P J Kurien , rape accused a speaker in Women Deliver Conference, Feminists Protest #Vaw #WD2013


By- Rukmini Sen, at http://hillele.org/

In a letter to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi, Feminists and women activists accross India have expressed their shock that PJ Kurien has been invited as a lead speaker to the third Global Women Deliver Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from May 28- May 30th 2013. Rajya Sabha Deputy Speaker P J Kurien is an accused in the Suryanelli Rape Case and GWD Conference is one of the largest global event of the decade to focus on the health and empowerment of girls and women.

In this letter written and signed by some senior feminists of the country it is stated that “In 1996, in the state of Kerala, a 16-year-old girl was abducted and brutally gang-raped by 42 men over a 40 day period. She was tied up, and transported place to place throughout the state, and raped by various men at various points. When she was finally dumped by the rapists and taken to the hospital the doctors said her groin and private areas were so savaged, and she had bled so much that a few more days and she would be dead!”. The victim, however, found courage and named and identified her rapists. One of them was P J Kurien, who she recognized and identified from a photograph. On September 06, 2000, a special court had found 35 of the men involved guilty and sentenced them to rigorous imprisonment for varying terms.

The Kerala High Court, however overturned this ruling. It acquitted all 35 convicted rapists and found only one of them guilty of crimes related to the sex trade and sentenced him to a 5- year jail term and a fine of Rs 50,000. “The reason for the acquittal was political pull, especially that of P.J. Kurien, who was a Union Minister and a member of the ruling Congress party”.

In fact, even the witness on whose statement Kurien was later acquitted, has recently admitted that he had actually testified to seeing Kurien in the guest house, around the time the victim was raped there. According to him, the police officer in charge had changed his statement to protect Kurien, with bribes having been given to buy his silence! Furthermore, the only man convicted in the case has also testified that Kurien was in the
guest house at the time of the rape. The testimony comes in spite of pressure being applied by the investigating officer on people not to testify against Kurien! Despite this, the government has refused to remove Kurien from office and re-try his case with the new evidence emerging against him.

Meanwhile, the rape survivor and her family have had to move houses constantly, and continue to be ostracized by society, while facing harassment from various quarters. The harassment increased because the survivor refused to retract Kurien’s name from the list of men who had raped her!

The video top is to understand how the rape survivor and her family have been further victimized over the years

The Feminist groups across the country have condemned the Government of India’s decision to permit PJ Kurien who is a rape accused to leave the country when there is a case against him in order to represent the Indian government at an international conference which is focused on women and girls health issues.

Feminist groups across the country have demanded that Women Deliver should not allow P J Kurien to speak or participate in any of the meetings or platform in the conference. Some of the leading feminists of the country have expressed surprise that “they do not check the credentials of dignitaries invited on a such a prestigious International Forum on the issues of Womens Health”. Women activists of the country have insisted that for future the conference organisers should check if delegates have a background in the subject matter of the conference, in the course of which they would also discover their misdeeds.

Feminists across the country have demanded that Kurien immediately vacates his position of Chairman of Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and development

They have further demanded UNFPA which has sessions wherein ministers, parliamentarians and senior government officials will be speaking on women’s reproductive health and how they can be

LINK TO PETITION HERE- https://kractivist.wordpress.com/petition-stop-p-j-kurien-rape-accused-in-women-deliver-conference-wd2013-wdlive/

#India – Rape accused Kurien heads for global meet on women #WTFnews #Vaw


Undeterred by Oppn boycott back at home, Rajya Sabha deputy chairman will be the lead speaker at the mega event

dna correspondent @dna

New Delhi: Rajya Sabha deputy chairman PJ Kurien, who is battling rape charges, would represent India at a global conference to discuss issues related to women and their empowerment. The conference is being attended by 60 parliamentarians from world over.
After Congress refused to dismiss Kurien last February, after the resurfacing of the Suryanelli sex scandal case which has rocked Kerala off and on since 1996, opposition parties in Rajya Sabha have decided not to allow him to preside when the House discusses issues related to women.
The case relates to abduction and serial rape of a 16-year-old schoolgirl of Suryanelli in Kerala by 42 men over 41 days in January-February 1996.
Undeterred by the charges and opposition boycott back home, Kurien will deliver the inaugural address at the 3rd Global Women Deliver conference at Kuala Lumpur, capital of Malaysia.
The event will be attended by the prime minister of Malaysia Datuk Seri Najib Razak among other dignitaries.
The three-day conference from May 28 is touted as the largest global event of the decade to focus on the health and empowerment of women.
Women Deliver is a global advocacy organisation bringing together voices from around the world to call for action to improve the health and well-being of girls and women.
Besides, the European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development in cooperation with its sister parliamentary networks in Africa, Asia and America will organise a parliamentarians forum during the conference.
The three-day event will also review the progress of Millennium Development Goals, whose deadline of 2015 is fast approaching.

 

 

A victory against modern day slavery- HRW


December 1, 2012
  • Nisha Varia

Governments may never be able to count the number of women and girls who escape getting trapped into domestic servitude due to better labour standards. But by closing gaps in legal protections and enforcement, they will no longer be providing employers the tacit permission and leeway that has allowed exploitation of domestic workers to flourish.
Nisha Varia, women’s rights senior researcher

The ILO Domestic Workers Convention was unthinkable just a few years ago. It represents the culmination of years of effort by domestic workers, advocates, and officials to shine a spotlight on a long-ignored but significant sector of the workforce, says Nisha Varia

If someone had told me 45 years ago that we would be here today, I would not have believed it. We do not have to be slaves anymore. — Myrtle Witbooi, chair of the International Domestic Workers Network and former domestic worker from South Africa, Geneva, June 10, 2011

Growing activism against modern-day slavery has highlighted the abuse and exploitation suffered by millions of men, women, and children around the world. Donor funding has flowed to create shelters and services for victims while a proliferation of anti-trafficking legislation has focused on arresting and prosecuting traffickers.

Until recently the crucial role of prevention has enjoyed less visibility and support, but the growing domestic workers’ rights movement, and the development and adoption of a landmark treaty last year provides a promising example of how to move forward in the fight against forced labour.

While the break-up of an organized crime syndicate may seem a more obvious sign of progress, governments could make significant progress against modern-day slavery by ensuring robust, comprehensive legal frameworks protecting a range of human rights, including guarantees for labour protections as seemingly mundane as a minimum wage, a weekly day off, and limits to hours of work.

Overcoming initial scepticism and resistance, members of the International Labour Organization (ILO)—governments, trade unions, and employers’ associations—have done just that. On June 16, 2011, they voted overwhelmingly in favour of a new groundbreaking treaty that, for the first time, established global labour standards for the estimated 50 to 100 million domestic workersworldwide who clean, cook, and care for children, families, and the elderly in private households.

ILO Convention 189 Concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers radically changes how domestic workers—the vast majority of whom are women and girls—and their work inside the home are valued, recognized, and protected. Its desperately needed and long overdue protections shake deeply entrenched gender discrimination in social and legal norms, and, in some countries, the lingering legacies of slavery.

I woke up at 5 a.m., cleaned the house and made breakfast for the children and worked all day. I went to sleep at 3 a.m. I never got a chance to rest…. The wife of the employer shouted and beat me every day…. The employer had my passport. The door was locked. I was not allowed to go out or even talk to the neighbours. I never received my salary. – Chain Channi, Cambodian domestic worker, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, April 12, 2011

In a review of 72 countries’ labour laws, the ILO found that 40 percent did not guarantee domestic workers a weekly rest day, and half did not limit hours of work. Many national child labour laws also exclude domestic workers, meaning employers can employ young children and make them labour for long hours, often at the cost of their education and health.

Over the past 12 years, Human Rights Watch’s research on domestic workers in countries as diverse as Indonesia,Saudi Arabia, the United States,Morocco,Guinea, andEl Salvador has documented pervasive abuses and labour exploitation, including excessively long working hours without rest; unpaid wages for months or years; forced confinement in the workplace; food deprivation; verbal, physical, and sexual abuse; and forced labour including debt bondage and trafficking. Domestic workers, many of whom are migrants and at least 15.5 million of whom are children under the age of 18, who suffer such abuses typically have little access to redress.

Migrant domestic workers confront additional risks posed by language barriers, precarious immigration status, excessive recruitment fees, and employers’ confiscation of passports. Human Rights Watch investigations across Asia and the Middle East have documented the failure of many governments to monitor recruitment agencies that impose heavy debt burdens or to ensure that migrant domestic workers have access to courts, information about their rights, and support services when they face abuse.

Forging Global Labour Standards

The ILO convention was unthinkable just a few years ago. It represents the culmination of years of efforts by domestic workers, advocates, and officials to shine a spotlight on a long-ignored but significant sector of the workforce. These efforts focused on the ILO, with its unique tripartite structure in which workers’ groups, employers’ groups, and governments (183 countries are members) negotiate international standards, with all three component groups having a vote.

Speaking during the negotiations in Geneva, Maria Luisa Escorel, minister counsellor from the permanent mission of Brazil, Geneva, said: “The lack of protection for domestic workers represents a significant gap in the coverage of international labour standards…. Domestic workers around the world are looking to the ILC [International Labour Conference] to adopt a convention that would help to overcome past injustices and give domestic workers a better future.”

Many governments initially expressed hesitation or direct opposition to a legally binding convention on domestic work, citing the impracticality of monitoring work in private households and their reluctance to add to a growing body of international labour standards, many of which had poor rates of ratification. However, lobbying bydomestic workers’ organizations and NGOs, an ILO survey of laws and practices around the world, and compelling opening statements at the negotiations by the workers’ group and key governments made a strong case that the pervasive exploitation and abuse in this sector could no longer be neglected.

Some of the most contentious debates during the negotiations included regulation of employment agencies, elements of written contracts for domestic workers, provisions on social security and a healthy working environment, and how to account for working hours when domestic workers are not actively working but must be available to be “on-call.” Surprisingly, provisions on monitoring and inspections of private homes garnered little controversy during the final debate.

From the outset of negotiations, key governments provided decisive support, advocating strongly for binding standards that would extend equal labour protections to domestic workers. Delegates from Australia, Brazil, South Africa, the US, Argentina, and Uruguay spoke up repeatedly to introduce and defend strong provisions and to point to effective country-level examples of legislation and implementation.

As negotiations progressed, support for the convention grew. Some states with initially hostile attitudes changed their positions as they heard evidence of the abuses against domestic workers and concrete examples of how legislation in a diverse array of countries could improve domestic workers’rights. Members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Saudi Arabia), along with Bangladesh, Indonesia, and India, reversed early opposition to a legally binding convention and expressed support in the final vote.

In the end, on June 16, 2011, the newly negotiated standards won overwhelming support, with 396 delegates (representing governments, workers, and employers’ associations) voting for the convention, 16 voting against, and 63 abstaining. Swaziland was the only government to vote against the convention.

The ILO Domestic Workers convention guarantees domestic workers labour protections equivalent to those of other workers, including for working hours, minimum wage coverage, overtime compensation, daily and weekly rest periods, social security, and maternity leave. The new standards oblige governments to address the minimum age for children in domestic work and their right to attend school, protect domestic workers from violence and abuse, regulate recruitment agencies and fees, and set out measures for effective monitoring and enforcement.

Translating Standards into Change on the Ground

While we celebrate this historic moment, we also know that there are many challenges to face in our struggle to ensure that these rights, now enshrined in Convention form, are upheld, protected, and defended. – Migrant Forum in Asia, statement, Manila, June 16, 2011

Adopting a new convention is only the first step in a long, difficult campaign for widespread ratification and implementation. Encouragingly, although the process is slow, many countries are reviewing and revising their national legislation to bring it into conformity with the convention. Dozens of countries worldwide have submitted the convention to the appropriate national authorities for reviewUruguay, the Philippines, and Mauritius have been the first to ratify the convention, which will become legally binding in September 2013, and several Latin American countries will likely complete their formal ratification processes soon.

Whether governments are close to ratifying the convention or not, they will feel pressure to respect the standards it sets forth. For example, several countries are in the process of adopting legislation on domestic work, such as Kuwait, the UAE, Lebanon, and Indonesia, and they will consult the standards as they finalize their laws. Singapore and Malaysia, two of the nine countries that abstained when the convention was adopted, will find it in their interest to introduce reforms anyway to remain an attractive destination for migrant domestic workers who can increasingly opt for better working conditions and pay elsewhere. After years of rejecting the need for reform,Singapore finally agreed to require a weekly rest day for domestic workers.

Discrimination and exploitative practices are deeply entrenched and recognition and respect for domestic workers’ rights will not improve overnight. To make the new standards count, advocates must strengthen efforts at the national level to replicate their success in Geneva. They must also raise public awareness among key constituencies such as national labour officials, employers, trade unions, and the media. They will then need to build momentum around ILO ratification and related legislative reforms.

Because the strength and diversity of the domestic workers’movement varies greatly by country and region, another priority is to provide international support to national and regional groups as needed. This may entail defending freedom of association for domestic workers, providing financial and organizational support to fledgling groups, or building alliances among domestic workers, labour, migrants, women’s rights, and children’s rights organizations.

Finally, dissemination of best practices and lessons learned, particularly on experiences with successfully enforcing domestic worker protections, will be crucial for ensuring that strong global standards turn into concrete improvements in local practices.

Governments may never be able to count the number of women and girls who escape getting trapped into domestic servitude due to better labour standards. But by closing gaps in legal protections and enforcement, they will no longer be providing employers the tacit permission and leeway that has allowed exploitation of domestic workers to flourish.

Nisha Varia will be speaking at the Trust Women Conference in London, December 4th-5th.

 

A Nuclear-Free Future is Our Common Dream: Letter from the Japanese Activists Deported from India #mustshare


To our friends who struggle for nuclear free future,

 

A Historic movement is underway in Tamil Nadu State against Koodankulam nuclear power station. People across the world are moved by the resistance and want to express solidarity

We tried to visit India to show our solidarity on September 25 but were denied access at Chennai airport. After an hour-long interrogation, we had our paper written as “Inadmissible person” ,which denied our entrance to India. It is unforgivable for the government, which invites countless nuclear merchants from Western countries, to deny such small citizens like us. We are writing this letter because we would like you to know what we experienced.

 

When we got off the plane and approached the immigration counter, one personnel came to us smiling.

We asked them where we can get arrival visa. They immediately checked our passport and brought us to the immigration office. There were more than 5 personnels asking questions to us respectively. I was brought to another room and three personnels asked me whether I am a member of No Nukes Asia Forum Japan. I was surprised because they mentioned the concrete name of the organization.

 

“You signed the international petition on Koodankulam, didn’t you? Your name was on the list. It means you are anti-nuclear” a personnel said. It so happens that all three of us our signatories of the international petition (May 2012). Another one asked me what we would do at Koodankulam. I was surprised again because no one had mentioned about Koodankulam. But the man showed me a printed itinerary of our domestic flight that I have never seen yet.

 

“We already know that you have booked the domestic flight. So you are going there. Who invited you all? Who is waiting for you at the arrival gate now? Who will pick you up at Tuticorin airport? Tell me their names. Tell me their telephone number. Will you join the agitation? ”  They asked many questions and surprisingly, they knew all our Indian friends’ names. We felt scared. We felt something wrong would happen to you. So we didn’t answer.

 

We know that many scientists supportive of nuclear power, and some that are paid by the nuclear industry have visited India and spoken on behalf of nuclear power. These were not merely allowed by the Indian Government, but even encouraged. With India’s avowed commitment to democracy, one would imagine that contrary points of view would be encouraged.

 

Then, they asked me another questions about us, referring to a bunch of papers. “What is Mr. Watarida’s occupation? He is involved in the anti-nuclear movement in Kaminoseki, right?” According to Mr. Watarida, there was a lot of information about our activities in Japan written on those papers. They already researched our activities in detail.

They tried to ask various questions. At first they talked in a friendly manner. They told us that we can enter India if we gave them the information about the movement in Koodankulam. But gradually they got irritated because they wanted to deport us as soon as possible. The Air Asia airplane that brought us to Chennai one hour earlier was about to leave again for Kuala Lumpur. We were at the office more than one hour. Finally, they said ” Answer within 5 minutes, otherwise you will be deported.” We answered a little but it seemed that they didn’t get satisfied with our answer. We were taken to the departure area. Mr. Nakai asked them to allow him to go to washroom, but they refused. Probably they didn’t want us to call some of our Indian friends, or they were waiting us to make domestic phone call. They wanted to know the exact names and telephone number of our friends, so I couldn’t use my cell phone.

 

At the last gate, Mr. Watarida asked a immigration staff why we got deported. He answered that the Indian government directed us to be sent out and that we would be in jail if we didn’t obey. We were taken to the Air Asia airplane and it took off immediately.

 

We were given a paper.  Mine was written as below;

 

WHEREAS Mrs. Yoko Unoda national who arrived at Chennai Airport from Kuala Lumpur on 25/9/2012 by flight No. AK1253 has been refused permission to land in India.

You are hereby directed under para 6 of THE FOREIGNERS ORDER 1948 TO REMOVE THE SAID FOREIGNER Mrs. Yoko Unoda out of India by the same flight or the first available flight failing which you shall be liable for action under the said PARA of Foreigners Order, 1948.

 

We had come to India in peace, to extend our peace and to extend our learnings about the dangers of nuclear power. As Japanese, we should know what the problems are with both the military use and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. We are aware that in India, your government has organised international meetings of the nuclear industry, where the people interested in selling nuclear equipment have been invited as state guests to come and flaunt their wares. We have nothing to sell, just our stories about the dangers and pains that nuclear energy will bring you. It is unfortunate that your Government denied us the hospitality that the people of India were extending to us. In a democracy, and particularly with controversial technologies like nuclear energy, it is important that free and fair debate is conducted in a fear-free atmosphere. It is clear that the nuclear establishment in India is not prepared for such a free and fair debate.

 

In Japan, a report of a high level committee set up by the Parliament after Fukushima found that the disaster was made in Japan and was a result of secrecy, the failure of people to question their Governments and the closeness between the regulators and the nuclear energy operators.

 

Your Government’s refusal of entry to us merely because we bear an opinion contrary to theirs on the matter of nuclear energy speaks poorly of your Government’s claims to democratic ideals and free speech. We are fearful of the consequences of deploying a hazardous technology like nuclear power in such a secretive and oppressive context.

 

We could not see people in Koodankulam and those sympathized with them. It is truly regrettable that we could not meet them. However, after being denied entrance, our concern has become more serious and our solidarity has been stronger. Those who push for nuclear energy are closely connected. Globally, there are no boarders when it comes to  nuclear devastation. Then let us overcome the difference of nationalities and languages and make thousands of, ten thousands of comrades to fight for our future without nukes together. We hope to see you in India on next opportunity.

 

Masahiro Watarida(Hiroshima Network against Kaminoseki NPP)

Shinsuke Nakai(Video Journalist)

Yoko Unoda(No Nukes Asia Forum Japan)

 

 

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