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Archives for : October2018

Bangalore – Noted artist accused in public over child abuse #MeToo

Noted artist accused in public over child abuse
By: Durba Ghosh

The showdown took place at an event in Metro venue

There was something crackling in the air at the Rangoli Metro Art Centre around 11 am on Saturday. John Devaraj, award-winning art director, sculptor, painter and musician, was on stage launching his illustrated book A legend Wisdom (a story about sharing) through music and dance.

Clad in cargo pants, black tee and trademark cap John began strumming the guitar, playing the harmonica fixed to a neck brace while the bells on wrist jangled. He crooned verses from the book: There was a beautiful charcoal black raven/From the evergreen tropical haven….Kaa Kaa Koo, we caw for you/We cry for you, we laugh for you…. And then everything caved in.

A woman’s voice from the middle of the mid-afternoon sparse audience screeched: “John, stop abusing children…” It was Peggy Devaraj, the artist’s sister-in-law.

“John, I have told you, stop working with children. Do your work, art, songs and all, but please stop abusing the children.” A family friend piped in: “Make it sexual abuse, not just abuse.” Peggy: “Yes, you have abused our daughters, and god knows who else. This has to stop.”

On stage, the song had stopped and John stood rooted to the spot. Till a dapperly-dressed man jumped on to the stage and grabbed John’s hand. It was his younger brother Sebastian Devaraj. “Stop this right now,” he said, “and answer our questions. Why don’t you own up to what you did? You need to realise your problem and stay away from children.”

John then found his voice: “Please don’t do this here, this is a public forum,” he said. “We can talk after this.” Sebastian was in no mood to relent. “No, I will not go until you stop doing this.” Peggy: “Stop pushing us out. The world needs to know what you have done.”The audience remained stunned.

Victim, mom speak out, after two decades

The alleged victim who is now 30 and in Bangkok spoke to Bangalore Mirror on Saturday. Here is what she had to say:
“It happened a long time ago when I was six or so. It went on for several years, but I did not tell anyone because I actually did not know what to do. I came out with it years after another incident involving the daughter of a family friend.

The purpose is not to shame him, but actually make him understand that this is a mental problem and he needs to consciously stop. He works with so many children, and those kids are at a risk. I wrote a mail to my family saying what all happened and my exasperation.”

Earlier, her mother, who is in Bengaluru, told this paper: “I had no inclination of what happened until my daughter came out with it years later, almost after two decades. I once found a naked photo of my daughter in John’s room. I asked him about it and he made some vague statement about how he had photos of all his nieces.

I never thought about in the lines of sexual abuse. I remember my daughter getting very agitated and she would flare up easily as she was growing up. She sometimes blames me that I did not do much for her, but I didn’t know. When all this came out, we actually organised an intervention with John and told him to just ask for forgiveness. But he denied it completely.

He is very talented and he is a great artist, but this is a problem which needs to stop. It’s actually my brother and his wife who have decided to take up the matter with him.”

John became belligerent and shoved his brother. Within minutes the scene turned into a wayside brawl. All along, Sebastian kept telling John: “I am here to stop you from abusing children.” John Devaraj is the founder of Bornfree Art School that educates street children and working children through arts. A number of his students were present at the venue. After the initial shock thawed a bit the students intervened and took John away to the green room where John locked himself in.

Within 10 minutes the cops intervened, asked everyone to leave and brought the shutters down. Speaking to this reporter, Sebastian said: “John abused my niece when she was just six-year-old (the girl was John’s sister’s daughter) in our house in Chamrajpet.

She wrote us an email about the incident in 2002 when she was 20 years old.” Today, she is a 30-year-old lawyer, wife and mother of three children living in Bangkok.

Speaking over the phone, the victim’s mother said: “We had immediately organised an intervention with John and asked him to apologize and work towards healing this behavior. But he denied it completely.” John confirmed this incident. “It came as a complete shock to me then,” he said.

When Bangalore Mirror spoke to his niece in Bangkok she said, “Yes, he abused me when I six-years-old and it continued for several years.” (See box). Sebastian also accuses John of abusing two other girls between the year 2000 and 2002. “One was the daughter of an Indo-African family friend. She was just nine-year-old and the other was an orphan being cared for by the family. It was only when these two cases came out in the open at a family function did my 20-year-old niece decide to reveal her ordeal to us.”

The family incidentally had arranged for counselling and treatment for the nine-year-old with a renowned psychiatrist at Nimhans, who confirmed the incident to Bangalore Mirror on conditions of anonymity due to patient-doctor confidentiality clause.

Till date, no police complaint has been filed by the victims or the family. However, Sebastian and his wife had approached the The Concerned for Working Children in 2002. “But the case couldn’t be taken to its logical conclusion because they wanted proof and wanted my niece and other victims to come in person. We couldn’t have done that to our children,” Sebastian says. Attempts to reach CWC officials for a comment failed.

Why didn’t they lodge a police complaint?

“Since the incident happened many years ago, it was difficult to provide evidence. And also, due to the shame and stigma involved in going public. But now, I just want him to stop doing this to other kids,” the niece says. Sebastian adds: “Most of his victims are probably vulnerable and unable to reveal to the world what has happened to them.”

However, some of John’s students present at the event defended their mentor vehemently and termed the accusations “utterly false,” and demanded that the alleged victim be brought in person “if you have the guts”.

WILL FILE DEFAMATION SUIT AGAINST FAMILY’

John Devaraj told this paper that he was being “falsely accused by his brother and his wife over a property dispute. They have been following me around and accusing me of abuse for long,” he says. “But this is the first time they have done it in public.” He’s challenged his family to take legal action.

“If the allegations are true they should have filed a legal complaint when it was fresh. What is the point of accusing me after 25 years,” asks John, who vows that this incident will not stop him from working with children.

“I will continue doing what I have been doing. I want to take care of these children.” John says he will file a defamation suit against those who accuse him of child sexual abuse.

WHO IS JOHN DEVARAJ?
He is a multi-faceted painter, sculptor, cinema and stage art director, filmmaker, musician and according to his website, ‘Consultant for culture, youth and children’s organization and events’; art director for the eternally popular television series Malgudi Days and National Award-winning films (Kubbi matthu iyayla; Mane (Hindi), Muthina hara, Nakkala Rajakumari (Children’s movie, Kannada)).

He is also the creator of Legacies and legends a photographic project to create child historians and record dreams and aspirations of working and street children. He is the founder of Bornfree Art School (2005) a special school for street children, working children and “freed bonded labor children”. According to the school website, its objective is to educate and develop these children through the arts (sculpture, painting, dance, music, theatre, photography, filmmaking, reading, writing and mathematics) and introduce them back into the mainstream.

https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/cover-story/noted-artist-accused-in-public-over-child-abuse/articleshow/50701148.cms

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Filmmaker Nishtha Jain accuses Journalist Vino Dua of stalking, sexual harassment #MeToo

Vinod Dua faces #MeToo heat: Vinod Dua, who works as a consulting editor at The Wire Hindi and currently anchors The Wire’s ‘Jan Gan Man Ki Baat’, has been accused of stalking and sexually harassing a woman filmmaker. Taking to her Facebook handle, filmmaker Nishtha Jain has put out a post accusing Vinod Dua of stalking her and using cuss words against her. According to Nishtha, the incident took place in June 1989 when Nishtha Jian, then a graduate from Delhi’s Jamia Mass Communication Centre, met Dua for the first time during a job interview.

Image result for nishtha jain vinod dua

 

Vinod Dua, who works as a consulting editor at The Wire Hindi and currently anchors The Wire’s ‘Jan Gan Man Ki Baat’, has been accused of stalking and sexually harassing a woman filmmaker. Taking to her Facebook handle, filmmaker Nishtha Jain has put out a post accusing Vinod Dua of stalking her and using cuss words against her. According to Nishtha, the incident took place in June 1989 when Nishtha Jian, then a graduate from Delhi’s Jamia Mass Communication Centre, met Dua for the first time during a job interview.

Nishtha Jain claimed that she was being interviewed by Vinod Dua for his upcoming political satire show. Jain alleged that even before she could settle in, Dua opened with a lewd sexual joke which made her feel uncomfortable to the core. During the interview, Vinod Dua asked her expectations of salary, to this Nishtha Jain quoted the amount which most of the graduates were getting. She said that she was fine with getting Rs 5,000. Listening to the amount, Vinod Dua insulted her by asking stature (Tumhari aukaat kya hai) (What is your stature).

Ashamed of getting such a reply, Nishtha Jain left his office and later started a job with Newstrack.

Accusing Vinod Dus of stalking, Nishtha Jain said that Dua always had the idea about when she was working late. Jain claims that one day she saw Vinod Dua at her parking. She said that he wanted to talk about something. Thinking that he wanted to apologise over his rude behaviour she went to him. As soon as she entered the car, he started slobbering all over her face.

She added that he tried to follow her again at the parking lot but she dodged him. The folloiwng development comes to light when both daughter, Mallika Dua, and father, Vinod Dua, slammed Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar following his ‘misogynistic’ remarks against Mallika Dua. Reacting to Akshay Kumar’s remarks, Vinod Dua claimed that he would ‘screw this cretin’.

Feeling sorry for Mallika Dua as his father too belongs to the hall of shame, Nishtha Jain said that she won’t be surprised if he denies the allegations as has always been an opportunistic person.

Nishtha Jain, on Facebook

It was June 1989. I still remember the day because it was my birthday. There was extended family at home and mom was preparing for a little celebration in the evening. I was a recent graduate from Jamia Mass Communication Centre. I put on my favourite saree and left home with a fair amount of confidence for a job interview with a famous TV personality who had had a very popular show called Janvani. He was starting a new gig. It was supposed to be a political satire and I was interested. I was greeted with his typical sardonic smile. Before I could settle down he began telling a lewd sexual joke in that soft voice, barely opening his mouth. I don’t remember the joke but it wasn’t worth a laugh, just dirty. I felt hot in my face and I sat there most probably with an angry look. He explained the job and asked me what my expectations were and I quoted an amount that most graduates were getting at the time – 5,000 rupees. He looked at me and said, ‘Tumhari aukat kya hai?’ I dont know what had hit me. I was stunned. What was this about? I had faced sexual harassment early in life but this sort of humiliation was a new experience. By the time I reached home I was in tears. My birthday was ruined. I did tell my brother and friends about it. Soon after, I got a job as a video editor in Newstrack. I don’t know how this man learnt about it. He had friends in my office who would inform him when I would be working late. One night as I came down to the parking, he was there. He said, he wanted to talk to me and asked me to enter his car – a black SUV/Jeep, I don’t remember the make as I’m not into automobiles. Assuming that he wanted to apologise for his behaviour, I entered the car but before I could even settle down he began slobbering all over my face. I managed to get out and get into my office car and leave. I spotted him again in the parking in the coming nights and would go right back and wait till someone was ready to leave along with me in the office car. After a few days he stopped stalking me. The man was Vinod Dua. When I read about his outrage against Akshay Kumar’s sexist words to his daughter Malika Dua, I said to myself he’s obviously forgotten that he was no less sexist, no less misogynist, no less creepy a sexual harasser, potential rapist. If he did to me, I’m sure he would have done it to other women. Today, he does programmes explaining the world what constitutes sexual harassment. He should stop everything and look into his own shady past. I saw him on a thread which was expressing outrage the false accusations against Varun Grover. I could see what his mind was cooking up when stories against him spill out. I won’t be surprised if he denies. He’s always been an opportunist. #MeToo.

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India – #Aadhaar is useless for identification’

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Interview with Anupam Saraph, an expert on governance and informatics.

AN expert on complex systems, governance and informatics, Anupam Saraph advises governments and businesses across the world. A teacher and former IT Adviser to Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, he challenged Aadhaar as part of the Nagrik Chetna Manch. In the wake of the Supreme Court judgment, he spoke to Frontline on its implications. Excerpts from the interview.

How will the Supreme Court verdict affect companies such as Paytm that require Aadhaar for authentication?

Companies that use Aadhaar for authentication are now saved from the mistaken belief that Aadhaar authentication is more secure than traditional username and password challenges. Unlike Aadhaar biometrics which are neither certified nor controlled by the person to whom they belong, passwords are in the control of users. Unlike biometrics, which can’t be changed if compromised, passwords can be reset.

Aadhaar biometrics are not certified by the UIDAI [Unique Identification Authority of India] as belonging to the person who is being authenticated. The biometrics associated with an Aadhaar number can be changed by processes (both legitimate and illegitimate) outside the control of fintech companies. They, therefore, had no way of guaranteeing risk-free outcomes with Aadhaar.

These companies will now be required to shift back to a more robust non-Aadhaar KYC [know your customer] that reduces significantly the risk of benami, or proxy, bank and wallet accounts using Aadhaar.

This is a win for fintech companies that want to prevent money laundering and financial terrorism. This is a win for the RBI, which prior to 2011 had clearly indicated that the use of Aadhaar in banking was not only against its own extant guidelines but also against the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, the Basel Standards and the government’s concerns about financing terrorism. It had highlighted that nowhere in the world are third-party identification systems used in banking.

While the Supreme Court verdict does not make Aadhaar compulsory, it still needs to be linked to PAN. Bank accounts need PAN and some other places also recognise PAN authentication. Can there be leakages through the PAN route?

The UIDAI’s affidavit to the Supreme Court indicates that more than 51 per cent of the Aadhaar numbers have never been used for biometric or iris authentication anywhere. So, it is obvious that most of them are likely to be ghosts or duplicates. Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act, which requires the linking of Aadhaar to PAN for income tax purposes, if upheld, will continue to generate fake PAN through fake Aadhaar. This will continue to generate benami bank accounts that are Aadhaar-enabled with these fake PAN numbers.

The concern is not about public exposure of Aadhaar numbers. It is about treating these uncertified, unverified and unaudited numbers as identity and enabling money transfers to benami bank accounts created through such Aadhaar numbers.

Can companies and banks that have collected Aadhaar data destroy the data now or will they still be stored somewhere? Also how do users know that the data have been deleted?

Delinking Aadhaar, while an essential process for financial and other institutions to reduce risks, is not sufficient to protect an individual or those institutions. Financial institutions need to run a campaign now to cleanse themselves of the Aadhaar virus to protect themselves from financial scams and unprecedented risks, which are outside their ability to contain. Aadhaar is not KYC.

A person’s safety cannot be guaranteed by just delinking his/her Aadhaar number. As long as uncertified, unverified and unaudited Aadhaar is treated as identity, it will expose one to identity fraud. As long as Aadhaar numbers, or any identity document based on Aadhaar numbers, are used to make Aadhaar-enabled payments, they will continue to enable money transfers to benami bank accounts created through Aadhaar.

In order to protect against harm from Aadhaar, the RBI needs to ensure two things. First, that banks revert to keeping a person’s identification documents for KYC, as long as they are not generated using that person’s Aadhaar and, unlike the Aadhaar, are certified, verified or audited by some government agency. Second, the National Payments Corporation of India’s [NPCI] Aadhaar-enabled payments should be delicensed, and no money transfers with Aadhaar or documents derived from Aadhaar should be allowed.

Aadhaar was also linked to the Prime Minister’s Digital India programme. Now that the court has ruled that private companies cannot use Aadhaar, what happens to the Aadhaar-enabled infrastructure that was created?

The UIDAI has stated, in response to an RTI [Right to Information] query, that it is not responsible to certify the biometric or demographic data, or even the use of this data. It does not certify the identity, address or date of birth of anyone. It has also stated that it cannot retrieve a unique record with a biometric. It has no idea of the number of unique biometrics in its database. It has also stated, under RTI, that it does not identify anyone. It merely authenticated the biometric or demographic data associated with an Aadhaar number. The UIDAI has also reiterated, under RTI, that it is not responsible for any transactions undertaken with Aadhaar.

The Aadhaar data, in legal terms, are completely useless. Those monetising Aadhaar recognised its unprecedented power to create ghost, proxy or benami transactions, including financial transactions, property transactions, and for delivering subsidies, benefits or services. That is precisely why, driven by Aadhaar, exclusion, identity frauds and associated crime have grown the black economy exponentially.

It is unlikely that this interest will wane without banning the use of any uncertified ID for any legal transactions, banning authentication in place of identification, and destroying the Aadhaar data.

As Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said in his dissenting judgment that there was no institutional accountability for Aadhaar. What happens when there is fraud or data breach? Also, can we then believe the statistics rolled out by the UIDAI, such as its claim that Aadhaar saved Rs.90,000 crore?

Justice Chandrachud is absolutely correct in pointing out that there is no institutional accountability for Aadhaar. This is true in more ways than just being accountable to another body. The UIDAI has no accountability in either the issue or the use of Aadhaar. It takes no responsibility to the legal validity of any Aadhaar number or the data associated with it. It takes no responsibility to the use or the consequences of the use of any Aadhaar number.

The real worry is the UIDAI’s lack of accountability to the creating and usurping of identities. The real worry is about the UIDAI’s lack of accountability to the use of these identities to exclude, cause civil death, siphon subsidies, benefits and services and commit frauds. Since the UIDAI is unable to state how many unique biometrics or persons exist in its database, there is no possibility that it can identify ghosts in its own or other beneficiary databases. Asked under the RTI, neither the Ministry of Finance nor any other Ministry has been able to indicate the existence of beneficiary databases for various government benefits, subsidies or services. They do not even know who the custodians of beneficiary databases are. There is no possibility that they can claim to have weeded out duplicates from databases whose existence they are unaware of. It is an insult to the intelligence of Indians to claim that Aadhaar has plugged any leakage or saved any money.

You say Aadhaar does not authenticate or identify a person. Can you explain why biometrics are not a good metric for identification?

It is like a lock authenticating the key that tries to unlock it. It cannot identify the person holding the key. The biometric is the key authenticated by the record associated with an Aadhaar number. It cannot identify whose biometric it is. Not only can the biometric associated with an Aadhaar number be changed by gaining access to the record through legitimate or illegitimate means, but the stored biometric can also be one of the means of anyone being authenticated using Aadhaar. When Aadhaar authenticates, there is no identification.

Identification requires the persons identifying to be co-present. It requires them to take responsibility for the consequences of (mis)identification. The UIDAI is not co-present and takes no responsibility of identification.

The UIDAI does not certify the identity, address or date of birth of anyone. This destroys the possibility of relying on the data associated with the Aadhaar number to identify anyone. The UIDAI does not even know the primary documents used as proof of identity and proof of address to issue any Aadhaar number. This means that it is not possible to challenge an authentication with the primary documents to verify the identity of a person.

It has admitted that the Aadhaar Act defines authentication, not identification. This removes any ambiguity that Aadhaar, with or without biometric, is useless to identify any person.

We hear a lot about how big businesses use data. Could you please explain how they monetise it and also address the fears around its misuse?

Businesses can use data to address the needs of their customers better. This is how businesses interested in serving their customers monetise their data legitimately.

Data is misused when third parties, in the name of innovation and digital economy, gain access to transaction data a person generates in his/her relationships with governments or service providers and exploit them. Aadhaar is the handle that enables these third parties to generate transactions that one did not undertake. These transactions are indistinguishable from those one makes. Third parties with access to Aadhaar data are also able to generate transactions of ghost and duplicate Aadhaar numbers that are proxy to those laundering money or committing crimes. Such misuse hurts not only individuals but also financial and governance institutions.

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India – Central university teachers allege ‘gag order’

University Grants Commission office in New Delhi. FileUniversity Grants Commission office in New Delhi. File   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

With government service rules kicking in, they can’t bring out publications taking a critical view of policies.

Writings of eminent academics taking a critical view of contemporary policies — such as demonetisation, GST, job creation, legislation or foreign policy — may soon be a thing of the past, if the writer teaches at a Central university.

With the University Grants Commission writing to all Central universities some months ago that service rules applicable to Union government servants should also apply to Central universities, criticism of government will henceforth constitute a violation of service rules.

The Central Civil Services Conduct Rules make the point clear: “No government servant shall, in any radio broadcast, telecast through any electronic media or in any document published in his name or anonymously, pseudonymously or in the name of any other person or in communication to the press or in any public utterance, make any statement of fact or opinion which has the effect of an adverse criticism of any current or recent policy of the Central government or a State government.”

These rules when applied to the academia will hit publications and also critical enquiry in the classroom, scholars said.

“It will be an excuse to harass people. You can’t give a lecture, publish articles and books. You will have to see, for instance, whether an academic paper hampers relations with a foreign country. It may well be non-enforceable but can be used to harass people,” Professor Madhavan Palat, who has taught at Jawaharlal Nehru University, told The Hindu. “We will have the kind of publications that military men write, which are mainly technical in nature.”

Indeed, many economists had critiqued demonetisation in 2016 and 2017. The critiques included a book Demonetisation Decoded co-authored by three JNU economics Professors.

Eminent historian K.N. Panikkar said, “It will be the end of the university. It is meant to be a place for ideas to flourish.”

Flight of talent

A Professor who did not wish to be named said that the rule could lead to a flight of eminent academics to private universities.

“However, even private universities cannot afford to irk the government,” Professor Palat cautioned.

“Academic freedom in class for a critical discussion on policies may suffer, something that disciplines like law, political science, economics or journalism, may bear the brunt of,” said a Central university Professor who did not wish to be named. There are already rumblings of dissent, with the Federation of Central Universities Teachers’ Associations issuing a statement: “Several of the new Central universities created by the Central Universities Act, 2009 have adopted the CCS Conduct Rules. The Central University of Kerala recently invoked CCS Conduct Rules to suspend a faculty member for a Facebook post criticising the university administration for getting a student arrested. Now, the net is being cast wider to include the older Central Universities — the most recent case being the imposition of CCS Conduct Rules in Jawaharlal Nehru University.” The statement saw the move as “curtailing democratic rights to participate in a host of activities

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/central-university-teachers-allege-gag-order/article25216797.ece

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Why Was Article 355 Not Invoked During Gujarat Riots, Asks Ex V-P Hamid Ansari

 

    Former Vice-President of India Hamid Ansari. — File photo

Caravan News

NEW DELHI — While speaking at the launch of a book — ‘The Sarkari Mussalman’ by Lt General (Retired) Zameer Uddin Shah, in New Delhi, Mr Hamid Ansari, former vice-President of India, referring to Gujarat riots of 2002 asked why Article 355 of the Constitution was not invoked by the then union government even when its defence minister was on the spot.

Lt General (Retired) Zameer Uddin Shah, who had led the Army Division that quelled the Gujarat riots in the state, has narrated his observations of the Gijarat riots being at the helm of military affairs in the book.

The former vice president also said there were “no military solutions to insurgency” as normalcy can be restored only by winning the hearts and minds of people, reports PTI.

“‘The initial reaction of the civil administration was tardy; curfew had been ordered but not enforced; no attempt were made to convene peace committees and attitude of police was partisan’,” Mr Ansari quoted some of the observations from General Shah’s book on the riots.

But, Hamid Ansari observed that the book was silent “about the role of the political leadership”.

“If the civil and police administration fails to respond to a massive failure of law and order, where does the responsibility rest in a democratic and parliamentary system,” he asked.

“Why was Article 355 of the Constitution that makes it a duty of the Union to protect a state against internal disturbance not invoked even when the centre had the benefit of Raksha Mantri on the spot?” he asked, according to report.

Article 355 pertains to ‘duty of the Union to protect states against external aggression and internal disturbance’.

The reportage of Gujarat happenings in the national and international media was extensive and even the NHRC took note of it, Mr Ansari said.

“In an interview to a Malayalam weekly in 2005, former president KR Narayanan had revealed his remonstrations with the government and observed, and I quote (Narayanan) — ‘Military was sent but not given the power to shoot. And, there was a conspiracy involving the central and the state government behind the Gujarat riots’,” Hamid Asari said.

The book has kicked up a controversy, alleging that transport and other logistics support “arrived a day later” for the army troops that had landed in Ahmedabad after communal riots broke out in the state.

The book launch ceremony at the India International Centre, New Delhi was also attended by General Shah’s brother and actor Naseeruddin Shah, besides other prominent persons.

(With inputs from PTI)

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Documentray reveals Sangh Parivar behind Kandhamal Violence, innocent christians faurdulently framed

 

Delhi Minorities Commission demands justice for the 7 innocent  Christians languishing in jail for last 10 years and said real culprits be punished.

Ghazanfar Abbas | Caravan Daily

NEW DELHI — Concerned over the plight of seven Christians languishing in jail for ten years after being wrongly implicated in the murder of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, the Delhi Minorities Commission (DMC) has raised its voice for speedy justice in the case. Despite being no evidence against them, they were imprisoned and no action was taken against the real culprits responsible for the killing and Christian community was deliberately targeted in Kandhamal violence in August-September 2008, allegedly by Sangh as claimed in the Documentary.

“It is shocking to know about the plight of these innocent people who had to spend 10 years in jail for no fault of theirs. Our mandate is to speak up for the voiceless and minorities. That is why the Commission decided to host this programme to spread awareness about the injustice to the Christian minorities,” said Dr Zafarul Islam Khan, DMC chairman. He was speaking on the occasion of the release of a chilling documentary titled, “The agony of Kandhamal” screened at Delhi secretariat auditorium on Thursday.

While speaking to Caravan Daily, Dr Khan said, “It is not right that there is no hearing on the appeal of the accused. Judiciary must take up such cases on priority basis. We want to create public awareness about such instances of injustices, so that they don’t recur. We will also write to National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), so that the innocents get justice and the real culprits are punished.”

The Commission spoke about the delay in disposing of the appeal of the seven Christians of Kandhamal namely Bhaskar Sunamajhi, Bijay Sanseth, Buddhadev Nayak, Durjo Sunamajhi, Gornath Chalanseth, Munda Badamajhi and Sanatan Badamajhi. Among them, Munda Badamajhi is mentally challenged and other six are illiterates. They were convicted by the lower Court to life sentences. The appeal of the convicts has been pending before the Odisha High court since November 2013.

In the violence that continued over a month, at least 100 people were reportedly (37 as per government records) killed. According to the National People’s Tribunal headed by retired Delhi High Court judge AP Shah, more than 600 villages were ransacked in which 232 churches destroyed, 5,600 houses were looted and burnt and 55,000 people compelled to flee their homes.

DMC member Adv.  Anastasia Gill, convener of the programme, said that commission’s team after visiting Kandhamal found that at least 500 families never returned to their homes and got no rehabilitation either. “This is the time for all the minorities to join hands together and challenge the fascist forces that are trying to divide people in the name of religion,” she emphasised.

Anto Akkara, journalist, speaking at the release of documentary ‘The agony of Kandhamal’ in New Delhi.

Sangh Parivar behind Kandhamal violence

The documentary, produced by noted journalist Anto Akkara, captures in chilling detail how despite curfew in the region, Swami’s body was paraded for two days across Kandhamal to instigate people against Christians. The case against the seven accused is fabricated and NHRC didn’t take any action to come to their rescue. However, the Hindu neighbours of the seven imprisoned Christians have given statements in their favour.

Akkara said that it was the Visha Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Praveen Togadia who announced the seven Christians’ names as the killers of Swami not the police. “Two honest fast track judges were transferred and a third one signed the conviction which a legal luminary described as ‘written outside’,” said Akkara.

Audience listening to speakers at the launch of the documentary.

Akkara has also written three investigative books: ‘Kandhamal- A Blot on Indian Secularism (2009)’, ‘Kandhamal Craves for justice (2013)’ and  ‘Who killed Swami Laxmanananda’ with a foreward by late journalist Kuldeep Nayar. Released in May 2016, the book contains details of some documented evidences which conclusively showed that seven Christians have been fraudulently convicted for the Swami’s murder to perpetrate the Kandhmal violence for political gain.

The book also lists the clinching documents to prove involvement of the key people like National Security Advisor chief Ajit Doval and defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman in covering up Kandhamal case along with Ram Madhav, RSS leader and national general secretary of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

Online Petition

Akkara is also running an online signature campaign for the release of the seven accused on the website— www.release7innocents.com that generates four instant emails to the Chief Justice of India, President of India, NHRC chairman and the Odisha High Court. Over 71,000 people have signed for the campaign so far.

Stop BJP in its tracks in 2019

“This killing (of Swami) was an excuse for the violence just like the way people got killed in Sabarmati Express train in Godhra which triggered violence against Muslims  in Gujarat (2002). Such incidents happen because RSS is active and its aim is to make the country a Hindu Rashtra. So for 2019 general elections we will need to kick the RSS out, or else the country will be in trouble,” cautioned Delhi University professor Apoorvanand.

DMC member Kartar Singh Kochhar and Delhi government minister for social welfare and SC/ST OBC, Rajendra Pal Gautam were also present at the event.

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Mumbai- Activists speak out against ‘undeclared emergency’

Sagar Gonsalves, son of Vernon Gonsalves.Supreet SapkalSagar Gonsalves, son of Vernon Gonsalves.Supreet Sapkal

Relatives of arrested activists address people’s convention

About 500 people took part in the People’s Convention Against Undeclared Emergency organised by groups working for the rights of women, Dalits, and against the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, in Dadar on Friday.

The Pune Police had recently arrested several activists and charged them under the Act for alleged links to Maoist outfits and involvement in the Bhima-Koregaon violence. The arrested persons included advocate Surendra Gadling, professor Shoma Sen, poet Sudhir Dhawale, activists Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha.

Minal Gadling, the wife of Mr. Gadling, said her husband fought the cases of poor Adivasis accused of being Maoists. She said, “Will anyone have the courage now to help the poor and take up the cases of the marginalised?” Sagar Gonsalves, the son of Mr. Gonsalves, said when the police raided their home on August 28, it was a déjà vu for him. He said, “There was a raid for six hours and I saw the cycle repeating. The first time, I was 12 and felt helpless. Even now it was the same feeling.” Mr. Gonsalves had earlier been charged with being a Maoist. Though he was acquitted of all charges, he spent nearly five years in prison. Sagar said, “While I am happy my father is home, it is a very claustrophobic environment. I feel we are being watched at all times and for what?”

Abdul Wahid Sheikh of the Innocence Network said the Act was also being used against Muslims in the country. He said, “We live in a police state as the police can arrest anyone at anytime.”

‘Jail without charges’

Advocate Mihir Desai said laws like UAPA had been created to keep people imprisoned for years without any charges. Tribal rights activist Soni Sori said that whenever Adivasis in Chhattisgarh raise their voice against land acquisition, they are branded Naxals, charged with the UAPA and face the full wrath of the local police.

https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-mumbai/activists-speak-out-against-undeclared-emergency/article25210640.ece

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Statement By Feminist Groups & Individuals On The Going #MeToo Wave In India

How Much More Must Survivors Do? Feminist Groups & Individuals Stand In Solidarity With #MeToo In The Media & Film Industries

It’s almost a year now since the  #MeToo hashtag broke through whisper networks on sexual harassment and initiated a worldwide movement. While the initial exposés were instances of assault and misogyny by men in high places in Hollywood, subsequent revelations have come in waves from women across the world in various kinds of workplaces – from academia to activism to film and media. These are narratives of women speaking truth to power about the violence and transgressions they have been subjected to by male colleagues and seniors, as well the complicit actions/inactions of institutions and individuals. The power of this moment lies not just in the individual narratives that are being shared, but in the public discourse that is being created. An open challenge to the pervasiveness of a culture that allows men to harass women, intimidate and exploit them, with impunity.

As feminist groups and individuals, we stand in support of the numerous women in India who have spoken out with courage and candour. Over the decades, these battles have taken many forms within workplaces, on the streets, in the courts, etc., as well as #LoSHA (List of Sexual Harassers in Academia) almost a year ago. Today, we also stand in solidarity with women in media and the film industry who have been exposing the systematic abuse of power by well established editors, reporters, co-actors, colleagues, and their political partners, as well as the deeply normalised misogyny of the newsroom and studios.

It is disturbing, though not surprising, that many among these women who tried to raise these issues within the organisation, were neither believed nor supported, and some even brazenly dismissed. Despite women’s movements’ campaigns and subsequent legal reforms to put redressal mechanisms in place at workplaces, many institutions of ‘repute’ today stand exposed for not even having functional complaints mechanisms. It is not sufficient for them to only now ‘take action’ or ‘sideline’ the accused. It is imperative that sexism and misogyny at the workplace be brought to an end. While there is an urgent need to put the redressal mechanisms in place at every workplace, it is equally important that survivors and complainants are actively supported in their quest for justice. Institutions cannot continue to stand in the way of the law, until survivors are compelled to go public. Time and time again. Industry by industry. Institution by institution.

We need to consider at what emotional, personal, professional cost each survivor speaks out. Is this the only way in which workspaces can be made safe for women? Is the fight for justice only women’s burden to bear? How much more work must we all do before workplaces begin to implement the law, in letter and in spirit, and the powers-that-be finally acknowledge this epidemic of sexual harassment?

We believe that these difficult questions also offer an opportunity for all of us, survivors and activists (and many, too many of us are both) to get together and forge new alliances. To create safe spaces for the sharing of such experiences, the reviewing of older strategies and the evolution of newer ones. To take our shared struggles forward so that women may speak out and be believed. To collectively evolve codes of behaviour for interpersonal interactions between genders, both within the workplace and outside. So we can all begin to live and work in an environment where such male entitlement can no longer flourish.

Hence we are sharing coordinates of some activists/groups who are willing and waiting to meet/speak/email/FB/DM to start these new conversations, singly, collectively or who knows, even as hundreds of women taking over a public space to address what is clearly not a personal problem, but a political one!

Because for every woman who has spoken out about such violence, there are likely tens of thousands of others, especially in the unorganised sector and semi-formal workspaces, who are yet to find an avenue to speak out. And despite the rhetoric of Beti Bachao, we still live in a world where just a few days ago, 34 minor girls were beaten up by a mob when they opposed sexual advances of the men from a nearby village in Supaul district, Bihar.

There is much to be done. And the only way for us to do it, is together.

No. ORGANISATIONAL AND INDIVIDUAL ENDORSEMENTS CONTACT SUPPORT OFFERED
1. Feminism In India [email protected] A platform for survivors to share their stories
2. SAHELI Women’s Resource Centre, New Delhi [email protected]011-24616485 (Saturdays only) A Delhi based feminist collective.
3. LABIA – A Queer Feminist LBT Collective, Mumbai [email protected]
4. Nazariya – QFRG [email protected]
5. All India Progressive Women’s Association AIPWA [email protected]
6. Anuradha Kapoor, SWAYAM, Kolkata [email protected]
7. Shubhangi, ASSOCIATION FOR ADVOCACY AND LEGAL INITIATIVES (AALI) [email protected]Facebook – @aalilegal

Phone – +91 8005499927 (available on whatsapp);

+91-9161454706

8. HAQ: Centre For Child Rights, New Delhi 1) Bharti Ali –[email protected]2) Enakshi Ganguly – [email protected]
9. YWCA, Vinodhini Moses, National General Secretary, YWCA of India 10, Sansad Marg, New DelhiTel# 11-23340294, 23345235

Email: [email protected][email protected]

10. SEWA, Nalini Nayak, Trivandrum 0471.2476734
11. NEW TRADE UNION INITIATIVE, Gautam Mody, General Secretary [email protected]B-137 FF Dayanand Colony, Lajpat Nagar IV, New Delhi

Tel: +91 11 26486931, 26214538

12. Anchita Ghatak, Kolkata [email protected]
13. Anubha Rastogi, Advocate, Mumbai [email protected]+919820527453
14. Ena Panda, Assistant Professor, Department of Germanic and Romance Studies, University of Delhi [email protected],G7, Dwaraka Trendz, Vinayak Nagar Colony, Hyderabad, Telengana, 500032

Tel: 9971933714

Would like to extend my support to anybody who needs it in form of counselling, etc.
15. Kavita Panjabi, Kolkata [email protected]
16. Madhur Bhartiya [email protected]9871234212 I can offer legal assistance.
17. Manjima Bhattacharya, Mumbai [email protected]
18. Nandini Rao, New Delhi [email protected]
19. Nirupama Sarathy, Chennai [email protected] I have been in NGOs that work on gender and women’s rights but do not personally have experience in counselling or in supporting survivors of violations. But am available to provide an empathetic, non judgmental, safe listening space to anybody who feels the need.I will also be happy to connect them with support agencies. I am located in Chennai, but am well connected with groups in Delhi and Odisha as well, and can understand English, Hindi, Tamil and Kannada.
20. Rakhi Sehgal, Delhi [email protected]
21. Seema Baquer, Delhi 9899746545 I work in the disability sector, so can offer any help needed in this area
22. Vijay Rukmini Rao [email protected] I have been supporting the women cine artists in the Telugu film industry. I will be available for any other support.
OTHER ENDORSEMENTS
A Mangai, theatre activist and writer, Chennai
2. Aarthi Pai, Lawyer, Bangalore
3. Abha Bhaiya, Feminist Activist, Dharamshala
4. Anita Ghai, Prof, School Of Human Studies, Ambedkar University Delhi
5. Adv Mini Mathew
6. Amita Pitre, Consultant, Public Health & Gender Justice
7. Amrita Nandy
8. Ankita Pandey, Assistant Professor, Indraprastha College for Women. University Of Delhi
9. Anupama Potluri, Assistant Professor, Univ. of Hyderabad
10. Anuradha
11. Arundhati Dhuru, NATIONAL ALLIANCE OF PEOPLES’ MOVEMENTS (NAPM)
12. BAILANCHO SAAD, Sabina Martins, Goa
13. Bidyut Mohanty, Head, Women Studies, Institute Of Social Sciences, New Delhi
14. Bindhulakshmi Pattadath, Associate Professor, Advanced Centre For Women’s Studies, Tata Institute Of Social Sciences, Mumbai
15. Bindu Menon, Delhi University
16. Bittu Karthik, WSS – WOMEN AGAINST SEXUAL VIOLENCE AND STATE REPRESSION
17. Deepa
18. Dhiviya D
19. Divya Kapoor, Panjab University, Chandigarh
20. Dr Charulatha  Banerjee
21. Dr. Chitra Sinha, Centre For Gender Research, Uppsala University, Sweden
22. Dr. Indira Hirway, Director And Professor of Economics, Center for Development Alternatives, Ahmedabad
23. Dr. Jyotsna Chatterji, Director & Secretary,JOINT WOMEN’S PROGRAMME
24. Dyuti, Socio-Legal Researcher, Activist
25. Farah Naqvi, Writer & Activist, New Delhi
26. FORUM AGAINST OPPRESSION OF WOMEN, Bombay
27. Gabriele Dietrich
28. Helam Haoki, Manipur
29. Hemangi Joshi
30. JAGORI, Geetha Nambisan
31. Janaki Abraham, Delhi University
32. Janaki Srinivasan, Panjab University
33. Japleen Pasricha, Feminism In India
34. Jaya Sagade
35. Kalpana Kannabiran, CSD,Hyderabad
36. Kalpana Viswanath
37. Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Feminist and Human Rights’ Activist, Mumbai
38. Karuna D W, Chennai
39. Kavita Krishnan, AIPWA
40. Kavita Srivastava, Jaipur
41. Kavya Murthy
42. Lata Singh
43. Laxmi Murthy, Journalist, Bangalore
44. MAATI, Malika Virdi, Uttarakhand
45. Manisha Gupte
46. Manshi Asher, Himachal Pradesh
47. Mary John, CWDS
48. Meena Seshu
49. Meera Sanghamitra, NATIONAL ALLIANCE OF PEOPLE’S MOVEMENTS (NAPM) and WSS
50. Mini Mathew
51. Mirai Chatterjee
52. Mohan Rao, Delhi
53. Mumtaz Shaikh, CORO INDIA
54. Nalini Visvanathan
55. Nandita Gandhi, Co-Director, AKSHARA, Mumbai
56. Nandita Shah, Co-Director, AKSHARA, Mumbai
57. Neha Dixit, Journalist, Delhi
58. Nikita Sonavane
59. Nisha Biswas
60. Niti Saxena
61. NoMore Campaign
62. Noor Enayat, Delhi
63. Padmaja Shaw
64. Pallavi Gupta
65. Ponni Arasu, Researcher And Activist
66. Poonam Muttreja, POPULATION FOUNDATION OF INDIA (PFI)
67. Poulomi Pal, Researcher, New Delhi
68. Prabha Nagaraja
69. Pramada Menon, Gurgaon
70. Priya Pillai, Social Environmental Activist, New Delhi
71. Pushpa Achanta, Bangalore
72. Pyoli Swatija, Advocate, Delhi
73. Radhika Chitkara, Independent Legal Researcher, Delhi
74. Radhika Desai, Hyderabad
75. Radhika Khajuria, Delhi
76. Rajashri Dasgupta, SACHETANA, Kolkata
77. Rajesh Ramakrishnan
78. Rajshree Bedamatta, Indian Institute Of Technology, Guwahati
79. Rama Srinivasan
80. Ravi Verma and Subhalakshmi Nandi, INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR RESEARCH ON WOMEN (ICRW), Asia Office
81. Renu, STREE MUKTI SANGTHAN, Delhi
82. Rinchin, WSS – WOMEN AGAINST SEXUAL VIOLENCE AND STATE REPRESSION
83. Rita Manchanda, Delhi
84. Ritu Dewan
85. Rituparna Borah, Queer Feminist Activist, Delhi
86. Runu Chakraborty
87. Sagari R. Ramdas, Veterinary Scientist
88. Sarojini N., New Delhi
89. Saswati Ghosh, Academic And Activist, Kolkata
90. Shakun M Doundiyakhed, Bangalore
91. Shalini
92. Shalini Krishnan, Delhi
93. Sharanya Nayak, Koraput
94. Sharmila Sreekumar, IIT Bombay
95. Sheba George
96. Shipra Nigam, Independent Researcher And Activist, New Delhi
97. Shobha Raghavan, Human Rights Activist, Bangalore
98. Shweta Vachani, Delhi
99. Snehal M Shah
100. Sohini Bhattacharya, President & CEO, BREAKTHROUGH
101. Sona Mitra, Activist And Independent Researcher, New Delhi
102. Sujata Madhok, Journalist, Delhi
103. Sumi Krishna
104. Suneeta Dhar, New Delhi
105. Sunita Sheel, FORUM FOR MEDICAL ETHICS SOCIETY, Mumbai; VIDHAYAK TRUST, Pune
106. Svati Joshi
107. The Food Sovereignty Alliance India
108. Ujwala Kadrekar
109. Uma V. Chandru, Bangalore
110. Urvashi Butalia
111. Vahida Nainar, Mumbai
112. Vimochana, Bangalore
113. Zubaan Books, New Delhi

If you or your organisation would like to endorse this statement, please write your name and/or your organisation’s name in the comments below.

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India- 87-yr-old tells her village she’s alive with blank sheet of paper

Dharamshala:

Kaushalya Devi could just be the loneliest old woman in the country.

Every day at dusk, the 87-year-old sticks a sheet of blank paper, painstakingly and neatly folded, in the window of her crumbling house in Jaladi village, 20km from Shahpur town in Kangra. At dawn, the first thing she does is remove it. Her neighbours then get to know that she has survived the night.

It is not an easy life in Jaladi. Nestled in the lower reaches of the Himalayas, the days are doubly hard for Kaushalya, a widow who lives alone. Through the bitter cold that autumn nights have already heralded, the piece of paper has become her signal that she has made it to another day. It’s a poignant habit that makes the whole village sad, but also alerts them if all is well with her or not.

“If she has removed the paper from the window at dawn, we know she has survived,” said Darshan Singh, a neighbour. His family is among six in the neighbourhood that keeps an eye on the paper. “We occasionally call her daughter from Chamba when Kaushalya falls seriously ill,” he added.

Kaushalya lost her husband, a daily wage labourer, about eight years ago. Her 47-year-old son, Budhi Singh, left home about three years later and has not been seen since. She passes most of her time alone in her house with its slate tiles and cracked walls. Weakened with age, she said in a frail voice, “All I worry about is my son. I keep inquiring about him from passers-by.”

The practice of using the blank sheet of paper folded into a rectangle as a signal for life or death was started after Kaushalya fell ill one day and was unable to even reach out to her nearest neighbours. It was only by chance that one of them happened to drop by and found out about her condition.

Sanjay Sharma, a social worker had in early August shared her helplessness in a social media post. He had also mentioned the ritual with the blank sheet of paper. The post was widely shared almost immediately. “I am hoping that the attention she got will help her get some financial support,” he said.

It may just have. In Mumbai, the post caught the attention of filmmaker Vivek Mohan, who now plans to make a short film on her. “The film has been titled ‘The Bus Stop’. It will be shot in Mumbai and will be based on Kaushalya’s story. What amazed me was that all she wants is a dignified death. ,” said Mohan, winner of a National Award for the critically acclaimed documentary “Malana — In Search Of…” in 1998.

Kaushalya Devi, a widow who lives alone in Himachal Pradesh’s Jaladi village, sticks a folded sheet of white paper in the window of her home every morning and removes it at dawn

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What the good guys need to know about #MeToo — yes, it’s #YouToo

A revolution is not a runaway train, the philosopher Walter Benjamin famously observed, it is the emergency brake. It is the status quo that is painful, daily life is the crisis.

After Raya Sarkar’s list of sexual harassers in academia last year, and a long uncomfortable silence, the MeToo movement has exploded in India. Through the last week, women across journalism and the creative industries have been outing their oppressors on social media, demanding accountability. They have been pouring out their pain, finding community and strength in each other.

Indian media can no longer pretend that sexual predation is out there in Hollywood, or that it’s a rare or remarkable occurrence. It’s in here, and it implicates us intimately — our friends, families, colleagues, ourselves.

Innocent in their power, most men just don’t seem to get what this is about. Some are actively hostile, others are wary of misuse and reckless smears, many are just confused about this abrupt uprising, and how to behave now. “Beware! Today’s ‘sweetu’ may be tomorrow’s ‘MeToo’,” warned a WhatsApp forward on my husband’s school group. In another cartoon, an older woman tells her boss: “All the other women in the office are suing you for sexual harassment. Since you haven’t sexually harassed me, I’m suing you for discrimination.”

Even the nice men, who are sympathetic on behalf of their friends and wives and daughters, seem to be missing something basic. MeToo is not about M J Akbar or Nana Patekar or other powerful men who are now in trouble; it is about questioning a culture marinated in male sexual entitlement, and the inequality that undergirds it. If this feels destabilising, it’s because it is — it’s about changing what’s normal.

Ask yourself honestly — in a sexual harassment story, who is real and vivid to you? The man who pressed himself on an unwilling woman, or the woman who felt violated by it? In the wider reaction to MeToo, the main concern is about potential false accusations rather than the tsunami of urgent testimony. Our attention swivels to the man, we empathise with his humiliation, we want to hear his side, protect him with “due process”. Women have such a credibility deficit that it takes several of them to testify before we even consider an accusation serious.

This reflex, of caring more for a man’s reputation than a woman’s trauma, what the philosopher Kate Manne calls “himpathy”, is implanted by patriarchy, and both men and women hear it in their heads. Look at how so many women are quick to feel for those being shamed, making sure we are scrupulously correct, wondering if we overstepped, policing each other, expressing concern for the wives of these predators. Meanwhile, far fewer men have jumped to express solicitude about the women who have been injured.

This injustice is drilled deep in our institutions, our homes and workplaces. It is not about men being bad by default or women always being victims; it’s about the structures of domination that let one impose their sexual will on another human being. Men have more power, and therefore more opportunity to abuse that power. If you push your tongue down someone’s throat, or touch them, or persist despite their lack if interest, you simply don’t care what they want. Romance would be reciprocal; this is just sexual entitlement.

But even well-meaning men see MeToo as a purely technical matter of nailing dangerous predators, a few bad apples in an organisation. Women know it’s a continuum of danger, from loutishness to rape, and other forms of denial that render us merely service providers and accessories to men. Nobody needs to explain nuance, the difference between misguided flirting and active intrusion, we know it. But you don’t know the extent to which we are harmed by a system that serves you.

Men simply don’t have access to women’s realities. How can you? For thousands of years, we’ve lived with a shoddy transaction where men have resources and power, and women provide sexual and domestic services. It’s only in the last century and a bit that women have been pushing back, asserting the idea that they are equal, full humans, not your “better half ”. You still get paid more, you own the assets. You dominate the state, legislatures and courts and police. You run most businesses and religious institutions. You shape the news,you make the movies and pop songs, you give the women their speaking lines, which misinform the world that no means yes.

No wonder you don’t relate to our common experience, our struggles. You know women mainly as small fry in your workplace, for you to benevolently mentor, overlook, or exploit. You can’t really imagine us as peers, you don’t know what it is to exist alongside as equals.

So, good men, MeToo doesn’t need you to feel saddened, it needs you to hack away at these arrangements. Patriarchy isn’t so great for you either. Masculinity maims you too, it forces you to suppress your full self, stunts your emotional expression. It condemns you to enact dominance, crush vulnerability in yourself and in others. It makes you brittle, and weak in a different way.

MeToo is a call to shrug off those gendered straitjackets. Equality would make workplaces better, it would make love and sex better, and it would make our public sphere and our homes better. Go on, change.

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