about these voices of suffering.

Alas, the brutality that Delhi witnessed is the effect of the toleration and celebration of rape cultures in India. Men and women, alike, from all classes, castes and communities must adopt a stance of solidarity that will not tolerate politicians, police officers, planners, judges and lawyers who build their careers on silencing the voices of raped women. Only a heightened intolerance for any kind of sexual violence as a social force will begin to chip away at the monumentalisation of rape cultures in India. Our collective melancholia must be far more productive.

Pratiksha Baxi is Assistant Professor, Centre for the Study of Law and Governance, Jawaharlal Nehru University

#India- Mobile Gender Courts ? #Vaw #Rape #delhiGangrape


Mobile Gender Courts: Delivering Justice in the DRC

Can mobile gender courts’ swift justice tackle impunity in the DRC’s remote regions?
 | 30 JULY 2012 – 12:03PM | BY LILY PORTER

Kamombo, South Kivu. Photograph by Radio Okapi.

Since 1996, as many as500,000 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been victims of rape and sexual violence, according to UN estimates. To compound this, these brutal crimes, which have devastated countless lives and communities in the DRC, are widely conducted with impunity. There is a culture of silence around rape, victims are oftenstigmatised by their own communities, and most attempts to bring perpetrators to justice have so far suffered from under-funding, lack of reach and questions over integrity.

A project using mobile gender courts in South Kivu is, however, seeking to use innovative ways to finally put an end to impunity and injustice. These courts travel to remote regions to deal with crimes of sexual violence and have so far enjoyed relative success, although the limitations of their approach cannot be ignored.

Impunity in the Congo

While victims of sexual violence in the DRC number in the hundreds of thousands, only a handful of people have been put on trial and even fewer have gone to prison. In South Kivu in 2005, for example, less than 1% of the 14,200 recorded cases of sexual violence went to court.

Numerous measures have been taken to address violence in DRC but these do not always include sexual violence. In the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) landmark trial of Thomas Lubanga, for example, the rebel leader was convicted of using child soldiers but there was disappointment that he was not also charged for rape and sexual violence, which can be tried under international law as a war crime. Moreover, the trial was lengthy, costly and carried out in The Hague, thousands of miles away from the site of his crimes and his victims.

The DRC’s national courts have similarly fallen short in delivering meaningful justice for victims of sexual violence. Despite a strong legal framework, years of conflict and corruption have rendered a large portion of the country’s judicial system lacking in both capacity and integrity. There has been some progress, particularly in the Ituri district where a court has held prosecutions resulting in 10 convictions on rape charges, but at the moment the DRC’s judicial system simply cannot deal with the scale of the crimes. And even with a more robust and transparent system, there remain practical problems, such as the fact that many victims cannot easily reach courts or police stations and often cannot afford the direct and indirect costs of a trial.

Mobile gender courts

It was with these numerous weaknesses in mind that mobile gender courts were conceived. Launched in October 2009 and focused in South Kivu, mobile gender courts are an enhanced version of existing mobile courts in the DRC which, unlike most national and international measures of delivering justice, primarily seek to bring justice to victims of gender violence.

Supported by the Open Society Justice Initiative, American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative and Open Society Institute for Southern Africa in collaboration with the Congolese government, these itinerant civilian and military courts emphasise local-led justice and the rule of law.

The project is active in the larger cities of Baraka, Bukavu and Uvira, but also uses plane travel and long hours of driving along muddy potholed roads to reach more remote places like Kamituga, Kalima and Mwenga. In areas such as these where justice had previously remained elusive, these courts bring justice to the people. Most court sessions are public and audiences come from far and wide to see the trials first-hand. Listening to these cases helps break down the stigma that has encouraged impunity and educates locals on the rule of law and how victims should be treated, something the ICC and national courts typically fail to do.

The mobile gender courts nevertheless operate within the national judicial system, and use entirely Congolese staff, including police, judges, prosecutors and defence counsel, and court administrators. This is important for promoting the project as one aspect of improving the country’s judicial system as a whole rather than creating a parallel externally-led judicial structure.

Delivering justice

From their initiation in October 2009 to May 2011, these courts have handed out 195 convictions, 75% of them being for sexual crimes and 25% for crimes such as murder and theft. Punishments come in form of punitive justice, with up to 20 years in prison. In some cases, financial penalties are awarded.

One of the most prominent cases to date has been the Fizi mass rape trial, which found Colonel Kibibi Mutware guilty of rape as a crime against humanity and sentenced him to 20 years in prison. He is the first commanding officer to be convicted for such a crime in eastern DRC, marking an important moment for justice in South Kivu.

Trials typically last two weeks and are, according to Judge Mary McGowan Davis who was invited by Open Society Justice Initiative and the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa to assess the courts, “perhaps better adapted [than international courts] to the actual task of providing timely redress to individual victims in communities still struggling with the chaotic aftermath of war and political upheaval”. The speed of the trials also makes them more effective than national courts. Under national law, courts have 3 months to conclude sexual violence cases, and under-resourced national courts are often too slow to process cases which then get thrown out.

Alongside the trials, the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative also works in conjunction with local civil society groups and the South Kivu Bar Association to provide sustainable training on the rule of law, educate people about their rights, and offer medical help and counselling to victims. This offers a more holistic approach to dealing with the problem of sexual violence and goes beyond mere justice and begins to address victims’ other needs.

No silver bullet

Despite the positive work of these mobile gender courts, they have limitations. The speedy nature of the trials, while beneficial in one way, can also make summoning witnesses in time difficult. There is also a lack of resources for basic equipment like writing paper or computers, the prison system is inadequate, and the state has failed to pay out for any form of reparations as of yet. Overcoming these problems, however, requires addressing other areas of the DRC’s judicial system.

Mobile gender courts are no quick fix to the problems surrounding impunity and injustice in DRC. Just as the scope of the ICC and the national courts are limited, these courts can only reach out to some of the many victims. These itinerant courts could, however, be a crucial foundation upon which the national judicial system and restoration of rule of law can be strengthened. In conjunction with the ICC and national courts, mobile gender courts can help tackle impunity at various levels and inculcate a sense of accountability around sexual violence.

By reaching victims in remote areas and delivering justice quickly, these courts offer perhaps the most optimistic indication to date that justice for victims of sexual violence in the DRC could be an achievable reality.

Think Africa Press welcomes inquiries regarding the republication of its articles. If you would like to republish this or any other article for re-print, syndication or educational purposes, please contact: editor@thinkafricapress.com

ATTN DELHI- Public Meeting on State, Sexual Violence and Impunity-9th Dec, 11AM –


 

 Dear All,

We invite you to a meeting in Delhi to be hosted jointly by Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression, its constituent members and WinG on

 

 

State, Sexual Violence and Impunity:

 Facts from the Field

 

We will be releasing a report on the incident of attempted rape by a soldier of the Indian Army in Dolopa, Assam, that adds yet another page to the shameful chronicle of sexual violence being perpetrated by the armed forces in the North East, Kashmir, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and other supposedly “disturbed areas” of the country. Our reports have consistently highlighted the impunity provided by the existing provisions such as the Army Act, that place criminal acts perpetrated by army men, such as rape and sexual violence, outside the purview of the normal criminal procedures. We will place our demand that sexual violence and rape cannot, under any circumstances, be tried under army laws. As the victims of such violence are largely civilians, these criminal acts should be brought under the normal criminal procedure code and not be tried by the army, using court martial procedures.

The Concept Note for the meeting is pasted below.

We would like to you to join this interaction to share our findings and to create a platform for future solidarity and action.

Date: Sunday December 9, 2012

Time: 11.00 AM to 3.00 PM

Venue: Indian Women’s Press Corps, 5 Windsor Place, New Delhi

 

Programme

 

1. Release of the Dolopa (Assam) report on attempted rape by soldier of the Indian Army.

2. Research study on sexual violence in Assam.

3. Presentation of WSS publication on specific cases of sexual violence and its aftermath.

4. Discussion, campaign issues and strategy

The press meet will follow.

 

Organisers: AIPWA, Saheli, WinG and WSS

For further information, please contact: Savita Sharma 9811834598 Dr Ajita Rao 9868200384

SP Ankit Garg , Do you have the Balls ? #SoniSori #Rape #Prison


 

I Dare you

 S.P .Ankit Garg,

Rape Me

Do you have the Balls ?

 

Stripping   Soni  Sori in  Prison.

Inserting stones in her vagina and rectum

Showing off your  Manhood in a  Prison

You called her  a  whore, a bitch,

Torturing her with electric currents

In your Torture Haven,

 

I Dare you ,

S.P .Ankit Garg

Rape Me,

Do you have the Balls ?

 

You told  Soni Sori

You are administration, authority and  the Government. 

You  run the government from the  Prison

 

You told  Soni Sori

You  have the magic wand for all operations

 Slap false  cases,  and  arrest adivasis in the name of  ‘  Maoism

You told Soni Sori

Who will believe an adivasi teacher as against an IPS officer  ?

You told Soni Sori

To sign on a blank paper and name human rights activists as  Maoists

You told Soni Sori

 If she did not listen to you,

she would die beating her head against the prison  walls  with  shame

 

 

I Dare you ,

 S.P. Ankit Garg

Rape Me,

Do you have the Balls ?

 

You are a  Sadistic Bastard

You made  Soni Sori stand naked in front of  you

 You are a  Sadistic Bastard

 You verbally abused  her and tortured  her  psychologically.

You are   a Sadistic Bastard

You made three men insert stones in her vagina and rectum

You are a Sadistic Bastard

You have risen to the  Ranks so fast on the blood and bones of tribals

 

 

I Dare you ,

 S.P .Ankit Garg

Rape Me,

Do you have the Balls ?

 

On the 63rd Republic Day on 26th Jan 2012 ,

 You were conferred with President’s Police Medal for Gallantry 

A Gallantry award for Sexual Violence ?

The Darkest day for the  Indian Democracy

I will not rest till the medal is recalled

I will not rest till you are behind bars

I will not rest till  women scream in pain from  prisons  

I will  only  rest when   there is an end to custodial  torture and sexual violence 

 

 

I Dare you ,

 S.P .Ankit Garg

Rape Me,

Do you have the Balls ?

By- Kamayani Bali Mahabal- for Justice for Soni Sori Campaign

 

( 1000 th  post on my blog for Soni Sori and many other Women Prisoners behind bars facing sexual violence )

 

Machismo is the Problem, Not the Solution #Vaw #Rape #NCR #Delhipolice


 

A number of campaigns against sexual harassment endorse the stereotypes they set out to debunk

By Kavita Krishnan


Misguided Posters for Delhi Police’s various campaigns against sexual harassment

THE STING OPERATION by TEHELKA brought to light several medieval myths that our ‘protectors’ nurture about women and rape. Embarrassed Delhi-NCR police officers have promised ‘sensitisation’ as a corrective to such attitudes. The trouble is: what kind of attitudes will be promoted under ‘sensitisation’? The Delhi Police ad campaigns suggest that even when they think they’re being ‘sensitive’ to sexual violence, they are promoting rather dangerous patriarchal notions of mardangi(machismo). A recent campaign against sexual violence has actor-director Farhan Akhtar, saying, “Make Delhi safer for women. Are you man enough to join me?”

Such misplaced notions of manliness are evident in many women’s safety campaigns. Another ad Delhi Police has been using for several years has a photograph of a woman being harassed by a group of men at a bus stop with some men and women simply looking on. This poster proclaims, “There are no men in this picture… or this would not happen” and urges “real men” to “save her from shame and hurt”. It suggests that 1) sexual harassers are not “real men” (asli mard), 2) women facing harassment feel “shame” and 3) only “real men” can protect them. Can such ideas of machismo reduce violence against women? Or are they the root of the problem?

Interesting answers emerge as one widens the lens. Campaigns centred on sexual harassment rarely feature women who express their anger and protest sexual harassment in public places. Perhaps if a woman is shown angry, it’d be difficult to sustain the notion that she is experiencing ‘shame’. Shame, in this case, conveys vulnerability and need for protection, reinforcing the need for a male protector. Publicly displayed anger or violent self-defence by women, on the other hand, is deeply unnerving.

The idea of an ‘asli mard’ too, calls for an intellectual inquiry. When men commit ‘honour’ crimes to put an end to their sister’s or daughter’s relationships, aren’t they being ‘real men’, fulfilling their duty of being a ‘protector’? Isn’t the ‘protector’ also expected to enforce ‘discipline’? When men harass women who challenge patriarchal norms (by dressing ‘like a slut’, visiting pubs and drinking, etc), don’t ‘real men’ see it as their job to teach them a lesson? Sexual violence too has a ‘disciplinary’ function — reminding women not to cross the ‘lakshman rekha’ of patriarchal laws.

It isn’t just the cops who believe a woman can invite a heinous crime such as rape. A noted columnist in the Sunday magazine of a leading English daily believes that women ought to be responsible for the way they dress. She writes: “Let’s say you decide that it is your right as a law-abiding citizen to leave your front door unlocked when you go out. Is this likely to attract the attention of your friendly neighbourhood burglar? Probably… If you dress to attract attention, then you must be reconciled to the fact that you can’t control what kind of attention you will attract.” The problem is that the list of behaviours that will attract rape is endless. If you have a boyfriend or a male friend and they rape you, would you say you left your door unlocked?

The same columnist suggests that women would “cry foul” if men were to “expose flesh” in public. But men can, in fact do, bare their chests in public, display ‘six-pack abs’, get drunk in public, have sexual relationships with women, and move at all times without being accused of ‘inviting’ rape! Their behaviour is never, ever compared to “leaving your front door unlocked”. Why does women’s behaviour carry a risk that an identical behaviour by men does not?

We don’t need patriarchal male protectors, nor do we need sermons on how ‘responsible’ feminine behaviour can offer protection from sexual violence. We need to reconcile with the fact that sexual violence is not caused by sexual attraction. It is an assertion of patriarchal dominance over women.

Kavita Krishnan is National secretary, All India Progressive Women’s Association.kavitakrish73@gmail.com