So what are we demanding at India Gate? #Delhigangrape #Vaw

Collectives need not always be celebrated; lynch mobs are collectives too, and there was ample evidence of this lynch mob mentality on display in the past few days: baying for blood, here and now. Revenge cannot be an alternative to justice 

Manisha Sethi, Hardnews


A mass mobilisation on the issue of sexual violence looks like a feminist dream. Especially, if you recall that only a handful of activists stood shouting slogans in this very capital city, at the Chhattisgarh Bhavan, demanding action against the police officer who had pushed stones in the vagina of Soni Sori. Or, does it offset our reprehension at the re-election of a man who presided over mass rapes of women from a minority community?

Surely, the large number of people at India Gate should be solace to the mothers of Manipur who had to strip in front of the Kangla Fort, home to Assam Rifles, to protest the gang rape and murder of Th. Manorama by its personnel. And to the people of Shopian who shut down their town for weeks after the bodies of Asiya and Neelofar were fished out of the nullah from across a CRPF camp. Will this mass anger scare the doctor at AIIMS, who, months after the women had been found dead and violated, discovered their intact hymens on their exhumed bodies so that the charge of rape against the army men would not hold?

But, should we burden those congregating at India Gate with the memories of Manorama, Soni Sori, Asiya, Neelofar or Bhanwri Devi? Perhaps it’s unfair to expect this young crowd to articulate anything beyond their own anxieties of safety in urban public spaces of a metropolis. Is it not churlish, some would say, to ask these questions instead of celebrating the fact that at least now men and women are coming out and demanding action against rapists? Is it not divisive, some ask?

However, given that it is being seen as a harbinger of epochal change – both, by the media and the participants, both incidentally refusing to be fatigued, discovering the joys of street fighting — it is only in order that we examine what this moment might mean for the politics of gender justice.

But, should we burden those congregating at India Gate with the memories of Manorama, Soni Sori, Asiya, Neelofar or Bhanwri Devi? Perhaps it’s unfair to expect this young crowd to articulate anything beyond their own anxieties of safety in urban public spaces of a metropolis

Ideally, a movement’s energy forces the opening of uncomfortable questions, challenging commonsense understanding and expanding our ideas of justice. One sees that the mass protests at Raisina Hill and India Gate are flattening out complexities: reducing sexual violence to rape alone, and the need for legal reform to simply an inclusion of capital punishment, castration and immediate punishment for rapists.

Feminists have been arguing for reforms in the sexual assault bill on grounds that the definition of rape itself is too narrow. Rape is defined exclusively as penile penetration of the vagina in Section 375 IPC ignoring penetration through several other objects routinely used, especially in mass sexual violence. Threatened Existence: A Feminist Analysis of the Genocide in Gujarat has documented the use of iron rods, sticks, swords to penetrate women as well as the systematic torture and mutilation of women’s bodies.

A whole range of sexualised violence such as molestation, parading, stalking, stripping, are not recognised as serious violations by our legal system. While stalking and molestation are laughed off as ‘eve teasing’ (indeed trespassing is deemed a more serious crime), stripping and parading women naked are often tools of punishment by the powerful. Remember Khairlanji where Priyanka and Surekha Bhootmange were paraded naked before being murdered by the politically dominant caste? Or the young Laxmi Orang, stripped by a group of hooligans, not very different from the stone pelters of India Gate, when she was marching on the streets of Guwahati seeking ‘ST’ status for the tea tribes ofAssam?

As the protests take an ugly turn being overrun by lumpens bent on extracting their money’s worth from this reality TV spectacle, we are being told that there is a real fear of genuine protestors being pushed out by these hooligans. The genuine protestor is being defined as spontaneous, unorganised and politically unaffiliated. It is this genuine protestor that sends a chill down my spine, for the hoodlums out there for a weekend of cheap thrills will be easily identified and condemned. The chorus for castration (surgical or chemical — take your pick) and capital punishment is rising not only from these hordes of roughnecks (though, to be sure, they are seeking blood too), but from the college students, the housewives, the white collar salaried professional, the nice middle class, who many of us were accusing of being apathetic till the other day.

It is frightening that their political baptism comes with demands for instant justice: we want not only capital punishment but a public hanging, preferably following continuous torture. The frenzied and stubborn cries for public hangings, and for the accused to be brought to India Gate, also showed how utterly divorced this class is from the processes of law, governance and even democracy. Feudal ideas of macho justice, to be delivered immediately by the public, coexist with notions of individual choice and freedom to dress and go out.

The latter were deeply political issues foregrounded by the women’s movement but adopted presciently and swiftly by the market too. So we see posters declaring, ‘meri skirt se uunchi meri awaaz hai’ (my voice is higher than then my skirt) sitting comfortably with boisterous demands for death and maiming of the rapist. Castration and shaving of moustache have been seen as apt punishments for rapists in feudal cultures because they hit at the very symbols of male virility. But, ultimately, they remain within the bounds of a phallocentric worldview, which breeds the culture of rape.

Threatened Existence: A Feminist Analysis of the Genocide in Gujarat has documented the use of iron rods, sticks, swords to penetrate women as well as the systematic torture and mutilation of women’s bodies 

The ‘genuine’ protestors have embraced this masculinist violence to counter the violence of rape. By showing bangles to cops, and screaming slogans, “Kya Manmohan ne choodiyan pehen rakhi hai?” (Is Manmohan wearing bangles?) they are not even attempting to transcend the patriarchal language which associates the feminine with weakness, and femininity as an object as well as medium of taunt and ridicule.

We have seen this sort of clamour after every terror attack: the demand for a safer city through tough laws, instant dispensation of justice and quicker hangings, fuelled again by a cheering media. This has created an atmosphere where it has become possible to bypass the due process of law. The path to justice is often rough and hewn with roadblocks, especially in cases of gender violence. Prejudiced investigations, prosecution and judiciary and humiliation of the courtroom ensure that conviction rates remain despairingly low.

Fast track courts, not lasting more than three months would be reduced to a farce, with little time to examine and contemplate evidence. And if combined with tough laws and death penalty, this would lead to gross miscarriage of justice.  Certainly, we need new laws and swifter conclusion of trials, but it cannot be substituted by ready retribution.

Women’s safety in public spaces is an issue (as is the safety and dignity of domestic helps in middle class homes) but do we want to hand our safety to the police?

In effect, what this will result in is moral policing by men like Mumbai’s cop Dhoble who will go around with hockey sticks breaking up pubs and bars, enforcing their ideas of a safe city. Young couples in parks and public spaces will be hounded — Operation Majnu style — because controlling women’s sexual behavior is the key to women’s safety.

Gender violence is too complex to be reduced to a binary of police and government versus an amorphous ‘people’, ever pure. By venting anger at Raisina Hill alone, we are displacing our own culpability in violence: what about those men who videographed Laxmi Oraon as she ran naked on the streets of Guwahati fleeing her tormentors; the crowd which collected around the dumped bodies of the young paramedic and her friend in Delhi, including women inside cars, not even covering them up, and all of us who celebrate the narrative of national security and look the other way when our armed forces indulge in rape and violence in Kashmir, Chhattisgarh and Manipur?

Collectives need not always be celebrated; lynch mobs are collectives too, and there was ample evidence of this lynch mob mentality on display in the past few days: baying for blood, here and now. As we see hoardings across the city screaming ‘Rape is worse than murder’ and a leading English newspaper runs an opinion poll asking its readers what the best punishment is for ‘a crime worse than murder’, we can see the contours of a new kind of movement emerging in the coagulation of an articulate and assertive middle class and the television media, its spokesperson and cheerleader.

While we applaud the sudden centrality of sexual violence in our public discourse, the outpouring of rage and anger has in fact reinforced and reiterated many of the things that democratic movements have been struggling hard against: tough laws, jettisoning of due process, securitisation of our spaces and lives, and stigmatisation of the rape victim (fate worse than death).  But most of all, the very dangerous idea that revenge is an alternative to justice.

The writer teaches at the Centre for Comparative Religions and Civilisations, Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi



Condemn The Arrests Of Civil Libertarians, Students And Others In The Garb Of Maoists In Kerala


By Committee For The Release Of Political Prisoners

30 December, 2012

Demand their immediate and Unconditional Release! Stop criminalising all forms of dissent and the right to assemble!

From what appears in the news in Malayalam print media, about seven people were arrested by the Mavelikkara, Kerala police from a lodge in the said town alleging them as Maoists. It seems they were all arrested in the afternoon of 29 December 2012 and till late night were not produced in the court. From the civil liberties fraternity it has been made clear that all the seven were remanded in police custody and they have been framed under the draconian UAPA. Even before the seven arrested could approach their lawyer the police have already started planting stories in the local print and electronic media saying that all the arrested have accepted that they belong to the Maoist organisations. Yet another usual story of fomenting rumours about the accused in the media so as to prejudice the courts towards buying the story of the police.

That Mr. Gopal a well known civil liberties activist and former scientist in the atomic research centre Mumbai and Kalpakkam is one among the arrested makes the whole story of the police all the more hollow. Gopal has been quite vocal in the Committee for the Protection of Civil Liberties (Tamil Nadu) as well as with the PUCL Tamil Nadu. Most of these activists while at the same time being students or active with various people’s movements—such as the anti-Kudumkulam agitation which saw widespread solidarity from various sections of the people—know each other and had congregated for a get together to discuss their various experiences is a normal and natural thing to happen with every socially sensitive individual. It is through such solidarities and exchange of experiences that people enhance their world view and move forward in their conviction to stand for and join hands with issues that are of immediate significance for the greater common good and well being of the society.

It has become a set pattern for the police to find ‘terror’ and ‘national security threats’ with every possible such gatherings of conscientious people. It is through such arrests that the ‘anti-terrorism’ industry and and their ilk find common cause for ‘national security threats’ so as to reinforce a mindset and the attendant burgeoning capital intensive industry that it sustains. To add to this two sisters—a plus one student Ami and her sister Savera a 5th standard student—are the others who have been alleged of having Maoist links. That both of them happen to be the children of alleged Maoist activists is the deductive logic that we can get from these police officers. The police also claims to the obliging media that one of the arrested Mr. Rajesh Madhavan, himself a student, had been having links with banned organisations. Neither the media nor the police take the trouble to clarify which are these banned organisations!

It goes without saying that such arrests and the media drill that the police and the investigating agencies indulge in are definitely acts of impunity right from the word go. To cover up an illegal act of detaining/arresting/framing people’s activists and civil libertarians what is called into action are further such acts of impunity—such as the vilification in the media.

The CRPP strongly condemn such acts of impunity to terrorise people as well as to criminalise all forms of dissent as well as the right to assemble, under the garb of ‘national security threat’ not to mention the so-called ‘war against terror’.

We demand the immediate release of all the seven people—Gopal, Ami, Savera, Rajesh Madhavan, Bahuleyan, Shiyaz and Devarajan—immediately and unconditionally!

We also demand the repeal of draconian laws such as UAPA and AFSPA with the cover of which the police and the investigating agencies indulge in the worst acts of impunity.

In Solidarity,

Amit Bhattacharyya
Secretary General

SAR Geelani
Working President

Rona Wilson
Secretary, Public Relations


#delhigangrape- Government of India are you listening ? #Vaw #Justice #Protest #Poem

लो ख़त्म हुई आपाधापी, लो बंद हुई मारामारी

लो जीत गई सत्ता फिर से, लो हार गई फिर लाचारी

कल सात समंदर पार कहीं इक आह उठी थी दर्द भरी

तब से जनता है ख़फ़ा-ख़फ़ा, तब से सत्ता है डरी-डरी

सोचो अंतिम पल में उसका कैसा व्यवहार रहा होगा

नयनों में पीर रही होगी, लब पर धिक्कार रहा होगा

जब सुबह हुई तो ये दीखा, बस ग़ैरत के परखच्चे हैं

इक ओर अकड़ता शासन है, इक ओर बिलखते बच्चे है

जनता के आँसू मांग रहे, पीड़ा को कम होने तो दो

तुम और नहीं कुछ दे सकते, हमको मिलकर रोने तो दो

सड़कों की नाकाबंदी करके, ढोंग रचाते फिरते हो

अभिमन्यु की हत्या करके, अब शोक जताते फिरते हो

जो शासक अपनी जनता की रक्षा को है तैयार नहीं

उसको शासक कहलाने का, रत्ती भर भी अधिकार नहीं




The Violence of the Lambs #Vaw #Rape


30SundayDec 2012

Sankarshan Thakur

New Delhi, Dec. 29: Well before the candles were lit this evening, the one at the centre of it all had been blown. Jantar Mantar was aglow with the light of the extinguished one — a suffering life that had stopped to struggle in the dead of night and given on to a morning of outcry and crying, condoling and condemnation.

Well before the Singapore hospital gurney was cleared of the remains of a feast of cannibal lust, well before she returned home for her final journey, her tragedy had been robbed the courtesies of silence, her wake abducted to a raucous stage of bickering over who’s to pay.

It’s not just summary gallows for those that have committed a crime that challenges the limits of barbarity, the hooded six who must now countenance the unspeakable darkness they brought upon a young woman’s life. It’s not just “down-down” to the Delhi police whose wanton derelictions have frequently deserved derision. It’s death knell for Manmohan Singh’s UPA, whose second watch has recurrently been slapped with virulently adverse verdict: corruption, chicanery, and now callousness.

It ceases to strike a chord when the Prime Minister empathises in the name of being a father of three daughters. It ceases to assure when his government moves rapidly to nab the culprits.

It raises suspicions when he decides, on expert medical counsel, to transport the victim abroad for speciality care: it’s to wash their hands of her, it’s to wish a storm off their doors, the mob screams. “Where’s the government? Why is it in hiding? Why these cordons, it’s a free country, isn’t it?”

It ceases to impress that the man the UPA is lining up to succeed Manmohan Singh has notions of representing the new India, the youth, the future. Rahul Gandhi rankles; he has become the object of street satire.

“The youth are here,” cried a voice above the clamour of Jantar Mantar today, “but where is the youth icon?”

It came followed by a more pointed taunt spun on Rahul’s bid to erect a campaign on atrocities against women in western UP last year. “Kahan hai Bhatta Parsaul ka maseeha (where is the messiah of Bhatta Parsaul)?”

Jeers followed, cheers followed, if they could have clapped a government down, they would have at Jantar Mantar.

This is more than a picket against rape and murder, more than an irate remonstration against a metro’s descent into disorder. The often unremarked irony this past week has been that Delhi has been the scene of disorder protesting disorder, a dodgy flirtation with uncivil liberties.

Prohibitory orders flouted, barricades toppled, restricted ramparts climbed, bricks chucked. The citizenry has turned to twist the very arm it has demanded better protection from. It has seemed at war with the very system it has subscribed to.

This is more than a picket against rape and murder; this is urban civil society’s second enraged run on the government. The Anna upsurge re- ignited by flames torn from coffin-side poignancy and turned into a flambeau against an establishment this march wants dumped.

Four years ago, on the crest of an unprecedented growth rate, India’s metros raved Manmohan Singh into a second term — man of integrity, man of vision, Singh is King. He’s turned a man with a headpiece full of straw in the eyes of the same votaries; they’d sooner make an effigy of him and set fire to it. The once-anointed herdsman countenanced with the violence of the lambs; so what if he has put the locks on the six Hannibal Lecters.

A trickle seeped through the khaki-choked arteries of central Delhi this morning, a renewed eddy of anger and anguish nudged into a security flue and deposited into one secured auricle of a convulsed heart: Jantar Mantar. It was cold; the minders of the capital had assumed firm grip on just how high they would allow temperatures, how many beats they’d permit the city’s pulse.

The avenues leading in to Rajpath’s central vista stood sealed; use of the Metro in the Lutyens neighbourhood was proscribed; an undeclared curfew sat up and along Raisina Hill whose unruly, blood-curdling siege last week had panicked the government into volatile recoil: cane-charge, water cannon, tear gas, trample-chase.

This afternoon, the helmeted policeman behind the barricade spoke out a practised instruction: “Not allowed, Sir, warna sarkari I-card ho ya VIP ho to bolo.” Entry prohibited, tell us if you have a government identity card or are a VIP.

Pigeons fluttered over the square, an eerie echo ringing from their flap over the colonnaded emptiness. “Parinde hain,” the policeman said, as if to assure they had a licence, “parinde aur police to kahin bhi jaa sakte hain (they’re only birds; birds and policemen can go anywhere).”

Saturdays are cooling days for the government behemoth. The weeklong hum of air-conditioning takes a break in the vast blocks of bureaucracy, shutdown switches are thrown on computers, metal detectors stop beeping, the phones fall silent, the shadows turn mostly inanimate and Delhi’s resplendent trees get hosed.

This Saturday, the government had curled behind protective metal and uniformed men, cordoned off from a fury that may well refuse to abate anytime soon. It was doing but it was also defensive. It shed tears from its protections, both deeply meant and mandatory, but also futile to the purposes of the protest. Their absence would probably have fuelled more anger, their falling calmed nothing.

“Sonia Gandhi kahan gayi, bhaag gayi, bhaag gayi (where’s Sonia Gandhi, she has fled, she has fled),” ran the chant among one group of demonstrators shortly after the Congress president had appeared on television, near lachrymose at the rending news from Singapore and firm of promise the guilty will be brought to swift justice.

That wasn’t fetching an ear in the islanded torrent of Jantar Mantar. “Sonia Gandhi kahan gayi, bhaag gayi, bhaag gayi!” the cry rippled, almost joyous the opportunity had arrived to thrust another blow at the establishment.

Well before the anti-rape protest descended on Jantar Mantar, it had become clear it wouldn’t be about that one horrific transgression alone. Well before the first candle was lit at Jantar Mantar, it was evident it wasn’t merely a candle.

It was a phosphorescent bulb that has lighted up more than just the darkened room where sexual crime has long heaved and passed, its victims quietly shamed, its shameless perpetrators at large. The bulb now burns in the eye of Raisina Hill.


#Kolkatagangrape-Woman allegedly gang-raped, murdered near Kolkata,husband in hospital #Vaw

Edited by Ashish Mukherjee | Updated: December 30, 2012 12:44 IST, NDTV

Woman allegedly gang-raped, murdered near Kolkata

BarasatA 45-year-old woman was murdered after allegedly being gang-raped by eight men in West Bengal‘s Barasat town, about 40 kilometres from Kolkata. Her husband was severely beaten up for trying to prevent the attack and has been admitted to a hospital in Kolkata.A case of murder has been filed and the post- mortem report is awaited to confirm rape. One person has been arrested.

The couple was returning home from a brick kiln after work on Saturday evening when the men started harassing the woman. Some overpowered the husband and the others dragged the wife away. Some acid-like substance was also thrown at the husband’s face.

He managed to free himself and call neighbours for help. They searched for his wife and found her dead near a pond. She was found semi-naked.

The woman’s son said, “She had injuries on her head. They gang-raped and murdered her. My father identified one of them. He has filed a police complaint.”


The names of politicians in Indian Parliament with charges of rape, sexual assault #MUSTSHARE

Crimes against women including rape cases declared by MPs, MLAs and candidates

Crimes against women including rape cases declared by MPs, MLAs and candidates

Highlights of the report, by the ASSOCIATION OF DEMOCRACTIC RIGHTS (ADR)

  • 6 MLAs have declared that they have charges of rape against themselves in their sworn affidavits submitted with the Election Commission of India at the time of their election.
  • Of these 6 MLAs with declared rape cases, 3 are from SP namely Sribhagwan Sharma, Anoop Sanda and Manoj Kumar Paras from Uttar Pradesh, 1 from BSP namely Mohd. Aleem Khan from Uttar Pradesh, 1 of BJP namely Jethabhai G.Ahir from Gujarat and 1 of TDP namely Kandikunta Venkata Prasad from Andhra Pradesh.
  • 36 other MLAs have declared that they have other charges of crimes against women such as outraging the modesty of a woman, assault, insulting the modesty of a woman etc.
  • Of the 36 MLAs who have declared that they have charges of crimes against women, 6 MLAs are from INC , 5 from BJP and 3 from SP.
  • U.P. has the maximum number of MLAs (8) who have declared that they have charges of crimes against women, followed by Orissa and West Bengal with 7 MLAs each.
  • 2 MPs, namely Semmalai S of ADMK from Salem constituency in Tamil Nadu and Adhikari Suvendu of AITC from Tamluk constituency in West Bengal, have declared that they have charges of crimes against women, such as cruelty and intent to outrage a woman’s modesty etc.



  • Political Parties gave tickets to 27 candidates who contested the State Elections in the last five years, who have declared that they have been charged with rape.
  • Of these 7 are Independent candidates, 5 have been given tickets by SP, 2 have been given tickets by BJP, 2 are BSP candidates and 1 has been given a ticket by INC.
  • Out of these 27 candidates who declared rape charges, 10 are from Uttar Pradesh, and 5 are from Bihar.
  • Political Parties also gave tickets to 260 other contesting candidates in the Legislative Assembly Elections held in the last five years have declared that they have charges of crimes against women such as outraging the modesty of a woman, assault, insulting the modesty of a woman etc.
  • Out of the 260 candidates who declared that they have been charged with crimes against women, 72 are IND candidates, 24 have been given tickets by the BJP, 26 candidates have been given tickets by the INC, 16 have been given tickets by the SP and 18 have been given tickets by BSP.
  • Maharasthra has the maximum number of such candidates (41), followed by Uttar Pradesh (37) and West Bengal (22).
  • In Lok Sabha 2009 Elections, political parties gave tickets to 6 candidates who declared that they have been charged with rape,
  • Of these, 1 is from RPP, 1 from RCP, 1 from BSP, 1 from JMM and 2 Independent candidates.
  • Out of these 6 candidates who declared rape charges 3 are from Bihar, 1 from Delhi, 1 from Uttar Pradesh and 1 from Andhra Pradesh
  • 34 other contesting candidates from the Lok Sabha 2009 General Elections declared that they have charges of crimes against women.
  • 12 out of the other 34 Lok Sabha 2009 candidates who declared that they have been charged with crimes against women, are IND candidates, 4 are BSP candidates and 2 each from AITC and CPI (ML) (L).
  • Maximum cases of crimes against women are against candidates from Bihar (9), followed by Maharashtra (6), and Uttar Pradesh (5).
  • ADR and NEW strongly recommend that political parties should stop giving tickets to candidates with criminal backgrounds and who have been charged with serious crimes like murder, attempt to murder, especially crimes against women such as rape.


Report on Crimes against women (MLAs and MPs) V3


#Delhigangrape– Protests and the Caste Hindu Paradigm: Of Sacred and Paraded Bodies #Vaw

by  on DECEMBER 27, 2012 ·

Madhuri Xalxo

I am a bit shaken by what outrages the mainstream media on rape. The incident is horrifying and yet so very familiar to us dalit, bahujan and adivasi women.

In the same Delhi, hundreds of adivasi girls are taken as domestic slaves and get raped, and go missing…Why doesn’t the mainstream media even consider that newsworthy? Why is there no uproar for the death penalty for these upper caste men from elite backgrounds raping us? Is it because we are born to get justly raped by the others?


The present protests and silences only endorse the caste hindu paradigm that the upper caste woman’s body is sacred and its violation requires the highest retribution while the bodies of dalit, bahujan and adivasi women, and women under military regimes such as Manipur and Kashmir are ‘rape-worthy’ and the men’s sexual depravity on these women need no correctives.

We are trying to grapple with this public display of women leaders’ apathy (not the agitating young girls, but senior women’s rights leaders who are completely aware of contestations from dalit, bahujan and adivasi women) who have always maintained and continue to maintain an indifferent silence over rapes and gang rapes on us, even when it happens in nearby Haryana and Dalit organizations in Delhi worked so hard to get it into a national conversation, indifference was what we have seen from the ones who are now celebrating these protests.

Documented evidence exists of dalit and adivasi women seeking justice against sexual violence, as individual voices and small groups of dedicated activists, which can be seamlessly connected from one end of the country to the other. And this is only a tip of the iceberg, another vast cache of documents (fact-finding missions and news reports) indicate that many of them are not allowed to reach the documentation stage itself. Soni Sori’s case, which is one of the rare adivasi women’s cases that have received some public attention, still languishes and she continues to struggle in the jail with her sexual tormentors (men in uniform) having total control over her life. Following the brutal murder of Manorama, Irom’s unique, prolonged and painful struggle to highlight the crimes against women by AFSPA fails to generate a national protest or even a sustained conversation. It took 26 years of dedicated and consistent struggle by the adivasi rape victims of Vachati to get justice.The adivasi rape victims of Vakapalli received zero attention from the conscience keepers. I could go on and on about the futility of isolating this urban gang rape from the systemic violence on all women. This is not to emphasize our marginal status versus the powerful upper caste women and their capacities to enhance or silence protests on sexual violence, but to point out that this is also a disservice to women from their own castes and class who happen to be fighting sexual violence inside their homes and sadly also live outside of the ‘protest capital’.

Sheeba Aslam Fehmi captured this crisply in an update:

First they Raped the Shudra women and I did not speak out because I was an Upper Caste Hindu.

Then they came for the Muslim women and I did not speak out because I was an Upper caste Hindu.

Then they came for the Manipuri women and I did not speak out because I was an Upper Caste Hindu .

Then they came for the Tribal women and I did not speak out because I was an Upper Caste Hindu .

Then they came for me and there was an outstanding outrage because I was an Upper Caste Hindu.

Their apathy has a structural basis, and they are blatant in the repeated public displays of their intellectual, ethical and moral blindness to caste, tribe, religion, class and gender as intersecting categories that facilitate systemic violence on women and I see no desire on their part to engage with those issues even now. But I definitely would like to engage with community members who are indulging in another kind of apathy, a learned one, one that we hope can be stopped at the initial stages itself. This has to do with dalit, adivasis and bahujan men ‘addressing the gender question’ and the problematic ways they sometimes choose to do so.

In this article I am drawing attention to the circulation of images of an adivasi woman by many people on social media networks, but I am directing this article at men from dalit, bahujan and adivasi communities who shared these images. I hope this is perceived in the spirit that it is written in – as a constructive conversation on gender relations.

When ‘she’ was paraded naked years ago, many came out in protest to get her justice. Her name was on the lips of all adivasi MPs/MLAs/NGOs/activists/writers. Her pictures were all over the place but things didn’t change much for her after the issue had become cold. With the Delhi rape case, the issue is resurfacing and people are talking about ‘her’, they want justice for her.

What bothers me is the nature of their concern; all said and done, ours is a conservative society: what kind of a life does it offer a woman who is paraded naked and becomes so famous for that? Will she have a normal life? Why don’t these people who want justice for her understand that ‘she’ needs to be cloaked with a pseudonym, and her naked pictures not be used for their discussion; would they have done the same if it was their own daughter/sister/mother?

This again highlights the contradiction in the much acclaimed ‘equal’ status of adivasi women: in difficult circumstances, much burden is borne by the adivasi women. When poverty grips the household, she is sold as a domestic servant; in politics, she is made the bali ka bakra, everybody benefits from her labor/discourse, except her.

Here I reproduce portions of a conversation with an adivasi brother:

M X: Others don’t care about ‘us’ – the adivasi women, and I doubt your concern as well…look, look at the delhi rape case…the girl has been shielded by the name of a place despite the fact that her life is disrupted so violently, but you guys along with others will not just use our pictures when paraded naked but also use our real name in your discourse…as if that will get more justice. I’d been thinking about the incident you posted for years now, thinking about her and the temporary political limelight, wondering if anything would change for her and much as I anticipated, things hasn’t. In fact it becomes worse. Imagine, everywhere you go, being recognized as someone who was paraded naked.

M X: It’s like being paraded naked again and again and again… If people really cared, they should have used a pseudonym, not used pictures of that incident, would have tried rehabilitating her, but no, our adivasi society would rather gain a political mileage by displaying ‘our’ nakedness over and over again.

M X: IT IS NOT RIGHT, and it was also not right then, but I guess ‘we-the adivasi women’ are very very few who are articulating and protesting on social media.

N K K: Yes it will not change, at least till we have our children. But there’s something else, which is unfortunate, for us adivasis, people from north-east, dalits, etc. to make our voices heard in this country/world we have to come up with a bang!! We have to make the loudest possible sound to get heard and since we are smaller in no. we try drawing (the other) peoples attention by showing these nasty but true pictures, its same as when Tamil Eelam wants to draw the (other) people’s attention and want them to believe what they are saying – they have to come up with a proof about the war crimes that Sri Lankan army committed on them. Watch the documentary “KILLING FIELDS OF SRILANKA”. So like the Tamil eelam people who are a minority and marginalised just like us adivasis, one has to always come up with a proof, so that THEY believe us. It’s a sad reality.

M X: No, this cannot be justified at all! One wrong cannot be made right by another wrong and the sooner we understand the better. People who don’t believe of injuries given to us will not take us seriously even if we show pictures of the injury.

N K K: Yes, absolutely, it cannot be justified; it’s just that these two harsh realities are at conflict. I’m glad that you raised the issue or else we’ll be carrying out with ‘this’ kind of protests and will not think of a better alternative. For a change it’s important that somebody feels that what’s been happening and the way things are being taken care of, and the way people are going about things, the method is wrong and why. And the Adivasi men in this issue, sadly are (as it seems) protesting only for the ‘Adivasi’ part not the ‘Adivasi Women” as a whole.

M X: Thank you so much for agreeing. We, the adivasi men and women should be co-laborers in this fight for dignity, access and equal rights and trust me, we are increasingly becoming an unjust group by subjecting this other gender (I refuse to call us weak) to subjugation for the supposed benefit of the whole adivasi society.

The gendered nature of the premeditated caste violence against dalit, bahujan and adivasi women is not a new phenomenon — it is historic. The dalit, bahujan and adivasi women (and men) were and still are subjects of bestial and shocking violence by the dominant classes. Being raped, castrated, and paraded naked are only a few forms of visible physical violence committed against us.

There was nothing novel in one of us being stripped naked and beaten when participating in a rally seeking special rights based on adivasis’ collective identity. There were people laughing at her, people taking her pictures, media reporting the incident, NGOs pointing at her injuries, adivasi leaders talking of justice – and what is most disturbing is, in all this no one thought of shielding her nakedness.

If getting her justice was the agenda on the cards of all concerned, what we as a group of dalit, bahujan and adivasi women would like to know is – why didn’t people think of using a pseudonym, and why do they still continue to use her original name? Who gives the right to educated people on social media to abuse her dignity with a click of a mouse to lure instant audiences? Why are her pictures of nakedness flashed again and again and again in public to list atrocity upon dalit, bahujan and adivasi women? When will this assault upon us by the social media so concerned about our oppression stop?

When will the dalit, bahujan and adivasi men cease to use our nakedness as a symbol of collective oppression and stop displaying those pictures, uncovering our wounds, and allow us to heal?

While we appreciate dalit, bahujan and adivasi men showing support for women’s issues on social media networks, we have a few requests: please wait for the women to speak on issues, please do not take our silence for inability to articulate, please do not second guess our thoughts, but mostly please attempt to listen, to consult with dalit, bahujan and adivasi women before raising gender-related issues. Finally, please extend the courtesy we accord you as fellow travellers against oppression- do not attempt to enter our subjectivity and ‘imagine’ our experiences.

We would like the above requests to be considered seriously by dalit, adivasi and bahujan men, as we are all part of the politics of the marginalized which constantly self-corrects from taking erroneous routes to emancipation. We are heirs to a history that is guided by principles of human equality and a progressive vision of a gender just society bequeathed us by dalit, bahujan and adivasi leaders and movements.


Madhuri Xalxo is a student pursuing her LLM.

Cartoon by Unnamati Syama Sundar.



Ban skirts as school uniform: BJP legislator #WTFnews #Vaw


IANS | Dec 29, 2012, 05.35 PM IST

JAIPUR: A BJP legislator in Rajasthan wants the state government to prohibit private schools from making girls wear skirts as uniform, citing it as the reason behind increased cases of sexual harassment.Banwari Lal Singhal, in his letter to the chief secretary, demanded that girl students be made to wear salwar suits or shirts and trousers as uniform to reduce chances of their being subjected to lewd comments or harassment.

Singhal is a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)legislator from Alwar city constituency, around 150 km from here.

“Girls either walk to school or wait for school buses at various points in Alwar. That is when they face lewd comments from mischievous elements,” Singhal said.

He argued that most private schools in the city had skirts as part of the uniform.

“It should be prohibited keeping in view the rise of social crimes against women. The school should have pant-shirts or salwar suits as uniforms for girl students,” Singhal said in the letter.

He said the proposed school uniform would save the students from extreme weather conditions too.


Civil Liberties activists arrested as Suspected Maoists #Kozhikode #UAPA #WTFnews

Suspected Maoists arrested in Mavelikkara

TNN | Dec 30, 2012, 05.46 AM IST

KOZHIKODE: Five persons were on Saturday arrested from a lodge in Mavelikkara for their alleged Maoist links.Police identified the arrested as Gopal from Tamil Nadu, Bahuleyan and Shiyaz from Thiruvananthapuram, Devarajan from Kollam and Rajesh Madhavan from Mavelikkara.

Gopal is an activist of the Committee for the Protection of Civil Liberties, a human rights organization in Tamil Nadu.

Police had initially picked up seven persons, but released two minors, identified as the daughters of Roopesh, the former state secretary of CPI (Maoist).

The arrests were made under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and for unlawful assembly, conspiracy and kidnapping, police said. A laptop and five mobile phones were seized from the arrested persons.

Roopesh and his wife Shyna have been in the list of wanted Maoists, after they were accused of harbouring Malla Raji Reddy, the politburo member of the CPI (Maoist), arrested by the Andhra Pradesh police from Angamali in December 2007.

Police had issued a lookout circular against Roopesh following suspicion that he had played a role to sabotage a train in Nilambur in 2010.

Meanwhile, Adv P A Pouran, general secretary of the Peoples Union for Civil Liberties, said the arrested were discussing issues related to the education sector. “Police have denied even the basic right to assemble and discuss issues,” he said.


#Delhigangrape- For ‘ ANONYMOUS’ #mustread #Vaw


December 29, 2012 · by  · in Journal. ·, Nilanjana Roy

(Photograph: Ruchir Joshi)

(Photograph: Ruchir Joshi)

That girl, the one without the name. The one just like us. The one whose battered body stood for all the anonymous women in this country whose rapes and deaths are a footnote in the left-hand column of the newspaper.


Sometimes, when we talk about the history of women in India, we speak in shorthand. The Mathura rape case. The Vishaka guidelines. The Bhanwari Devi case, the Suryanelli affair, the Soni Sori allegations, the business at Kunan Pushpora. Each of these, the names of women and places, mapping a geography of pain; unspeakable damage inflicted on women’s bodies, on the map of India, where you can, if you want, create a constantly updating map of violence against women.


For some, amnesia becomes a way of self-defence: there is only so much darkness you can swallow. They turn away from all the places that have become shorthand for violence beyond measure, preferring not to know about Kashmir or the outrages in Chattisgarh, choosing to forget the Bombay New Year assault, trying not to remember the deaths of a Pallavi Purkayastha, a Thangjam Manorama, Surekha and Priyanka Bhotmange, the mass rapes that marked the riots in Gujarat. Even for those who stay in touch, it isn’t possible for your empathy to keep abreast with the scale of male violence against women in India: who can follow all of the one-paragraph, three-line cases? The three-year-old raped before she can speak, the teenager assaulted by an uncle, the 65-year-old raped as closure to a property dispute, the slum householder raped and violently assaulted on her way to the bathroom. After a while, even memory hardens.


And then you reach a tipping point, and there’s that girl. For some reason, and I don’t really know why, she got through to us. Our words shrivelled in the face of what she’d been subjected to by the six men travelling on that bus, who spent an hour torturing and raping her, savagely beating up her male friend. Horrific, brutal, savage—these tired words point to a loss of language, and none of them express how deeply we identified with her.

She had not asked to become a symbol or a martyr, or a cause; she had intended to lead a normal life, practicing medicine, watching movies, going out with friends. She had not asked to be brave, to be the girl who was so courageous, the woman whose injuries symbolised the violence so many women across the country know so intimately. She had asked for one thing, after she was admitted to Safdarjung Hospital: “I want to live,” she had said to her mother.


We may have not noticed the reports that came in from Calcutta in February, of a woman abandoned on Howrah Bridge, so badly injured after a rape that involved, once again, the use of iron rods, that the police thought she had been run over by a car. We may have skimmed the story of the  16-year-old Dalit girl in Dabra, assaulted for three hours by eight men, who spoke up after her father committed suicide from the shame he had been made to feel by the village. Or some may have done something concrete about these things, changed laws, worked on gender violence, keeping their feelings out of it, trying to be objective.

But there is always one that gets through the armour that we build around ourselves. In 1972, the first year in which the NCRB recorded rape cases, there were 2,487 rapes reported across India. One of them involved a teenager called Mathura, raped by policemen; we remember her, we remember the history and the laws she changed. (She would be 56 now.)

Some cases stop being cases. Sometimes, an atrocity bites so deep that we have no armour against it, and that was what happened with the 23-year-old medical student, the one who left a cinema hall and boarded the wrong bus, whose intestines were so badly damaged that the injuries listed on the FIR report made hardened doctors, and then the capital city, cry for her pain.


She died early this morning, in a Singapore hospital where she and her family had been despatched by the government for what the papers called political, not compassionate, reasons.


The grief hit harder than I’d expected. And I had two thoughts, as I heard some of the finest and toughest men I know break down in their grief, as women across Delhi called and SMSed to say that she—one of us, this girl who had once had a future and a life of her own to lead—was gone, that it was over.


The first was: enough. Let there be an end to this epidemic of violence, this culture where if we can’t kill off our girls before they are born, we ensure that they live these lives of constant fear. Like many women in India, I rely on a layer of privilege, a network of friends, paranoid security measures and a huge dose of amnesia just to get around the city, just to travel in this country. So many more women have neither the privilege, nor the luxury of amnesia, and this week, perhaps we all stood up to say, “Enough”, no matter how incoherently or angrily we said it.


The second was even simpler. I did not know the name of the girl in the bus, through these last few days. She had a name of her own–it was not Amanat, Damini or Nirbhaya, names the media gratuitously gave her, as though after the rape, she had been issued a new identity. I don’t need to know her name now, especially if her family doesn’t want to share their lives and their grief with us. I think of all the other anonymous women whose stories don’t make it to the front pages, when I think of this woman; I think of the courage that is forced on them, the way their lives are warped in a different direction from the one they had meant to take. Don’t tell me her name; I don’t need to know it, to cry for her.


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