#Soni Sori Vs Police Thana #Poem #Vaw


SONI5

सोनी सॉरी VS पोलीस थाना

सोनी सॉरी एक नारी है ,
आदिवासी होने की मारी है ,

जिसमे उसपर ज़ुल्म किया ,
वो जैल का अधिकारी है ..

इज़्ज़त तार तार किया सारा ,
पीसा , कुचला . जानवर सा मारा,
राक्षस की रूह को फिर धारा,
जानवर सा बलात्कार किया ,
उस बेसहारा !

कैसा ये सरकारी ख़ाता है ,
जो शिकायत ले थाने जाता है ,
अपनी आप बीती बताता है ,
मदद की गुहार लगाता है ,
वो आदिवासी कहलाता है ,
बेशर्म ! उसे ही नक्सली बताता है …

अपना ख़ाता साफ रखा ,
सब control है !! जनाब !!
यह report दिखा !
26 जनवरी को लाल किले आ ,
प्रधान मंत्री को सलाम किया ,
पोलीस मेडल वही राक्षस ,
वही ले गया !!

सोनी सॉरी धकके खाती है ,
जैल से क्रांति चलती है ,
सबको क्रांति के लिए जागती है ,
अपना सच जैसे तैसे बतलाती है,
देश के अंधे क़ानून से ,
इंसाफ़ की गुहार लगाती है …

उठो ,
जागो ,
कमर कसो ,
इस छेदो वाली छाननी का ,
क्रांति से हर छेद भरो !!

@ राहुल योगी देवेश्वर

#India-Khap bans jeans and T-shirts for girls in #Haryana #Vaw #moralpolicing #WTfnews


By , TNN | Jan 8, 2013,

Khap bans jeans and T-shirts for girls in Hisar
A khap panchayat in Hisar village has ordered youngsters not to use mobiles and has told girls not to wear jeans.
HISAR: A khap panchayat in a Hisar village has banned mobile phones for youngsters and ordered girls not to wear jeans and T-shirts. Organising a DJ party is out of bounds and a complete prohibition on liquor has also been issued.

The decision was taken by the panchayat at Khedar village. Sarpanch Shamsher Singh said, “We have decided to ban alcohol as it is the main reason behind rapes. We have also banned jeans and T-shirts for girl students as it is not a proper dress.”

Shanti Devi, a middle-aged woman present at the panchayat said, “The decision of the panchayat is good and will check the harassment of girls. Poor dressing is the main reason behind rapes”. The panchayat formed an 11-member committee to ensure that the decision is implemented. “We welcome the decision of the panchayat and anyone organizing a DJ party in the village will be fined Rs 11,000. Our main purpose is to close the alcohol shops in the village as liquor is the main reason behind attacks on women,” said panch Mahaveer Singh, a resident of the village.

Youngsters have opposed the diktat. “The decisions will prove to be counter-productive. The mobiles can be useful in alerting parents or the police in case of assaults,” said Ram Kishan, a young man from the village. Another man, who termed the khap diktat outlandish, irrelevant and objectionable, said on anonymity: “These people are vindictive. If we question their decision they will ban us from the

#Mumbai- Rapist’s friends threaten his victim with gang rape #Vaw #WTfnews


Minor’s female neighbour, who allegedly helped the accused kidnap and rape her in November, is threatening her parents; neighbour’s friend “strips and urinates” in front of victim’s house

January 08, 2013
MUMBAI
Shiva Devnath, Mid Day

A 12-year-old girl raped after being kidnapped a month ago is now under threat from the rapist’s friends. The people harassing her now had helped the key accused a month ago to kidnap and rape her, the victim’s parents said.

Goregaon rape victim

The minor’s neighbour, Karina, allegedly threatened her parents that their daughter would be made to go through the same violence again. “I will kidnap your girl again if you don’t leave here,” the neighbour reportedly told the victim’s parents, who live at Ram Mandir Road in Ghatkopar (W). “This time, your girl will be gang-raped by more than a dozen men,” she reportedly said. Karina also threatened the child, saying that what had happened to her was just a “trailer” of more ghastly things to come.

Karina’s associate Iqbal, also accused of threatening the girl, strips and urinates in front of the 12-year-old’s house every now and then, her harried parents said. On November 26, Karina and Iqbal introduced the 12-year-old girl to the rape accused Budharam Chaudhary (30). They asked her to go with him in an autorickshaw, tempting her by saying that he would give her things like food and new clothes.

The unsuspecting girl agreed to go with the accused. But Chaudhary kidnapped her and took her to Rajasthan. Unable to find her, the minor’s family registered a missing complaint with the Goregaon police station the next day. Her mother told the police that the last time she saw her daughter was with Karina and Iqbal.

Police then detained the two, who confessed that they had ‘sold’ the child to Chaudhary and did not know of their whereabouts. Cops tracked down the address of one Budharam Chaudhary, who lived at Nalasopara and hailed from Rajashtan. Since he was not at home, officers picked up his elder brother and other relatives for investigation.

The kin told the police that Budharam was in Rajasthan. Finally, he was spotted at Borivli station, along with the girl, on December 9. He was arrested and the victim was rescued. Chaudhary had raped her over five times in the 12 days after he kidnapped her, medical reports stated.

Police sources said that Karina would often trade the minor with other men in flesh trade. She would lure her with money, and sell her to solicitors. She and Iqbal have not been arrested despite their role in our daughter’s rape, the 12-year-old’s parents said. Chaudhary is in police custody.

Senior Police Inspector of Goregaon police station Arun Jadhav said, “Earlier, we had registered a missing complaint, but after investigations, filed a kidnapping case. The accused, had who fled to Rajasthan, was arrested a few days later from Borivli in December. That is when we registered a rape case, as the medical reports had confirmed it.” He added, “If the victim is being harassed and threatened by aides of the key accused, we will investigate the matter and arrest them.”

Supreme Court relief for #Chhattisgarh activist accused of helping Naxals #Vaw #Sonisori


Edited by Surabhi Malik | Updated: January 08, 2013 13:05 IST, NDTV

Supreme Court relief for Chhattisgarh activist accused of helping Naxals

New DelhiThe Supreme Court today accepted a plea filed by tribal activist Soni Sori and directed the Chhattisgarh government to shift her from a jail in Raipur to the Central Jail in Jagadalpur.

The tribal teacher has been jailed on charges of being a Naxal. But she claims she has been falsely implicated in a number of cases linking her to Naxal activities.

Ms Sori has been lodged at the Raipur Central Jail since October 2011. She had sought her transfer claiming that she was being tortured by the Chhattisgarh Police. The Chhattisgarh government told the court today that it had no objection in moving her to another prison.

The activist has also alleged that she was raped at the Dantewada police station in 2011 and has filed another plea in the Supreme Court seeking that her case be shifted to Delhi. The Supreme Court is expected to hear this plea in March.

A suspected Naxal conduit accused of receiving “protection money” from the Essar group for the rebels, Ms Sori was arrested on October 4, 2011 in south Delhi by a Chhattisgarh police team. She was then taken to Dantewada for interrogation but was not produced before court. The Chhattisgarh Police claimed she fell in a bathroom. The medical report too said there was no torture. But Ms Sori has alleged that she was being treated like a thief and a dacoit by the police.

Ms Sori also wants a Special Investigating Team (SIT) to be appointed to investigate her case.

 

Eva Ensler- I am an Emotional Creature #Poetry #1billionrising #Vaw


 

 

 

At the One Billion Rising event yesterday in Delhi, she performed one of her poems.

I AM AN EMOTIONAL CREATURE

I love being a girl.
I can feel what you’re feeling
as you’re feeling it inside
the feeling
before.
I am an emotional creature.
Things do not come to me
as intellectual theories or hard-shaped ideas.
They pulse through my organs and legs
and burn up my ears.
I know when your girlfriend’s really pissed off
even though she appears to give you what
you want.
I know when a storm is coming.
I can feel the invisible stirrings in the air.
I can tell you he won’t call back.
It’s a vibe I share.

I am an emotional creature.
I love that I do not take things lightly.
Everything is intense to me.
The way I walk in the street.
The way my mother wakes me up.
The way I hear bad news.
The way it’s unbearable when I lose.

I am an emotional creature.
I am connected to everything and everyone.
I was born like that.
Don’t you dare say all negative that it’s a
teenage thing
or it’s only only because I’m a girl.
These feelings make me better.
They make me ready.
They make me present.
They make me strong.

I am an emotional creature.
There is a particular way of knowing.
It’s like the older women somehow forgot.
I rejoice that it’s still in my body.

I know when the coconut’s about to fall.
I know that we’ve pushed the earth too far.
I know my father isn’t coming back.
That no one’s prepared for the fire.
I know that lipstick means
more than show.
I know that boys feel super-insecure
and so-called terrorists are made, not born.
I know that one kiss can take
away all my decision-making ability
and sometimes, you know, it should.

This is not extreme.
It’s a girl thing.
What we would all be
if the big door inside us flew open.
Don’t tell me not to cry.
To calm it down
Not to be so extreme
To be reasonable.
I am an emotional creature.
It’s how the earth got made.
How the wind continues to pollinate.
You don’t tell the Atlantic ocean
to behave.

I am an emotional creature.
Why would you want to shut me down
or turn me off?
I am your remaining memory.
I am connecting you to your source.
Nothing’s been diluted.
Nothing’s leaked out.
I can take you back.

I love that I can feel the inside
of the feelings in you,
even if it stops my life
even if it hurts too much
or takes me off track
even if it breaks my heart.
It makes me responsible.
I am an emotional
I am an emotional, devotional,
incandotional, creature.
And I love, hear me,
love love love
being a girl.

#India- No trial by mob: The answer to gangrape cannot be gang justice #Vaw


by  Jan 7, 2013, Firstpost

When the police finally filed a chargesheet against the five adults accused in the gang rape case, according to media reports, some women lawyers shouted in the courtroom that there was no need for a trial because it was an “open and shut case” and the accused should be “handed over to the public”. They were shushed by colleagues quickly but it’s still disquieting.

It’s one thing for the public to be baying for blood. It’s another matter entirely when lawyers want to dispense with the legal process altogether.

Yes, temperatures are white hot. Yes, this crime was particularly brutal. Yes, there is a need for some cases to become exemplary cases.

The crowd protesting the Delhi rape demanded everything from public hanging to lynching for the convicts. AFP.

But this is not a gang for a gang. The answer to gang rape cannot be gang justice.

It’s not unexpected that the great festering anger over a complete lack of governance that turns something as basic as boarding a bus into a game of Russian roulette will stay contained in candlelight vigils and silent marches. It can easily take an ugly turn. And it already has in more than one instance.

On December 22, five alleged eve teasers were beaten to death by villagers in Jharkhand’s Khuti district.  “We were fed up with their misbehaviour with women of the villages,” a villager told a news channel.

On January 3, a 25-year-old stalker tried drag a 16-year-old girl towards some abandoned jute mills near Howrah in West Bengal. Alerted by her cries, some commuters came to her rescue. They thrashed the man who would have been lynched had the police not been able to somehow extricate him. By then the man was bleeding profusely from head injuries. A local resident told the TOI “Such people should be dealt with by the public. It is no use handing them over to the police.”

On January 3, Assam Congressman Bikram Singh Brahma was thrashed and stripped by angry men and women  after he was accused of raping a woman in a village in Chirang district. The villagers refused to hand him over to the police and demanded the officers record him confessing to the rape first.

And it’s not just men at the receiving end of mob justice.

On December 28, a woman was lynched by locals in Kolkata’s Topsia area. Locals suspected she was a trafficker after several young women went missing in the area. The woman was hit on the head with blunt objects and died in the hospital. “She broke down and confessed to have trafficked girls,” a local told the media.

All of this is worrying not just because mob justice is always worrying. It’s worrying also because it clearly shows people have absolutely no faith in the system of governance to deliver justice. As is clear in the Brahma case, villagers were convinced that a man with connections to the ruling party would never have to really face the consequences of his action if he was just handed over to the police. The residents in Howrah thought it no use handing the molestation suspect over to the cops.

Offences are non-bailable on paper but in practice it just depends on who you know. A man arrested in Kolkata on Wednesday this week on charges of holding a 24-year-old woman captive in his home for a fortnight and molesting her walked out on interim bail on Thursday even though one of the charges against him is non-bailable. “It is unusual for a person accused of extortion and wrongful confinement to be granted bail within a day of his arrest,” a senior cop admitted to The Telegraph. The university professor who forwards a cartoon that lampooned Mamata Banerjee spent 16 hours in police custody. The Trinamool Congress supporters who were eventually arrested for beating him up after a public outcry walked free on bail in less than three hours.

What’s on trial in the Delhi gang rape case isn’t just the men accused of committing the crime. The government itself is on trial in how transparently and efficiently it handles the case. But as it wades through 17,000 suggestions for how to tackle violence against women, one of its biggest challenges will be restoring the citizens’ faith in the system itself.

It’s hard to find much room in ones hearts for any sympathy for rapists. But those who think a little mob justice is not so bad if it strikes fear in the heart of would-be rapists, consider what happened in Topsia not so long ago.

A few days after the woman was lynched in Topsia on suspicion of being a trafficker, another woman was walking in that area with her toddler. The toddler threw a tantrum and would not stop crying. Locals immediately surrounded the woman and started slapping her and accusing her of having stolen the child which caused the toddler to cry even louder feeding the mob’s frenzy even more.

This young mother was lucky. The police managed to get there in time to rescue her.

The next person might not be so lucky.

 

#India- arrests at Mavelikkara: Against UAPA, For the right to dissent #Draconianlaws


by Gilbert Sebastian on Monday, 7 January 2013 , on FB

There is a saying in Malayalam, ‘Kaaryam paranjaal Communistaayi!’ meaning, you will be labelled a Communist if you tell the truth. This used to be a saying during the decades when the Communist party in the state used to wage land struggles and uphold the rights of the deprived. Today, the saying could be modified as, Kaaryam paranjaal Maoistaayi!’ meaning, you will be labelled a Maoist if you tell the truth.

 

On 29 December 2012, seven persons persons, including two girl children and human rights activists were arrested at Mavelikkara in Kerala state. The other five are being detained under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA): Gopal, Shiaz, Rajesh Madhavan, Bahuleyan and Devarajan. As was reported in the social media and mainstream media, they had assembled peacefully for sharing their experiences. The two girls were Ami aged 16 and Savera aged 10 who have been harassed by the police several times even before for the mere reason that they are children of a Maoist couple. After night-long interrogation using even sexually insulting language, the two girls were let off. The other five are still in custody. Rajesh Madhavan was personally known to me for some years now as a socially concerned person, hailing from a humble background. As I have gathered from friends, they were meeting to share experiences, including those on the education front. None of the persons arrested had any previous history of offences against them. One of them, Gopal, is a scientist who was working with Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and is a human rights activist  who has been involved in the protest against Koodankulam nuclear project.

 

The arrests are clearly in violation of the Fundamental Right to assemble peaceably and without arms under Article 19 (b). There is no reason why one should be paranoid about such get-togethers to discuss contemporary political issues that they could cause a threat. Why shouldn’t we think that they could only strengthen democracy? (The latest news is that the Additional Sub-Inspector, K.Y. Damian who had carried out the arrests, apparently, hanged himself to death near his home.) Going by UAPA, the State can arbitrarily arrest and detain anyone on the basis of mere suspicion. UAPA which is the UPA version of the now-defunct Acts, POTA and TADA, is used to track down people labeling them as Maoists and as Dalit and Muslim extremists. Those who oppose State terror and those involved in rights-based struggles are tormented and unjustly detained under this Act. It has draco­nian provisions such as non-bailable incarceration for 180 days. The onus of proof lies on the accused. Section 15 of the act defines ‘terrorist act’ quite vaguely. Section 39 makes “support given to a terrorist organization” an offence and criminalises normal activities like ‘arranging, managing or addressing’ public meetings. Hardly any distinction per se is drawn between anti-State militancy and terrorism as indiscriminate killing of innocent people.

 

On the other hand, one cannot forget to mention that the Indian State is ‘selectively repressive’ against adversaries who violate its canons. Those who create communal and regional divisions among people like the Sangh Parivar, Shiv Sena, MNS and the high profile instigators of riots in Delhi, 1984; Gujarat 2002 and Kandhamal, 2008  are granted impunity. The arrests at Mavelikkara is a good example to illustrate how our political system faces the real danger of degeneration into an ‘illiberal democracy’/a police State. Recent empowering judgements by the Supreme Court in cases involving Binayak Sen and Narayan Sanyal indicate how the apex court views such arrests unjustified under the law.

 

As Prof. Haragopal rightly used to say, the vibrancy of democracy can be demonstrated when the State is able to democratically reckon with even armed protests against it. Constitutional morality is the minimum that the State needs to uphold since the Constitution is the document that the rulers of India have given unto themselves and swear by. On the other hand, the rebels need to be true to their own ideology. People should be the arbiters in the contention between Constitutional morality and an ideology of rebellion, he says. It is necessary that all democratically minded persons and groups should come forward to oppose UAPA, a draconian, fascistic Act and the arrest of these activists under it, towards the protection of the democratic freedoms guaranteed under the Fundamental Rights of the Constitution of India. On 7 January 2013, some concerned individuals called a gathering at the martyrs column in Thiruvananthapuram, the state capital to protest these arrests under UAPA. The message is: Uphold the right to dissent! Protest the arrests! Oppose UAPA!

 

 

Execution of rapists in public, ‘sober’ dress for girls: Jamaat-e-Islami Hind to Justice Verma #Vaw #WTFnews


PTI : New Delhi, Sun Jan 06 2013, 21:58 hrs

Execution of rapists in full public glare, abolition of co-education and “sober and dignified” dress for girls are among the 11 suggestions made by Jamaat-e-Islami Hind to Justice J S Verma Committee on ensuring safety and security to women.

In a statement, JIH said it welcomed the government decision to set up committees to review the present anti-rape law and find out measures to make the society safe for the women against the backdrop of the gang-rape of a 23-year-old girl in Delhi.

It expressed hope the committees will reach the root of the “disease” and find out the cure. The organisation gave 11 suggestions to the three-member panel, which has been asked by the government to submit its report in a month.

“There should be provision for capital punishment for heinous crimes such as rape. These punishments should be given in public and there should be opportunity for people to witness the same so that it might act as deterrent to such heinous crimes.

“Co-education should be abolished and proper education facilities meant exclusively for women should be available at all level of education. Educational institutions should prescribe sober and dignified dress for girls,” the statement said.

The JIH also suggested that physically intimacy should only be permitted to those who are married.

“All sex outside marriage including live-in-relationship should be declared illegal and punishable,” the statement issued by Nusrat Ali, Secretary General of JIH, said.

The organisation was of the view that proper transport facilities for woman should be made available particularly in towns and cities, and police reforms should be implemented at the earliest.

“Marriage should be made easy and timely marriage should be encouraged. All forms of dowry should be abolished; all unnecessary expenditures be curbed and made punishable,” the JIH statement said.

“Electronic and print media, TV programmes, films and advertisements should avoid exposure of women and it should be made punishable.

“Alcohol, the root of all evils and crimes particularly against women, should be completely banned in the whole country. Criminal laws in this regard should be made more stringent; the judicial procedure be simplified and made speedier,” it said.

Services of religious institutions and leaders should be sought to reform society, inculcate moral values and bring awareness against crimes especially among the new generation, JIH demanded

 

Outrage over the culture of rape in #India #Vaw #delhigangrape


 

 

By Priyanka Borpujari

|  JANUARY 06, 2013

 Demonstrators attempt to stop a police car during a protest calling for better safety for women in NewDelhi on Dec. 23. Several thousand students attended the protest, where they were met with water cannons and tear gas by the police.

GETTY IMAGES

Demonstrators attempt to stop a police car during a protest calling for better safety for women in NewDelhi on Dec. 23. Several thousand students attended the protest, where they were met with water cannons and tear gas by the police.

IN 2011, 24,206 rape cases were reported in India. That’s 66 per day — excluding the many rapes that go unreported for reasons that are as abusive as rape itself. A Thomson Reuters Foundation global poll revealed that India is the fourth-most dangerous place in the world for women. Even in the financial hub of Mumbai or the national capital New Delhi, young girls reaching puberty are advised not to look into the eyes of male passersby. More and more working women keep pepper spray with them at all times, and some keep hairpins. This happens even though the outgoing president of India is a 78-year-old woman; three Indian states have women as heads.

Yet if a rape victim is said to have “asked” for it, her family is doomed. Rapists are rarely arrested; far too often, the rape is never proven, and everything is forgotten.

Nonetheless, the recent gang rape and subsequent death of a 23-year-old woman in the nation’s capital has made headlines around the world. Thousands gathered in various cities in India to condemn the incident; two separate candlelight vigils took place in Boston and Cambridge last weekend, and several more were held across United States. The placards and the plethora of commentaries from across India have named the deceased victim “Damini” (‘‘lightning” in Hindi), or “Nirbhaya” (“fearless one”).

Why did this particular incident gather public attention? Was it because the woman and her male friend — who was also stripped and beaten — were gravely injured? Was it because it took place in the capital city? Whatever the reason, it marks a major change from the denial that usually follows such incidents.

Women in the innards of the country face oppression at every stage of their life — that is, if the female fetus is not killed in the womb. Women in cities face harassment at the workplace, on the transport system, on streets. Upon going to the police station to register complaints, they are often given a lecture on forgive-and-forget. Female cops face sexual assault themselves from their colleagues.

Yet, this momentum created over the last two weeks is crucial because it gives out a single message: “Enough.” Consider the bare facts of the case: The woman was a physiotherapy intern whose father had sold off his agricultural land to educate her. She had gone to watch a movie in Saket that evening with her male friend. Saket is a plush area of New Delhi with several malls with several international brands. This is the face of “emerging” India — a face that tries too hard to look Western, even as women fight it out from their humble upbringings to chart out a career and an identity. It is the story that resonates with almost every Indian woman who has faced molestation at least once in her life, either by a close acquaintance or a stranger.

Would there have been an expression of outrage if the victim had been a cleaning woman? The same week of this incident, there were four other rapes from different parts of the country that were reported on the news. Could it be that the Delhi incident generated so much noise because the alleged perpetrators held petty jobs as driver, fruit seller, and gym instructor?

There was no acrid call for the death penalty or chemical castration — some of the outrageous demands of angry protesters over the last two weeks — when a woman named Manorama Devi was raped in custody by army soldiers, and later murdered, in the northeastern state of Manipur in 2004. There was no immediate remedial response from the government even after 40 women from Manipur stripped naked and shouted “Indian army rape us” before the army headquarters, after the Manorama incident. Another woman named Aruna Shanbaug has been lying in a vegetative state in a hospital in Mumbai for the last 40 years, after her rapist — a ward boy in the same hospital where she was a nurse — tried to asphyxiate her by tying a dog’s chain around her neck. The rapist is free today after serving seven years in prison. Meanwhile, several leading politicians have been accused of sexual assaults.

Clearly, the issues that lead to an outcry are selective. Yet, it would be wrong to dismiss this current wave of protest, which drove people out of their homes with candles and placards in their hands, ready to face the water cannons of a combative police. These protests have managed to force the government to set up a committee to reform rape laws. But there again, the myopia of the government is obvious: It has offered just one e-mail address and a phone number for suggestions. Large parts of India still have no electricity in their homes, let alone access to a computer or Internet. And these are also the places where rapes go on, unreported, and forgotten just as easily as they take place.

 

Deadly savings US corporations risk foreign workers’ lives — then evade blame


 

By Priyanka Borpujari

|  GLOBE CORRESPONDENT  JANUARY 02, 2013

A Bangladeshi Army soldier walked through rows of burnt sewing machines after a November factory fire killed 112 workers.

AFP/GETTY IMAGES

A Bangladeshi Army soldier walked through rows of burnt sewing machines after a November factory fire killed 112 workers.

AT 4:45 p.m. on March 25, 2011, hundreds of bells rang across cities and towns in the United States to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire. The fire, which killed 146 garment workers — 129 of them women — managed to get the New York State Legislature to create the Factory Investigative Commission, which eventually made way for better labor laws.

It has been a century since that fire that woke up the United States to labor and worker safety reforms. But nothing has changed in another part of the world — where many US companies are currently manufacturing their products. On Nov. 24, 2012, 112 garment workers were killed in a blaze at the Tazreen Fashions factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Just two months earlier, on Sept. 5, 25 workers at a fireworks factory in Sivakasi, India, were killed under similar circumstances; a week later, a total of 283 workers died in two separate fires in Pakistan — 258 in a garment factory in Karachi, and 25 in a shoe factory in Lahore. Two years ago, 29 people were killed in a similar fire in Dhaka, Bangladesh, while manufacturing Gap products. In each of the cases, the fires were followed by a blame game over responsibility and liability. Interestingly, only the fire in Bangladesh has made international headlines because the factory was used by one of the suppliers of Walmart.

But will this well-deserved media attention bring about justice for the families of the victims? An incident like this surely does not go down well in the annual report of companies. For the American companies that worked through numerous intermediaries to get their products made cheaply, the immediate response has repeatedly been to disassociate from the incident, and thereby avoid taking any responsibility for any safety lapse or liability. Walmart has said that it has already fired its supplier, Success Apparel, which had outsourced work to a company called Tuba Group, which owns the Tazreen Fashions factory. Success Apparel has said that it did not know its clothes were being made at the Tazreen Fashions factory. In this maze of subcontracting, which is a norm in the race to minimize costs, the lives of the workers are in limbo, with nobody ready to take responsibility for their working conditions.

Only $470 million has been doled out by Union Carbide Corporation as compensation to the victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy, one of the world’s worst industrial disasters. On Dec. 2, 1984, 27 tons of methyl isocyanate leaked into the city of Bhopal in central India, killing 25,000 people to date, with 120,000 still suffering from air and water pollution. Dow Chemical Company, which merged with Union Carbide in 2001, denies any liability for the incident. It continues to evade Indian courts and the demand for compensation. Almost three decade since the accident, Bhopalis await justice. A horrible disaster, a worse injustice thereafter.

Time and again, corporations have tried to save face by sponsoring sporting events and launching humanitarian foundations. Dow Chemical was the worldwide partner for the London Olympics in 2012. But wouldn’t taking up responsibility for accidents and cleaning up the mess be a better and more credible PR exercise to impress their audience?

But that audience surely does not include workers. At a 2011 meeting to find ways to improve safety at Bangladesh garment factories, according to Bloomberg News, Walmart and Gap officials told attendees that they were not willing to participate in paying for the electrical and fire safety of the 4,500 garment factories in the country. This, they said, was financially nonviable. But the Washington-based Worker Rights Consortium has found that such essential safety upgrades would cost just 10 cents per garment. Yet, for Walmart, which has been reported to outsource the making of garments worth more than $1 billion a year in Bangladesh, saving 10 cents per item appears to be more important than the safety of the workers.

Walmart rides high on its popularity in the United States. With economics and numbers fueling a company’s growth, might it be possible for Walmart’s customer base to demand their favorite store act more responsibly, even as they continue to enjoy its competitively low prices? Perhaps it is up to its customers to decide if 10 cents for a garment is more expensive than the safety of the person who makes it under pathetic conditions. A new wave of safety reforms is also needed, along with a corporate social responsibility that goes beyond events sponsorships and colorful brochures with photographs of smiling children.

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