Contact Address

U-90, Shakarpur, Delhi Ph: 011-22521067 Mobile : +91-9560756628 E-mail : aipwahq@gmail.com

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Inadequate Budgetary Provisions for Women

Press Release

Women’s Safety and Welfare Need Adequate Budgetary Allocations,
Not Hollow and Cynical Gestures
The Govt Takes Nirbhaya’s Name, Why Hasn’t It Provided Budgetary Backing for the Rehabilitation and Medical Care of All Rape and Acid Attack Survivors? 

New Delhi, February 28, 2013

The Finance Minister’s Budget speech made several references to women. But since these have not been backed by sufficient allocations in the required areas, these references appear to be mere token and hollow gestures. 

The ‘Nirbhaya fund’ is the most glaring instance of this. In the case of Nirbhaya (the Delhi gang-rape braveheart), the Government had responded to the public outcry by taking over all the medical costs of Nirbhaya. The Congress party leaders had even offered a flat to her family members. The Budget was the Government’s chance to show that these were not mere ‘charity’ gestures in one single case. In fact, the Government ought to show that it owns responsibility for the safety of all women, by providing every single survivor of rape or acid attacks with state-funded rehabilitation and medical care. The 1000 crore Nirbhaya fund, a mere corpus fund rather than a Budgetary allocation, is as of now far from adequate for covering the rehabilitation and medical costs of survivors of gender violence. In Haryana, dalit rape survivors have been forced to relocate away from their village, and the Government has ignored their demands for rehabilitation costs. Acid attack survivors and grievously injured rape survivors (as in Nirbhaya’s case) often have to travel for specialized medical care such as burns units, plastic surgery, and certain operations. Such travel costs ought to be covered by the Government also. For the Government to cynically use Nirbhaya’s name for a fund that fails to offer a guarantee of support for all survivors of gender violence, is shameful. The Rs 200 crore that has been allocated to the WCD Ministry is again, inadequate as well as vague as to its purpose. 

Legislations against violence faced by women (such as the Domestic Violence Act and laws against sexual violence) need to be backed by budgetary allocations. The Budget should also have announced specific allocations for safe houses and shelters for women who face domestic violence, incest, and for homeless women. There are any number of instances where girls and women facing incest are forced to continue to stay in the same house as their molester, for want of a safe shelter. Homeless women remain ever-vulnerable to violence on the streets. And the few existing shelters are so harsh in their conditions that women commonly refer to many of them as ‘women’s jails.’ 

One can compare these amounts (1000 crore, 200 crore) with the Budget’s statement of revenues foregone. The Budget promises to forego revenues to the tune of 68007.6 crore on corporate taxpayers (defined by the Government as prioritised tax payers) for the year 2012-13; in 2011-12 this amount was 61765.3 crore. If the Government can write off taxes to the tune of between 60-70000 crore every year for super-rich corporations as ‘incentives’, why is it that women’s safety is not seen as a similar priority by the Government? 

The Finance Minister’s announcement of a public sector women’s bank is rather mystifying. Why can’t existing public sector banks offer affordable institutional loans to women? By creating a women’s bank (whose purpose is as yet unclear), are existing banks being absolved of their responsibilities to women? Like the SHGs (which leave women debtors at the mercy of the micro-finance institutions), the women-only banks might end up being projected as the highly inadequate and misplaced ‘substitute’ for institutional bank-support for women. 

The Government should, in addition, have announced allocations to ensure more judges and courts (to ensure speedier trials); forensic investigations facilities all over the country, and primary health care centres in every village, specially equipped to deal with diagnostics and care for women. 

Kavita Krishnan, 
Secretary, AIPWA 
On behalf of the ongoing Bekhauf Azadi campaign against sexual violence

Sunday, February 24, 2013

People's Watch Over Parliament

Feb 21, 2012 
Jantar Mantar, New Delhi
NO to Government’s Eyewash Ordinance!

Parliament Must Enact a Law Against Rape and Sexual Violence Based on Justice Verma Recommendations! Budgetary Allocations for Rape Crisis Centres, Rehabilitation and Compensation for Survivors of Rape and Acid Attacks!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Walk - A Solo Performance by Maya Krishna Rao in Response to Delhi Gangrape

Maya Krishna Rao, a well-known actor, dancer, director, and teacher, performing Walk in response to Delhi Gangrape during People's Watch Over Parliament in Jantar Mantar, New Delhi on Feb 21, 2012


Friday, February 22, 2013

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Are Our Lawmakers Ready to Listen to the Voice of the Movement Against Sexual Violence?





Demands Raised in the People’s Watch Over Parliament Today, February 21, 1st Day of the Budget Session, Jantar Mantar, New Delhi 

NO to Government’s Eyewash Ordinance! 

Parliament Must Enact a Law Against Rape and Sexual Violence 

Based on Justice Verma Recommendations! 

Budgetary allocations for rape crisis centres, rehabilitation and compensation for survivors of rape and acid attacks 

We want to tell the MPs – our eyes are on you. We are watching to see if you do justice to women. We are watching to see if you implement the Justice Verma recommendations. 

1) We want rape-accused MPs, starting with Deputy Speaker of Rajya Sabha PJ Kurien to resign from Parliament. We have had enough of MPs remarks branding women as ‘dented and painted’ and branding rape survivors as ‘child prostitutes’ or as ‘zinda laash.’ We say to them: please stop worrying about women’s morality, and ‘honour’ – and enact an anti-rape law that respects women’s autonomy and rights; that gets rid of protective shields for powerful accused; that ensures accountability of the police. 

2) We are shocked that the ordinance has introduced ‘gender neutrality for perpetrator’ in the law for rape and sexual assault, making it possible for men to accuse women of rape. We do not want this joke to be played on women when they are demanding justice! We say NO to gender-neutrality of the accused in the rape/sexual assault law. 

3) We are dismayed by the ordinance’s move to automatically brand consensual sexual contact between young people between the ages of 16-18 as ‘sexual assault’. We, the young people of the country, do not want a law that can brand a teenage boy as a sexual offender for holding hands with a girl of his own age. We do not want a law that strengthens the hands of the khap panchayats and the moral-policing brigades that terrorise young people who befriend each other. Our reason is outraged by the fact that the ordinance continues to refer to violence against women as outraging or insulting ‘modesty’. It is appalling that the law of the land expects women to prove their ‘modesty’ in order to merit justice in cases of sexual violence! We demand deletion of such patriarchal vocabulary from the law. 

4) In memory of the tremendous and tragic injustice done to Ruchika Girotra, to Thangjam Manorama, to Geetika Sharma and Rupam Pathak, we want an end to protective shields for powerful people accused of rape. There should be no need to seek government permission to prosecute public servants (MPs, MLAs, police officers) and army officers who are accused of rape or sexual assault. Let the Court, not Governments, decide if a complaint of rape has merit or is false/motivated. Repeal the AFSPA to ensure that army officers accused of rape cannot hide behind AFSPA and claim immunity, as Manorama’s rapists and killers have done since 2004. 

5) We demand the principle of command responsibility in cases of custodial rape and sexual assault by police or army. Superior officers who knowingly allow their junior officers to rape, or who, having known of such a rape, fail to initiate action against the errant officers, must be held accountable and punishable. Only then can we hope to do justice to terrible crimes like the custodial sexual torture of Soni Sori or the mass rape at Kunan Poshpora. We demand that police personnel who fail to file FIRs or follow the law in matters of investigation, be jailed for 5 years, and such crimes should be made cognizable and non-bailable. 

6) We demand that rapes occurring during communal and caste massacres be recognised as 'aggravated sexual assault', with provision severe punishment. Sexual violence against dalit women needs, likewise, to be recognised as aggravated sexual assault. 

7) We demand that the rape law recognise marital rape, and remove the shocking provision of lenient punishment for a husband who rapes a legally separated wife. Strangely, the ordinance has taken pains to protect husbands from being accused of rape by wives – but has not bothered to similarly protect wives from being accused of rape by husbands! 

8) We demand ban the demeaning, sexist, and unscientific ‘two-finger medical test’ for rape survivors. 

9) We demand budgetary allocations for rape crisis centres, safe houses for women, more judges and courts, forensic examination facilities, rehabilitation and compensation for survivors of rape and acid attacks. And if the Government pleads ‘fund crunch’, we would like to suggest that this time, if they avoid handing out lakhs of crores of rupees as tax waivers to the super-rich and big corporations, and avoid buying needlessly expensive defence equipment to benefit the corrupt, there should be plenty of funds left over to spend to make women safer! 

10) We support the 2-day all-India workers’ strike, and join women workers in demanding a law against sexual harassment at the workplace. 

Freedom Without Fear 
Campaign Against Sexual Violence and Gender Discrimination 
9560756628, 9868383692, 9868033425, 9953736392, 9013219020 
facebook group: Freedom without fear- Bekhauf Azadi 

Demand Justice in the Suryanelli Rape Case

Anti-rape protesters have been outraged by the fact that the new rape law will be discussed in Parliament, with a rape-accused presiding over the discussions! The Deputy Speaker of the Rajya Sabha, PJ Kurien, is accused in the Suryanelli rape case: a case of gang rape of a 16-year-old girl in Kerala, 17 years ago.

The 16-year-old girl in Kerala’s remote Idukki district, was defrauded by a man whom she had befriended, was drugged, beaten and taken to places across the Tamil Nadu and Kerala countryside, where she was raped by around 40 men. Eventually she was put on a bus back home, after which she filed a complaint of rape. 40 persons were named as accused in the main petition, by the State Government. The rape survivor later saw Kurien’s photograph in a newspaper and recognized him to be one of the rapists, and filed a private petition against him to the court, when the police refused to register her complaint against him.

Kurien had tried to appeal against his being named as an accused, but his appeal was rejected thrice: by the lower court, by the High Court and by an Additional Sessions Court. A Special Court had convicted 35 of the 40 accused in the original case. A division bench of the Kerala High Court, in 2005, however, overturned the convictions, in a shockingly misogynist verdict. Only one man was found guilty of sex trade (procuring and selling a minor for purposes of prostitution). Only after that, based on the acquittal of the other accused in the main petition, was the case against Kurien rejected by the Kerala HC and later the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile the rape survivor also faced political victimisation, being falsely accused of financial irregularities and losing her job. 

However, the Supreme Court recently responded to the appeal against the 2005 verdict, expressing dismay at the verdict and setting aside the Kerala HC’s acquittal of 2005. The case has been sent back to the HC for a fresh look.

Several crucial witnesses, including the man convicted in the case, have now stated that Kurien was in fact guilty and that the prosecution had made them suppress facts.

The Kerala HC verdict of 2005, shockingly, seems based more on the judges’ view of the girl’s morals rather than on the facts of the case. Based on its moralizing, it concludes that the girl was a prostitute who agreed to sex with 40 men by consent. For instance, the verdict comments that the girl’s “inclination to have such friendly relationship with a stranger like Kochumon must also be taken note of while appreciating her evidence.” It notes that “She is thus shown to be a girl of deviant character. She was not a normal innocent girl of that age.” One of the judges notes that “It is easy to assume that no minor if prudent and intelligent, and if her faculties of reasoning and sense of righteous behaviour are properly developed and intact, would choose in the Indian context to consent to extra marital and pre marital sexual intercourse…. In the fiercely consumerist society that we live in, a young girl child is also exposed to so many temptations that it is difficult for the child which has not been groomed in proper atmosphere with a proper value system inculcated in it, to resist such temptations. Such children can be termed deviants but cannot be merely condemned and left to their fate.” And therefore the judge advices raising of the age of consent to 18 years rather than 16! The verdict shares all sorts of patriarchal ideas about how a ‘righteous’ and ‘good’ girl would behave, and with all the patriarchal moral outrage and disgust, brands as ‘deviant’ a young girl who chooses to fall in love with a man. Once assumed to be a ‘deviant’, her own testimony about being raped by other men is viewed by the judges with suspicion, based on their assessment about her character and morals. And at the end, while doing a grievous injustice to the complaint of rape and branding her a liar, they ask that the freedom of all young girls of 16-18 years, to have friendships of their own choice, be restricted by raising the age of consent! One of the Judges who delivered that verdict has recently said on TV that the girl was a ‘deviant’ and a ‘child prostitute.’

The Congress party has shamefully yet to remove Kurien from his post as Deputy Speaker of the RS. Moreover, asked by a woman journalist about the Kurien case, UPA Overseas Minister Vayalar Ravi made a sexist remark, asking her whether she too had had a past relationship with Kurien! The Congress is yet to act against either Kurien or Ravi.

Speaking to a national daily, the rape survivor who is fighting for justice said, “I am no longer the 16-year-old school girl who fell for her first love, and lost her life. Yet, at 33, I am battling the same nightmares; my world is a grey longwinding road that stretches from my house to church and office.

People have a tendency to smirk when I recount the 40 days when I was turned into a female body that could be used anyway they liked — sold like caged cattle, pushed into dark rooms across the state, raped day and night, kicked and punched. ...I can remember all those faces clearly. Raju comes first. The man I loved, and trusted. That he would turn me into the victim of Kerala's first sex racket was the twist in my love story. The man whose face I searched for during my every day trip to school was one among the many I had to point to in an identification parade, and come face-to-face in the court corridors. In those days, I really wanted to kill him, my first love.

I feel relieved that the Delhi girl died, or she would have faced the same pointed, porn-tinted questions from everywhere, forced to explain countless whys, and would have had to live a life fearing her own shadow and without a friend.

I belong to the Latin Church which is the largest individual church in the Catholic Church, but in all these 17 years, not even a single prayer was said for me in any church anywhere. No rosaries marked the Hail Marys, and no angels came to my doorstep to offer kind words.

But my belief has not wavered. It gives me the strength to watch 24/7 news channels where the protectors of law call me a child prostitute, and eminent personalities discuss why my case won't stand. Even when I am framed in a financial fraud case in my office, and when my parents go down with major health problems, I convince myself that this too would pass. One day.”

From ML Update

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

People's Watch Over Parliament

Kavita Krishnan, National Secretary of AIPWA, Campaigning for People's March Over Parliament on February 21 from Jantar Mantar Demanding Enactment of a Law on Sexual Violence Based on Justice Verma Committee Recommendations as the Parliament Gears to Discuss Ordinance....




Thursday, February 14, 2013

Protest Against French President Demanding Justice in Suja Jones' Case and to Quit Negotiating Nuke plant in Jaitapur!

Photo Diary

AIPWA and AISA held a protest demonstration in Jantar Mantar on February 14 in support of Suja Jones Mazurier's struggle for justice for her baby daughter, who was raped by her own father French Diplomat Pascal Mazurier. The protestors raised slogans against the French Government for protecting Pascal Mazurier. They also demanded Hollande to quit negotiating the French nuke plant at Jaitapur!









Will Be Updated Further.....

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Why inclusion of marital rape in the ordinance is necessary

By Kavita Krishnan

The ordinance, in its present form, justifies and legalises marital rape. Even if a wife separates legally from her husband, the husband will get a lenient (two year) punishment if he rapes her! Justice Verma's report had said that any sexual contact that is against a woman's consent is sexual violence regardless of the relationship of the accused to the woman - even if he is a boyfriend or husband. A wife is not the property of her husband, she still has the right to say 'no' to sexual contact with him. In case the accused is in a relationship (or had a past relationship) with the complainant, it cannot be assumed/presumed that the latter has 'consented' to sexual contact.

If marital rape is recognised legally, will it result in false cases? Well, we can look at the experience of domestic violence. We have all seen how, even when wives face severe battering, sometimes of a life-threatening kind, they are reluctant (for social and economic reasons) to actually file a criminal complaint against husbands, even when police arrive at the door. How, then, can we assume that wives are suddenly going to go berserk and file false cases randomly? Moreover, there are false cases in all sorts of laws theft, cheating, terrorism, even murder. Yet how come we don't talk about getting rid of these laws? There are innumerable cases of police themselves filing false complaints of terrorism against innocent people, yet in our society, we talk as though it is only women who are prone to filing 'false complaints'. Whereas the overwhelming evidence is that the vast majority of women are in fact dependent on their husbands and helpless even in marriages where they face tremendous violence, many even being burnt alive.

To those talking about 'misuse' of the laws for women, we wonder why they are not talking about the new ordinance which has huge provisions for misuse against women and young boys? The ordinance makes the perpetrator of rape 'gender-neural': i.e both men and women can be accused of rape. This will mean that if a woman files a rape complaint against a man, he will be able to file a counter-complaint of rape against her.

Strangely, the ordinance does not allow wives to accuse husbands of sexual assault but because of the 'gender-neutral' provision, and because the ordinance does not rule out complaints of sexual assault against wives, husbands can file cases of sexual assault against their wives! The ordinance brands all consensual sexual contact between young people of the ages between 16 and 18 as 'sexual violence': therefore young boys (and girls too) whose only crime is that they were friends with young people of the other sex, will face false charges of 'sexual violence' by parents, khap panchayats and moral policing brigades.

We should also remember that we need to change the law in order to recognise and undo the long history of societal sanction for marital rape. The Brhadarankya Upanishad says about how a husband should deal with his wife if she refuses to consent to sex: "...surely a woman who has changed her clothes at the end of her menstrual period is the most auspicious of women. When she has changed her clothes at the end of her menstrual period, therefore one should approach that splendid woman and invite her to have sex. Should she refuse to consent, he should bribe her, if she still still refuses, he should beat her with a stick or with his fists and overpower her, saying 'I take away the splendour from you with my virility and splendour'."

(Brhdaranyaka Upanishad, Chapter 6.4.6)

If Justice Verma's recommendations were implemented, it would make marriages more democratic, based on love and equality rather than on the husband's power over the wife.

Courtesy : The India Blog, IBN Live

Friday, February 8, 2013

Comparison of the JVC Recommendations With the UPA Govt’s Ordinance


AISA and AIPWA organized a protest demonstration at Jantar Mantar on Feb 4, and also at Shastri Bhawan where Finance Minister Chidambaram and Congress Spokesperson Manish Tewari were holding a press conference on the issue, under the banner of ‘Bekhauf Azadi’ along with representatives of AIDWA. The protest unequivocally condemned the government ordinance amending laws related to sexual violence 

Comparison of the JVC Recommendations With the UPA Govt’s Ordinance


the JVC Recommendations
UPA Govt’s Ordinance
1
For the first time in India, spelt out a constitutional Bill of Rights for women, and the means to ensure those fundamental rights to equality, freedom, and autonomy

Ignores the Bill of Rights 
2
Recognised that sexual violence is not an act of sex or lust: it is an act of patriarchal power. Therefore, to reduce sexual violence, we must safeguard women’s freedom and rights; and to ensure that perpetrators are punished, we must undo the impunity and protection for such offences that is built into the laws and into our system   
Maintains the inbuilt ways in which laws protect powerful perpetrators
3
Recognised women’s rights to autonomy: including her sexual autonomy and her right to choose her partners, friends, and spouses. Recommended changing the archaic and anti-women vocabulary of laws. Understood sexual violence as a violation of a woman’s bodily integrity and her dignity, rather than as ‘outraging modesty’, ‘robbing honour’ or bringing ‘shame’.
Has many clauses that go AGAINST women’s autonomy and freedom, and retains the anti-women wording of ‘outraging modesty’ instead of molestation or sexual violence
4
Recognised women’s rights to autonomy: including her sexual autonomy and her right to choose her partners, friends, and spouses. Recommended changing the archaic and anti-women vocabulary of laws. Understood sexual violence as a violation of a woman’s bodily integrity and her dignity, rather than as ‘outraging modesty’, ‘robbing honour’ or bringing ‘shame’.
Accepted the changed definition of ‘consent’ as recommended by JVC, BUT retained many of the substantial provisions that fail to recognise and respect women’s ‘consent’ – in case of married women, 16-18 year-old girls, and women who complain against the powerful people such as judges, magistrates, police officers, bureaucrats, and army officers.
5
Redefined the meaning of ‘consent’: stating that unless a woman indicates ‘Yes’ to sex, either by word or by gesture, no one can ‘assume’ that she consented. In the present system, many rape cases go unpunished because a woman is ‘presumed’ to have consented unless she has marks of injury on her body or on the body of the accused. She is ‘presumed’ to have consented if she is married to the accused. A girl is ‘presumed’ to be incapable of consent to sexual contact if she is 16-18 years old, even if her partner is of a similar young age, unless she is married to him. Moreover, she is ‘presumed’ to be lying if the man she accuses is a public servant; a judge; a magistrate; or an army officer; that is why, in such cases, prior permission from the Govt is needed in order to prosecute the accused. Justice Verma sought to challenge and change these in-built, wrong assumptions that go against justice for women. 

Accepted expanded definition and scope of sexual assault, and more severe punishment
6
Expanded the meaning of sexual assault to cover a range of forms of sexual violence: from sexual harassment to stalking to voyeurism (making MMS etc) to acid-throwing to rape by insertion of an object or a male body part. Recommended higher and more severe punishment for various forms of sexual violence. 

Makes the perpetrator/accused in the rape law gender-neutral – i.e both men and women can be accused of rape. This will mean that if a woman files a rape complaint against a man, he can file a counter-complaint of rape against her!
7
Recognised that the victim of sexual violence could be ‘gender-neutral’ (i.e could be female/male/transgender/hijra etc), but that theperpetrator is male.
All mutual sexual contact between young girls and boys of the age group 16-18 is automatically termed as ‘rape’. This means that innocent young boys will face rape charges, for no crime except that they befriended young girls of their own age. And a generation of young boys who grow up without learning to see girls as equals and as friends, will be more likely to be violent towards women as adults.
8
Recognised that young people between the age of 16-18 do, naturally, indulge in sexual experimentation, and that such sexual contact between young people by mutual consent cannot automatically be termed ‘rape’.
Legitimises marital rape – i.e forced sexual contact by husband against wife’s consent. Therefore strengthens the idea of the wife as the ‘sexual property’ of the husband. Retains the provision of lesser sentence (minimum sentence of 2 years) for a husband who rapes a legally separated wife! Therefore, even if a wife has taken the pains to separate herself from an abusive husband, the law will make excuses for him if he rapes her, on the grounds that she was once his wife, and so he can be excused for thinking of her as his property! Not only that, according to the ordinance, wives cannot accuse husbands of sexual assault – but because of the ‘gender-neutral’ provision, husbands can accuse wives of sexual assault! Not only that, husbands cannot get life sentence or death sentence for sexual assault even of a separated wife, but a wife accused by a husband of sexual assault, can under the ordinance get life sentence and even death sentence!
9
Recognises that rape happens even within marriage. Asserted that sexual contact, even within a marriage, must be with a woman’s consent; a wife is not her husband’s property, and cannot be ‘expected’ to have sex with her husband, against her will. Therefore, recommended removal of the existing exemption of ‘marital rape’ from the rape law. Upheld the principle that in the case of rape and sexual assault, the relationship of the accused with the complainant will not be the basis for denying her claim of rape; neither can it be the basis for a more lenient sentence. Therefore recommended deletion of the provision of lenient sentence in case of rape of a legally separated wife by a husband.
Continues to protect the powerful. No provisions against candidates charged with sexual violence. Retains the requirement of ‘prior permission’ for prosecution of public servants/judges/magistrates/army officers. So, no Ruchika Girotra (molested by a police officer), Geetika Sharma or Rupam Pathak (raped by MLAs), Thangjam Manorama (raped by army personnel) can expect justice!
10
Sought to get rid of protections for powerful offenders. Recommended that politicians against whom a charge sheet has been filed for sexual violence, be prevented from contesting elections.Recommended that no sanction/prior permission be required to prosecute judges/magistrates/public servants who are accused of sexual violence; and similarly that the AFSPA be amended to do away with the requirement for sanction/prior permission to prosecute an army officer accused of sexual violence.Justice Verma’s argument is clear: no army officer nor any judge or public servant can claim to have raped in the course of his duty. As in any case, the Court can be the best judge, based on available evidence, of whether a complaint is false or true.  
Senior police/army officers will not be investigated or punished for custodial rapes that are committed at their orders or with their knowledge in custody by their junior officers.
11
Recommended changes in the law based on the principle of ‘command responsibility’ in case of custodial rape by police or army: i.e the principle that a superior officer will be held responsible if he orders or knowingly allows a junior officer to commit rape or sexual assault against a woman who is in custody, or is in a conflict area. This principle is very important if one looks at the rape of Soni Sori (Chhattisgarh SP Ankit Garg ordered his men to sexually torture her) or the rape and murder of Thangjam Manorama in Manipur in the custody of personnel of the Assam Rifles. Such rapes could not have occurred without the knowledge and explicit orders/tacit consent of senior officers. Given the widespread prevalence of sexual violence in conflict areas, the JVC also recommended a review of the AFSPA, which is encouraging such violence. That AFSPA in any case has a provision for periodic review, which has however not been done.    
Does not prohibit ‘two-finger test,’ whereby a doctor puts two fingers into a rape survivor’s body to check if she is ‘habituated to sex.’ In fact, the ordinance’s definition of ‘rape’ (Section 375) legitimises this test, by stating that penetration or touching of private parts ‘for medical purposes’ (without specifying the need to obtain prior consent of the patient) will not be considered rape. The rape definition in the ordinance also, strangely, justifies penetration of the body for ‘hygienic’ purposes – so now, many rapists can try and explain away rape as a lesson in hygiene!          
12
Recommended changes in the existing medical investigation protocol rape survivor. Recommended prohibition of the demeaning two-finger test and other forms of medical examination that investigate women’s past sexual history. Also recommended a protocol to ensure sensitive medical care of a rape survivor.
Accepts changes in judicial procedure, but does nothing in the direction of speedier justice
13
Recommended more judges, more courts to ensure speedier trials and timely justice; also changes in judicial procedures to make rape trials gender-just.   

14
Did not recommend death sentence. 
Includes death sentence for rapes that result in death or permanent vegetative state of the victim. In the case of death of the victim, the provision of death sentence already exists and is nothing new. Death sentence for causing permanent vegetative state is dangerous for women: since the risk of hanging for murder and rape are the same, it is likely to become an incentive for the rapist to make sure to kill the victim so that she cannot testify against him.
15
Made the Govt responsible for the failure to protect women from violence
a)      recommended 5 years imprisonment for police personnel who fail to do their duty (i.e filing FIRs, pursuing a fair investigation), recommended comprehensive police reforms 
b)      recommended setting up of well-equipped Rape Crisis Centres; safe houses for women facing violence; forensic investigation; and juvenile justice homes
c)       Spelt out the Govt’s duty to ensure safe and adequate public transport, and safety at bus stops and on streets, and a range of other governance measures.    
No efforts to ensure police accountability or governance;
a)      Punishment for failure to register FIR or biased investigation is just a token 1 year; no police reforms
b)      No provisions for rape crisis centres, forensic facilities, safe houses, juvenile homes etc
c)       No governance measures such as public transport etc to ensure safer public spaces for women   

Thursday, February 7, 2013

No to Ordinance That Dilutes and Subverts Justice Verma Recommendations



The ordinance on sexual violence laws introduced by the UPA Government is a mockery of the month-and-a-half long continuing struggle demanding justice and freedom for women. Instead of implementing the Justice Verma Committee recommendations, the Government has brought in an ordinance that undermines the spirit and thrust of the Committee’s Report and its key recommendations.

Any ordinance is promulgated as an emergency measure. Women live in a daily state of ‘emergency’, their freedom curbed by the fear of sexual violence. But it is not that emergency which has prompted the Government’s ordinance. Rather, for the Government, the ‘emergency’ was the desperate need to somehow dilute and divert the Justice Verma recommendations, which reflected the aims and demands of the ongoing countrywide movement.

The ordinance expands the definition of sexual violence, recognises stalking, acid-throwing, and voyeurism, and introduces more severe punishments. But on a range of key questions, the ordinance goes against women’s autonomy and rights, and avoids ending impunity of powerful rapists, and ensuring accountability of police and other institutions.

The ordinance makes the perpetrator of rape ‘gender-neural’: i.e both men and women can be accused of rape. This will mean that if a woman files a rape complaint against a man, he can file a counter-complaint of rape against her! What a joke with women of our country!

The ordinance does not respect the right of young girls between the age of 16-18 to have sexual contact by their consent with male friends of a similar age. Instead, by automatically branding all such sexual contact as ‘rape’, the ordinance will strengthen the khap panchayats and moral policing brigades who seek to curb the freedom of young people of that age.

The ordinance legitimises marital rape and strengthens the idea of the wife as the ‘sexual property’ of the husband. It also retains the provision of lesser sentence (minimum sentence of 2 years) for a husband who rapes a legally separated wife! Therefore, even if a wife has taken the pains to separate herself from an abusive husband, the law will make excuses for him if he rapes her. The exclusion of marital rape and the lesser sentence for rape of a separated wife are shocking violations of the principle that the relationship or prior relationship of the accused with the victim will not be grounds to undermine the rape complaint or show leniency.

Not only that, according to the ordinance, wives cannot accuse husbands of sexual assault – but because of the ‘gender-neutral’ provision, husbands can accuse wives of sexual assault! Husbands cannot get life sentence or death sentence for sexual assault even of a separated wife, but a wife accused by a husband of sexual assault, can under the ordinance get life sentence and even death sentence for repeat offences. 

The ordinance continues to protect the powerful. There are no provisions against candidates charge sheeted for sexual violence. The ordinance retains the requirement of ‘prior permission’ for prosecution of public servants/judges/magistrates/army officers. So, no Ruchika Girotra or Soni Sori (molested by a police officer), Geetika Sharma or Rupam Pathak (raped by MLAs), or Thangjam Manorama (raped by army personnel) can expect justice under this ordinance! Senior police/army officers will not be investigated or punished for custodial rapes that are committed at their orders or with their knowledge in custody by their junior officers. Sexual violence during caste or communal massacres and against of SC/ST women have not been recognised as ‘aggravated sexual assault.’

To ensure accountability of the police, Justice Verma has stipulated a punishment of 5 years imprisonment for failure to register an FIR or biased investigation, in order to instil fear of consequence in police personnel who fail to abide by the law. But the ordinance dilutes this to a mere 1 year, and so clearly sends a message of leniency out to the police.

The ordinance retains patriarchal language, continuing to call molestation as ‘outraging modesty.’ Not only does the ordinance fail to ban the demeaning and sexist two-finger test, and its definition of rape actually legitimises the two-finger test, in the name of ‘penetration for medical purposes.’ 

The shoddily-drafted and anti-women ordinance, promulgated by stealth before any citizen of the country had even seen it, is a disservice to the painstakingly prepared Justice Verma Report that adopted a thoroughly democratic and rigorous process, and came up with a report showed the way to promoting women’s freedom, rights, and safety. 

Meanwhile, the BJP, which is quite comfortable with the anti-women provisions in the ordinance, is now trying to make political capital by naming a museum after the Delhi braveheart. A leader of the same BJP had, when the girl was fighting bravely to live, insulted her by calling her a ‘zinda laash’ (walking corpse); the BJP defended the RSS chief when he implicitly blamed the girl for inviting rape, by saying ‘rapes happen in westernised India, not Bharat’; a BJP leader of MP justified rape as the inevitable consequence of crossing ‘Laxman Rekha’; and recently another BJP leader of MP said that protecting girls was their parents’ responsibility, not the Government’s. For this party that openly encourages the culture of victim-blaming for rape, to try and cash in on the braveheart’s name, is a shame. 

It is a triumph of the ongoing movement, that it has kept the issue of women’s freedom and safety alive for a month and a half. The movement has spiritedly resisted the eyewash of an ordinance, and will continue to agitate for full implementation of the Justice Verma Committee Report. In the coming Budget Session of the Parliament, fighting young people and women will certainly intensify their struggle, and keep a close watch on Parliament, to force it to implement the Justice Verma recommendations!

From ML Update, 5-11 Feb 2013

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Onwards to People’s Watch Over Parliament... For Implementation of Justice Verma Recommendations!

Take Forward the Struggle Against Sexual Violence!
No to Government’s Eyewash Ordinance!Parliament Must Implement Justice Verma Recommendations!

Are Our Lawmakers Ready to Listen to the Voice of the Movement Against Sexual Violence? 

Onwards to People’s Watch Over Parliament, 
Starting on February 21, 1st Day of the Budget Session, at Parliament Street



Friends, 

The horrific gang-rape of December 16 sparked off a massive movement that brought us all on the streets to say ‘Enough is Enough’ and demand action to ensure women’s freedom from sexual violence and gender discrimination. In keeping with the spirit of the movement, the Justice Verma Committee came out with a path-breaking Report, with recommendations that, if implemented, would truly make women less vulnerable to violence. But, instead of implementing the Justice Verma Report, the Government has instead chosen to pass an ordinance that completely subverts the substance and spirit of the Verma recommendations! 

Does the ordinance answer the demands we were raising, of freedom and safety for women? No, instead, it mocks them! 

The ordinance, going AGAINST Justice Verma’s recommendations, says that both men and women can be accused of sexual assault and rape! Is this not a cruel joke with the women of the country? Whenever a woman files a complaint of rape, the accused will file a counter-complaint of rape against her! 
According to the ordinance, any sexual contact, including touching, between young people of the age 16-18 will automatically be termed ‘sexual assault’, even if it is by mutual consent among friends! This is a law that can help the khap panchayats and moral police brigades that terrorise young girls and boys, not women! Again, this is the exact opposite of what Justice Verma had recommended. 

The ordinance justifies and legalises marital rape. Even if a wife separates legally from her husband, the husband will get a lenient (2 year) punishment if he rapes her! Justice Verma’s report had said that any sexual contact that is against a woman’s consent, is sexual violence – regardless of whether the relationship of the accused to the woman, even if he is a boyfriend or husband. A wife is not the property of her husband, she still has the right to say ‘no’ to sexual contact with him. If Justice Verma’s recommendations were implemented, it would make marriages more democratic, based on love and equality rather than on the husband’s power over the wife. Strangely, under the ordinance does not allow wives to accuse husbands of sexual assault – but husbands can file cases of sexual assault against their wives, and theoretically, wives can even get the life sentence or death penalty for ‘repeat offences’! 

It rejects Justice Verma’s recommendation that politicians against whom a charge sheet has been filed for sexual violence, be prevented from contesting elections; that no government permission be required to prosecute judges/magistrates/public servants/army officers who are accused of sexual violence. Justice Verma’s argument is clear: no army officer nor any judge or public servant can claim to have raped in the course of his duty. As in any case, the Court can be the best judge, based on available evidence, of whether a complaint is false or true. Why should the Government be allowed to decide whether a case is true or false – even before a Court has seen the evidence? No Ruchika Girotra or Soni Sori (molested by a police officer), Geetika Sharma or Rupam Pathak (raped by MLAs), or Thangjam Manorama (raped by army personnel) can expect justice under this ordinance! 

Justice Verma has stipulated a punishment of 5 years imprisonment for failure to register an FIR or biased investigation, in order to instil fear of consequence in police personnel who fail to abide by the law. But the ordinance dilutes this to a mere 1 year, and so clearly sends a message of leniency out to the police. Also the ordinance refuses to punish a senior officer who orders or knowingly allows custodial rape by a police or army personnel. 

The ordinance continues to insult women by referring to sexual violence as ‘outraging modesty.’ So, in courts, women who complain of violence will have to ‘prove’ their modesty’ in order to get the molester punished! 

The ordinance fails to ban the demeaning and anti-women medical ‘two-finger test,’ whereby a doctor inserts two fingers into the rape survivor’s body in order to record whether or not she is ‘habituated to sex.’ So, it continues to allow the unjust question of a woman’s past sexual relationships to be brought into the rape trial. 

The ordinance rejected Justice Verma’s recommendation of action against khap panchayats that kill young couples who marry out of choice 

The Budget Session of Parliament begins on February 21. The Government will seek to enact a law based on this shoddy and anti-women, anti-people ordinance – that will become a tool against women, girls and boys – rather than against perpetrators of sexual violence. It is up to us to build enough pressure on Government and Parliament, to tell them – we are watching you, and we demand a law as well as budgetary allocations based on the Justice Verma recommendations, not on the eyewash of the ordinance! 

We demand that Parliament enact genuine, comprehensive, pro-women legislative changes based on the Justice Verma recommendations! 

We demand budgetary allocations for rape crisis centres, more judges and courts to ensure speedier trials, safe houses for women facing violence in their homes, and forensic facilities! We want the Government’s Budget to spend on these things that women need – rather than gifting lakhs of crores to corporations as tax giveaways! 

We demand reform to ensure accountability of the police and judiciary! 

On February 21, the first day of the Budget Session of Parliament, we will begin a People’s Watch Over Parliament – do join, spread the word, bring your friends, colleagues, family! Contact us to join the campaign and help build support. See http://bekhaufazadi.blogspot.in/ for campaign materials, updates and campaign plans, and information about protest actions. 

Keep the Flame Alive...That the Delhi Braveheart Rekindled... 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The ‘Laxman Rekhas’ Can No Longer Appear ‘Natural’ – Each of Them is Being Met With Defiance and Resistance



By Kavita Krishnan

Whoever expects a ‘pure’ social revolution will never live to see it.

— Vladimir Ilyich Lenin 

‘Middle class selective outrage’; ‘lynch mob mentality’; ‘macho protectiveness’; ‘coexistence of placards demanding women’s autonomy with those demanding castration for rapists’ — these are the ways in which some sceptics have described the ongoing movement against sexual violence. Activists of women’s and students’ movements, who have chosen to identify with this movement, have been accused of romanticising what is actually a dangerous mob phenomenon. 

Why should the prospect of contradictory consciousness in a mass movement worry us so much?

This question brought me, inevitably, to the Italian Marxist, Antonio Gramsci: “The active man-in-the-mass has a practical activity, but has no clear theoretical consciousness of his practical activity, which, nonetheless, involves understanding the world in so far as it transforms it. His theoretical consciousness can indeed be historically in opposition to his activity. One might almost say that he has two theoretical consciousnesses (or one contradictory consciousness): one which is implicit in his activity and which in reality unites him with all his fellow workers in the practical transformation of the real world; and one, superficially explicit or verbal, which he has inherited from the past and uncritically absorbed.”

This contradiction, this conflict, is the stuff out of which political transformation and radicalisation is made. On the streets, I saw it in action many a time. Let me recount one occasion. On December 29, the day the young fighter succumbed to her injuries, we gathered at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar in condolence. Our appeals to desist from shrill sloganeering were snubbed rudely by a small group that was seeking to control the Jantar Mantar space. We moved a small distance away and joined some young women sitting quietly with tears in their eyes.

The slogan of ‘freedom’ was taken up with enthusiastic variations, demanding the freedom to be born, to be fed, to study, to work, to have control over property and money, to dress according to one’s choice, to love, to control one’s own reproduction and sexuality, to free oneself from abusive marriages, to be free of the fear of violence at home and in public spaces

Gradually, the circle of people sitting in silence and grief swelled, as people spontaneously gravitated to that space of gravity and reflection. Gradually, from among them, rose the songs and slogans of freedom, and towards afternoon, the voices of young women speaking their minds. A young man came up to me: “I have been at the protest every day,” he said. “I fully support the struggle for women to be safe from violence. But I am disturbed by the slogans of ‘freedom’ being raised. If my sister is free to dress or go out with anyone, won’t it put her at risk? I just can’t help feeling disturbed by the idea of her freedom.”

His admission of his discomfort was disarming in its honesty, and we talked for a time about why this idea of women’s freedom was disconcerting. He admitted that before his participation in the movement, he could not recall having felt similarly disturbed: the different rules for women and men in our society had seemed quite natural and right. “Embrace that feeling of disturbance,” I urged, “and see where it takes you.” After all, that disturbance was a crack in the edifice of patriarchal commonsense: a moment when patriarchal certainties turned shaky and doubts were born. 

There were many other occasions. My favourite is the one documented by Shuddhabrata Sengupta of ‘Kafila’, where a man with a ‘Yamraj’ mask listened to anti-death penalty speeches, took off his mask, tore up his own placard, and took up a placard which said, ‘Death penalty is not the solution’. 

The slogan of ‘We Want Justice,’ initially, was taken to mean only punishment — even hanging — for the rapists. At that point, it seemed that the rulers and MPs — from the Congress, BJP, and other parties — were happy to be seen endorsing it. As long as ‘justice’ meant ‘death penalty,’ as long as women wanted ‘safety’ and ‘protection,’ few in government or Parliament seemed to have any problems with it.

However, almost immediately, the slogans of ‘We Want Freedom’ began to expand the boundaries of ‘justice’, with women raising placards saying ‘Woh kare to stud, main karun to slut?’ (If he does it he’s a stud, if I do it I’m a slut?). Also, ‘Don’t teach me how to dress, teach men not to rape’.

And the men responded too. We saw a young man carrying a placard: ‘When we men wear muscle shirts, women do not rape us’.

We watched as the slogan of ‘freedom’ was taken up with enthusiastic variations, demanding the freedom to be born, to be fed, to study, to work, to have control over property and money, to dress according to one’s choice, to love, to choose a partner irrespective of caste or gender, to give birth to a girl-child, to control one’s own reproduction and sexuality, to free oneself from abusive or unsatisfactory marriages, to be free of the fear of violence at home and in public spaces, to protest without the fear of State repression and custodial violence.

Courtesy : http://www.hardnewsmedia.com/2013/02/5793