#India- All-Women Bank is A Non-Solution #Budget2013 #Womenrights


FEBRUARY 28, 2013
Kavita Krishnan

kavita Krishnan

Kavita Krishnan is secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association.

She can be contacted at Kavitakrish73@gmail.com

Women’s Safety and Welfare Need Adequate Budgetary Allocations,

Not Hollow and Cynical Gestures

The Govt Takes Nirbhaya’s Name, Why Hasn’t It Provided Budgetary Backing for the Rehabilitation and Medical Care of All Rape and Acid Attack Survivors?

The Finance Minister’s Budget speech made several references to women. But since these have not been backed by sufficient allocations in the required areas, these references appear to be mere token and hollow gestures.

The ‘Nirbhaya fund’ is the most glaring instance of this. In the case of Nirbhaya (the Delhi gang-rape braveheart), the Government had responded to the public outcry by taking over all the medical costs of Nirbhaya. The Congress party leaders had even offered a flat to her family members. The Budget was the Government’s chance to show that these were not mere ‘charity’ gestures in one single case. In fact, the Government ought to show that it owns responsibility for the safety of all women, by providing every single survivor of rape or acid attacks with state-funded rehabilitation and medical care. The 1000 crore Nirbhaya fund, a mere corpus fund rather than a Budgetary allocation, is as of now far from adequate for covering the rehabilitation and medical costs of survivors of gender violence. In Haryana, dalit rape survivors have been forced to relocate away from their village, and the Government has ignored their demands for rehabilitation costs. Acid attack survivors and grievously injured rape survivors (as in Nirbhaya’s case) often have to travel for specialized medical care such as burns units, plastic surgery, and certain operations. Such travel costs ought to be covered by the Government also. For the Government to cynically use Nirbhaya’s name for a fund that fails to offer a guarantee of support for all survivors of gender violence, is shameful. The Rs 200 crore that has been allocated to the WCD Ministry is again, inadequate as well as vague as to its purpose.

Legislations against violence faced by women (such as the Domestic Violence Act and laws against sexual violence) need to be backed by budgetary allocations. The Budget should also have announced specific allocations for safe houses and shelters for women who face domestic violence, incest, and for homeless women. There are any number of instances where girls and women facing incest are forced to continue to stay in the same house as their molester, for want of a safe shelter. Homeless women remain ever-vulnerable to violence on the streets. And the few existing shelters are so harsh in their conditions that women commonly refer to many of them as ‘women’s jails.’

One can compare these amounts (1000 crore, 200 crore) with the Budget’s statement of revenues foregone. The Budget promises to forego revenues to the tune of 68007.6 crore on corporate taxpayers (defined by the Government as prioritised tax payers) for the year 2012-13; in 2011-12 this amount was 61765.3 crore. If the Government can write off taxes to the tune of between 60-70000 crore every year for super-rich corporations as ‘incentives’, why is it that women’s safety is not seen as a similar priority by the Government?

The Finance Minister’s announcement of a public sector women’s bank is rather mystifying. Why can’t existing public sector banks offer affordable institutional loans to women? By creating a women’s bank (whose purpose is as yet unclear), are existing banks being absolved of their responsibilities to women? Like the SHGs (which leave women debtors at the mercy of the micro-finance institutions), the women-only banks might end up being projected as the highly inadequate and misplaced ‘substitute’ for institutional bank-support for women.

The Government should, in addition, have announced allocations to ensure more judges and courts (to ensure speedier trials); forensic investigations facilities all over the country, and primary health care centres in every village, specially equipped to deal with diagnostics and care for women.

Kavita Krishnan,

Secretary, AIPWA

On behalf of the ongoing Bekhauf Azadi campaign against sexual violence

 

Labour MP John McDonnell urges India to end the #deathpenalty #humanrights


THURSDAY 28 FEBRUARY 2013, The Independent

The British Government should use “every mechanism of communication” to urge India to end the death penalty, a Labour MP has said.

John McDonnell said Britain was “uniquely placed” with its shared history with India to urge its government to halt executions and sign up to the UN Convention opposing the death penalty.

Introducing a backbench business Commons debate on the Kesri Lehar petition to abolish the death penalty in India, the MP for Hayes and Harlington paid tribute to the campaigners, many of whom sat watching the debate in the public gallery.

He said that last year when the “first inkling” was received that India was considering ending its eight year moratorium on implementing the death penalty, members of the Punjabi community in the UK, especially the Punjabi Sikhs came together and launched the campaign.

They secured more than 100,000 names on their petition to abolish the death penalty and address other human rights concerns.

Mr McDonnell said “fears were compounded” when in November 2012 India ended its moratorium and carried out an execution, with a hanging taking place in February this year.

In December 2012 the UN voted for the fourth time for a resolution calling for a global moratorium on executions and while 111 countries voted for, India voted against.

He argued there was a “real risk” that with more than 400 people on death row in India and 100 more sentenced to death each year, many more executions were likely to follow unless action was taken.

He said: “First of all we need to recognise the historical relationship between India and Britain means that the UK Government is uniquely placed to urge the Indian government to end the death penalty.

“Therefore I’m calling on the UK Government to use every forum, every mechanism of communication established with India both formal and informal, to press the Indian government to halt the executions now and then to sign up to the UN Convention opposing the death penalty.

“I wrote to the Prime Minister before his recent visit to India to urge him to raise this issue with the Indian government and I hope that the minister can report back on that, and the continuing pressure that successive governments now across party have been placing upon the Indian government.”

Mr McDonnell urged Britain to raise the issue with European partners to seek a joint representation from all of Europe to India on the subject.

He also said Britain should work with other countries to raise this call within the UN, adding: “With a UN Human Rights Council meeting imminent this is an ideal time to place this back on the UN agenda.”

He appealed to India to “embrace humanity by ending the state killing once and for all”.

The Backbench Business motion, signed by a cross-party group of MPs, states: “That this House welcomes the national petition launched by the Kesri Lehar campaign urging the UK Government to press the Indian government to sign and ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which encompasses the death penalty, with the result that India would abolish the death penalty and lift this threat from Balwant Singh Rajoana and others.”

Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire said the death penalty “undermined human dignity” and said the British Government continued to aspire to its global abolition.

He told the Commons: “Use of the death penalty in India is a complex issue and it continues to be the subject of much debate across Indian society.

“It was disappointing India’s de facto moratorium on the death penalty which had existed for over eight years ended with the hangings of Mohammad Ajmal Kasab and Mohammad Afzal Guru last November and February this year respectively.

“Kasab and Guru were convicted of very serious crimes, involvement in the Mumbai attacks in 2008 and the 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament. It is important to remember the impact such acts of terrorism have on the people of India.

“Notwithstanding this, it remains the British Government policy to oppose the death penalty in all circumstances as a matter of principle. I hope the Indian government re-establishes a moratorium on executions in line with the global trend towards the abolition of capital punishment.”

Mr Swire said he had reiterated the Government’s position to the Indian administration last week when he accompanied Prime Minister David Cameron to the country.

And he said the India-EU Human Rights Dialogue would present a further opportunity.

The minister added: “They listened to what I had to say, was aware of our consistent position, and stressed to me the very real fear in India created by these acts of terrorism.”

Shadow foreign office minister John Spellar said: “I congratulate Kesri Lehar for their campaign.

“Uniting the community, whatever their views may be, and also gaining very wide public awareness of the issues we are discussing today.

“I also reaffirm the united determination of this Parliament on all sides to secure justice for the Sikh community of the Punjab.”

PA

 

#Indiashame-lowest spend on health in BRICS group


TEAM TOI

New Delhi: The government has admitted to low health allocation, which is the major driver for high infant and maternal mortality rates. By its own admission, India has the lowest health spending as a proportion of GDP, with the number looking a little better due to the contribution by the private sector.
According to the Economic Survey, India spends 4.1% of GDP on health, while China and Russia—low spenders among the 11 countries identified in the government document—spend a percentage point more. Brazil and South Africa are near the 9% range, making India the worst performer in the BRICS group.
Had it not been for the private sector the health spending in India would have looked even worse. In fact, the private sector expenditure in the country is an outlier of sorts as it is more than double the government spend, a trend that is only seen in India because of the absence of government healthcare.
What adds to the woes is the overlap of government schemes. Several flagship programmes such as Janani Suraksha Yojna, Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram and Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojna end up focusing on the same beneficiaries.

 

 

#Chhattisgarh, a primitive tribe in trouble #indigenous


KAWARDAH (CHHATTISGARH), February 28, 2013

Suvojit Bagchi

Hut of Primitive Tribes crushed by administration, hundreds homeless. Photo : Special Arrangement
Hut of Primitive Tribes crushed by administration, hundreds homeless. Photo : Special Arrangement

Administration argues pulling down their huts will ensure ‘safety of wildlife’

A day after the Union government announced a Rs.100-crore grant for Chukutiya Bhunjia of Orissa, a primitive tribe which lives on the eastern border of Chhattisgarh, 30 huts of the Baigas, another primitive tribe, were razed to the ground by government officials in the western part of the State.

The incident took place on February 18, adjacent to the Bhoramdeo Reserve Forest in Kawardah district. While officials reasoned that it was done to ensure the ‘safety of the wildlife,’ the eviction is in violation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA) of 2006.

The two overlapping villages, Rajanacha and Baijadhap, in the district wore the same look as that of villages ravaged by members of the Salwa Judum in south Chhattisgarh between 2005 and 2009. A team of 20 forest guards and the police raided the villages with “clubs, axes and pistols,” said Bijadhap residents, an allegation not denied by officials.

While no villager was beaten or detained, the officials axed all stocky twigs that held the interwoven mats of dry leaves. A similar operation was carried out in the same villages two weeks earlier. “Officials have threatened to… arrest us, if we resettle here,” said Budhni Bai, an old woman who was unsure about her age.

As 30 houses of sun-dried leaves, grass and twigs were crushed, roughly 60 Baiga families of 200 members became homeless. The families stuffed a few household items in large cement bags and were sleeping in the open on plastic sheets spread over their destroyed home. Around 100 Baiga men and women are busy building their houses before Chhattisgarh’s cruel summer sets in. “The other day when a hailstorm started, I freaked out; he ought not to have been born now,” said Amrita Baiga, 25, feeding her three-month-old son Gopal.

The Baigas are not sure when they built their first house in Kawardah. But going by the map produced by Jawaharlal Nehru’s tribal affairs adviser, Verrier Elwin, in his book The Baiga, the “extraordinarily shy” community is in Kawardha and adjoining hill areas for centuries. Yet, the community does not know why they are asked to “vanish.” Bijadhap residents said they were “asked to leave Bhoramdeo and settle in Bijadhap around 2006 by Forest Department officials.”

The FRA says forest-dwellers have complete right to forestland and they cannot be evicted. In case of their displacement for development, gram sabhas will have to approve the government’s offer in writing. Moreover, ‘a resettlement or alternatives package’ has to be prepared to secure livelihood for the affected individuals and communities, and “no resettlement shall take place until facilities and land allocation at the resettlement location are complete.” These norms are violated in the eviction of the Baigas. Let alone the consent of the gram sabha, even Assistant Commissioner of Tribal Affairs Department M.L. Deshlahre was not aware of the eviction; he came to know about it from this correspondent.

Divisional Forest Officer Vishwesh Kumar told The Hindu that the Baigas came “on their own” to the plains from Bhomradeo in 2006 as they faced “water and other agricultural problems” in the forest. “How can we give settlement according to the FRA since it is meant for only those who are resettled before 2006?”

Chhattisgarh’s tribal affairs experts differ. Speaking on condition of anonymity, one of them said it was not correct to say the displaced Baigas came from the forest “on their own” before 2006. “The Forest Department evicted the Baigas before the FRA came into force. Hence, the tribals should be adequately compensated as per the FRA and the rehabilitation policy of the Central government, which is in place for a longer time.”

On the other hand, Mr. Kumar said the administration was “trying hard” to find a solution, and the issue had been referred to the higher authorities.

An activist, who is trying to organise the Baigas, said the archaic wildlife laws and the highhandedness of Forest Department officials helped Maoists carve out a base in south Chhattisgarh. “The government is making the same mistake in the rest of the State.”

 

Bangalore Court grants bail to DRDO scientist in terror case #goodnews


By Newzfirst Correspondent2/28/13

Bangalore – The National Investigation Agency (NIA) special court on Thursday ordered the release of another youth who was arrested last year on terror related charges, after granting him statutory bail for failure to file a charge-sheet within 180 days of arrest.

The bail application moved by the defence counsel of Aejaz Ahmed Mirza on Wednesday contended that the investigating agency failed to file the charge-sheet within the stipulated time of 180 days since his arrest.

Aejaz Ahmed Mirza – a DRDO scientist – was among the 15 youths arrested last year by Central Crime Branch (CCB) Bangalore sleuths, from different parts of Karnataka and Hyderabad, for allegedly plotting to kill prominent personalities and having links with banned terror outfits.

Speaking to Newzfirst, Akmal Razvi, lawyer and secretary of Association for Protection of Civil Rights said, “The NIA counsel said that they have some evidence, but no prosecutable evidence. So he has been released on statutory bail.”

Earlier this week, two more persons – who were accused in the same case – were released after the NIA dropped all charges against them.

In its charge-sheet submitted on 20 February 2013, the NIA had filed charges against 11 of the 15 arrested youths while dropping charges against two – Muthi-ur-Rahman Siddiqui and Yusuf Nalband – and asking more time for interrogating the other two – Aejaz Ahmed Mirza and Syed Tanzeem.

 

#Chhattisgarh-Schooled In Rebellion, An Imperilled Generation


In Bastar’s dark interiors, the Naxals are running schools for children, teaching them to be wary of the government

2013-03-09 , Issue 10 Volume 10

Catch ’em young Children at a school run by Naxals in Jappemarka village, Bijapur district

0N 29 DECEMBER last year, joint forces comprising the CRPF and state police busted a Naxal training camp during a combing operation in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur district, 450 km to the south of Chhattisgarh’s capital city Raipur. TEHELKA visited Jappemarka village where the encounter had taken place and found that besides training camps, the Naxals were also running schools for children in the densely forested region.

It takes a two-day trek through forest trails, after crossing the Bailadila hills — known for the National Mineral Development Corporation’s iron ore mines and forming the border between Dantewada and Bijapur districts — to reach this village. In a small clearing amid the woods just outside the village, a group of children greet TEHELKA with shouts of “Lal Salaam”, reminding us that we are in Naxal country. They are students of an Ashram Shala (residential school) run by the Naxals for 30-odd children from the nearby half-a-dozen villages.

Then the children sing a song in Gondi, the local tribal language. The song is on “the importance of education in making a revolution”, we are told. This is a region where the Naxals have set up what they call the Janatana Sarkar, or “people’s government”.

Motiram, a student at the Jappemarka Ashram Shala, says he wants to become a teacher in a Naxal school. Motiram doesn’t know the national anthem, but he knows how to hide if the police suddenly show up. But his ‘teacher’ Sukhlal, who was once a member of a Naxal dalam (armed squad), claims the children are not trained in warfare. “They are only given general physical education like in government- run schools,” he says. “After the Salwa Judum (an anti-Naxal campaign) started, the government has closed down all schools in this area. As the villages here are believed to be Naxal-dominated, these children cannot go to schools elsewhere. The Naxal-run schools are their only means of getting education.”

The children are taught from textbooks prepared in Gondi by the ‘education department’ of the Janatana Sarkar, besides the same Hindi textbooks that are used in government schools in Chhattisgarh. Even the school uniform is similar.

Besides Sukhlal, the Jappemarka school has one more teacher and two cooks, who are paid Rs 1,000 every month. The school offers education till Class V. So what will the children do after that? “They can work for the Janatana Sarkar, teach in the Naxal-run schools or become village healthcare workers,” says Sukhlal, who studied till Class V at the government school at Mirtur, 10 km away. The exact locations of the Naxal-run schools are kept secret from ‘outsiders’ as top Naxal leaders visit them occasionally.

When the police raided Jappemarka village on 29 December last year, Sonu, a ‘Class III student’ at the Ashram, hailing from nearby Bechapal village, could not flee into the forests with the others. He says the police thrashed him and let him go only after he said he studied in the government school at Mirtur. Though the Ashram Shala was set on fire during the raid, the children say it is being rebuilt again at another “secret” location.

DURING THE two-day trek to Jappemarka, TEHELKA was accompanied by Mohan, the commander of the Bhansi local guerrilla squad. Mohan was a Class V student at the Mirtur government school in 2005 when Salwa Judum started operations in the area. He says atrocities by the Judum forced him to join the Naxals. Mohan showed us several spots where pressure bombs and booby traps had been planted. On receiving information of police presence, the pressure bombs are wired and the wooden covers removed from the trap holes.

Life in these villages is not easy. The villagers often have to spend the nights in the forests to evade police raids. Ramesh, a resident of Udepal village, says the monsoon months are the most difficult, when the tribals cannot even light a fire to ward off wild animals.

In Udepal, TEHELKA also met Dashru Mandavi, who says he once aspired to become a government officer. In 2005, after completing his primary education from Mirtur, he enrolled in the government-run residential school at Gangalur for further studies.

Salwa Judum was at its height at the time. One evening, some armed policemen from Gangalur police station came to the school, asked him if he was the dada (Naxal) from Udepal, and then took him away. Later in the night, Dashru told the guard at the police station that he wanted to use the toilet and managed to slip away. The police came to Udepal looking for him, but he had already escaped into the nearby forests.

Dashru says he has not joined the Naxals, but one of his brothers, Sukuram, was shot dead in Udepal in 2006, and two years later, three more of his brothers were arrested. Two of them, Misra Ram and Mangu, died in custody, Dashru alleges, while the third, Bugra, is still in the jail. Dashru claims the police did not even hand over Mangu’s body to the family.

Mahendra Karma, a senior leader of the Congress who is known as the founder of the Salwa Judum, told TEHELKA in Dantewada that if the police have indeed destroyed the Naxal-run school in Jappemarka, it was the right thing to do. “The Naxals have destroyed hundreds of government schools.”

letters@tehelka.com

– See more at: http://tehelka.com/schooled-in-rebellion-an-imperilled-generation/#sthash.1up6r0qH.dpuf

 

IMMEDIATE RELEASE- Noida Police threatening to book activist under NSA #mustshare


 

Noida police illegally picks up activist of workers’ organisation and two citizens – physical and mental harassment going on since last evening
Police is threatening to book them under the National Security Act (NSA)!!

Yesterday evening 10-12 persons from the Noida police arrived at the DTP centre of Naveen Prakash in Ghaziabad and forcibly took Naveen and his employee Raju with them. They made Naveen tocall his friend Tapish Maindola, and activist of the Bigul Mazdoor Dasta and seized him as soon as he arrived there. They took all three with them without informing anybody present where they were taking them. None of the three were allowed to make a call and their phones were seized and switched off by the police.
Their whereabouts were unknown till this morning when it was known that they were being held in the Sector 58 Police Station in Noida and were being physically and mentally harassed since last night.
The police has so far neither lodged an FIR nor charged them of any offence. They are only saying that you are instigating the workers for violence and we will book you under the NSA. Bigul Mazdoor Dasta has been holding street corner meetings in different parts of Noida and distributing a leaflet since February 23 (see link to a copy of the leaflet below).
The leaflet says that the incidents of sporadic violence during the two-day strike were only a reflection of the deep set anger and frustration in the millions of workers in Noida who were being denied even basic rights. It points out that such anarchic explosions of anger are no solutions to the problem and workers must organise themselves in revolutionary unions and political organisations to wage an organised struggle against capitalist exploitation and the state machinery hand-in-glove with the exploiters.
The two citizens seized along with Tapish are his social friends whom the police have caught just because they helped him get a sim card which the police had under illegal surveillance from some time!
It is obvious that the police, as always, are working like henchmen of the factory-owners of Noida. Bigul Mazdoor Dasta has been targeted several times before by the Noida police at the behest of the factory owners who trample even basic labour laws under their feet and rush to smother every voice of protest. It should be recalled that the factory-owners’ associations have been clamouring to book the workers under NSA for the incidents of 21-22 February.
We appeal to all friends in the media, workers organisations and others activists to protest against this illegal detention of Tapish and his innocent friends Naveen Prakash and Raju. We must put pressure on the Noida police to immediately release them and tender an apology.

Phone numbers:
Police Station, Sector 58, Noida – 0120-2580412 / 9454403394
SHO – Inspector Jai Karan Singh – 9871481432
SSP of Gautambudh Nagar, Mr Praveen KumarMobile: 8800900933, Office: 0120- 2444546 / 2549330
Link to the leaflet being distributed in Noida:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/127718058/Noida-Parcha-23-2-13

 

How Israel gets away with Torturing Palestinians To Death #humanrights


English: Piece of File:Westbankjan06.jpg which...

By Charlotte Silver

26 February, 2013
Al-Jazeera

Six days after Arafat Jaradat was arrested by the Israeli army and the Shin Bet, he was dead. Between the date of his arrest – February 18 – and the day of his death – February 23 – his lawyer Kamil Sabbagh met with Arafat only once: in front of a military judge at the Shin Bet’s Kishon interrogation facility.

Sabbagh reported that when he saw Jaradat, the man was terrified. Arafat told his lawyer that he was in acute pain from being beaten and forced to sit in stress positions with his hands bound behind his back.

When it announced his death, Israeli Prison Service claimed Arafat – who leaves a pregnant widow and two children – died from cardiac arrest. However, the subsequent autopsy found no blood clot in his heart. In fact, the autopsy concluded that Arafat, who turned 30 this year, was in fine cardiovascular health.

What the final autopsy did find, however, was that Jaradat had been pummelled by repeated blows to his chest and body and had sustained a total of six broken bones in his spine, arms and legs; his lips lacerated; his face badly bruised.

The ordeal that Arafat suffered before he died at the hands of Israel’s Shin Bet is common to many Palestinians that pass through Israel’s prisons. According to the prisoners’ rights organisation Addameer, since 1967, a total of 72 Palestinians have been killed as a result of torture and 53 due to medical neglect. Less than a month before Jaradat was killed, Ashraf Abu Dhra died while in Israeli custody in a case that Addameer argues was a direct result of medical neglect.

The legal impunity of the Shin Bet, commonly referred to as the GSS, and its torture techniques has been well established. Between 2001 and 2011,700 Palestinians lodged complaints with the State Attorney’s Office but not a single one has been criminally investigated.

Writing in Adalah’s 2012 publication, On Torture [PDF], Bana Shoughry-Badarne, an attorney and the Legal Director of the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, wrote, “The GSS’s impunity is absolute.”

Israel’s High Court has been extravagantly helpful in securing the Shin Bet with its imperviousness to accountability to international law, and thus enabling widespread and lethal torture.

In August of 2012, Israel’s High Court rejected petitions submitted by Israeli human rights organisations Adalah, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and PCATI to demand that Israeli attorney general, Yehuda Weinstein, carry out criminal investigations into each allegation of torture by the Shin Bet.

And in the first week of February, two weeks before Arafat was killed, the High Court of Justice threw out Adalah’s petition that demanded the GSS videotape and audio record all of its interrogations in order to comply with requirements of the United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT) to which Israel is a signatory.

In May 2009, UNCAT condemned [PDF] Israel for exempting the Shin Bet’s interrogations from audio and video recording, noting that such oversight is an essential preventative measure to curtail torture. Yet despite this admonition, in 2012 the Knesset extended the exemption for another three years.

Rationalising its failure to comply with this most basic requirement of recording interrogations, the State maintains that it is in the interests of “national security” that its interrogation techniques not be made public.

Arafat was killed under torture. Torture is routine. But the following is not routine: upon the announcement of his death, thousands of Palestinians, already unified in solidarity with the arduous struggle waged by Palestinian hunger striking prisoners, responded in force. At least 3,000 prisonersrefused their meals; thousands poured into the streets of Gaza and impassioned demonstrations erupted across the West Bank. While the State of Israel continues to deploy its deadly arsenal of weapons to repress Palestinians, the banality of the evil of this regime is, as it will always be, eclipsed by the mighty Palestinian will for self-determination.

Charlotte Silver is a journalist based in San Francisco and the West Bank, Palestine. She is a graduate of Stanford University.

#Deathpenalty cannot be fairly implemented in the US. Is India different?



Martha C. NussbaumThe Indian Express
28 February 2013

The execution of Afzal Guru on February 9 reopened the question of India’s continuing attachment to capital punishment. Like relatively few large industrial democracies, India and the US continue to practise and defend the death penalty. Both recently voted against a UN General Assembly resolution calling for a moratorium on executions with a view to abolition.

 

The two nations are very different in their practices. India has nearly 500 prisoners on death row, but only four have been executed since 1995. In the US, 43 people were executed in 2012 alone. Capital punishment in the US is a state matter, because the federal government chooses not to use it. However, the number of states in which it is still legal is gradually diminishing, with only nine out of 50 still practising it. My own state, Illinois, abolished the death penalty in 2011.

 

Attitudes in the US are changing, but not, on the whole, because of inherent objections to the death penalty. Instead, there is a growing conviction, shared by supporters and opponents, that it cannot be justly implemented. For a long time, it has been evident that the penalty in practice has been biased on grounds of class and race. People able to pay for high-powered lawyers almost never get it, and there is evidence that juries at the sentencing phase are apt to tilt towards people who look more like the majority. Bias is probably present in other criminal penalties as well, especially where juries are used, but the irrevocability of capital punishment makes people attend to it more. When the US Supreme Court briefly invalidated the death penalty in 1972, citing these grounds, states hastened to adopt rule-governed procedures that applied the death penalty without discretion to certain classes of murders defined in advance — only to be told by the Supreme Court in 1976 that criminal defendants facing death have a constitutional right to present their individualised histories at the penalty phase, pleading for mercy. If only a rule-bound death penalty can avoid the problem of bias, and if rule-bound penalties are unacceptable for other reasons, one might conclude that the death penalty cannot be fairly implemented, and this is what I believe. But that conclusion was not drawn by the Supreme Court, so at that level the matter remains open.

More recently, the Supreme Court has held that execution of juveniles and people with severe mental retardation violates the US constitution‘s prohibition of “cruel and unusual punishment”.

 

The recent reaction against the death penalty, however, has other sources, again focused on implementation, but with new information driving the protest. DNA evidence has shown a high level of wrongful convictions in crimes across the board, including some capital crimes, where error, of course, is irremediable. Eyewitness testimony has been shown to be extremely unreliable. Prosecutorial discretion — about when to try a case rather than arranging a plea bargain, and concerning when to ask for the death penalty — has emerged as a frequent source of bias. And — especially pertinent to recent reversals of opinion — confessions have been shown to be highly unreliable, particularly when not videotaped. Police exhaust and mislead defendants until they confess falsely. It was this set of concerns that caused Illinois governor George Ryan to order a moratorium on the death penalty; some years later, our current governor, who insists that in theory he supports it, nonetheless signed the law banning it.

The death penalty, in short, cannot be fairly implemented in the US. We do not need to reach the knotty issue of theoretical justification to conclude that it should be abolished. Is India different? The sparing use of the penalty does, to some extent, undercut the objection of racial and class bias, and the problems of evidence might possibly be surmounted if it is considered only in a small number of cases where all the evidence has been sifted with unusual care. Police conduct might be intensely scrutinised by videotaping all interrogations, although at present that is not the case. Indeed, the police are more often part of the problem, and we might ask whether “encounter killings” are not a de facto form of capital punishment — possibly very biased in implementation. For India, we probably should at least ponder the standard theoretical pros and cons before drawing firm conclusions.

The most common justification for the death penalty is its potential for deterrence. The deterrent effect, however, has not been proved. In the US, it is possible to study the question, since states otherwise demographically similar have adopted different policies — and yet there is no conclusive evidence that the death penalty deters. For India, we should certainly reject deterrence as a rationale, since the types of killers who have been executed in recent years (serial killers and terrorist/political killers) are especially unlikely to be deterred. The latter may even seek martyrdom, as did Nathuram Godse, when he asked for the death penalty in order to show that Gandhi’s non-violence was “being hanged”.

 

If the death penalty doesn’t deter, should we still retain it because people favour it? We must then turn to the primary rationale for banning the death penalty offered by the UN resolution: it “undermines human dignity”. Appeals to human dignity are evocative, yet notoriously slippery. The notion of dignity has little clear content except when used in connection with a family of other concepts and principles. All too often, however, whether in bioethics or in law, people use this resonant term to bring debate to a halt, rather than to pursue the inquiry further. In the case of the death penalty, the need for a fuller argument is all the more urgent when we recollect that Immanuel Kant, a primary defender of the idea that the human being must always be treated as an end and not a mere means — probably the best general articulation of the notion of dignity — wrote that the death penalty is not only permitted but actually required by the respect we owe human dignity. Kant was wrong about many concrete ethical conclusions, but his views should prompt us to search for a fuller account.

 

I see no inherent reason why the death penalty must always violate human dignity, though I am ready to be persuaded. Certainly in both India and the US, prison conditions can often be far more degrading than a painless execution. For me, the telling point against the death penalty (apart from the concerns over implementation that I have raised) is that it encourages vindictive passions and in effect, enacts a type of mob justice. A system of justice should be above revenge; it should express a calm and balanced attitude towards wrongdoing. It is difficult for me to believe that the death penalty can ever express the virtues we rightly associate with the rule of law.

 

This theoretical debate is not over, and should continue. What is crystal clear, however, is that problems of fair implementation render the death penalty utterly unacceptable in today’s United States, and, very likely though not surely, in today’s India as well.

 

 

The writer is a professor of law and ethics at the University of Chicago and author of ‘The Clash Within: Democracy, Religious Violence and India’s Future’, express@expressindian.com

 

#India -Chronology of Legislative adoption of Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, 2012 #Vaw


 Adrienne Rich`s #Rape- but the hysteria in your voice pleases him best #poem #Vaw

26TH FEB 2013

 

 

 

RAJYA SABHA (Bill — Passed)

 

 

 

The following Members took part in the discussion:—

 

1. Dr. Najma A. Heptulla

2. Dr. Prabha Thakur

3. Dr. T.N. Seema

4. Shri D. Bandyopadhyay

5. Shrimati Vandana Chavan

6. Dr. Ashok S. Ganguly

7. Dr. Bharatkumar Raut

8. Shri Rama Chandra Khuntia

9. Shrimati Maya Singh

10. Shrimati Gundu Sudharani

11. Shri Ram Kripal Yadav

12. Shrimati Kanimozhi

13. Shrimati Renubala Pradhan

14. Dr. Vijaylaxmi Sadho

15. Shrimati Smriti Zubin Irani

16. Shri M. Rama Jois

 

  • Shrimati Krishna Tirath replied to the debate.

 

  • The motion for consideration of the Bill was adopted.

 

  • Clauses 2 to 30 were adopted. Clause 1, as amended, was adopted.

 

  • The Enacting Formula, as amended, was adopted.

 

  • The Preamble and the Title were adopted.

 

  • The motion moved by Shrimati Krishna Tirath that the Bill, as amended, be passed was adopted and the Bill was passed.

 

 

SYNOPSIS OF THE DEBATE

 

The Sexual Harassment of Women at workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, 2012

 

THE MINISTER OF STATE OF THE MINISTRY OF WOMEN AND CHILD

DEVELOPMENT (SHRIMATI KRISHNA TIRATH), moving the motion for consideration of the Bill, said:

 

The main object of this Bill is to provide safe environment to the Women at their workplace, to prevent their Sexual Harassment and to make them economically empowered so that they can do their work properly. First time this Bill not only covers those women who work in the Government offices, but also at all workplaces both in public and private sector, whether organized or unorganized. The Bill castes a responsibility on every employer to create an environment at every workplace which is free from sexual harassment. An internal complaints committee is required to be constituted at every workplace. Under Clause 26, the employer is liable to be punished if he does not act on the recommendations of the Bill. Under Clause 6, there is a provision to constitute a Local Complaints Committee for the unorganized sector, headed by an eminent woman and consisting of, at least, half women members with due representation of SCs, STs, OBCs and minority communities. If a woman makes a complaint with malicious intention and fail to prove it then she is liable to be punished. To make the women aware of the law, responsibility has given to the employer to organise awareness programmes at regular intervals. I appeal to the House to consider and pass this Bill.

 

DR. NAZMA A. HEPTULLA: This Government gives knee jerk reaction to every incident. There was a horrible incident of rape in Delhi. The whole country was in anger due to this incident. Government constituted a committee headed by a retired Chief Justice to suggest measures in this regard. Committee presented its report and Hon’ble President promulgated an ordinance. President, while addressing both the Houses, did not announce in his speech about the Bill related to participation of women in power. After the rape incident in Delhi such more incidents came into the light. Three minor girl children were ruthlessly raped in Bhandara District in Maharashtra. Such incidents took place even after existing so many laws. These laws will not be helpful until they are implemented. I have objection on the words ‘sexual harassment ‘ written in the title of the Bill. Women are also harassed mentally and physically at work places. All types of harassment cannot be covered under ‘sexual harassment’. If you wanted gender identification, for that purpose ‘women’ word was already in the Bill. What name will you give for the harassment of a woman by a woman at work place. Nothing has been mentioned in the Bill about the redressal of complaints regarding sexual harassment of women working in the private sector. This legislation is not for the Central Government alone, it is for the State Governments also. Have you taken them into confidence? What mechanism has been made for them. How it will be implemented to grass root level in villages. It is necessary to implement the law after its enactment. Immediate action is required to stop atrocities and rapes against women instead of constituting committees.

 

DR. PRABHA THAKUR: Government has brought this Bill with the intention to stop sexual harassment of women at their work places. I welcome the intention and support this Bill. Gangrape of women is more serious than murder. If all men in the country respect all women as their own sister, daughter, mother or wife, there will be no need to enact so many laws for protection of women. People do not afraid of law. Death penalty should be given for crimes like gangrape as it is prevalent in the Middle -East. The situation of women is very vulnerable. Very few women are their who approach to the court, and if someone goes the result does not come out positive. The situation poor women are more worsen. For the empowerment of women, we must follow the exists law of Goa. Rape victims should be provided lawyers. Those women who go home late from their working places, must be provided commutation facilities. The punishment for asking sexual favour should be made more stringent. Time bound justices must be provided. I support this Bill.

 

DR. T.N. SEEMA: I rise to support the Bill. Crimes against women are on the rise in the country. The implementation side of these kinds of laws is very poor in our country. I would like to highlight some of the weaknesses in this Bill. I would like to know about the methodology of implementation of this Act in the unorganized sector. The women in the Armed Forces, police, schools and educational institutions must be included under the Bill. In the unorganized sector, the restriction about the number of workers to less than ten should be done away with. I strongly object to the inclusion of Clause 14 which allows for penal action against the complainant in the Bill, which will defeat its very purpose. There are many laws for weaker sections, women, SCs/STs, etc. in our country but majority of these sections do not enjoy the legal protection because of poor implementation. I would strongly suggest of referring this Bill to a Select Committee for redrafting of the Bill. I support the Bill.

 

SHRI D. BANDYOPADHYAY: I rise to support the Bill. But I have some doubts about the its fairly being implemented. While supporting the Bill I suggest that at the Gram Panchayat level women members should be given the power of vigilance and take action under this Act as well as under the Domestic Violence Act. I would ask the Government to have a relook at the whole thing and do not depend upon the same traditional mechanism. I suggest that there should be three separate courts for women cases as civil, matrimonial and criminal, but let the IPC remain what it is. I support this Bill.

 

SHRIMATI VANDANA CHAVAN, making her maiden speech, said: I rise to support the Bill. It reaffirms confidence in women. Women, in their lifetime, have a horizontal canvass. One is at home that has been addressed by the Domestic Violence Act, the second is at work place which is being addressed through this Bill, and the third is a public place which, needs to be taken up in the near future. Laws may not be necessary, but policies certainly to make cities and towns gender-friendly so that women feel safe. I would like to point out one section which really worries me. It is punishment for false or malicious complaints. It is very rare that a women would make a false complaint. This legislation has mentioned ‘sexual harassment’ in its title itself, but in future, the word ‘harassment’ should only be continued. It is an all pervasive legislation. Women safety has become a major issue. There are several steps needed to be

taken to make sure that women are safer in public life and public spaces also.

 

DR. ASHOK S. GANGULY: I support this Bill. Harassment of women in India is now not only a national shame but it is a national burden. Women who complain about sexual harassment, need a Womens’ Complaints Protection Act also. It is a Bill for protection of women at the workplace. So it should be made compulsory for Annual Reports to have a section on sexual harassment of women. Lot of women are provided with transportation after certain hours. The transport companies should be certified. There should be mobile courts, manned by women, where women can approach without any fear. Women who suffer silently at all places should be given justice.

 

DR. BHARATKUMAR RAUT: I support this Bill. But even if this Bill is passed, it will only remain a piece of legislation. We have forgot to put multi-national companies in this. Don’t they come under Indian laws. I used to get complaints from women that being a woman they are neglected while giving promotion. I know some companies in Mumbai and Delhi where there is an unwritten rule that women should not be employed beyond this level. Isn’t it is a sexual harassment? Many things are not mentioned in this Bill. I think, a better exercise would have brought a much better Bill.

 

SHRI RAMA CHANDRA KHUNTIA: I support this Bill. Within one year or two years, all the murder or rape case must be disposed of and the culprit must be punished. We should take a decision in this regard. Why these murder, rape or harassment cases are happening. In army we have millions of soldiers but only thousand of women. That is the main reason for harassment. If at all workplaces the number of women are more nobody will dare to harass or rape women in this country. The most discriminatory part is that private employers do not want to employ women. Not only sexual harassment alone, if an employer is denying employment to a woman on gender bias, they should also be liable to be punished. They have a formal policy which prohibits sexual harassment at workplaces. In USA cases of sexual harassment have been reduced now to 11,000 from 15,000 in 2001. That means, a strong law for sexual harassment has yielded good results in the USA. We must expect that if this law is implemented properly, we can also get better results. We fully support this Bill and we also expect that judiciary, media and all the people in the society would support it so that the culprits can be punished at the right time. Punishing the culprits and creating the opportunity to make 50 per cent space for women will give a handle to resolve the issues of women in this country.

 

SHRIMATI MAYA SINGH: Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, 2012 has taken 13 years to pass. Sexual harassment is a tragic reality of our society. Buy now whatever laws or legal protection made for women were sufficient. But specially of the case of Damini which has shaken the country. Whether the mechanism of implementation of making of laws is flexible?  Whatever efforts should be made to bring awareness to our society are not sufficient. Our Parliament and beaurocracy has to think over this issue in a very effective manner that the women will be kept on victimizing and we will be discussing the issue in the Parliament in the same way, is not good. In the Bill, harassment in the work place to the women has been defined broadly but I have some doubt that women working in education sector and professional sector will be given the same protection. . In the matter regarding teacher and students small girls are exploited and they are not getting justice in lack of concrete law. In some other fields where women are not related to anybody in terms of job. But they have to face uncomfortable situation with their associates. I doubt whether women working in the field of fashion designing will be getting protection through this Bill. We have to make this provision more clear with regard to constituting committee for sexual harassment so that women can join this fourm of their own. After the report of internal complaint committee, an employer should not have any other substitute than to initiate disciplinary action. According to service rules the employer should ensure the action. With regards to the power vested in different officials I feel the need of some amendments. If we include Labour Commissioner in this, then women will be more protected. The constitution of Internal Complaint Committee will be difficult in the offices where less than 10 employees are there. You have empowered Internal Complaint Committee with the power of civil court. But binding of having the knowledge of law or giving legal training to any member is not mentioned. In this situation justice is doubted. I suggest that women commission, Labour Commissioner and Local Administration should hold a review meeting at district level wherein women going for work can be reviewed. There can be a good and concrete law if duty power of district officers should be inserted in Clause 20. They should be a concrete authority for unorganized authority. This Bill should give protection of the society and it should not remain on paper and discussion. This Bill is talking about stoppage of sexual harassment should not be ineffective than only it will be meaningful. I support this Bill.

 

SHRIMATI GUNDU SUDHARANI: It is an important legislation which protects women against sexual harassment at workplace. India was party to U.N. Convention on CEDAW the recommendation was given 20 years ago. And, it is unfortunate that it is becoming law here after two decades! Sub Clause (V) to clause 2 (n) appears to be vague. I request the hon. Minister to clarify this. Eve-teasing in our country is the most common practice and girls at schools and colleges are victims of this. But, nowhere in the Bill has it been mentioned that eve-teasing constitutes sexual harassment. Government never thought about other forms of sexual harassments. So, I request the hon. Minister to include ‘eve-teasing’ as sexual harassment under Clause 2(n) of the Bill. Bill has kept out domestic workers working at home. Most domestic workers are poor, illiterate, unskilled and come from vulnerable communities and backward areas. The hon. Minister agreed to include all domestic workers under Clause 2(e) of the Bill. But, Sir, what about those who constitute five to seven times of registered domestic workers? The Bill deprives them access to an efficient redressal mechanism in getting protection from sexual harassment.

 

SHRI RAM KIRPAL YADAV: This bill has been brought for the working women which we welcome. Despite all laws there is no decreasing in harassment of women, rather it is increasing. The number of person commiting such barbarism is increasing and today women are unsafe. We regard women and we worship them. Earlier. leave alone working women, they are not literate and there limit was four walls of the house. There was a change in our thinking and number of working women was increased. They become more literate. But if there are no implementation of the law due to lack of will power than law has no meaning. If we are not ready to change our mind set and there is no change of thinking we cannot stop sexual harassment despite any law. Tendency to crime, to barbarism, to sexual harassment and to harassment is there. How can we stop this. This is also an important question. I feel that law is not competent. Law are made but time limit is not prescribed. So I request the Minister that you think about to constitute of special court. Rape is no lesser offence than murder. I agree that those women are not able to face the society. School going girl are being raped and they are being murdered. We should make any amount of laws. But unless we change our thinking this is not going to stop. If women are kept away from working than there will be the problem of bread earning. There should a provision of special court of this Bill so that cases can be disposed of in a given time and criminals can be punished. I request the hon. Minister to find a mechanism so that they are also covered under this. I also request that recommendations of the Local Committee should be made binding and ensure that no further inquires be initiated. I have a strong objection to Clause 14 of the Bill which seeks to punish false or malicious complaints. Now Clause 14 of the Bill asks for evidence of acts like verbal favour that often would be done in an implicit or clandestine manner. Certain forms of sexual harassment cannot be proved beyond reasonable doubt as may be possible with physical injury or other crimes. In such a situation, it is very unfortunate that the lack of proof of a crime makes the complainant liable for punishment. Most of the women did not report for fear of being victimized. I support the Bill brought forward by the hon. Minister.

 

SHRIMATI KANIMOZHI: I rise to support the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, 2012. It currently excluded the women of many fields. It is very important that we include these women. These women constitute a large chunk of working women in this country. The word ‘unwelcome’, in the Bill should actually be determined by the victim, and not by any Committee or by anybody outside. If we do not do that then, again, it will become another way to harass a woman or to find other ways to get out. When we are talking about agricultural workers or other workers, not many of them are capable of giving a written complaint. Also, not everybody is really comfortable in writing or giving a written complaint. So, it should also include ‘oral complaints. The aggrieved persons or the victims should be able to go and give their complaints orally. In this country, women’s education has still not reached the desired level. So, we have to take this into consideration. With regard to limiting this to a period of three months, not many women complaint at the first incident. Unless it becomes repeated and intolerable, no woman will make a complaint. This law has been brought forward to protect them. Then, how can there be a conciliation in these cases? This is not a business contract, where a conciliation can be achieved over the table. The present clause 14 which relates to punishment for false or malicious complaint and false evidence seems to be working against the purpose of this legislation. We know how society works against women. So, this has to be taken into consideration seriously.

 

SHRIMATI RENUBALA PRADHAN: I welcome the Bill as the women in their workplaces are harassed severely despite several existing provisions. Many of them do not ventilate their plights either due to social taboo or fear of their higher officers. The ministry should constitute separate independent forum at district and block levels with women members only so that the victimized women can ventilate their grievances properly. It should be made mandatory for every Government, semi-Government and private offices and institutes to constitute a cell to look into the grievances of the sexual harassment of the women at their workplace. It is seen that the females who are working in the unorganized sectors are more harassed than the women working in the organized sector. The Government should incorporate some of these provisions so that the working women in both the sectors can ventilate their grievances without fear. In order to address the problem of assault on women, special fast track courts should be constituted throughout the nation, at least, at all District and Sub-Divisional levels.

 

DR. VIJAYLAXMI SADHO: I welcome this Bill. Since the early times, women are being treated as inferior. Even after so many years, the situation is almost the same. Rajiv Gandhi had provided 33 percent reservation in the local bodies even in adverse circumstances. He had given respect to the women in the country through Panchayati Raj, local governance. They were given participation in the power. The Hon’ble Minister is required to pay more attention to the mental and physical harassment at work place also in addition to the sexual harassment. The proper implementation of legislations enacted in Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies is absolutely necessary. Most of the population of the country is in rural areas. The agricultural labourers working there, face the maximum harassment. They should be brought under this Bill.

 

SHRIMATI SMRITI ZUBIN IRANI: The scars on the psyche of Indian women are deep because we hear of cases of molestation, sexual harassment and rape, but very few news reports of conviction in such cases. As per the Law Commission Report, as of now 72.6 per cent cases of sexual harassment and 83 per cent cases of rape are pending in our courts. I would support the submission that even professionals like lawyers and doctors be brought within the ambit of this law and their rights and their dignity be protected. While the internal complaints committee, according to this Bill, has the mandate of receiving complaints, nowhere does this Bill highlight how it is to be ascertained as to how many establishments or companies come within the ambit of the law within a district. While this legislation highlights a penalty of Rs.50,000 if an employer fails to constitute the internal complaints committee, it is silent with regards to the timeframe within which this committee has to be set up. Clause 9(1) of this Bill, speaks about providing assistance to women in making complaints in writing if the lady herself is unable to do so, but is silent, on what happens in cases where the internal complaints committee or the local complaints committee does not take cognizance of verbal complaints and does not provide support to the aggrieved woman. As regards clause 10 about settlement, the bill is absolutely silent as to how the Committee is to conclude whether an aggrieved woman or her family has been pressurized to reach a settlement. The Bill is silent on repeat offenders who manage to reach settlement. The Supreme Court while laying down the guidelines, looked upon sexual harassment at workplace as a cognizable offence but this particular Bill does not look upon it as a cognizable offence. It is a mystery to all of us.

 

 

SHRI M. RAJA JOIS: There has been total moral degradation during the five decades, and that is the reason, the Bill has to be brought for penalizing this onslaught on women. In our culture, highest respect is given to womanhood and the woman is treated as divine treasure. Immoral sex has been considered as the worst offence. It has been considered even worse than a murder. It does an irreparable damage. The State has failed to provide a good system of education. I welcome the legislation. The guilty should be punished. But at the same time this matter cannot be solved by legislation alone.

 

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