‘Would they have tortured me the same way had I not been a Dalit?’

Rekha Chavan shows the bruises four days after she was beaten up. Photo: Amruta Byatnal

Rekha Chavan shows the bruises four days after she was beaten up. Photo: Amruta Byatnal

Karad (Maharashtra), January 14, 2012 -Rekha was assaulted because her son allegedly eloped with a Maratha girl

Four days after she was beaten up, stripped and paraded in her own village, 42-year-old Dalit widow Rekha Arun Chavan wonders if she would have lived a life of more dignity had she been born in an upper caste. Rekha was assaulted because her son Amol allegedly eloped with a Maratha girl Anita Desai from Mulgaon village in Karad, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan‘s hometown. Relatives of the girl confessed to The Hindu that they had indeed beaten her up.

Bai aahe ka kutri? Am I woman or a dog to be beaten up like that,” Rekha asked this correspondent while she lay in a bed on Friday afternoon in Karad’s Krishna Hospital. “About 12 persons of the Desai family assaulted me for one and a half hours. They called me names and swore at me for being from a lower caste. Would they have tortured me the same [way] had I not been a Dalit,” she asked. She had no clue about her 22-year-old son Amol’s relationship with 17-year-old Anita, their neighbour.

“What was wrong?”

Speaking to The Hindu in Mulgaon village, where the incident happened, Anita’s cousin Bhimrao Desai said, “What is wrong? How would anyone else react if their daughter had run away with a lower caste man?”

So far, five persons from the Desai household have been arrested in the case, and are under police custody.

The Desais are Marathas. According to Rekha, the village always lives in fear of the Marathas. Nobody speaks against them. There are about 25 Dalit families, and 100 Maratha families, she said. “When I was being beaten up, everyone just watched. They want to live safely in the village,” she said, showing the black and blue marks on the thighs, back and hands. Rekha said she had been ostracised by the villagers, even from her community, on the orders of the Marathas. She owns a small provision store. She lost her husband 22 years ago.

Like every village in Maharashtra, Mulgaon also boasts a ‘Tanta Mukti Samiti’ (committee to resolve disputes) under the much talked about Mahatma Gandhi Tanta Mukti Gaon Yojana (dispute-free village scheme). A dispute like this should have been identified and resolved at the village level. However, as Bhimrao Desai reveals, the head of the committee is also from the Desai community. “When things are going wrong in your own house, what can the committee do,” he asks.

Rekha’s son left the house stating that he was going to Pune for a job. “He left on December 13. I haven’t heard of him since,” she said. Anita went missing a day after. Since then, Rekha was threatened repeatedly. Her nephew Sharad and sister-in-law Surekha were also beaten up. While Sharad has lodged a police complaint, Surekha was too scared to take the step. It is also perhaps a sense of guilt that stopped her. “Amol had told me before leaving. He wanted me to give his mobile phone to Anita and help her hide her bag, I had conveyed the message to her,” Surekha said.

When attempts to get the information about her son from her relatives failed, the Desais targeted her, Rekha says. I kept begging them to leave me, and I repeatedly told them that I didn’t know about his whereabouts. But nobody listened. Both the men and women were merciless,” she stated.

In Mulgaon, though, there is a sense of acceptance of the atrocity. “Such things [inter-caste marriages] can happen in cities, but even we don’t feel good that it is happening in our own village,” Eknath Chavan, also a Dalit, said. “We know it is permitted by law but we cannot be OK with it,” he said.

Rekha’s neighbour Samabai Chavan, who was one of the eyewitnesses, said: “I tried to stop them. She held on to my feet while they were beating her with sticks.” According to Samabai, Rekha went to the hospital alone after being assaulted. Nobody from the village has gone to visit Rekha in the hospital. “She is paying for what she has done. We have to do our own work,” Eknath Chavan says nonchalantly.

In the hospital, Rekha’s 70-year-old mother Gayabai Sathe asks, “What has my daughter done? How will she go back and live in her house?”

Says Rekha: “I want to prove to them that I cannot be scared away. I will go back to my house in the village and live with dignity.”

Source- Hindu-  Amruta Byatnal


What Can you do for REKHA ?


A decade long struggle of a feminist against Sexual Harassment in Kerala

P E Usha, a non-teaching employee of Calicut University, charged Prakashan, a male colleague, with making sexually coloured remarks about her in their workplace. This happened after she was assaulted sexually on a bus by a stranger late in the evening on December 29, 1999. Prakashan is said to have propagated a distorted version of the incident, i e, that it occurred with Ushaís consent and cooperation. Usha registered complaints with the registrar of the university and the Kerala Women’s Commission (KWC) seeking action specifically under the provisions of the SC judgment. It bears mention that while Prakashan was a member of the CPI(M)-led employeesí union (EU) and Usha belonged to the much smaller Calicut University Employees Forum (CUEF), not affiliated to any one party.According to Usha this factor has informed the delayed and blatantly partisan proceedings of the university on her complaint. For their part Prakashan and EU functionaries maintain that Ushaís complaint was motivated by union rivalry.

With considerable prodding from Usha, the university announced on January 27 the formation of an anti-harassment committee, under the UGC guidelines (University of Calicut (UC) Order no GAI/GI/1881/99). The announcement referred neither to Ushaís complaint nor to the SC judgment. The committee had the head of Prakashanís department (the dean of students welfare), a male, as the convenor and six of its eight members were affiliated to the CPI(M). It met on March 7, but resolved unanimously not to proceed with the complaint as one of the employees unions had questioned its jurisdiction on a complaint filed by a non-teaching employee [Syndicate Inquiry Report (SIR) 2000].

Three months after the incident in mid- March 2000, Usha moved the high court questioning the formation of the anti-harassment committee and seeking remedy against Prakashan. The university then announced the formation of a four- member syndicate subcommittee and placed the complaint before it; on April 17, Usha gave evidence and on May 5 five witnesses were interrogated. The section officer of the department in which she worked and another co-worker testified for Usha; the other witnesses were the president and two vice-presidents of Prakashanís union. The manner in which this committee went about its task is instructive. The Syndicate Inquiry Report states that the committee resolved to allow Prakashan to engage a legal practitioner for his defence ìsince the case involved many legal questionsî, no mention here of Usha. Usha points out that she was not given a similar opportunity. The committee considered two issues, (a) whether the ìallegations made byî Usha could attract the provisions of the SC judgment; and (b) whether Prakashan had made sexually coloured remarks about Usha. On the first issue the committee found that ìthe complainant was silent about what was the sexually coloured remark made by the accusedî ñ by which they seem to suggest not that Usha failed to reveal the content of the statements but that she had failed to make apparent what was sexually coloured about the statement! The committee goes on to state that

It is also worth mentioning that at no stage the authorities considered the complaint as one which made against sexual harassment as evident from various memos and orders issued in this regard (sic). The complaint was treated as false propaganda (sic). The committee is of the opinion that since the alleged sexually coloured remark was not communicated to the complainant directly but to her colleagues it could not attract the SC judgment [SIR 2000]. As against this the committee dismissed the evidence proffered by Usha’s witnesses:

Out of the five, three witnesses [office-bearers of the EU] did not support the complainantís alleged story. First witness Zainaba [section officer of Ushaís department] admitted that Prakashan had not communicated anything directly to her. But she overheard while the accused was talking with Abdul Kareem [Ushaís second witness]. On the other hand, Abdul Kareem stated that immediately after Prakashanís remarks he asked Zainaba about it and she replied to the effect that she already has information about the incident. And also he was not sure about the statement of Zainaba that she overheard the conversation to be true (sic) [SIR 2000].
Abdul Kareem (Ushaís witness) testified that Prakashan had made sexually coloured remarks against Usha directly to him. The committee dismissed his account on the following grounds: as Abdul Kareem had admitted that he was no friend of Prakashan there was no reason for the committee to believe that the latter had made these remarks to him; Abdul Kareem was an active worker of the CUEF, of which Usha was an office bearer. Besides Usha and Kareem were its senior leaders in the eastern block, where the incident occurred. ìIn the above circumstances we feel that it is not safe to rely entirely on the evidences of Abdul Kareem in the absence of any material or oral evidences to corroborate (sic)î [SIR 2000].

Usha moved to Thiruvananthapuram in July 2000 on long leave from the university. She has pointed out that it had become impossible for her to continue on campus as she had started receiving threats of violence against herself and her 12-year-old daughter.10 It bears emphasis that by this time, she had exhausted all legal remedy at the university, had moved to the high court and the KWC and even attempted to speak to Left party functionaries.Usha then formally approached the Kerala Stree Vedi, a statewide network of women and womenís organisations, and with their support in late August, she spoke to the press ñ the story appeared first in a popular Malayalam daily. If this sparked off wide publicity and considerable public support for the issue and had an important role in bringing pressure to bear on legal and quasi legal authorities to take note of the case, it has also led to charges from the mainstream Left that the issue was entirely the production of the ëpopularí media.

The KWC turned its attention to the complaint in September 2001 (the complaint was made in early January 2001). Its inquiry requires some elaboration if at least because its verdict against Prakashan reversed the Syndicate Inquiry Committee findings. The KWC considered the evidence of seven persons, besides the complainant and the accused. Two vice presidents of the EU (Sadasivan Pillai and Velayudhan) and Abdul Kareem, who were examined also by the earlier committee, maintained their positions. Both EU office bearers maintained that they had learned of the incident from posters that were put up on campus denouncing the campaign against Usha and from news reports. The report also presents the evidence of four other non teaching employees, two members each of the EU and CUEF. A woman member of the EU maintained that she had heard Velayudhan tell Usha not to take seriously the rumours that were being spread by Prakashan for he was known to indulge in such gossip. Velayudhan admitted speaking to Usha but denied the content. The three remaining witnesses, including another EU member, pointed out that Prakashan had narrated offensively a version of the incident on the bus [KWC Report 2000].

The KWC held Prakashan guilty of indulging in unfair practices against Usha. They recommended to the government and university that Prakashan should be suspended; Usha should be offered an option of transfer. However, the decision of the KWC was not unanimous. In fact the delay in taking up the issue itself has been attributed to internal differences. Besides, one of two CPI (M) members of the commission put in a dissenting note to the final recommendations, asking instead for a fresh inquiry. CPI(M) member of the commission, T Devi, accused the chairperson, Sugatha Kumari, of taking ëspecial interestí in the case and taking ëexternalí legal advice (Deshabhimani, November 11, 2000).

The KWC report and recommendations were forwarded to the social welfare department on November 11, 2001. On January 15, 2001, the department of higher education forwarded the KWC recommendations to the university and sought information on the action taken. Meanwhile, in December, Prakashan had obtained a stay from the high court on the order to suspend him. This was vacated by a division bench of the high court on February 2 with the stipulation that Prakashan maybe given an opportunity to present his grievances before the department of higher education about the procedures adopted by the KWC. This was completed on April 25 and an order revalidating the earlier one of January 15, 2001 was forwarded to the chief ministerís office, where it languished till after the elections.

Meanwhile Usha had made public her intention of going on indefinite strike from April 18 before the university administrative office. On April 19, Prakashan went on strike along with his wife and infant son. On April 30 Usha converted her strike into an indefinite fast, was arrested on the fourth day and moved to the medical college. Human rights activists tried to intervene by holding talks with the vice chancellor, who at first agreed that he would take action if he received the report from the higher education department. They contacted the department, which required a request from the university. When asked to send the request, the vice chancellor backed out with the comment that he would consider it but took no action. (Mathrubhumi, May 7).16 Usha called off her fast on the ninth day after mediation by Justice Krishna Iyer and on the ëassuranceí that the minister of education had told the press that he had signed the government order. The university has since suspended Prakashan. In June 2001, it constituted a compalints committee in formal accordance with the SC judgment.

Listen to her, what is the status of her case and how she went on fighting for more than a decade and is still fighting.

CBI increases reward to Rs 10 lakh for info on Shehla Masood murder

 My Friend Shehla Masood

My Friend Shehla Masood

New Delhi, Jan 14 (PTI) The CBI today doubled the cash reward of Rs five lakh to Rs 10 lakh for information on the murder of RTI activist Shehla Masood who was shot dead outside her house in Bhopal in August last year. CBI had registered a case against unnamed persons in connection with the incident on September 3 last year but it remains clueless about the mystery shrouding the murder prompting it to increase the reward money, CBI sources said. “Any credible information regarding the murder of Shehla Masood murder can be shared on 0425600927, 09425001643 and 09425661632,” CBI spokesperson said here. Shehla was shot dead when she was going towards her car outside her residence in posh Koh-e-Fiza locality in Bhopal on August 16. A team of AIIMS experts led by Forensic Scientist T D Dogra arrived in Bhopal on Thursday to give their insights on this complex case. The agency has also questioned some persons with regards to the case. The case was transferred to the CBI as Madhya Pradesh Police could not figure out the motive behind the murder but suspected she was eliminated by some powerful persons against whom she had filed RTI applications. Shehla had earlier gone on a hunger strike in Bhopal in support of Anna Hazare‘s cause. She was also involved in other causes, including wildlife conservation.

Adivasis under attack from the State

Dear friends

Tribals in Chhattisgarh are violently oppressed by government. The state of Chhattisgarh has been reeling under the effect of the undeclared civil war between the Naxalite insurgents and the government authorities. The word Naxalite is used to describe militant communist groups operating mostly in the eastern states of India. The plight of the exploited and dispossessed adivasis gave the Naxalites the perfect situation for starting a communist revolution. As the Naxalites slowly began perform the roles the government was ideally meant to perform, they began to gain the sympathy and support of the tribal people. In the last ten years however, the movement has moved away from guerilla warfare for the rights of tribals and natives and has mostly become anti governmental in nature.

In 2009 the Indian Government initiated the Integrated Action Plan which was to include funding for grass-roots economic development and special police funding for better containment of Naxalite influence in states like Chhattisgarh, However, instead of providing any relief to the villagers, the police have only added to their miseries. The Kalar and Gond adivasis of the tiny village Kadegaon have been the latest victims of police atrocities reports Bhan Sahu, Community Correspondent from Ambagarh Chowk district, Chhattisgarh.

Bhan is a social activist who focuses on mobilizing villagers and raising awareness, and uses video to advocate the rights of tribal people, As Bhan speaks to villagers, they describe how, one early morning, they had gone to gather their harvest and used an old red sari as a marker. This innocuous sign convinced the police that the villagers must have been Naxalites and without bothering to ask any questions, indiscriminately opened fire. They later rounded up the villagers and beat them mercilessly, keeping them in custody in their camp. The villagers were finally released at night.

Bhan goes on to tell the story of a young girl, Jayanti. It is a common practice for the children to bathe near the fields before preparing for school.. The police had been marking those very fields and the villagers were unaware of that Jayanti was in the fields collecting her clothes along with the other village children when suddenly the police opened fire. Jayanti was hit in her womb by a bullet, as a result of which, she will never be able to bear children, Jayanti has since been paid one lakh INR as compensation by the government and a team from the police gifted her family a television set. However, that cannot hide the fact that no action has been taken for the irresponsible behavior of the police. Says Bhan, “It is time the external police forces were removed from these villages. The local cops are good enough for us. Instead of feeling protected, the villagers are, instead, terrified of all the extra police around. They are too afraid to return to their own homes after dark!

Watch the Video here

Adivasis Under Attack From State


Public Awareness Yatra on revision of Mumbai Development Plan Jan 17-19

Dear all,
As most of you know, the development plan of Mumbai is being revised and a draft is being expected next year.  The development plan will decide the land use pattern of Mumbai and hence will decide on the density, spaces for urban housing, livelihood, open spaces, social infrastructure will be decided therin.

Many of the peoples settlements which have come up on land which is reserved in last D.P (1981 – 2011) for one purpose or the other.  It is important that the present D.P acknowledge the existence of peoples settlements and ensure appropriate land use.  This has also being acknowledged in Rajiv Awas Yojana and Model Property Rights Bill.

The Pubic Awarness Yatra will visit and discuss with public on Development Plan with a Peoples charter of demands which was facilitated by Shahar Vikas Manch in consultation with various communities and peoples groups.  The Yatra will also demand consultation with urban poor in the process of development plan revision.

We request you to join the yatra at the places below to make our city a little more habitable, equitable and just to all section of people with universal access to basic services.

January 17, 2012, Tuesday
11.00 am: Ambujawadi, Malwani Malad
2.00 pm: Azmi nagar
4.00 pm, Kacha road, Collector Compund, Malwani Gate No.8

January 18, 2012 Wednesday
10.30 : Rathodi Village, Malwani
2.00 : Kharodi Village, Malwani
4.00 : Valnai, Near Orlem Church

January 19, 2012 Thursday
11.00:  Pratap Nagar, Jogeshwari
2.00 pm:  Jula Maidan, Bandra Plot, Jogeshwari
4.00 pm: Sarvodaya Nagar, Jogeshwari

Mohan Chavan, Mahatam Maurya, Sumati Belady, Fatima Sheikh, Vandana Parke, Suryakant More, Sana Khan, Rakhi Shinde, Ganesh Sonawane, Kalpana, Indumati, Salim Sheikh, Jagdeesh Sharma, Wasim Sheikh, Jaya Jhadav, Uma Biradar, Ayub sheikh, Nitin Kubal, Milind Arondekar, Sanju Shamathulla, Kalpana Gaude, Sharada Arondekar, 

for more information contact- maju@yuvaindia.org

Police beats up Dalit officer for doing his work, No FIR yet!

Khuturam Sunani from Nuapada in Odisha says I had reported about police beating up a Dalit school inspector for reporting against an upper caste school teacher.
It is more than 3 weeks but no FIR has been filed yet against the police officer though complaint has gone to all the officials in the district. He requests us to call higher officials to ask why an FIR has not been filed. For more Khuturam ji can be reached at 09437657625





URGENT APPEAL: Arbitrary detention of and judicial harassment against Mr. Narayan Reddy

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in India.

Description of the situation:

 The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources of the arbitrary detention of and judicial harassment against Mr. Narayan Reddy, a leader of the Communist Party of India (CPI) who has been part of a six-year campaign against forcible acquisition of common lands for South Korean steel giant POSCO in Jagatsinghpur district, Odisha State (formerly Orissa State). The campaign is organised by a movement called the “POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti” (PPSS).

 According to the information received, on December 23, 2011, Mr. Narayan Reddy was arrested in the early morning near Japa Square in Erasama area of Jagatsinghpur district, Odisha, and taken to Kujang police station. He was then brought before a local court, which remanded him to judicial custody for two weeks after he was falsely charged with “murder”. As of issuing this Urgent Appeal, Mr. Narayan Reddy remains detained in Samagol prison, Odisha State.

 On January 9, 2012, a petition for release on bail of Mr. Narayan Reddy was rejected by the Additional District Session Judge of Jagatsinghpur, Mr. Sachidananda Sahu.

 Mr. Reddy is reportedly being held in connection with violent incidents that took place on December 14, 2011 at the proposed site of the POSCO steel plant, following a clash between peaceful protesters against the construction of the coastal road connecting Paradip port to the proposed site of the plant and workers engaged by a contractor group, the Paradip Paribahan Company, to build the coastal road. One person died and 25 protesting villagers were seriously injured during the clashes.

 Mr. Narayan Reddy has been leading the anti-POSCO campaign following the arrest of PPSS President, Mr. Abhay Sahu, on November 25, 2011, in the same context.

 The Observatory condemns the arbitrary detention of and judicial harassment against Mr. Narayan Reddy, which seems to merely aim at sanctioning his peaceful activities in the framework of the campaign against the proposed POSCO steel plant and the related forcible acquisition of common lands farmed by villagers.

 Actions requested:


Please write to the authorities of India, urging them to:


i.                     Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Messrs. Narayan Reddy and Abhay Sahu, of allPPSS members as well as of all human rights defender sin India;


ii.                   Release Messrs. Narayan Reddy and Abhay Sahu immediately and unconditionally since his detention is arbitrary as it seems to merely sanction his human rights activities;


iii.                  Put an end to acts of any acts of harassment – including at the judicial level – against Messrs. Narayan Reddy and Abhay Sahu as well as against all human rights defenders in India;


iv.                 Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with its:

–          Article 1, which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”;

–          Article 6(a), which foresees that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms”;

–          Article 12.2 (“the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”);


v.                   More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by India.




  • ·       Mr. Shri Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, Prime Minister’s Office, Room number 152, South Block, New Delhi, India. Fax: + 91 11 2301 6857 E-mal: pmosb@pmo.nic.in / manmo@sansad.in
  • ·       Dr. P. Chidambaram, Union Minister of Home Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, 104-107 North Block, New Delhi 110 001 India, Fax: +91 11 2309 2979 / 2309 4221. E-mail: hm@nic.in
  • ·       Justice Kapadia, Chief Justice of India, Supreme Court, Tilak Marg, New Delhi -1, India. Fax: +91 11 233 83792, Email: supremecourt@nic.in
  • ·       Justice K. G. Balkrishnan, Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of India, Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg, New Delhi 110 001, India. Fax: +91 11 2334 0016 / 2338 4863, Email: chairn@nic.incovdnhrc@nic.in ; ionhrc@nic.in
  • ·       Shri A. K. Parashar, Focal Point on Human Rights Defenders, National Human Rights Commission, Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg, New Delhi 110 001, India. Email: hrd-nhrc@nic.in
  • ·       Mr. Naveen Patnaik, Chief Minister of Odisha, Naveen Nivas, Aerodrome Road, Bhubaneswar 751001, India. Fax 0674-2535100 Email: cmo@ori.nic.in
  • ·       Mr. Debadutta Singh, Superintendent of police, Email: dm@ori.nic.in
  • ·       Secretary, Odisha Human Rights Commission, Toshali Bhawan (2nd Floor), Satyanagar, Bhubaneswar-751007, Odisha, India, Fax: +91 674 257 2010, Email: ohrc@nic.in
  • ·       Sri Narayana Chandra Jena, Collector & District Magistrate Jagatsinghpur. PO: Jagatsinghpur District Police, Odisha, Email:dmjsp@ori.nic.in
  • ·       Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Permanent Representative to the United Nations (Geneva), Rue du Valais 9, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland. Tel: +41 22 906 86 86, Fax: +41 22 906 86 96, Email: mission.india@ties.itu.int
  • ·       Embassy of India in Brussels, 217 Chaussée de Vleurgat, 1050 Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 (0)2 6489638 or +32 (0)2 6451869


Please also write to the diplomatic representations of India in your respective countries.



Geneva-Paris, January 13, 2012

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.


The Observatory, an OMCT and FIDH venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.


To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

  • ·       E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
  • ·       Tel and fax OMCT + 41 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
  • ·       Tel and fax FIDH + 33 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

FBI updates Rape definition after 85 years

 The FBI (FBI) and the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official websites] announced an official update of the federal government’s definition of rape [press release] to include the violation of “any person” rather than the previous definition that only covered women. The previous definition had been unchanged for 85 years. The new definition, “The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim,” is primarily used in the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) [materials], an annual statistical analysis of crimes in the US. Before this year, any rape of a man was not included in the US government’s official rape statistical reports. This crime, not only under-reported, has thus also been under-represented statistically as well. Other updates are implied in this new definition with the inclusion of a consent provision:

The revised definition includes any gender of victim or perpetrator, and includes instances in which the victim is incapable of giving consent because of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity, including due to the influence of drugs or alcohol or because of age. The ability of the victim to give consent must be determined in accordance with state statute. Physical resistance from the victim is not required to demonstrate lack of consent. The new definition does not change federal or state criminal codes or impact charging and prosecution on the local level.

The previous definition was simply “carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.”

Last month, the FBI announced that violent crime in the US has dropped [JURIST report], continuing a trend lasting for the past four-and-a-half years. Violent crimes, which include murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault, dropped 6.4 percent in the first months of 2011 compared to the same time in 2010. Property crimes, including burglary, larceny theft and motor vehicle theft, dropped 3.7 percent and arson decreased 8.6 percent. The FBI data is a compilation of more than 18,000 jurisdictions that voluntarily participate in the FBI’s UCR Program. However, with the amended definition of rape, non-forcible rapes and rapes of men will now be included in the statistical analysis, so the violent crime rate next year should reflect that shift.





* A team of women representing various women’s groups from across the country were in Raipur on 12-13th January to meet Ms. Soni Sori, currently lodged in Raipur Central Jail. Ms Sori is a tribal school teacher who has been hounded by the Chhattisgarh Police as a Maoist conduit. She was arrested in October 2011 and was brutally assaulted sexually in police custody on the night of 8-9th October.

Even after applying for permission as per procedure and repeated requests to various concerned officials on 12th, the women were denied permission to meet her, despite already having an assurance from the Principal Secretary, Mr. Baijendra Kumar, during his visit to Delhi in October.For two whole days the team was shuttled from one authority to the other and back, with each and every official avoiding taking a decision or give in writing any denial or reasons for it. Finally, permission was denied on 13th citing `security’ concerns. We feel that such alleged `security’ concerns are being used as a smokescreen to prevent us from meeting her, and this constitutes a violation of Soni’s rights as a prisoner. Further, we fail to understand what security threats an all women’s team, following all proper procedures and which consented to meet her in presence of the jail authorities, poses to the jail. Even the State Human Rights Commission, when approached by the team, refused to take cognizance of the matter, stating that denial of access to an undertrial does not constitute any violation of human rights of the undertrial.

The team expresses deep anguish and horror at the brutal physical and sexual torture she was subjected to when in police custody, which included giving her electric shocks, stripping her and inserting foreign objects into private parts. This torture was carried out under the supervision of a senior police official, despite directive from the Delhi High Court to the Chhattisgarh police to ensure her safety. The medical report of Kolkata NRS Medical College and Hospital, where stones were recovered from her private parts, confirms the brutal sexual assault.

We feel that Soni Sori`s case is of national importance and urgency for several reasons. Firstly, such barbaric behaviour by police had been foreseen even before Ms. Sori was taken into custody and had been clearly placed before the Sessions Court and High Court in Delhi, when her custody was sought by the Chhattisgarh police. While such custodial torture is a blatant violation and a matter of concern, *that it can happen despite judicial scrutiny and monitoring is deeply disturbing and of even greater concern.*

Secondly, this is one of the rare cases where the allegations have been substantiated by incontrovertible evidence in the form of an independent medical report conducted under the orders of the Supreme Court. Yet no action has been taken. Despite the seriousness of these violations, the Chhattisgarh authorities have not even instituted an enquiry, let alone taking action against the officials concerned. In addition, it is also preventing any attempts from independent women’s groups to meet with her.

Given the brutal treatment meted out to Soni Sori, and the overall situation of conflict and repression prevailing in Chhattisgarh, we are deeply concerned about the situation of women, in general, and specifically of other women prisoners in Chhattisgarh. Speaking in the larger context efforts to get information by human rights activists about under trails in such areas has unsuccessful. We demand immediate suspension of the officers concerned pending enquiry. Free access of individuals and groups to meet with Soni Sori and her rights as an under trail should be upheld.

The members of the team that visited Raipur consisted members from Saheli, Delhi; Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS), Delhi; WSS Orissa and Madhya Pradesh Mahila Manch, Bhopal.

Press note released on behalf of women’s groups all across the country. —

Fake maoist posters ask people not to take part in elections

Khuturam Sunani says large number of posters were seen in villages in Nuapada district of Odisha asking people to take permission from Maoists before filing nominations in upcoming Panchayat elections. After that many candidates have got frightened and have not filed their application. Now Maoists have told that though they are opposed to elections but those posters were fake. For more Khuturam Ji can be reached at 09437657625

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January 2012
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