Why Justice Bhaktavatsala’s homilies are no better than TV serials #VAW #gender #justice


by  Sep 5, 2012, Firstpost

Justice Bhaktavatsala could be straight out of an ’80s Bollwyood film. At least, the Karnataka High Court judge, does uncannily sound like the wiry, death-bed bound mother stereotype who would advise her trembling, weepy, ketchup smeared daughter to go back to her monster mother-in-laws typified by the likes of Bindu and Shashikala.

For those wondering why a High Court judge might have invited that unfortunate a comparison, one has to check out the Facebook page Remove Justice Bhaktavatsala. The description section reads, “ Justice Bhaktavasala encourages women to stay in a violent relationship, for sake of marriage”. Strange, but true.

Justice Bhaktavatsala. Photo courtesy: Facebook page  Remove  Justice Bhaktavatsala.

Bhaktavatsala in the past couple of days has managed to amuse, outrage and shock people with his courtroom oratory. An example:

“Women suffer in all marriages. You are married with two children, and know what it means to suffer as a woman. Yesterday, there was a techie couple who reconciled for the sake of their child. Your husband is doing good business, he will take care of you.” 

If that wasn’t enough fodder for ridicule, one has to hear what he has to say about unmarried lawyers arguing marriage-related cases.

Family matters should be argued only by married people, not spinsters. You should only watch. Bachelors and spinsters watching family court proceedings will start thinking if there is any need to marry at all. Marriage is not like a public transport system. You better get married and you will get very good experience to argue such cases,” he advised her.

Justice Bhaktavatsala’s tragedy, however, is less how he turned himself up to be torn apart by feminists, more that he is a judge and not an Indian TV serial. One that beams in every second Indian home, six days a week, minting money out of ridiculous ideas of relationships, that best suits kangaroo courts in Indian badlands.

The judge’s concept of marriage and its attendant responsibility, which requires the woman to dump self-respect for ‘adjustments’, is similar to what Indian TV feeds millions of Indian audiences every day – and in the process earns crores-worth advertisements, deals etc.

There’s an online petition that is being circulated through the Facebook page, that will be eventually submitted to SC chief justice SH Kapadia, demanding Justice Bhaktavatsala be banned from continuing at his post. Hopefully, Bhaktavatsala will be chastised enough to keep his moth-eaten wisdom trapped in his gullet. But we’ll still have prime-time entertainment TV. Sigh.

Kasab, Bajrangi and the case against the #deathpenalty


 

We should put Ajmal KasabImages ] in jail until he dies a natural death, just like Babu Bajrangi. Rotting in jail knowing you are never going to be a free man again is worse than the finality of death. The punishment for crimes against humanity should be in this world and not the next, says Shivam Vij.at rediff.com
The Naroda Patiya massacre in Ahmedabad [ Images ] on February 28, 2002, killed 97 Muslims. It is the massacre infamous for the gory stories of a pregnant woman disembowelled and raped, an infant killed, and so on. If this massacre is not fit to be considered the “rarest of the rare,” what is?

It is ironical that the court found the kingpin of the massacre to be a woman, Dr Maya Kodnani, a practising gynaecologist, a former minister of state for women and child welfare in the Narendra ModiImages ] government! The court came down particularly hard on her, commenting that as a legislator, a representative of the people, she had done the opposite of what she was expected to: she helped kill people rather than save them. “She led the mob and incited them to violence. She abetted and supported the violent mob,” the court observed.

However, special court judge Jyotsna Yagnik chose not to sentence the accused to death when he announced the sentencing on September 1. Her court found 32 people guilty, of whom one is absconding. Seven will spend 31 years in jail, 22 will spend 24 years, Maya Kodnani 28 years and former Gujarat state Bajrang Dal president Babu Bajrangi is to live the rest of his life in jail.

Justice Yagnik — a brave judge whom the Gujarat government had transferred but was reinstated by the Supreme Court — said that capital punishment was against human dignity and that global trends were to avoid it.

As someone against death penalty, I am only too happy that a judge has given a judgment like this. And I am happy that she has compensated this with extra years in jail — and in Bajrangi’s case, jail till natural death. I think that capital punishment should be abolished from Indian law, as the State has no right to take away anyone’s life.

Killing a mass murderer is not going to bring back those he killed, and I do not understand how the cause of justice is served. The idea of justice is not revenge but to bring a sense of closure to the victims, not give them the gross feeling of revenge. Justice should be restorative, not retributive.

Making the legal process less cumbersome and time-consuming, making it more independent from the pressures of the government of the day, punishing the police and investigation agencies found coming in the way of justice, are some measures that are going to be far more effective in preventing heinous crime than hanging people to death.

Sometimes capital punishment is actually counter-productive. It has the potential of turning the accused into a martyr, which is then used by his or her defenders to spread his or her message. Hanging Bajrangi is going to be used by some fanatics to make him into a hero in the cause of fanaticism and religious violence. Letting him rot in jail forever, is justice that will deny him a heroic halo.

Justice is about fairness, not about lynch mob mentality. And so when the Supreme Court upheld capital punishment for Ajmal Kasab, I was sickened to see the reactions by some in social media. ‘Hang him now!’ they said. ‘Why are we wasting the tax-payer’s money keeping him alive?’ they asked.

They are not asking for justice but for the ghastly pleasure of seeing someone they hate being killed by their State. It is the same kind of vicarious pleasure that the 26/11 terrorists and the people behind them sought. So are we going to submit to the kind of base instincts that made Kasab a terrorist? Unlike the nine others who were killed, Kasab was captured alive. But he, too, was prepared to be killed. Like all jihadis, he was probably told he will attain heaven. Kasab’s hanging is not going to deter other jihadis who are indoctrinated to die for a cause.

And that is why we should put Kasab in jail until he dies a natural death, just like Bajrangi. Rotting in jail knowing you are never going to be a free man again is worse than the finality of death. The punishment for crimes against humanity should be in this world and not the next. And if we assert that these criminals have committed acts that are inhuman, our moral right to justice cannot be fulfilled if our justice is the inhumanity of murder.

The only thing that will not be achieved by their hanging is that we will not get to clap and cheer as the noose tightens, which is what some of us really want to do. Like barbarians, like the Taliban [ Images ]. It is unfortunate that in the Afzal Guru case the Supreme Court almost succumbed to such emotions of retributive justice when it noted that sentencing him to death would satisfy “the collective conscience of the [sic] society”.

If the tax-payer’s money is to be saved, let’s abandon the criminal justice system as a whole and keep hanging people summarily. Incidentally, the people who want Kasab hanged right away, do not want Bajrangi and Kodnani hanged. I don’t understand this double standard and hypocrisy. Both killed people, lots of them. In fact Kasab’s crime is lesser: he was not a mastermind like Kodnani and Bajrangi but a pawn.

An MLA conspiring to kill the people she represents is definitely “rarer” than a Pakistani terrorist coming to India [ Images ] and killing Indians.

I am not saying that Kodnani and Bajrangi should be hanged, rather that nobody should ever be hanged, for anything. The hypocrisy in a section of public opinion is proof that capital punishment is less about justice and more about retribution. But there are more reasons why India should abolish capital punishment.

Those given capital punishment in India often come from poor, marginalised or minority communities. This makes people say that the rich, the mainstream and those from majority community are treated with leniency. While I appreciate and second Justice Yagnik’s argument that death sentence is against human dignity, I am only saying that the Indian criminal justice system should apply this logic as a whole, in all cases deemed “rarest of the rare”.

The criminal justice system as a whole should not only treat everyone equally but also be seen as treating everyone equally. The Naroda Patiya judgment will certainly seem unjust to the 11 who have been given death sentence for the Godhra train carnage.

When the perpetrators of the gruesome Khairlanji massacre, in which a Dalit family was lynched to death by a whole village in Maharashtra [ Images ] in 2006, were not given death sentence, it made people ask: why does the system become lenient with punishment when the victims are Dalit? Such alienation and politics over capital punishment can be avoided only if it capital punishment is abolished from the statute book.

Another good reason why capital punishment should be abolished is that in case a judgment is erroneous, in case someone is being convicted on the basis of, say, concocted evidence, the mistake cannot be reversed. A man in jail can be freed but a man murdered can’t be brought back to life. The mistake can also be one of the judges’ interpretation of what constitutes “rarest of the rare”. And given the number of riots and pogroms and terrorist activities we have in this country, is the “rarest of the rare” really all that rare?

Fourteen eminent retired judges have recently written to President Pranab Mukherjee [ Images ] asking him to commute the death sentences of 13 convicts because the Supreme Court recently admitted that seven of its judgments giving those 13 capital punishment were made in error or ignorance (rendered per incuriam)! The Supreme Court has also admitted error in giving death sentence to Ravji Rao and Surja Ram of Rajasthan [ Images ], who were hanged in 1996 and 1997. Could there be greater injustice in the name of justice?

 

 

10th day of Jal Satyagraha – Video Appeal #OmkareshwarDam


This video depicts the plight of the ordinary Indian, when their government and courts abandon them. The video is made on the tenth day where the evictees of the Omkareshwar Dam, one of the 30 large dams constructed in the controversial Narmada Valley Project, have decided to protest by staying in neck-deep water, after the Madhya Pradesh state government in India decided to increase the water level to 196.60 meters, though many villagers who lost their land and livelihood are yet to be identified and adequately compensated by the government. This is from the 10th day of the protest in water.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received a report from the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) that a large group of villagers who have been evicted from their land without compensation for the construction of the Omkareshwar Dam are protesting against the illegal increase in the water level, beyond that is allowed by the Supreme Court of India. It is reported that in a unique form of protest held in East Nimaar region in Khandwa district of Madhya Pradesh state, the villagers have been sitting within the dam’s catchment area claiming that they are willing to drown to death than been denied their rightful claim for adequate rehabilitation for the lands they have lost.

In the meanwhile, water level is increased gradually in the dam, that soon the water would submerge the protesters. The protest has entered the 10th day today. In a litigation decided by the Supreme Court of India and earlier by the Madhya Pradesh High Court, the courts have categorically instructed the government as well as the consortium managing the dam, that the water level should not be increased beyond 196.60 meters and that all steps are to be taken, so that those who are adversely affected by the dam, particularly those who have lost land by submergence, are properly identified and compensated before the reservoir is filled to its maximum capacity. NBA reports that so far the height of water was 189 meters and now the state government has declared that it would increase the water level to 193 meters. This however is done without rehabilitating those who have lost their land to submergence, which is a violation of the commitment made by the government in court and is against the court’s directives hence the protest. Civil society groups have condemned the total disregard of the government to the plight of the poor villagers.

MORE HERE

AIl Demands Bahrain Free Prisoners of Conscience Following Verdict “Driven by Vindictiveness”


 

Thirteen Men Imprisoned for Exercising Human Rights in 2011 Anti-Government Protest Must Be Released Immediately

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, strimel@aiusa.org, 212-633-4150, @strimel

(New York) – Amnesty International today urged Bahraini authorities to overturn an appeal court decision upholding the convictions and sentences against 13 opposition activists and again demanded their immediate and unconditional release.

An Amnesty International trial observer was present in court on Tuesday when the High Criminal Court of Appeal in Bahrain upheld the convictions and sentences of the 13 men convicted last year by military courts on charges related to anti-government protests.

“Today’s court decision further engulfs Bahrain in injustice and shows once more that the Bahraini authorities are not on the path of reform, but are rather driven by vindictiveness,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

“Rather than uphold the sentences, which range from five years to life in prison for peacefully exercising their human rights, the Bahraini authorities must quash the convictions for the 13 men and release them immediately and unconditionally.”

The 13, including prominent activist Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and opposition political activist Ebrahim Sharif, were originally sentenced by a military court of appeal in June 2011 to a range of two years to life in prison on charges including “setting up terror groups to topple the royal regime and change the constitution.”

On 30 April 2012, the Court of Cassation ordered their appeal be held before a civilian court. This process began on May 22 and ended with today’s verdict, which was announced in a session than lasted only three minutes.

All prisoners maintain their innocence.

Farida Ismail, Ebrahim Sharif’s wife, said: “I was expecting this outcome, as it is clear to us the government is not ready to be held accountable – its procedures continue as before.”

“There is not enough pressure from abroad. What happens next will depend on which steps are taken by the international community and what states do in the next Universal Periodic Review session. As for our government, it is clearly not ready for justice.”

Bahrain’s human rights record will be under scrutiny during the next Universal Periodic Review (UPR) before the United Nations Human Rights Council in mid-September, when the Gulf state will have to confirm its acceptance or rejection of 176 peer recommendations presented to it during the previous UPR session in June.

“Bahrain cannot get a free pass at the UN Human Rights Council. We urge states to tell the Bahraini authorities that today’s verdict crosses a red line, and that they can no longer be considered credible partners,” said Sahraoui.

Amnesty International also repeated its call to Bahraini authorities to order an immediate and independent investigation into allegations made by defendants during previous court hearings that they had been tortured, sexually assaulted, and otherwise ill-treated while in detention in order to coerce “confessions” from them.

Fourteen opposition activists were originally arrested in 2011 after taking part in pro-reform protests in Manama. One of the men was later released. Many have alleged they were tortured during their first few days of detention while being interrogated by officers from the National Security Agency.

Some charges against three of the defendants were dropped on September 4.

Opposition activists who were arrested include: Hassan Mshaima’, Abdelwahab Hussain, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, Dr Abdel-Jalil al-Singace, Mohammad Habib al-Miqdad, Abdel-Jalil al-Miqdad, Sa’eed Mirza al-Nuri, Mohammad Hassan Jawwad, Mohammad Ali Ridha Isma’il, Abdullah al-Mahroos, Abdul-Hadi Abdullah Hassan al-Mukhodher, Ebrahim Sharif, Salah Abdullah Hubail al-Khawaja.

Al-Hur Yousef al-Somaikh has since been released, having served his sentence after the Court of Cassation reduced it to six months in prison.

Other prisoners of conscience currently held in Bahrain include:

Nabeel Rajab, the President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights and Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights is serving a three-year prison sentence for calling for and participating in ‘illegal gatherings.’ His appeal on this case is due to start on September 10.

Mahdi ‘Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb, the former president of the Bahrain Teacher’s Association (BTA), is serving a ten-year prison term imposed by a military court for using his position “to call for a strike by teachers, halting the educational process and inciting hatred of the regime,” among other charges. There is no evidence proving that he used or advocated violence.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

 

27th Ramanadham Memorial Meeting: Public Health, Inequality and Democratic Rights


The late sixties marked the first major crisis of independent India at all levels of its
economy and polity. This crisis gave birth to radical movements. Among these
were the tribal and peasant struggles led by Marxist Leninist parties. Brutal state
repression was launched on these movements. Regional civil rights
organisations arose as a response to the various illegal modes of repression. Thus in
1974 Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee [APCLC] was founded in
Andhra Pradesh.

Those were the times when A. Ramanadham, a medical doctor by profession,
founded one of the district units of APCLC in Warangal town.
Born in Mustikuntla, a small village in Khamman district in 1933, he started his
career as a government doctor. Dissatisfied with the unethical medical practices, he
left his job and set up his own Children’s Clinic in 1968 in Warangal. That year
marked the beginning of his involvement in various social issues. The clinic was to
become, perhaps, the only democratic centre in the entire town.
In June 1975, Emergency was imposed institutionalising the ongoing repression. Dr.
Ramanadham, along with other activists, were arrested. After lifting of
Emergency APCLC was able to function again. Dr. Ramanadham became its
Vice President.
Civil rights organisations that had earlier been confined to their own regions and
histories, began to share information and experiences. Joint investigations into
repression on worker and peasant struggles and joint campaigns on repressive
laws. In this process of building fraternal relations PUDR came to know the work of
Dr. Ramanadham. And to appreciate his gentle friendliness and modesty

Dr. Ramanadham’s involvement with civil liberties was inseparable from his
professional role as a doctor. In fact, his professional role helped the civil rights
movement which, in turn, made him a better doctor. It helped him to understand
the social origins of the diseases of his patients He did not confine himself to
giving medicines but tried to spread a scientific outlook. Out of this came his
famous book in Telugu, Medical Guide which was addressed to the people and not
to health workers.
Dr. Ramanadham tried to create a space for democratic values wherever he went
and in whatever he did. Struggling against corrupt medical practices in a health
centre in Husnabad, helping friends to bring out a revolutionary literary journal in
Warangal, helping a young girl and conducting her marriage against the will of her
influential parents, organising a people’s clinic with the help of doctors on strike in
front of Warangal -Government Hospital, are examples of Dr. Ramanadliam’s
involvement and initiative in democratic concerns

In the late seventies peasant struggles for higher agricultural wages and against
landlord repression spread in Warangal and other districts Police was given extensive illegal powersto repress these struggles. Governments kept changing  but state violence continued. With APCLC, Dr. Ramanadham was actively involved in investigating fake encounters, custodial torture and deaths. This earned  them the wrath of the police

On 2nd September 1985, at Kazipet railway station, SI Yadagiri Reddy was shot
dead by unidentified assailants, believed to be naxalites. Next morning his body
was carried in a funeral procession in which a number of armed policemen
participated. The procession was led by the district Superintendent and the Deputy
General of Police. When it neared the Children’s Clinic, a group of policemen
broke into the clinic. They ransacked the clinic and assaulted the compounder and
waiting patients. Then they went into the neighbouring shop, Kalpana Opticals,
where they found Dr. Ramanadham and shot him at point blank range.
Immediately after, a neighbouring doctor took him to Mahatama Gandhi Memorial
Hospital, about two kilometres away. Soon after he was declared dead. With his
death the Warangal unit of APCLC” ceased to function
Four days after his death, police filed a second FIR in the Yadagiri Reddy murder
case, the first murder case to be registered under TADA in Warangal. Dr
Ramanadham was named as accused. However, in the case of the murder of Dr.
Ramanadham, no accused were named. Police maintained that naxalites were
responsible and they had used snatched police revolvers. Two policemen were
suspended for dereliction of duty as their revolvers had been snatched
Barely a year later J. Laxmareddy, President of the Karmmagar unit of APCLC
was killed by police on 7 November 1986. The Warangal unit was revived with
the efforts of N. Prabhakar Reddy who became its convenor. A lawyer by
profession, he was instrumental in obtaining bail for hundreds of rural youth
charged under TADA. On 7 December 1991, police came to his house and shot
him dead.
The murders of civil rights activists are not random acts of violence by a few
deviant policemen. These are part of a larger political policy of the government
against the people. Perhaps the only meaningful way of remembering Dr
Ramanadham is by committing oneself to the movement for democratic rights
and affirming our faith in people’s struggles to implement and extend these
rights.

People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR), Delhi

Invites you to attend

27th Ramanadham Memorial Meeting

Public Health, Inequality and

Democratic Rights

Speakers:

Dr. Yogesh Jain

Jan Swasthya Sahyog

Topic: Social Inequality and Public Health

Dr. Jacob Puliyal

St. Stephens Hospital, Delhi

Topic: Immunization Programmes and Public Health

Dr. Amit Sen Gupta

People’s Health Movement

Topic: Drug Policy, Pricing and Public Health

Chair

Dr. Ritu Priya Mehrotra

Centre for Social Medicine & Community Health, JNU

8th September, 2012

5 pm – 8pm

Conference Hall

Indian Law Institute

Opp Supreme Court

Bhagwan Das Road

New Delhi

Internet blocks, freedom of expression and reasonable restrictions


 

Nikhil Pahwa, of  http://www.medianama.com/ writes on FB
Four points I made yesterday at the FICCI organized meeting with the IT Secretary R. Chandrashekhar and CERT-in Head Gulshan Rai on IT Rules, Internet blocks, freedom of expression and reasonable restrictions  (from my scribbled notes):
1. I’m concerned about the broad phrases included in the IT Rules which make illegi

timate censorship of content on the web legitimate, and bring in the scope for unreasonable restrictions. There needs to be specificity in the IT Rules and the broad phrases which allow intermediariesto block content on the web need to be changed/revisited because they create the medium for abuse of the rules as and when the government/a regulator wants.2. Lack of transparency leads to lack of trust. People need to know what has been blocked, why it has been blocked, who has taken the decision to block it, and what is the process of getting the block removed (if it is my page). When citizens visit a blocked page, there should be all of this information for that specific page. Transparency will ensure accountability. (In my haste, a point I’ve made before but forgot to make here – there needs to be a public list of blocked sites maintained by the government).

3. Recourse needs to be established. If my page is blocked, there needs to be adequate protection for me, as a creator of content, a citizen and a business. It’s not possible for me to go to court in each instance, to get a block removed. Let the complainant go to court to validate his complaint within a specified time period, for which the block remains active. If not, the block should be removed. (Someone also mentioned a counter notice mechanism, which I think is fair).

4. Limitations need to be put on the actions of intermediaries when it comes to blocking. The state’s job is to not just prevent malicious content, but also to protect the rights of citizens, in terms of freedom of expression. After Anonymous India hacked into the servers of one intermediary (ISP/Telco), it was revealed that several of the links blocked had not been mandated by courts or the government, but were those critical of the intermediary. This means that ISPs are themselves potentially curtailing freedom of expression online, and this needs to be looked into.

One of the key points I remember being made was about the government also sticking to the rules, because it appears that in the recent blocks, they haven’t followed due process, even though Mr Rai repeatedly claimed that they have, (alarmingly) even with respect to the blocking of some media reports like that on Al Jazeera.

 

Join Convention- intensified assault on Maruti workers: 7 Sept, ISI, Delhi


 
Invitation 
Convention 
INTENSIFIED ASSAULT ON WORKING CLASS:
CHALLENGES FOR DEMOCRACY


7 SEPTEMBER 2012
Indian Social Institute (Lodhi Road, Near Sai Temple)

2 pm – 5 pm

to be addressed by

Maruti workers
S Kumarasami, President of the Pricol Auto Factory Union (Coimbatore), and All-India President, AICCTU,

 Workers and Labour Organisers of Delhi-NCR

Prabhu Mahapatra
Vrinda Grover

Rakhi Sehgal
Neelabh, Editor, Outlook

Colin Gonsalves
ND Pancholi, PUCL
And Other Concerned Citizens

Dear friends,
We are all aware that the recent events in the Maruti’s Manesar factory are in no way an isolated occurrence. In fact, in recent years, there have been several similar incidents in factories all over the country. The incidents at Maruti, Graziano, Rico, Pricol, etc point to a disturbing situation in which industrial democracy is being eroded and even ruthlessly crushed.
The fallout in the Maruti case is especially disturbing. We find that police and paramilitary battalions and ‘ex-Army’ forces are being deployed on the shop floor and around the factory. There is a deliberate attempt at political mobilisation in villages against the workers: village ‘leaders’ are holding meetings in Haryana accusing Maruti workers and unionised workers in general of being ‘anti-development’ and ‘anti-Haryana.’
We feel there is a need to discuss the implications of these developments for our democracy, and to discuss how to break the encirclement in which the working class is increasingly finding itself, in spite of very remarkable trade union struggles.
Towards this, a Convention will be held on 7 September, at ISI, 2 pm-5 pm. At this Convention, Maruti workers will share their own experiences and facts regarding the incident of July 18. S Kumarasami, President of the Pricol Workers’ Union, (also National President of the AICCTU), who is himself facing cooked-up charges of attempt to murder in the 2009 Pricol case, will speak about the Pricol workers’ struggle. Workers and labour organisers working in the Delhi-NCR region will also speak.
We very much hope you can join us in this Convention, and help the workers’ voices to be heard above the shrill cries for ‘reform’ of labour laws and ‘discipline’ for the workers…
In solidarity,

Santosh Roy, Secretary, AICCTU, 7838497013
Sandeep Singh, President, AISA, 9868033425
Kavita Krishnan, 9560756628

IMMEDIATE RELEASE- Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Bill leaves out women agricultural workers


 

ALL INDIA DEMOCRATIC WOMEN’S ASSOCIATION

NO. 2253- E , SHADI KHAMPUR, NEW RANJIT NAGAR,

NEW DELHI-110008

PH: 011-25700476, 25709565

Email : aidwacec@gmail.comaidwa@rediffmail.com

                                                                                        

                                                                                                                                    4th Sept.2012

                                                   PRESS RELEASE

 

AIDWA welcomes the long overdue passage of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, 2010, in the Lok Sabha, on Sept 3rd 2012.  It has taken 15 years for the formulation of a legislation to define sexual harassment at the workplace and make legal provisions for its prevention and for expediting disciplinary action against offenders, as laid down by the Supreme Court under the Vishakha guidelines (1997).

AIDWA notes that the Bill is comprehensive in its definition of sexual harassment, as well as in other areas it seeks to cover. The definition of sexual harassment  includes any unwelcome act or behaviour, demand for sexual favours, making sexually coloured remarks, or showing pornography, etc, and any other physical, verbal, or non verbal conduct of a sexual nature. The Bill has also made it mandatory for all offices, hospitals, institutions and other workplaces to have an internal complaints redress mechanism. Non-compliance with the provisions of the law has  been made punishable with a fine of up to Rs 50,000. Repeated violations may lead to higher penalties and cancellation of licence or registration to do business.

However, while the demand for inclusion of domestic workers has been accepted, there are some glaring lacunae and gaps in the Bill that are still to be addressed.  The Bill leaves out women agricultural workers, who form a large segment of the unorganized labour force, including under the MGNREGA. Women working in fisheries, forests, or in construction work sites, roads, stations, trains, etc, must be brought under its purview. The women employees in the armed forces must also be covered under the Bill. In the unorganized sector, the restriction in the number of workers to less than ten should be done away with.  The Bill needs to be amended so as to rectify these weaknesses and loopholes.

 

Moreover, AIDWA strongly objects to the inclusion of the clause which allows for penal action against the complainant in the Bill, which will defeat its very purpose. We had repeatedly asked for the removal of the “complaint with malicious intent” clause. This not only goes against the Vishakha guidelines, which explicitly state that the complainant should not be victimized in any way, but also completely undermines the victim’s ability to file complaints of sexual harassment. The Standing Committee had also noted this aspect. Women victims of sexual harassment at the workplace are in an extremely vulnerable position and the AIDWA experience has been that in most such cases, allegations of falsehood and malicious intent are invariably leveled against them. Hence, we demand removal of this clause from the Bill.

 

AIDWA also demands that the enquiry must be conducted in a more time bound manner. The recommendations of the local committee should be acted upon within 30 days of submission of their report. The Bill seeks to give preferred treatment to the accused, by protecting his identity. While the identity of the complainant need not be known, there is no reason to extend such protection to the accused, otherwise these incidents would not even come to light.

 

AIDWA demands passage of the Bill in the Rajya Sabha, after incorporating these important amendments, so that women victims of sexual harassment at the workplace can be assured of justice and legal protection.

 

 

 

            Sd/-                            Sd/-                                        Sd/-                               

Shyamali Gupta          Kirti Singh                     Sudha Sundararaman

(President)             (Legal Convenor)                    (General Secretary)

 

 

Maldives girl to get 100 lashes for sex #Vaw #WTfnews


 

 

Maldivian Court|Maldives Girl|Lashes For Sex

 Male-A COURT in the Maldives has ordered a public flogging for a 16-year-old girl who confessed to having premarital sex.

The unnamed teenager was convicted on her confession under sharia law after her family complained she had sex with a 29-year-old man in July.  The ruling triggered widespread criticism from rights groups.

The man was given 10 years in jail during a court hearing on the remote Raa atoll on Sunday.

A court official said the girl could refuse the flogging and would then instead be subjected only to eight months house arrest. Should she agree, the lashing will be carried out when she reaches the age of 18.

“In most cases, the offenders would accept the lashing as part of penance,” the official, who declined to be named, said.

The ruling came 10 months after UN human rights chief Navi Pillay urged the Maldives to stop publicly flogging women for having extra-marital or pre-marital sex.

Pillay noted during a visit that the Maldives had progressed in safeguarding the rights of its 330,000 Sunni Muslims, but more needed to be done to protect women.

Flogging, carried out with a cane, is normally handed down as a punishment by village chiefs who also act as local judges.

Rights activists slammed the judgement and called for it to be overturned.

“Degrading and inhuman punishments should find no place in a democracy,” said Aruna Kashyap, women’s rights researcher for Asia at Human Rights Watch.

“Maldives should immediately halt the execution of the punishment and take action to amend its discriminatory laws.”

Suhas Chakma, director of the Asian Centre for Human Rights, said the sentence reflected the government’s intention to consolidate its support among sharia law followers, in the face of serious political opposition.

“This could be used by the government to say they’re committed to Islam,” he said. “Courts are not independent in the Maldives so the government will have a hand.”

He said the lashes were also a breach of the UN Convention against Torture.

There were mixed reactions in comments posted on the local news website Minivan News.

“This is ridiculous, and hypocritical,” said one reader, identified as Mariyam.

“How many people over the age of 18 are having sex outside of marriage every day in this country. Why not flog them. And why not flog the 29-year-old man. If the girl has to face public humiliation why not the man.”

Another, identified as Dhivehi Hanguraama, volunteered to administer the lashing.

“I myself would volunteer to whip this creature, as would any of self-respecting, esteemed, members of the ulama (religious scholars).”

Police said they began their probe after receiving a complaint from the girl’s family.

“We investigated and forwarded our findings to the prosecutor general. The man was convicted of having sex with a minor,” police spokesman Hassan Haneef said.

Official sources said the girl had been tried under sharia law which prohibits girls between the ages of 13 and 18 having pre-marital sex. Sex with a girl under the age of 13 is considered rape.

She was convicted on the basis of her confession.

Her lover, on the other hand, was tried under common law and convicted of having sex with a minor, an offence punishable with a sentence of up to 15 years in prison.

The pair had intercourse on the Raa atoll, about 200 kilometres north of the capital island Male.

There was no immediate comment from the Maldivian government, which includes the ultra conservative Adhaalath Party, whose supporters follow a strict brand of Wahhabi Islam.

The country’s first democratically elected president, the Western-educated Mohamed Nasheed, resigned in February saying he was forced out in a coup backed by Islamic extremists along with elements of the police and the armed forces.

However, a Commonwealth investigation declared last week that the transfer of power was constitutional and ruled out a coup.

Mr Nasheed’s fall was followed by the Taliban-style destruction of pre-Islamic era Buddhist statues at the country’s main museum.

According to statistics revealed by the Gender Department in April this year, between December 2010 and October 2011, 1,138 cases of child abuse were reported from atoll family and children service centres. 1,005 of these cases involved minors while 133 of these cases involved victims aged older than 18, the report said.

 

Women suffer in marriages, why talk about beating: Judge #Vaw #Gender #Justice


Hon'ble Dr. Justice k.Bhakthavatsala

Maneesh Chhibber : Indian Express, New Delhi, Wed Sep 05 2012,

On August 9, during the hearing of a matrimonial dispute, Karnataka High Court Judge K Bhaktavatsala told a young woman lawyer that she was unfit to argue the matter since she was unmarried. “Family matters should be argued only by married people, not spinsters. You should only watch. Bachelors and spinsters watching family court proceedings will start thinking if there is any need to marry at all. Marriage is not like a public transport system. You better get married and you will get very good experience to argue such cases,” he advised her.

Last week, hearing a case between a separated couple, in which the woman accused her husband of regularly beating her, the judge told the woman, “Women suffer in all marriages. You are married with two children, and know what it means to suffer as a woman. Yesterday, there was a techie couple who reconciled for the sake of their child. Your husband is doing good business, he will take care of you. Why are you still talking about his beatings?” He then pointed towards the lady judge — Justice B S Indrakala — sitting next to him, suggesting to the lawyer, “I know you have undergone pain. But that is nothing in front of what you undergo as a woman. I have not undergone such pain. But madam (Justice Indrakala) has.”

These are just two instances of Justice Bhaktavatsala speaking his mind on what he thinks is an acceptable viewpoint on matrimonial issues.

But woman rights groups are not amused. Mumbai-based rights activist Kamayani Bali Mahabal has sent a petition signed by over 500 people to Chief Justice of India S H Kapadia, requesting him to “conduct an inquiry into the remarks passed by the judge and intervene to ensure that there is no miscarriage of justice in all cases relating to women because of such biased views”. The petition contains a list of statements made by him in court. These include asking a woman in a matrimonial dispute to ask her father — in open court — if he had never beaten his wife!

Bali told The Indian Express, “We have sent the petition to the CJI. The judiciary needs to be sensitised on how to deal with woman issues. I am shocked at the comments made by him. Judges are supposed to protect and enforce human rights of citizens, but here we have a judge who seems to be against women rights and is even encouraging them to continue to stay in a violent relationship.”

National Commission for Women Chairperson Mamata Sharma agrees: “On one hand we talk of gender equality and on the other we have such statements. Judges should be more careful with what they speak, especially when it comes to issues related to women,” she said.

“This is very disturbing. More so, because he is not the only member of the judiciary holding such views. The CJI must intervene,” said Flavia Agnes, founder of woman rights group Majlis.

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