#India – The National Policy for Children, 2012


Pib press Release

CHILDRAPE

The Union Cabinet today gave its approval to the National Policy for Children, 2012. The Policy reaffirms the government`s commitment to the realisation of the rights of all children in the country. It recognizes every person below the age of eighteen years as a child and that childhood is an integral part of life with a value of its own, and a long term, sustainable, multi-sectoral, integrated and inclusive approach is necessary for the harmonious development and protection of children.
The policy lays down the guiding principles that must be respected by national, state and local governments in their actions and initiatives affecting children. Some of the key guiding principles are: the right of every child to life, survival, development, education, protection and participation; equal rights for all children without discrimination; the best interest of the child as a primary concern in all actions and decisions affecting children; and family environment as the most conducive for all-round development of children.
The policy has identified survival, health, nutrition, education, development, protection and participation as the undeniable rights of every child, and has also declared these as key priority areas.
As children`s needs are multi-sectoral, interconnected and require collective action, the policy aims at purposeful convergence and strong coordination across different sectors and levels of governance; active engagement and partnerships with all stakeholders; setting up of a comprehensive and reliable knowledge base; provision of adequate resources; and sensitization and capacity development of all those who work for and with children.
A National Plan of Action will be developed to give effect to the policy and a National Coordination and Action Group (NCAG) will be constituted to monitor the progress of implementation. Similar plans and coordination and action groups will be constituted at the state and district levels. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and State Commissions for Protection of Child Rights are to ensure that the principles of the policy are respected in all sectors at all levels. There is a provision for review of the policy every five years. The Ministry of Women and Child Development will be the nodal ministry for overseeing and coordinating the implementation of the policy and will lead the review process.
***

 

#India- Acid Is Not the Answer to Anything #Vaw #acidattacks


ACID

 

  S. Senthair EPW

The deaths of two young women in Tamil Nadu in February following acid attacks on them once again draw attention to the urgent need for measures to prevent this heinous crime and the need for punishment that will deter other males from seeing a bottle of acid as the balm for their wounded pride.

S Senthalir (senthalir83@gmail.com) is a Bangalore-based independent journalist.

On 24 February 2013, while All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam party members burst crackers and distributed sweets to celebrate the 65th birthday of the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, 20-year-old Vidya breathed her last at Kilpauk Medical College Hospital (KMCH) in Chennai.

The victim of an acid attack, Vidya succumbed to burn injuries in the early hours, just days after 23-year-old Vinodhini, who suffered 40% burns in an acid attack and battled for her life for three months, died on 13 February 2013. With 38% burns and without proper first aid, Vidya was taken to KMCH after a delay of four hours on 30 January 2013. Her family, which had to fend for itself, was at the mercy of the hospital staff and management. The victim was admitted to the general burns ward and remained there for 17 days. It was only when her condition worsened on the 18th day that she was moved to the intensive care unit (ICU).

Even after Vidya died, her family had to wait for nearly four hours for the doctors to permit them to fulfil her last wish of donating her eyes. Annoyed by the government’s neglect, her family demanded that the hospital management explain why she had died. After the postmortem, they refused to accept her body till late in the afternoon, wanting the health minister and secretary to visit the hospital. They accused the hospital of not providing the treatment an acid attack victim required and sought an explanation for the government’s callousness. Their pleas went unheard. Neither the health and family welfare minister nor any official from the departments concerned visited the hospital to console the family that lost its only daughter to horrendous gender violence.

KMCH alone treats four to six acid attack cases every year and almost all the victims are young women. The hospital’s doctors say there has been an increase in the number of cases in the past few years. The media has reported 27 acid attacks on women in Tamil Nadu since 2001.

Lack of Awareness

Regardless of this, there is no widespread awareness of the first aid to be administered to acid attack victims. Acid is a corrosive liquid that has the potential to seep deep into the skin and damage muscles, blood vessels, and bones. Burns experts and plastic surgeons point out that the injured part should be bathed in cool running water for at least 15 minutes so that the acid is diluted and washed away. Three hours after the first aid, depending on the part that has been injured, the affected layers of skin have to be removed.

But not many doctors or hospitals are aware of this. Vidya’s brother Vijay said that no water was poured on her immediately after the attack, and she was covered with a cloth and taken to a nearby private hospital, where the doctors did not know what had to be done. They cleaned the wounds and applied some ointment.

The 2011 “Combating Acid Violence in Bangladesh, India and Cambodia” report by the Avon Global Center for Women and Justice at Cornell Law School, the Committee on International Human Rights of the New York City Bar Association, the Cornell Law School International Human Rights Clinic, and the Virtue Foundation says that acid attack victims in India receive unacceptable treatment in government hospitals and it could be attributed in part to a lack of facilities. It notes,

Most government hospitals in India do not have plastic surgeons or medical facilities to conduct necessary procedures for acid survivors. In addition, there is a shortage of plastic surgeons in the country. According to medical experts, there are only around 2,500 plastic surgeons in the country of one billion people. Even if there were more trained professionals, hospitals do not have facilities and equipment to support them.

On the other hand, there have been no efforts by the government, including the various state women’s commissions and the Ministry of Women and Child Development, to curb acid attacks on women. The National Commission for Women had in 2009 proposed a Scheme for Relief and Rehabilitation of Offences (by Acids) on Women and Children, which emphasised disbursing Rs 50,000 for a victim’s treatment immediately after an acid attack. Depending on the nature of injuries and the treatment required, this could go up to Rs 25 lakh. Besides, the family or legal heir would be entitled to a compensation of Rs 2 lakh. But none of these provisions have been implemented.

While Vinodhini received a compensation of Rs 3 lakh from the prime minister’s relief fund and Rs 2 lakh from the Pondicherry government two months after the attack, Vidya’s family did not receive any compensation from any official source till her death. All that they got was the Corporation of Chennai mayor sympathetically saying Vidya’s case was an unfortunate incident, and callousness from the women’s commission, health ministry, and ministry of women and child development. Acid attacks on women did not figure in the state government’s statistics on crimes against women as late as September 2012. There is no record to indicate how many women have been victims of acid attacks in the state.

Changes in Law

The accused in both cases are in jail and have expressed no regret for their inhuman act. It was only on 3 February 2013 that the Criminal Law (Amendment) 2013 promulgated by the president of India inserted Sections 326(A) and 326(B) in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to deal with acid attacks. Section 326(A) states that

whoever causes permanent or partial damage or deformity to, or burns or maims or disfigures or disables, any part or parts of the body of a person or causes grievous hurt by throwing acid on or by administering acid to that person, or by using any other means with the intention of causing or with the knowledge that he is likely to cause such injury or hurt, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than 10 years but which may extend to imprisonment for life and with fine which may extend to Rs 10 lakh. Provided that any fine imposed under this section shall be given to the person on whom acid was thrown or to whom acid was administered.

Section 326(B) declares that

whoever throws or attempts to throw acid on any person or attempts to administer acid to any person, or attempts to use any other means, with the intention of causing permanent or partial damage or deformity or burns or maiming or disfigurement or disability or grievous hurt to that person, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than five years but which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Ignorant of the new ordinance, police officers initially charged the accused in both cases under Section 307 (attempt to murder) of the IPC, and after the women’s deaths, with murder under Section 302. This has tended to be the general practice in acid attack cases on women. However, under Sections 307 and 302, the prosecution has to prove that the accused threw the acid on a victim in an attempt, or with an intention, to kill her. According to a report by the Campaign and Struggle against Acid Attacks on Women (CSAAW), a Bangalore-based forum, this is often difficult to prove, and the accused walks away scot-free. It would therefore be more appropriate to book these cases under Section 326(A) along with Section 302. The families of the victims could claim compensation from the accused under Section 326(A).

Easy Availability of Acid

Studies have shown that the easy availability of acid is one of the main reasons for the increasing number of acid attacks on women. Bangladesh is the only country in the region that has enacted specific laws to not only criminalise acid attacks, but also control the easy availability of acid – the Acid Crime Control Act and Acid Control Act of 2002. Besides, business users of acid are required to obtain licences.

Harsher punishment for perpetrators, coupled with a sustained campaign in the media and other efforts by the CSAAW, have proved to be a deterrent in Karnataka. A report by the forum states that there have been 80 cases of acid attacks on women in Karnataka since 1999. After a judge imposed a life sentence on a man found guilty in an acid attack case in 2006, there has been a sharp decrease in such attacks. The report states that 15 to 20 cases of acid attacks on women were reported every year before 2006, but this fell to four to five cases a year after the court’s verdict.

Acid attacks cause death or permanent damage to victims, and untold suffering to them and their family members. Those who do not die suffer for the rest of their lives, unable to take care of themselves or afford proper treatment. Fact-finding conducted by the CSAAW in Karnataka and the “Combating Acid Violence in Bangladesh, India and Cambodia” report indicate that there has been an alarming increase in acid attacks on women who assert their independence by declining marriage proposals or refusing to act in accordance with the way male-dominated societies want them to.

What will happen to the families who have lost their women to this gender-related violence that punishes women who transgress their traditional roles? Will the legislation appropriately punish the perpetrators and deter others from reaching out for a bottle of acid? Will the government or society at large take the responsibility of putting an end to this sexual violence against women?

Let the deaths of Vinodhini and Vidya not be in vain.

 

 

PRESS RELEASE-Women from India Demand for End to Gender Violence as the 57th Session Starts of UN Commission on Status of Women #womensday


 

For immediate release

 

 

7 March 2013, 1 pm to 3 pm at Geneva Conference Room, Bahai United Nations Office,866 UN Plaza,Suite 120,New York NY 10017 & 12 March 2013, 12.30 pm to 2.30 pm at Conference Room, Bahai United Nations Office, 866 UN Plaza, Suite 120, New York NY 10017

 

New York,7 March 2013: 1 Billion Rising campaign states, “One in three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime”. According to UNDP, “72 million children “ 54% of them girls are out of school” and about billion women fall short of economic potential. According to UN Women 50% of women who die from homicides worldwide are killed by their current/former husbands/ partners.Women perform 66% of the world’s work, produce 50% of the food, but earn only 10% of the income. According to World Bank,” Eliminating all forms of discrimination against women in employment could increase productivity per worker by up to 40 percent”.Feministing states 40% of the child soldiers of the world are girls. According to the Control Arms 26 million people are forced to flee their homes every year due to armed conflict. UN Women states approximately 250,000 to 500,000 women and girls were raped in the 1994 Rwandan genocide and in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, at least 200,000 cases of sexual violence, mostly involving women and girls, have been documented since 1996, though the actual numbers are considered to be much higher.

 

In north east India, armed violence has taken its toll on the very notion of “normal civilian life” and led to innumerable instances of violations committed against civilian populations particularly women by both state and non-state actors. In most operations, be they cordon and search, combing, arrests, searches, or interrogation, the armed forces have, under the aegis of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 (AFSPA) done away with the basic, minimal safeguards accorded to women suspects by the Criminal Procedure Code as well as the SC directives. Arrest by male security personnel, interrogation in army camps and police stations, torture and sexual abuse including rape by security personnel in custody has become routine. In Jammu & Kashmir mass rape of Kashmiri women by security forces was first documented in the Chapora (Srinagar) mass rape incident on March 7, 1990. Violations of women have also been reported from non-state groups. The Hmar Women Association (HWA) submitted a memorandum to to government where “the plights of Hmar tribal women in Tipaimukh sub-division of Churachandpur, Manipur, India  who were raped and molested by two armed groups during January 2006.

 

In short women are facing violence and discrimination both in conflict as well as non conflict areas and the number is increasing.

 

At the backdrop of recent rise of women in India and around world on ending violence and the convening of fifty seventh session of UN Commission on Status of Women (CSW), Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network and Control Arms Foundation of India are hosting a  panel discussion on the theme “Six Decades of UN Commission on Status of Women: Status of Women Now Worldwide and Evolving New Strategies to Ensure Elimination & Prevention of all Forms of Violence against Women and Girls” on 7 March 2013, 1 pm to 3 pm at Geneva Conference Room, Bahai United Nations Office,866 UN Plaza,Suite 120,New York NY 10017 .

 

Distinguished panelists of the event will  include Ms Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate & co-chair of the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict; Dip. Minou Tavárez Mirabal, Chair-Foreign Affairs Committee, Chamber of Deputies, Dominican Republic & Chair-International Council, Parliamentarians for Global Action; Ms Rashmi Singh, Executive Director, National Mission for Empowerment of Women ,Ministry of Women and Child Development, Govt. of India; Mr Arvinn Eikeland Gadgil, Deputy Minister, International Development, Norway; Ms Binalakshmi Nepram, Founder,Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network & Control Arms Foundation of India.

 

On 12 March 2013, we are also hosting another panel discussion on the theme “Women, Peace and Security: Strategies To End Violence Against Women In Armed Conflict Areas And Leading Humanitarian Disarmament Efforts” , 12.30 pm to 2.30 pm at Conference Room, Bahai United Nations Office, 866 UN Plaza, Suite 120, New York NY 10017. The event will be chaired by Dr. Swadesh Rana, Former Chief of the Conventional Arms Branch in the United Nations Department of Disarmament Affairs. Distinguished panelists will include Ms May Malony & Sharna de Lacy, Young Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom YWILPF, Australia; Dr. Angana Chatterji, Co-chair of Conflict Resolution and People’s Rights, Center for Nonprofit and Public Leadership, University of California, Berkeley; Ms Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia Director, Human Rights Watch; Dr Walter Dorn, Chair, Canadian Pugwash Group & Professor, Royal Military College of Canada and Ms Binalakshmi Nepram, Founder, Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network & Control Arms Foundation of India. As we believe that gender equality is, first and foremost, a human right. Women are entitled to live in dignity and in freedom from want and from fear. Empowering women is also an indispensable tool for advancing development, peace and reducing poverty. Kindly join the event.

 

 

 

 

For more information, please contact:

Ms Binalakshmi Nepram, Founder, Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network & Secretary General, Control Arms Foundation of India. Email: Binalakshmi@gmail.com. US mobile number: 3472165709

B 5/146, Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi-110029, India Phone: +9-11-46018541, Fax: +91-11-6166234. Websites: www.cafi-online.comwww.womensurvivorsnetwork.org

 

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


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

26TH FEB 2013

 

 

 

RAJYA SABHA (Bill — Passed)

 

 

 

The following Members took part in the discussion:—

 

1. Dr. Najma A. Heptulla

2. Dr. Prabha Thakur

3. Dr. T.N. Seema

4. Shri D. Bandyopadhyay

5. Shrimati Vandana Chavan

6. Dr. Ashok S. Ganguly

7. Dr. Bharatkumar Raut

8. Shri Rama Chandra Khuntia

9. Shrimati Maya Singh

10. Shrimati Gundu Sudharani

11. Shri Ram Kripal Yadav

12. Shrimati Kanimozhi

13. Shrimati Renubala Pradhan

14. Dr. Vijaylaxmi Sadho

15. Shrimati Smriti Zubin Irani

16. Shri M. Rama Jois

 

  • Shrimati Krishna Tirath replied to the debate.

 

  • The motion for consideration of the Bill was adopted.

 

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

 

  • The Enacting Formula, as amended, was adopted.

 

  • The Preamble and the Title were adopted.

 

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

 

 

SYNOPSIS OF THE DEBATE

 

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

 

THE MINISTER OF STATE OF THE MINISTRY OF WOMEN AND CHILD

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

India -Paying wife for domestic work ? A salary plan that changes nothing


 

MAYA JOHN, The Hindu

Instead of asking a man to pay his wife for her domestic work, the state must create jobs for women outside the home in order to truly empower them

Recently during a press conference called by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, the Minister of State (Independent Charge), Krishna Tirath, proposed the formulation of a bill through which a certain percentage of a husband’s salary would be compulsorily transferred to his wife’s bank account to compensate her for all the domestic work she performs for the family. According to the Minister, this percentage of husbands’ salaries would not be taxed and would provide women the much needed source of income to run the household better, and more importantly, to spend on her own, personal consumption. In a later clarification, the Minister identified this payment as an “honorarium” and not a salary which is to be paid to wives for all the services they otherwise render for free.

This proposition has not gone down well, especially with women of higher income brackets who see such proposed action as unnecessary intervention in the realm of the private, i.e. the realm of familial relations. Many such women also believe that this government intervention amounts to reducing wives into “glorified maids” who need to be paid every time they walk into the kitchen, wash the baby, sweep the house, etc. Sadly, what is sidelined amid all the clamour and jokes about commercialisation of the mia-biwi relationship is the necessity of recognising the back-breaking work performed by women to sustain their families. Of course, what we also lose sight of is the sheer hollowness of such proposed legislation. For example, such legislation, if implemented, would not provide women a source of income which they earn independently of their husbands. Instead, women would continue to depend on their husband’s earnings and employment status, and thus, remain dependent on the family structure for their individual financial sustenance.Indeed, the problem with the proposed legislation is not that it is unnecessary and demeaning, but that it is informed by a poor understanding of economics surrounding household work and women’s labour in general. Clearly, the question then is whether the Indian state is even serious about uplifting the position of the woman within the home and in recognising her contribution to the national economy.

Historical issue

Assigning an economic value to women’s domestic labour is a long-standing debate. The international women’s movement has continuously debated the question and reached many important conclusions. It is now time for the larger society to engage with the movement’s propositions seriously. First, as a society we must learn to accept that there is sheer drudgery involved in day-to-day household work. The fact that such work is performed by a woman for her husband and other family members in the name of “care” and “nurturing” cannot be used to conceal that this is a thankless job which the majority of women feel burdened by. Just because some women do not have to enter the kitchen every day since their maid does the needful, we cannot write-off the helplessness with which the average woman walks towards her kitchen hearth, every day without fail. Here, there is no retirement age, no holiday, and definitely, no concept of overtime.

Second, we must realise that the process whereby women’s domestic labour has been rendered uneconomic activity, is a historical one. It was with the emergence of industrial society and the resulting separation between the home and the workplace that women’s housework lost value whereas men’s labouroutside the home fetched wages. Third, as a society we must accept that while many are uncomfortable with providing an economic value to women’s domestic labour, chores such as washing, cleaning, cooking, child rearing, etc., are already assigned such a value by the market when need be. After all, many middle-class homes buy such services through the hiring of maids, paying for playschool education, crèche facilities, etc. Fourth, women’s domestic labour must be accounted for in the economy precisely because it is one of the contributing forces in the reproduction of labour power expended by this country’s working masses. In fact, because a woman’s domestic labour is devalued by the economy, a man’s wage can be kept low. For example, if all families were to pay every day for services like washing, cooking, cleaning, etc., because women of the household did not perform such duties, the breadwinners of each family would need to be paid higher wages so that they can afford to buy such services off the market.

The solution

This being the reality surrounding women’s unpaid, domestic labour, where does the actual solution lie? Does it lie in redistributing limited family incomes between husband and wife, or, in redistributing the national income so as to enhance individual family incomes, and hence, the woman’s share within the improved family consumption? Importantly, while pressing for valuation of women’s domestic labour, the progressive women’s movement has always argued that if the value of unpaid housework is paid but does not add to or increase the total household income, such remuneration amounts to nothing.Hence, one of the most important conclusions reached on this question of unpaid domestic labour is that the state should pay for it, especially by providing women gainful employment, special funding, subsidised home appliances, free health care, etc. In this way, women would earn through an independent source of income and be freed of an overt dependence on the family structure for their consumption. There would also be a gradual undermining of the sexual division of labour which has resulted in women being tied to their homes and unable to do little else.

Of course, what has not won much attention so far is the fact that the proposed legislation posits wages for housework rather than employment for women as a long-term solution. Indeed, questions have been raised whether the proposed legislation is implementable, but not whether it does the needful. For example, will the government be able to put in place the required administrative machinery? How exactly is the value of women’s household work to be calculated, or simply put, how many bais will equal a wife? Will the number of family members she rears determine whether she is entitled to greater compensation? And what of widowed women who do not have a husband’s salary to draw on?

Absolves the state

However, implementation is far from the real problem with such legislation. Mechanisms can always be put in place if administrative sincerity prevails. The real problem with the Ministry’s endeavour is the rationale by which it is driven. The proposed legislation should be criticised because it absolves the Indian state of the responsibility it owes to women who contribute daily in sustaining the national economy. Indeed, if the proposed legislation is formulated and implemented, it will only result in undervaluing and underpaying women’s domestic labour.

To elucidate, if we actually sit down to calculate the cost of all the different household chores a wife does for free, the figure would easily touch amounts that in no way can be compensated by a small percentage of the husband’s wages. Furthermore, with varied family incomes, such legislation would result in women being remunerated differently for the same kind and same amount of domestic work. In the case of the average working class or lower-middle class family where the total family income is anywhere between Rs.2,000 to Rs.10,000 per month, such legislation would assign women a pittance as an economic value for their back-breaking housework. This pittance will not empower the woman as the total family income remains the same. Without a growth in the actual family income, neither will such families be able to change their consumption pattern, nor will the nature of household work change so as to enable women to do other things instead of just labouring at home.

Clearly then, the issue at stake is how to minimise housework for women so that they too can step out of the home to earn, to enhance family incomes and to have greater say in family as well as public matters. Greater employment generation for women by the state, and widespread introduction of facilities like crèches at all workplaces, subsidised home appliances, unhindered promotion post child birth/maternity leave, etc. are the need of the hour. While direct employment helps to create women who are financially independent, the provision of the latter helps women to remain in the labour market, despite starting a family. If the average woman is to be freed of the yoke of household drudgery then it is evidently the Indian state which has to pay by creating concrete conditions for her greater economic participation outside the home.

(Maya John is an activist and researcher based in Delhi University.)

 

 

India & the sex selection conundrum



Published: Hindu, January 24, 2012
Farah Naqvi, A. K. Shiva Kumar
Let us agree to go beyond billboard exhortations to ‘love the girl child.’
What was our immediate response to further decline in the child sex ratio in India? Within days of the provisional 2011 Census results (March-April 2011), the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare reconstituted the Central Supervisory Board for the Pre-conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex selection) Act 1994 , which had not met for 3 years, and on November 30, 2011 the Ministry of Women and Child Development formed a Sectoral Innovation Council for Child Sex Ratio. But we are busy dousing flames in haste without looking to dampen the source. This fire-fighting approach is unlikely to succeed, because putting out fires in one district virtually ensures its spread to another. That is what has happened.
The decline in child sex ratio (0-6 years) from 945 in 1991 to 927 in 2001 and further to 914 females per 1,000 males in 2011 — the lowest since independence — is cause for alarm, but also occasion for serious policy re-think. Over the last two decades, the rate of decline appears to have slowed but what began as an urban phenomenon has spread to rural areas. This is despite legal provisions, incentive-based schemes, and media messages. Indians across the country, bridging class and caste divides, are deliberately ensuring that girls are simply not born. This artificial alteration of our demographic landscape has implications for not only gender justice and equality but also social violence, human development and democracy.

What is wrong?
So what are we doing wrong — both in the discourse we have created and in the policy route we have chosen to walk? To start with, we have chosen to target one symptom (practice of sex selection), instead of evolving a comprehensive national policy response to a deeply resistant ailment (son preference/daughter aversion and low status of women in India). State policy has, in the main, consisted of seeking to stem the supply of technology that enables sex selection through application of the law — the PCPNDT Act bans the use of diagnostic techniques for determining the sex of a foetus. The rationale (framed within an inverted demand-supply paradigm) is that stopping supply of the technology will reduce the demand — for determining the sex of the foetus and aborting if it is female. So far (not withstanding wide publicity about the PCPNDT Act, including signboards in every clinic, hospital and nursing home), this hasn’t panned out as planned.
Meanwhile, this singular focus on PCPNDT has triggered an unhealthy discourse beyond what the law actually bans (using medical diagnostics to determine the sex of the foetus) to the next step, i.e. the act of abortion. Over the last few years, the hunt for aborted female foetuses appears to have become legitimate media pastime and reportage consists chiefly of stories about “foetuses’ foeticide” and “foetal remains.” Clearly, the goriness of the phenomenon meets the media’s need for just a tad bit of sensation (foetal remains found in gunny bags outside quack clinics, in the fields, in the dark depths of deep wells, etc.).
While national attention on this issue is welcome, this is complex terrain. On the one hand is the right of females to be born, and of society to protect and preserve a gender balance. On the other hand lies a woman’s right under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (enacted in 1971, revised in 1975) to have a safe and legal abortion as part of a whole gamut of reproductive rights. In our zeal to create an environment against one type of abortion (of a foetus only because it is female), we end up stigmatising all abortions. Access to safe and legal abortion for Indian women is already severely limited, and this environment will not improve things. Indeed the very word ‘foeticide’ i.e. ‘killing’ of the foetus (used often without the qualifying ‘female foeticide’) dents abortion rights.

Tackling the demand side
As for tackling the demand side — i.e. addressing the complex reasons that son preference-daughter aversion is so prevalent — our policy response has included marking the National Girl Child Day (declared in 2009) on January 24, sporadically putting up billboards at major intersections telling us to ‘love the girl child,’ ‘beti bachao‘, ‘stop killing girls’, and a slew of ill-conceived conditional cash transfer schemes to incentivise the birth of girls at both the Centre and the State level.
A 2010 desk review of 15 conditional cash transfer schemes (Dhan Lakshmi, Ladli, Beti Hai Anmol, Kanyadan, and others) conducted by TV Sekher of IIPS for UNFPA is revealing. Most of them promised relatively small amounts at maturity, had complex conditions (immunisation, school enrolment, institutional delivery, sterilisation, among others), gave cash amounts at the age of 18 (for dowry?), and were aimed at poor or BPL families. Quite apart from the objectionable attempt to arm twist every imaginable kind of ‘desired’ behaviour (immunise, educate, sterilise) in return for small sums of money, the big problem is that these schemes are targeted largely at poor families. This is not a poor or BPL-only phenomenon. Small cash amounts are unlikely to make an iota of difference to families who have resources to pay for sex selective technology. On this issue, Indian policymakers, accustomed to ‘targeting’ the poor (i.e. BPL) need to bravely enter the unfamiliar terrain of targeting the not-so-poor, the upwardly mobile, the wealthy.
The advocacy and communications around this issue, by both the government and NGOs, has taken the ‘love the girl child’ route. It is unexceptionable, politically correct, and ensconced comfortably in a language of patriarchal protectiveness (ladki ko bachao). Of course, everyone likes to ‘love little girls in pigtails,’ including MPs who will defeat the Women’s Reservation Bill time and again in Parliament.

Cultural attitudes
The problem of ‘demand’ goes far deeper than our communication or policy solutions seem to suggest.Sex selection is located at the complex interface of cultural attitudes, patriarchal prejudice, socioeconomic pressures, the changes wrought by modernity, and the commercialisation and misuse of modern medical technology. The impact of modernity and materialism on the decreased valuation of females i.e. enhanced daughter aversion, the lack of old-age social security i.e. son preference, increasing violence against women, property rights, inheritance laws — each of these and more play a role. We must demand of ourselves an equally comprehensive national policy on the sex ratio, capable of addressing each contributory factor.

South Korea & China
South Korea has beaten the problem by adopting a comprehensive national response. China, whether or not we agree with its particular national framework, at least has one. The Chinese government adopted a series of concurrent policies, strategic actions and laws to promote gender equality, increase female workforce participation, ensure old age social security, in addition to banning the use of sex selective diagnostics. The country’s sex ratio is showing small signs of improvement.
Finally, a national communication strategy is key to a national policy response, and this must rest on acknowledging two things — one, behaviour change communication is a specialised field whose expertise must be harnessed, and two, the nature of reproductive decision-making in India is changing along with immense changes in the Indian family structure. A communication strategy needs to identify primary targets (decision-makers) and secondary targets (decision supporters), and reach them through strategic media platforms — traditional, conventional and new media. As for the core content of messages, a lot can be said, but for now let us agree to go beyond billboard exhortations to ‘love the girl child.’ And recognise that the girl will grow up to be a woman one day.

(Farah Naqvi is an independent writer and activist. A.K. Shiva Kumar is a development economist. The authors are members of the National Advisory Council. Views expressed here are personal.Farah310@gmail.com)

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