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Archives for : Women Rights

Maharashtra – Woman dies after family planning operation, 2 serious #WTFnews

Woman dies after family planning operation, 2 serious
YAWATMAL: A woman died while two others are battling for life after the medical officer (MO) of Belora primary health centre allegedly botched up family planning operations at a camp organized at the village in Pusad tehsil. The MO, Dr Swapnil Satpute, allegedly cut the intestine instead of Fallopian tube while performing the operation.

Medical officer of Pusad Dr Chandrashekhar Bhongade said an inquiry has been ordered and if the concerned doctor is found guilty for dereliction of duty or has committed any lapses while performing the operation, action would be taken against him as per law .

The deceased has been identified as Sharada Kale (26), a resident of Bara village. Vandana Ashok Deokate, a resident of Kumbhari village and Aruna Pradip Chavan, a resident of Kanherwadi village in Pusad tehsil, are admitted to Yavatmal Government Medical College (GMC).

Confirming the incident, Yavatmal GMC dean Dr Ashok Rathod said Kale was brought dead to the hospital on Saturday while condition of one of the two women is critical. The post mortem on Kale was performed on Saturday and the report is awaited.

Dr Satpute operated upon 15 women at the camp organized on Thursday. On Friday, Kale, Deokate and Chawhan were rushed to government hospital in Pusad after their condition started deteriorating. Due to non-availability of proper medical facilities, the doctors there referred them to GMC Yavatmal.

Panic-stricken villagers thronged the PHC but Dr Satpute was found missing. They alleged that the PHC is managed only by a nurse while Dr Satpute mostly remains at Arni. They demanded that the doctor should be booked and arrested immediately. The police station officer of Khandla BS Jadhav and Pusad SDPO rushed to the spot and pacified the villagers.

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From pimples to mental torture; former DH scribe files complaint with NCW #Vaw

Pressure cooker is finally blowing. And it seems it is blowing for a cause now. In what many be seen as first of its kind, a woman scribe who formerly worked with a Bengaluru based national daily, Deccan Herald (DH) has registered a complaint with National Commission for Women (NCW).

Former employee of DH, Chetana Divya Vasudev has raised a complaint of ‘mental torture’ and ‘derogatory conversation’ on her appearance on January 18.  It is very strange to hear such complaint emanating from a news paper which is know for its progressive stands. Moreover this is a first ever complaint getting registered with NCW from the state of Karnataka, according to available information.

Chetana Divya claims that while working as a senior sub-editor in DH’s Metrolife section – all through her journalism journey for three months, she went through many ordeals which led to come out of the organisation. Before that she was working with the feature section of New Indian Express.

Prior filing complaint with NCW she resigned from DH. Chetana shot off a grieving resignation letter on December 11, 2016. In this candid letter, she has mentioned ordeals she encountered in DH which opens up a larger debate on the working condition in media houses.

First leg of trouble kicked her just after she joined the organisation towards the end of the August. The letter claimed, in the beginning she was denied access to internet, which is oxygen for scribes in the digital age. However, this issue was resolved on her insistence to provide access.

Divya was writing feature stories in Metrolife and according to journalists in other media organisations she is a good writer and kept the readers in grip of reading her write-up. Team managers of Metrolife in later days allegedly started to brand her ideas of feature stories as controversial and were allegedly criticising her for sourcing ideas from social network; Facebook.

Divya in letter says she was constantly overworked making calls after office hours as pressure on her to take quotes for stories on time was only mounting. Divya was also chided for unable to bring required quotes in time for her feature stories. In DH’s feature section she alleged rules kept changing on team lead’s moods and she was unable to get the hang of it.

Despite her priority was to generate quality stories, she was forced to change her priority to deliver only stories given as targets due these constraints. Bengaluru’s infamous traffic concern was not at all on the list for delay in delivering stories, she laments in her resignation letter which is secretly circulating in media Whatsapp groups.

What pushed Divya to resign?

What is more worrisome than anything else is treatment of this employee in DH. “One Monday I called a colleague to inform her that I had been throwing up all morning and couldn’t come to work. But two colleagues of mine who knew of this situation minced no words in letting me know that they thought this was a random illness and nothing compared to big health issues rest of us have. Sadly one colleague implied that I had faked it – in a team meeting – by saying, I know who is sick and who is not.”

Later there was a twist in turn when colleagues started to point out about pimples on the face of Divya. A co-worker strangely told her that she can take as many days’ leave to cure it and take it under priority.  Two of her colleagues pressed that others are concerned about Divya’s skin problem and it may affect other employees. The colleagues went on to warn that HR department may pull her up for this problem. They also advised her to consult a doctor immediately, letter stated.

While this derogatory conversation and uncomfortable issue was brought to the notice of the Associate Editor of DH, he simply said he failed to understand what the problem was, letter claimed. Unable to withstand this trauma, Divya resigned and now has filed complained with NCW to fight for larger cause.

Associate Editor, Subrahmanya K reacting to Samachara said he is sad about what has happened. He confirmed that Divya brought this issue to his notice and he instructed this to her senior colleagues to handle it. “I am a man. It’s woman’s issue and how can I deal this? Hence I directed this to her colleagues.”

Subrahmanya further said there is no reason to be offended, when colleagues suggest to consult a doctor. “If someone is suffering from cold and colleagues fear that it may spread to them also, what is wrong in suggesting to visit a doctor?” he asked.

When contacted Personal Secretary of NCW Chairperson, he said “Chairperson Lalita Kumaramangalam is little busy and can be contacted later”. On the other hand Divya taking legal advise likely to to pursue this case hotly and this issue may set an example to question the odds in the media.

However, this is just an individual case and many be termed as individual centric. But there are slew of other issues haunting journalism employees in giant media houses and contract labour is a prime reason behind this. Samachara will try to explore contract labour system currently prevailing in prominent media houses in the coming days.

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Triple talaq certificate issued by chief kazi has no legal sanction- Madras HC

| TNN |

Madras high courtMadras high court
CHENNAI: Any document issued by the chief kaziapproving or certifying triple talaq is merely an opinion, having no legal validity, said the Madras high court restraining kazis from issuing any such certificates until the matter is deliberated by the Muslim Personal Law Board. The state government appoints the chief kazi as a consultant on some Muslim religious matters.

Advocate and former AIADMK legislator Bader Sayeed had filed a PIL in the Madras high court challenging the issuance of approval certificates by kazis. Arguing the certificates were issued arbitrarily, without a legal framework, Sayeed sought an end to the triple talaq’s approval by them. Later, others including Women Lawyers Association (WLA) of Madras high court impleaded themselves in the petition.

On Wednesday, the first bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M M Sundresh said according to Section 4 of the Kazi Act, 1880, any person appointed as the kazi or naib kazi did not have any judicial or administrative power. The kazi’s presence in the celebration or performance of marriage rites was also not indispensable.

Counsels for the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and Shariath Defence Forum argued that as the chief kazi had expertise of Shariat law, and that he was issuing certificates pertaining to triple talaq. These certificates, however, were issued “only as opinion.” The counsels said according to Muslim Shariat Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937, all matters pertaining to various subjects including marriage, dissolution of marriage and talaq were under the ambit of Muslim Personal Law.

Following this the counsels for Sayeed, WLA and others said the nature of certificates, which were being issued by the chief kazi was causing “immense confusion in matrimonial proceedings.”

After the certificate was issued, neither the husband nor the wife was aware of its implications. Submitting some triple talaq certificates from 1997 to 2015 before the court, the counsels said the certificates merely said that on a representation of the spouse, on a particular day, the talaq pronounced was valid according to Islamic Shariat. The certificate did not say that the approval of the divorce was his personal opinion, nor did it record the reasons for grant of divorce.

The counsel for the board then sought time from the bench to examine the format of the certificate which could be issued. This certificate would clearly state the grant of divorce was according to the kazi’s personal opinion, which in turn would prevent any legal ambiguity.

“We thus give time to the board to formulate the format of the certificate and place a draft before us so that inputs from other stakeholders are available…” said the bench posting the matter for further hearing on February 21.

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Mumbai – ‘Women in slums largely unaware of post-natal care’

“In the study, out of 250 only 19.20 per cent had received post-natal check-up within 42 days of delivery,” a report said.

Written by Priyanka Sahoo |

A homeless woman with her month-old baby at Rangpuri Pahadi slums.A homeless woman with her month-old baby at Rangpuri Pahadi slums.The Reproductive and Child Health (RCH) programme was launched almost two decades ago to reduce the maternal mortality ratio, the infant mortality rate and total fertility rate. However, women in slums remain largely unaware of their own reproductive health as well as the related healthcare services. While the awareness level among such women about the ante-natal care was good, not many were aware about post-natal care, found a study on the awareness and utilisation of RCH among mothers in a slum in Mumbai.

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Of the 250 women surveyed from Shivaji Nagar in M-East ward, only 19.2 per cent women were aware of or had availed of post-natal care – healthcare for women and their babies received for six-eight weeks after birth. As part of post-natal care women are offered advice on breastfeeding and are explained the common and serious health problems in women and their babies after birth.

“In the study, out of 250 only 19.20 per cent had received post-natal check-up within 42 days of delivery,” read the report published in International Journal of Scientific Research. The study was conducted by Dr Rajan Kulkarni, head of the department of community medicine, HBT Medical College and Cooper Municipal General Hospital, Dr Smita Chavhan, Associate Professor of Cooper Municipal Hospital, and Dr Shamal Goregaonkar, medical officer of BMC.

The study also found that more women knew about ante-natal care. “The awareness and utilisation of services in terms of antenatal registration was 92 per cent,” read the study that also found that around 88 per cent women knew about immunisation and utilised the services.

Of the women surveyed, 72 per cent delivered their babies in government hospitals. However, around 55.55 per cent of those delivering at home did so because of they didn’t have manpower to move them to the hospital, found the study.

“Maximum home deliveries (66.67 per cent) were conducted by others which included untrained dai, relatives, neighbours etc,” said the study. However, the study concluded that as education increases, the awareness increases which in turn increases utilisation of available services like ANC registration, institutional delivery, use of family planning methods and immunisation

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India – Assembly polls 2017: Talking gender equality this election season

As Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa prepare to go to the polls next month, here are four important ways to address gender equality this election season.

Election dates were announced for Legislative Assemblies in five states on January 4. They present an opportunity to change the gender politics of electoral democracy in those states.

A Constitution that places the Right to Equality above other fundamental rights is dishonoured by the pathetic representation of India’s largest minority— women. A Gender Equality Election Checklist prepared for the Tamil Nadu elections in May 2016 identified avenues where political parties could show their commitment to gender equality.

As they fight this round of Assembly elections, parties could begin to ameliorate this situation through two affirmative and two interdictory measures. The affirmative measures are gender parity in nominations and equal support to male and female candidates in the election campaign. The interdictory measures are to not nominate those who are guilty of misogynistic hate speech and those who have been charge-sheeted for sexual and gender-based violence.

Nominate more women

We set up gender parity as an aspiration, but from where we now sit, it is a distant one. A good place to start the journey towards parity is with nominations. What would be ideal is to consistently make an effort to identify women with leadership potential and to groom them towards legislative careers, regardless of whether elections are imminent.

Where are these women to be found? To those who are looking, they are everywhere. It is our limited and circular definition of leadership that blocks our vision. We assume that it is when women (or men) occupy formal leadership positions that they are leaders. However, if we deconstruct leadership and consider the various skills and attributes that make up what is really just a rubric, it is clear that many individuals outside of the ranks of formal, high-profile, public sphere leadership positions, possess these qualities. What are these qualities? My off-the-cuff list of everyday leadership qualities would include vision (what could be, what should be), communication skills (the ability to share that vision), organisational skills (the ability to plan how to achieve that vision and the attention to detail that makes the plan realistic) and the ability to work with people. Integrity should be an indispensible addition to this list when we are speaking of public leadership, although, sadly, it is not.

Women who manage large joint families, in both rural and urban settings, are imagining individualised outcomes for members of their households as well as collective outcomes for the family. They balance budgets and make plans, and are willing to work towards those plans. They work with members (stakeholders) as well as service providers and vendors, seeking to maximise their return. They have to negotiate and they have to consider daily trade-offs, both with regard to stakeholders’ interests and resource use. They navigate difficult relationships within the immediate and extended family, without losing focus. If this is not leadership, what is? Whether men or women perform these roles in a family, they are leaders.

Similarly, those who volunteer with their housing society or neighbourhood watch group are gaining leadership experience. They may have initiated small projects, budgeted for them and supervised their execution. Those who work with NGOs show leadership at every level. For instance, if you worked at a sexual assault crisis centre, you would have a clear sense of justice and compassion to start with. But you would also be a great listener, someone who could analyse what she is hearing and chart a path to resolution and healing and, most important, someone who has learned to offer practical suggestions without imposing them— allowing your client to retain agency in their life. Is that not leadership?

In other words, leaders are everywhere if you start to look for them. Leaders also belong to every gender—if we are willing to embrace that idea. It should have been the work of party cadres to identify, celebrate and draw leaders in from across society, but if they have not done this work, those making nomination decisions may yet give them a chance to suggest women who have leadership qualities— perhaps even from the party rank and file? For example, the women who organised logistics during the last election rally in the district; the women who stepped up to gather and distribute food aid during the last round of communal riots or the women who organised anti-rape protests are all leaders.

The bottom line is a commitment to awarding at least half the party’s tickets in a state to women. Those women may be incumbent legislators, or members of the state-level party leadership, or district party organisers, or women who have gained experience at the Panchayat level thanks to the 73rd Amendment. They are already visible, already tested and already known to be willing to serve. Two decades down the line, there are enough of them that gender parity should not be difficult— we are probably spoiled for choice.

Support women’s election campaigns

Nominating women is not enough. They need material and human support during the campaign. It is not enough for the party’s stellar campaigner to swing by their constituency, although that would raise their profile.

From time to time, in the years I have lived in this constituency, political parties have nominated women candidates in corporation and Assembly elections. I have never once set eyes on the candidate nor have they received a great deal of media attention. Some enthusiastic first-time candidates from small parties or independents, always men, are the ones who have rung our doorbell to introduce themselves. The women never come. I suspect that one reason for this is that their resources are over-extended.

Across the world, researchers have found that it is hard for women to raise funds for election campaigns. Patrilocal marriage (that is, when women get married and leave their homes for those of their husbands), their lack of ownership or access to capital, their smaller social and business networks and, as underworld elements become involved in politics, their relative lack of intimacy with this world inhibit their fundraising possibilities. They do not have money to spend on posters, on those three-wheelers that broadcast election slogans and speeches, on rally venues or possibly, even on chai-paani for campaign workers. There is so little transparency in campaign financing that we have no way of knowing how parties raise money or how they allocate it at election time. Making transparent and fair allocations would go a long way in making women candidates electable.

It is also how human resources get divided. Most of us do not know exactly how party workers are organised for campaigning but it seems likely that the most prominent and popular figures draw the largest pool of campaigners. It may be debated whether it is these campaigners who make them prominent or whether success breeds success. What need not be debated is whether women who are new to politics need that institutional support or not. If they are at all allocated, volunteers for canvassing votes may be allocated to women candidates on an equal basis as prominent male candidates.

Essentially, political party leaders need to signal to party cadres as well as the electorate that their female candidates are serious contenders, worthy of receiving attention and votes.

Make misogynistic speech a disqualification

It is a very simple idea. You cannot represent the best interests of those whom you routinely disparage and objectify. Where around half the population of a constituency is female, or non-male, a politician or candidate who regards women as less than human cannot possibly speak for their rights and interests.

Hate speech against women is such a commonplace trait of male politicians in India that a casual Google search yielded practically a page of listicles of 10-12-20 worst misogynistic utterances. There was evidently enough data to mine many a top-ten list! Many of those featuring on these lists are from the states going to the polls in the next three months, and the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are major offenders (though no one is exempt). The founder of the SP features on several of these lists and so we cannot expect him to find fault with misogyny but can we hope that at least the BJP will pretend this matters to them?

Denying those who make statements that dehumanise women (for example, dismissing their work) or objectify them (for instance, describing their appearance) an election ticket would send a strong message from any party leadership that such thinking and, therefore, such speech was not acceptable. Moreover, it would indicate that such a party would respect women’s worth as humans and as citizens and be unlikely to infringe on their rights.

But who will bell the cat? Every party has speech offenders and even parties headed by women hesitate to rock the boat and call them on their offensive attitudes. Therefore, in our election checklist, we also asked voters not to vote for such parties— but who would be left standing? Faced with five state elections, the question for us should be— will we get them to stop? This is one article, but can we mirror this in a hundred thousand fora and get parties to take cognizance of this offence?

If, for reasons of political wheeling-dealing and favours owed to each other, excluding speech offenders is not possible, perhaps we can advocate a speech code that lays down what is acceptable and what is not, at least when someone is speaking on a party platform. That will still tell us what the party stands for and there is the dim hope that people who fake it, will someday make it to an attitudinal overhaul.

Reject those charge-sheeted for sexual and gender-based violence

Innocent, until proven guilty, and given how long our courts take, this is a tough one to implement, I admit. But, if it seems wrong to make a person pay for unproven charges, think of the message we send when we back those charged— and possibly guilty. For the same reason that the courts take so long, they could have a full career in politics, pontificating to others about morality, law and order, while in fact, still facing charges. This is also impunity.

Perhaps unrealistic, but it is important for our legislators to be beyond reproach. Those who speak for us and who will make laws that regulate our behaviour must also exemplify some minimum moral standards— and to not be facing charges for sexual and gender-based violence constitute, to my mind, that bare minimum. How can someone accused of sexual harassment, molestation, rape or torture uphold a Constitution which sanctifies the right to equality and the right to life?

In our society, in spite of our newly minted outrage when rape or sexual harassment is reported in public spaces, we still consider sexual and gender-based violence within homes and relationships a minor offence— a ladies’ problem, just slightly embarrassing to talk about in decent company. When charges of harassment, molestation or rape are made or even when cruelty, domestic violence or dowry charges are filed, unequivocal, zero-tolerance positions are hard to advocate. We wonder about false charges, especially if the accused is powerful. We think that maybe someone is making a mountain out of a molehill. This is explicable given the tight web of extended family relationships that anchors most of our lives, but it is not excusable by any means.

Political parties that favour the bully on a host of social issues must lead by example to confront the ubiquitous culture of impunity for sexual and gender-based violence. And there is no better time to do it than right before an election.

Every election is an opportunity for political parties to re-invent themselves. They are lucky that public memory is fairly short-lived. This is an opening for parties to position themselves as advocates of gender equality and women’s empowerment. These are states where this could make a difference. Safety is not about protection and castration, but about genuine respect for human rights and good governance that ends impunity. Will the major political parties in the fray in Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Uttarakhand and UP avail of this opportunity? Highly unlikely.

Equally important to me is whether we, as citizens, activists and media, will take the opportunity to put gender equality on the election agenda. This is also our opportunity to let politicians know that this matters to us. For a brief moment, they need us and say they want to know what we think. They need the attention and endorsement of the media. They need to get through their campaigns unchallenged by lawyers and activists. They need our votes. We’ve got them paying attention and should speak our mind without wasting time.

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For Bastar rape victims, the challenge lies ahead #Vaw

The NHRC report upholding their claims of rape, assault by security forces is just the first step. For the victims living in villages deep inside Bastar, making it to court hearings itself is a battle.

Written by Dipankar Ghose |

Chhattisgarh, Chhattisgarh security forces, Bastar rape victims, Chhattisgarh rape, Chhattisgarh rape victims, india news, indian expressA woman said she had to show she was lactating to convince the men beating her that she had recently given birth; with no power and no modes of communication, the victims heard about the NHRC order two days later, when a journalist came.The NHRC report upholding their claims of rape, assault by security forces is just the first step. For the victims living in villages deep inside Bastar, making it to court hearings itself is a battle. But, they tell DIPANKAR GHOSE, they will not stop fighting. Illustrations by C R Sasikumar based on actual photographs from the spot

Under the shade of a thatched hut, a child sleeps, his cradle made of wood swaying gently. A little over a year ago, the basket that held him was smaller. It wasn’t suspended by a long thin rope from one of the rafters of the home. He was just a few months old, his body fragile, movement kept to a minimum. As he slept then, his mother went to bathe. Soon, she says, security personnel on a combing mission in the jungles of Pedagellur in Bastar began an assault, hitting her on her back and legs. She pointed to her baby in the basket, and told them she was a feeding mother. They didn’t believe her. The only proof they would believe, she says, was the sight of milk from her breasts.
On January 7, 14 months after the security forces allegedly assaulted 16 tribal women, including her, across three villages of Chhattisgarh, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) said their claims appeared to be true.

The next day, regional and national papers prominently reported the NHRC’s strongly worded release. But 19 km away from the closest motorable road, with no electricity or forms of communication, where few venture for fear of the wrath of both the Maoists and the State, nobody told Pedagellur.

The first news came on Tuesday morning, when a television journalist based in Bijapur, 70 km away, arrived in the village. He told them of the order, the promise of compensation and justice. Says Vetti Hedma, the headman of the village, “He told us that more statements would be recorded. We told him that if the government wanted to give us money, why would we refuse? But that we want those guilty punished.”

The journalist left before darkness fell, the headman remembers, as most outsiders do. “All of us talked long and hard into the night after he left. We didn’t believe him, we couldn’t. But now you have come too….” The first reports of the alleged assaults came in late October 2015 from Pedagellur and four surrounding villages in the district of Bijapur. For the next three months, more reports kept coming, from Bella Nendra in Bijapur and Kunna in Sukma. The NHRC in its report estimated 34 victims, in the three FIRs registered.

In its interim report on January 7, taking note of a report by The Indian Express in November 2015 and numerous complaints by social organisations, the NHRC said 16 women were “prima facie victims of rape, sexual and physical assault by state police personnel in Chhattisgarh” in Bijapur district in October 2015, and said it is of the view that “prima facie, human rights of the victims have been grossly violated, for which the state government is vicariously liable”.

The NHRC, which examined the three FIRs, also said that it could not record the statements of 20 other women, and that those statements should be recorded within a month. In a stern notice to the chief secretary, it asked the state government to show-cause as to why it should not recommend interim monetary relief of Rs 37 lakh to the victims, and said it could issue more directions once its investigation was complete.

Chhattisgarh, Chhattisgarh security forces, Bastar rape victims, Chhattisgarh rape, Chhattisgarh rape victims, india news, indian expressChildren and the elderly are left behind as, after the farming season, all the able-bodied leave for neighbouring Andhra Pradesh to find work as daily wagers‘Peda’ is the word for big in the local Gondi dialect. The village has 137 homes, according to the headman, and, as is often the case in Bastar, the huts are spread out. Even within villages, the dissemination of information is slow, and only through word of mouth. As The Sunday Express reached Pedagellur on Wednesday, one woman who was allegedly raped had just come back after three days in the forest, cutting wood for fire and for repairing a faulty roof.

The headman called out to her, and told her about the NHRC order over the weekend and what had followed, struggling with the words. There are no appropriate words for ‘Rashtriya Manavadhikar Aayog (NHRC)’ in Gondi, the only language she knows. He uses “sarkaar (government)” instead. As Hedma finishes talking, there is silence. Disbelief. Would she accept the compensation if it came, he asks. She nods. Does she want justice? Yes. Does she believe she will get it? A slow, unsure shake of the head. Would she go down to Bijapur to give her statements? Would she fight for justice? She replies with her eyes fixed on the ground, quietly but firmly. “As long as I can,” he translates in Hindi.

But both know the battle won’t be easy.

In the past year, for example, not one official has made his or her way to this inaccessible area deep in the Maoist liberated zone. Not to install electricity, not to build a school, not to set up a primary health facility (PHC), or toilets under Swachh Bharat. The five villages to which the alleged victims belong have no power, school, PHC or toilet.

No official has been here to update the alleged victims on court dates either. It was Soni Sori, a tribal activist and member of the AAP, who travelled to Pedagellur in late December and told them about the dates, urging the women to go. Villagers say that while they managed to record statements at times, on many occasions, the journey was futile. “I went once with a few others to record my statement. But the policemen stopped us outside the gate, and made us wait till the evening. In front of our eyes, people left and the court shut. We returned,” one alleged victim of assault says.

In October 2016, a Bijapur court issued non-bailable warrants against some of the women for not appearing to record testimonies on the scheduled dates. Isha Khandelwal of the Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group, which is providing legal assistance to the victims, says, “It was pointed out to the court that there are practical modalities which make this difficult. But you can’t give out arrest warrants against the victims themselves. The warrants were withdrawn at that point, and there is none now.”

So far, 15 of the alleged victims have recorded their statements before a magistrate. On the day that the Express reached Pedagellur, one victim was on her way to Bijapur to record her statement. But she had got the date wrong; there was no hearing.

Chhattisgarh, Chhattisgarh security forces, Bastar rape victims, Chhattisgarh rape, Chhattisgarh rape victims, india news, indian expressThe baby of one of the alleged victims 

Every time the women have to appear for a hearing, they walk 19 km barefeet to the nearest metalled road, over fields and rocks, through forests with wild animals. They must make sure that they reach Basaguda town, 19 km away, before nightfall. They spend the night in the Kotaguda village nearby, in the huts of those they know, eating at their homes. The next morning, they take a bus to Bijapur, 52 km away. The bus leaves in the morning, and returns in the evening. A newly metalled road, during the construction of which 24 jawans lost their lives, means they cover the distance in less than two hours. Should they miss the evening bus on their way back, they spend the night on the side of the road.

Each court hearing takes the women three days in all, to and fro. “A lot of us will go together,” a woman says, talking of the next hearing, scheduled on January 16. Apart from the intimidating distance, there is another reason they seek company. There is strength in numbers. A strength that will allow them to speak in court.

Apart from what it costs them physically, three days is not something the alleged victims can afford easily. Everyone in Pedagellur struggles to make ends meet, with the men and women putting in equal work in the forests and fields which provide them their livelihood. The landholdings are small, leaving very little to sell in the weekly haats. “The only source of water is the rain. Last year we had good rains, but in 2015, we didn’t. And since there is no irrigation, all we have is a single crop,” a villager says, adding that they have never got any government relief.

On Wednesday, under a gentle January sun, with the grain cut and sold, villagers are busy making small culverts in the fields with spades and forks, to hold in water should it rain. In 10 days, every able-bodied person will make his or her way across the border to Cherla in Andhra Pradesh, where they will spend at least a month earning daily wages picking chillies. Apart from farming, there is no employment to be found in these parts.

“The contractor will send tractors, and only the old and the children will be left behind. We will earn Rs 150 a day for 12 hours of labour, and come back with a little money,” Hedma says.

When they return, the residents will scourge the forests looking for mahua, to be sold in the weekly market in Kotaguda. Once that process is over, it would be tendu patta season. “Then it will be time to sow the crop again and pray for rains. Every day has a purpose that feeds our stomachs,” says Chaitu, a young man working in the fields.

Despite the NHRC’s findings, senior police officials in Bastar whom The Sunday Express spoke to maintained that “the allegations seem to be part of Maoist propaganda”, and “could not be true”. Given “the high-profile nature of the case now”, they did not want to be named, but argued, “The operation that was sent to that area in late October 2015 went on information regarding the presence of Hidma, a commander of a military battalion of the Maoists and one of the most feared men for our forces. How could our men have committed such acts when they would have been in a state of high alert? In those parts, the Maoists are nearly always present. Which is why it is difficult for the district administration to do any outreach for any developmental work. In other parts of Bijapur and even Sukma, there is work being done to electrify villages using solar energy. But Pedagellur and its surrounding places are unreachable unless in big numbers.”

Asked if he didn’t want solar electricity, school or a college like the others, a villager in Pedagellur murmurs quietly, “Schools and a hospital we want. But for electricity, I will have to ask the dadalog (Maoists), or they will beat us.”

In May 2016, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes had handed over the probe in the case to the state CID, finding fault with the police’s investigation until then. CID officials admit that investigation in the cases is “very difficult”. “There is almost no way to get to the villages freely, for fear of an ambush or an attack. A massive police team can’t be sent there all the time, and even if it is, principally there will be duress on the victims with such a large police presence. Most of these cases came to light many days after the alleged date of incidents, so the medical evidence is minimal. So thus far, the concentration is on statements recorded. Even in those, most women cannot identify their attackers at all,” a senior CID officer says, suggesting that laws could be changed when it comes to investigating these cases.

Khandelwal of the Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group questions police putting “the entire onus of the case on the victims themselves”. “For the first few days, they didn’t even register an FIR. Women are willing to come and testify and have been doing that, but what have police done? There has been no questioning of their own forces, whom they can easily identify. It’s unreasonable to expect villagers to know the names of their attackers, but police can attempt to start an identification process by other means. None of that has been done,” she says.

In the days since the NHRC report, political opponents have been targeting the Raman Singh government, which is already under fire for police excesses. The Congress and the Janata Congress, Ajit Jogi’s new political entity, have both called for the Chief Minister to step down, even sought President’s rule. On Wednesday, a Congress delegation met President Pranab Mukherjee with their demands. Says T S Singhdeo, leader of the Opposition in the Chhattisgarh Assembly and senior Congress leader, “This government has consistently failed in terms of human rights excesses. And each time, an investigation hasn’t been launched by it on its own, but an institutional body had to get it to take action. For instance, it was the CBI which held that 160 homes were burnt in Tadmetla in Sukma, and in this case it is the NHRC.”

On January 9, addressing a conference of inspector generals and superintendents of police from across the state, the CM said that even though police were doing well in its war against Naxalism, human rights violations were not acceptable and officers must keep this in mind.

In the months following the alleged assault, Pedagellur villagers say, there has been no cut-back in the visits of security personnel. The men react like they have always done — afraid of being picked up, they say, they run into the forests. Initially, after the assaults, the women did the same. “But we stopped after we saw a few changes. They no longer come into the village to spend the night, but stay just outside. This entire year, there has been only one small conflict,” Hedma says, talking about the time some security personnel came in and reportedly took away a hen, “threatening” the few elders who protested.

As he recounts the story, Hedma laughs. “This is our normal. All we want for the future is for the women to get justice, and for us to be left alone to live our lives in peace.”

Behind him, the child still sleeps, his cradle swaying gently.

Story so far:

Oct 19-24, 2015: Women allege rape, sexual and physical assault by security forces in villages in and around Pedagellur in Bijapur

Nov 4: FIR registered by Bijapur police

Jan 12-16, 2016: Similar allegations emerge from villages of Bella Nendra in Bijapur, and Kunna in Sukma; FIRs registered

Feb 22: Matter heard by NHRC which, considering “gravity of charges”, sends an investigation team

April 16: A team of National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes visits villages

May 2016: The team says investigation unsatisfactory, transfers case to CID

Oct 2016: Bijapur court issues warrants against women of Pedagellur for not appearing before it to record statements; order revoked later

Jan 7, 2017: NHRC interim report says 16 women are victims of rape, physical and sexual assault, sends show-cause notices to government

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Gujarat – News channel owner booked for rape #Vaw

Jan 10, 2017, 11.18 AM IST


SURAT: Owner and editor of a local television news channelwas booked on Sunday for allegedly raping a 25-year-old woman new anchor in Sachin GIDC. He is accused of allegedly raping the woman for over eight months.

Ravindrasingh Gorkha,, resident of Harinagar in Udhna, was booked for allegedly raping the woman in an apartment in Sachin GIDC. The accused raped the woman at another employee’s apartment.

The woman alleged that she had developed relation ship with Gorkha some eight months ago. However, they she did not know that he was married. On coming to know that Gorkha was already married the woman wanted to discontinue relationship. But, the accused blackmailed her and threatened to make her obscene video public.

On Sunday, the woman approached police with a condom as evidence. Based on her complaint, police booked Gorkha for rape, criminal intimidation and under Atrocity Act.

Gorkha had contested municipal election in past. Police are yet to arrest the accused.

Courtesy:-Times Of India

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The Phules of Pune and their tireless fight

The couple from Pune were fearless, indomitable, and driven by a selfless passion for the greater good

Jyotirao Phule (left); and Savitribai. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Jyotirao Phule (left); and Savitribai. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

When Jyotirao Phule embarked with his partner, Savitribai, on their journey to promote radical reform, he had already smashed the social shackles that came with being the son of a greengrocer and the grandson of a gardener in orthodox Pune. This was a boy who received a rudimentary education in Marathi, found himself married before 13 to a bride of 8, and who then resumed his education in a Christian mission school at the insistence of a Muslim neighbour. While “correct” behaviour would have been to quietly keep stock of pulses and vegetables, he digested Thomas Paine’s The Age Of Reason and charted a course of his own, asking all those inconvenient questions that reason sparks in sensible people.

Jyotirao must have been an unusual man at the time for transmitting the ideas he absorbed to his wife. They were just on either side of 20 when they set up an institution for girls in 1848, dismissing conservative melodrama against female education as “idiotic beliefs”. That was revolutionary enough, but this thinker who drew inspiration from George Washington and dedicated his most important book—Gulamgiri (1873)—to “the good people of the United States” for eliminating slavery, then went on to establish a school for “untouchables”. This in a city where, till recently, the Peshwas had commanded the “lowborn” to move around with brooms tied to their waists so that the ritual defilement they brought into town could also be brushed away after every polluting step.

The Peshwas—hereditary ministers—had woven a great deal of princely myth around their high-born persons at the cost of their original middle-caste royal patrons, the descendants of the Maratha king Shivaji. Jyotirao dusted up in the dialect of the poor (which was thought crude) the tales of Shivaji’s valour, casting him as a protector of peasants and upholder of the rights of the weak. His irate respondents reacted with the more enduring construction of Shivaji as a protector of sacred cows. Jyotirao didn’t care. When the Brahmins claimed that they were high because they were born from Brahma’s mouth, Jyotirao asked if the creator also menstruated from that general area, before deploying Darwin to demolish his scandalized interlocutors. Because Jyotirao was a man, and a fairly influential man with access to the British, it was Savitribai who often faced physical retaliation for their work. This came in the form of being pelted with dung while she walked to their controversial schools, for example. She remained undaunted. In a village outside Pune, an untouchable girl got pregnant with her upper-caste lover. Lynching was proposed—the boy for disgracing his family’s honour and the girl for being disgrace itself—when Savitribai appeared. “I came to know about their murderous plan,” she wrote to her husband, “(and) rushed to the spot and scared (the mob) away, pointing out the grave consequences of killing the lovers under the British law.”

Naturally, many grumbled that with his tributes to the West, Jyotirao was an unpatriotic lackey. As it happened, he cheerfully exasperated the British too. In 1888 they extended to Jyotirao the honour of an invitation to dine with the Duke of Connaught. Jyotirao accepted, only to horrify his Victorian friends by arriving in peasant’s garb, with a torn shawl his chief accessory. He proceeded to lecture Queen Victoria’s grandson that he must not mistake his dinner companions as representative of India—it was the voiceless poor who were the soul of the land. On another occasion, when the Poona municipality sought to demonstrate loyalty to the governor of Bombay through a 1,000-rupee present, Jyotirao alone among 32 members opposed the idea, insisting that the money be spent on something more worthwhile than fanning the already inflated vanity of an Englishman: education.

He was upset with the colonial tendency to privilege Indian elites even in Western schooling. What “contribution”, he asked, “have these (elites) made to the great work of regenerating their fellowmen? How have they begun to act upon the masses? Have any of them formed classes at their own homes or elsewhere, for the instruction of their less fortunate or less wise countrymen? Or have they kept their knowledge to themselves, as a personal gift, not to be soiled by contact with the ignorant vulgar? Have they in any way shown themselves anxious to advance the general interests and repay the philanthropy with patriotism? Upon what grounds is it asserted that the best way to advance the moral and intellectual welfare of the people is to raise the standard of instruction among the higher classes? A glorious argument this for aristocracy, were it only tenable!”

When Jyotirao died, many thought the nuisance had finally withdrawn to the grave. Savitribai, however, continued to irritate the elders, breaching convention yet again by not only appearing at her dead husband’s cremation, but by also lighting the pyre. She died seven years later in the great plague of 1897, but many remembered her across western India and beyond on her birth anniversary last week through the rousing anthem she left: May all our sorrows and plight disappear/Let the Brahmin not come in our way/With this war cry, awaken!/Strive for education/Overthrow the slavery of tradition/Arise to get education.

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How Russia Decided to Allow a Little Domestic Violence #WTFnews

On Wednesday, the Russian parliament gave preliminary approval to a bill decriminalizing domestic violence. It’s part of President Vladimir Putin‘s push for a return to traditional family values.

Vladimir Putin

In the summer of 2016, Russia got its first law specifically directed at domestic violence. The parliament introduced the notion of “close ones” to Article 116 of the criminal code, which deals with battery. That group includes the suspect’s children, spouse, parents, siblings and other relatives. Beating them without any consequences to their health became punishable with a jail term of up to two years. Many in Russia saw this as a necessary measure: according to women’s rights activists, 10,000 Russian women a year die as a result of domestic violence. Official statistics say 40 percent of all serious violent crime takes place in the home.

But the purveyors of a traditionalist, conservative ideology that has become fashionable during Putin’s third presidential term immediately started working to undermine the law. To them, it was an example of impermissible interference in family affairs.

On the surface, Russian traditionalists are practically libertarians. Their rallying cry is resisting juvenile justice, a concept introduced to Russia by the European Social Charter and the U.N. Convention on the Rights of a Child: They argue it destroys the concept of family by legitimizing government interference in the home. But their tolerance for domestic violence — only in the mildest forms, they claim, the rare but necessary spank or slap — is descended from a medieval literary work called Domostroi (Homebuilding), known in a 16th-century version edited by Ivan the Terrible’s confessor. The book has a chapter on “how to teach children and save them with fear” that tells parents: “Do not weaken when hitting a babe: If you punish him with a staff, he shall not die but will be healthier since, by beating his body, you will save his soul from death.” Another chapter instructing husbands on how properly to beat their wives: Never in anger, not on the face or chest, not with a stick — and no kicking!

No one, of course, accepts those instructions as valid today. An official Russian Orthodox Church site carries an article saying Domostroi is not a canonical text and beating family members is not Christian behavior. But traditionalists say it’s no biggie in moderation.

Arguing against the domestic violence law, Yelena Mizulina, the legislator responsible for Russia’s laws against discussing homosexuality in the media, recalled a specific case. A 17-year-old girl frittered away some family cash put aside to pay off the mortgage. When her mother discovered it, she slapped the young woman, who then went to the police. Even after the mother and daughter patched it up, it was too late to roll back the prosecution, and now the mother risks losing custody of a younger child. Mizulina also argued the law unfairly punished a parent more harshly than a stranger for spanking a child.

Mizulina introduced legislation, but it did not become a priority until an intervention by the ultimate arbiter of family values in Russia: Vladimir Putin.

At his annual press conference in December, Putin perhaps all-too-conveniently received a question from a journalist representing a little-known site that specializes in bashing juvenile justice. Would the Russian leader to get rid of the law that “allows a father to be sent away for two years for spanking a child who deserves it, purely as a traditional Russian educational measure”?

Initially, Putin appeared to bristle. “Look, it’s better not to spank children and not to cite any traditions as justification,” he said. “There’s too little distance between a spanking and a beating.” But then he agreed with the reporter in the broadest of strokes that “unceremonious interference with the family is impermissible.” He promised to check with the parliament why the law was still on the books and what was being done about it. Inside the room, there was applause. Less than three weeks later, the parliament passed an initial version of the decriminalization bill. Its passage is all but guaranteed, and a petition demanding a tougher law against domestic violence is likely to be ignored, though more than 174,000 Russians have already signed it.

In 2015, the German public-service broadcaster ZDF aired a documentary about Putin that cited a “Western intelligence dossier” that said Putin drank and beat his wife, Ludmila, during his service as a KGB officer in East Germany. The couple is now divorced, but Putin claims allegiance to traditional family values, with all the baggage that notion carries in Russia.

International experience proves that aggressive legislation against domestic violence tends to reduce its incidence. As a result of the legislative change, Russian rules will be among the most lax in Europe: The first reported instance of battery against a spouse or a child that doesn’t result in injuries will only be punishable by a fine as an administrative transgression, although subsequent instances or heavy beatings will remain crimes.

The problem with that approach is that violence becomes permissible in small doses. Nothing will stop some “traditionalists” from getting carried away.

Putin’s new conservative ideology is pushing Russia further and further away from the West and its values. To Putin, the decriminalization of domestic violence is just another step in the direction of ideological sovereignty. But it is actually backsliding into an earlier time, one that left women and children exposed to the whims of men with little or no repercussions.

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Telangana lawyer gets trolled after KCR publicly names her for fighting land acquisition #Vaw

Supporters of the Chief Minister have begun a campaign of calumny and character assassination against her on social media.

Rachana Reddy Bollu is in the news, but not because she wants to be. The Chief Minister of Telangana, K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR), took her name during the Assembly session accusing her bitterly of “speaking blatant lies in court”, of placing serious barriers in the way of his government’s project which dispossess thousands of already distressed farmers of Telangana from their lands and villages.

In a disturbing new development, some supporters of the Chief Minister have taken to social media and have begun a campaign of calumny and character assassination against Rachana.

Three trolls – Aelikatte Shankar Rao, a former journalist who runs a Facebook page ‘Right Politics’, Srinivas Rao (alias Sawal Reddy) who runs the page ‘Point Blank’, and Sridevi Mantri – who are fans of KCR and support Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) have acquired notoriety for attacking any political dissent.

They have now unleashed a campaign of calumny against Rachana, calling her Surpanakha, Hidimbi, Shikhandi, and also calling her a doll who studied law, who is aligning with forces inimical to the development of Telangana. A Facebook post by Sridevi Mantri that compares Rachana to Silk Smitha and Mumaith Khan, is particularly abusive and utterly derogatory in its tone and what it implies.

Rachana is a practicing human rights lawyer. Hailing from Nizamabad, she studied in Hyderabad, Pune, and in UCLA, USA, where she specialised in Human Rights Law. After practicing for 5 years in USA, she relocated to India, taught for a few years at NALSAR, Hyderabad.

Since 2010, she has been practicing in Hyderabad, mostly taking up human rights cases. She was first in the news when she represented Smitha Sabharwal, the IAS officer posted in Chandrasekhar Rao’s office, against whom Outlook magazine carried derogatory sexist references.

Asked about the reason for being singled out this way, Rachana says it could be because she has taken up several cases of land acquisition for irrigation projects, mining and SEZs in Telangana.

The problems began for the Telangana government when it notified 16,000 acres of land to be acquired for Mallannasagar project, submerging some 14 villages and displacing 20,000 people. Protests began when the villagers came to know that the government has no intention of acquiring land under the Land Acquisition Act 2013 passed by the Parliament, but instead it is proposing to acquire land rapidly within 40 days of notifying GO 123, even before formulating a Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the construction of the reservoir or assessing its social impact.

The protests intensified, leading to relay hunger strikes, lathi charges, and the imposition of prohibitory orders under Section 144 for nearly three months. When the process was legally challenged, the High Court struck down GO 123 of the Telangana government. The battle lines are now firmly drawn between the people and the government.

Rachana Reddy is one of the lawyers who is fighting cases on behalf of the farmers. The fact that the Chief Minister of Telangana himself chose to single her out by taking her name on the floor of the Assembly and went on to berate her saying that she spoke blatant lies in court appears to have given a signal to the trolls that Rachana is fair game for attack.

When asked for her reactions about getting trolled, Rachana says that she is not on social media and that she believes in doing her work based on the merits and demerits of each case. She says that, “GO 123 issued for land acquisition by the Telangana government is merely a sale agreement, without providing any benefits or protection for the farmers and others losing their lands and livelihoods, unlike the Land Acquisition Act 2013.” She says, the courts will finally decide.

As a young educated person, Rachana is playing a professional role in the process that appears to be beyond the comprehension of the government and its troll army of supporters. It suits the Chief Minister himself and his supporters to paint the process as a political tug-of-war instead of a human rights issue. They are maligning those who have chosen to seek their rights and justice through a legitimate judicial process, when the state has failed to listen to their problems.

The most distressing aspect of these supporters of the government is that women like Sridevi Mantri, use words like ‘vamp’, and make venomous personal comments about Rachana’s appearance which are possible only because of their deep-seated misogyny and patriarchy. In the middle of her post, Sridevi Mantri does not forget to call KCR her “bapu and God”.

In Telangana districts today, permissions for public meetings are denied routinely. Permissions are also being denied for meetings at the one small corner of Hyderabad city assigned for holding public protest meetings, the Dharna Chowk near Indira Park. This from a party that came to power by defying all rules of political engagement, holding cookouts on highways, stopping trains, and all forms of massive dislocation of normal life for over five years after 2009!

Vimalakka, who was a prominent participant in the state movement for a separate Telangana, is being strong-armed by locking her premises. Seven members of Telangana Democratic Front comprising High Court lawyers, Adivasi leaders, Dalit activists and students who were on a fact-finding visit were allegedly detained in Telangana and handed over to the Chhattisgarh police.

The whereabouts of seven young activists who were opposing the prospecting for diamond mining by DeBeers, the South African Diamond company, in Nallamala forests intruding into the Chenchu communities, ironically also opposed earlier by TRS members when they were fighting for separate Telangana state, are now unknown. They are believed to have been arrested at Vankeswaram.

It is quite clear that the leadership of the current dispensation in Telangana does not believe that democracy or Constitutional rights are for every citizen. Today, even the most legitimate form of exercising rights, seeking justice through a court of law, is criminalised and the law professionals are being intimidated. If the lawyer happens to be a woman, a character assassination campaign follows, dragging public discourse further down.

It is good to remember that India still holds elections every five years and unlike feudal times, the crown is not for keeps.

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