Invite- A midnight march in #Hyderabad @Jan 5, 2013 #Vaw


Dear All,

Some of us in Hyderabad have been planning to organize a mid night march for a while now where women can claim their right on the night space. With the recent energy everywhere, we think we should go ahead this idea sooner than later.

 

We also have a facebook page. Please like and share it with your friends-
https://www.facebook.com/MidnightMarchHyderabad?notif_t=fbpage_fan_invite


The march will not focus on the delhi incident alone but about all kinds of sexual violence against women. We are trying to mobilize organized and unorganized working class, women, students and IT employees, transgender community etc. Please spread the around and give us any contacts you have to help mobilize women from different walks of life in Hyderabad.

Date: 5th Jan 2013 
Time : From 10:00 PM to 1:00 AM
Route : From Tankbund to Liberty to Punjagutta.

For regular updates check facebook page

 Below is a small write up about the why we want to do this march
                                                            Night Monologue
 
This is night’s (8pm-5am) letter to the people of Hyderabad.
Dear women and men,
I am dark and beautiful and have the moon, the stars and the cool air. I have the lights and I am subtle. Yet, in spite of all these virtues, I am jealous of the day. The day, she has millions walking around without fear, or with lesser fear. Men, women and children, all moving  around, in the stark whiteness of the sun. Well, most cultures hate me, I am discriminated against, I am evil and I am where all the wrong happens and the women have particularly been made to hate me and fear me. If they don’t adhere to hating me, they are punished and incarcerated for liking me.
I see a change in the metros of India – men and women are beginning to walk and travel around at night too. However, women are still punished and they still fear me. Look at the steel and concrete skeletons gathering their flesh, women working all around making their walls, twenty-four-seven to fill their and their children’s stomachs  (sometimes their men’s alcohol needs) and in this pursuit, they face abuse day in and day out. And the woe of the women who leave their homes to feed hungry mouths in their village, the bus stands and buses become arenas for men to exhibit their male brutality. Oh yes! The young free generation that wants to enjoy me need their men and their cars around to keep them safe. The day witnesses them too but not the way I do – I am torn and wretched, witnessing the violence that women face. But I am hopeful for a better future, where I am less hated and feared.
Women, come out and meet me, I can be safe if you claim me. Men, join the women in making me a safe space. There is more beauty and comfort when both men and women can walk without fear in my streets.
Come join me in large numbers and set me free!
Warm regards,
Night.
FREE THE NIGHT: it belongs to both men and women
·         Why is it dangerous for women to walk at night?
·         Why does a woman need to be protected by a man, (can men really protect women?)
·         Why can’t men and women co-exist in the night streets as well? (not that we have a harmonious existence during the day either)
·         Why can’t men be trusted to not abuse women?
·         Why can’t we make the space safe instead of keeping women indoors?
The conservative and conventional answer:
o   It’s our culture and it won’t change overnight.
o   Why do you want to risk your safety?
o   Think of your parents /husband/children.
o   Men are like that, i.e. they are primitive and cannot control themselves.
o   It is not possible to police the streets everywhere, all the time.
o   Women are inviting trouble by going out at night.
o   Only loose women walk at night.
A lot of these reasons might seem valid, however, as young women in Hyderabad, we would like to see these questions addressed and the night space more women friendly.
Like most women in India, we have faced sexual harassment of varying degrees and circumstances have led us to realize that the night space in particular is one where women are most vulnerable, be it working, using the libraries, hanging out with friends, travelling, emergency situations, taking a walk etc. This violence is experienced by women of every class, caste, age group, religion and ethnicity in our country and the world.
Ø  The question should no longer be about just keeping ourselves safe but of making the night safe for everyone, men, women, transgender and children.
Ø  Giving culture as an answer cannot justify inequality of accessing any type of space.
Ø  Saying that men are primitive should not take away a responsibility from perpetrators of sexual abuse in any space, including(!!) the night space.
Ø  Husbands, fathers, sons – tell each other that’s it’s not a matter of a girl/woman being raped, it’s a matter of a guy raping a girl. Start seeing that that being safe or unsafe is not in the inherent nature of the night, it’s in the nature in which we behave at night.
Ø  And many more…..
Perhaps we can start with small steps of reclaiming this space that men have ruled and while doing so, some of them abused women who tried to enter it.
We want a midnight walk in the city to send a message to the women that the night is also ours and to the men they need to respect women as fellow humans in the night too.
We envision it to be a cultural event as much as a political event. We would like your ideas and support in making this thought a reality.
Tejaswini and Natha

 

 

Rs 37 lakh spent on room President Pranab Mukherjee used just for an hour #WTFnews


By , TNN | Dec 26, 2012, 02.01 AM IST

Rs 37 lakh spent on room President Pranab Mukherjee used just for an hour
The government renovated the Circuit House ahead of President Pranab Mukherjee‘s visit.
BELGAUM: Rs 198 lakh of the taxpayers’ money was spent when President Pranab Mukherjeewas in Belgaum to inaugurate the Suvarna Vidhana Soudha in October.

The government renovated the circuit house(CH) ahead of President Pranab Mukherjee’s visit. It spent over Rs 161 lakh on renovation and around Rs 37 lakh on furnishing the room, where Mukherjee spent just an hour on October 11.

RTI activist Bhimappa Gadad from Mudalagi inGokak taluk sought information from the public works department on the expenditure incurred during the President’s visit.

There are two Circuit House buildings in the same compound near the central bus stand. One was inaugurated two years ago. The old building and the compound was renovated during the World Kannada Meet (WKM) held in the city last year.

This before the government spent Rs 32 lakh in 2010-11 and Rs 18 lakh in 2011-12 for renovating the circuit house.

 

Critical Reflections on Delhi Rape Incident #Vaw


Guest post by – Neshat Quaiser

Gang-rape of a 23 year girl student in Delhi on 16th of December 2012 has produced an outburst of anger. The episode signified not only controlling sexually the woman’s body by force and damaging her physical self but more crucially it signified brutalising the body of innocence. The innocence of believing another fellow human being was brutalised. Wide sections of educated public have lost no opportunity to air their views on the issue. Vociferous insistence has been on punishment. Various forms of punishment such as capital punishment, castration – chemical or surgical, public hanging, lynching, quick justice through fast-track courts, handing over the culprits to the public, victim’s right to decide the form of punishment have been stridently suggested and demanded for the perpetrators of heinous crime. In order to provide security to women in public places various suggestions have been marshalled, of these most disturbing is the uncritical demand for the increased public presence of the police. Electronic media organisations as usual have competed with each to make a spectacle out of this display of anger predominantly by the middle class educated public.

Display of spontaneous anger is much welcomed but instead of taken-for-granted attitude it should provide an opportunity for critical reflection. But expectedly much of what have been said are commonsensical responses which have produced a thoroughly misplaced public debate reproducing the same stereotypes against which this public ostensibly intends to protest. The very intention, even without critical reflections, of the general public, however, should be welcomed at one level as it may signify transference of multi-locational anger, but what is disturbing is that even the informed educated people too have actively participated in reproducing stereotypes.

There is need to critically reflect on the whole episode. Here I will touch upon few critical questions that have been subsumed under this outburst:

Firstly, the strident demand for increased and efficient presence of the police in public spaces needs serious reflections as it would lead to further policisation of society. In the given situation an ‘efficient’ state with its organs such as police in any way is not a very good thing as it would further increase surveillance on all kinds of critical thinking and action which could conveniently be defined as threat to agenda of state and ideologically dominant groups/classes.

Secondly, there is unequivocal and one-sided emphasis on state and its organs as the lone site of the problem. State of course perpetuates violence is in many ways, but there is no mention of society’s doings. What is needed is critical reflection on ideologies that sustain relations of domination in society in which many members of this very protesting public too very actively participate. That is why much emphasis has been put by this public on the rape and quick punishment, and not on the vehement opposition and valiant fight back by the girl. It was not only a rape but also brutalising the innocence. The very fact that the girl opposed vehemently, angered the rapists, is some thing that this protesting public must pay attention to. This thinking is reflected in various forms in everyday life – in and outside home. It is the critical self-reorganisation for a humane society that alone is the answer, which would entail the critique of the state that perpetuates relations of domination in the society including gendered relations of domination.

Thirdly, there has been unequivocally vociferous demand for quick justice through a fast track court for this heinous crime. Yes, the case should not be dragged and justice should not be delayed. But the demand in the given situation is fraught with serious consequences as it would lead to bypassing the due course of law. We know that law itself is inscribed with statist agenda and crucially contributes in the construction of inverted truth. The logic of the demand for quick disposal of cases of such heinous crimes can have further serious ramifications for the religious and ethnic minorities, workers peasants and other disenfranchised sections who already are facing prejudices of all kinds by the law enforcing agencies. There has been growing demand quick disposal of Muslim terrorist case. The demand for quick justice and quick disposal of cases would further strengthen the hands of state and ideologically dominant social forces in defining what constitutes a heinous crime or anti national activities and that needs quick disposal. Such an approach would further diminish the scope of law as a domain of struggle.

Neshat Quaiser is Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi

can be contacted at -neshatquaiser@yahoo.com

 

#Immediate Release- Indefinite fast in support of demands of farmers-labourer


Lucknow, December 26 : The indefinite fast and demonstration in support of demands of farmers-labourers organized by Socialist Party jointly with National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), Lok Rajniti Manch, Hind Mazdoor Sabha, Rihai Manch, Special Teachers and Guardians Association, entered its fourth day today. Two social activists are on an indefinite fast: Dr Sandeep Pandey, Magsaysay Awardee and Vice President of Socialist Party; and Anil Mishra, social activist.

The gap between the rich and the poor has widened even more, with salary scales of service sector increasing manifold and rising prices over the past years. We believe in the standard recommended by Dr Ram Manohar Lohia that the gap between the income of the rich and the poor should not be more than ten times. Also in a democracy everyone should be getting the same income. We demand that Wage Board should amend the minimum wage of labourers of unorganized sector to Rs 440 so that these labourers don’t receive wage less than the minimum income given by the government. As we know trade union is demanding a minimum income of Rs 11,000 per month for contract workers.

Even the election manifesto of Samajwadi Party had a promise that Farmers’ Commission will be formed to decide the minimum support price for farmers that should be no less than 1.5 times their investment. But the biggest question related to minimum support price is that how will it be implemented? Who will put a clamp on middlemen? The government should demonstrate political will and ban middlemen in matters related to farmers and extortion from the poor people. Be informed that illegal extortion done by three different segments from poor traditional artisans who take part in ‘Kartik Poornima Mela’ in Daliganj was brought to an end last week.

Yesterday former MP Iliyas Azmi said while addressing the indefinite fast and demonstration that Tariq Kazmi and Khalid Muzahid were arrested from Jaunpur and Azamgarh; and Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) is lying by falsely stating that they were arrested from Barabanki. We demand that RD Nimesh Inquiry Report should be made public so that there can be clarity on this matter.

Representatives of Special Teachers and Guardians Association are participating every day in this indefinite fast and demonstration. Their President and social activist, Munnalal Shukla, ended his three days fast yesterday as his health was deteriorating.

This indefinite fast will continue till the time government doesn’t respond regarding the demands raised by this movement. Although we have informed Rajendra Chaudhari, Spokesperson of Samajwadi Party, about our demands and this indefinite fast and demonstration, so far there is no proposition from the government to hold a dialogue.

DEMANDS

1. Unorganized sector should get minimum wage of Rs 11,000 per month or Rs 440 per day. Minimum wages should be linked to Consumer Price Index.

2. It is a matter of grave concern that during the last wheat purchase very few farmers could get the minimum support price of Rs 1285 per Quintal because of dominance of middlemen. The same situation is now occurring in the paddy purchase. We demand a CBI probe in this Wheat-Paddy purchase scam.

3. Under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, the clause of 25% reservation for underprivileged children in all schools should be strictly implemented without delay.

4. Illegal extortion and bribes taken for appointments should be stopped.

5. Anti-farmer Maitreya Project in Kushinagar should be cancelled.

6. Innocent Muslim youth who are jailed in the name of terrorism should be released. We demand to make RD Nimesh Investigation Report’ public.

7. Special teachers should be appointed for differently-abled children (handicapped children).

8. Doctors including Dental Surgeons should be appointed in all primary and community health centres.

9. There should be a complete ban on tobacco and alcohol.

Apart from these, effective measures should be taken to curb and control inflation and corruption.

Kindly lend your support to the cause of protecting the rights of farmers, labourers, underprivileged children, by participating in this fast.

 

#INDIA- Mental Health Law Reform: Challenges Ahead


Posted on December 23, 2012by 

by Aditya Ayachit

mentalMental disorders are complex physiological infirmities of the nervous system. While they continue be the tough riddles in the field of medical research, they pose even more daunting challenges in the socio-economic and legal contexts. In recent times the mental health laws across the world have undergone a significant change. A policy of segregation has been abandoned in favor of a policy of integration and protection. Theprima facie reason for this shift appears to be the increasing influence of the Human Rights discourse over laws and policy making. Thus, a new mental healthcare paradigm has emerged which advocates that the mentally ill are not objects of charity or social protection but are subjects with rights and States and the International bodies are under an obligation to provide them with the means of enforcing these rights.The international consensus about the new paradigm was strongly conveyed by the near unanimous acceptance of theUnited Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2006(commonly known as the Disability Convention’) and Principles for the Protection of Persons with Mental Illness and the Improvement of Mental Health Care (or simply the MI Principles).

India is a signatory to the Disability Convention. However, it has failed to bring its laws and institutions in tune with the standards set by the convention. To fulfill its commitments under the Disability Convention, 2006 and MI principles of 1991, India needs a major overhaul of its disability laws and policies dealing with mental health care. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MHFW) recently came out with the Mental Health Care Bill 2012 responding to this formidable legislative challenge. The reactions to this bill were mixed with some groups lauding provisions decriminalizing attempted suicide by a mentally ill person, ensuring the availability of insurance for treatment of mental illness at par with physical illness and prohibition of certain medical procedures like the Electro Convulsive Therapy (in case of minors), Sterilization and Chaining, while others opposing the bill on the ground that its provisions curtailed patient autonomy and liberalized the laws for involuntary admissions to mental institutions. This post does not aim to comprehensively review the bill. Rather, it attempts to map the issues that the Bill appears to address and contrasts the status quo with the regime the bill seeks to establish.

Few Mental Health Practitioners and Institutions in India

A recent statistic from the MHFW indicates that about 7 percent of the Indian Population suffers from some form of mental disorder. Another startling statistic is that 90 percent of these disorders remain untreated. The leading cause behind this paradox is the acute shortage of mental health institutions and qualified mental health practitioners in India. Our large and populous country of 1.2 billion people has about 40 mental health institutions, 3,500 psychiatrists, 500 clinical psychologists, 300 psychiatric social workers and 1,000 psychiatric nurses to treat its mentally ill citizens. In addition to this, most of the institutions and practitioners are located in urban areas. This creates a serious problem in a country like India where over 70 percent of the population lives in rural areas.

mAccording to the National Family Health Survey, the private medical sector remains the primary source of health care for the majority of households in both urban areas (70 percent) and rural areas (63 percent) of India. While private players contribute immensely to the health care industry, it remains the case that they generally shy away from investing in mental health institutions.  This is mainly due to low policy priority given to mental health sector, strict licensing requirements under the Mental Health Act 1987 and the lack of any special incentive for investing in this sector. Today in India, government health policies mainly focus on communicable diseases like HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis or on child malnutrition or on reproductive healthcare. Mental healthcare rarely finds mention in the policy. This underscores the importance of this sector and makes the investment environment in such services unattractive and discouraging.

Another factor that reduces the likelihood of private investment in mental health care is the strict licensing regime set up by the Mental Health Act 1987; the legislation that currently governs the mental health sector. This Act lays down a complicated procedure of issuing a non-transferable and non-heritable license to a person who wishes to open a mental healthcare institution. The act further discriminates between government established institutions and privately maintained institutions by exempting the government institutions from the statutory requirement of obtaining a license. If private participation is to be encouraged, this system of licensing needs to be rationalized.The Mental Health Care Bill 2012 goes a long way in this regard. The bill replaces the stringent licensing system with a simpler system of registration. The registration unlike a license is not linked to a particular person and is freely transferable for instance on the sale of the institution. It also allows the institution an appeal to the High Court if the grant of registration or renewal of registration or cancellation of registration is refused by the appropriate authority. While the bill seeks to relax the laws governing the setting up of mental health institutions it must ensure via its provisions that this does not in any way affect the quality of health care provided in these institutions. The issue of quality of health care will be taken up further in this post.

mental_health_disorders_other_issues_that_fuel_substance_abuseTo ensure that rural areas also benefit from private investment, the incentives given to invest in rural areas could be greater than those given for investment in urban areas. Another way in which the presence of mental health facilities in rural areas can be increased is by proper implementation of the District Mental Health Program which was initiated by the Government of India in 1996. Currently, the program is under implementation in only 123 of the total 657 districts of the country. A proper implementation of the program would go a long way towards ensuring that rural areas have adequate mental care facilities in near vicinity.

Poor Quality of Mental Health Institutions

The second core issue in this area is the unacceptable quality of medical care provided to the mentally ill in the existing mental health institutions in our country. It would not be an overstatement to say that the patients who receive mental health treatment in India are treated in a most inappropriate and inhuman way in our mental institutions. The institutions usually resemble prisons where the mentally ill are debased and deprived of their dignity. They are made to live in unacceptable living conditions and are shackled down in chains for long hours. They are fed unhygienic prepared unwholesome meals, are subjected to painful medical procedures without their consent, are regularly beaten and in some cases are also subjected to sexual assault. Sometimes they are sterilized on the basis of a medical myth that sterilization cures mental disability. In essence, the patients never receive adequate treatment. Rather the treatment aggravates their condition and makes them sick and infirm for life completely eliminating any hope of rehabilitation or a chance of leading a normal life (see here and here for more). Any mental health care legislation must develop a structured mechanism for ensuring that our mental health institutions do not fall short of the internationally accepted standards of treatment and care. The Mental Health Act 1987 and the State Mental Health Rules 1990 provide detailed safeguards to ensure that the health institutions meet the statutory standard. While building upon this legacy, any new legislation must incorporate the minimum standards laid down in the Disability Convention of 2006 and the MI Principles of 1991. Further, steps must be taken to bring government maintained institutions under the purview of these regulatory procedures. It may be noted here that the Mental Health Act 1987 is quite inconsistent with the principles and safeguards laid down in the aforesaid international instruments and as government hospitals are deemed to be licensed institutions under the act, it is unclear whether the procedures laid down for revocation of license in cases of non-compliance are applicable against  government facilities.

Consent of the Mentally Ill Patients

depression-4Another aspect that would have to be substantially addressed in mental health legislations is with respect to consent of the patient to receive treatment. It is a cardinal principle of medical science that no one may be subjected to any medical procedure without his/her express consent and such procedure may not continue after the person has withdrawn his consent. Mental Healthcare raises complex questions regarding consent. The Mental Health Care Bill 2012 provides innovative solutions to the problem of consent. The bill allows persons to register an ‘advance directive’ with the appropriate mental health board. An ‘advance directive’ is a legal document containing details of the kind of treatment a person wishes to receive or does not wish to receive in the event of mental illness. It also contains the details of the person’s nominated representatives who are entitled to give consent on the person’s behalf when he is not in a position to give consent. The bill provides procedures for amendment or cancellation of advanced directives and also gives powers to the Central or State mental health board to review advance directives and to suspend or amend them in some special cases (for instance when the advance directive has been made under force, coercion, undue influence etc. or when it was made without proper knowledge). While many groups are touting advance directive as a foolproof solution to the problem of consent, it remains to be seen how this statutory tool would operate in real life. This provision has been opposed on the grounds that it would be susceptible to gross misuse especially in rural areas where the patients are illiterate and are not aware about their rights.

Rehabilitation and Social Awareness

Another issue that the bill attempts to address is rehabilitation and social awareness. These concepts are inter-related. The extent to which a patient can be restored back in his life (family, community and occupation) depends on the social understanding of mental illness and the attitude of the society towards the mentally ill. A society which rejects the mentally ill or which despises them cannot possibly assist in rehabilitation of the patient. As societal attitudes are shaped to a large extent by education, an awareness program which aims towards creating social understanding about mental illness can directly assist in making the society more suitable for rehabilitation of the patient. Mental Health Act 1987does not contain any provisions regarding social education or patient rehabilitation. The Mental Health Care Bill 2012 addresses this lacunae and creates an obligation on the Central and State governments to spread awareness about mental illness and its appropriate treatments. The Bill lays emphasis on lowering the stigma associated with mental illness so that a patient’s rehabilitation in the society may be facilitated. It may be noted here that a proper implementation of the aforesaid provisions may go a long way in debunking the long standing myths about mental illness (like mental illness is caused due to demonic possession or that mental illness is incurable) and make the society a better place for the mentally ill.

socialHuman well-being in a country cannot be ensured unless its citizens are physically and mentally fit. Mental health is prone to neglect because it is difficult to detect, difficult to cure and also difficult to explain to the people. The Mental Health Care Bill 2012 appears to be a commendable effort towards addressing the long standing problems encountered by patients and practitioners alike in the sector of mental healthcare and restoring the long lost dignity of the mentally ill.

Image Courtesy: herehereherehere and here

(Aditya Ayachit is an Assistant Editor with the Journal of Indian Law and Society)

 

‘ I witness” account of India Gate on dec 23 #Vaw #Protest #delhigangrape


DECEMBER 26, 2012
by , Kafila.org

Guest post by SANGEETA DAS

[The Delhi Police has begun systematically lying about what has been happening in the past few days. We have seen spin doctoring around the unfortunate death of Constable Subhash Tomar. There has been efforts to plant generalized and unsubstantiated rumours about the presence of ‘terrorists’ amongst the crowds at India Gate. We have even seen the Chief Minister of Delhi, Shiela Dikshit and a sub divisional magistrate complain about the Delhi Police trying to interfere and influence that process of the recording of testimonies. Here is an important account by an eyewitness, Sangeeta Das, about the way the police behaved on the evening of the 23rd of December. Please note the kind of language that she says policemen were using. Can we trust the city to be safe in their hands.]

I am appalled at the lop-sided relay of events and incomplete images being telecast by some of the NEWS channels on TV, regarding the incident that happened at India Gate yesterday (this is an account of what happened on 23rd of December) at around 5:30 PM.

I was there. We were all on the other side of India Gate towards the Dhyan Chand Stadium.

I think I need to paint the correct picture for the nation. Except for CNN IBN and NEWS X, most other channels are not showing the peaceful gathering. Thus it gives out the wrong message to the nation, to the politicians, to other women that there was violence.Please pass on this note to as many people as you can and post it at as many places.

THERE WAS NO VIOLENCE NO PROVOCATION…THE POLICE ATTACKED WITHOUT ANY WARNING. I have been through section 144 earlier. At least there should have been one warning issued to us to get up and leave, peacefully, before they started hitting us.

Ms. Naina Kapur, of VISHAKHA GUIDELINES fame, was there with me. Ms.Smita Bharti of SAAKSHI, an NGO working on SEXUAL HARASSMENT on women, was there. Ms.Nafisa Ali was standing behind us, Mr.Arvind Kejriwal was sitting just two rows in front of me, Mr.Arvind Gaur of ASMITA THEATER GROUP was there asking all the people to sit down and listen to the talks.

There were about 200-250 girls and equal or more number of men of all ages. There were young girls, some children, families and some elderly people along with hoards of photographers, journalists and reporters.

WE WERE ALL SITTING ON THE ROAD PEACEFULLY and listening to the painful account, of the mother of ‘KIRAN NEGI’, a 3 yr old who has been brutally raped and disfigured and killed, by her attackers. Even the sloganeering had stopped.

Many young and old men of Delhi were standing around us in a 3-4 layer human chain to protect us from any hooligans or nasty elements. It was like a CHAKRAVYUH.

Members of the ASMITA THEATER GROUP, including Mr.Gaur, were constantly walking around the circle. Young boys and girls of his team were repeatedly requesting and talking to people to not resort to violence, not to panic or run or throw stones, not to damage public property, AND not to hurt or abuse the female protestors.

There were many volunteers distributing biscuits and water to every protestor.

We were talking to the ‘AAM JANATA’ of Delhi on how to tackle the violence on women and children starting from ourselves, our homes and communities.

WE WERE SIMPLY TALKING.

I had just finished my packet of biscuit when the police, hundreds of them from DELHI POLICE and RAF, charged at us from behind, WITHOUT ANY WARNING.

They first attacked the men from behind, breaking their CHAKRAVYUH. I stood up to see what the commotion was about, and immediately fell as most girls didn’t get enough time to stand up. I hugged Smitaji as we fell on each other and there was a stampede over us.

Some of the men from the circle ran for their lives, but most of them ran towards us and hugged us and fell on us and took the initial blows of the LATHI CHARGE.

I couldn’t see anything; I just heard the two cracks of a SPLIT BAMBOO STICK on my back, butt and thighs. Then I heard the police screaming, HARAMZADIYON, RANDIYON, and then I saw a boot kicking my knees and shin.

They hit Smitaji on her lower-back and spine. The boys of ASMITA, and some more men pulled us all up and all of them formed protection girdles around the girls to push us out of the range of the water cannons and charging men in KHAKI AND BLUE.

Visibility was poor due to fog and tear gas; many girls were hit; even when we were running away and saying, “Ham jaa rahen hain, hame mat mariye”,…. they were hitting the boys rampantly, constantly spitting abuses on the girls. Many women reporters were also hit and chased, their vans attacked, equipments broken. Some girls still managed to pull a few lathis and gave it back to the men. I don’t know what happened to the children in the group and how the aunties in saris managed to run. I just hope they are all well.

There was not a single ambulance in sight; the entire C- Hexagon of India Gate was empty, barring the police. We walked for almost 45 min, as there was no way out from the outer circle. Finally we managed to duck behind press vans and escaped via Shahjahan Road.

Do I look like a hooligan? Was I armed? Was I provoking the police or creating a nuisance? Was I resorting to violence, by sitting there and listening to, or sharing our personal grievances of Sexual harassment and assault? You judge for yourself.

Agreed, that in such gatherings, some nasty elements do infiltrate and create a raucous, but the police didn’t seem to have the basic sensibility to differentiate between hooligans and some young girls, children, and elderly people.

If the Delhi Police and RAF lack the basic cognizance to recognize the good from bad, what protection can we expect from them? Instead I thank the men of Delhi, the boys of Delhi, who helped all the girls to escape from the wrath of THE POLICE. 

I request the people who were present there, to paint the correct picture, so that Mr.Manmohan Singh, Mr.Shinde and others would get the correct picture of what happened on the ground.

I request the PM and the Home Minister to believe that “I, the woman of India,” am not violent or the ‘Shame of the nation’… that we have to be ashamed that the world is watching. I was not offensive. But I will definitely stand up again to defend myself, my mother, my daughter and my kind. Let the world watch.

#India- Enabling the disabled


 

AJOY ASHIRWAD MAHAPRASHASTA, Frontline

 

The larger struggle of the disability movement is about finding a voice and making it assertive.

In India, it is about pressuring the state to fulfil its social responsibility.

AJOY ASHIRWAD MAHAPRASHASTA 

Disability rights activists at a session of the first world congress on community-based rehabilitation held in Agra on November 27. 

FOR Ghulam Nabi Nizamani, the internationally acclaimed disability rights activist from Pakistan, daily life is about unusual struggles. His fight is not just about having a barrier-free environment for all people with disabilities (PwDs); it is also an emotional one, to secure his dignity and self-esteem from the derisive language he has to face all the time and protect himself from the excessively charitable attitudes of people. Nizamani is confined to a wheelchair because of a polio attack that he suffered when he was nine months old.

“Are we disabled just because we need a ramp to move around? Don’t you need staircases to walk up a building? Isn’t that a handicap then?” he asks. The question, of course, is one about exclusion of the disabled people in dominant narratives. It is also about what is considered ‘normal’. And above all, the story of disability rights is about the larger politics of marginalisation.

Just a week before the world was gearing up to celebrate yet another World Disability Day on December 3, Agra, the heritage city in Uttar Pradesh, was the venue of the first international world congress on community-based rehabilitation (CBR) for disabled people, a world-wide project initiated by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Nizamani was among the key speakers and participants at the event, held between November 26 and 28. He was fresh from receiving a prestigious award for his contribution to the disability rights movement at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) Congress at Incheon, South Korea, in early November, and his eagerness to interact with delegates from across the world at the Agra congress was understandable. However, he could not make it to the congress in time as he was refused entry into the aircraft for travelling without an escort. Many international airlines insist that disabled people have an escort. Even the information that Nizamani frequently travels alone and that he is a disability rights campaigner did not come to his rescue. “Why should I pay for an escort when I am confident of travelling alone? Shouldn’t the airline make its aircraft and staff disabled-friendly rather than unnecessarily stopping access?” he asks.

The treatment meted out to Nizamani speaks of the discriminatory practices that disabled people face every day. According to the latest estimates by the WHO, around 15 per cent of the world’s population has some form of disability. Some official estimates suggest that there are more than two crore PwDs in India, almost 75 per cent of them living in rural areas in poor conditions. The Agra conference, where more than 1,200 delegates from 72 countries participated, was the first ever organised initiative at the international level to specifically discuss the overall objective of promoting CBR as a global strategy to realise the U.N. convention on the rights of PwDs, which India had signed and ratified in 2008. Internationally, sensitivity towards PwDs has increased over the years, but it is way off the goals that were visualised in the U.N. convention. Whereas countries such as the United Kingdom and Scandinavian countries have led by example in making disability issues an integral part of planning, developing countries, including India, are far behind in this respect.

The U.N. convention was a significant departure from the way several states perceived disability. Most nations followed a charity model for ensuring security to the disabled people, implicitly excluding them from the mainstream. However, a global disability movement articulated the concerns of PwDs in terms of human rights and citizenship rights that grant them equal status. The convention was the biggest acknowledgement of the struggle where issues such as social stigma and discrimination, lack of adequate health care and rehabilitation services, and difficulty in access to transport, buildings and information were addressed. CBR was thus put on priority. The issues were articulated not as grants but as rights. Above all, the disability rights movement was about having a barrier-free environment and not merely about improving conditions of PwDs by giving them jobs or putting a ramp in a public building or instituting Braille in public notifications.

Community-based rehabilitation helps to overcome these barriers by making optimal use of local resources not only to improve access to rehabilitation services but also to address the broader needs of people with disabilities, by ensuring participation and enhancing their quality of life,” says Etienne Krug, Director of the Department of Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability at the WHO.

KAMAL NARANG 

VISUALLY CHALLENGED PEOPLE at a rally to demand reservation in jobs and other welfare means on December 3, World Disability Day, in New Delhi. 

Disability in most countries is understood as physical difference from the majority population, more in terms of medical deformity. The meaning of disability is articulated in terminologies that derive their legitimacy from medical sciences. Thus, a disabled person could be either blind or deaf or dumb. However, the Agra conference delineated the subjective experience of a disabled person. In these experiences, the disabled condition as perceived in the world is much more than a medical condition. These experiences are narratives of exclusion from the institutions of society like marriage, education or earning a livelihood or performing human chores that the majority population is accustomed to. Western scholars have written widely about how it is the language and imagery of the citizen, imbued with hegemonic normalcy, that is primarily responsible for the exclusion of the disabled people.

A significant number of disability scholars have sought to emphasise disability as an inherently social phenomenon, something that is politically constructed. They say that disability is the oppressive socialisation of a given form of physiological “impairment”. This understanding culminates in what appears to be natural linkages in the notions of disadvantage and disability. Disability becomes a general category, which refers to the situation of those facing a barrier to normal functioning because of socio-economic and cultural constraints of hegemonic normalcy.

It is for this reason that the disability rights movement is also geared towards altering the understanding of disability. The emphasis is to situate the discourse of disability in normal categories where PwDs are understood in terms of what they can do instead of what they cannot do. It is in this background that the global disability rights movement has termed the coming 10 years as the decade of Incheon strategy, which has called for making these rights real. The 22 RI (Rehabilitation International) World Congress held in Incheon, from October 29 to November 2, advocated increased political participation in decision-making processes and planning. The disability rights movement recognises the need to work in a broader community which not only comprises PwDs but all the vulnerable communities in order to lend the movement a broader political platform. This direction is being understood as the only way forward to sensitise people in a holistic way.

The 10 goals set at the Incheon congress are reducing poverty and enhancing work and employment prospects, promoting participation in political processes, enhancing access to the physical environment, strengthening social protection, expanding early intervention and education of children with disabilities, ensuring gender and women’s empowerment, ensuring disability-inclusive disaster risk reduction and management, improving the reliability and comparability of disability data, accelerating the ratification and implementation of the U.N. convention, and advancing sub-regional, regional and inter-regional cooperation.

The larger struggle is about finding a voice and making it assertive. In India, therefore, the movement is about pressuring the state to fulfil its social responsibility. The progress of India towards addressing issues of PwDs is much lower that many other countries in the Asia-Pacific region. On paper, there are four laws that ensure security to PwDs. These are the National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act, 1999; the National Mental Health Act, 1987; the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995; and the Rehabilitation Council of India Act, 1992.

Most of these laws still operate on the charity model and their implementation, as in the case of many other laws, has been dismal. However, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government has shown adequate interest in a rights-based law, the draft Bill of which is ready. For the first time in the past 36 years, a separate department has been created in the Indian government to deal with issues relating to PwDs—the Department of Disability under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

However, the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill (RPDB), 2011, which seeks to replace the 1995 law, is likely to face many bureaucratic hurdles before it is passed in Parliament. “Disability is in both the Central and State lists. The Centre cannot unilaterally pass the Bill before getting the consent of all the States. Until now, the responses from States have been positive. But many States still have to respond,” Stuti Kacker, Secretary of Department of Disability, told Frontline.

The Indian leg of the disability movement, at this stage, is concerned primarily about three demands. First, there has to be one comprehensive rights-based law instead of four different laws and it has to be implemented effectively. Secondly, the Twelfth Five Year Plan should include disability in all the departments instead of having a separate chapter on disability as in previous Plan documents. This demand stands practically fulfilled as pressure from activists has compelled the Planning Commission to include a separate section on disability in all the chapters of the Twelfth Plan. Thirdly, there has to be adequate methods to quantify PwDs and secure them at least minimum social security measures. The Census needs to quantify disabled people in a more organised way and also identify the more vulnerable among them in terms of socio-economic indicators. This demand has been partially met, as for the first time Census 2011 has included seven different types of disabilities in its counting. In a unique experiment, the Madhya Pradesh government has led by example: it has introduced a separate column for disabled people in the service provision forms meant for the rural poor.

The draft Bill was largely welcomed by activists for several of its provisions, such as inclusion of mental disability and tax relief for companies that reserve 5 per cent of their total staff strength for PwDs. However, it also faced criticism as it does not allow for reservation in Group A and B posts. The activists think that the mandatory 3 per cent reservation for the disabled mentioned in the new Bill will fetch them only Group C and D jobs. The other concern is that there is no transition plan for PwDs to access universal and equal education despite the new Bill guaranteeing this. The activists have also accused the government of diluting the punitive measures for violations of the law in the final draft.

Javed Abidi, a prominent disability rights activist and honorary director of the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People, emphasised the need for a strong and comprehensive law. “If there is political will, the Bill will go through. India was the seventh country to ratify the U.N. convention, ahead of countries such as China and the United States.

However, the government did not show any sincerity in meeting those demands. The attitude still remains one of pity. The government should empower the disabled. Even if it funds the non-governmental organisations working for the disabled, it should have strong monitoring systems to ensure that the law benefits PwDs. The NGOs working for the disabled enjoy immunity and non-accountability. Why is this if not for a charitable attitude?”

Despite the successes, the challenges ahead for the global disability movement are manifold. At a time when governments across the world value efficiency more than social responsibilities, material justice alone will not be enough. The larger struggle will have to be one of altering the way disability is perceived by the majoritarian polities. Perhaps, the movement will not remain just about disability but will evolve into a broader fight against the linguistic hegemony that these polities have produced.

The celebrated author Lois Keith once said, “Tomorrow I am going to rewrite the English language. I will discard all those striving ambulist metaphors of power and success. And construct new ways to describe my strength. My new different strength.” Perhaps, these lines indicate that the hope spread by the disability movement will not die.

Live Bites

AJOY ASHIRWAD MAHAPRASHASTA 
 

I joined the movement because of my son, who was mentally disabled. His name was Ishwar. He died when he was 23. He would have been 37 now. When you have a child who does not respond in a ‘normal’ way, you come across many different reactions. Some people told me that this one is okay but also to have another child. As a parent, you did not know what to do. You were always forced to answer questions. More than the child, the family faced the discrimination. The doctors would have only one answer: ‘Medically, nothing is possible. He cannot be treated,’ and they close the case. The family of such a child is always forced into social isolation. Bringing Ishwar up was the greatest learning experience I have had. You had to be much more creative. I founded a school in Chennai realising the needs of such children. I am proud to say that my school is the best place in the world. One of my students, Ummul Khair, had cerebral palsy but she finished her school, and then did her graduation and now she is finishing her law degree. ”

Poonam Natarajan,

Chairperson of the National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation & Multiple Disabilities Act

 

* * * 

Live Bites

AJOY ASHIRWAD MAHAPRASHASTA 
 

I was a protected child, actually overprotected. I am 30 years old now and almost 30,000 times people have asked me about my condition. But the thing is why do people only go by the physical appearance of a PwD [person with disability]? They always ask me whether I have consulted a doctor. Now I ask them if they have consulted a doctor because they are bald or dark-skinned. When I was in school, every teacher was partial towards me. No one ever asked me whether I did my homework. I never got any punishment because I was disabled. I wanted to be treated like a normal kid. Such overprotectiveness is also a kind of discrimination.”

Abia Akram

Global Coordinator, DPI’s Global Network of Emerging Young Women Leader with Disabilities (EYWLD), Islamabad, Pakistan

 

* * * 

Live Bites

AJOY ASHIRWAD MAHAPRASHASTA 
 

I am a social scientist. Yet, people stare at me because I am a dwarf. They see me as a freak. They look at me for a funny photograph. I was teased in school, was called names, and was even told that no woman would marry me.

Twenty years ago, none of the agencies such as the WHO was reaching the disabled people. CBR [community-based rehabilitation] realised that our struggle was not just about rehabilitation but about empowerment, livelihood and community development. We know we have to empower families of the disabled person to be sensitive. Only then we will be fully successful. It really takes the whole community to reach the disabled.

We have to influence policy decisions. We are not asking to grant funds to the disabled. We are talking about equal access. It takes only 1 per cent of the total budget of any public building to make it disabled friendly.

When you train teachers, also train them about disability. Make disability a part of the school and college curriculum so that people start thinking. Sensitisation needs attitudinal changes and it cannot be achieved without such interventions.”

Tom Shakespeare

Member, Disability and Rehabilitation team, World Health Organisation

 

 

Live Bites

 

 

I got the first shock of my life when my father told me that I could no longer remain in my school. That was in class VII, and I was already a school dropout. The principal of the school told my father that they could no longer take care of me as I could not walk and could not even go to the toilet. The school had no provision for ramps; the classrooms were all in the first or second floors; the toilets were completely inaccessible. Was that my fault?

I joined the open school and started helping my father in his business. By the time I was 18, I already had four years of work experience. The Government of India gave me an award in 1998 for being self-employed. It was only then that I came to know about the term ‘disability’. Until then, I had never thought I was disabled. Disability has to be looked at as a condition and not a handicap. You wouldn’t believe but I have even gone on a blind date and the girl never asked what happened to me. Every person has some or other disability. It could be emotional or physical. Some people feel that they are disabled because they are not fair or are obese. But we are always looked at differently. People who are well-behaved feel that we have a sixth sense like thing and others ridicule us. People have to accept diversity because everyone cannot be the same. Social stigma has to go. And the state has to take the initiative. If there can be a successful campaign against polio, why is it not possible with disability?”

Armaan Ali,

Director, Shishu Sarothi, a civil rights organisation in Guwahati.

 

Two-year-old who was allegedly raped by her uncle dies in Gujarat hospital #Vaw


Edited by Sindhu Manjesh | Updated: December 26, 2012 09:39 IST

Two-year-old who was allegedly raped by her uncle dies in Gujarat hospital

VadodaraA two-year-old who was raped, allegedly by her maternal uncle, and then thrown into a thorny bush, has died in a Vadodara hospital. The child had been found wailing in the bush by a few young men in the Gujarat town of Halol on Friday. They had also managed to pin down the uncle and hand him over to the police.

The child’s parents, who are from Nepal, rushed her to a hospital nearby, from where she was shifted to SSG hospital in Vadodara for treatment. The police said that the father is a private security guard. The accused is the mother’s brother and was visiting the family.

A case of rape and kidnapping was registered against the accused and now a murder charge under section 302 of the IPC has been added. The distraught parents have demanded the death penalty for the accused.

On Saturday, trading and business organisations, NGOs, and the autorickshaw association had protested in Halol and in a memorandum sought severe punishment for the accused for the heinous crime.

Another case of rape was also reported in Gujarat on Monday. A 20-year-old from Bharuch has filed a complaint against an auto driver, alleging that he had raped her about nine months back while ferrying her to school. The girl has alleged that the driver had threatened her with dire consequences if she revealed the incident to her parents. On Monday though, the girl finally broke down before her parents and recounted her trauma.

News of these cases comes at a time when India has been incensed by the brutal gang-rape of a 23-year-old medical student on December 16 in Delhi. The gang-rape survivor, ‘Amanat’ (NOT her real name) is still battling for her life at Safdarjung Hospital in the capital.

(With inputs from PTI)

 

#India- Shame story for SC/ST rape victims #Vaw #Dalit


Published: Wednesday, Dec 26, 2012, 2:23 IST
By Sandeep Pai | Place: Mumbai
rape

Across the country, the number of rape cases in which the victims were women from the scheduled tribes (STs) increased by close to 40% between 2009 and 2011, records show. During the same period, there was also a 15% rise in rape cases against women belonging to the scheduled castes (SC). Also, Maharashtra recorded the lowest conviction rate in such cases.

In 2009, the number of tribal women raped in the country was 585, which increased to 654 and 772 in 2010 and 2011, respectively.In 2009 and 2010, the number of rape cases against Dalit women was 1,350. In 2011, an increase of more than 250 cases was witnessed, according to data from the Rajya Sabha. In fact, the ministry of home affairs sent a detailed advisory dated April 1, 2010 on crimes against SC/ST to all states, which listed preventive steps.

“Despite the advisory, the number of rapes against Dalit and tribal women increased manifold in 2011. The direction was clearly not taken seriously by different states,” said Mariam Dhawale, state president of the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA).

Madhya Pradesh appears the most unsafe for ST women with the highest number of rape cases. Here, the number of tribal women who registered cases of rape was 263 in 2009, 308 in 2010 and 306 in 2011. Chattisgarh stands second with close to 100 rape cases every year. Maharashtra stands third with about 50 rape cases every year, but with a conviction rate among the lowest in the country. Between 2009 and 2011, while 248 persons were charge-sheeted in connection with various rape cases, only eight were convicted. The state’s worst record was in 2011, when 84 people were charge-sheeted, but not even one convicted.

Even among Dalit women, the state has the worst conviction rate for rape cases. In 2009, 147 persons were charge-sheeted in 130 rape cases and only 29 were convicted. It further decreased in 2010 and 2011 with only nine and eight persons convicted among the 140 and 130 persons charge-sheeted, respectively.

 

Government issues gag order to TV news channels #Censorship


By Express News Service – NEW DELHI

26th December 2012 09:05 AM

Stung by the massive anti-government protests triggered by the gruesome Delhi gang-rape, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry has issued a gag order to TV channels.

The ministry’s advisory released late Sunday evening said “inappropriate” media reportage was likely to “vitiate the law and order situation”.

The strongly-worded advisory, which reads much like the media gag orders of the Emergency days, is aimed at forcing TV channels to tone down their coverage.

Terming the coverage by some channels as lacking in maturity, the ministry advised them to report the protests in a “responsible manner”.

This comes at a time when the government only shut down nine Metro stations and blocked access to India Gate to prevent people from gathering there to protest. While Sunday’s protests turned violent, policemen lathicharged even mediapersons covering the protests. Most of the roads leading to high-powered addresses in the capital have been blocked to traffic for an indefinite period.

“It has been observed that some private satellite news TV channels have not been showing due responsibility and maturity in telecasting the events relating to the said demonstration and such a telecast is likely to cause deterioration in the law and order, hindering the efforts of the law enforcing authorities,” the advisory said.

It advised all channels that they should scrupulously following the programme code to telecast the matter “in a responsible manner with due care, maturity and restraint.”

The order pointed out that the programme code stands against any “programme which is likely to encourage or incite violence or contains anything against maintenance of law and order or which promotes anti-national attitude. Signed by joint secretary of the I&B Ministry Supriya Sahu, it ends with a warning that “any violation would invite action under the cable rules.”

Sources said Information and Broadcasting Ministry officials also called up TV news channels asking them against using inflammatory headlines.

The News Broadcasters Association also issued a statement Monday after the attack on mediapersons by the police. It said that all member channels had reported the protests over the last few days with great maturity, sensitivity and restraint. “It would be a sad day for the country, and democracy if any attempt is made to muzzle the media.”

In another development, the Broadcast Complaints Council (BCC) of India, the body covering all entertainment channels, has asked its member channels to refrain from showing any vulgar content. In its advisory, in the wake of the gang-rape in Delhi, BCC told channels to refrain from featuring children below the age of 12 years in any situation that has sexual or adult overtones.

 

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