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Archives for : March2018

India – Dowry Death or Murder? #Vaw

As dowry deaths are embedded in archaic community and family norms, and in a corrupt and ineffective judicial and police system, curbing of this heinous crime remains a daunting challenge.

NEW DELHI, Mar 19 2018 (IPS) – Dowry deaths rose from about 19 per day in 2001 to 21 per day in 2016.

It is indeed alarming that the rise in dowry deaths is unabated despite greater stringency of anti-dowry laws. In 1961, the Dowry Prohibition Act made giving and taking of dowry, its abetment or the demand for it an offence punishable with imprisonment and fine or without the latter. This was an abysmal failure as dowries became a nationwide phenomenon, replacing bride price. More stringent laws followed. The Criminal Law Amendment Act in 1983 inserted a new section (498-A) to deal with persistent and grave instances of dowry demand and such offences were punishable with imprisonment extendable to three years. As cases of brutal harassment and dowry deaths continued to rise, another Act was passed in 1986, relating specifically to the offence of dowry death.

Geetika Dang

Such deaths were punishable with imprisonment for a period not less than seven years, but may extend to life imprisonment. The Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Altamas Kabir and H.L. Gokhale, in their judgement (Durga Prasad & Anr vs State of MP) on 14 May 2010, rejected an appeal for dowry death on the grounds that, apart from the fact that the woman had died on account of burn or bodily injury, otherwise than under normal circumstances, within seven years of her marriage, it had also to be shown that soon before her death, she was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband for, or in connection with, any demand for dowry. Only then would such death be called a “dowry death” and such husband or relative shall be deemed to have caused the death of the woman concerned. It is of course arguable that establishing priority in time of cruelty against the female spouse before her death or “suicide”—alleged or otherwise—is yet another major and nearly insurmountable hurdle in punishing the perpetrators of dowry deaths.

Conviction rates for dowry deaths at all-India level have hovered around a low of one-third of registered cases. In fact, the conviction rate was about 32% in 2001 and fell to about 30% in 2016, pointing to growing inefficiency of the judicial and police systems. Besides, in several states (notably Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Telangana), the conviction rates were abysmally low (10% or lower). Worse, in some of these states (notably, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh), there were sharp reductions from already low levels in 2001. The variation across states remained high in both years, suggesting that the gaps between high and low conviction rates were large.

Vani S. Kulkarni

Media reports abound in bestiality towards a bride, with the natal family failing to comply with hugely inflated dowry demands and subsequent extortionary demands. As if daily humiliation, wife beating, torture, threats of bodily harm, and forced sex with male relatives were not ghastly enough, often brutal killings through wife-burning, or asphyxiation, and not infrequently through hired assassins follow in quick succession. The natal family is left a silent spectator constrained by tradition, custom, lack of resources for legal redressal and not least by perceived difficulty of marrying another daughter. It is thus not an exaggeration that the distinction between dowry death and murder is blurry.

New insights emerge from our econometric analysis of panel data of dowry deaths at the state level, constructed from the National Crime Records Bureau for the period 2001-2016, and other supplementary data from the RBI and the Census. This allows us to isolate the contributions of several factors including marriage squeeze (age adjusted ratio of females to males), state affluence, conviction rates, nature of political regime, and the Supreme Court judgement of 2010 to the variation in the incidence of dowry deaths (or ratio of dowry deaths to women’s population in a state).

Raghav Gaiha

Marriage squeeze is used as a proxy for surplus of marriageable women over marriageable men or scarcity of the latter in a stylized marriage market. If there is a growing scarcity of such men in the marriage market, higher dowries are likely and so more dowry deaths may occur. Thus higher sex ratios result in more dowry deaths. The greater the affluence of a state, the higher was the incidence of dowry deaths. The effect of conviction is negative and significant, pointing to the important role of speedy convictions in lowering dowry deaths. We also examined whether coalitions of BJP and Congress governments at the state level were associated with dowry deaths. We find that both political regimes lowered dowry deaths, but with a larger reduction in BJP coalitions. Why coalition governments are more effective than regimes with one party needs further investigation.

Finally, as dowry deaths are embedded in archaic community and family norms, and in a corrupt and ineffective judicial and police system, curbing of this heinous crime remains a daunting challenge. Whether the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao campaign is a likely solution is over-optimistic, if not reductionist.

Geetika Dang is Independent Researcher, India; Vani S. Kulkarni is Lecturer in Sociology, University of Pennsylvania, USA; Raghav Gaiha is (Hon) Professorial Research Fellow, Global Development Institute, University of Manchester, England.

This story was originally published by Sunday Guardian

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Kerala teacher’s sexist remarks trigger topless ‘watermelon’ protest #Vaw


  • Scores of girl students of Farook College took out ‘watermelon march’ holding slices of watermelon in their hands and sought action against assistant professor Jouhar Munavvir T.
  • The teacher had said that girls were not wearing their hijab properly and were deliberately exposing their chest just like ‘slices of watermelons on display.’

Kerala professor’s remark that Muslim girls were not wearing the hijab properly and deliberately exposing their chests like “sliced watermelon” has triggered widespread protests across the state

Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram

Jouhar Munavvir T whose sexist comments have triggered protets in Kerala.
Jouhar Munavvir T whose sexist comments have triggered protets in Kerala. (photo/

A remark by a professor of a teachers’ training college in Kerala’s Kozhikode that Muslim girls were not wearing the hijab properly and deliberately exposing their chests like “sliced watermelon” has triggered widespread protests across the state by students with some women posting nude photographs.

Many student organisations protested outside Farook Training College, where Jouhar Munavvir T teaches, seeking action against him.

They said they will send slices of watermelons to the teacher just like the ‘Pink Chaddi’ campaign in response to the attack on women in a pub in Mangaluru in 2009 by activists of rightwing fringe group Sri Ram Sene.

“We will flood him with watermelons,” student activist P Ajitha said.

A few women students supporting the teacher also took out a rally on the campus whipping up tension in the college.

Students in other colleges also protested carrying sliced watermelons and sought strict action against Munavvir.

Some women even took to social media to post bare-breasted photos, which were removed by Facebook.

Television channel NDTV reported that 25-year-old Arathy SA was among those, who posted a nude picture, and that and her husband too shared the photo.

“I am upset with hypersexualisation of breasts by people. Whether it be professors in college or social media users seeing a model breastfeed and pose for a magazine. So I and my husband posted pictures of me nude,” Arathy was quoted as saying by the news channel.

“Just because people may find my breasts attractive, doesn’t mean they are entitled to violate me or my body,” Arathy added.

Activist Diya Sana from Kochi also posted the picture of one of her activist friends, using watermelons to suggestively cover her breasts and face.

Munavvir made the controversial remark while speaking at a religious seminar in Kozhikode in north Kerala recently.

“I am a teacher of a college where 80% of students are girls and a majority of them are Muslims. Though they wear the hijab, they expose some part of their chest defeating the very purpose of wearing them. They expose, you know like how we cut a slice of melon to see whether it is ripe or not,” Munavvir said.

He said parents and religious leaders should take note of such trends as they were un-Islamic and against the very tenets of the religion.

“You should see how they wear hijab. They cover their heads with a scarf. They wear hijab in a way their chest is not covered. We all know a woman’s bosom is one of the body parts that attract man most. But our girls expose their chest giving an impression that the rest of their body is like the exposed part,” he said.

The speech was later uploaded to social media sites and netizens started criticising the teacher for his “Taliban-like comments.”

However, principal of Farook College CA Jawahar said the teacher made the statement during a counselling session three months ago outside the college and it was unfair to whip it up now.

“He goes regularly for religious discourses. We have nothing to do with it and no student has filed a complaint in this regard,” he defended the teacher, saying only a portion of his speech was circulated.

Munavvir, a social science teacher, has been working with the college for the last six years


Facebook Blocks Accounts of Women For Their ‘Topless Protest’ Against Professor’s Sexist Remark

Kerala: Facebook Blocks Accounts of 2 Women For Their ‘Topless Protest’ Against Professor’s ‘Watermelon’ Remark on Female Breast

Thiruvananthapuram, Mar 19: Two women from Kerala went topless on social networking site Facebook to protest against a professor, who reportedly said that girl students of his college do not cover their chests with hijab but display them like the slice of watermelon.

A campaign against the professor of Farook Training College in Kozhikode was launched by a man called Vishnu shared his partner Arathy SA’s topless picture on Facebook in protest. Following the footsteps, Thiruvananthapuram-based Diya Sana posted pictures of a topless woman holding watermelons on the social networking site.

However, the Facebook has removed their pictures and blocked their accounts, the campaign has received both support and criticism. The professor’s had invited wrath after a voice clip allegedly from his speech during a family counselling went viral on social media.

“I am a teacher of a college where 80 per cent of the students are girls and of that, a majority are Muslims. These girls are not wearing the dress as per the religious tradition. They are not covering their chests with hijab. But showing part of it is like a slice of red watermelon being displayed,” he has been heard saying in the clip, as translated by The Deccan Chronicle newspaper.

The professor lashed out at girls wearing leggings, saying the girl students hold purdahdeliberately up to show off the leggings.  He went on to warn them that this kind of immoral dress style will lead them to lose both physical and spiritual worlds.

“It’s all your choice. Women should have the liberty to wear what they like. I wonder when would our society stop objectifying women?” Sana told Manorama. “What is wrong in uncovering your physique before people? The same social spaces which celebrate male bodies frown at female bodies and shame it. ‘Nudity’ becomes a taboo when a woman reveals her body. I have slammed this patriarchal attitude many times,” another woman, Rehana, was quoted as saying.

HT and India/com

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“Aadhaar is a license raj for fundamental rights” – Sr Adv. Meenakshi Arora

In today’s hearing on Aadhaar senior advocate Meenakshi Arora continued her submissions, appearing for Vickram Crishna and others. Her main contention was that one, collection, aggregation and retention of personal data on a mass scale under the Aadhaar Project is grossly disproportionate qua any purported object and therefore, is violative of the Right to Privacy. Two, Aadhaar impinges upon the Right to Dignity of the population, since it amounts to requiring a license for exercise of fundamental rights. Three, Aadhaar is violative of the Rights of Children.
Elaborating on the first point, Adv. Arora pointed out that Aadhaar Project’s mass collection and aggregation of personal data of all residents is in breach of fundamental human rights, including the Right to Privacy. In Digital Rights Ireland Ltd. v. Minister of Communications, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) held that the mass retention of individuals’ online traffic data, and disclosure of the same to law enforcement authorities, as invalid on the grounds of proportionality and violation of fundamental freedoms guaranteed under the Charter of the Fundamental Rights of the European Union (EU Charter).
The underlying premise and extent of freedom protected by the EU Charter is equivalent to the Rights guaranteed and protected by Part III of the Constitution of India, in particular with respect to the Right to Privacy. Adv. Arora referred to several European cases which clearly conclude that mere mass collection of data can lead to profiling and surveillance and aggregated data can reveal intimate private information about an individual, which leads to a feeling of being watched constantly, which has a chilling effect on the exercise of other fundamental rights such as the freedom of speech and expression. She said that collection of data and retention under Aadhaar is in the nature of “general warrant” and the same is impermissible without an emergent situation shown by the state.
Reading from European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) judgement dated 12 January 2016 in Szabó and Vissy v. Hungary, she pointed out “in matters affecting fundamental rights it would be contrary to the rule of law, one of the basic principles of a democratic society enshrined in the convention, for a discretion granted to the executive in the sphere of national security to be expressed in terms of unfettered power. Consequently, the law must indicate the scope of any such discretion conferred on the competent authorities and the manner of its exercise with sufficient clarity, having regard to the legitimate aim of the measure in question, to give the individual adequate protection against arbitrary interference.”
Adv.Arora pointed out that ”Aadhaar is a pancopticon that reduces all of us from being citizens to being mere subjects! Reads the passage from Fali Nariman’s during emergency that described how the situation was…the emergency having been a panopticon…Aadhaar becomes a license raj for Fundamental rights! She closed her arguments by reading through her notes on Aadhaar violating Child Rights and reiterates Aadhaar being unconstitutional as it fundamentally alters the relationship between state and citizen and reduces the citizens to being mere subjects.”
Following Meenakshi Arora, Sajjan Povayya, Sr. Advocate took over, arguing for Justice Byra Reddy, an intervenor in the matter. “Law hitherto dealt only with men and matter. Information technology is a totally different beast,” he pointed out. “Mass collection of biometrics is bad in law. Even if we were to use biometrics, a smart card or a chip card with biometrics stored locally is clearly a lesser intrusive alternative. No possibility of aggregation. No violation of informational self- determination. Section 2 (g) of the Aadhaar Act has an open ended definition of biometrics which is bad in law, he argued. “Section 2 (g) can tomorrow include DNA! Can collection of DNA for giving someone 2 kg of rice be a least intrusive alternative,” he asks. Adv. Povayya referred to the Census decision of German Court and how despite it being in an era where data processing was much slower, with computational power being limited, the German Court had the foresight to strike it down. “Collection of non-anonymized for unspecified or unspecifiable purposes is bad in law. He concluded by citing how biometrics for border control stands on a different footing.
In the post-lunch session Sr. Ad. PV Surendran, appearing for Kisan Sabha, intervenors, began his submissions by saying that the Aadhaar Act is irrational and violative of Article 14. It just cannot work.  He referred to the Brandon Mayfield fingerprints incident where FBI stood exposed on its fingerprint claims. Sikri J asked if they can rely on it as Union will show many to the contrary. PVS replies saying it is the duty of the Court to examine both opinions and conclude. Adv. Surendran then refers to Hans Mathew study, which said at any point the minimum failure rate of deduplication will be 1 in 121. PVS says in India’s population, this is a huge number and this alone is enough that renders the project irrational. He said that two more features of the project aggravate the irrationality: No opt-out and total absence of control to the citizen and asymmetry of control.
CU Singh, Sr. Advocate made a short submission on Aadhaar and child rights. He argues that since a child has no power or right to bind herself to anything, there is no compelling state interest to mandate Aadhaar and Aadhaar linkages with all sorts of things amounts to asking for an unconstitutional waiver of rights. He referred to the absurdity of taking heel prints for infants! Refers again to Article 21A and how Aadhaar makes 21A, an absolute constitutional right subject to legislation subordinate to the Constitution! He argued that the Aadhaar case deals with personal data jurisprudence…the whole Aadhaar Act is created upon the architecture that personal data is some national resource. Court has to establish clearly here that citizens don’t squat on their own personal data! Data is NOT the new oil, he asserts. CU Singh concludes by highlighting the plight of the homeless from his brief submissions.
Among the others who made their submissions were Sanjay Hegde, representing a conscientious objector, John Abraham who challenges Aadhaar as a violation of Article 25, that is Freedom of Conscience and Freedom of religion. Adv. Hegde said that Mr Abraham simply contends that he cannot in good faith enrol for Aadhaar and that there has to be an exception for conscientious objectors.
Adv. Jayna Kothari represented an intervenor organisation representing transgender and sexual minority rights. She said Aadhaar Act discriminates against sexual minorities. While biometrics has been argued at length, the same has not been done with demographic data and its implications. Aadhaar is being made mandatory for almost everything but transgenders cannot get Aadhaar because they do not have gender identity documents that Aadhaar requires.
Prasanth Sugathan made a brief point about NRIs. The way it is implemented, authorities are not sensitive (cannot be sensitive) to the fact that NRIs are not eligible to get Aadhaar number. His petitioner for instance had to give someone else’s Aadhaar to get a phone connection. There is no rule of law for NRIs. The Attorney General will begin his arguments tomorrow.

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JNU Professor Atul Johri Accused of Sexual Harassment Arrested #Vaw

 8 FIRs registered against him

Police have arrested professor Atul Johri of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) for allegations of sexual harassment levelled against him by students, according to several media reports.

File image of JNU professor Atul Johri.

File image of JNU professor Atul Johri.

“A notice has been issued to the professor to cooperate in the police investigation. He had failed to appear on Monday. We have summoned him today (Tuesday),” a senior police officer said before the professor was arrested and the questioning took place.

“We have recorded the statements of the complainants. A few more female students have approached the police and levelled similar allegations against Johri. It is being examined. Legal action will be initiated. The investigation is being closely monitored by Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police Monika Bhardwaj,” Joint Commissioner of Police Ajay Chaudhary said.

The students have accused the police of shielding Johri from arrest. Some students told News18 that the professor has still not been suspended from his post at the university and it took the police over 72 hours to act.

The Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) said in a statement on Monday, “The Delhi Police postponed the recording (of the statement) of Atul Johri till tomorrow. This (recording) could have been done today itself. We believe that the postponement was done to give him more time. Since an FIR has been registered, he should be interrogated in custody and not given time to protect himself. By giving him more time, the Delhi Police is actively protecting him.”

Besides the students, JNU professors have also been demanding action against Johri.

Action against Johri was taken after clashes broke out between Delhi Police and JNU students in front of Vasant Kunj police station, where students were protesting against the professor on Monday. The protesting students blocked the highway, breached police barricades, and refused to attend classes until action is taken against the teacher.

According to News18, the police have pressed charges against Johri under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and Section 509 of the Indian Penal Code (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman). The report added that the sections under the Indian Penal Code are non-bailable offences with a punishment of over three years or above.

News18 reported that Johri will be taken to Patiala House court after his arrest

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Miscreants vandalise Periyar statue in TN’s Pudukkottai district #WTFnews

The incident took place either late on Monday night or in the early hours of Tuesday.

A statue of Dravidian stalwart EV Ramasamy, popularly known as Periyar, was vandalised in Alangudi town in Tamil Nadu’s Pudukkottai district.

The incident took place either late on Monday night or in the early hours of Tuesday.

A policeman at the Alangudi DSP office said, “The police received information about it at 6:15 am on Tuesday, after a local called the Deputy Commissioner’s office on seeing the broken head.”

The police visited the spot and are looking into the incident. A large number of locals have also gathered at the site. The police are yet to register a case.

When asked about the possibility of the miscreants being caught on camera, the police said that there was no CCTV footage yet. Further details are awaited.

Earlier in March, BJP leader H Raja had stoked controversy by threatening to vandalise statues of EV Ramasamy. Raja’s comments came after BJP workers razed a statue of Lenin in Tripura after the party won the Assembly polls in the state.

Within 24 hours, a statue of Periyar was vandalised in Vellore district’s Tirupattur town.


Two men, Muthuraman and Francis, damaged the glasses and the nose of the statue. The police arrested them immediately.

The fallout of this incident was almost immediate. Within hours, petrol bombs were hurled in a BJP office in Coimbatore. Four members of TPDK were arrested for this.


Following this, protests erupted across the state, with students getting into a scuffle with cops in Madurai. Over 300 people were detained across Tamil Nadu.

After receiving heavy criticism, H Raja deleted the post and claimed that it was put up by an admin and not by him, and expressed his ‘heartfelt regret’ for the post.

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No means no, says judge and convicts lawyer for harassing female colleague #Goodnews

No means no, says judge and convicts lawyer for harassing female colleague
THANE: “No means no.” The Thane magistrate court recently said these words while convicting a 45-year-old practising lawyer and sentencing him to three years’ rigorous imprisonment for “outraging the modesty” of a colleague who repeatedly rejected his marriage proposal.
Magistrate R T Ingale on Monday held advocate Rajendra Galange guilty of pestering the female lawyer with a marriage proposal despite her clear rejection of it.

“When a woman says no, it is really a no. But some men take it as a yes and repeat themselves,” said magistrate Ingale while sentencing Galange for causing mental and physical trauma to the female advocate.

Additional public prosecutor Rashmi Kshirsagar told the court that the female lawyer, who is divorced, practises in Thane court. “She had uploaded her profile on a matrimonial website for remarriage. The accused initially sent his proposal online but she turned it down.”

 Galange is said to have then waylaid her at the Kalyan court complex and once again proposed marriage, which she politely refused. He continued to call her on her phone several times, forcing her to block his number. “On September 16, 2013, the complainant was at her office in Naupada, when Galange walked in around 9.15pm and once again proposed marriage. He then went on to hurl abuses at her and threaten her. Those present in the office intervened and the accused was taken to the police station where an offence was registered,” said Kshirsagar.

The defence lawyer argued that the office of an advocate is accessible to everyone. The magistrate, though, said it is not a public place, it is a private office and permission is required to enter it. “If the analogy of the defence is accepted, then the office of an advocate may be open for public and this would not be accepted.”

When the complainant repeatedly rejected the accused’s proposal, it implied her refusal to him to enter her office, said the magistrate. It therefore amounts to trespassing. In his order, the magistrate further said, “It is brought to my notice that even after her insistence, the accused approached the complainant and threatened that she withdraw the case.”

The accused was convicted under Indian Penal Code sections 452 (house trespass after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint), 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) and 504 (intentional insult with an intent to provoke breach of peace.

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