Sri Lanka – Restricting sterilization: To what purpose? #Vaw #rightoabortion #reproductiverights


 

March 15, 2013,http://www.island.lk/

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I was appalled to read a recent newspaper article that reported a government ban on irreversible methods of contraception. Later I learned that the ban prohibits non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from the provision of sterilization services. According to reliable sources, sterilization services continue to be available through the public sector albeit with additional counseling requirements implemented at some points of access. As this newspaper item coincided with protests against ‘family planning’ held by extremist Buddhist factions concerned about the diminishing ‘Sinhala race’, it is surprising that neither the government nor the Ministry of Health has thus far provided clarification on this issue. In this article, I would like to highlight a few problems with the existing sterilization policy that are unlikely to be resolved through bans or other forms of restriction. Rather than restricting women’s access to contraception to accommodate the views of reactionary groups, it might be more useful to focus our efforts on addressing some of the issues outlined below.

 

General Circular No. 1586 issued by the Office of the Director General of Health Services (1988) includes the following eligibility criteria for sterilization procedures: “1) The clients should be over 26 years of age and should have at least 2 living children; the younger being over 2 years of age. Confirmation of mother’s age should be done by checking the Birth Certificate, Identity Card or any other valid document, which is available; 2) Clients who are over 26 years of age and having 3 or more living children could be sterilized at any time; 3) A client under 26 years of age, and his/her spouse insist on a sterilization, the Medical Officer concerned could use his/her discretion, and perform the sterilization provided the couple has a minimum of 3 living children. In such a situation the officer concerned should personally check the validity of the information provided, in respect of the number of living children, prior to performing the sterilization; and 4) In the event of any medical indication, which warrants sterilization, the client should be referred to a specialist in the relevant field who should make the final decision.”

 

As the subtext of the circular implies, like most contraceptive programmes offered through Ministry of Health, the criteria for sterilization target women. For instance, references to the “mother’s age” and the insistent appeal of the spouse (when the ‘client’ is under 26 years) suggest that women are primary targets of the sterilization programme. In my experience of working for the Ministry of Health, sterilization procedures were, in fact, freely available and did target women, both in terms of availability and accessibility. This is confirmed by data from the most recent Demographic and Health Survey (2006/7): 16.9 % of ‘currently married women’ were sterilized compared with 0.7% of women whose husbands were sterilized (the Demographic and Health Survey is administered to married women and specifies these categories). These statistics must also be considered in light of the fact that the sterilization procedure for men is ‘simpler, safer, easier, and less expensive’ than the procedure for women (WHO, 2007).

 

Importantly, the criteria listed on the circular do not require the ‘client’ to obtain her/his partner’s consent to undergo sterilization (although spousal insistence may add weight to requests from those who are under 26 years of age). Nevertheless, spousal consent is routinely obtained in government institutions before providing sterilization procedures to women (my experience; see also CEDAW Shadow Report, 2010). In my work, I witnessed numerous instances when women’s pleas for sterilization were rejected during Caesarean section simply because the spouse was unavailable to sign a consent form. If these women decide to undergo sterilization on a later date, they are exposed unnecessarily to a second surgical procedure. In this way, doctors take on the role of gatekeepers to contraceptives services, restricting women’s access based on their own gendered presumptions.

 

The Circular of 1988 referenced above was introduced because “[it had] been observed that a significant proportion of females who [underwent] sterilization [were] under 25 years of age, with a notable number being less than 20 years” (General Circular No. 1586). These concerns were valid in the 1980s, a time when coercive tactics were being used as part of the population control agenda imposed on the third world. In 1980, a monetary incentive of Rs. 100 per sterilization procedure was introduced and was subsequently increased to Rs. 500. Surprisingly, this monetary incentive was not omitted in the Circular of 1988 and remains in place today. In fact, another circular was introduced in 2007 in order to “streamline” the payment process so that ‘clients’ would be able to obtain this payment from the institution that provided the sterilization procedure (General Circular No. 01-09/2007). Furthermore, healthcare providers (including the surgeon, anaesthetist and assisting nurses) can still claim, if they so do wish, a negligible sum for sterilization. While Rs. 500 may seem trivial to some of us, continuing to provide incentives for sterilization is problematic and warrants omission.

 

The provision of incentives can be interpreted in many ways, especially when sterilization procedures are mostly sought by particular groups of women. Sterilization is most popular among women in the plantation sector (presumably not Sinhala contradicting the claim of extremist factions in Colombo). According to the Demographic and Health Survey (2006/7), 61% of estate women used a modern method of contraception (including sterilization, contraceptive pills, intra-uterine devices, Depo-Provera, implants, condoms and complete breastfeeding) and 41% resorted to sterilization. In contrast, 54% and 44% of rural and urban women used modern methods of contraception, while 16% and 13% resorted to sterilization (the survey used urban, rural and estate as distinct categories). This set of data completely debunks the proclamations of extremist Buddhist groups who are hell bent on protecting Sinhala women from coercive sterilization. It also makes it incumbent on us to ensure that plantation workers are not coerced into sterilization. On the other hand, the large numbers of estate women accessing sterilization may signify a lack of access to temporary contraceptive options.

 

Imposing restrictions on sterilization may have other implications for women’s health. For instance, it is likely to increase the incidence of unplanned pregnancies. According to the Demographic and Health Survey (2006/7), sterilization is popular among the following categories of women: estate women, women above 35 years of age, women with lower levels of education and women with three or more children. While these associations may point to a need to ensure that these particular groups of women are not coerced into sterilization, it also reflects on who will be most affected by restrictions on sterilization. Not surprisingly, this profile bears similarity to that of women seeking abortion services; induced abortion is most common among rural, married women with at least two children (Senanayake & Willatgamuwa, 2009). Then restrictions on sterilization could result in more women resorting to unsafe abortion, a service that has moved underground since the government led shut down of abortion clinics in 2007.

 

Religious extremism is frequently accompanied by restrictions on access to reproductive health services for women. Although the existing policy is problematic for the reason that in targeting women it burdens them with the responsibility of adopting contraceptive measures, the policy does ensure that sterilization is quite easily accessible to women through the public sector. While there is much room for improvement around health policies governing contraceptive services, such as the removal of incentives and the unofficial requirement of spousal consent for sterilization, imposing restrictions or banning sterilization altogether is hardly the solution. Such restrictions are not only an extension of policies that assume that women are incapable of making decisions concerning their health, but may well be interpreted as an attempt by the state to regulate women’s reproduction in the service of a retrograde agenda of nationalism.

 

Ramya Kumar, MBBS

 

Kandy

 

Is Alcohol the New Short Skirt ? #Vaw #Moralpolicing


Attitudes about women’s alcohol consumption haven’t changed much. Women who drink are still perceived as being “promiscuous,” “easy,” or more sexually available.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

March , 2013  |
            Well they’re packed pretty tight in here tonight

I’m looking for a dolly who’ll see me right
I may use a little muscle to get what I need
I may sink a little drink and shout out “She’s with me!”

– Elton John, “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting

Alcohol is a game-changer when it comes to rape. If a woman was drinking when she was raped, she will be doubted and told it was her fault. Like Hester Prynne, she’ll be shamed and blamed. Society will force her to wear the Scarlet Letter A, for alcohol.

Friends, family, and if she goes to court, lawyers and judges, will scrutinize her behavior. She will be bombarded with questions. How much did you drink? Were you drunk? Were you binge drinking? Why were you drunk and alone with him? These questions are asked to establish that the woman set herself up to be raped because she consumed alcohol. And you can never trust an intoxicated woman because she really doesn’t remember what happened. It is classic blame-the-victim.

Drink and get raped, and you are chucked into the “alcohol-rape closet.” I was: After a long night of drinking at a bar, I got in a car with a man who later pulled out a knife and said he would use it if I didn’t do what he told me to. For years I blamed myself for getting raped because I was drunk. I believed that if I hadn’t been drinking, I never would have been raped.

I’m not alone. Alcohol is involved in a staggering number of sex crimes. In a national study of college students, 75% of males and 55% of females involved in date rape had been drinking or using other drugs prior to the sexual assault.

According to a study done by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: “At least one-half of all violent crimes involve alcohol consumption by the perpetrator, the victim, or both. Researchers have consistently found that men who have been drinking alcohol commit approximately one-half of all sexual assaults. Depending on the sample studied and the measures used, the estimates for alcohol use among perpetrators have ranged from 34 to 74 percent. Similarly, approximately one-half of all sexual assault victims report that they were drinking alcohol at the time of the assault, with estimates ranging from 30 to 79 percent.”

The leading rape myth used to be about what a woman was wearing. The twisted logic goes like this: Women who wear provocative clothing are sluts who are “asking for it.” But the feminist movement has seriously chipped away at this rape myth.

Thousands of women in Muslim countries who wear the burqa, hijab, and dress modestly are raped and sexually assaulted. In India according to the National Crime Registry, a woman is raped every 20 minutes. Egypt’s Interior Ministry reports that 20,000 women and girls are raped every year. Engy Ghozlan of the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights anti-harassment campaign said, “If the Ministry of the Interior gets 20,000 then you should multiply it by 10.” The United Nations Population Fund in Afghanistan reports that about 25 percent of Afghan women face sexual violence. (Note that alcohol is prohibited in most Muslim countries.)

Serving in the military escalates the risk of being raped. It’s been described as a “target rich environment” for sex crimes. In 2011, there were over 22,800 sexual assaults and it’s estimated that 20 percent of all active-duty female soldiers have been sexually assaulted. Military sexual trauma is not taken seriously by the Pentagon or military courts. A class-action lawsuit brought against the military by sexual assault survivors was dismissed by a court that ruled “rape is an occupational hazard of the military.”

Female soldiers wear drab buttoned-up uniforms and combat boots like their male counterparts.

Alcohol is the new “short skirt.” A poll done in 2005 by Amnesty International/ICM found that 30% of respondents believed that the victim was “partially” or “totally” responsible if she was drunk.

Society puts the onus on women to keep themselves safe and avoid dangerous situations. So if a woman is drunk, she isn’t taking her personal security seriously and is responsible for what happens to her. The hypervigilance and suspicion that is expected of women who drink in the company of men is not only ludicrous but is impossible. The majority of sexual assaults are planned, and the perpetrator takes advantage of women who have been drinking because they are more vulnerable. Let that sink in: sexual assaults are planned. Plus, the majority of rapes are committed by someone known to the victim: friends, family members, boyfriends, husbands, classmates, fellow soldiers and supervisors. Putting the burden on women to prevent rape won’t stop rape. The responsibility to stop rape should be placed entirely on men because they are the ones who do it. And drinking isn’t a crime, rape is.

Nonetheless, in rape trials, one of the first questions asked is if the victim had been drinking or using other drugs. Any lawyer will confess that it’s much harder to get a rape conviction because the woman’s credibility, reputation and memory will be attacked and put on trial if she was drunk. At the probable cause hearing in the Steubenville rape case, the lawyers asked dozens of questions about the woman’s use of alcohol.

The lawyer also asked a witness if the 16-year-old ever said, “no” or “stop” (a ridiculous question if you’ve seen the widely circulated cell phone video showing a clearly unconscious woman). In one clip, a man says, “She’s deader than a doornail.” Another witness testified: “Trent and Malik had picked her up by her hands and feet to take a – like a funny picture I would call it because she was drunk and we were all being stupid.”

The woman is being accused of making up events to damage the reputation of the football team. This young woman has already been chucked in the alcohol-rape closet.

Is it any wonder that rape is underreported? It’s estimated that 60 percent of rapes/sexual assaults are not reported to the police.  Women are afraid to report rape because they know they’ll be blamed or not believed. The police, medical, legal and criminal justice system routinely revictimize women who’ve been raped or sexually assaulted and especially if she was drinking.

It might be 2013, but attitudes about women’s alcohol consumption haven’t changed much. Women who drink are still perceived as being “promiscuous,” “easy,” or more sexually available.

Research with sexually assaultive men shows that they often describe women who drink as “loose,” immoral, and suitable targets for sexual aggression.

Alcohol is the most widely used date-rape drug, although drugs like Rohypnol and GHB have garnered more media attention.

In the U.S., alcohol plays a major role in socializing and meeting potential sex partners, especially on college campuses, in fraternities and dormitories, and in singles and sports bars. The effects of alcohol on the brain and behavior are well-known. The first few drinks make people more social, talkative and feel less awkward and shy; booze is commonly called “liquid courage.” At higher levels of consumption alcohol causes slurred speech, staggering and sedation. Alcohol decreases sexual inhibitions and increases sexual arousal. Binge drinking increases the likelihood of physical aggression in men and less frequently in women.

The “hookup” culture of young people is where the newest rape myth, “gray rape,” is most insidious. Gray rape promotes the idea that it is hard to identify what constitutes consent or non-consent and that many situations described as rape, especially when alcohol is added to the mix, are confusing or simply unknowable. Legally, a person who is drunk cannot consent to sex and having sex without consent is rape. But alcohol consumption doesn’t completely diminish the ability to consent to or decline sex. It is only in situations where the person is unconscious (blacked out) that consent isn’t possible.

Studies have shown that in a large percentage of acquaintance rapes the rapist understands that he does not have consent and he uses alcohol to facilitate the rape. A study conducted by the Naval Health Research Center showed that men who committed multiple rapes knew that they didn’t have consent and they used substances to incapacitate their victims in order to complete the rape. And another study by David Lisak and Paul Miller came to similar conclusions: that men intend to rape and in a majority of the rapes, 80.8 percent, women were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

These sexual predators target women who drink because they know it’s easier to physically overpower them. Many women who have been raped report that their attacker bought them numerous drinks and encouraged them to keep drinking for several hours before the attack. According to an article on rape and alcohol by Antonia Abbey in the Journal of American College Health, 75 percent of rapists said that they sometimes got women drunk in order to force sex on them. Another study showed that 40 percent of men said it was acceptable to force sex on a woman who was drunk.

Alcohol-facilitated rape isn’t an accident. And the gray rape ideas that are currently popular, that assert rape is the result of miscommunication, confusion or intoxication, are not only wrong, they let the rapist off the hook and blame the victim once again.

Dr. Abbey explained the sexist double-standard of drinking:

“Women who were drunk when raped are often viewed by others as partially responsible for what happened. Interviews with a group of college students showed that the male attacker was held less responsible for the rape when he was intoxicated than he was when he was reported as being sober. In contrast, the female victim was held more responsible when she was intoxicated than when she was reported as being sober. Thus, in terms of how others will perceive their behavior, the costs of intoxication are higher for college women than for college men.”

Alcohol-facilitated rape doesn’t take place in a vacuum. Sex crimes occur in a society where women are unequal to men in every arena of life and in a culture that degrades and commodifies women’s bodies and sexuality.

Advertisements for alcohol are among the most overtly sexist and misogynist. They often depict large-breasted, bikini-clad women draped over bottles of booze while being stared at by groups of men. For men, these ads reinforce the idea that drinking alcohol makes them powerful and that women are passive objects attracted to men who drink. Check out the Thirsty For Beer commercial on YouTube.

Raunch culture is ubiquitous, is often paired with binge drinking, and reinforces women’s status as sex objects who never say no to men. The Girls Gone Wildand Booty Slap Day videos, gentleman’s strip clubs, the TV show The Girls Next Door — also known as The Girls of the Playboy Mansion — restaurant chains Hooters and Tilted Kilt that lure customers with the promise of half-naked female servers, cause no societal outrage. In fact, some, including feminists, argue it shows that women are sexually liberated.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that men who rape have sexist and misogynist beliefs.

Studies have found the following attitudes among men who commit rape and sexual assault:

  • Men who had committed sexual assault were more hostile toward women and lower in empathy compared with other men.
  • Men who had committed sexual assault endorsd traditional stereotypes about gender roles; for example, that men are responsible for initiating sex and women are responsible for setting the limits.
  • Perpetrators of sexual assault were more likely to endorse statements that have been used to justify rape; the most common were, “women say ‘no’ when they mean ‘yes’” and “women enjoy forced sex.”
  • Men who had committed sexual assaults were more likely to hold adversarial beliefs about relationships between men and women and to consider the use of force in interpersonal relationships acceptable.

These are the ideas that have to change in order to end sexual violence against women.

The only person who is ever responsible for rape or sexual assault is the perpetrator. When I finally understood this, I came out of the alcohol-rape closet.

Helen Redmond is a freelance journalist and a drug and health policy analyst.

Karnataka: How A Government Job Spelt Doom For 37 Dalit Families


Four months after being hounded out of their village, no respite in sight for these ‘untouchables’
Imran Khan

2013-03-23 , Issue 12 Volume 10

Castaways Ostracised Dalits demand land and security

When Lakshmamma, 33, applied for a job as a cook at an anganwadi, little did she know that it would blow up into a crisis, not only for her, but for all the 37 Dalit families in her village. For nearly four months, the Dalit community of Shivanagar village in Chitradurga district, 200 km from Bengaluru, has been protesting at Freedom Park in the state capital, against their ostracisation by the upper-caste residents of Majure, a village 12 km from Shivanagar.

The upper castes are adamant they won’t allow Lakshmamma, a Dalit woman, to cook for their children at the anganwadi, and have enforced a social boycott on her community as “collective punishment” for her refusal to quit her job.

Lakshmamma had been thrilled when she saw the advertisement for the job in a local newspaper in August last year. Like most Dalits in her village, her husband Nagaraj, 43, worked as a labourer for upper- caste landowners in Majure.

The anganwadi job meant a lot to the family of five that could barely make ends meet. So when Lakshmamma finally landed the job, it could have been the beginning of a better life for her family.

But trouble started the day she joined work at the anganwadi in Majure. The upper- caste residents of the village, comprising Lingayats and Vokkaligas, refused to allow a Dalit woman to cook for their children at the anganwadi. At a hurriedly convened meeting, the upper-caste elders decided to ask Lakshmamma to sign a letter of resignation. When she refused, the elders decided to impose a social boycott on the entire Dalit community of Shivanagar.

The boycott meant the Dalits were not allowed to buy anything from the local shops, nor could they work in the fields and houses of the upper-caste landowners — their basic source of livelihood. In effect, the Dalits had been rendered jobless.

In protest, the Dalits organised a sit-in at the Hiriyur taluk office on 15 November last year. Demanding the intervention of the local police and the district administration to end their persecution, they not only protested half-naked, but six of them even went to the extreme of smearing themselves with human excreta to symbolise their intolerable plight, hoping the officials would be shocked into taking action.

The protest led to action, no doubt, but it was against the protesters. Six protesters — who had smeared themselves with human excreta — were arrested on charges of disturbing the peace. “The police torched our tents. Fearing for our lives, we went to Bengaluru and set up camp at Freedom Park,” says Bhojraj, one of those arrested. Since then, a tent at Freedom Park has been home to the 37 Dalit families of Shivanagar.

The protesters allege the police action was carried out at the behest of local MLA (Independent) D Sudhakar. When contacted by TEHELKA, the MLA flatly denied that anything of the kind happened in his constituency. “It is just a conspiracy to malign my name,” he says. “I have done enough for the Dalits.”

The dalit protesters at Freedom Park are staring at an uncertain future. Too scared to return to their village, they are worried about their children’s education and desperate for alternative avenues of employment.

“We sent petitions to the chief minister and the social welfare minister, but nothing has happened so far,” says TD Rajagiri, president of the Dalit Sangharsh Samiti (B Krishnappa faction), which is supporting the agitation. “We are requesting the government to provide land and security to the Dalits. They cannot go back to work for Majure’s upper-caste landowners.”

Social Welfare Minister A Narayanaswamy told TEHELKA it’s impossible to give land to all the Dalit families at once. “We will give land to some of them this year, and to another batch, the next year. Unless and until they agree to this, nothing can move forward. But they have refused so far.”

After challenging the unwritten code of untouchability, facing persecution and protesting for nearly four months, Lakshmamma is left wondering if it was indeed a mistake to apply for that job. It remains to be seen if the state authorities can reassure her and the other protesting Dalits that their future would not be all dark.

imran@tehelka.com

 

Fukushima is not Chernobyl ? Think Again ! #Sundayreading


Safety and Accidents, at dianuke.org
Sarah Phillips

Sarah D. Phillips is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Indiana University, Bloomington. She is author of Women’s Social Activism in the New Ukraine: Development and the Politics of Differentiation (2008, Indiana U Press) and Disability and Mobile Citizenship in Postsocialist Ukraine (2011, Indiana U Press). Her website is athttp://www.indiana.edu/~medanth/

Article courtesy:Somatosphere

The March 11, 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami caused the deaths of approximately 16,000 persons, left more than 6,000 injured and 2,713 missing, destroyed or partially damaged nearly one million buildings, and produced at least $14.5 billion in damages. The earthquake also caused a triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on Japan’s eastern coast. After reading the first news reports about what the Japanese call “3.11,” I immediately drew associations between the accident in Fukushima and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986 in what was then the Soviet Union. This was only natural, since studying the cultural fallout of Chernobyl has been part of my life’s work as an anthropologist for the past 17 years. Knowing rather little about Japan at the time, I relied on some fuzzy stereotypes about Japanese technological expertise and penchant for tight organization and waited expectantly for rectification efforts to unfold as a model of best practices. I positioned the problem-riddled Chernobyl clean-up, evacuation, and reparation efforts as a foil, assuming that Japan would, in contrast, unroll a state-of-the-art nuclear disaster response for the modern age. After all, surely a country like Japan that relies so heavily on nuclear-generated power has developed thorough, well-rehearsed, and tested responses to any potential nuclear emergency? Thus, I expected the inevitable comparisons between the world’s two worst nuclear accidents to yield more contrasts than parallels.

Fukushima City, view from the train station, Nov. 2012.
Bullet train, symbol of Japanese modernity, entering Fukushima station.

But as reporting on the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi NPP unfolded, an unsettling story of stonewalling and sloppiness emerged that was eerily reminiscent of the Chernobyl catastrophe. TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company), which operates the Fukushima Daiichi NPP, and the plant’s head, Masao Yoshida, proved to be masters of understatement. Yoshida characterized radiation levels nearly 100 times higher than normal as “higher than the ordinary level,” and he used the wholly inadequate phrase “acute danger” to describe two explosions and the meltdown of three of the reactor cores[1] (how about “catastrophic meltdown necessitating immediate evacuation?”). One is reminded of the first official statement acknowledging the Chernobyl accident, which only appeared in a Kyiv newspaper three days after the disaster, and was hidden on the third page in the Weather section: “From the Cabinet of Ministers of the USSR. An accident has occurred at the Chernobyl atomic electrostation; one of the atomic reactors was damaged. Measures are being taken to liquidate the consequences of the accident. The victims are receiving assistance.”[2]

Recently-released video footage of the early days and weeks of the Japanese crisis reveals that some of the same mistakes made during the Soviet state’s blighted response to Chernobyl were repeated at Fukushima Daiichi. Military helicopters made futile attempts to douse flames inside the damaged reactors with water, a strategy already proven ineffective, dangerous, and potentially counterproductive during the Windscale fire in Great Britain in 1957, and later at Chernobyl. Local Fukushima firefighters were called to the accident scene but not informed of the extremely high levels of radiation—the TEPCO video reveals an official at headquarters to say, “There’s no use in us telling the fire department. That’s a conversation that needs to happen at higher levels.” Recall the six firemen who lost their lives battling the fires at Chernobyl’s Reactor No. 4; along with 25 other plant workers and first responders the firefighters for years were the only Chernobyl casualties officially recognized by the Soviet state. The accidents at Chernobyl and Fukushima alike have been traced back to lax safety controls and poor plant design or siting, and the emergency response after both disasters included a muddled chain of command, the intentional withholding of vital radiological data and health directives, and the privileging of economic concerns and saving face over the well-being of human beings and the environment. Did we learn nothing from Three Mile, Selafield, Windscale, and Chernobyl? Will the Fukushima accident finally jar us out of complacency, or will the accident be successfully “socially contained,” enabling humankind to “stagger on toward our next disaster?”[3]

Thanks to colleagues at the Japan College of Social Work in Tokyo, during October and November 2012 I visited Japan to participate in interviews, informal meetings, and conference roundtables with Fukushima evacuees, social workers, medical professionals, and community activists. It was an enlightening though sobering experience: many of the Fukushima stories I heard echoed nearly word-for-word narratives I have read and collected among persons affected by the Chernobyl accident in the former Soviet Union. Just like people who survived Chernobyl and the Soviet Union’s “rectification efforts,” Fukushima-affected persons and their advocates complain of government secrecy and misinformation, top-down decision making, generalized disorganization, and the social ostracism of nuclear accident “victims.”

“No one knows what really happened here”

I traveled through northeast Japan with an esteemed group of scholars:  Dr. Yukio Yamaguchi and Dr. Takashi Fujioka, professors at the Japan College of Social Work; Dr. Masumi Shinya, a professor of sociology at East China University of Science and Technology’s School of Social and Public Administration; Dr. Decha Sungkawan, Dean of the Faculty of Social Administration at Thammasat University in Bangkok; and Dr. Charles Figley, professor and Chair of the Tulane University Trauma Institute.

Lt to Rt: Charles Figley, Masumi Shinya, Sarah Phillips, Takashi Fujioka, Decha Sungkawan. At Nihonmatsu Station. Photo by Yukio Yamaguchi.

We traveled by trains and taxis, making research stops in cities like Nihonmatsu and Yamagata City, which received thousands of disaster evacuees, and Otsuchi (Iwate Prefecture), a coastal town devastated by the 3.11 tsunami. Before the disaster Otsuchi had a population of 15,262. At least 800 residents were killed in the tsunami that carried away most of the city’s infrastructure; nearly 500 residents are still missing. Today there are 10,000 people living in Otsuchi, 5,400 of who still live in cramped temporary housing units.

Our guide in Otsuchi was Mr. Ryoichi Usuzawa, a community organizer. Mr. Usuzawa drove us around the city, much of which now consists only of partial concrete foundations where buildings once stood. The entire city administration of Otsuchi (more than 20 persons) drowned in the tsunami—they had been called by the mayor to the town hall at the time of the earthquake. Mr. Usuzawa drove us up a steep hill to an area overlooking the town, just above the now-destroyed Buddhist temple and the adjoining hillside cemetery, which is still intact. On 3.11, hundreds of residents watched from this vantage point as the massive wall of water rolled in and mowed down their town (including their own homes, some with people still inside), the buildings collapsing “like dominos.” The devastation resulted in huge amounts of debris that caused further damage in turn, as tanks of propane gas bobbed along, became entangled in debris, and ignited fires and explosions “bubbling on top with smoke.” Mr. Usuzawa says, “It was like a huge washing machine was spinning the whole town. Everything was moving clockwise.”[4]

Otsuchi, Iwate Prefecture, October 2012

One of these hilltop spectators captured the scene on video, and we watched the terrifying footage on Mr. Usuzawa’s laptop as we looked down over the now-leveled city.[5] He explained that hundreds of residents, many of them elderly, fled to the Buddhist temple for refuge from the water and drowned inside. As the tsunami was rolling over Otsuchi, some 200 kilometers away a wall of water invaded the coast of Fukushima Prefecture, destroying the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and the surrounding towns. Yet the impact on residents’ health is harder to calculate, because it consists not only of physical destruction but radiation contamination.

As cultural geographer Shiloh Krupar notes, “Embodied knowledge…take[s] on a particular significance in the presence of large-scale technological -environmental disasters…, where the variability and duration of harmful waste and its biological effects are uncertain and never closed.”[6]  Measuring radiation exposure and absorbed dose requires specific, often hard-to-access technologies, and laypersons are dependent on experts and their expert knowledge for interpretation of these measurements. Individuals’ ability to know and assess their risks is severely curtailed when expert knowledge—produced by agents usually beholden to states and powerful industrial interests—is the only form of knowledge recognized as valid, even as states and industry intentionally withhold information on hazards and their biological effects. Meanwhile, embodied self-knowledge is discredited.

Fukushima evacuees and their advocates report egregious examples of misinformation, negligence, and cover-up that have exacerbated their health risks. After the earthquake and tsunami the United States Department of Defense and the Department of Energy conducted environmental and radiological monitoring of air, water, and soil on DOD installations in the region.[7] According to Professor Yukio Yamaguchi of the Japan College of Social Work, when this valuable data was shared with Japanese authorities they shelved it for two weeks instead of immediately informing the population about radiation risks. Further, the Japanese government failed to provide the Japanese public with data from the System for Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information (SPEEDI)—data predicting the location and extent of radioactive contamination after the nuclear accident—until March 23, nearly two weeks after the disaster. Because the SPEEDI data was not available, some families evacuated themselves to locations that actually were more contaminated than where they were living.[8] Perversely, the Japanese authorities provided the SPEEDI data to the U.S. military on March 14 but waited a full nine days before releasing it to the Japanese people.[9]

As happened in the Soviet Union after the Chernobyl accident, after the Fukushima accident the government quickly raised the “acceptable” level of individual radiation exposure. In Japan, the pre-nuclear accident maximum “safe” exposure was one millisievert (mSv)/year.[10] After the Fukushima disaster, suddenly exposure of 20 mSv/year was deemed safe. Some medical professionals went so far as to suggest that 100 mSv/year was a safe level of exposure.[11] Such inconsistencies made it difficult for those living near the Fukushima Daiichi NPP to make informed choices and take actions to minimize their risk of exposure to damaging radionuclides. In this context of uncertainty, a common phrase among Fukushima accident-affected persons is that, “No one knows what really happened here.”

In an age where sophisticated radiological monitoring is possible and information technology facilitates the rapid evaluation and dissemination of radiological data, the Japanese government’s crude “mapping” of the radiation fallout baffles the innocent and informed alike. Environmental contamination after a nuclear explosion or accident is uneven and patchy. We have known this since the 1950s, when radioactive fallout from bombs detonated in Nevada was carried by rain clouds all the way to New York state. Similarly, radiation maps of the area around Chernobyl (not released until years after the disaster) show an irregular contamination pattern around the NPP with “anomalous” hotspots of contamination hundreds of miles away caused by rains —biochemist and journalist Mary Mycio describes it as a “hand” with a dark palm six miles around the plant and 20-30 mile-long “fingers” caused by radiation carried by the wind.[12] Why, in the immediate wake of the Fukushima Daiichi accident, did the authorities not apply this knowledge? Why was the contamination not mapped according to the actual radiological data? Instead, in a move strangely reminiscent of the initial Chernobyl “mapping” of a 30-kilometer “zone of alienation,” a 20-kilometer “planned evacuation zone”[13] of compulsory evacuation was drawn around the Fukushima Daiichi NPP. The Japanese Cabinet Public Relations Office announced that the cumulative radiation level in those areas could reach 20 mSv/year. People living outside this artificially-drawn zone have been provided no state support to evacuate from their homes, even if the levels of contamination are actually higher there than in some places inside the planned evacuation zone.

Consider for instance the town of Namie. Namie, which was affected by both the tsunami and the NPP accident, is located inside the exclusion zone, and its roughly 20,000 surviving residents were evacuated to the city of Nihonmatsu.[14] However, levels of contamination in Namie are lower than in some towns outside the zone,[15] whose residents have not had equitable access to evacuation assistance, medical care and social services. Evacuees from Namie face their own set of very difficult circumstances in Nihonmatsu: they are tired of living in hastily-built, cramped temporary housing quarters; unemployment, boredom, and feelings of lack of control over the future fuel anomie. Long-term reliance on social welfare is demoralizing, and evacuation is especially frustrating for elderly persons who just want to go home. According to a community leader at NPO Namie in Nihonmatsu, evacuees are experiencing serious psychological problems; now that they are not in “emergency mode,” he said, they increasingly dwell on their memories of the devastating tsunami. Many suffer from survivor guilt, asking themselves why they lived when others perished. Social workers report high levels of depression and anxiety, alcoholism, gambling, and marital discord among residents of temporary housing units.

Temporary housing site for Namie evacuees in Nihonmatsu. Located in a former athletic field, this site accommodates 240 families (550 persons), including 75 children under 15 years old, and 78 solitary elderly persons. Photo by Charles Figley.

Realizing that returning to Namie is only a distant prospect, and concerned about reports of Namie children being bullied in local schools, in fall 2012 a group of community activists founded Namie Elementary School in Nihonmatsu. The school has enrolled just 30 students so far, but organizers hope it will grow and serve to cohere the community of Namie evacuees in Nihonmatsu, who one community leader described as having been “scattered like sesame seeds.”[16] Indeed, loss of community is one of the consequences of 3.11 and the resulting evacuations and resettlements of paramount concern to social workers and NPO leaders. Social work specialists in Japan point out that loss of communities was a major problem after the Great Hanshin (Kobe) earthquake in 1995, but the lessons of that tragedy have not been applied after 3.11.

Commons area at Namie Elementary School, Nihonmatsu. Photo by Charles Figley.
A map at Namie Elementary School in Nihonmatsu shows where students and teachers used to live in the seaside town of Namie, whose 20,000 surviving residents were evacuated after 3.11.

“Living apart is too difficult”

The experiences of the Nakamura family illustrate the difficulties faced bt many Fukushima accident-affected families. Before 3.11, Miki Nakamura, a nutritionist, lived with her husband and three young daughters in Koriyama in Fukushima Prefecture, 58 kilometers from the damaged NPP. The Nakamuras evacuated temporarily immediately after the accident. However, being understandably reluctant to uproot their young family, they returned to Fukushima as the new school year began in April. As in other locations close to the damaged nuclear power plant, the schools in Koriyama stayed open even though neither radiological monitoring nor decontamination efforts were underway.[17] During an informal interview in October 2012, Miki Nakamura recalled that she and other parents were told “very firmly” by their children’s schoolteachers that children should continue to attend school; children were advised to wear masks, windbreakers, and hats to protect them from radiation. Trusting in the judgment of the teachers—and in the reassurances issued by the then Prime Minister Naoto Kan and the Secretary General that “there will not be immediate health impacts”—the children in Koriyama continued going to school.

The young families who at the time of the Chernobyl accident were living in Pripyat—the workers’ city built 2 km from the NPP—would find this tragedy familiar. Although news of the accident began to circulate informally hours after the Chernobyl explosion, the authorities did not warn the 49,000 residents of Pripyat to take precautions until a full 36 hours after the accident. Children enjoyed playing outside on the warm April day, unaware that their young bodies, especially their young thyroid glands, were soaking up radioactive particles. The thyroid gland is the organ most sensitive to radiation exposure; this is particularly true for children and for those with iodine deficiencies. Local health workers were instructed not to distribute prophylactic potassium iodine pills, for fear of “causing panic.” (Subsequently, around 6,000 cases of thyroid cancers—and many more cases of thyroid anomalies—have been documented among children who at the time of the Chernobyl accident were living in contaminated areas in Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia.[18]) Incredibly, a similar scenario unfolded after the Fukushima Daiichi accident. Although health workers themselves took prophylactic potassium iodine, it was not given to children.[19]

On March 15, it snowed in Fukushima, and the snow contained radioactive materials. Radioactive particles landed on the surface of the soil. In April, the air dose rate exceeded 3.8 microsieverts (μSv)/hour at “hot-spots” in Koriyama, and 8 microsieverts/hour at some points along the school route.[20]Meanwhile, during the days following the Fukushima Daiichi accident, the Nakamuras’ dosimeter registered radiation levels of 1.5 microsieverts /hour right outside their home. It was not long before the eldest Nakamura daughter (age nine at the time) started having uncontrollable nosebleeds that her mother says “persisted even after going through a box of tissues.” The child’s nosebleeds were the first key factor in the family’s decision to leave Koriyama.

The second factor was the resignation of Professor Toshiso Kosako, an expert on radiation safety at the University of Tokyo and a nuclear advisor to the Japanese Prime Minister. In late April 2011 Kosako resigned in protest of the Japanese government’s decision after the Fukushima Daiichi accident to raise the official acceptable level of radiation exposure in schools from 1 to 20 mSv/year, a decision that allowed “children living near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to receive doses of radiation equal to the international standard for nuclear power plant workers…a level [that is] is far higher than international standards set for the public.”[21] Professor Kosako said he could not endorse this policy change from the point of view of science, or from the point of view of human rights.

The Nakamura family made a difficult decision: Miki and the children would move to Yamagata City, about an hour’s drive across the mountains from Koriyama. Mr. Nakamura would remain behind for his job, and the family would get together on weekends. Thus, Miki Nakamura and her three girls joined approximately 4,200 evacuees from Fukushima prefecture who moved to Yamagata. Like the Nakamuras, around 2,500 of these evacuees are from Fukushima City and the surrounding Nakadori area that were not under mandatory evacuation.[22] As “voluntary” evacuees, these citizens are hardly entitled to the same state entitlements that mandatory evacuees receive. Some voluntary evacuees did receive two-part reparation payments from TEPCO, the first for the months up until December 2012, and the second for the months from January to August 2013.

The financial stress on voluntary evacuees—many of which find themselves running two households (one back home, one in Yamagata)—is enormous. Rent is free for evacuation housing, but families spend approximately 100,000 Yen ($1,110) per month on moving costs, utilities for two residences, and children’s kindergarten and school fees outside their place of official residence. (The latter obstacle compels some voluntary evacuee families to transfer their official place of residence, a decision that produces its own set of complications.) Costs of transportation are also high for these split families, who travel frequently to spend time together; also, unlike mandatory evacuees, voluntary evacuees must cover the costs of their own medical check-ups. Reparations from TEPCO do not even begin to offset these expenditures: the Nakamura family received the first compensation payment of just 400,000 yen for one child, 80,000 yen for each parent “for their unnecessary radiation exposure that could have been avoided,” and another 200,000 yen “for minor and additional costs.” The second payment consisted of only 80,000 yen for a child, 40,000 yen for an adult, and 40,000 yen for additional costs.

Miki Nakamura notes that, lacking appropriate entitlements and compensation, among voluntary evacuees “there are so many children and mothers across the country that live each day by digging into their savings set aside for children’s education and their own retirement.”[23] Over time, despite their continuing concerns about radioactive contamination, the financial and emotional burdens of voluntary evacuation have compelled a number of these families to return home against their better judgment. Miki Nakamura predicts that a number of families will return to Fukushima Prefecture from Yamagata in spring 2013, “not because Fukushima will be safe, but because living apart is too difficult.”

“I am not a doctor but I know my children are sick”

In Yamagata City, the Nakamura girls continue to have health problems such as sore throat, canker sores, swollen lymph nodes, and dark circles under their eyes, which their mother believes to be related to the nuclear accident. The 10-year-old’s nosebleeds continue, but doctors—state employees who likely do not have the freedom to admit a Fukushima accident-related diagnosis—continue to discount radiation effects. One doctor who examined the eldest Nakamura child suggested that the girl’s nosebleeds were “caused by the stress of the mother.”

This readiness to attribute bodily complaints of disaster-affected persons to psychological and emotional stress is all too reminiscent of the diagnoses of “radiophobia” doled out by medical professionals and experts in the Soviet Union after the Chernobyl disaster.[24] Not surprisingly, many people in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia who believed that Chernobyl fallout had compromised their health balked at the suggestion that their ailments were caused by “fear of radiation,” not radiation itself. They had good reason to be skeptical. Anthropologist Adriana Petryna’s ethnographic study of the Chernobyl medical assessment and compensation system has revealed it that system to be anything but objective.[25] Petryna documents how the invention and application of radiation-related diagnoses in Soviet medicine were as political and social as they were scientific. Further, only half-hearted attempts were made to systematically collect health data from Chernobyl-affected persons (plant workers, clean-up workers, evacuees), making any firm conclusions about biological effects of radiation exposure versus psychological effects of “radiophobia” impossible.

During 1997 I shadowed medical professionals working at the clinic in Kyiv that houses the “Chernobyl registry.” Persons with a “Chernobyl tie” from across the country (those deemed partially or fully disabled due to Chernobyl’s effects on their health) were offered regular examinations at the clinic—some were required to undergo these checks to retain their benefits—and personnel were supposed to enter patients’ data into the clinic’s computer database. The doctors and nurses I shadowed were harried and underpaid, and saw the data entry task as a nuisance. Often data was never entered, or it was entered helter-skelter. It is well known that after Chernobyl some data concerning individual exposure to radiation (particularly among clean-up workers) was actively destroyed or changed.[26]

I also in 1997 assisted with a WHO-funded study of children’s thyroid health in Chernobyl-contaminated areas whose planned evacuation was scuttled due to lack of funds. The research team exerted a yeoman’s effort, but the desperate conditions of local infrastructure made our tasks extremely difficult. We worked in hospitals without running water or electricity, and thus our ability to do blood draws and perform ultrasounds on children’s thyroids was limited. Local medical personnel were skeptical of our team and the study’s motives and we suspected they actively discouraged sick villagers from participating. Qualitative questionnaires were not tailored to local ways of life. For instance, youngsters who spent hours each day working in the fields and walking long distances to school were never sure how to answer the ill-phrased question, “Do you exercise or do sports regularly?”

Observing these problematic data-collection procedures makes me question research conclusions that purport to definitively assess Chernobyl’s health impacts, and especially those that downplay the medical effects of radiation exposure (e.g. the 2003-2005 Report of the Chernobyl Forum).[27] The same critical eye should be applied to Fukushima accident health studies, since reports from Japan indicate that health monitoring of persons exposed to radiation after the Fukushima Daiichi NPP accident has been far from systematic or problem-free. The affected population is skeptical that doctors in the state system of medicine can offer objective diagnoses. This distrust means they may be compelled to pay out-of-pocket for private health care, in which case their medical data may not make it into official databases. In the future, these persons will not be eligible for public compensation for their Fukushima accident-related health problems.

Skepticism of official health pronouncements is reflected in people’s desire to have their personal levels of radiation exposure checked. Whole body counters (a device used to identify and measure the radioactive material in the body) are in deficit in Fukushima City, and the waiting list to be checked is some six months long.[28] Even though Yamagata hosts the largest group of Fukushima evacuees in Japan, there is not a single whole body counter in the city.[29] And as with Chernobyl, the chaotic evacuation of residents after the Fukushima accident complicates exposure assessment and health monitoring. Additionally, in early Feburary 2013 at a private meeting of the research and survey committee on residents’ health, it was suggested that the Fukushima Prefectural Medical College, the institution entirely responsible for examining radiation and its health effects, has attempted to delay the thyroid check-up for evacuees outside the prefecture.[30]

Not surprisingly, “radiophobia” has made its way into the Fukushima accident lexicon.[31] It becomes convenient and somehow perversely comforting to focus on the psychological impacts of nuclear disasters, with their many “unknowns.” The victim-blaming Miki Nakamura encounters (“the child’s health complaints are caused by the stress of the mother”) would be familiar to many Chernobyl-affected persons I have interviewed in Ukraine. Of course, this is not to discount the real psychosocial stresses associated with evacuation and the multiple forms of Fukushima’s fallout (radioactive, economic, social, psychological), many of which are being tracked by the Fukushima Health Management Survey.[32]

Miki Nakamura has met with other forms of stonewalling in her efforts to monitor her children’s health. Like all children living near the disaster site, the Nakamura girls are entitled to thyroid screenings. After her daughters’ thyroid checks at the Fukushima Prefectural Medical College, Miki received a brief notice in the mail that lacked any details or explanation of the test results. When she phoned the Medical College to ask for an explanation of the test results, personnel told her, “We are so very busy…” and discouraged her from getting a second opinion, which in the words of the doctors, “just causes confusion.” Despite the deficit of whole body counters, Miki  managed to arrange whole body counts for her daughters. However, without regular follow-ups to track the dynamic—whether their counts are going up or down—the information is of limited utility.

Miki Nakamura sums up her frustrations: “I am not a doctor but I know that my children are sick. And I saw that other children from Fukushima and in the greater Kanto region had the same health problems as my daughters, though I do not hear about it anymore…” Recent health studies show that Miki’s concern about her daughters’ thyroid health is far from unfounded. According to the April 2012 Sixth Report of Fukushima Prefecture Health Management Survey, which included examinations of 38,114 children, 35.3% of those examined were found to have cysts or nodules of up to 5 mm (0.197 inches) on their thyroids. A further 0.5% had nodules larger than 5.1 mm (0.2 inches).[33] Contradicting earlier reports, the National Institute of Radiological Sciences admitted in July 2012 that children from Fukushima had likely received lifetime thyroid doses of radiation.[34] The Health Risk Assessment from the Nuclear Accident after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami published by the World Health Organization (WHO) in February 2013 states that in the most affected regions of Fukushima Prefecture the preliminary estimated radiation effective doses[35] for the first year after the disaster ranged from 12 to 25 mSv. According to the report, in the most contaminated location the estimated increased risks over what would normally be expected are as follows:

  • all solid cancers – around 4% in females exposed as infants;
  • breast cancer – around 6% in females exposed as infants;
  • leukemia – around 7% in males exposed as infants;
  • thyroid cancer – up to 70% in females exposed as infants (the normally expected risk of thyroid cancer in females over lifetime is 0.75% and the additional lifetime risk assessed for females exposed as infants in the most affected location is 0.50%).[36]

“The future is what we are looking at right now”

Miki Nakamura spends time with other evacuee families every day as founder and director the Yamagata Association of Mothers in Evacuation (YAME). The association is a resource base and support system for families like the Nakamuras who are voluntary evacuees often split between two households. YAME has a liaison council to help mothers get necessary information, provides babysitting services and a “mothers’ morning out,” offers free legal consultations, and sponsors a regular “children’s plaza” where mothers can socialize and exchange advice while their children play. Miki Nakamura and her association worked with a local politician to draft the Fukushima Child Victims’ Law, which was passed by the Diet. But this is just a resolution without enforceability, and specific measures to protect victims’ rights (e.g. the right not to return to Fukushima) have not been determined.

As a nutritionist, in a context of radiological uncertainty Miki Nakamura draws on her knowledge of food properties and the complexities of the food supply to regulate her children’s diet. She shares and publishes recipes that contain “radioprotective” ingredients. Foods that contain beta carotene and vitamin C, for example, can help rid the body of radionuclides.[37] One food that people in the Fukushima-affected areas have not enjoyed since 3.11 is persimmons (a crop for which the region is famous), which actively absorb radionuclides and thus are highly contaminated. The Yamagata countryside is adorned with scores of persimmon trees laden with ripe, juicy, entirely inedible fruit. Just as apples have become the key symbol of the Chernobyl accident (the forbidden fruit, original sin, humankind’s folly in seeking to control nature through science)[38], perhaps the quintessential symbol of the Fukushima Daiichi accident will be the persimmon, which in Buddhist thought symbolizes the transformation of humans’ ignorance (the acrid green persimmon) into wisdom (the sweet, ripened fruit).

Loaded persimmon tree in Yamagata City.

Miki Nakamura has lost all trust in the authorities. Before the disaster she always believed the government and she never thought twice about living near a nuclear power plant. Today she demands justice. She said: “The Fukushima disaster is not just an economic problem, but a problem of our children’s future. The future is what we are looking at right now. Our kids have the right to safety and to a good and long, peaceful life. These are not ‘poor kids.’ They have a future. The most important part of reconstruction after the accident is the restoration of people’s trust and sense of security.”

Was nuclear technological failure—the Chernobyl disaster—the “straw that broke the camel’s back” of the Soviet Union?[39] The botched handling of the accident and its aftermath—and especially the central government’s overt failure and disinterest to protect the safety of citizens—confirmed what many citizens strongly believed: their government did not care for them and the system had become thoroughly corrupt and untrustworthy. While widespread protest against nuclear energy and its environmental and health risks was not possible in the authoritarian Soviet state, even in those conditions of a muzzled press and lack of freedom of speech a green movement emerged in response to Chernobyl. Chernobyl’s political fallout was one factor contributing to Gorbachev’s policy of glasnost (openness), and in a limited way anti-nuclear sentiment also fueled the Ukrainian independence movement.

Similarly, Japanese citizens have lost trust in the government and in engineers and physicians who previously commanded such respect and authority. Community leaders strongly feel that Japan lags behind other industrialized nations in democratic governance; they are particularly concerned about lack of press freedom. Indeed, in December 2012 the World Audit on corruption, democracy, and freedom of press gave Japan a democracy ranking of 29 (1 is most democratic, 150 least democratic). This puts Japan in the Audit’s “Division 2” list, along with Ghana, Panama, and Israel. Of the 26 OECD countries, Japan ranks 19th in democratic governance.[40]

The sound defeat of the Democratic Party by the Liberal Democratic Party in the national parliamentary elections in December 2012 reflected dissatisfaction with the status quo. But the elections were a referendum on the DP, not nuclear power; the LDP is pro-nuclear and does not plan to scale back nuclear energy production. Indeed, traveling through Japan I was struck by the relative lack of anti-nuclear discourse, even in Fukushima Prefecture. Few politicians criticize nuclear power. A notable exception is Tetsunari Iida, director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies who lost a bid for governor of Yamaguchi Prefecture in elections in July 2012. The anti-nuclear Tomorrow of Japan Party—formed less a month before the national parliamentary elections in December 2012—garnered scant voter support and disappeared. Reportedly the party’s calls for nuclear power drawdown failed to gain traction “amid concerns that electrical shortages could hurt the already shrinking economy.”[41]

Indeed, one gets the impression that response to the disaster has centered primarily on short-term economic, not human, concerns. Before the accident at the Fukushima NPP, Japan relied on nuclear power for 30% of its energy needs and was planning to increase that to over 50% within two decades. According to Japan’s Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, scrapping nuclear power would result in losses of $55.9 billion for power companies, at least four of which would likely face insolvency.[42] With these economic stakes, it is not surprising that TEPCO and the Japanese government have been stingy with information about the disaster, the radioactive fallout, and the potential health consequences. My acquaintances who hoped Japan would abandon nuclear energy after the Fukushima disaster fear that the chance to “change the country’s direction” has already passed by.

Haruhiko Fukase, a resident of Yamagata City who worked as a shelter volunteer and coordinator during the evacuation effort, said that the nuclear accident-affected people have been forgotten not just by the international community, but by many of their fellow Japanese citizens. “For people in Tokyo and other big cities,” he said, “the evacuees don’t even register anymore. Their problems have been forgotten.” But for thousands of families, the Fukushima nuclear disaster will never end. Community leaders repeat this refrain: “The reactor is still hot; the situation is still unstable.” Miki Nakamura and like-minded community leaders are not giving up on the democratic process. They continue to speak justice to power. As Nakamura said during the December 2012 Japanese elections, “To give up on Japanese politics is, to me, to give up on Fukushima.”[43]

Fukushima is Chernobyl. Independent of the system (Japanese, Soviet), nuclear technology requires disregard for the public, misleading statements, and obfuscation in multiple domains (medicine, science and technology, governance). As anthropologist Hugh Gusterson notes, “The disaster at Fukushima has generated cracks in what we might call the ‘social containment vessels’ around nuclear energy—the heavily scientized discourses and assumptions that assure us nuclear reactors are safe neighbors.”[44] Comparing the nuclear accidents at Chernobyl and Fukushima shows that “peaceful” nuclear technology is anything but.

I am grateful to Miki Nakamura, Satoko Hirano, Yukio Yamaguchi, Paul Josephson, Marvin Sterling, and Charles Figley for their contributions to this article.

.

 

#India- Indefinite fast by Victims of Endosulfan and solidarity Actions #mustshare


March 17, 2013

Mohankumar, well known environmental activist, is on the 15 th day of indefinite fasting demanding that  Govt of Kerala should comply with the relief and rehabilitation programme for endosulfan victims over 11+ panchayats in Kasargod district , as recommended by the NHRC .
People from all walks of life and from different parts of Kerala have so far visited the sathyagraha pandal near new bus stand, Kasargode . The sathyagraha is organized by the Endosulfan Peeditha Janakeeya Munnani (peoples front for the endosulfan affected) and started on 18th February with Pulloor Krishnan and Subhash Cheemeni beginning the hunger strike. After they were arrested by the police using force , Dr D Surendranath took over on 26th Feb, who was also arrested and forcefully removed by the police on March 2.
The govt should immediately talk with Endosulfan Peeditha Janakeeya Munnani and should meet their just demands .
The Government of Kerala should note that its continuing arrogance , even after years of struggle by the endosulfan survivors and victims and in the face of grave threat to the life of of A Mohankumar after 15 days of fasting , is anything but a minimum sensitivity to peoples will and democratic protests.

Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan on 14Th march  said it was appalling that the State government did not recognise infants and children with genetic deficiencies in endosulfan affected regions as victims of the unregulated use of the pesticide.

Speaking at a meeting to support the indefinite fast by endosulfan victims scheduled to commence here soon, Mr. Achuthanandan said the ruling front had cut down the number of beneficiaries of the endosulfan relief scheme from 4,182 to 1,613.

He said the State and Union governments had conspired to undermine the recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission to alleviate the plight of endosulfan victims.

The government had agreed in principle that the population in 27 panchayats and three municipalities were severely affected by the pesticide. However, it limited financial aid to 11 of the affected panchayats. The Union government had overturned the previous Left Democratic Front government’s pension scheme for the victims, by limiting it to five years. Mr. Achuthanandan urged civil society in the country to support the cause of the hapless victims.

Human rights activist B.R.P. Bhaskar was present.

 

 

NAPM expresses solidarity with anti-Endosulfan fast:Demands immediate justice

We express full solidarity with the indefinite fast being undertaken at Kasargod Kerala, seeking justice for the Endosulfan victims. We are deeply concerned and angered by the state government’s neglect of the plight of the victims, especially women, children and aged, for whom neither preventive nor curative health care measures are being effectively undertaken. There are ample amounts of physical and scientific evidence available of the dangerous impacts of Endosulfan, a highly toxic organochlorine pesticide on human and other beings.

We condemn the attitude of Oomenchandy Government, which, despite, full knowledge of the serious situation and in spite of requests from the people and their organizations has not responded in an adequate manner nor has it they taken any legal and punitive action against the authorities concerned and the industries who have been involved in a criminal way. We express our deep concerns for those fasting including Mohan-ji, as the fast has reached its 25th days and shall squarely hold the Government responsible for the health and safety of those on fast.  We believe that the Government is fully liable for the irreversible damages to populace not just at Kasargod, but also Idukki, Palakkad, Dakshin Kannada, Kodagu and Udupi.

We demand reparation from the government and criminal action against the pesticides companies. We are of the firm opinion that the life of citizens and the natural resources of this country are far more important than the profits which companies will make at our cost.

We also demand immediate justice to the thousands of families who have lost their dear ones due to Endosulphan spray and seek immediate government intervention for complete health care of thousands others who continue to suffer due to severe physical and mental deformities. We condemn the rabid advocacy of business interests over people’s interest and demand a complete ban on the use of Endosulfan and other such pesticides.

We express our deep anguish at the attitude of both the Central and State Governments, the Corporations who are responsible for the creation of irreparable and serious health disorders on our population and support the demands of the Endosulfan Protest Action Committee, Kasargod (Endosulfan Virudha Samara Samithi), including:

1.      A permanent ban on Endosulfan all over the country.

2.      Proper relief, rehabilitation and compensation to all the survivors of Endosulfan.

3.      Severe legal action including criminal prosecution of the corporates, central and state government authorities who were responsible for causing & continuing to cause irreversible health disaster on the victims & their families ,

4.      A complete review and assessment on the use of chemical pesticides in India by unbiased researchers.

5.      A permanent ban of all dangerous chemical pesticides which are already banned in other countries & which have a potential of serious public health & ecological disasters, issues of Safety & Bio-safety be given priority over commercial interest.Medha Patkar            C. R. Neelakandan      Krishnakant   Madhuresh      Seela      Meera Contact: 09423965153 | 09818905316

For the past 4 decades people in Kasargod have suffered from heinous use of pesticide Endosulfan, which was continuously used on the cashew plantation by the Plantation Corporation of Kerala. This aerially sprayed pesticide has poisoned the water, the air and the soil for generations to come.

One of the most toxic pesticides on the market today, Endosulfan is responsible for many fatal pesticide poisoning incidents around the world. In Kasargod, more than 3000 people living near, downstream and downwind of the estate were affected by debilitating rare diseases like mental retardation, cerebral palsy, cancer etc.

While the use of Endosulfan was banned in 2011, people are struggling for justice. For the past fortnight, people are on indefinite fast in Kasargod demanding:

1. To review the decision to give aid and help for just 5 years by the Government

2. To include all deserving people in the list which is still incomplete

3. Implement all the recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission

4. Constitute a Tribunal for Compensation and Identification of the Real culprits

5. The debt load of the affected people be taken by the Government

6. To design a scientific rehabilitation program for the affected region

7. To remove and detoxify the Endosulfan reserves still remaining in the godowns.

8. To plan a proper Natural farming policy phasing out all toxic pesticides that kill, maim and contaminate soil, food and human bodies.

Organisations in Kerala have given a solidarity call for action on March 18, and Delhi Solidarity Group is planning the same in front of the Kerala House, Jantar Mantar, New Delhi on the same day at 2pm in support of the ongoing indefinite fast and for the genuine demands of the people.

EXPRESS YOUR SOLIDARITY WITH YOUR PRESENCE.

 

#India- When rape ‘survivor’ becomes ‘victim’ #Vaw #Gender #Justice #mustread


 By-  Sherin B.S. at kafila.org

MARCH 16, 2013

SHERIN B.S. writes from Hyderabad: There is a constant demand for a change in the terminology from ‘rape victim’ to ‘rape survivor’ in the agenda of feminist concerns in discourses related to rape. But beyond the feminist investment on surviving rape, a systematic reading of public discourses presents the traumatic sustenance of layers of violence that follows rape. TheSuryanelli girl has survived rape, but the violent experience of life after rape perpetrated by systemic structures of patriarchy places her at the receiving end of a system that consciously alienates, humiliates and hunts her down.

While referring to the Suryanelli rape case there are two kinds of discourses circulated widely. One is the question of legality of the crime involved, with a heavily prejudiced and unsympathetic legal frame work attempting to frame the girl as an eternal victim subject for whom justice is almost impossible, mediated through parallel machinery of the state, including law enforcement. The impossibility of justice is not the intention of the legal machinery but it comes through the operating forces of judgments, prosecution stands, law enforcing offices like police stations and officers, and questions of evidence, alibis and so on.

The second discourse is the moral discourse heavily prejudiced and antagonistic to the survivor that happily relates the story of the fallen girl, punished for her deviance thus providing a lesson to all women in the society. This discourse is circulated through the specificities of the rape case but intentionally expecting to form a larger field of reprimands, guidelines, moral lessons for any woman who violates the unwritten codes of conduct. In both the discourses the survivor and the harrowing experiences that she went through lie somewhere far off from the domain of address, which rises from definitive intention to control and exploit female sexuality. Alternatively this moral realm affects and manipulates the operations of the legal discourse as clearly evident from the high court judgment releasing all the accused from the Suryanelli case.

The Suryanelli Rape Case

The Suryanelli rape, occurred in 1996 in Kerala, involves the abduction, severe exploitation and rape of a sixteen year old school girl, abducted and taken to different places in Kerala, by 42 men from all walks of life.  Between January 16 and February 26 she was submitted to extreme and horrible forms of sexual violence. The survivor named many high profiled politicians and professionals including Congress leader and the present Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairperson PJ Kurien as part of her assaulters, but they did not figure in the charge sheet given the consideration of lack of evidence. Nair Service Society office bearer Sukumaran Nair came up with a statement to support P J Kurien to say that Kurien had met him at the office during the particular time of the day mentioned by the girl. In 2000 September the special court for sexual assault convicted 35 of the accused for rigorous imprisonment and punishment. But in 2005, on the basis of the appeal filed against this judgment the High Court of Kerala acquitted all the convicted and punished just one, the third accused, that too reducing his sentence to five years. The public which had already ostracized her got the right weapon then to high light its moral judgment on the girl. The innuendos promoted by many mainstream Malayalam dailies got affirmation through the verdict.

In 2012 the girl was arrested for an alleged financial irregularity case in the office where she was working. The lawyers of the girl say that vested interest had set her up as her case was coming up in the Supreme Court. The recent development in the issue is the Supreme Court’s directions to the High court to re- examine the case, finding the High court judgment legally flawed. It should be noted that this is based on an appeal filed by the Kerala Government against the High court judgment, which remained pending for about seven years. Another development in the case is the capture of the only convicted accused of Suryanelli Case who had jumped bail earlier, making a statement that the deputy chairman of Rajya Sabha , P.J Kurien was involved in the case and he personally had taken Kurien to the Guest house referred to by the girl. In the light of this statement there has been wide spread demands to re-open the case to include Kurien in the list of the accused.

Justice delayed:

Now the delay in the legal proceedings that adds to the intense suffering and communal ostracising of the girl for 17 years has never been addressed. The way, the case has been handled/mis handled by the law enforcing officers,  the survivor was taken from place to place as part of the enquiry and medical examination and some of the Malayalam dailies made titillating stories out of a sixteen year old who was brutally raped by 42 men, all add to the legal injustice done to her. Being a constant spectacle for the demands of a sex-starved society, the print media that covered her case through convoluted stories celebrated her as a piece of spicy ingredient.

That seventeen years have passed and still the crime committed to a sixteen year old has been denied justice shows the inadequacy of the legal mechanism in the country. It is to be noted that the rampant criticism extended by the feminist organizations regarding the delay in sexual assault cases in the light of the Delhi rape has resulted a speedy dealing of the Suryanelli appeal. Now the delay in justice has resulted in many things: the sixteen year old girl has lived seventeen years through the humiliation of a rigid moral society, the girl has been constantly chased and hunted down by a group of accused in a defensive mode, the entire family goes through the social stigma towards the rape survivor…the story goes on. While considering the case will all these be concerns for law?

Double standards of print journalism:

Malayala Manorama, the leading Malayalam daily started the stories in a melodramatic vein like a soap serial initially and portrayed her in the typical victim’s cloth. Initially she was referred to as the Munnar girl and the daily came out with front page reports on the issue. (Malayala Manorama, 19th March). Titles like “forty days, forty monsters” added to the melodramatic effect. But from 1996 April 2nd onwards the news paper changed its stand. Interestingly, it was around this period  the investigation turned to political leaders and professionals. Though never included in the list of accused, college professors like Jacob Mathew and Congress leader P.J Kurien were implicated during this phase of the investigation. Malayala Manorama reported discrepancy in the girl’s statement at this point. April 3, 1996 issue of the daily carried a front page cartoon, titled Agniputri representing a girl with the list of UDF candidates and someone from the background addressing her as comrade, prompting her to pause and wail after reading out each name from the list. This was the most naturalized form of misogyny that Kerala society received without any protest. While attempting to protect P.J Kurien and those close to the Catholic Church, Manorama violated all decencies of journalist etiquette and human concerns.

Violence of public discourses:

Recourse to family and sentiments of compassion are often revoked while dealing with the rape accused. P.J Kurien’s wife’s statement gets wide public circulation where she laments her plight and that of two daughters who are severely affected by the image tarnishing that takes place. Presenting her husband as a victim of vested interests she urges the feminists to consider her family too in this game of political lobbying. Along the same lines, moral statements regarding the character of the girl come out. Congress leader from Kerala, Sudhakaran says there should be a border line between prostitution and rape cases and that the victim of the Suryanelli case had a questionable character. He also adds that those who support the girl should think that Kurien has a family. Now this support to Kurien’s family evolves from a biased view about family and sexuality. It becomes problematic because this discourse exposes the moral grounds with which rapes have always been discussed in India. More than Rape, the violation of family values becomes a concern. The same concern also is denied to the survivor by branding her as morally deviant.

Thus the Suryanelli girl’s family should suffer because she is deviant, capable of lying and possesses an objectionable character. The binary logic of sexual promiscuity and sexual chastity helps in trivializing the rape, making the survivor the deserving body upon which the crime can be acted. The binaries of vicious mind reflecting the vicious body helps in justifying the alienation of the victim and evoking sympathies for the accused. When a normative family bonding and honor become a necessity to deserve justice, why is it that the same concern and justice is denied to the victim? The double standards of this discourse well justify Arundhati Roy’s response to Delhi rape that this exceptional reaction derives from the fact that it plays into our idea of the criminal poor: the rickshawallah and the vegetable vendor… The initial days of Suryanelli investigation drew sympathetic support for the victim, as the investigation proceeded through the involvement of  the bus cleaner, the fruit vendor, the police constable and similar images that cater to our idea of the perfect criminal. These sympathies were turned around, as and when the upper middle class, aristocratic Syrian Christians and political leaders appeared in the frame. The empathisers leave her, she becomes the prostitute and references shift to her non reliability as a person of character.

The legal discourse:

The Suryanelli case is also a typical example of a rape case fought for many years (about seventeen years) and still reached nowhere. As in the case of Mathura and other infamous judgments from apex courts, the Suryanelli judgment also evokes questions on the irresponsible and insensitive functioning of the criminal judicial system. The judgment that strives hard to prove that the girl’s statements are false, relating to a previous experience of her lying about the hostel fee of four hundred and fifty rupees and misusing it and also an attempt on her part to pawn her ornament. These are the basic premise on which the girl’s statements have been verified. The judgment reads while debating the difference between rape and consensual sex:

“When we read the evidence of PW3, we have to be cognizant of her psyche- her mental makeup. Her past conduct and behavior have to be borne in mind. She was only a student of 9th standard. She had squandered Rs. 450/- entrusted to her by her father for remitting hostel fees……That piece of conduct is admitted by her… a school girl will always be obliged to account when hostel fee is not remitted. She was prepared to take that risk. Added to this is, as suggested by the counsel for the appellants that she was even courageous enough to approach a jeweler for pledging an ornament of hers which her parents had given her to wear, meaning thereby that she had much capability of courage of even withstanding a question by her parents as to the loss of such ornament. She admitted during the evidence that she had done so. So this gives indications about the conduct and mental makeup of PW3. … She was not a normal innocent girl of that age. She was a different person. The peculiarity in her personality must realistically be borne in mind. The evidence of a person of her age with such a conduct certainly has to be viewed seriously and with caution. A court cannot meekly swallow her version. It requires serious critical assessment.” (pp. 42-43)

The very idea that the crucial question of whether the sexual acts of violence on a ninth standard student by 42 men in a period of 40 days have been consensual or not is arrived at on the basis of these two past instances shows the non-empathetic and inhuman impulses behind the judgment leading to the contention that the prosecution failed in proving the absence of consent. Rather the judgment further claims that the unwillingness spoken by the girl now before the court is an excuse found by her to save her face in the family and among the relatives for her long absence of forty days from her house. During the 40 days of sexual assault the Bench finds several instances for the girl to escape her assaulters, in the bus stand, at the doctor’s place, lodges etc. The consideration extended to the accused related to corroborative evidences or circumstances are denied to the girl, where her age, intimidated psyche, physical and mental agony of violence she was undergoing were not enough reasons for the Bench to decide that the ninth standard girl could not plan an escape. With a clean conscience the judgment rules out possibilities of adopting the normal approach for appreciating the evidence of a rape victim.

The concurring observations by Justice Basant lamenting the failure of making the consenting age for sexual intercourse to 18, is a pathetic justification for such an unsympathetic judgment. Not only that this observation brings down the entire question of sexual violence on the survivor to the concurrence of sexual consent between that period of two years, it brings in binaries of experience of sexual assault before 18 after 18, before sixteen after 16, and so on. The result of such an in-capacious and tapered thinking would be to divert the focus from the intensity of the violence and the damage done on the victim to the mental state of the victim while producing or not producing the consent. The double standards and heavy moral weightage of this observation get exposed in the further paragraphs where he talks about the young girl who succumbed to temptations of a consumerist society and also implications of not being groomed in the proper atmosphere with a proper value system. The observation goes to the extent of saying that such children can be termed as deviants but cannot be merely condemned and left to their fate. Now the implications would be, the Suryanelli rape survivor is deviant, her parents could not bring her up in a healthy atmosphere, and that was the reason why she gave consent to the sexual atrocities on her body to forty two men for forty days. And the recommendation ends with a need for a change in law.

This is an easy washing off and shrugging away one’s responsibilities. The constant urge to prove her evidences false overthrows and challenges this claim to neutral justice.  The non accountability of law to the female citizens and the misogynist sentiments of arbitrators reflect in Suryanelli case as well. The recent remarks of Justice Basant on the girl’s character reveal the prejudices underlying the judgment.

Paradoxes in Kerala’s modernity:

The ways in which Suryanelli case recurs in Kerala’s public sphere reveals the aberrations in Kerala’s notion of modernity. While making a ponderous claim to cultural elitism and modern consciousness related to its literacy rates, living standards, health care and above all the pervasiveness of electoral politics and thinking in the public sphere, the misogyny witnessed in this state is quite ironical. Permeating all walks of life there lie misogyny and moral policing that more or less affects all forms of political thinking in the state. No other Indian state can parallel Kerala in misogyny regarding the way feminists and women’s movements have been referred to in Kerala, female political party leaders have been tarnished, and work places and other public places have alienated women.

The recent remark of a college teacher in a public function sponsored by the government of Kerala aiming at women’s empowerment that it needs only ten minutes for a man including him to insert sperm in a woman’s uterus, and then it is for the woman to carry the child for the next ten months, shows the underlying layers of prejudices, violence and misogyny in Kerala. In such a public sphere innumerable stories flourish on the Suryanelli survivor, making her a titillating piece for the consumption of the sex-starved male psyche of Kerala.

The largest political party in the country did not have any qualms in letting a person implicated in a rape case to chair the Rajya Sabha proceedings during discussions on gender justice and prevention of sexual violence against women. The urge was rather to support him than the survivor. The heavy political bias taken by the leading political parties have done enough damage to the survivor and her family, as in many earlier cases.  When the case is re-examined will there be a provision to address the irreparable damage in terms of mental, physical and emotional harassment that has been done to a rape survivor and her family for the past seventeen years?  Who would choose this plight if this is what it means to survive rape?

(Sherin B.S. is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature at the English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad.)

 

Pakistan’s Ashraf government makes history


Raja Pervez Ashraf (June 2012)PM Raja Pervez Ashraf is facing corruption allegations
BBC

Pakistan‘s PM has hailed as “a victory” for democracy the completion of a full term by an elected government for the first time in the country’s history.

“No-one will be able to harm democracy in future,” Raja Pervez Ashraf said.

An interim government will now be installed until the next election, which is expected to be held in May.

Since Pakistan was founded in 1947, government were often overthrown in coups, toppled by political infighting or end in assassinations or murders.

But overhanging the democratic transition is the continuing militancy and growing sectarian unrest, the BBC’s Mike Wooldridge in Islamabad says.

‘No rivers of milk and honey'”There is a long history of tussle between the democratic and undemocratic forces in Pakistan, but the democratic forces have finally achieved a victory,” Mr Ashraf said in a televised address to the nation.

He added that Pakistan had finally managed to strengthen “the foundations of democracy”.

And admitting that his governing Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) may not have been “able to provide rivers of milk and honey”, the prime minister said it had tried its best to alleviate the country’s problems.

Residents walk through debris after a bombing in Quetta, Pakistan. Photo: February 2013Pakistan continues to be racked by sectarian violence and Taliban insurgency

Mr Ashraf also promised that the forthcoming elections would be free and fair, and said he hoped the parties would reach consensus “amicably” on which of the rival candidates should head the caretaker cabinet.

Pakistan’s parliament was dissolved at midnight local time (19:00) GMT, and the interim administration is expected to be installed in the next few days.

Two opposition parties – led by ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and former cricket star Imran Khan – are expected to present the greatest challenge to the PPP in the elections.

At the same time, Mr Ashraf is facing a corruption investigation over allegations that he took bribes while he was a minister.

Mr Ashraf, who became prime minister after his predecessor was forced out amid a dispute with the judiciary, has been in the job for less than a year.

 

#India – Drunk Man wakes up sterilized in a Madhya Pradesh hospital #WTFNEWS


By, TNN | Mar 17, 2013,

Bring 500 for sterilisation, take home a Nano

 Pic- Bring 500 for sterilisation, take home a Nano

JABALPUR: When Rajkumar Ahirwar accepted an offer on March 13 to go to the neighborhood adda (local pub) from Deepak Rajak, a casual acquaintance, he had little idea what awaited him. The 22-year-old from Ashok Nagar woke up from his drunken stupor in a government district hospital the next day with a certificate in his pocket that said he had been vasectomised

In a bid to achieve sterilisation targets, touts are running riot in parts of Madhya Pradesh even as government functionaries are being induced to get more people for these operations. The promises range from a Nanocar for arranging 500 such patients, a fridge for 50 and a 10 gm goldcoin for 25.

“Complaints have been pouring in of people being forced to undergo vasectomies and tubectomies,” a source in the health department said. “These incidents show the hollowness of chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan‘s assurance in February last year that he would ensure such practices aren’t encouraged.”

Alarmingly, many of those being given the “treatment” include the unmarried and the mentally challenged. Sources said some of them were even in their 70s. There have also been complaints of lower level officers intimidating the poor to sign up for the procedure by threatening to cancel their BPL cards and other facilities.

The prime victims, quite predictably, are the hapless tribals ignorant of their rights and poor dalits too feeble to fend off the pressure. A senior government doctor in Mandla alleged that Baiga tribals were sterilized in Dindori and Shahdol district hospitals recently but the issue was hushed up. In January, three women died in a sterilization camp held in Vidisha. Here, too, no responsibility was fixed. A substantial chunk of people queuing up at sterilization camps are from the tribal belts of Barwani, Khargone, Alirajpur and Jhabua. “It is shocking that in many cases the patients aren’t given discharge cards after the operation,” says Madhuri, a member of Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (JADS), an NGO. This means that in case of any medical complications the health department cannot be held accountable.

Doctors, too, seem to have turned into butchers with many busy notching up the numbers. According to standard norms, a surgeon is expected to do 30-50 operations a day, but in

Indore and Malwa regions doctors are openly boasting of 500 daily surgeries. However, Dr Ranjana Gupta, joint director, MP Health Services, dismissed reports of underhand dealings or forced sterilisations and insisted that the instances were vastly exaggerated.

But hospitals are clearly on an overdrive to beat the March 31 deadline to reach their targets. “That’s why the bizarre incentives like car and gold coin,” said a doctor who refused to come on record. JADS has already filed a PIL on maternal health with the Indore bench of the high court where the issue of sterilisations and the callous approach of health functionaries have been highlighted.

 

Mumbai – Bouncer who protested rape bid murdered #WTFnews


By, TNN | Mar 17, 2013,

Bouncer who protested rape bid murdered
The Mahatma Phule police, on the basis of Abdul’s dying declaration, registered a murder case against prime accused Sadiq Shaikh (18), besides Shamsuddin Shaikh (21), Jameer Kadar Shaikh, Sameer Sayyed, Subhash Malbari and Sumit Prajapati.
MUMBAI: Haji Abdul Gaffar Shaikh, a 33-year-old bouncer, was brutally attacked by six men late on Friday night in Kalyan (West) for protesting against a teenager’s bid to rape an 11-year-old girl in the neighbourhood last week. The father of two young children, Abdul succumbed to his injuries early on Saturday.

The Mahatma Phule police, on the basis of Abdul’s dying declaration, registered a murder case against prime accused Sadiq Shaikh (18), besides Shamsuddin Shaikh (21), Jameer Kadar Shaikh, Sameer Sayyed, Subhash Malbari and Sumit Prajapati. Shamsuddin has been arrested, the others are absconding.

The family of a minor girl, who was saved by neighbours when Sadiq was allegedly dragging her to the terrace with the intention of raping her on March 4, has also given its statement to the police. The incident seems to have set off the revenge saga. Hearing the girl’s screams, neighbours had rescued her and slapped Sadiq. The victim’s family did not file any police complaint at the time to avoid attention. Instead, a meeting of community members was called. Abdul, who lived in the next building, was incensed and slapped Sadiq at the meeting.

Abdul’s mother, who lost her husband seven years ago, still can’t believe her son was killed for raising his voice against a man who tried to rape a minor. “When my son learnt of Sadiq’s behaviour, he got very angry as he also had a young daughter. It was the reason why he went to the meeting and slapped the accused, warning him not to repeat the incident,” said a tearful Shahnaj, adding, “We want maximum punishment for them.”

Abdul told police in his dying declaration that he was returning home on his motorcycle on Friday from work at around 11.15pm, when he realized a vehicle was following him. As he slowed down at a speed-breaker near Kala Talao, some men came out of the car and attacked him with swords and choppers. Perhaps because he was a powerful man, the attackers first hacked four of his fingers to ensure he couldn’t fight back and then stabbed him seven times. Some people who later saw him lying in a pool of blood informed his relatives. He was taken to the private Shreedevi Hospital and later shifted to AIMS Hospital in Dombivli, where he died of his injuries at 1am on Saturday. “We have formed two teams to nab the accused,” said inspector Manoj Nerlekar. A crime branch team has also joined the hunt.

Abdul held two jobs to support his mother, six-year-old daughter and five-year-old son. His younger sister Rehana too, said the men deserved maximum punishment. “They should be hanged. If released, they will repeat their crimes,” she said. His elder sister Zarina said, “After my father’s death, he took the family’s responsibility and got all sisters married.”

Abdul’s wife separated from him two years back.

Past Attacks

December 3, 2012: Santosh Vichivara (19), was stabbed to death by four youngsters, including three minors, outside the gate of his housing complex in Dombivli for protesting against the lewd comments they were passing at a girl frm the same complex

October 20, 2011: Keenan Santos (24) and Reuben Fernandez (29) were brutally beaten and stabbed by a group of men near a paan shop in Amboli, Andheri (W), when they protested against those men harassing their women friends. They succumbed to their injuries

 

Mumbai- Hubby’s ‘friends’ gang-rape woman, thrash him too #Vaw #WTFnews


By, TNN | Mar 17, 2013, TRAPE

MUMBAI: In the third case reported in the city in a week, a 30-year-old woman was gangraped by seven persons late on Friday in her shanty adjoining the Matunga railway compound wall. Some of the accused thrashed the victim’s husband to prevent him from coming to her rescue or raising an alarm. The Dadar GRPregistered an offence of gangrape, assault, sodomy and intimidation, before transferring it to the Matunga city police station. No arrests were made.On Wednesday, a woman was gangraped at Vile Parle while in a separate incident the same day, a eunuch was sodomized in a moving van at Kurla.

The husband of the Matunga victim grows vegetables near the tracks. They have an 18-month-old daughter who went missing six months ago. This is the victim’s second marriage; her first husband resides in Bhiwandi with their three kids.

“Two of the seven accused, Siddhu and Anoop, are known to the victim’s husband. Siddhu is a resident of Matunga labour camp,” said a police officer.

Around 6pm on Friday, the victim and her husband had a fight. Siddhu arrived at their house soon after and began instigating the victim’s husband to desert her. After Siddhu made a pass at her, the victim’s husband threatened to lodge a complaint with the RPF against him. This prompted Siddhu to leave.

Later that night, the couple was asleep when some men knocked at the door around 11.45pm. They claimed to be looking for a friend. “Once inside, some of the accused dragged out the victim’s husband and thrashed him with bamboo sticks. The others took turns to rape her,” said an officer. The victim was also sodomized. Her husband couldn’t come to her aid as he was injured. The accused left around 1.15am.

 

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