Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA) campaigns against outsourcing of diagnostic centres #Chhattisgarh


TNN | Feb 1, 2013, 03.04 AM IST

RAIPUR: Jan Swasthya Abhiyan,  today started a campaign against the proposed move of the government to outsource diagnostic centres at 379 public health facilities in the state. A public meeting was also held to show discontent with the decision.Talking to TOI, Sulakshna, member of JSA, said that instead of improving and expanding services in the existing system, the government is replacing it with private service providers. “What is disheartening is that the Raman Singh government has taken no lessons from other states where privatisation in this sector flopped,” she added.

Some senior officials in the state also agree that the government seems to be in a haste to privatise the service. They admit that flaws do exist in the system, the biggest being that privatisation would not solve the problem of understaffing. “How will the private sector get qualified staff in Bastar when the government cannot get it on their own,” one of them said.Experts say that unless and until checks and balances are put in place and they are implemented in letter and spirit, the move is bound to backfire. Moreover quality and not the quantity of the tests conducted should be the criteria and the same has to be monitored on day to day basis, a difficult proposition in the present scenario.A senior official commented that merely putting tough conditions on the contract paper will not resolve the problem. “What is required is monitoring, which is a difficult task”, he said.

 

#India- don’t focus too much on individuals in the battle against sexual violence, #Censorship #Vaw


PRERNA BAKSHI, The Hindu  #India-Towards a Decisive Victory in the Historic Battle for Women’s Rights

Against the recent backdrop of the gang rape incident in Delhi, rapper Honey Singh found himself surrounded by a number of protesting activists and NGOs. Some of his songs have come under the scanner and have been termed by these activists as offensive towards women.

However, the rapper himself has denied being associated with one such song which has in particular grabbed attention for demeaning women. The song has been doing the rounds on internet for quite some time even though neither the management nor the singer has claimed responsibility towards the ownership of the song.

While the trueownership of this song could be debatable, the question that needs to be asked is should this matter be given the amount of attention it has and more specifically, are songs such as those made by Honey Singh responsible for the growing rape and sexual violence towards women.

While it would be true to say that many of the contemporary songs do objectify women (of which Bollywood has a lot to answer for) which further affects the position of women in society, it is important not to lose sight of the bigger picture while making such claims.

On New Year’s Eve, Honey Singh was forced to withdraw from the show at Bristol Hotel where he was scheduled to perform. Many people on social media celebrated the occasion by terming it the ‘first battle won’ on the first day of the New Year. It is here where the masses, activists and progressives need to take a step back and reassess their goals and strategies in a manner which does not over generalize and trivialize the issue at stake.

While there is not enough space in this article to look deeply at these issues, I have highlighted them in order to contribute to the debate about both the causes of gender violence, and the debate about what can and should be done about it.

A few points must be taken into account. Firstly, by focusing primarily on a single agenda and on a single individual, notwithstanding how achievable or worthwhile it is, we lose sight of more significant issues, thereby weakening the argument and the cause itself. By no means should any form of derogatory remarks towards women be tolerated in songs or public speeches but it should be recognized that removing sexism in songs and speeches, though helpful, cannot in itself fix the problem.

Secondly, by focusing on silencing the sexist elements within one’s speech without taking into account the existing power structures prevalent within the society, any efforts made in this direction would prove to be futile in the long run. It is for this reason the ultimate goal should be to alter the existing gender power differentials by aiming for a radical social transformation in order to truly achieve its ultimate aim of women emancipation. This cannot take place without altering the very power structures that have given rise to the ideology that gets manifested in speech towards women. Thirdly, devoting too much time and resources in shutting down the activities of people like Honey Singh would unnecessarily shift the focus of the debate from the praxis of gender relations to a debate about freedom of speech and would end up dividing public opinion and complicating matters further.

This is not a suggestion that time and effort should not be spent in protesting against such people but rather that it is imperative to address and correct their sexist and misogynistic attitudes. It is also not suggested that people should have the right to free speech no matter how violent and discriminating it may be towards women but that it has to be met with responsibility and accountability. The only necessary point is to refrain from over generalizing the effects of certain songs on the whole praxis of gender relations and not to attribute certain songs wholly as the cause of sexual violence and rape crises prevalent in the society.

Fourthly, caution is to be exercised whilst advocating for a ban or censorship of certain songs as doing this could further provide an impetus to the reactionary conservative forces that could later use this move to further their own agenda of maintaining the status quo and perpetuating existing power structures and thus consequently could prove to be detrimental to a revolutionary change in the society.

Censorship may sound appealing when the censors are targeting people we dislike, but for anyone interested in social transformation, censorship is negative in the long run.It is for these reasons that attitudinal and discourse level changes cannot be brought about independently and remain strongly influenced by the material and structural conditions. Without a change on the structural level, any meaningful change would seem unattainable.

 

#Gujarat -Sexual harassment panels still far off #Vaw


By Ramaninder K Bhatia, The Times of India, 20 January 2013

VADODARA: In one of the discussions following the brutal Delhi gang rape, a sad truth has emerged – nearly 16 years after the Supreme Court (SC) issued guidelines for setting up a complaint addressing mechanism for cases of sexual harassment, 99% of government offices in Vadodara have yet to establish these committees.

The disappointing fact came out during a meeting of women NGOs with members of the district coordination committee, including district MLAs, which meets every third Saturday.

Among the representatives of nearly 50 district administration offices, only one member – a woman employee of the local office of Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) said the Board’s headquarters had a committee. However, its constitution was also not found to be in accordance with Vishaka committee guidelines, which were issued following SC directions, sources revealed.

Disturbed by the development, district collector Vinod Rao has now given a 10-day deadline to all the departments to constitute committees to address complaints of sexual harassment in each department.

Members of women NGO, Sahiyar, who were invited by the district collector to address the representatives regarding the committee, then distributed guidelines about their composition.

“It’s imperative to have a woman as chairman of these committees and a member from an outside organization is also to be included. Fifty per cent of the members of these committees have to be women,” Trupti Shah told the government officials.

The offices should also prominently display the existence of such a committee on their notice boards along with details about the members.

“It’s mandatory to set up such committees in every office, whether government or private, and if the government does not take the lead, then who else will,” a woman NGO member pointed out.

NGO member said they were planning to approach the SC with a contempt petition if the complaint mechanism was to be ignored once again.

“We had filed an RTI applications after the Patan rape case and pointed out that none of the government offices in Gujarat had constituted these committees. The officials promised, but apparently nothing came out of this, as was evident from the interaction today. We hope that the recent awareness about sexual harassment of women would do the trick this time,” said Trupti.

In the wake of Vishaka committee guidelines, it was pointed out that present civil and penal laws in India did not adequately provide for specific protection of women from sexual harassment in work places.

It was then made necessary for the employers in work places as well as other responsible persons or institutions to ensure prevention of sexual harassment of women by setting up these committees.

 

#Delhigangrape- Many more Nirbhayas #Vaw #Riots #impunity


Sexual violence against women has been a feature of many riots and conflicts but a culture of impunity prevails

MADHAVI RAJADHYAKSHA TIMES INSIGHT GROUP , Jan 19, 2013

It was in the August of 2008 that a Catholic nun from the Divyajyoti Pastoral Centre in the Kandhamal district of Orissa was allegedly raped and sexually assaulted by multiple perpetrators before being stripped and paraded. “She was forcibly made to walk in the market by a mob, which jeered at her, made lewd remarks such as “hi, beautiful” and commented on the size of her breasts,” states a report prepared by the National People’s Tribunal on Kandhamal in 2010.
The incident occurred in the midst of communal violence and has now been forgotten like many others. Nearly five years later, the nun’s only hope for justice lies in a sessions court in Cuttack where the case has been transferred.
At a time when citizens across India have been demanding better safety measures for women in the wake of the brutal gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old in Delhi, it is essential to spare a thought for women who have been targeted in the course of communal clashes or braved abuse in areas under conflict.
It is the quality of empathy that makes us strive for justice in instances like the Delhi gang rape, observes social activist Harsh Mander borrowing the rationale from development economist Amartya Sen’s Idea of Justice. “But it is also worrying because there are limits to our justice,” he points out, adding that we need to make our empathy and strivings for justice more universal.
Like him, many believe gender crimes committed during communal violence deserve attention all the more because they are perpetrated in an environment of complete impunity. Justice for such forgotten survivors was the demand of a host of public meetings recently organised under the aegis of the ‘Bombay ki kahani, Mumbai ki Zubani’ campaign commemorating 20 years of the Hindu-Muslim riots in the financial capital. Several delegations to the Justice J S Verma committee (studying amendments to the criminal law) have also suggested that sexual violence during mass crimes be regarded as aggravated abuse attracting more severe punishment.
After all, the case of the 29-year-old Orissa nun is no aberration. Women have been raped, violated and abused throughout India’s history of communal conflict be it the Sikh riots of 1984, the 1992-93 Bombay riots or the more recent Gujarat carnage (2002).
The report of the Srikrishna commission which probed the Bombay riots mentions a gruesome incident in Devipada, Kasturba marg where a Hindu mob surrounded, stripped and assaulted two Muslim women. The younger of the two was subsequently burnt alive. “Though the miscreants were arrested and tried by the Sessions Court at Bombay…they were all acquitted on the ground that the panchnamas were defective and that the eye-witnesses were not produced,” states the commission report hinting at impunity typical to such gender crimes. In another instance, the commission says the official explanation about the police firing that killed two Muslim women, Noorjehan and Zarina, in their homes was “hardly believable”.
Court judgments on the Gujarat riots document similar gender-based violence. Teesta Setalvad of NGO Sabrang cites a judgment in the Naroda Patiya trial which observed that gang rapes and rapes took place and says the judge criticised the Supreme-court appointed SIT for failing to make any attempt to investigate the perpetrators of these offences. “During periods of heightened violence, women become a specific target as a symbol of a community’s honour,” observes Setalvad.
The United Nations has acknowledged the accentuated risk of sexual violence in conflict. It floated a separate agency, the UN Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict, in 2007 to ensure that such crimes don’t go unpunished.
It also underlined the need to create a
knowledge hub about the scale of such sexual violence in conflict, a mandate that needs implementation in India. “One gets the feeling that while riots are written about, sexual violence is not documented,” says Hasina Khan of the Forum Against Oppression of Women recounting how there was no paperwork to explain what happened to a teenaged girl who went missing from Pratiksha Nagar during the Bombay riots.
Saumya Uma, trustee of the Women’s Research Action Group, echoes her concerns. She is part of a group which is trying to track down and record the experience of women during the anti-Christian Orissa rampage. “We found from various sources that almost 39 women had faced some form of sexual violence, but only two to three cases were registered. What happened to the others?” questions Uma. She added that even the people’s tribunal had observed a large scale invisibility and silence regarding “documenting, reporting, investigating, charging and prosecuting cases” of sexual violence.
Justice for riot survivors is an arduous task because of the state’s complicity and shoddy investigations. “Many of us assume it is the failure of justice, but it is the systematic subversion of justice. It is systematically ensured that FIRs don’t mention the name of the accused but say anonymous mob,” points out Mander.
Vrinda Grover, a Delhi-based lawyer, says conflict areas are equally problematic. “While there may be silence and erasure in mass violence, we are dealing with actual denial of sexual violence happening in the state of Kashmir and northeast,” she notes. “Many NGOs talk of patriarchy in homes. But no one talks of patriarchy of the state,” she says.
A case in point is the tribal teacher Soni Sori in Chhattisgarh who was arrested on charges of playing courier between Maoist groups and a corporate. Sori has written heart-wrenching accounts of sexual abuse at the hands of police officials. “On the night of Saturday, 8.10.2011 in the new police station in Dantewada…I was tortured… After repeatedly giving me electric shocks, my clothes were taken off. I was made to stand naked….three boys started molesting me and I fell after they pushed me. Then they put things inside my body in a brutal manner. I couldn’t bear the pain, I was almost unconscious,” she wrote in an open letter to the Supreme Court.
What is now needed is a host of measures to crack this visage of impunity. This is essential as riots aren’t unfortunately a thing of past. The year 2012 was marked with communal clashes in Assam, pockets of Uttar Pradesh, Pachora in Maharashtra and Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh.

SILENT ZONE: In conflict areas like the northeast and the Kashmir Valley, the state actually denies sexual violence

 

India – Single Women’s Association- A force not be forgotten #womenrights


Fellow members of the Jharol Block group of the Single Women’s Association in Udaipur, Rajasthan are an important source of strength and solidarity for one another.

Single, divorced or widowed women in India are customarily excluded from many areas of life, are often subject to significant discrimination and abuse, and can feel extremely ostracised and alone. www.flickr.com/photos/christianaidimages/sets/72157629130..

By Swapna Majumdar

Delhi (Women’s Feature Service) – ‘Namaste, main Radha hoon, ek paritakta. (Greetings, I am Radha, a deserted woman)’. When Radha Devi, 32, introduces herself her eyes brim with confidence, her voice is loud and clear. For a rural woman from Himachal Pradesh who five years ago did nothing even as her alcoholic husband thrashed her, this was a huge change.

 

But achieving this transformation was not easy. Radha had accepted that violence at her husband’s hands was her fate and was ashamed to tell anyone about the beatings. She was also afraid that she would be separated from her son if she complained. She would have probably continued this way had not she met members of the Ekal Nari Shakti Sangathan (Association of Single Women).

 

 

 

Says Nirmal Chandel, state coordinator of the Himachal Pradesh unit of ENSS, “Even after we met her, Radha was unwilling to leave her husband. It took us several meetings to convince her that unless she took some action, she would lose her son anyway because she would be dead.” 

Finally, Radha gathered the courage to leave her husband, along with her son. Since 2007, she hasn’t looked back and today heads ENSS’s state unit in Rakkar in Himachal Pradesh’s Kangra district.

 

Radha is not the only woman whose life has changed. Several ENSS members shared their stories of change at a recent meeting held in the Capital. Organised by the National Forum for Single Women’s Rights, the meeting brought single women comprising widows, abandoned, deserted, unmarried and divorced women from seven states together to discuss how their issues could be mainstreamed in the national discourse.

 

According to the 2001 census, more than 39.8 million women are single. This figure is expected to be much higher in the 2011 census, the results of which are presently awaited. The issues of single women were first raised in 2000 after the ENSS was set up in Rajasthan. Started by Astha Sansthan, an Udaipur-based non-government organisation, ENSS began with a handful of members. Over the last 12 years, the movement has gathered steam, with 80,000 members across eight states. Single women have formed state units in Bihar, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Other states expected to join the ENSS family soon are Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir.

 

As the movement grew, the single women’s collective broke several barriers, especially of silence. In Bihar and Jharkhand, support by the collective has helped to save many widows targeted as ‘daians’, or witches, from being lynched by violent mobs. In Rajasthan, the Sangathan has given single women the confidence and legal knowledge to claim their rights to land, while their counterparts in Gujarat have been helped to speak out against violence, discrimination and assisted in resuming their education. ENSS members in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra have helped each other break cruel traditional customs, stand up to sexual harassment and seek police and legal assistance. As single women came together, shared their experiences, grief and pain, they were inspired by the courage displayed by many of the other members of their group who had stood up for their rights and successfully accessed their entitlements, ranging from pensions to birth certificates.

 

Even while state units continued to reach out to single women, it was found to be necessary to bring their issues to the national fora in order to achieve policy level changes, according to Ginny Srivastava, founder of ENSS and co-founder, Astha Sansthan. To make that happen, in 2009, different state units of ENSS got together to form the National Forum for Single Women’s Rights (NFSWR) that lobbies for their rights at the national level. The NFSWR advisory committee is now focusing on strategies that could be translated, especially keeping in mind the upcoming general elections. “Getting politicians to include the issues of single women in their election manifesto is very difficult. We held several meetings with them to make them aware of the importance of single women’s rights. We also managed to get a few political parties to include some of our issues in their manifestoes during assembly elections, after convincing them that single women now form an important vote bank,” revealed Chandel, who was herself widowed at the young age of 23.

 

The Himachal ENSS unit, working through SUTRA, a NGO engaged with gender empowerment, has become a force to contend with. It is the recipient of the Ashoka’s Changemakers Award in 2010 for its success in enabling all 35 single women in Tikri village of Baijanth block to access government schemes.

 

Single women, as an entity, have also made it into the Twelfth Five Year Plan for the first time, which means that government programmes and policies can focus on their specific needs.

 

But the forum is not stopping with these achievements. One of the issues it is pushing is the allotment of land for collective farming to enable single women to access sustainable livelihoods. This demand has been supported by the National Commission for Women and the National Mission for Empowerment of Women, both of which have agreed that the government should help women claim community lands and form farming cooperatives.

Findings of a 2011 study conducted by representatives of the single women’s group have validated this demand. Entitled ‘Are We Forgotten Women? A study of the status of low-income single women in India’, the study found that in the absence of marketable skills, education, and ownership of resources, single women rely heavily on daily wage labour for survival. This makes them easy prey for exploitation and abuse. Conducted in six states, the survey covered 386 single women and noted that 75 per cent of single women survived on less than the minimum wage with as many as 90 per cent dependent on borrowings to make ends meet. Ironically, only 21 per cent managed to get recognised as living below the poverty line (BPL) by the government.

For single women, it is a long, hard road ahead. But they are determined to prove that while they may be single, they are not alone and will certainly not allow themselves to be forgotten.

Women’s Feature Service

 

ANGUISH of A MOTHER about the insensitivity of POLICE, MEDIA and society in getting justice to her daughter, a survivor of CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE


CHILDRAPE

Suja Jones Mazurier:

“I cannot bear this anymore. He is getting support everywhere and I am faced with suspicion or isolation from everyone: Police, close friends, NGOs, public, media and most importantly even my own lawyers and activists.

He is making derogatory statements without a sense of guilt of the crime that he has committed on my daughter for such a long period. Himself, his mother and father are speaking against me and portraying him as an angel. Media that states they have to get his version whenever they contact me, fails to enquire me on the statements that are being made by him against me and others. Nobody wants to speak out for me. Why? I am unable to find answers.

I am amazed to see that the same media that is shouting hoarse on atrocities being committed on women, fails to even hear me when I shout that my child, a very young daughter was continuously raped and sodomised by my husband. Whatever happens in the court, his version is promptly reported, without even bothering to ask me my version. In all the rape cases that we are getting reports in the media, no version of the accused is presented. They are screened, I ask this question to media. If getting the version of the other side is essential, why don’t all of you go talk to Nirbhaya’s rapists? Why? Is it because they are not white, European, charming, handsome good speakers? Or is it because she is dead her death speaks the truth automatically? Is death the only way to prove one is right? What is the use of the evidence then? Just burn it all and sentence Suja to death. That is better.

Just give my children to him and his parents who are supporting him so closely when I have no one NONE with me. If you have doubts about my case please don’t pretend to support me. Just back off or go add to Pascal’s ever growing line of supporters. I cannot bear one more look of suspicion, one more question “But why did you…? Why did you not…?” I did what I had to. I took my child to the doctors. They gave their reports, several doctors from several institutions with several reports. If these don’t count then what is the use of fighting?

The French Consulate supports him, receiving from him secret correspondence that maligns me while at the same time refusing to listen to what I have to say pretending to be ‘neutral’. They take into account Pascal’s ‘confidential letter’ and refuse to return my children’s passports to me that they took away under the pretext of ‘getting their VISAs renewed’ (They promised to return them to me once this was done). The French Consul admitted to calling the Commissioner of Police, Bangalore requesting him not to arrest Pascal in the early stages. Then he tells me, “The Indian Police should not have listened to me since this was an unofficial request.’

I visited the office of the Investigation officer along with my advocate on two occasions to get the second DNA report from the Investigative Officer. The first time he asked us to change our application letter stating that it ought to have been addressed to Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), I change the address it to DCP, on receiving the same, he said it ought to have been addressed to Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP). I change the address again and present it to him. He says that my request cannot be considered. Being the complainant I requested him to at least allow me to see the report. I was refused. He said that I should come through the proper channel!!!!!!! Why? Now I understand why…The report shows that the swabs tested were not my daughter’s. (Pascal said that in his interview to Headlines Today)

They have made known the contents of that report to the accused and he has used it to his benefit on National television claiming that the swabs did not belong to either him or that of my daughter.

So actually in India, everything works to the advantage of the accused, no matter what the nature of his crime or his nationality – 1) He got the swabs of my daughter switched with the help of the police so that his sperm would not be found

2) He shouts that he is innocent based on the first DNA report that shows some other man’s sperm, claiming that it ‘exonerates him’.

3) When the second DNA report is revealed to him by the police , he realizes that the truth of the swabs being switched will get revealed. So he shouts that the Baptist Hospital doctors gave someone else’s swabs to the police.

4) He threatens certain sections of the media (both Indian and French) that have been reporting the story objectively so far into silence.

5) On national television he gives veiled threats to me and all ‘organizations supporting me’. He repeatedly defends the police and says that they are ‘not being allowed to do their job properly’( because I speak out and make written complaints each time they harass me and even my daughter).

And what are the police, the institutions doing for the victim? ‘It is sub-judice we cannot …’or ‘We are invegtigating into it.’ Or the press that says ‘We cannot report your case since there is nothing new, it is not a big enough story’ etc. In this melee everyone seems to have forgotten the suffering that my daughter has undergone at the hands of my husband. When all the doctors’ reports speak volumes. He is able to claim ‘innocence’. When the police refuse to produce the evidence against him that is available, when they fail to conduct the investigation the way it ought to have been, when the police are all claiming him to be not necessarily guilty and when they throw aspersions against me, put words into my statement and the statements of the witnesses that help him, he has every reason to be very happy with the investigation, he has great respect for the police and the system for very good reasons.

I am exhausted. When the time comes I will be forced to give up my children to the ‘nice white man who has his good white parents and the French Consulate and the Indian police and more to support him. After all it is true that I am alone. I have no one. It is more difficult for me to bring up my three children alone than for him Even at any time if he is convicted the whole society …’societies’ – French and Indian will only look at him and his parents with sympathy and me with contempt.

I should never have been born. I should never have gotten married or had children. I should have been killed at birth. This level of suspicion and isolation on someone who is trying to find justice for her daughter who was raped and sodomized by her own manipulative, cunning, handsome, charming, intelligent father is not just unfair, it is criminal. And why? Because the GREAT ONE opens his mouth. When HE opens his mouth all the evidence against him is automatically eliminated.It is easy for me now to see how and why women do not come out when such things happen in their homes. It is easy for me to see why women are driven to take their lives.

The criminal is not just Pascal. It is the whole society and the institutions who gather behind him or decide to ‘be neutral’ and not take sides or pretend to support me but are actually very skeptic in spite of the evidence against him.

Suja Jones Mazurier”

http://www.facebook.com/suja.jonesmazurier

 

#India-Assault on women with disabilities draws focus #Vaw


By , TNN | Jan 7, 2013,

KOLKATA: Close on the heels of the alleged rape bid on a woman with disabilities at Thakurpukur in December last year, 25 organizations representing persons with disabilities have petitioned Justice J S Verma, the chairperson of the commission formed to suggest amendments to laws on safety of women, “over its limited terms of reference”. The panel was formed after the Nirbhaya case.

Among all the cases of assault on women with disabilities cited in the petition, a majority took place in Bengal.

“Girls and women with disabilities are more vulnerable to exploitation. They are considered soft targets, with the perpetrators assuming they can get away easily. In many cases, such women are unable to comprehend or communicate about such acts of violence. Some reports suggest they are up to three times more likely to be victims of abuse as compared to other women,” says the petition. Three Bengal organizations – Centre for Care of Tortured Victims, Paschim Banga Rajya Prathibandhi Sammelani and Sruti Disability Rights Centre – are part of the petition prepared by the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD).

“There are no consolidated figures on violence against women with disabilities. But the magnitude and scale of the attacks can be gauged by the fact that in 2012 alone there were

dozens of cases of sexual violence on women with disabilities were reported in the media from Bengal. Despite this, no attempt was made to map the magnitude of the problem. Neither the NCRB nor any other source has authentic figures,” says Muralidharan, NPRD assistant convener.

Several cases have been cited in the petition, with one case each from Chandigarh and Aurangabad and the rest from Bengal. It contains the testimony of a visual impaired girl at an event by Jadavpur University and Sruti Disability Rights Centre, who said: “I face sexual abuse regularly. I have to commute to college by public bus and need help in crossing roads and during bus rides where people take advantage of my condition. I can’t see, so identifying the molester is difficult. And others think he was just helping me board the bus. Who would believe me?”

Among the cases cited are the Bankura Medical College case, where a hearing-impaired girl was allegedly raped by a doctor in February 2012, the case of a national-level para-athlete who was allegedly raped by an auto driver in North Dinajpur in June 2012, and the Hooghly tragedy where a woman’s body was found buried at a home run by an NGO Dulal Smriti Samsad in July 2012.

The petition suggests several measures on compilation of data, support to victims, sensitization of police, monitoring of institutions and counselling and rehabilitation.

After a spate of attacks on women with disabilities, a team from the National Commission for Women visited Bengal in April 2012, and recommended that the requirements of persons with special needs have to be kept in mind by all police stations and medical establishments so that they are provided with support including services of interpreters, readers, professionals, psychologists and NGOs depending on the nature of the case. “A panel of experts for this purpose can be prepared for each district in consultation with the disabilities commissioner and the WCD department,” it said.

 

Press Release by Women with Disabilities India Network #delhigangrape


Last year  a young girl of 23 years died after being brutally raped in New Delhi. Her struggle lasted from 16 to 29th December 2012. Travelling with her friend who hailed a bus they were  brutally attacked by a group of six men, while the man was thrown off the bus, the woman was gang raped. The brutality perpetuated on the victim has outraged the nation.

We the ‘Women with Disabilities India Network’ join other women and concerned citizens in condemning the act.

We can understand the trauma faced by the young woman because we are targets of such violence each day in both public and private sphere.Such rapes are not isolated incidents, but are rather experienced in a continuum of violence. They happen within the homes, in buses and trains and in State run institutions for instance against women with mental illness and young girls with intellectual disability where rape is an everyday affair.    Rape by household members often remains unreported to avoid further stigmatization.

We believe that rape as a weapon of violence must be stopped and impunity enjoyed by perpetrators brought to an end. Impunity for the rape of women has become a national concern, because it compounds the effects of such violence. It intensifies the subordination and powerlessness of the targets of rape and sends a message to society that male violence against women is both acceptable and inevitable.

We urge that the cases of such heinous crimes be taken up and speedy action taken so that justice can be done.

We do not believe that death penalty is the answer as it reflects attention away from the violence perpetuated against us. This is especially the case when much of the violence perpetrators are mostly men from within families.  We aim for dignity and justice and safe homes, society and country. We believe that The normalcy and ethical acceptability of this violence must be challenged by the normative and ablest  attitudes

We must adopt laws and policies recognizing that all actions that violate women’s bodies are illegal.  Women must themselves be key decision makers in efforts to identify priority concerns and legal responses.

There is a need for further popular, police, and judicial training that builds specific cultural awareness   about disability issues  and legal knowledge on the issue.

Without such efforts, further elaboration of domestic and international, legal standards will fail women.

There has to be an appropriate strict punishment for all rapists, ensuring that they do not indulge in such activities again Concerns of deaf women in relation to rape came out very blatantly in our meeting in Delhi on 1st October 2012.
Since most disabled women are raped by men they trust the most who may be their family member’s or care givers (in institutes), there must be a mechanism set across the country where they can report such matters without the scare of any negative consequences. Also psychological and vocational support must be provided to such women.

Additional vulnerability of WWD is not recognized anywhere. I think that it must be recognized and addressed at all levels whether it be in the women commission, women groups and NGO programmes or any programmes and schemes instituted by the government.

Prepared by

Anita Ghai
Associate Professor
Fellow, Teen Murti (2009-2011)
IAWS president (2008-2011)
EC member IAWS (2011-2014)

Jeeja Ghosh
Head Advocacy and Disability Studies IICP,

Kolkata

Shivani Gupta

Founder and Chief Consultant

AccessAbility

New Delhi

Anjlee Agarwal
Executive Director & Access Consultant
Samarthyam
New Delhi

Smitha
DLU South
Chennai

Asha Hans
Former Prof & Director Women’s Studies
Utkal University
& EVP SMRC
Bhubaneswar

 

#India- Women with Disabilities submit to Justice Verma #Rape #Vaw #Law #disability


 

January 4, 2013

Justice J.S. Verma

New Delhi

 

Sir,

 

Suggestions to the Committee

From the Perspective of Women with Disabilities

 

We the representatives of various organisations representing persons with disabilities while welcoming the setting up of this committee under your chairmanship are concerned over its limited terms of reference. It would have been better if the terms of reference of the committee had been much broader and not limited to two issues.

 

In the event, we would like to place before the Committee certain suggestions from the perspective of women with disabilities.

 

During the course of the last couple of years there has been an increase in the number of cases of sexual assault on girls and women with disabilities. Despite the increasing number of incidents being reported, sexual assaults and violence against women with disabilities continue to remain underreported.

 

Girls and women with disabilities are more vulnerable to exploitation. They are considered as soft targets with the perpetrators assuming that they can get away easily. In many cases such women are unable to comprehend or communicate about such acts of violence or assault they face.  Some reports suggest that they are upto three times more likely to be victims of physical and sexual abuse as compared to other women.

 

In many cases they are not taken seriously either by the police or the judicial system. Their difficulty in expressing themselves compounds matters even further.

 

India ratified the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). Article 6 of the Convention mandates that the country make specific provisions to end discrimination and violence faced by women with disabilities.

 

Further, Article 16 of the UNCRPD under the head “Freedom from Exploitation, Violence and Abuse” mandates that:

 

“1. States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social, educational and other measures to protect persons with disabilities, both within and outside the home, from all forms of exploitation, violence and abuse, including their gender-based aspects.

 

“2. States Parties shall also take all appropriate measures to prevent all forms of exploitation, violence and abuse by ensuring, inter alia, appropriate forms of gender and age-sensitive assistance and support for persons with disabilities and their families and caregivers, including through the provision of information and education on how to avoid, recognize and report instances of exploitation, violence and abuse. States Parties shall ensure that protection services are age, gender and disability-sensitive.

 

“3. In order to prevent the occurrence of all forms of exploitation, violence and abuse, States Parties shall ensure that all facilities and programmes designed to serve persons with disabilities are effectively monitored by independent authorities.

 

“4. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to promote the physical, cognitive and psychological recovery, rehabilitation and social reintegration of persons with disabilities who become victims of any form of exploitation, violence or abuse, including through the provision of protection services. Such recovery and reintegration shall take place in an environment that fosters the health, welfare, self-respect, dignity and autonomy of the person and takes into account gender and age-specific needs.

 

“5. States Parties shall put in place effective legislation and policies, including women and child-focused legislation and policies, to ensure that instances of exploitation, violence and abuse against persons with disabilities are identified, investigated and, where appropriate, prosecuted.”

 

There is an urgent necessity for laws in the country to be amended to provide for these and harmonise them with the UNCRPD.

 

Compilation of Data

 

Unfortunately, there are no consolidated figures with regard to violence against women with disabilities. But the magnitude and scale of the attacks can be gauged by the fact that in the year 2012 alone there have been dozens of cases of sexual violence on women with disabilities reported in media from the state of West Bengal alone. Despite this high incidence, no attempt has been made to even map the magnitude of the problem. Consequently, neither the NCRB nor any other source has authentic figures.

 

It would therefore be pertinent that when such cases are registered, crimes against women with disabilities be also recorded as a sub-category like in the case of crimes against women from the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes etc.

 

Provide Adequate

Support to Victims

 

A team from the National Commission for Women visited West Bengal on April 3 and 4, 2012 in the wake of reports of increasing attacks against women with disabilities. It had made the following recommendations:

 

“We would like to recommend that the requirements of persons with special needs have to be kept in mind by all police stations and medical establishments so that they are provided with handholding support including services of interpreters, readers, professionals, psychologists and NGOs depending on the nature of the case. A panel of experts for this purpose can be prepared for each district in consultation with the Disabilities Commissioner and the WCD Department”

 

It would also be pertinent here to look into the rules framed under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012.

 

Rules framed under this Act mandate that:

 

(1) In each district, the DCPU shall maintain a register with names, addresses and other contact details of interpreters, translators and special educators for the purposes of the Act, and this register shall be made available to the Special Juvenile Police Unit (hereafter referred to as “SJPU”), local police, magistrate or Special Court, as and when required.

 

(2) The qualifications and experience of the interpreters, translators, Special educators, and experts, engaged for the purposes of sub-section (4) of section 19, sub-sections (3) and (4) of section 26 and section 38 of the Act, shall be as indicated in these rules.

 

(3) Where an interpreter, translator, or Special educator is engaged, otherwise than from the list maintained by the DCPU under sub-rule (1), the requirements prescribed under sub-rules (4) and (5) of this rule may be relaxed on evidence of relevant experience or formal education or training or demonstrated proof of fluency in the relevant languages by the interpreter, translator, or special educator, subject to the satisfaction of the DCPU, Special Court or other authority concerned.

 

(4) Interpreters and translators engaged under sub-rule (1) should have functional familiarity with language spoken by the child as well as the official language of the state, either by virtue of such language being his mother tongue or medium of instruction at school at least up to primary school level, or by the interpreter or translator having acquired knowledge of such language through his vocation, profession, or residence in the area where that language is spoken.

 

(5) Sign language interpreters, Special educators and experts entered in the register under sub-rule (1) should have relevant qualifications in sign language or special education, or in the case of an expert, in the relevant discipline, from a recognized University or an institution recognized by the Rehabilitation Council of India.

 

(6) Payment for the services of an interpreter, translator, Special educator or expert whose name is enrolled in the register maintained under sub-rule (1) or otherwise, shall be made by the State Government from the Fund maintained under section 61 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000, or from other funds placed at the disposal of the DCPU, at the rates determined by them, and on receipt of the requisition in such format as the State Government may prescribe in this behalf.

 

(7) Any preference expressed by the child at any stage after information is received under sub-section (1) of section 19 of the Act, as to the gender of the interpreter, translator, Special educator, or expert, may be taken into consideration, and where necessary, more than one such person may be engaged in order to facilitate communication with the child.

 

(8) The interpreter, translator, Special educator, expert, or person familiar with the manner of communication of the child engaged to provide services for the purposes of the Act shall be unbiased and impartial and shall disclose any real or perceived conflict of interest. He shall render a complete and accurate interpretation or translation without any additions or omissions, in accordance with section 282 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

 

(9) In proceedings under section 38, the Special Court shall ascertain whether the child speaks the language of the court adequately, and that the engagement of any interpreter, translator, Special educator, expert or other person familiar with the manner of communication of the child, who has been engaged to facilitate communication with the child, does not involve any conflict of interest.

 

(10) Any interpreter, translator, Special educator or expert appointed under the provisions of the Act or its rules shall be bound by the rules of confidentiality, as described under section 127 read with section 126 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.

 

It would be in the fitness of things if similar provisions are made for adult women with disabilities who are subjected to sexual abuse.

 

We suggest that concerned Ministries and Departments be directed to issue advisories to police stations, courts, legal services authorities, government hospitals and health centres to provide all the required support including, access to interpreters and social workers to the women with disabilities who approach them.

 

Also there needs to be accountability in the matter of making services of an interpreter/counsellor available to victims.

 

Training Of Police/Judiciary

& Medical Professionals

 

Training/sensitisation of police officers, judiciary and medical professionals on issues concerning persons with disabilities, particularly women with disabilities and the violence they face should be made mandatory.

 

We suggest that there must be Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) in place for the police to follow while investigating cases of sexual assault. These SOPs must refer to the specific needs of women with disabilities, at each stage of the investigation and the role of the police during trial.

 

Abuse within Institution

 

A large number of women with disabilities are abused within institutions like hospitals and shelter homes.

 

Apart from sexual abuse, at times in some institutions these women are not clothed properly and are also subjected to verbal abuse. The guidelines issued by the NHRC should be strictly adhered to in such cases.

 

A monitoring and regulatory authority has to be established at the district level consisting of activists and specialists from the district who will have visiting rights and access to these places for regular check ups. Periodic inspection of these institutions by the authority so established should be made mandatory.

 

Counselling and Rehabilitation

 

Policy and legal measures to prevent and reduce violence against women with disabilities and shield them against such abuses by themselves are not enough. Necessary legal aid/help to bring the perpetrators of such crime to justice has to be provided.

 

Victims of such crimes have to be provided with adequate and appropriate counselling facilities. In the case of a victim getting pregnant consequent to sexual abuse, appropriate counselling and options should be offered to the victims.

 

Rehabilitation of such victims is also paramount. Rehabilitation measures should equip the victims with knowledge and skills to be able to engage in productive livelihood.

 

In the annexure appended herewith we have cited certain instances of sexual assaults against women with disabilities to demonstrate the nature of the vulnerabilities faced by women with disabilities and how they have been handled by the existing institutional and legal machinery.

 

We hope that the Committee will consider these issues also seriously as also the wider issues involved.

 

 

Signatory organisations, in alphabetical order:

 

 

  1. Aarth Astha, Delhi
  2. Centre for Women’s Development Studies, Delhi
  3. Centre for Care of Tortured Victims, Kolkata
  4. Differently-Abled Welfare Federation, Kerala
  5. Gujarat Viklang Adhikar Manch, Gujarat
  6. Haryana Viklang Adhikar Manch, Haryana
  7. Himachal Viklang Adhikar Manch, Himachal Pradesh
  8. Human Rights Law Network, Delhi
  9. Janarth, Aurangabad, Maharashtra
  10. Jharkhand Viklang Morcha, Jharkhand
  11. Karnataka Rajya Angavikalara Mattu Palakara Okkota
  12. Lakshwadeep Disabled Association, Lakshwadeep
  13. Manipur Rights for the Disabled, Manipur
  14. Marg, Aurangabad, Maharashtra
  15. Mehac Foundation, Delhi
  16. Paschim Banga Rajya Prathibandhi Sammelani, West Bengal
  17. Platform for Rights of Disabled, Orissa
  18. Point of View, Mumbai
  19. Sangarsha Apang Ani Palak Sangh, Aurangabad
  20. Snehi, Delhi
  21. Sruti Disability Rights Centre, Kolkata, West Bengal
  22. Tamilnadu Assn for the Rights of Differently-Abled & Caregivers, Tamilnadu
  23. The Banyan, Tamilnadu
  24. Vikalangula Hakkula Jathiya Vedika, Andhra Pradesh

 

 

Prepared by:

 

National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled

4, Ashoka Road, New Delhi 110 001

Tel. 23369598, 9868768543

 

Annexure

 

 

Certain Instances of Sexual Assaults Against Women With Disabilities Demonstrating The Nature Of The Vulnerabilities

 

Sexual Assault

On a Girl with Intellectual Disability

 

A young girl with intellectual disability was repeatedly raped and abused within Ashreya, a government residential institute in Chandigarh. The girl was an orphan who was raised by the Missionaries of Charity and later shifted to this home. She did not complain at any point of time. The abuse came into light when she was found to be pregnant.

 

The Supreme Court Judgement CIVIL APPEAL NO.5845 OF 2009 (Arising out of S.L.P. (C) No. 17985 of 2009) Suchita Srivastava & Anr. …Versus Chandigarh Administration …  observed:

 

“On 16.5.2009, a medical social worker and a staff nurse working at ‘Ashreya’ observed that the victim was showing signs of nausea and had complained about pain in her lower abdomen in addition to disclosing the fact that she had missed her last two menstrual periods. Acting on their own initiative, the medical social worker and the staff nurse conducted a pregnancy test with a urine sample and found it to be positive. Following this development, a medical board consisting of two gynaecologists and a radiologist was constituted on 18.5.2009. The gynaecologists then examined the victim in a clinical environment and concluded that she had been pregnant for 8-10 weeks at the time. The radiologist also confirmed the fact of pregnancy on the basis of an ultrasound examination and recorded a gestation of approximately 9 weeks on the same day.”

 

The girl was unable to comprehend that she was being assaulted. Secondly, she was also unable to identify the perpetrators. This case is being cited to underline the fact that in cases where women with mental illness or intellectual disability are assaulted they are often not able to complain and even their care-givers in some cases are unaware of the abuse they are subjected to.

 

In a case reported from Aurangabad, Maharashtra a few days back, an attempt was made to molest a 29 year old woman with intellectual disability who at the time of the incident was alone in the house. She stays with her brother. The brother was initially reluctant to even lodge a complaint at the Police Station.

 

Sexual Assault

On A Blind Girl

 

Given below is the testimony of a Blind girl at a Public Hearing on Issues affecting Women with Disabilities organised by the Jadavpur University in collaboration with Sruti Disability Rights Centre, Kolkata.

 

“I face sexual abuse regularly. I have to commute to college by public bus. I need help of others in crossing roads and even during bus rides. One day I asked a man who was standing at the bus stop to help me to get into the bus. I asked him to hold my hand and then I realised he was touching my body also. I was very nervous – I thought if I protested he will let me go off and I will meet with an accident. You know how crowded buses in Kolkata are. This man kept on touching me in an inappropriate manner inside the bus. But I could not protest. And if I would have said anything, who would have believed? I can not see, so for me to identify him would be difficult. And others would think that he held my hands just to help me board the bus. So would they believe me?

 

“These kinds of incidents happen regularly. I do not know if it happened to any of my friends, I never discussed the same with them. This is something, I think shameful to discuss.”

 

 

Incidents of Rape of

Women with Hearing Impairment

 

Several cases of rape/assault on women with hearing/speech impairment have been reported during the course of the last year.

 

In one such case in February 2012 a hearing impaired girl was raped by a doctor inside the premises of the Bankura Medical College in West Bengal. According to the complaint lodged by the victim’s mother, the resident doctor of the hospital took the victim for medical examination inside his room and raped her. She could not identify the accused in the identification parade as she later told her mother that she was not informed by police or any concerned person what to do when she was taken inside for the same. As she was hearing & speech impaired and illiterate as well, the authorities did not know how to communicate with her.

 

In another case, again from West Bengal a national level Para athlete who had won several medals including at the National Championship in 2006, was on her way back from Raiganj to her house in Hemtabad on June 23, 2012 in an auto-rickshaw.  Taking advantage of the fact that the girl was hearing and speech impaired, the auto-driver took the girl to his house where he raped her. In this case, the girl was able to give a complaint in writing.

 

Assaults within Institutions

The Case of Dulal Smriti Samsad (Hooghly, West Bengal)

 

A young woman’s body was found buried within the compound of a NGO run home, Dulal Smriti Samsad, in July 2012. Investigations found out that Guriya, a destitute woman who was mentally ill, was brought to this home by West Bengal police was subjected to sexual abuse regularly and killed.

 

The incident came to light after one of the villagers staying nearby got wind of it. He informed others and later on the story was picked up by the media.

 

It was found that despite the home being registered under the Persons with Disabilities Act, National Trust Act as well as Juvenile Justice Act, there was no monitoring by any government agency. During investigations it also came to light that several other inmates (most of them were destitute mentally ill or women with intellectual disability) were routinely sexually abused. Men from outside the home, with connivance of officials of the home committed the crime after dusk. Some of the women when interrogated were also able to give names of men who exploited them. Medical examination of some of the victims also revealed signs of regular sexual intercourse. Copper-T was found inserted in the bodies of a few inmates.

 

It is obvious that this abuse and exploitation of hapless women was happening over a period of time, as the victims were unable to express themselves or those who were hearing them did not believe their versions. Even during questioning after the first death was reported, the women were unable to narrate their experience, given their mental condition.

 

 

#India-‘Don’t lock us up, make city safer’ #Vaw


By Ramaninder K Bhatia, The Times of India, 1 January 2013

VADODARA: Vadodara police’s order of banning tuition classes before 7am and after 9pm in the city after the New Delhi gang rape, has evoked harsh criticism from women across the city. They want the rule to be revoked.

Police commissioner, IG Satish Sharma, said the notification to ban tuition classes early in the morning and late in the evening applied to both girls and boys. “We took this step after the Delhi rape to ensure that youngsters are not compelled to venture out at these hours to attend tuition classes. This is not meant to restrict any movement of girls in the city. The force is fully capable of ensuring the security and safety of women on the streets.”

However, not many interpret this notification as a women-friendly move. MSU has reportedly advanced the closing time for women hostels to 8.30 pm from the earlier deadline of 10 pm.

“It’s highly unfair. There is no such condition for the boys’ hostels. The male students are free to roam off campus 24 hours of the day while we have to get locked in our hostels by 8.30 pm. The police could have said that they would increase patrolling on roads instead of asking us to stay locked up inside,” DeepikaThakkar, a hosteller said.

“It’s like an admission on the part of the state that it can’t take the responsibility of keeping women safe on city roads after 9 pm. Instead of instilling confidence among women about their safety, they are made to feel vulnerable,” said Trupti Shah, member of Sahiyar, a women’s NGO, who was part of the group which met the district authorities to discuss the controversial order.

Prof Amita Verma, founder director of Women Studies Research Centre, MSU, said, “Women have to be safe in the society and it cannot be done by asking them to stay at home and hide. It is for the state to ensure that they stay safe even when they step out of their homes. This order does not make any sense.”

Deeptha Achar, a MSU professor, said, “By telling women to stay at home does not mean that the roads would become safe for them. This reflects inequality.”

 

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