#India – Tribal girls going under knife for virginity #Vaw #Patriarchy #WTFnews


Kelly Kislaya, TNN Apr 26, 2013,

RANCHI: Conservative India‘s preference for a blushing, untouched bride is now making a mark in tribal societies, where virginity was never really an issue in the past. Hymenoplasty, or hymen repair surgery, which has for long been popular among women in metros has made its way into the tribal heartland. Though there have been only four queries and two such operations in the city in the last two years, but it is definitely is a start of a new trend in this tribal-dominated city.

Dr Anant Sinha, a plastic surgeon and founder of Devkamal Hospital, the only place in Ranchi that offers hymenoplasty, said: “The first query regarding hymenoplasty came to me around two years ago, but I managed to convince the girl not to undergo the surgery. Since then, I have handled four such cases -I managed to discourage two girls, but had to perform surgery on the other two as they were adamant. The last operation I performed was in October 2012. It is a one hour procedure and costs Rs.15,000.”

Interestingly, three of these four girls were tribals. Sinha said: “I did not ask them too much about their background or why they wanted to get operated, but I did manage to convince one tribal and one non-tribal girl not to get operated. The two operations that I have performed were on tribal girls.”

Tribal girls opting for hymenoplasty has come as a surprise to many as virginity has never been an issue in the tribal society. Giridhariram Gaunjhu, former head of Ranchi University‘s tribal and regional languages department, said: “Tribal societies never questioned a girl’s purity. Many tribes practiced polyandry and promoted widow marriages even when they were taboo in the rest of the country. These girls who opted for hymenoplasty are exceptions and have been influenced by the so-called modern society.”

The influence Gaunjhu is talking about is evident on media and social networking sites, where posts like ‘In the year 2013, a virgin wife is more important than dowry’ are common and underline the message that a man always wants to be the first one to conquer the female’s body. Such messages only create pressure on youngsters to conform.

A 24-year-old girl said: “I have been a sportsperson all my life and my hymen might have ruptured. I just pray that I bleed when I have intercourse with my husband for the first time. This could just ruin my life.” Piyush Lakra, a 28-year-old, said: “One of my friends recently got married and all his friends asked him if his wife was a virgin.”

Sinha said: “Girls want to get hymen restored so that they bleed during their first sexual intercourse after marriage thus giving an impression of being a virgin. People fail to understand that hymen rupture has nothing to do with virginity. A hymen can rupture while doing excessive physical work or during sports like cycling, running or horse-riding.”

 

#India – Young Love, old moralities #moralpolicing #ageofconsent #adolescentsex


Kamayani Bali Mahabal | March 23, 2013, Times Crest

The whole debate around the age of consent is clouded by foolish misconceptions, some of them legal and many of them cultural.

Do Baba Ramdev and others know what the implications of reducing the age of consent are? They have been crying themselves hoarse that the move will lead to a rise in the incidents of rape.
‘Age of consent’ does not imply the age at which you are allowed to consent for sex. It is a legal concept which means that this will be the age below which ‘consent’ will not be considered a valid defence against a rape charge. So if a 16-to-18-year-old boy is charged with rape, he will be convicted even if the girl tells the court she had consented.

There is also another misconception at work in this debate. The age of consent is not being reduced – in India, the age of consensual consent has always been 16. Consensual intercourse with a girl under this age was construed as “statutory rape”. The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, enacted in 2012, increased the age of consent to sexual intercourse from 16 to 18. The Verma Committee recommended that the age of consent in the Indian Penal Code should revert to 16.

Where does the age of consent stand in other countries? Britain, 16, France, 15, and in Spain, 13. In the United States, the age ranges from 16 to 18 years, depending on the state in the question. People need to understand that it is quite normal for people to have sexual relationship at 16 or 17.

The reason feminists are asking age of consent to be kept at 16 years is that we do not want to criminalise and send off young boys to prison when they are in a consensual sexual relationship. As Judge Kamini Lau in her judgment last year said in the absence of what she called a “close-in-age reprieve, ” the increase in the age of consent “would become regressive and draconian as it tends to criminalise adolescent sex. ” If the age of consent is raised to 18, any sexual contact between teenagers will be considered rape, period. And all big brothers who want to control their sisters’ freedom will use it to accuse any boy/male classmate/friend who befriends their sisters, strengthening the patriarchal stereotypes which the women’s movement has been fighting to eliminate for decades.

According to the apex body of child rights in the country, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, children’s homes are full of boys who have eloped or had consensual sex with young girls whose disapproving parents have filed cases of kidnapping and rape against them. This means that a later age of consent is widely used as a weapon by protective parents.

Then there is the other question: Would pegging the age of consent at 16 encourage trafficking and rape? How can it? Trafficking and rape are a crime, no matter what the age. If it is raised to 18, young boys, especially from Dalit and tribal communities, will face rape convictions for consensual relationships with upper caste/class girl.

We need to amend the law whereby a man who is 4-5 years or more older than a 16-to-18-year-old girl can be convicted of statutory rape, irrespective of the consent of the girl, as he can sexually exploit a young girl.

The issue here is not if teenage sex is good or bad but if consensual sex between teenagers is to be defined as rape or not. We are drafting a criminal law, not a moral or a social code like the Manu Smriti.
The various babas, religious groups and the khap panchayats believe that young persons, particularly girls, should not exercise any sexual freedom. They view marriage, as determined by their families, as the only destiny for young women. The decision to have sex or not is personal. The law cannot decide when and where a person should have sex, it can only frame laws to prevent crimes.

We should understand the difference between consensual sex and marriage. A marriage is not all about sexual gratification. It is a big social responsibility, which ties a person not only to his or her partner but also to the family and kids. So the age for marriage and consensual sex should be looked at differently. Are child marriages held with the consent of children? No, they are thrust upon them. The argument for keeping the age of consent at 16 years is to prevent the criminal law from interfering in the rights of young people to exercise sexual autonomy and agency. This will curb societal control along conservative lines of caste, class and religion.

While drafting the new law, there are some contemporary realities that government appears to have forgotten. It is medically accepted fact that the age of puberty has been coming down across populations around the world. Biologically, therefore, youngsters are starting to feel the effects of sex hormones raging around their bodies much earlier. According to the third National Health Survey, 2005-06 nearly 43 per cent of women aged between 20-24 had engaged in intercourse before they were 18.

Do we have anything close to sex education in India to allow young people to make informed choices? We need to equip teenagers so they can understand their bodies, and respect sexual attraction, not despise it, and deal responsibly with it. We should not criminalise that attraction. If we do, young men will only end up fearing and hating women, and developing a distorted perception of sexuality and women. This will only make them more violent towards women.

Is this the way we want to deal with violence against women? The criminal law should take into account a teenager’s ability and maturity to make decisions about sex. It should help them deal with their sexuality in an informed and responsible way. Law should strengthen our rights and freedoms and not be an instrument of social control or moral policing.

Now that the government has passed the Bill with the age of consent at 18, we have opened avenues for the prosecution of young boys and girls. We have acknowledged that the Indian society wishes to treat its young boys and girls as immature individuals incapable of making a responsible decision about their sexual lives. Now let us think, is this one step forward or four backwards?

The writer is a lawyer and human rights activist.

 

Draft manual for docs bans word ‘rape’, two-finger test #Vaw #sexualassault #Goodnews


Rape

In the first detailed manual for medical examination of rape victims, the Health Ministry has advised doctors not to use the word rape as it is “not a medical diagnosis but a legal definition”.

It has also asked them not to identify a victim as “habituated to sexual intercourse” as this amounts to unlawful interference in her privacy and therefore a violation of her human rights. “Rape is not a medical diagnosis, it is legal definition. Hence word “rape” should not be used while forwarding opinion… Even he/she should not depose on the same issue. Do not identify victim as “habituated to sexual intercourse” on the basis of findings of finger test as (it) is unlawful interference with her privacy and unlawful attacks on her honour and reputation and is violation of her human rights,” says the manual.

It will also mentions that in the prosecution proceedings for sexual assaults, prior sexual experience is irrelevant as the issue at hand is consent or lack of it. The manual also forbids the use of the two-finger test on the same ground.

This is the first time the Department of Health Research has attempted to draw up a comprehensive manual for examination of victims of sexual crimes in consultation with experts and framed guidelines on what the conclusions should be for a given set of observations.

It has now invited public comments on the draft.

 

No means no: without consent, sex is rape #womenrights #Vaw


On consent for sex, the woman’s word will be the last one.   Once the prosecution is able to prove that there was sexual intercourse in a wide-range of cases, the new sexual assault law requires the court to presume that the victim did not consent as claimed by the

 

The law defines consent as an “unequivocal voluntary agreement” when the person by words, gestures or non-verbal communication communicates willingness. That the victim did not physically resist rape shall not be regarded as consenting to the sexual activity.

Besides police officers, hospital staff and remand home officials, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance has widened this safeguard to presume absence of consent for victims where the alleged rapist was a relative, guardian, teacher, a person in a position of trust or authority or who had “economic or social dominance”.

 

Dear Parents, Have you told your son about rape? #Vaw #Sex #love


January 11, 2013

Following the sensational GS Road molestation case in Assam last year, blogger Local Tea Party wrote a blog post about what to tell your son on rape. 

You do one thing. First you grow up. Because, if you grow up means, automatically your son will grow up. And when your son is growing up, give him a pack of condoms. Now don’t give that confused look and all. Seriously, give him a pack of condoms. Along with that, give him a lot of free advice. Don’t think that he won’t take it. Give it anyway, he will eventually take it.

Tell your son to go out with the girls. Tell him to give them hugs and high-fives and ask them to go out on day trips and have fun. Tell him that it is not important to get married before having sex and that if he feels like it, ask him to use that condom you just gave him. Tell him that the Health and Glow shop anyway has lots of varieties of them near the cash counter itself and that he need not be embarrassed to go buy them if he has to. No one will notice.

Tell him that he can talk about sex in your presence. And that you will not feel embarrassed about it.

Tell your son that it is okay to watch pornography. Don’t ask him to watch it when you are around and all, that will be indecent, but still tell him that there is nothing wrong in watching two adults in action.

Tell your son to read erotic fiction and have some fun. In fact, if possible, you only give a copy of the Kamasutra to him. He won’t understand any of it anyway, but still give it to him. Or try Harold Robbins.

Ask him to log on to Chatrooms and have sex chat with a random girl on the other end. It could be a guy pretending to be a girl, but still that and all doesn’t matter. Ask him to have it nevertheless.

Ask him to do sexting with this girlfriend, but tell him to do it discreetly. Tell him it is ok to have phone sex with her and that even if you overhear something from his room, tell him that you will pretend you have not heard anything. Promise him you won’t embarrass him.

Tell him to fall in love with a woman (or a man). Tell him to go head-over-heels (or something like that) about her. Tell him to admire her beauty. Actually, tell him to admire the beauty of all women. Tell him that they are single most source of joy on the planet and that without them the world is nothing. Tell him to make love to a woman in a manner that they will remember for the rest of their lives.

Tell him to relax and enjoy sex.

But before you do ANY of the above,

Tell him what they show on National Geographic Channel. Tell him that male animals don’t have sex without the permission of the female animal. Tell him that it is a shame to touch a woman without her permission. Tell him that it is a failure on your part and on the way you have brought him up. Tell him that it is a failure to his manhood.

Tell him that real life pornography requires her permission. Tell him that if a woman agrees, no amount of erotica can match a woman’s passion. But ask him to wait for the woman to agree first.

Tell him that a woman is a human being. Just like him. Not a piece of object. Tell him that while it is ok to admire her beauty, grabbing her body parts without her permission is worse than stealing food from rabies-ridden street dog. Tell him that just because he possesses a penis, it does not give him the right to mate with every vagina in the vicinity automatically.

Tell him that even broken hearts can be mended but he cannot break a woman’s dignity at any cost.

Tell him that raping is a sin for which man will have to pay a heavy price. A very heavy price.

Courtesy: The Local Tea Party

 

Women and Reasearch Action Group submission to Justice Verma #Vaw


To:

The Honorable Justice Verma,
Attached and reproduced below are our submission on addressing sexual assault.  We look forward to your final observations and recommendations and hope that they reflect the points and issues we raise in our submission.
Sincerely,
Saumya Uma
******************

SUBMISSION TO JUSTICE VERMA COMMISSION ON SEXUAL ASSAULT From: WOMEN’S RESEARCH & ACTION GROUP (WRAG)

Women’s Research and Action Group (WRAG) is a non-profit organization based in Mumbai, working for the past 20 years on empowerment of women through community action and the law. Through its work with women from underprivileged, marginalized and vulnerable communities of Mumbai and other parts of the country, it has engaged with issues of sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls, the absence of justice and accountability in various contexts including mass crimes, and has engaged in advocacy initiatives towards addressing the existing impunity for crimes against women.

At the outset, WRAG wishes to foreground the inter-linkages between ‘everyday’ violence and harassment faced by all women and girls, and contexts of increased vulnerability, where such forms of violence are exacerbated. The increased vulnerability is caused due to

a)     identity of the victims / survivors – such as physically and mentally challenged women and girls, dalits, adivasis, sex workers, members of denotified groups, religious and linguistic minorities, as well as members of the LGBTI community; and

b)    special contexts – such as custodial situations, militarisation, communal violence, caste-based violence and other contexts of mass crimes, when the perpetrators enjoy de facto and de jure impunity.

WRAG is deeply concerned that the current public discourse has focussed on a ‘strong law’ and stringent punishment, including support for a capital punishment and chemical castration.  We believe that such suggestions are made for political expediency and to assuage public outrage at this point in time, without any genuine attempt to substantially understand and address the complex issues contributing to violence against women and girls, particularly sexual violence. We are convinced that in addressing / arresting sexual assault against women and girls, the following aspects deserve to be examined:

a)     Amendments in law – substantive, evidentiary and procedural;

b)    Ways in which the law should be effectively implemented – including functioning of the police and judiciary, and accountability for dereliction of duties by public servants, and introducing transparent processes;

c)     Protection of rights of victims and survivors before, during and after trial – including issues of reparative justice;

d)    Working at the preventive level and addressing the root cause for violence against women and girls – the patriarchal and misogynist attitudes that exist in all sections of the Indian society;

e)     Enhancing aspects of good governance, ensuring efficient and transparent functioning of democratic institutions and eradicating corruption among government departments through a series of incentives, disincentives and administrative actions; (e.g. corruption within the police force, hospitals, transport authorities and various government departments duty-bound );

f)     Provision of services and infrastructural facilities that would enhance the safety for women and girls (safe, efficient and cheap modes of transport, well-lit roads etc.); and

g)    Other social, economic and cultural processes by which women and girls can be empowered and the perpetrators deterred / discouraged from committing violent acts.

Seen in this light, we believe that amendments in law form a part of the multi-pronged strategies that are required to effectively address the issue of sexual assault, and would not, by themselves, guarantee safety. Our suggestions on legal provisions are as follows:

 

I.   DEFINITION – WHAT AMOUNTS TO SEXUAL ASSAULT?

 

a.     Sexual Crimes as a Continuum: The IPC provision focusses only on peno-vaginal penetration. The Criminal Law Amendment Bill 2012 continues to retain a narrow definition of sexual assault, that focuses on penetration, albeit by body parts excluding objects other than the penis.  The gap between outrage of modesty (S. 354 IPC) and penetrative sexual assault remains large. We believe that sexual crimes form a continuum that include a wide range of sexualized criminal acts.  We believe that the Bill should recognise the structural and graded nature of sexual violence, based on concepts of harm, injury, humiliation and degradation, and use well-established categories of sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, and sexual offences / harassment including attempt to sexually assault and rape.  Consequently, we suggest a repeal of S. 354 and S. 509 of the IPC.

 

b.     Sexual Assault: Sexual assault crimes include but are not limited to penetrative assaults. They include acts that use criminal force, including stripping, parading and mutilation which are intended to sexually assault, degrade or humiliate those who are so targeted.

 

c.     Aggravated Sexual Assault: Recognising sexual assault in certain specific situations of conflict based on community, ethnicity, caste, religion and language, as well as physical / mental disability of the victim merit special recognition. Such contexts ought to be treated as aggravated circumstances due to the use of criminal force, the custodial position of the perpetrator, the nature of coercive circumstances, and the presence of multiple perpetrators;

 

d.     Sexual Offences / Harassment: Acts within this definition could include public stripping and parading of women, groping and pinching of women, and also non-contact acts such as flashing, gesture, stalking, blackmailing via electronic media like MMS, etc.

 

 

e.     Recognition of Marital RapeWe recommend a deletion of the exception provided for marital rape, bearing in mind that women are full citizens of this country, who enjoy the constitutional guarantees of, inter alia, right to life, liberty, equality and non-discrimination. Similarly S. 376A of the IPC, which prescribes a lesser punishment for a man who commits sexual assault on his wife during separation, is regressive and requires to be deleted with immediate effect.  Any apprehensions about introducing laws into the “privacy of the home” hold no waters, in the light of introduction of laws such as Prevention of Domestic Violence Act – which recognises sexual assault as a form of domestic violence and a civil wrong.

 

f.      Gender Neutrality: Further, while the effort to ensure gender neutrality with respect to those who are the complainants/ victims of sexual assault is welcome, as it would extend protection to men, transgender and trans-sexual victims.  However we believe that the perpetrator has to remain gender-specific under all circumstances (custodial and non-custodial) and limited to men as perpetrators, as there is no empirical evidence in India to support a finding to the contrary.  In addition, introducing gender neutrality of perpetrators brings in a false notion of equality in a society that is otherwise highly inequal and discriminatory against women, misogynic and infact the root cause of violence against women.

 

g.     Age of Consent: In the light of increasing evidence from courts, legal precedents, records of crimes, as well as studies on the exercise of agency by young people in asserting their choice with respect to sexuality and relationships, we suggest that the age of consent to sexual intercourse should be retained as 16 and not increased to 18.  We believe that increasing the age of consent to 18 would enable parents / guardians to misuse the provision in the context of choice marriages and inter-caste / inter-religious relationships that they do not approve of, by making false allegations of rape, in order to exercise control over the adolescent girl using the state machinery and the power of law. Such a provision would also provide a tool with which the boy and his family would be harassed and humiliated.

 

 

 

II.    PRE-TRIAL STAGE

The protection of victims of sexual assault requires developing a set of measures aimed to ensure the safety, physical and psychological well-being, dignity, and privacy of victims who are appearing as witnesses in criminal proceedings or otherwise seeking legal redress. Simultaneously, through a combination of penal sanctions and administrative action, public servants ought to be made accountable for dereliction of duty, which prevent the law from being implemented in an unbiased and effective manner, thereby scuttling the process of justice.

a.     Address social obstacles: address social obstacles to lodge a complaint of sexual assault – bias / insensitivity of police, stigma faced by woman, lack of familiarity with legal processes, lack of confidence in the police, safety of women complainants at police stations

b.     Address issue of autonomous functioning of the police force: address bias of police and the need for autonomous, transparent functioning that is free of political pressures

c.     Standard Operating Procedures: Provide for Standard Operating Procedures with detailed guidelines for each aspect of investigation (Refer to the SOPs in place for the Delhi Police since 2005); build in provisions for accountability for violation of the   SOPs; SOPs should be reviewed to ensure that they reflect a gender sensitive and meticulous approach to investigation and officially adopted by all police departments in states and UTs, and should be made publicly accessible.

d.     Improper / Biased / Shoddy Investigation: The responsibility of a proper investigation falls on the investigating agency. Any delay, shoddiness, partisanship and inefficiency in collection of evidence, and lack or delay in medical examination etc should be considered as a grave dereliction of duty, liable to administrative and / or other action.

e.     Proforma for Medical Examination of Sexual Assault Victim: Ensure that the proforma is not biased against the victim; prohibit the two finger test which is widely used during medical examination of the rape victims to determine whether they are ‘habituated to sexual intercourse’; also exclude other observations that comment on the past sexual history of the victim – such as old tears to the hymen.

f.      Professional Training for Collecting Medico-legal Evidence: Recording of medico-legal evidence is imperative, that may be used to obtain a conviction in rape cases) and crime kit (additional tool used for the collection of medico-legal evidence, containing slides, swabs, test tubes and other equipment to collect samples of blood, hair, semen fingernail scrapings). Investigators should be provided professional training in this regard.

g.     Sensitive and Humane Treatment to Victim-survivor: Gender-sensitivity, professional and humane treatment to the victim-survivor with full respect to the dignity, privacy and confidentiality should be provided for; complaints to the contrary should be taken up by higher authorities. Continuous supervision by senior officials of the manner in which victims-survivors are treated is important.

h.     Support Services to Victim-survivor: When a person complains of sexual assault, every police station should be duty-bound to provide an immediate access of the victim to lawyer, medical attention, psycho-social / trauma counselling and other support services as may be required. Psychological support is crucial to the healing of the survivor. Medical professionals should be allowed to provide medical / psychological assistance to the victim-survivor without undue interference by the police.

i.      Exclusion of Sanction for Prosecution of Public Servants: We suggest an exclusion of the application of S. 45 and S. 197 Cr PC to the provisions of sexual assault, in order that the existing widespread impunity for sexual assault where it is committed by public servants, is ended.  We believe that no sexual assault can ever be construed as being perpetrated “in discharge of official duty” and therefore the statutory requirement of prior sanction from the government for prosecution of public servants ought not to be extended to the crime of sexual assault;

j.      Witness Protection: Protection of victims and witnesses from the pre-trial to post-conviction stages in accordance with the jurisprudential developments and Law Commission’s 198th report released in August 2006; strictly enforce legal action on those who attempt to intimidate / threaten / coerce a witness, including pressurizing the victim-survivor and family members to turn hostile during trial, thereby obstructing the course of justice.

k.     Compensation: Compensation to be given to the victims, computed on the basis of injury received. The first instalment to be paid within 15 days of filing of FIR. This should be independent of the outcome of the trial or the victim retracting her statement at a later point due to whatever reason. Proactive enforcement of Section 357A of the CrPC, which talks about awarding compensation to the victims of crime. The the framework of compensation under the SC ST protection of atrocities Act 1989 may be adapted suitably for compensations to victims..

l.      Need for a Humane Police Force: Recruitment of women into the police force, by itself, will not ensure that victims-survivors of sexual assault are treated in a dignified, humane and respectful manner. Training in this regard is required for both male and female police officials. Continuous supervision and monitoring is imperative to ensure that they follow this.

m.   Collection and Compilation of Data: Ensure efficient methods of collecting and compiling data related to complaints of sexual assault.

 

 

III.     TRIAL

 

i.         Swift and certain prosecution

ii.         Time bound trials: Trials in rape cases must be concluded within a period of 90 days; lengthy trials that erode the victim’s resilience, patience and memory, should be avoided.

iii.         Victims’ Lawyers: In trials of sexual offences, the victim-survivor should ordinarily be permitted to engage a counsel of her choice to assist the prosecution. In addition free legal, medical, psychological and rehabilitative services should be made available to enable working class women to pursue legal justice.

iv.         Interpreters / translators: Provision for interpreters/ translators in order to record the testimony of disabled victims or witnesses. Cases involving disabled women end in acquittal as their testimony is either not recorded at all or is recorded without the help of independent interpreters. Often the help of family members is taken in interpreting the testimony, which affects the case at the High Court stage as family members are interested parties and relying on their interpretation of the testimony goes against the rule of impartiality of criminal trials.

v.         Accountability of Prosecutors: an analysis of reported cases show that a large number of cases are end in acquittal because key witnesses such as doctors are not examined in court. This needs to be addressed.  Prosecutors should be made accountable through administrative and / or other action for dereliction of their duty.

vi.         In camera trials: Experience has shown that in-camera trials are not helpful as it is more traumatic for the victim to be surrounded by aggressive defence lawyers and the accused in a closed court room. Additionally there is no scope for monitoring the trial, which becomes important given the attitudinal biases that actors in the legal system have towards women who complain of sexual assault. On the other hand, in camera trials have also been helpful in preventing voyeurism in an open court, which obstructs a safe and secure atmosphere for the victim-survivor to depose in. Hence, it is suggested that in camera trial could be left to the option of the victim-survivor, and where opted for, 3-4 persons of her choice should be allowed to remain in the court room to provide her psychological support.

vii.         Witness protection: better provisions should be implemented for shielding the victim from the defence, including the accused – such as through the use of a physical shield, closed circuit cameras, video conference, voice and face distortion.  These are discussed in further detail in the Law Commission of India’s 198th report. Distance between the witness box and the seating of the accused should be substantial, and direct confrontation between the victim and the accused should be avoided at all cost.

viii.         Cross Examination: Guidelines must be laid down for the cross examination of a victim of sexual violence, particularly highlighting the changes in the CrPC sections which now do not allow character assassination or looking at past history of the victim.

ix.         Protection of Human Rights Defenders: Take measures to protect human rights defenders and other individuals who provide protection to victims.

 

 

 

IV.      PUNISHMENT

 

We believe that much of the recent public discourse around introducing capital punishment for sexual assault in the rarest of rare cases as well as physical / chemical castration, are reinforcing aspects of retributive justice aimed at an eye for an eye, rather than restorative justice which are more suitable for a just and humane society that we believe in. We are principally against retributive forms of justice, and feel that the Indian legal system needs to move towards restorative forms of justice, where the perpetrator is not considered less than human, but as a person with a potential to repent, reform, be rehabilitated and reintegrated in society. Such a potential maybe assessed during the course of the sentence and parole.  The assessment of perpetrators of sexual assault or reccurent domestic violence need to be carefully done observing his attitude towards all women and the victim in particular.

 

i.           No to Death Penalty:  For the reasons stated below, we suggest that death penalty be excluded as a form of punishment for sexual assault.

  • There is no scientific basis for claiming its deterrent effect.
  • Studies show that as punishments become stricter, the rate of conviction falls as then judges are reluctant to award harsh sentences.
  • Death penalty embodies the idea of retribution which is as violent as the offence for which it is being suggested.
  • We also believe that the state does not have the right to take away anyone’s life. There are caste, religious, class biases that are bound to come in, as those who are more privileged and enjoy political clout in society will engage highly professional legal services to escape from death penalty.
  • Given the fact that an overwhelming number of women are sexually assaulted by people known to them, and often include near or distant family, friends, husbands, workplace superiors and partners, we believe that the punishment of death penalty for rape will further deter victims-survivors from reporting the crime.
  • There have been, and are bound to be, errors of judgment – which cannot be undone.
  • We believe that death penalty becomes a tool in the hands of the State to further exert its power over its citizens, which we do not support.

 

ii.              No to Physical / Chemical Castration: We are against physical / chemical castration as a form of punishment for sexual assault, irrespective of whether it is voluntary or involuntary, for the following reasons:

  • Sexual assault is not about the inability to control sexual urge or desire but about exercising power over the victim, stemming from patriarchal values. Suggesting castration as a punishment for sexual assault is therefore, based on an erroneous presumption of the philosophy of rape.
  • Even if it was argued that chemical castration would impair the production of testosterone which is linked to aggression, aggression is an important component of not only sexual assault but also other brutal forms of assault and murder that are non-sexual in nature. There is no logic in privileging sexual assault for this form of punishment, over other crimes that involve comparable amount of aggression.
  • Castration does not guarantee non-penile forms of brutal sexual assault, such as insertion of objects into the orifices of the victim’s body, forced nudity and mutilation of sexual organs.
  • Castration – physical or chemical, voluntary or involuntary – violates the fundamental right to life and bodily integrity of the person concerned, as guaranteed by the Indian Constitution.
  • There is no empirical data indicating its deterrent effect.
  • At a practical level, since it involves administering injections to convicted persons every three months, how will the police trace them once released? If they are not released and are kept in prison, what is the rationale behind castration anyway?

 

iii.       No to Life Sentence Without Parole: Though this is an option being thought by many to contribute to the safety, awarding a person convicted of sexual assault with a life sentence for the whole of his life without parole, deprives the person of a window of opportunity to repent the crime, to reform and rehabilitate.  However there have to be strict forms of assessment to ensure that the accused has the potential to reform before being released on parole.

iv.           In cases of aggravated sexual assault, punishment should be for life imprisonment with no remission.  The sentences for custodial rape and sexual assault must be enhanced compared to the sentences for civilian rape and sexual assault, to act as a deterrent for security officers misusing the power they have derived from being officers of the state.

v.           We also believe the law should punish sexual assault with murder more strongly than that without murder, so that the law does not provide an incentive for the perpetrator to kill the victim-survivor of rape.

vi.           Reparative justice: effective implementation of existing schemes for compensation / rehabilitation for sexual assault with budgetary support.  These include but are not limited to the Victims Compensation Scheme (brought about through a 2008 amendment to S. 357A of the Cr PC) as well as the National Commission for Women’s scheme for assistance and support services to victims of rape. Statutory recognition of comprehensive psycho-social support, care and treatment to victim-survivors.

 

Contact Persons: Saumya Uma & Vahida Nainar (Trustees)

Vibhuti Patel (Trustee), Nasreen Contractor (Co-Director) and Varsha Rajan Berry (Co-director)

Women’s Research & Action Group, 101, Zaithunvilla, Behind Airview Building, near Vakola Market, Santacruz (East), Mumbai 400055. Ph: 022-26674830; wrag2009@gmail.com /codirectorswrag@gmail.com

 

#MaritalRape and the Indian legal scenario #mustshare #Vaw


marital-rape-poster
Priyanka Rath seeks to bring out the laws regarding rape in India while concentrating on the position of marital rape and its recognition as an offence by the system and the attitude of the society and the judiciary towards marital rape.

Marital Raperefers to unwanted intercourse by a man with his wife obtained by force, threat of force, or physical violence, or when she is unable to give consent. Marital rape could be by the use of force only, a battering rape or a sadistic/obsessive rape. It is a non-consensual act of violent perversion by a husband against the wife where she is physically and sexually abused.

Approximations have quoted that every 6 hours; a young married woman is burnt or beaten to death, or driven to suicide from emotional abuse by her husband. The UN Population Fund states that more than 2/3rds of married women in India, aged between 15 to 49 have been beaten, raped or forced to provide sex. In 2005, 6787 cases were recorded of women murdered by their husbands or their husbands’ families. 56% of Indian women believed occasional wife-beating to be justified.

Historically, “Raptus”, the generic term of rape was to imply violent theft, applied to both property and person. It was synonymous with abduction and a woman’s abduction or sexual molestation, was merely the theft of a woman against the consent of her guardian or those with legal power over her. The harm, ironically, was treated as a wrong against her father or husband, women being wholly owned subsidiaries.

The marital rape exemption can be traced to statements by Sir Mathew Hale, Chief Justice in England, during the 1600s. He wrote, “The husband cannot be guilty of a rape committed by himself upon his lawful wife, for by their mutual matrimonial consent and contract, the wife hath given herself in kind unto the husband, whom she cannot retract.”

Not surprisingly, thus, married women were never the subject of rape laws. Laws bestowed an absolute immunity on the husband in respect of his wife, solely on the basis of the marital relation. The revolution started with women activists in America raising their voices in the 1970s for elimination of marital rape exemption clause and extension of guarantee of equal protection to women.

In the present day, studies indicate that between 10 and 14% of married women are raped by their husbands: the incidents of marital rape soars to 1/3rd to ½ among clinical samples of battered women. Sexual assault by one’s spouse accounts for approximately 25% of rapes committed. Women who became prime targets for marital rape are those who attempt to flee. Criminal charges of sexual assault may be triggered by other acts, which may include genital contact with the mouth or anus or the insertion of objects into the vagina or the anus, all without the consent of the victim. It is a conscious process of intimidation and assertion of the superiority of men over women.

Advancing well into the timeline, marital rape is not an offence in India. Despite amendments, law commissions and new legislations, one of the most humiliating and debilitating acts is not an offence in India. A look at the options a woman has to protect herself in a marriage, tells us that the legislations have been either non-existent or obscure and everything has just depended on the interpretation by Courts.

Section 375, the provision of rape in the Indian Penal Code (IPC), has echoing very archaic sentiments, mentioned as its exception clause- “Sexual intercourse by  man with his own wife, the wife not being under 15 years of age, is not rape.” Section 376 of IPC provides punishment for rape. According to the section, the rapist should be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than 7 years but which may extend to life or for a term extending up to 10 years and shall also be liable to fine unless the woman raped is his own wife, and is not under 12 years of age, in which case, he shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 2 years with fine or with both.

This section in dealing with sexual assault, in a very narrow purview lays down that, an offence of rape within marital bonds stands only if the wife be less than 12 years of age, if she be between 12 to 16 years, an offence is committed, however, less serious, attracting milder punishment. Once, the age crosses 16, there is no legal protection accorded to the wife, in direct contravention of human rights regulations.

How can the same law provide for the legal age of consent for marriage to be 18 while protecting form sexual abuse, only those up to the age of 16? Beyond the age of 16, there is no remedy the woman has.

The wife’s role has traditionally been understood as submissive, docile and that of a homemaker. Sex has been treated as obligatory in a marriage and also taboo. Atleast the discussion openly of it, hence, the awareness remains dismal. Economic independence, a dream for many Indian women still is an undeniably important factor for being heard and respected. With the women being fed the bitter medicine of being “good wives”, to quietly serve and not wash dirty linen in public, even counseling remains inaccessible.

Legislators use results of research studies as an excuse against making marital rape an offence, which indicates that many survivors of marital rape, report flash back, sexual dysfunction, emotional pain, even years out of the violence and worse, they sometimes continue living with the abuser. For these reasons, even the latest report of the Law Commission has preferred to adhere to its earlier opinion of non-recognition of “rape within the bonds of marriage” as such a provision may amount top excessive interference wit the marital relationship.

A marriage is a bond of trust and that of affection. A husband exercising sexual superiority, by getting it on demand and through any means possible, is not part of the institution. Surprisingly, this is not, as yet, in any law book in India.

The very definition of rape (section 375 of IPC) demands change. The narrow definition has been criticized by Indian and international women’s and children organizations, who insist that including oral sex, sodomy and penetration by foreign objects within the meaning of rape would not have been inconsistent with nay constitutional provisions, natural justice  or equity. Even international law now says that rape may be accepted a s the “sexual penetration, not just penal penetration, but also threatening, forceful, coercive use of force against the victim, or the penetration by any object, however slight.” Article 2 of the Declaration of the Elimination of Violence against Women includes marital rape explicitly in the definition of violence against women. Emphasis on these provisions is not meant to tantalize, but to give the victim and not the criminal, the benefit of doubt.

Marital rape is illegal in 18 American States, 3 Australian States, New Zealand, Canada, Israel, France, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Soviet Union, Poland and Czechoslovakia. Rape in any form is an act of utter humiliation, degradation and violation rather than an outdated concept of penile/vaginal penetration. Restricting an understanding of rape reaffirms the view that rapists treat rape as sex and not violence and hence, condone such behaviour.

The importance of consent for every individual decision cannot be over emphasized. A woman can protect her right to life and liberty, but not her body, within her marriage, which is just ironical. Women so far have had recourse only to section 498-A of the IPC, dealing with cruelty, to protect themselves against “perverse sexual conduct by the husband”. But, where is the standard of measure or interpretation for the courts, of ‘perversion’ or ‘unnatural’, the definitions within intimate spousal relations? Is excessive demand for sex perverse? Isn’t consent a sine qua non? Is marriage a license to rape? There is no answer, because the judiciary and the legislature have been silent.

The 172nd Law Commission report had made the following recommendations for substantial change in the law with regard to rape.

  1. ‘Rape’ should be replaced by the term ‘sexual assault’.
  2. ‘Sexual intercourse as contained in section 375 of IPC should include all forms of penetration such as penile/vaginal, penile/oral, finger/vaginal, finger/anal and object/vaginal.
  3. In the light of Sakshi v. Union of India and Others [2004 (5) SCC 518], ‘sexual assault on any part of the body should be construed as rape.
  4. Rape laws should be made gender neutral as custodial rape of young boys has been neglected by law.
  5. A new offence, namely section 376E with the title ‘unlawful sexual conduct’ should be created.
  6. Section 509 of the IPC was also sought to be amended, providing higher punishment where the offence set out in the said section is committed with sexual intent.
  7. Marital rape: explanation (2) of section 375 of IPC should be deleted. Forced sexual intercourse by a husband with his wife should be treated equally as an offence just as any physical violence by a husband against the wife is treated as an offence. On the same reasoning, section 376 A was to be deleted.
  8. Under the Indian Evidence Act (IEA), when alleged that a victim consented to the sexual act and it is denied, the court shall presume it to be so.

The much awaited Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (DVA) has also been a disappointment. It has provided civil remedies to what the provision of cruelty already gave criminal remedies, while keeping the status of the matter of marital rape in continuing disregard. Section 3 of the Domestic Violence Act, amongst other things in the definition of domestic violence, has included any act causing harm, injury, anything endangering health, life, etc., … mental, physical, or sexual.

It condones sexual abuse in a domestic relationship of marriage or a live-in, only if it is life threatening or grievously hurtful. It is not about the freedom of decision of a woman’s wants. It is about the fundamental design of the marital institution that despite being married, she retains and individual status, where she doesn’t need to concede to every physical overture even though it is only be her husband. Honour and dignity remains with an individual, irrespective of marital status.

Section 122 of the Indian Evidence Act prevents communication during marriage from being disclosed in court except when one married partner is being persecuted for n offence against the other. Since, marital rape is not an offence, the evidence is inadmissible, although relevant, unless it is a prosecution for battery, or some related physical or mental abuse under the provision of cruelty. Setting out to prove the offence of marital rape in court, combining the provisions of the DVA and IPC will be a nearly impossible task.

The trouble is, it has been accepted that a marital relationship is practically sacrosanct. Rather than, making the wife worship the husband’s every whim, especially sexual, it is supposed to thrive n mutual respect and trust. It is much more traumatic being a victim of rape by someone known, a family member, and worse to have to cohabit with him. How can the law ignore such a huge violation of a fundamental right of freedom of any married woman, the right to her body, to protect her from any abuse?

As a final piece of argument to show the pressing need for protection of woman, here are some effects a rape victim may have to live with,-

  • Physical injuries to vaginal and anal areas, lacerations, bruising.
  • Anxiety, shock, depression and suicidal thoughts.
  • Gynecological effects including miscarriage, stillbirths, bladder infections, STDs and infertility.
  • Long drawn symptoms like insomnia, eating disorders, sexual dysfunction, and negative self image.

Marriage does not thrive on sex and the fear of frivolous litigation should not stop protection from being offered to those caught in abusive traps, where they are denigrated to the status of chattel. Apart form judicial awakening; we primarily require generation of awareness. Men are the perpetrators of this crime. ‘Educating boys and men to view women as valuable partners in life, in the development of society and the attainment of peace are just as important as taking legal steps protect women’s human rights’, says the UN. Men have the social, economic, moral, political, religious and social responsibility to combat all forms of gender discrimination.

In a country rife with misconceptions of rape, deeply ingrained cultural and religious stereotypes, and changing social values, globalization has to fast alter the letter of law.

source-http://www.indialawjournal.com/

#India-‘Forcible sex with wife is not a marital rape’ #WTFnews


marital-rape-poster

 A Delhi Court has passed a judgement that husband’s forcible sex with wife does not amount to ‘ marital rape ‘. 

New Delhi, Dec 4/ dainik bhaskar and agencies – In a significant judgement, a court  in India has said husband’s forcible sex with his wife does not amount to “marital rape”.

The judgement was passed by District judge of a court in Indian capital, Delhi.

According to media reports, District Judge JR Aryan agreed with the defence counsel of accused Hazi Ahmed Saeed that the Indian Penal Code does not recognise any concept of “marital rape.”

The wife of Saeed had accused her of having forcibly sex with her without her consent.

Defence counsel has rightly argued that Indian Penal Code does not recognise any such concept of ‘marital rape’. If complainant was a legally-wedded wife of accused, the sexual intercourse with her by accused would not constitute offence of rape even if it was by force or against her wishes,” the court said.

According to reports, Saeed’s wife had filed the case in 2007 alleging that after her first husband’s death, Saeed started visiting her and by expressing sympathy, he asked her to marry him.

She had told the court that she married Saeed in February 2006. “Later, I came to know that he had married me only to grab my property, which was then sold by him and his four sons,” she had alleged.

Police in its charge sheet had stated that Saeed had maintained physical relations with the woman after their marriage and it could be a possibility that those physical relations were against her consent and wish.

 

 

Whiter, tighter and what else? Diamond-encrusted vaginas ? # Vajazzling #WTF advertising


Feel like a Virgin

Shrabonti Bagchi | August 11, 2012, Times Crest

In a country that places an illogically high value on virginity, can a gel that promises ‘vaginal tightening’ be sold as a sexually empowering idea? A new advertising campaign for a product that promises to give Indian women tighter vaginas is headed for probable YouTube superstardom.

In a household straight out of a Priyadarshan film set or a Tamil TV weepie, where various family members keep appearing on screen, urging you to play a kind of spot-the-relative game (guy shooting the proceedings on camera phone is the pesky but cute brother-inlaw;young girl in jeans and kurta is the college-going sister-in-law ), a shapely young wife in a pink sari is about to hand over a steel dabba to her headed-to-work husband (who is touching his parents’ feet). But instead of leaving the scene after exchanging the mandatory coy look full of sexy promise with the husband, she grabs him by the hand and starts dancing the salsa, crooning “I feel like a virgin”. “Oh yes you do, ” replies hubby encouragingly.

The other V-word at the core of this little drama – vagina – doesn’t come into the picture till the end, when a sophisticated voice announces that the product that has made this revirginated woman and her husband so happy, 18 Again, is a “vaginal tightening and rejuvenating gel”. In a country that places an illogically high value on virginity, a product that promises to make women “feel like virgins” is quite likely to have them queuing up outside medical stores to buy something they believe will miraculously restore their hymens. Feminists and web commentators are already questioning the ‘women’s empowerment’ argument put forth by the company behind 18 Again. While it may enhance sexual pleasure for both men and women, isn’t it feeding the patriarchal view that women need to be perfect and ‘virginal’ – because actual virginity is frustratingly for one-time-use-only, curse it – for men to find them attractive? It’s a toss up.

On the one hand, if you believe the stuff about tighter vaginas making sex more pleasurable for the woman, it’s easy to go with the empowerment argument and say this is a product women can buy for themselves to enhance their sex lives, and what’s not to like about that? On the other hand, the ‘virgin’ bit is clearly aimed at men.

Ultratech India Ltd, the Mumbai-based pharmaceutical company that has launched this patent-pending gel after three years of research, clinical trials, market studies and an FDA approval, is convinced this is a revolutionary product that falls in the feminine hygiene category. Rishi Bhatia, chairman and MD, Ultratech India, is firmly taking the good-forhealth route. He believes 18 Again is a “vaginal health” product that addresses several needs like preventing infections and toning vaginal muscles, which in turn has health benefits like preventing adult incontinence and vaginal prolapse. “We are not saying this will restore virginity. The name indicates that this will make a woman feel young, as she did at the age of 18 when she was just entering womanhood. Our market research, including interviews with gynaecologists, shows many women want non-surgical vaginal tightening, ” says Bhatia.

Priti Nair, director of ad agency Curry Nation, who created the TVC, has a lighter take. “We didn’t want to take a negative route, showing a woman cringing and crying over her husband losing sexual interest in her. We wanted to show a woman celebrating her sexuality and revelling in her womanhood, ” says Nair. Yet, coming right after a certain muchdiscussed product that claimed to create fairer vaginas, 18 Again is definitely in for a hard time from those who believe there is much too much pressure on women to have perfect bodies.

“Leave our vadges alone!” says Nikhila Sachdev (name changed on request), a 32-year-old Bangalorean who just gave birth a year ago. “First you’re supposed to be really thin. Then you’re supposed to remove every bit of hair from your body. Then you’re supposed to do something about those sagging boobs. And now you have to get whiter, tighter vaginas? What’s next? Diamond-encrusted vadges?” she asks indignantly. You’re not too far out, babe. Kim Kardashian, that possibly plastic goddess of frivolity, has already been heard boasting about her Swarovski-studded labia

What “Rape Sonograms” Are Really About



This week, the Virginia State Legislature – joining Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa – passed two of the country’s most restrictive abortion bills. One, a personhood anti-abortion bill and the other, mandating a coercive mandatory transvaginal probe for women seeking abortions. This week’s momentum of the “personhood” movement is not surprising in that it is closely tied to conservative Republican’s inability to target the economy as a problem in a campaign year. A shift in focus on social issues is logical.

It struck me as particularly meaningful, therefore, that I was watching The Loving Story as I thought about the passage of these bills. That documentary is about the mixed race couple who took their challenge of Virginia’s anti-miscegenation slavery laws to the Supreme Court in 1963, exactly 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

Can you tell by looking at it, if that map is a map of states considering personhood bills or a map of the states that had anti-miscegentation laws up to 100 years after Emancipation? Of the states that have introduced personhood bills 77% had anti-miscegenation laws on their books as late as 1948-1967. Of the 16 states that never repealed their anti-misegenation laws, but rather had them overturned by Loving vs. Virginia, more than half have introduced personhood bills.

These statistics are not a coincidence. Racism, sexism, homophobia – they go hand in hand and the people oppressed by them experience them in intersecting ways. Worldwide, women’s human rights are complicated by these intersections.

Like these two Virginia bills, anti-misegenation laws were really not about “morality” or “decency”, but about social order. They’re not about “personhood” but “humanity.” Sex, controlling other people’s private lives, dictating what they do with their bodies and controlling their “place” in society. The more “human” you perceive yourself to be, the more you presume you have authority to tell others how to be and what to do. And, like those laws, these bills are based on ignorance, entitlement and arrogance. After many years, the Lovings won their landmark case and succeeded in finally dismantling shameful government-sanctioned racism in regards to mixed-race marriages.

Exactly how ugly and perversely wrong do things have to get before people pay attention to how fragile women’s rights and choices are in the face of sexism, misogyny, and legislative bullying? Is requiring women to undergo a medically unnecessary, invasive vaginal penetration bad enough? To me, it sounds as punitive, threatening and coercive as “virginity tests” that female Egyptian anti-government protestors were subjected to last year.

Personhood bills grant full rights, privileges and immunities to multicellular diploid eukaryotes. They also, for good measure, restrict and may entirely ban hormonal contraception. The second Virginia bill, and others like it, is what I want to focus on here. It forces any woman seeking an abortion to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound. Without her consent.

You see, if you raise the bar for decency, humanity and safety so far up, it might make your actual indecency and coded threats of violence seem somehow reasonable.

Either that, or the Republican Virginia legislators are unclear about what “trans,” ”vaginal,” and “consent” mean. “Trans,” a panic-inducing prefix for conservatives, means “across.” “Vaginal” means a place in a woman’s body to put phallic things into when the government wants to. For someone that hasn’t had to or will never have to experience it this is how Medline Plus explains what happens when you put “trans” and “vaginal” together in an ultrasound:

“You will lie down on a table with your knees bent and feet in holders called stirrups. The health care provider will place a probe, called a transducer, into the vagina. The probe is covered with a condom and a gel…The doctor can immediately see the picture on a nearby TV monitor.”

“Consent” means with permission. I am surprised, since a TV monitor is part of the procedure, that they haven’t yet mandated a live-stream into the legislative chamber – just to make sure no one is cheating them of their god-given right to invade another person’s body without her permission.

Gov. Bob McDonnell, a conservative Roman Catholic, who has never experienced a transvaginal probe, has explained that he will sign the ultrasound bill, although he is uncertain about the personhood bill. Does this mean he’s not sure if a mass of undifferentiated cells are people, but he is sure that women aren’t?

Not only are they fuzzy on those terms, but the Governor and Republican members of the Virginia State Legislature don’t understand what rape is. Maybe they should consult the FBI, which defines rape this way:

“The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

Or their own state’s rape statute:

“If any person has sexual intercourse with a complaining witness, whether or not his or her spouse, or causes a complaining witness, whether or not his or her spouse, to engage in sexual intercourse with any other person and such act is accomplished (i) against the complaining witness’s will, by force, threat or intimidation of or against the complaining witness or another person; or (ii) through the use of the complaining witness’s mental incapacity or physical helplessness; or (iii) with a child under age 13 as the victim, he or she shall be guilty of rape.”

Or maybe they just think women should “expect to be raped” if they live in Virginia and want abortions, just like in the military.

Republican legislators explicitly declined to vote for a proposed amendment that would have required women to sign a consent form. Carrie Brandstrom, who started the FaceBook page Stay out of MY UTERUS! Stop ANTI-Women Legislation, called it a “rape sonogram” earlier this week and she is right. That’s what it should be called.

As Andy Kopsa, writing in RHReality Check, put it, “The bottom line is pro-choice legislators in state houses around the country as well as physicians and women’s rights activists must start drawing the clear line between state forced transvaginal ultrasounds and rape.”

I know that the Republicans in the Virginia Legislature, and the people that support them, don’t want to rape good women. They know that unless a woman screams and fights, it’s not “real rape.” They want toprotect women from their own intrinsically poor decision making faculties and take away the access to birth control and abortions that turn them into craven sluts.

Can you imagine making it mandatory for any man needing medicine for erectile dysfunction to pay for and have a rectal exam and cardiac stress test? I mean, how ridiculous is that? No legislative body would ever pass an amendment making anal penetration with a probe mandatory for men who don’t want it.

Ha! What a joke! Except it isn’t.

It was a protest that no one took seriously. Virginia State Senator, Janet Howell, to whom I am currently erecting a small shrine in my office, attached the mandatory rectal exam and cardiac test to theses abortion bills. Needless to say, it did not pass. That’s because THAT is different and the legislators in question have no doubt about whattransrectal probes are. Just to be clear, I don’t want to make any transorifice probe mandatory, but there is no difference between these procedures except the gender of the people subjected to them.

Delegate David Englin, a Democrat who thinks women are equal before the law, had this to say:

“This bill will require many women in Virginia to undergo vaginal penetration with an ultrasound probe against their consent in order to exercise their constitutional right to an abortion, even for nonsurgical, noninvasive, pharmaceutical abortions. This kind of government intrusion shocks the conscience and demonstrates the disturbing lengths Republican legislators will go to prevent women from controlling their own reproductive destiny.”

He proposed the failed amendment that would have required women to give their consent before the invasive procedure. These bills go beyond casual misogyny. They ignore and revoke women’s right to privacy and deny them their personal liberty, not to mention dignity. They are unconstitutional and will be challenged if signed into law.

How long will it take for women to have full and equal reproductive rights and control over their own bodies, free from conservative legislative interference?
By Soraya L. Chemaly | Sourced from Feminist Wire

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