#India – Tribal women hit hardest by development: study #Vaw #Womenrights


 

STAFF REPORTER, The Hindu

When displaced by development projects, many migrate to cities as servants, some are lured into prostitution

A study conducted by Centre for Development Studies (CDS) on impact of development on tribal people has found that tribal women are the worst sufferers in this process of change.

The study, titled ‘Withering Valli: Alienation, degradation and enslavement of tribal women in Attappady’ and undertaken along with the Kerala Research Programme on Local Level Development, says the “displacement for development projects has deprived tribesfolk of their land and forests from which much of their food came”.

“Today, they have to walk much longer distances than in the past to collect food and fodder. Impoverishment forces women to migrate to towns and cities as domestic servants. Many of them are also lured into prostitution. Development schemes have effected a thorough change in the socio-economic and cultural life of the tribal women.Transactions are increasingly made in man’s name. Improved facilities of development like transportation, health, housing, and technology have not reached women.” The study has also found that “women continued to work hard and have no time to enjoy the fruits of development. Women’s work is considered unskilled and unproductive in the market sense.”

Women also have to be at the beck and call of officials and contractors who come to tribal areas to implement projects of development, the study observes. “When development programmes are allotted to women, they have to go to various offices to get the programmes sanctioned. Some women have to undergo sexual abuse at the hand of officers. In order to get grants or subsidies for house construction and building of cattle-shed, women are sometimes forced to oblige to officials. Among the victims of rape and sexual harassment, 95 per cent are tribal women and children. Of this, all the victims were tribesfolk belonging to the age group of 6-16 years.”

There are no witnesses to the thousands of unreported atrocities on tribal women like rape, sexual harassment, and murders except the forests, mountains, and valleys, the report says.

The government promotes and even rewards mixed marriages, between tribal women and settlers from other parts of the State, with monetary awards. But the settlers who marry tribal women usually have wife and children back home. After a period, the settlers go back to their own native places leaving their tribal wives and children in lurch.

Among the sexual exploiters of tribal women, the people involved are the police, government officials, contractors, smugglers, flesh-traders, and immigrant farmers. Incidents of death and murder of tribal women have also become common; and almost in every case, the culprits go unpunished. ”

 

#India- National Commission for Scheduled Tribes puts Governors in the docks


Governors in the dock

 

Author(s): Jitendra, downtoearth

Issue Date: Apr 15, 2013

image

Tribals in Jharkhand protest for land rights. Conflicts are growing in tribal areas ( photo credit: ARVIND YADAV / CSE)

They turn a blind eye to laws overriding tribal rights, complains national commission

 

GOVERNORS of states with sizeable tribal population have come in for indictment over not performing their special administrative roles. To ensure partial autonomy in tribal areas, the Constitution entrusts governors with immense powers to supervise the administration and governance in such areas. They can allow or disallow any law or development programme in tribal areas to protect self governance and development needs. They can also make regulations for harmony and effective governance. But governors are hardly doing so, finds the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.

 

In a confidential report sent to the President, the Commission has recommended that governors be made more accountable in dispensing their special duties in tribal areas notified under Schedule Five of the Constitution, which protects tribal interests. This comes at a time when the government is allocating large development funds for these areas, many of which are reeling from Maoist insurgency.

 

“There is a need to evolve a mechanism for the governor … in scheduled areas to monitor and ensure implementation (of constitutional provisions) in letter and spirit. So that governors may play an oversight role in the matter,” states the report sent in June last yearand seen by Down To Earth.

 

The Commission, a constitutional body, sends an annual report to the President on the state of affairs in tribal areas notified under Schedule Five.

 

According to sources, the President, who also enjoys special powers in Schedule Five areas, has sent the report to the tribal affairs ministry. It should have been placed in Parliament after a review by the ministry. But the ministry, due to reasons known to it best, did not do so. “We did not table it in Parliament due to complex procedures and nonavailability of a Hindi version of the report,” A K Dubey, joint secretary of the ministry, says. He does not elaborate“complex procedures”.

 

Since its inception in 2004, the Commission has sent five annual reports to the President. Except for the first one, no report has yet been tabled in Parliament.

 

Review all laws

The latest report indicates constant failure of governors in overseeing developments in Schedule Five areas.

 

The most important responsibility of the governor is to ensure that the special panchayati raj law for tribal areas, known as PESA—Panchayat (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act—is implemented effectively and any law that contradicts it is put aside. Through a notification, a governor can annul, restrict or modify state and Centre’s regulations without seeking the opinion of the Council of Ministers headed by the chief minister.

 

Governors’ reports rarely mention poor governance, insurgency or displacement

However, according to B D Sharma, the last commissioner for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, “All the laws are automatically applicable until the governor does not want to implement or amend as per the need of the Fifth Schedule areas.” As governors fail to perform this duty, general laws have automatically been applicable to tribal areas, often leading to conflicts.

 

 

The confidential report has recommended a review of all laws for their adaptation in Scheduled Areas. Every year the governor is supposed to send a TACs conducted meetings till December 2012. Senior journalist B G Verghese, who has written extensively on the issue, says sarcastically that it is mutely accepted by the Government of India that the governor in the Fifth Schedule, meant to be a “governor-in-council”, is acting on the aid and advice of his council.

The confidential report has recommended a review of all laws for their adaptation in Scheduled Areas. Every year the governor is supposed to send a report to the President on the state of affairs and his/her interventions.

 

The commission has suggested that the ministry of tribal affairs should issue a uniform format for preparation and submission of governor’s report. The format should have a provision for review of Union and state laws and their compatibility with the constitutional provisions safeguarding tribal interests. It should also have a specification for listing steps taken to protect the constitutional rights of tribals.

 

In reviewing laws, governors can consult the Tribes Advisory Councils (TACs) constituted by the states with tribal areas. In the current financial year, four states out of the 11 that have TACs conducted meetings till December 2012. Senior journalist B G Verghese, who has written extensively on the issue, says sarcastically that it is mutely accepted by the Government of India that the governor in the Fifth Schedule, meant to be a “governor-in-council”, is acting on
the aid and advice of his council.

 

The confidential report has recommended making TACs more accountable. The advisory councils should be reconstituted regularly and meet at least twice a year, says the report.

 

Out of focus

Governors’ role in Schedule Five areas has been under scrutiny ever since the enactment of PESA. It gained urgency in the recent past with large-scale industrialisation triggering conflicts in several tribal areas.

 

Governors are not only irregular in sending annual reports to the President (see map), but also evasive on the subjects these reports are meant to address. R R Prasad, director of the National Institute of Rural Development, has analysed such reports. According to him, none of these reports talks about burning issues like displacement, poor governance and insurgency.

 

“The reports are hardly objective assessments as required by the law. Largely, they read like a laundry list of physical targets and financial allocations under various schemes as reported by the state government’s department,” says Prasad. “It is time a more stringent system is put in place so that the annual report truly reflects the condition of tribes in these areas.”

 

There is no proper record of the annual reports submitted to the President. Non-profit Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative sought records on governors’ reports between 1990 and 2008 through the right-to-information route. But the tribal affairs ministry furnished reports dating from only 2001, citing the reason that the ministry was created in October 1999.

 

This is not the first time government’s own wing underscored governors’ negligence in tribal areas. In 2008 and 2011, during governors’ meetings in Delhi, the then president requested them to look into their roles in tribal areas more seriously. In April 2012, the Central government for the first time issued a directive to a governor in respect to his constitutional duty in Scheduled Areas. V Kishore Chandra Deo, Union Minister for Tribal Affairs and Panchayati Raj, asked the governor of Andhra Pradesh to cancel the memorandum of understanding signed for bauxite mining in the state’s Scheduled areas. The governor, however, ignored the directive.

 

The Commission’s report has officially raised an issue that has been simmering for some time now.

 

 

 

Vaccines Get Past Taliban, Finally #goodnews #pakistan


By Ashfaq Yusufzai
After four years, tens of thousands of children in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) are receiving the polio vaccination. Credit: Ashfaq Yusufzai/IPSAfter four years, tens of thousands of children in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) are receiving the polio vaccination. Credit: Ashfaq Yusufzai/IPS

PESHAWAR, Pakistan, Sep 26 2012 (IPS) – Over thirty thousand children in the remote Tirah area of the Khyber Agency, part of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in Northern Pakistan, have waited four years for protection from polio, a viral disease that is sometimes referred to as ‘infantile paralysis’ due to its crippling effects on children.

A massive government and civil society effort through the month of September finally began to reverse the trend that had kept the children of Tirah, along with hundreds of thousands in the greater FATA area, under the shadow of polio.

Up until this year, children in all seven FATA agencies have been the worst victims of the Taliban’s ban on the oral polio vaccination (OPV), which the organisation claims was a ploy by the United States to render the recipients impotent and infertile, thus strangling the growth of the Muslim population.

On Jun. 20 the outlawed Tehreek Taliban Pakistan (TTP) banned vaccinations in North Waziristan, putting 161,000 at risk of contracting the preventable childhood disease.

A week later, the TTP in the adjacent South Waziristan province imposed a ban on numerous vaccinations that rendered 157,000 children vulnerable to eight preventable childhood ailments – polio, measles, diphtheria, hepatitis, meningitis, pertussis, influenza and pneumonia.

“Anyone found involved in vaccination-related activities was dealt with sternly,” TTP Spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan said a statement, adding that the responsibility rested with those who advocated for any kind of vaccination.

Not even professional health workers were spared if they were found to be in violation of the ban.

“Due to the Taliban’s barbarism, such as beheading soldiers and local residents on charge of spying, stoning alleged ‘sinners’ (such as adulterers) to death and targeted assassinations, the Taliban have spread their message about the vaccinations loud and clear,” explained FATA Director of Health, Dr Fawad Khan.

Khan said that more than 6000 FATA health workers had been directed to stay away from vaccine-related work.

Earlier this month officials mounted an offensive against the ban. The government enlisted a local NGO, the National Research and Development Foundation, and religious scholars to hold talks with the outlawed jihadist outfit Ansar ul Islam (AI) to negotiate the terms of a vaccination programme.

The NGO began facilitating the vaccination on Sept. 4, an upbeat Dr. Aftab Akbar Durrani, social sector secretary of the FATA, told IPS.

He added that AI’s cooperation had enabled 95 percent of the children in the Tirah area to receive the vaccination.

“It is a major breakthrough, as many (previous) efforts to vaccinate children in the Taliban-controlled areas had failed,” officials told the English-language Dawn newspaper, crediting the organisation with protecting 32,641 children from polio.

Officials added that 11,626 children also received the vaccine against measles, while another 3,889 newborns and month-old infants were vaccinated against five other ailments between Sept. 4 and 6.

“Ansar ul Islam and religious leaders attached to the group understand that the poliovirus can cause lifelong disability so they are ready to support the initiative,” according to officials. Only four families refused to vaccinate their children, but efforts are currently underway to convince them otherwise.

“Ansar ul Islam played a vital role in countering community refusals,” officials told IPS

Fifty percent of children In Bara, a town in Khyber Agency, had not received the oral polio vaccine (OPV) since October 2009, owing to an ongoing operation against militants in the area.

Officials developed a new strategy to reach the inaccessible children in FATA, which included working in “collaboration with scouts (who) carried out door-to-door visit with the help of local vaccinators”.

Durrani told Dawn that aggressive efforts were underway to ensure immunisation of all 900,000 target children in FATA.

“We are administering OPV to the displaced children of Waziristan in the adjacent districts of Bannu, Tank and Dera Ismail Khan where they live in rented houses or with their relatives,” he said.

He said that more than 25,000 displaced children from Orakzai Agency had been vaccinated in the nearby Hangu district, while 50,000 children In Jalozai had also received the OPV.

“Displacement has been proving a blessing in disguise for the displaced children, who are getting protection against eight vaccine-preventable ailments through immunisation,” Durrani said.

A three-part campaign throughout September saw the immunisation of 600,000 children in FATA while 300,000 were still inaccessible.

Related articles

Pakistan on path to establish National Human Rights Institution (NHRI)


 

Asis Pacific Forum ( APF Bulletin) January 2012

Pakistan’s National Assembly has unanimously passed a bill to establish an independent human rights institution (NHRI) with wide judicial powers.

The passage of the bill on 21 December 2011 follows years of advocacy from national organisations, with advice and support provided by regional and international organisations, including the APF and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Under the bill, the National Commission for Human Rights will have the power to receive and consider complaints. When undertaking inquiries, it will have the powers of a civil court and can summon any individual, public or private department.

A retired judge from the higher judiciary, or any other “eminent person of known integrity, competence and experience,” must head the body, which will include two members from minority communities and one from each province, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Gilgit-Baltistan and the Islamabad Capital Territory. It will also include three female members.

The commission will have the power to intervene in any proceedings involving alleged violations of human rights, to visit jails nationwide and to appoint special investigation teams of officers from police and other law enforcement agencies.

It will be required to submit an annual report to the federal government which will then be bound to lay it before parliament.

In addition, the commission will have full administrative and financial autonomy and its accounts will be audited by the auditor general of Pakistan. It will be based in Islamabad and may establish offices in provincial headquarters or other places as appropriate.

While supportive of its objectives, members of the Senate have referred the bill to the house committees on human rights and law and justice for review, with a report expected to be presented in late February.

If amendments are made, the Bill will need to be resubmitted to the National Assembly for consideration. Once approved by both houses of parliament, the Bill will require the signature of the President before becoming law.

The APF welcomes this significant progress in establishing a NHRI in Pakistan.

The APF conducted visits to Pakistan in 2005 and 2008 to meet with key stakeholders and has provided technical advice during the drafting of legislation to promote compliance with the Paris Principles.

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