#India- Against Castration for Rapists #Vaw #Justice

JANUARY 15, 2013



The public preoccupation with both the death penalty and castration as punishment for rape continued last week, with the Pakistani activist Asma Jahangir reportedly suggesting that the rapists of the Delhi rape case be either punished with castration or else face the death penalty.[1]The consistent demand for punitive castration in India may be somewhat boosted by the Indian media reporting the following developments – last week, the South Korean court ordered Asia’s first chemical castration[2]; the Malaysian bar is pushing for castration[3] as a punishment for repeat sex offenders; and that such punishment has reportedly been long used in other countries[4]such as Germany, Denmark, and some states in the U.S.

The most recent demands for castration can broadly be divided into two categories: popular and legal. Here we wish to problematize both, the legal and popular demands for castration by drawing out the reductive understanding of rape implicit in this demand; and by tracing the problematic notion of emasculation-as-justice driving this demand. We call for a suspension of the demand for castration on three broad grounds, listed here and discussed in greater detail below:

–          The logic of castration as legal punishment locates the threat of rape squarely in the male body (specifically male genitalia), reinforcing the heteronormative paradigm of peno-vaginal penetration that feminists have been trying for decades to dislodge from Indian rape law.

–          Such a punishment obscures the role of institutions in enabling and preserving rape. It also delinks sexual assault from structures of caste, class, sexuality and disability, which shape sexual violence.

–          The popular demand for castration relies on a logic of emasculation (napunsak banana) that actually re-centers “good,” protectionist masculinity as the way to creating a safer environment in our communities.

In legal circles, chemical castration has sometimes been presented as a more effective alternative to prison sentencing[5]. Rather than surgically and irreversibly removing the penis or the testes, chemical castration entails administering anti-androgen drugs that suppress testosterone production. In the popular imagination however, this mode of punishment undeniably evokes the gratification of “cutting off the problem at the source” by administering a well-deserved emasculation to the rapist. For example, on the website Punjabi Portal, one user wrote: “Nai fansi nai honi chahidi but rape Karen wale de part nu cut ke usnu napunsak bana dena chahida … Taki oh rape taan ki viah Karen de Kabil v na rahe” (Rapists shouldn’t be hung, but their part should be cut and they should be emasculated … so that they are unable to rape and unworthy to “marry”). [6]On Twitter, another user wrote: “delhi gang rapers ko napunsak bana diya jaye” (emasculate the Delhi gang rapists) [7]; yet another Twitter user said: “Guys in India arenapunsak to the power infinity..Capable of pulling a stunt like Delhi bus gang rape case or acid attack”.[8]The Facebook page “Hang in Public..Delhi Gangrape Culprits”[9] with 531 “likes” bears on its wall numerous fantasies of torture and castration.Elsewhere, it is the Delhi police who are berated for being napunsak[10] for failing to protect women from rape, and for targeting protesters. This language of napunsakta, which at once calls for the emasculation of the hyper-masculine rapist and berates the Delhi police for not being manly enough, exemplifies the ways in which,as Iris Marion Young notes, “dominative masculinity … constitutes protective masculinity[11] as its other” and so legitimizes the control of women in the name of protection.But as Kavita Krishnan noted in her now viral speech[12]: “This machismo is not any solution to the problem of violence against women — it is the root of the problem itself.”

What does the demand for castration presume about the nature of rape, and what possibilities does it offer as a legal response to rape?To begin with, the demand for castration locates rape as a crime of sex. In this view,rape is something men do to women, with their penises,because of an excess of testosterone in their bodies. It is ironic that this impetus towards castration has gained momentum in the aftermath of a brutal rape conducted not only with penises, but with iron rods.Are we really persuaded that a more controlled libido would have prevented those six men from committing their brutal act of disciplinary violence against the young woman who died in Delhi last week? Do we believe that it would have prevented the rape of the minor Dalit girl who committed suicide after she was lured[13]—by a woman—to her rape by two caste Hindus in Punjab? Would it have prevented the infamous mass rape of an entire village of Kashmiri women in Kunan Poshpora by the Indian army in 1991—and if so, are we willing to convict and impose castration on the army personnel involved in those rapes? When Thangjam Manorama was picked up by security forces in Manipur, sexually tortured and shot in the genitals after being charged with being a militant, was it the raging testosterone of the soldiers that led to her rape? Or are we willing to consider that in all these instances, the derision and apathy of the police; the impunity granted to soldiers under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in Manipur and Kashmir; and the abysmally low conviction rate around rape across India may have played a greater part in these scenarios?

The enormously reductive understanding of rape as a penis-driven crime fixes responsibility on individuals and prioritizes biological motivations, while obscuring the social, cultural and political structuresthat enable rape. Additionally, it completely overrides the work of activists across different constituencies (women’s rights, queer rights, child rights, dalit rights, disability rights) to expand the definition of rape beyond the peno-vaginal paradigm in the law. As Flavia Agnes notes, “Vaginal penetration is only one of the many ways in which women are chastised and humiliated [particularly in episodes of caste and communal violence such as Partition, the Gujarat carnage, and Khairlanji]. Acid attacks, slashing of the face, stripping and parading, dragging women to the ground and kicking them on their abdomen, etc. are some of the other violent ways in which women are shown their place in public.”We would agree with Agnes that “while we are addressing issues of sexual assaults [we must] stop awarding a special status for peno-vaginal penetration as compared to other types of violations.”The peno-vaginal understanding of rape also overlooks the frequent role of women in enabling rape, as well as the vulnerability of men or transgender people: for instance in Khairlanji, where women dragged out Priyanka and Surekha Bhotmange[14]by their hair, beat and stripped them before leaving them to be raped by men; or in Kashmir, where scores of men have been sexually tortured in custody by security forces; or indeed all over India, where gay men and transgender[15] people are routinely subject to rape.What use would the castration fix be in such scenarios, animated by power and hate rather than lust? This takes us back to the key question that activists in India have been actively working through, especially during the re-drafting of the sexual assault bill over the last few years: what constitutes sexual assault?

In conclusion, we want to extend some recent insights from feminist arguments against the death penalty, which apply to the demand for castration as well. One notable point across these critiques is that calls for more stringent punishments blithely presume an efficacious functioning of the legal machinery. Flavia Agnes warns that “around one-third of all rape cases are filed by parents against boys when their daughter exercises her sexual choice and elopes …With the clamour for death penalty [and, we would add, castration], how will we deal with such cases?”[16] Given the notoriously paternalist mentality prevailing among the Indian police force[17], in such instances the law becomes a mechanism for the caste-bound sexual regulation of young women and men by their families. Furthermore, as Kavita Krishnan so eloquently argued, the death penalty is no solution for low conviction rates, but a spectacular deflection from the real problem of police inaction. Similarly we might ask whether the legal fix of castration would do anything at all in terms of improving the conviction rate for rape in a scenario where the police regularly refuse[18] to register cases of rape[19] to begin with!

The mass protests possibly indicate a growing public awareness that rape is not merely a crime between individuals, but a crime for which the institutions of government and socials structures are equally if not more responsible. Despite the major gaps that have compromised the protests on Raisina Hill, they have publicly moved rape beyond the narrow frame of “women’s issues”[20]and implicated the government. However, this frenzy for a quick solution for rape by seeking revenge over justice[21]also obscures the structural problems highlighted by Dalit[22]and disability rights feminists.[23]For example, as Anu Ramdas rightly reminds us, the “rightful but selective[24]national exclamation of horror against this urban gang rape furthers the normalization of rapes and gang rapes of dalit and adivasi women,” which have rarely elicited such outrage, and which certainly would not be helped by the castration fix. Before we decide the terms of punishment and legal reform, we would like to ask what kinds of bodies we seek to protect, whose safety we hold dear, who we criminalize and why.


Pakistan: Investigate Plot to Kill Leading Rights Activist Asma Jahangir

Human rights watch, June 6, 2012-
Pakistani authorities should urgently and thoroughly investigate the alleged plot against Asma Jahangir and hold all those responsible to account, regardless of position or rank. A threat against Jahangir is a threat to all those in Pakistan who struggle for human rights and the rule of law.
Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan director at Human Rights Watch

(New York) – The Pakistani government should investigate allegations that elements in the Pakistani military and intelligence agencies have plotted to kill the prominent human rights activist Asma Jahangir, Human Rights Watch said. Jahangir made the allegation in a television interview on June 4, 2012.

Jahangir is globally recognized for her human rights work and is one of Pakistan’s most respected rights activists. She is credited with establishing the highly regarded independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and AGHS Legal Aid, the first free legal aid center in Pakistan. In a career as a human rights activist spanning 30 years, Jahangir has been a consistent critic of human rights violations by the Pakistani military and the intelligence services.

“Pakistani authorities should urgently and thoroughly investigate the alleged plot against Asma Jahangir and hold all those responsible to account, regardless of position or rank,” said Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan director at Human Rights Watch. “A threat against Jahangir is a threat to all those in Pakistan who struggle for human rights and the rule of law.”

Jahangir told Pakistani media on June 4 that she had discovered through a “security leak” brought to her attention by a “highly credible” source that an assassination attempt was being planned against her from “the highest levels of the security establishment.” She said that she believed it was best to go public with the information because she feared that she might be killed and a member of her family framed for the murder.

In recent months, Jahangir has been at odds with the Pakistani military in a series of high profile stand-offs. In November 2011, Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, was forced by the Pakistani military to resign his position after allegations that he was responsible for a secret memo delivered to senior US military officials seeking support for Pakistani civilian control of national security policy. As defense lawyer in the “Memogate” affair, Jahangir raised serious reservations about lack of due process in legal proceedings against Haqqani and threats to his life from the military Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Jahangir has also been a critic of the military’s policies in the insurgency-hit province of Balochistan, where it is accused of widespread killings, enforced disappearances, and torture.

Jahangir has frequently been the target of harassment and threats over the course of her career, Human Rights Watch said. She was placed under house arrest by Gen. Pervez Musharraf, the military ruler at the time, after he imposed emergency rule in 2007. She played a prominent role in the “lawyers movement” in Pakistan, which led to Musharraf’s ouster and to the restoration to office of Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

In 2010, Jahangir became the first woman to lead the Supreme Court Bar Association, Pakistan’s most influential forum for lawyers. During her campaign for the Supreme Court Bar Association, Jahangir repeatedly received threats for raising issues such as corruption in the legal arena. Extremist groups and allied Pakistani media ran a campaign accusing Jahangir of apostasy – a capital offense in Pakistan – and urging lawyers not to vote for her.

From 1998 to 2004, Jahangir served as the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions. From 2004 until mid-2010, she was the UN special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.

The involvement of the military and its intelligence agencies in high-profile killings is well-documented, Human Rights Watch said. In April 2010, a three-member UN inquiry commission into the December 2007 assassination of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto concluded that Pakistani authorities failed to provide Bhutto adequate security and that elements within the military may have played a role in her assassination. The panel was highly critical of the “pervasive role” played by the ISI in the events leading up to the assassination. In May 2011, Saleem Shahzad, a reporter for the Hong Kong-based Asia Times Online and the Italian news agency Adnkronos International, was tortured and killed after receiving repeated and direct threats from the ISI.

“Governments that have lauded Jahangir’s human rights advocacy both in Pakistan and internationally should be alarmed by this alleged plot and press for a prompt and persistent investigation,” Hasan said

UPA Minister demands to abolish death penalty- Watch NewsX Interview

March 23, 2012- Union Cabinet Minister Dr Manohar Singh Gill has demanded to abolish the death penalty from Indian judicial system with immediate affect.

Congress party Rajya Sabha MP Dr Manohar Singh Gill’s these remarks coming at a time when BKI militant Balwant Singh Rajoana is facing death penalty, assume lot of significance.

However, without referring to Rajoana, Dr Gill in an exclusive talk with Jago Punjab Jago India, said, “In fact India has abolished death penalty quite a long time back, but, judiciary has revived this process of awarding death sentence in some of the cases categorized as rare of rarest”.

A bureaucrat-turned-politician Dr Manohar Singh Gill said that Indian legislature must reaffirm its position on abolishing the death penalty through Parliament. “In rare of rarest crime cases the accused could be put into jails for a very long time on lines of United States,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Gill fully supported the idea mooted by noted Pakistani lawyer and human rights activist Asma Jehangir for forging a bilateral treaty between India and Pakistan to facilitate the unhindered exchange of prisoners who have served their jail term in the two countries but are still languishing in jails.

Dr Gill said that the treaty must serve the humanitarian purpose to instantly repatriate the prisoners as soon as they complete their sentence. He said that those, who inadvertently cross the border must immediately be handed over to their respective countries authorities.

Union Minister also sought to instantly release all those fishermen, who are caught while fishing. He also advocated to simultaneously return the seized boats of fishermen pleading that otherwise released fishermen would end up loosing their livelihood.

Dr Gill also showered praise on Asma Jehangir for being visionary and bold human rights activist. It may be mentioned here that Asma is part of the 205-member delegation of Pak’s Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) that on Wednesday crossed over via Attari-Wagah land route for their India visit during which they will participate in various seminars on legal issues.

JPJI Bureau

Original Article here


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