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Archives for : Women Rights

BJP defends man accused of raping & killing 8-year-old, calls him ‘nationalist’ #WTFnews

At 3.30 pm on January 10, Asifa Bano, an eight year old Bakerwal girl left her home at Rassana in Kathua to graze horses in the nearby forest but didn’t return. A day later, her family registered a case but police couldn’t trace her.  A week later, her disfigured and decomposed body was recovered. It turned out that she had been raped too. The father Mohammad Yusuf said the girl’s “lips had been bitten and there were marks of violence on her thighs and face”.

The crime shocked the entire state. Public clamour grew for the police to act and arrest the killer. Bakerwals, a nomadic community, held protests. The issue also rocked the then ongoing Assembly session. The government promised action and formed a Special Investigation Team to probe the case. Two days later, police arrested a 15 year old boy for the murder.

Minister for Revenue and Parliamentary Affairs, Abdul Rehman Veeri later informed the House that the accused had confessed to the crime. He said “the accused had kidnapped the minor girl and put her in nearby cowshed at village Rassana, where he attempted to rape her and when she resisted, he killed her by way of strangulation”.

The arrest soon assumed a communal colour. The BJP MLA of the area Deepak Sharma visited Rassana later and held deliberations with the people of the one community only. Senior BJP leaders maintained silence over the issue even while the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti summoned the family of the girl to her office and assured them of the government’s support.

The Bakerwals, however, were not convinced about the involvement of the boy in the rape and murder, arguing that it was not possible for him to restrict the girl to a cowshed for a week. Another breakthrough in the investigation followed on February 10 when police arrested a Special Police Officer (SPO) Deepak Khajuria for the crime. Ironically, Khajuria had been part of the police search team looking for the then missing Asifa. And he had also been a part of the police contingent deployed to break up the crowds protesting the rape and murder.

“Police official held for rape and murder of 8 year old girl in Kathua. It has shaken our soul forever. Kudos to IGP Mr (Alok) Puri for his professional and timely investigation,” tweeted the Deputy Commissioner Rajouri Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary,

But since then, the issue has increasingly been communalised. The BJP has jumped to the defence of Khajuria and framed the crime in terms of a battle between nationalists and anti-nationals. Rallies are being taken out in support of the accused, with people participating in them using the tricolour to press their demand for his release. This forced Mehbooba to tweet her disappointment.

“Appalled by the marches & protests in defense of the recently apprehended rapist in Kathua. Also horrified by their use of our national flag in these demonstrations, this is nothing short of desecration. The accused has been arrested & the law will follow its course,” Mehbooba wrote.

But this hasn’t changed her coalition partner’s behaviour.

“We are protesting because an injustice is being done by the government. And this is being done because our area, the area of Kathua, is inhabited by nationalist people. So, the attempt is to subdue us,” the BJP’s Kathua district president P N Dogra told media while leading a protest. “The fault of the accused (Khajuria) is that he was trying to push back against anti-national elements and those shouting pro-Pakistan slogans. It is part of jihad”.

The protests demanding the release of Khajuria are being taken out under the banner of Hindu Ekta Manch which is headed by state BJP secretary Vijay Sharma.

What is more, even Congress has decided to support the accused. In the protest rally held on Friday at Ghagwal, Congress leaders like Girdhari Lal, a former legislator and Subash Chander, a former MLC were also present were also present beside the BJP leaders Kuldeep Raj, an MLA and Rashpaul Verma, vice-chairman of State Board for Development of Other Backward Classes.

This has generated anger in Kashmir Valley and also among large sections of population in Jammu.

“Support for the rape accused is the new high in ultra-nationalism,” wrote Anuradha Bhasin tweeted on the hashtag #Justiceforkathuarapeandmurder.

In Valley, the chairperson of the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons Parveena Ahangar termed the rape and murder disgusting. “The rape of Asifa should disgust us all as a people. And at the same time it should wake us up from our slumber; we must ask questions as to why it happened and we should be initiating strong campaigns to build pressure on the state to arrest the perpetrators,” she said in a statement.

Far from becoming an issue which should have brought the people together across the political divide, the rape and murder of Asifa has become a fresh source of polarisation in J&K. Even the coalition partners the PDP and the BJP are not on the same page with Congress also supporting the BJP line.

“This is a tragedy. This means the rape and murder of a minor girl is no longer an issue. The arrest of the alleged perpetrators is,” says Talib Hussain, an activist who was earlier arrested by the police for protesting the crime. “The BJP is trying hard to communalise the issue and it has succeeded to a large extent. But our effort is to stop the polarization and put the focus back on investigation”.

He said he was due to speak on Sunday at a seminar in Jammu city organised by some Hindu organisations in support of the justice for Asifa. “So, there are efforts to salvage the situation. And we hope to succeed in this,” Hussain said.

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#SundayReading- 3 Seconds Divorce – Compelling insight into triple talaq and Muslim women


My job was to amplify their voice, give them a platform: Shazia Javed on 3 Seconds Divorce

Speaking at the world premiere of her documentary, the filmmaker spoke about why she was compelled to focus on subject of triple talaq and the importance of letting the women’s voices speak for themselves.

Photo: Shazia Javed


The 54-minute documentary 3 Seconds Divorce began its festival journey at the 15th Mumbai International Film Festival in the International Competition section. It was important for filmmaker Shazia Javed for the film to get its start here in the presence of women who gave their voices to the film. 3 Seconds Divorce speaks out on the issue of triple talaq (obtaining divorce by saying ‘talaq’ thrice) in the Muslim community.

Javed and her co-producer and cinematographer, Babita Ashiwal, beamed after the film’s world premiere on 1 February 2018. The housefull screening was attended by many of the women who are featured in the documentary.


The filmmaker, who lives in Canada, spoke with about how she wanted to address the issue of triple talaq and give those affected a chance to raise their voice.

Triple talaq was a subject that I wanted to explore ever since I was a young girl going to school, growing up in Delhi. It used to bother me that something like this existed and it had so much power to just make a woman homeless in seconds. As a Muslim woman growing up, I questioned it even more,” Javed said.

She recalled reading an article in a newspaper by Asghar Ali Engineer. “He gave these arguments about alternate interpretations and how you can do a general interpretation of the text,” she read and found an alternate way of looking at the issue.

As a student, there wasn’t much she could do then, but she wrote a letter to the editor.

By 2014, as a filmmaker, she had made a few films including the short documentary, Namrata (2009), which was produced by the National Film Board of Canada. Namrata was the story of an Indian woman who migrated to Canada from India and found herself in an abusive marriage. She gained the courage to leave the wedlock and became a police officer.


Javed decided to make her next documentary on triple talaq and began shooting in 2014. The Supreme Court declared triple talaq unconstitutional in August 2017. “Interestingly, at that time, there wasn’t much information out there and as we kept shooting, it kept picking up steam. (3 Seconds Divorce) is able to capture that movement,” she said.

Initially, Javed and her team, talked to academics and scholars to understand the subject and later began speaking with women divorced through triple talaq. She found that triple talaq “was far more common, or the threat of it, was far more common.”

“Every time I heard someone talk about halala, I would cringe. This is something I just couldn’t process. But one thing I knew for sure, as I spoke to these women, they were all articulate, courageous and willing to come in front of the camera. They all wanted justice,” Javed added.

She didn’t want to portray them as victims or pitiable and stressed she didn’t come in with a saviour complex mostly associated with filmmakers. “My job was to amplify their voice, give them a platform and deal with it within that framework. My own background as an Indian Muslim woman did help with that. I’m not a stranger,” she said.


3 Seconds Divorce highlights one brave woman, Lubna, who is a survivor in the truest sense for Javed. Speaking about Lubna’s fascinating transformation, Javed said, “She juggles motherhood, a job and activism. Some days she’s happy and she’s confident. The other days she’s bogged down. To me, that’s a very human story. We all need to know that activism doesn’t come easy. People who actually fight these battles pay a price in their personal lives.”

The documentary also features several members of the Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) who did the groundwork — doing research and undertaking surveys as well as drafting alternate laws. Javed said BMMA were able to articulate what the need was.

She called the nationwide rallying against triple talaq as “one of the biggest revolutions led by Muslim women in the history of India”. The movement had several allies (women from all religions and walks of life) who volunteered to help them out. Javed feels proud that her documentary was able to capture a slice of this history.

“I want young women to look back and see this is how it was done. And you don’t take it for granted,” she stressed. I think, even now, I derive a lot of inspiration from women who have come before me and who have fought for basic rights, (like) the right to vote and simple things. I feel like I need to continue the fight and not let it go waste.”

She added the Supreme Court ruling validated the long fight for justice for women like Lubna and the other activists. “It gives you the strength that what I did was worth it. There’s a lot of validation that they’re feeling at this moment,” Javed said.

For now, 3 Seconds Divorce begins its festival rounds and has already secured a television broadcaster. Javed also hopes, like her earlier films, the film will lead to a broader discussion at community screenings.

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Editor-in-chief of Hindi channel booked by Delhi Police after female employee complains of rape

Delhi Police on Saturday booked editor-in-chief of a Hindi channel after one of its female employees lodged a complaint for rape. The complaint was filed at Delhi’s Tughlak Road police station.


“The complainant alleged that while staying in Indirapuram and working in Zenetix Gym she came in contact with one Umesh Kumar of Samachar Plus in the year of 2016. He offered a job of Vice President. In April 2017 she joined the job there. On 9/6/17 he called her at his residence and committed rape on the pretext of marriage. Thereafter he repeated the same several times. On 26/8/17 she was called to Claridges hotel and sexually assaulted her on the pretext of marriage.

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“Here, she came to know that he was already married and having two kids. Thereafter, the quarrel started and the alleged accused financially helped her so that she should not disclose. She was also threatened. She is having records of long WhatsApp conversations. She filed the complaint on 13/2/18 and thereafter arrived in PS for medical examination on 16/2/18. A case vide FIR No 16/18 u/s 376/506 IPC has been registered at PS Tughlak Road. Statement u/s 164 CrPC has been recorded today. The Hotel authorities have confirmed the presence of accused in the hotel as the room was booked in his name,” the police complaint said.

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Kumar is reported to have started his career as a property dealer before launching a regional Hindi TV channel in Uttarakhand. He had carried out a sting operation on Uttarakhand Congress leaders in 2016.

He was later provided with a ‘Y’ category security cover by the Centre’s Narendra Modi government.

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Rape As Genocide: ‘Born Together’ On Children Born of Rape in 1971 War

“Who am I? I do not exist because I was never born.”

 During the 1971 Bangladesh war for independence, members of the Pakistani military and supporting Islamist militias from Jamaat e Islami raped between two and four hundred thousand Bangladeshi women in a systematic campaign of genocidal rape. Children were born of these deliberate rapes used as part of the war strategy.

What happened to these children? Were they killed soon after they were born? Were they given up to orphanages or did they lead the lives of social outcasts as their birth was never legitimised and never would? Since the Pakistani military force were all Muslim and the raped young women came from both Hindu and Muslim backgrounds, what religion could they be said to belong to? What nationality?

All these questions are raised very pertinently in a film called Born Together which was screened in the International Competition section of the Mumbai International Film Festival of Documentary, Short and Animation Films and has been produced by Ekattor Media Ltd and Liberation War Museum.

Much-awarded Bangladeshi filmmaker Shabnam Ferdousi has made a very unique documentary on three children born in the same nursing home where she was, on January 14, 1972. She walked on different paths of life before settling down in audio-visual media.

The question that constantly worried her was that around a dozen or so kids born of rape on the same day in the same nursing home. “I was born at Holy Family Hospital, and 12 more babies were born in that hospital on that very day. Later, I came to know five of them were war babies. Then an idea stuck me that I could have been one of the war babies. I got obsessed with the idea and began a new journey … a journey in search of my birth-mates.” The journey was far from simple and straightforward. It was riddled with blocks along the way as more than four decades had passed and records, specially of illegitimate births of babies born of rape were hardly taken care of.

She visited some offices and people who were involved in recording the data of births during that time and even visited the nursing home she was born in. She got to know that among the 13 babies delivered that day, around five werechildren of war.

The film maps her journey and her discovery of three of them scattered across different parts of the world, now grown up and bitter. If the present of Shabnam throughout the film seem narcissistic, you begin to understand why she made her presence so strongly felt. Juxtaposed against the three young men and women she encounters along the journey and interacts with on an intimate level, her very sophisticated, elite and modern presence offers a tragic and dramatic contrast to those three which make the film more telling than it would have been if she would have remained away from the screen.

“In my journey, I found two, a man and a woman within Bangladesh. One is Monwara Clarke, reared in the furthest corner of the globe by Canadian parents. She came to Dhaka looking for a birth certificate. The other is Shudhir, ashamed of being a “bastard” child in the community, grew up in a remote corner in the country avoiding public eyes. His mother is a “Birangana”, a woman who was raped by men of the Pakistani army in 1971.” The word “Birangana” translates into “brave female soldier” in English.

Why call a forced victim of rape a ‘soldier” at all”? Did she choose to become one or want to become one? She was forced into this life of ignominy and ostraciszation which also affected her child born of the rape? What is the use of a title that does not take care of the social and financial problems the woman has to face all her life? The title does not mean anything except a living irony of the tragic life she is forced to lead.

Shabnam also managed to trace another “Birangana” mother and her daughter. This brave daughter gave testimony in the War Crimes Tribunal. All three children have born the brunt of the Bangladesh Liberation War though they were not even born then. Shudhir could never go to school because of the family lived as social outcasts in a remote area. He is married and lives with his mother and wife. He manages to eke out a bare existence by driving a van rickshaw while his wife manages the home. “I consider myself a Hindu because my mother is Hindu and I have no clue who my father is or was.” He had a love marriage and that is why he has a family life. His mother, the so-called “Birangana” looks expressionlessly at the world outside not exactly what she is looking out or looking for.

She tells Shabnam, “I was married when the soldiers took me to their tents to rape me for several days and would drop me back home. This happened several times. So, my husband left me with my son and we just managed to exist. Now, all that seems to have happened in the distant past. The so-called ‘compensation’ is something I am not aware of and life goes on….” Son Sudhir is a handsome young man, in both body and looks. But he is very shy and an introvert who refused to open up easily. When probed a bit, he admits that his life has been a cursed one. He had to leave school for two reasons, his mother could not afford the fees and the children in school ragged him with his illegitimate status.

The other young woman she met could meet her only in the farms and fields because she had no permanent shelter to live in. She was married once but her husband left her when he came to know the truth of her birth. Her other legally produced brothers do not wish to have anything to do with her and her mother is in no position to offer her even hope. But she is used to this wandering existence, the poverty, the social ignominy and the anonymity of her life. She smiles shyly and confesses that all this humiliation does not shake her anymore because she is quite used to it. “I used to feel very pained in the beginning but then, I knew this was a part of my life,” she says. Shabnam offers to take her into her family but she refuses, knowing that it might at best, be only a temporary solution because the baggage of illegitimacy added to lack of a proper family will travel with her wherever she goes.

Monwara Clarke offers another tragic story. She is a child born of rape who fell within the then-Independent Bangladesh’s programme of giving some hundreds of children up for adoption to other countries and she happens to one among them taken in for adoption by a Canadian couple. She does not know a word of Bengali and converses only in English. Shabnam happened to meet her in Dhaka when she had come down to get her birth certificate.

“Who am I? I do not exist because I was never born,” she says her anger so palpable that you can almost reach out and touch it. She laments that her own country denied her not only legitimacy but also her birth, her nationhood and her language and culture. “My husband left me when he knew who I really was. Am I responsible for being born? Is my country not liable to look after me when everything happened there? I do not even have a birth certificate and have to come down here to fetch it,” she says.

It is a touching film and you get so sucked into the narrative and these tragic stories that you hardly notice the aesthetics of the film. The cinematographic space moves along with the director from one place to another, from Shudhir’s ramshackle hut to the fields to meet the other woman again and again and again and then dash into Monwara when she comes to Dhaka. The film did not win any prize but the film will surely win the hearts of those who watched it from beginning to end.

It would be in the fitness of things to sum up with what Lisa Sharlach writes about rape in “Rape as Genocide: Bangladesh, the Former Yugoslavia, and Rwanda”. New Political Science. 1 (22): 89. “It is also rape unto death, rape as massacre, rape to kill and to make the victims wish they were dead. It is rape as an instrument of forced exile, rape to make you leave your home and never want to go back. It is rape to be seen and heard and watched and told to others: rape as spectacle. It is rape to drive a wedge through a community, to shatter a society, to destroy a people. It is rape as genocide–1971-War

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Angel Investor Mahesh Murthy arrested on charges of sexual harassment, gets bail


  • The Mumbai Police  arrested venture capital investor Mahesh Murthy on Feb 9th
  • The police arrested the investor after a woman entrepreneur from Delhi approached the Delhi Police.
  • Murthy had allegedly sent derogatory and obscene messages to the woman on social media.
  • Mahesh Murthy arrested on sexual harassment charges, gets bail

    A file photo of Mahesh Murthy

    Delhi-based woman complained to the National Commission of Women (NCW) against the investor


    Well-known startup investor and managing partner of Seedfund Mahesh Murthy who was arrested on Friday by the Mumbai Police in connection with an alleged sexual harassment case filed in December last year has been released on bail.

    Murthy, in a post on Twitter, said:  “I received anticipatory bail in this case some time ago. I am told its a procedural technical arrest and I have already been released on the bail granted earlier. This is exactly the same issue on which I had filed a case earlier and where the Delhi high court had already passed an interim order in my favour and against the complainant back in April 2017. I believe this is an attempt to counter-sue. I will fight this too in court to defend my reputation to the fullest of my ability,” Murthy said in his post.

    To all: the hon’ble court granted me anticipatory bail in this case some time ago. I am told it was a procedural technical arrest and I have already been released on surety.


    Murthy, a serial entreprenuer and an angel investor, was arrested in Khar, Mumbai, after a Delhi-based woman complained to the National Commission of Women (NCW) against the investor for sexually harassing and stalking her on social media last year. The NCW had then registered a case against Murthy on December 30, 2017.

    NCW had also written to Maharashtra’s Director General of Police regarding the alleged use of objectionable, derogatory and sexual remarks and obscene signs by the investor on social media platforms against the complainant and several other women in the past including famous author Rashmi Bansal, who has penned down several books on the Indian startup ecosystem and entreprenuers and a government officer.

    The 52 year-old Murthy is a Engineering drop out and started his career as a salesman for Eureka Forbes before moving on to become the country head at Channel V in 1999.

    As an investor he has helped several smaller startups by providing then seedfund through his early-stage investment firm Seedfund along with Bharati Jacob and Pravin Gandhi.

    Murthy rose to fame following his exit from RedBus in 2013 where he is understood to have made his millions. He has also invested in startups such as CarWale, Afaqs, News Laundary, Chumbak, Doolaly amongst others.

    Murthy, who was also the biggest critic of the e-commerce sector, is known to have criticised and slammed companies such as Flipkart and Snapdeal on social media and public platforms.

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In Condemnation of Rape Threats issued to Shehla Rashid #Vaw


Shehla Come back on Facebook


By – Rahman Abbas

Former JNUSU vice-president and well-known student activist Shehla Rashid was reportedly forced to deactivate her Facebook account , as some Muslim youths issued multiple rape threats and hate messages to her. Shehla’s crime was to speak in support of freedom of interfaith marriages and to raise the issue of the right of Muslim women to choose a partner.  Shehla had raised this issue in the backdrop of the recent murder of Ankit Saxena in Delhi allegedly by the Muslim girlfriend’s family. In addition, Shehla had referred to the Hadiya case and stated that if Muslim girls are not allowed to marry a non-Muslim of her choice, then they lose the moral authority to fight the ruckus created by RSS over so-called love-jihad.

In another post, Shehla had stated that when we insist that Hadiya be treated as an adult, as an individual who has constitutional rights, let’s uphold the same standard for all adult Muslim women regardless of who they love or marry.

Shehla Rasheed has said what she believes in and that is the freedom one enjoys in a democratic setup. She has neither said anything unconstitutional or sacrilegious. In the Hadiya case, everybody except right-wing fanatics were speaking in support of Hadiya’s freedom to choose a partner. While a majority of Muslims remain silent in their response to the report that Ankit Saxena was allegedly killed by the family of his girlfriend, this silent majority believes exactly the way Hindu right-wing fanatics believe that a girl cannot marry outside her faith.

Right-wingers on both sides have tried to snatch the freedom of women in the name of faith and religious beliefs. Moreover, in the public domain, the issue was taken as a tussle between what fanatics want versus the Constitution of India and basic human rights. Shehla has appropriately compared both the cases and demanded equal rights and freedom for women to choose a partner or lover beside or outside the faith of her family. She has spoken in favor of the fundamental rights and about the freedom guaranteed by the Constitution of India.

Shamefully, a bunch of fanatic Muslim youths have abused her online and threatened her with rape. The filthy, uncultured and venomous language used by these youths is criminal, and not only is this, an insult to women but it’s also a blatant disrespect of the teachings of Islam. The patriarchal mindset here has loudly humiliated and attempted to affect the modesty of a girl but the system won’t take action by itself because it has been a blind and mute spectator.

As a friend, I know Shehla Rasheed cannot be dominated by these criminal threats. I can also understand her pain and distress, but again I will urge her soon to come back on Facebook as a warrior against the communal forces and the fanatics alike. The youths who have abused her have shown their ugly mindset.  We all have to fight this inhuman psyche and Shehla, you are the strongest to fight it, expose it, and defeat it.

Shehla had stressed that if we do not make room for love, we deserve to be ruled by hatred. Right now, she has been forced by the hatemongers to deactivate her Facebook account, and if she doesn’t return, it will result in the victory of hatred.

To defeat hate we all have to ask Shehla to come back to fight and reclaim the lost space of love.

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India –   Woman’s caste raises her exposure to mortality: UN report

Ashwaq Masoodi, LiveMint,
The average Dalit woman dies 14.6 years younger than women from higher castes, says the UN report
New Delhi: The average Dalit woman in India dies 14.6 years younger than women from higher castes. While identities, perceived or real, can increase risks of discrimination for an individual or a group, a woman’s caste in India increases her exposure to mortality because of poor sanitation and inadequate healthcare, says a UN report released on late Wednesday night.
“Those left furthest behind in society are often women and girls who experience multiple forms of disadvantage based on gender and other inequalities… This can lead to clustered deprivations where women and girls may be simultaneously disadvantaged in their access to quality education, decent work, health and well-being,” states the report Turning promises into action: gender equality in the 2030 Agenda by UN Women.
Pointing to the “interaction of multiple identities and experiences of exclusion and subordination”—a concept introduced in the 1980s to capture the interaction of gender and race in shaping black women’s experiences in the US, the report says disadvantage is intensified for women and girls living at the intersection of inequalities.
Two years after the adoption of Agenda 2030, this report examines through a gender lens the progress and challenges in the implementation of all the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, adopted by world leaders in 2015, from ending poverty and hunger to tackling climate change. The report highlights how women are affected by each of them and looks at both the ends (goals and targets) and the means (policies and processes) that are needed to make the achievement of the ambitious agenda for sustainable development a reality.
The UN Women report also shows through data how progress for women is a pre-requisite if progress for all is to be achieved.
The report stresses on the commitment to make benefits and services available to all. This commitment, the report says, is complemented by the pledge to “leave no one behind” on the path to sustainable development. “Grounded in the human rights principles of equality and non-discrimination, this commitment recognizes the multiple and intersecting inequalities that so often prevent the full and equal enjoyment of specific groups’ rights in practice,” it says.
The report also points to how in India a young woman aged 20–24 from a poor, rural household is 21.8 times less likely to ever attend school than one from a rich urban household, five times more likely to marry before the age of 18 and 5.8 times as likely to become an adolescent mother.
“The likelihood of being poor is greater if she is landless and from a scheduled caste. Her low level of education and status in the social hierarchy will almost guarantee that if she works for pay, it will be under exploitative working conditions,” the report states.
There has been a significant increase in overall literacy rates and school participation rates across India since the early 1990s. However, gender and social disparities still exist. Scheduled castes (SC), who comprise 16.6% of the population, and scheduled tribes (ST), who make up 8.6% of the population, have lower literacy rates than the Indian average. The literacy rate for female STs is still under 50% and 57% for SC women, while the numbers are slightly higher for men.
The UN Women report shows how women who live in poor households spend as much as 24% of their work time collecting firewood and water, and foraging for edible and non-edible items to be used as food and housing materials, while women in non-poor households allocate about one half of that time, 12%, to such tasks.
Suggesting a way out, the report says strategies to leave no one behind should aim to create a sense of solidarity through risk-sharing, redistribution and universal services. “Where all citizens reap clear benefits from such services, their willingness to contribute to funding them through progressive taxation is also likely to increase,” it says.
SDG Report: Gender Equality

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Delhi Court Rejects Former TERI Head R.K. Pachauri’s Plea for a Gag Order on the Press #Goodnews


A Delhi Trial Court on 13th February 2018 rejected R.K. Pachauri’s plea for a gag order against media reportage covering the allegations made by women that he had sexually harassed them when they worked in TERI. In April 2016, R.K. Pachauri had filed this suit for injunction and defamation seeking damages of Rs. 1 Crore against media houses, against  one of the women who spoke out about being sexually harassed by him and against her lawyer Advocate Vrinda Grover.

In the suit for injunction R.K. Pachauri claimed that his reputation was being damaged by media reportage covering women’s accounts of the manner in which he sexually harassed them while they worked in TERI.

In February 2015, a woman employee of TERI filed an F.IR against R.K. Pachauri for sexually harassing her, this was followed by several other women speaking out about how they were similarly sexually harassed by R.K. Pachauri while they worked in TERI at different points of time.


 The court said ‘Now that being the position of law, the injunction as sought for falls foul to the said explicit proposition of law. Such restraints as sought for not only amounts to enforcing a gag order upon the media but at the same time prevents a right of the public to be kept updated about the developments – their right to know is infracted or trampled upon.” (Para 43)

“A line of argument was advanced on behalf of plaintiff side that plaintiff was not holding any public office and hence viz a viz him or in relation to his affairs the defendant no.1,2 and 3 also could not contend that they were writing or commenting about a public figure or the same was in the larger public interest. Now to my mind this is only a trifle or inconsequent argument – it is not merely that media can make fair comment only in respect of public persons holding public office. The plaintiff himself had stated that he is a recipient of various awards/well decorated and also claims himself to be a leading luminary in his field having national and international stature. Thus, he has a public persona or is a public figure and has to be under public gaze.” (Para 44)

“ In the case in hand, the nature of allegations/statements were no doubt pricking or the pitch of the same was shrilled/annoying and it could also be said that the statements were challenging/provoking in nature but it cannot be said that they had cross over the threshold to qualify them of being of such a nature which would lead to disturbance of public order or any other like serious clear and present danger was revealed or manifested. Though a protest was also there at the office of the plaintiff on 12.02.2016 however, the same may have been done in the zest of being noticed or to cause annoyance and discomfort to the plaintiff or even to raise awareness about the issue of sexual harassment or even may be to elicit the response of the plaintiff. However, the said statements were not of such a nature which would fall within the category of ‘incitement’. (Para 51)

Since day one, Pachauri has been fighting hard to make sure that media coverage of the case be stifled. In fact, as Caravanmagazine reported, “On 16 February, Raghav Ohri, a reporter with the Economic Times, who was preparing to break the story of the complaint, contacted Pachauri for his response to the allegations. Pachauri denied them. He then moved the Delhi High Court for an injunction that barred any individual or media house from publishing any information about the complaint. Ohri’s story made it to the Economic Times’s print edition on 18 February; its web version, however, was taken down in response to the injunction.”

The court, however, lifted the injunction the very next day.

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Deputy Head of UK Charity Oxfam Resigns Over Sex Scandal #Vaw


An Oxfam shop is seen, in London, Britain, February 11, 2018. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls Reuters


LONDON (Reuters) – British charity Oxfam said on Monday that Deputy Chief Executive Penny Lawrence had resigned, taking responsibility for how the organization “failed to act adequately” in response to concerns raised internally about sexual misconduct by some members of staff.

“Over the last few days, we have become aware that concerns were raised about the behavior of staff in Chad as well as Haiti that we failed to adequately act upon,” Lawrence said in a statement.

“It is now clear that these allegations – involving the use of prostitutes and which related to behavior of both the Country Director and members of his team in Chad – were raised before he moved to Haiti.”

The resignation comes as Oxfam is battling to save its British government funding after a newspaper reported alleged sexual misconduct by Oxfam staff in Haiti during humanitarian relief operations there following a 2010 earthquake.

(Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; editing by Stephen Addison)

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#RIP- Human rights icon Asma Jahangir passes away in Lahore

LAHORE: Prominent lawyer and human rights icon Asma Jahangir passed away on Sunday after suffering a stroke. She was 66 years old.

Family sources said Jahangir‘s funeral will be held on February 13 as a family member is in London.

Officials at the private hospital where Jahangir passed away said she was brought to the hospital unconscious after suffering brain hemorrhage resulting from a stroke.

They added that despite several attempts to bring her blood pressure back to normal, she passed away in a state of unconsciousness.

Jahangir’s sister, lawyer and human rights activist Hina Jilani, told Geo News that “the way she [Asma] lived, it’s not just the family’s loss but also of those who are voiceless and whose voices she raised”.

Earlier, her daughter, broadcast journalist Munizae Jahangir, shared on Twitter that the family is awaiting relatives to return to Lahore before the funeral can be held.

I am devastated @ loss of my mother Asma Jahangir.We shall B announcing date of funeral soon.We R waiting 4 our relatives 2 return 2 Lahore

Bar associations across the country have said they will be observing three days of mourning and not partake in court proceedings.

Jahangir remained the head of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and the Supreme Court Bar Association.

She was known for taking up court cases of victimised and marginalised sections of society, as well as speaking against human rights violations and her courageous stand against the military rule of General Zia-ul-Haq.

An author and staunch activist of democracy, Jahangir also received several accolades for her work on human rights.

Jahangir was also a vocal opponent of judicial overreach and would often confront the superior judiciary when it would extend its jurisdiction in her opinion.

In the last post on her Twitter account, Jahangir cautioned the Supreme Court from selectively using the contempt of court law.

Nehal Hashmi’s tone and words cannot be defended but use of contempt law selectively only undermines confidence in the system of justice

Asma Jahangir (1952-2018)

Born in Lahore on January 27, 1952, Jahangir completed her bachelors of arts and law from Lahore and then went on to pursue higher legal studies from Switzerland, Canada and US.

Jahangir taught constitutional law at Quaid-e-Azam Law College, Lahore.

She conducted consultancy on judicial reforms in Pakistan and Bangladesh for the Asian Development Bank and World Bank. Jahangir also remained a member of the Commission of Enquiry for Women from 1994-1997.

From 1998-200 Jahangir served as the special rapporteur of the UN Commission on Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions and was the special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief of the UN Commission on Human Rights since 2004.

Jahangir was also an executive member at the International Crisis Group and chief economist advisory council member of World Bank since 2001.

She was also the founding member of Women’s Action Forum, Pakistan.

Jahangir also received several awards, including the 2014 Right Livelihood Award, 2010 Freedom Award, Hilal-e-Imtiaz in 2010 and Sitara-e-Imtiaz, UNESCO/Bilbao Prize for the Promotion of a Culture of Human Rights in 2010 and an Officier de la Légion d’honneur by France in 2014. The Legion of Honour is the highest French award.

At present, she was a partner at AGHS Law Associates and head of its legal aid cell.

Outpour of grief

Following the sad news, messages of grief and condolences poured in.

President Mamnoon Hussain said Jahangir had rendered unprecedented services for the rule of law. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said the country had lost a courageous and disciplined person who fought fearlessly for human rights. Supreme Court Chief Justice Saqib Nisar said the entire country pays tribute to Jahangir’s services.

Condolences also poured in on Twitter over the demise of Jahangir.

إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ

Deeply saddened by the news of sudden demise of renowned lawyer and human rights activist Asma Jahangir sahiba. Pakistan has lost a passionate champion of human rights and a staunch supporter of democracy. May her soul rest in peace!

My dearest friend and leader Asma Jehangir has passed away. We are in a state of shock and grief. This void will not be easily filled. Her courage to speak truth to power was unprecedented and exemplary. Asma! Rest in Power!

Shocked to hear @Asma_Jahangir passed away. Huge loss for us, for . She was courageous, fearless, invincible. In absolute disbelief. Please pray for her & her family.

.@asma_jahangir What a brave woman.Pakistan poorer without her.People like Asma are anchors of a society.The brave and dedicated daughter of a brave father.After 3 generations of camaraderie between our families,this is a deep personal loss.God bless her soul

Shocked & deeply saddened to hear of Asma Jehangir’s sudden death. It is an irreparable loss. May she rest in eternal peace. Ameen.

Sorry to hear about asma jahangir passing away. I disagreed with many of her political positions but respected the fact that she clearly stood up for what she believed in

Shocking to hear about the passing of this brave woman. Her honesty and sincerity to her cause remains an inspiration for our generation. Was always so full of life. We will miss you ma’am. @Asma_Jahangir

Aasma Jahangir was a woman of extraordinary determination.Her dedication to justice gave many people of Balochistan hope. A woman who fought patriarchy & non-democratic forces was truly what it takes to be an Iron Lady.Thank you Asma Jahangir. Balochistan is forever in your debt

Bravest, fearless, a true democrat Asma Jahangir has passed away… sad day… RIP

An extraordinary woman who fought for ordinary people. Asmaji had the audacity and the courage to fight for a fairer world. Thank you for touching our lives. 🙏🙏🙏

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Heartbroken that we lost Asma Jahangir – a saviour of democracy and human rights.

I met her a week ago in Oxford. I cannot believe she is no more among us. The best tribute to her is to continue her fight for human rights and democracy.

Asma Jehangir’s death is a loss of a strong voice for the marginalised and oppressed. Despite our differences I always respected her for her fight for human rights and for standing up for her convictions.

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