Jaipur: 5 deaf, mute orphan girls raped and beaten by school staff #Vaw #WTFnews


PTI  Jaipur, May 18, 2013

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Five deaf and mute orphan girls were allegedly raped and beaten by staff at a residential school run by an NGO in Kanota area in Jaipur.

Four persons, including the director of the NGO ‘Awaaz Foundation’ have been arrested after the incident was reported to police on Saturday, DCP (East) Shweta Dhankar said on Sunday.

“The girls, aged between 15-17 years, were staying at the hostel run by Awaaz Foundation where two employees Ashok and Suresh had been sexually exploiting them for some time. The girls were raped and beaten, and when they approached the NGO officials, their complaints were ignored,” she said.

The girls were from a juvenile shelter home in Gandhi Nagar and had been sent to the residential school, which runs with the support from the Social Justice department, to undergo a training, police said.

The case came to light when the girls returned to their shelter home, run by the state government, in Gandhi Nagar after completing the course.

“We have arrested Alpana Sharma, who runs the NGO, and employees Geeta, Suresh and Ashok. A few more arrests are likely to happen soon,” the DCP added.

Police said that 109 students were staying at the hostel, which has been functioning for the last six years.

Meanwhile, People’s Union for Civil Liberties activists today protested in front of the girls’ home in Gandhi Nagar and demanded action against the culprits involved in the case.

 

#Mumbai -Memorial meeting for Professor Lotika Sarkar (1927- 2013) @Mar 13


lot
                                                                                                 Dr. Mithu Alur, Founder Chairperson,

The Spastics Society of India

Invites you to a commemorative event

In fond memory of her Late Aunt

 

To celebrate her glorious life and to salute her efforts in making the country’s laws sensitive  and to uphold gender-justice, social justice and women’s rights

On Wednesday March 13, 2013 from  6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

  

 Professor Lotika Sarkar (1923- 2013)

 Eminent Scholar and Feminist

Renowned feminist scholars, activists of the women’s movement, legal luminaries, media personalities, and activists linked with NGOs and friends will express their tributes

 

At the Auditorium

National Resource Centre for Inclusion, ADAPT

K.C. Marg, Bandra Reclamation, Bandra (W),

Mumbai – 400050

 

The programme will be followed by Tea and snacks

R.S.V.P. Ms. Theresa D’Costa- 9820017792

 

Demand to reduce age of juvenility in heinous crimes unjustified, says Minna Kabir


Aneesha Mathur : New Delhi, Sat Jan 05 2013, 02:39 hrs

At a time when there’s a chorus for showing no leniency to the juvenile among the six arrested for the gangrape of the 23-year-old woman who later died in a Singapore hospital, children’s rights workers are cautioning that laws should not be bent simply because there is public outrage.

Minna Kabir, voluntary children’s rights worker who has long been associated with the legal aid cell at the juvenile justice boards in Delhi, said: “The law says it is not the crime that matters, it is the child standing before you that matters.”

“Why should we treat him as different from other children? If a child has committed a crime, it means society has failed him in one way or another and needs to think about his reform and rehabilitation,” said Kabir whose husband Altamas Kabir is the Chief Justice of India.

She said calls for reducing the age of juvenility for those accused of heinous crimes are unjustified.

“We should strike a balance in our thinking. Instead of reacting with hysteria, various people should come up with constructive ideas to combat the systemic failure that leads to criminality. There is need for proper education, counselling of these children. Society seems to encourage sex, advertisements today are full of sexual situations, we are losing values and that is why such cases are happening,” Kabir said.

Professor Ved Kumari, expert on juvenile justice law and ex-chairperson of the Delhi Judicial Academy, said: “Let our outrage at the absence of safe spaces for women not blind us to the absence of care to children.”

Raaj Mangal Prasad, former chairperson of the child welfare committee, cautioned against a “knee jerk reaction”. “A change in the law will have a negative impact on all children who are in vulnerable positions. What will you do if a 13-year-old is accused of rape and murder?” he said.

 

Press Release: Blind Workers Union Rally On Occasion of World Disabled Day


December 3, 2012

Blind Workers Union
(A Unit of All India Federation of Blind Workers)

T-44, Panjabi Basti, Near Gopal Dairy, Baljeet Nagar, New Delhi-110008

On the occasion of the World Disabled Day Blind Workers took out a huge rally at the Parliament Street against violation of labour rights by NGOs and Government connivance.

Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment warned of intensified agitation and struggle if it does not provides employment at the earliest.

On the occasion of World Disability Day, blind workers under the banner of the Blind Workers’ Union took out a huge rally of blind workers regarding the entrenched problems faced by the disabled in the labour market, and towards the unfulfilled promises of the Social Justice Ministry to provide alternative employment to the disabled (in particular, the retrenched workers of National Federation of the Blind) in government undertakings. It is to be noted that since November of 2011, the blind workers have been protesting the retrenchment of several blind workers by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). This NGO retrenched the workers because they were speaking out against denial of minimum wages and other basic labour rights in the Training and Rehabilitation Centres (TRCs) run by the NGO. The blind workers have highlighted again and again how the Federation has been violating all statutory labour laws at its different production units. In fact, rather than minimum wages, the workers employed across NFB production units were being forced to work on the basis of a production-wage structure, which provides them barely Rs. 2600/- per month. This was way below the rate of minimum wages. The protest also raised the need for the Government to provide
alternative employment for the disabled. A delegation of blind workers also submitted a memorandum of demands to the Ministry of Social Justice.

In the memorandum we raised the concerns of the blind workers and how they have been forced to become beggars in the absence of any employment. Also it is deeply disturbing that despite making several representations to the ministry these blind workers still await justice. For example, the Ministry has yet to take stern action against the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), which has retrenched large number of blind workers from its various Training and Rehabilitation Centres (TRCs) in October 2011. Neither has the concerned Ministry fulfilled its assurances of providing alternative employment to all the blind workers retrenched by the National Federation of the Blind at the government sponsored NGO, Arunim. Furthermore, discussion on and clauses in the pending Bill on the Rights of Persons with Disability (2011) continues to lack any serious engagement on the question of protecting the labour and economic rights of disabled persons employed in the private sector (i.e. by NGOs and private businesses). For us, such failure of intervention by the Government amounts to reducing World Disability Day to a day of pomp and show with no actual commitment towards upliftment of disabled workers through protection of their basic labour and economic rights like the right to gainful employment, right to equal remuneration, right to daily minimum wage, right to the eight hour work day, etc.

We also pointed out during the rally that our struggle is not just against the NFB, but against the overall exploitation of blind workers across the country by private companies and NGOs. It is an undeniable fact that in the interest of availing of certain benefits like tax exemption for employing persons with disability, the private sector is known to employ yet brutally exploit disabled persons. The arbitrary hiring and firing practices, unregulated working hours, etc. prevalent in the private sector, amount to a serious breach of social justice, which is why the blind workers have been approaching the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. More importantly, the workers realize that the failure of successive governments to provide adequate employment to the blind community is the main reason why blind workers are dependent on the highly exploitative private sector. Hence, our struggle is based on the fundamental right to a livelihood—a right the Government is to protect and uphold. The specific demands that the blind workers put forth in the memorandum include the following:

(i) Inclusion of a special section in the long pending Bill on the Rights of Persons With Disability (2011), which would safeguard the economic rights of blind workers employed in the private sector. For example, the Bill should include provisions to the effect that bodies violating basic labour rights will be penalized to the effect that NGOs indulging in such violation will face the cancellation of
their registration;

(ii) That the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment tables a concrete plan of greater job creation for blind persons in the public sector. It is only with the provision of more government jobs that the dependence of blind workers on exploitative private companies and corrupt NGOs can be overcome;

(iii) That the central government stops funding NGOs who fail to comply with the country’s statutory labour laws while employing people;

(iv)That the central government ensures that blind workers are given parity at workplaces and are paid minimum wages;

(v) That the central government ensures all statutory labour laws are implemented in production units run by “social service” organizations like the NFB, as well as in workplaces run by other employers;

(vi) That the central government takes over the production units run by NGOs like NFB, in consequence of such NGOs repetitively failing to provide proper employment and conducive work conditions for physically handicapped workers;

(vii) That the retrenched workers of NFB be provided immediate employment either in Arunim or any
other government-funded institution/workshop.

The blind workers have warned that the ministry must take immediate steps to provide employment. The inaction of the ministry will compel us to intensify our agitation and movement to expose the Government’s lack of commitment towards protecting disabled workers’ statutory rights.

We hope that your esteemed newspaper will cover the story of exploitation of blind workers and the spirit of social justice would prevail.

Thanking you,
Alok Kumar
(On Behalf of Blind Workers Union)

Ramnath
(On Behalf of Blind Workers Union)

 

The (Auto) Rakshasa and the Citizen


June 14, 2012

A petition from an organization called Change India invaded my Facebook wall today right before – rather ironically, it turns out— my morning auto ride. The petition is filed under a category on the site called “petitions for economic justice.” When you open it, the image pasted below opens. A sharp fanged, dark skinned “auto-rakshasa” demands one-and-a-half fare. The commuter is “harassed.” The petition that accompanies this image urges the ACP of police to create “an efficient system” so that complaints made to report auto-drivers who overcharge or refuse to ply can be tracked. How, it asks, can “concerned Bangalorean citizens” expect “justice” if their complaints are not tracked?  We all must, it urges, “join the fight.”

Image

Let me first say quite clearly that I do not mean to undermine the intentions and frustrations of those who launched this campaign and, yes, when the meter goes on without asking, it eases a morning commute significantly. The question is: if this does not happen at times (and indeed it doesn’t) then why is this so and what does one do about it? There is a lot to be said about the economics of the issue itself and I welcome others reading who know more to write about it more extensively. But this piece is not about that. It is about the campaign itself and how we articulate political questions in our cities. It is fundamentally about the easy, unremarked way in which a working urban resident and citizen – who is also, after all, a “fellow Bangalorean” and concerned with “economic justice”– can be termed and portrayed a “rakshasa” as if it were a banal utterance.

 

Our urban institutions don’t, in many ways, work. We know this, the poor have always known it and it seems to be the newly discovered ire of elite politics. We complain, the petition says, and “no action” is taken. This complaint is not unique to this campaign or to the elite. The narrative commonly told about our cities today is in terms of “failure” and “illegality” whether it is dysfunctional institutions, corruption, broken infrastructure or slums. I am not contesting these failures or the anger of the petition writers at it. There is, however, a “but.” It is, put bluntly, this: not all institutional failures are the same, not all crimes are equal and not all illegalities lead to the same consequences. Protesting against them without taking this into account is not just ineffective, it is deeply unjust. Let me take an example from housing. Rich people who build illegal houses make “farmhouses” and “unauthorized colonies.” Poor people who do the same make “slums.” In a campaign against “illegality,” only one of them gets demolished. Only one is called an “encroacher” and a “pickpocket.” Only one of them can be a “rakshasa,” the other gets to be a “citizen.”

But, the campaign writers may rightly say: “We are not against autodrivers – it is about complaining against those that overcharge.” Does then a campaign’s representation, these words, this cartoon (ahem) really matter that much? It does. These imaginations, names, words and aesthetics alter, narrow and limit urban politics. You cannot see a rakshasa as another citizen who lives in your city. There was an alternate way to run this campaign: to sit with associations and unions of auto-drivers and come to an agreement. To find out if auto fares are reasonable, high or low. To figure out community mechanisms to prevent non-metred travel. To, if that’s what came out of the engagement, support campaigns for metre fare increases as inflation, prices and petrol/gas increase. To work out a periodic shock-absorption surcharge for periods with very high gas prices. To find out why it costs four times as much to own and register an auto than a Tata Nano. To find out what the daily rental of the auto-driver is that he is trying to make in his twelve hour shift. To figure out why his fares are regulated though the rental he pays isn’t. To consider, quite simply, the auto-driver as a person and a citizen rather than a criminal or a rakshasa. To find out how the institutions the petition is angry at have failed him just as much and, most likely, with much deeper consequences.

Instead this campaign pits “concerned citizens” against “autodrivers” that are, as the image suggests, always already criminal. It repeats the mistake of multiple recent middle-class campaigns for “economic justice” and “social change.” These campaigns increasingly target a particular set of issues –for example, corruption or security – that should concern all of us but because of the way they are defined and articulated instead exclude what is a majority of our urban citizens.

Where do such images come from? Let me trace just one possible thread. In another context, Leela Fernandes has argued that Indian cities are defined by a “new urban aesthetic of class purity.” She was referring to new forms of elite built environments from streets cleared of the poor, gated communities and enclosed malls, and parks where one can walk and play but not sleep and work. Yet this aesthetic doesn’t just manifest itself in the built environment – it is part of an elite urban politics that cannot imagine the poor as fellow citizens. Elite and middle-class campaigns thus become something altered– they are reduced to the protection of what Fernandes calls a “lifestyle.” Not the Right to Life, but the Right to Lifestyle. In the protection of this lifestyle, the working poor cannot exist as fellow citizens with rights and dignities. Their concerns cannot be part of the conversation. They are “rakshasas” that take resources from the state, are the sole reason for public debt, encroach on public land, burden athe government for “handouts,” and pollute and dirty the city just as they take hard-earned tax money taken away from its rightful heirs.

The responses that these campaigns seek can understand “economic justice” only in the form of punitive and disciplinary punishment for the always already criminal poor. In this particular campaign, the only possible result is a deeper surveillance and harassment of auto-drivers by law enforcement – no other interaction is possible, no other solution is conceived. Herein lies the tragedy. What is this campaign fundamentally meant to be about? It is about what happens to a complaint made to a public institution about a service. It could relate then to other, larger campaigns about getting public institutions to work and be accountable to all parts of what makes our urban public. The autodriver is as interested in this question as you or I yet he is excluded, in this frame, from asking it. Worse, he is held responsible for it.

Read more at Kafila

Immediate Release on protest by blind workers


Press Release on protest by blind workers outside the residence of Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment

April 26, 2012

by Blind Workers Union
24.04.2012

Today, large numbers of blind workers collected outside the residence of the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Shri Mukul Wasnik. These workers have met the concerned Minister, as well as officials in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment on several occasions since November 2011. However, the deep rooted concerns of blind workers lay un-addressed. Today, when the blind workers initially gheraoed the residence of the Hon’ble Minister, he did not meet them, and left his residence in haste. This response once again convinced the blind workers that the Government is least concerned about providing adequate employment to the blind, as well as protecting the basic labour rights of blind workers employed in the private sector. However, undeterred by the Minister’s initial decision not to entertain a delegation, the blind workers continued to sit outside the Minister’s residence in the scorching April heat. The militant protest finally led to some dialogue as the K.M. Acharya met with the workers’ delegation. Following a lengthy discussion between Shri Mukul Wasnik and officials in the Ministry, the Ministry finally agreed to provide alternative employment at a government-supported institute, to all the blind workers retrenched by the NGO, National Federation of the Blind (NFB).

Since November of last year, the blind workers have been protesting the retrenchment of several blind workers by the NFB. This NGO retrenched the workers because they were speaking out against denial of minimum wages and other basic labour rights in the Training and Rehabilitation Centres (TRCs) run by the NGO. However, the struggle of the workers is not just against the NFB, but also against the overall exploitation of blind workers across the country by private companies and NGOs. In the interest of availing of certain benefits like tax exemption for employing persons with disability, the private sector is known to employ yet brutally exploit disabled persons. The arbitrary hiring and firing practices, unregulated working hours, etc. prevalent in the private sector, amount to a serious breach of social justice, which is why the bind workers have been approaching the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. More importantly, the workers realize that the failure of successive governments to provide adequate employment to the blind community is the main reason why blind workers are dependent on the highly exploitative private sector. Hence, their struggle is based on the fundamental right to a livelihood—a right the Government is to protect and uphold. The three specific demands that the workers sought to discuss with the Minister were:

(i) Inclusion of a special section in the long pending Bill on the Rights of Persons With Disability (2011), which would safeguard the economic rights of blind workers employed in the private sector. For example, the Bill should include provisions to the effect that bodies violating basic labour rights will be penalized to the effect that NGOs indulging in such violation will face the cancellation of their registration.

(ii) That the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment tables a concrete plan of greater job creation for blind persons in the public sector. It is only with the provision of more government jobs that the dependence of blind workers on exploitative private companies and corrupt NGOs can be overcome.

(i) That because the Ministry has failed to curb the blatant violation of labour rights by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), it should ensure that all the disabled workers employed by NFB be provided alternative employment by the Government.

As the situation stands, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has conceded the third demand of the blind workers. With respect to the first and second demand, the Ministry has asked the Blind Workers Union (BWU) to provide a concrete plan which can be subsequently discussed and implemented.

Thanking you,
Alok Kumar, Ramnath
(On Behalf of Blind Workers Union)

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