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Archives for : Women Rights

Chhattisgarh Cops squeeze the breasts of young tribal women to “certify” that they are lactating #WTFnews

The disgraceful pastime of Chhattisgarh cops


IN Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region, the police first brand young tribal women as Naxalite sympathisers and use this ruse to raid their homes and villages. (Women recruits in Maoist camps are not allowed to marry or become pregnant). It is when a young woman beseeches the cops that she is not a Maoist and that she is a mother, the law-enforcers demand proof. So they squeeze her breasts to verify that she is not telling a lie. Obviously, the “anti-national” slur is only a ploy to satiate their crude, carnal pleasures, inflicting deeps wounds into the psyche of the hapless women.

On January 31, Gayathiri Bose, a 33-year-old Singaporean mother, was forced to lactate by security officials at Frankfurt airport (en route Paris) to prove that she was still breastfeeding as they thought her breast pump was suspicious. She was travelling without her baby due to some domestic reasons. Bose told BBC that she was forced to go into a private room for questioning with a female officer where she was told to open her blouse, show her breast and squeeze it. After a 45-minute ordeal she was allowed to board her flight to Paris. Bose said she left ‘humiliated’ and is considering legal action. Bose is educated, articulate and well-off and may pursue her tormentors, and make a fortune out of a possible damage suit. The German official’s conduct is deplorable even if it was spurred by the looming shadow of global terrorism.

If you are shocked to hear about the humiliation of Gayathiri Bose, hold your breath; you will be even more jolted to read about what is happening in our own backyard. In Frankfurt, Bose was told to lactate by a “woman officer”, who did not touch her breast. In Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region, policemen, yes you heard right (male cops), squeeze the breasts of young tribal women to “certify” that they are lactating. Even more disgusting is the fact that women’s breasts are fondled and squeezed in the pretext of “anti-national operations” by gun-toting, fun-loving male cops. The police first brand them as Naxalite sympathisers and use this ruse to raid their homes and villages. (Women recruits in Maoist camps are not allowed to marry or become pregnant). It is when a young woman beseeches the cops that she is not a Maoist and that she is a mother, the law-enforcers demand proof. So they squeeze her breasts to verify that she is not telling a lie. Obviously, the “anti-national” slur is only a ploy to satiate their crude, carnal pleasures, inflicting deeps wounds into the psyche of the hapless women.

A group of tribal women in a village in Bastar, recently narrated their demeaning existence to television journalist Tanushree Pandey of CNN-News 18. Huddled in a remote forested area, shamed and vulnerable, the victims recounted their horror stories (that they endured between October 2015 and January 2016) to News 18, the only channel that traversed 1500-odd km to talk to the abused women caught between a ruthless police and the Maoists. “I was four months pregnant when I was raped. They (the security forces) did not care I was pregnant,” said a feeble voice, her face blurred by the channel. Another said, she had just delivered (eight hours before) and lactating. “They were not convinced and a cop squeezed my breasts to see if there was milk.” Another woman said “they groped me, sexually assaulted and beat me.”  Yet another said “Four men blindfolded me and raped me, later they left me unconscious…” The women said the police also “loot their homes in the name of search” for Maoists. Some rued that their houses were “hijacked” by the security men and “we could not enter our own houses”.

These incidents have been happening for quite some time away from civilisational glare. Unfortunately, they do not make prime time news. With the sole exception of CNN-News 18, no national television channel has aired the abominable acts of the law-enforcers. In TRP obsessed television journalism, a rape in Delhi, Mumbai or Bangalore gets instant, feverish coverage with anchors dissecting every detail of the incident, mouthing simulated indignation. Women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi last Friday demanded President’s rule in Kerala following the rape of a Malayalam film actress near Kochi. Hope she will seek stringent action against Chhattisgarh cops if not President’s rule in the state.

Despite a slew of social welfare schemes, the condition of the downtrodden continues to be abysmal. Even basic human rights are denied. The horror stories from Chhattisgarh invalidate the claims that smaller states are better administered. The situation of the underprivileged is more or less the same in Jharkhand and Telangana also. While in Chhattisgarh, those questioning government policies are branded “anti-nationals” and Maoist sympathisers, in Telangana, they are dubbed “anti-Telangana people”. Last year, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) released a “perspective paper” on alternative development. The party undertook a “mahajana padayatra” in Telangana to canvass and mobilise public support for the slogan “Comprehensive Development of State with Social Justice.” The padayatra crisscrossed some 2000 km in 600-odd villages in two months and received tonnes of inputs from people seeking better alternatives and better governance.

The TRS, which rode to power in 2014 in the emotionally charged elections, has become yet another bourgeoisie party vigorously pursuing globalisation and liberalisation policies even as disparities between people and regions have been widening. According to social scientists, the main reason for the uneven distribution of income in India is the “large sectoral income variations” giving rise to widening regional disparities. The Economic Survey released last month by the finance ministry has mooted Universal Basic Income (in lieu of existing state benefits) to combat poverty. While UBI has become a globally accepted policy concept as an antidote to high inequality and the prospect of job losses due to automation, critics do not fully endorse it. In place of UBI, the CPM has demanded “Universal Basic Entitlement” – as the income is not stable and can evaporate whereas entitlements remain constant and people can always access them for their own utility. Rather than a client-ship paradigm, “equal partnership” programme is best suited in the Indian context, the comrades aver. Development economist Jean Dre’ze though supports the UBI in principle, is also cautious as it could become a “Trojan horse” for dismantling of hard-won entitlements of the underprivileged.

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Gurmehar Kaur’s message of peace had 347 words. Sehwag, Randeep Hooda and Modi Bhakts read only 9

On April 28th, 2016, a video of Gurmehar Kaur, the daughter of a Kargil martyr, went viral. In this video, she appealed the Governments of India and Pakistan to find ways to make peace. This video has been watched by over 1.5 million people on the Facebook page it was initially posted on and tens of thousands of times on other platforms such as Youtube. In a 4 and a half minute video, she held 36 posters, one after another, with handwritten messages on them where in she narrated her story of how she lost her father at the age of 2, how she used to hate Pakistan, Pakistanis and Muslims, and how she overcame her hate. The 13th poster out of the 36 posters read “Pakistan did not kill my dad, war killed him”. After Gurmehar Kaur recently spoke out against the attack on students by ABVP at Ramjas College, Delhi, this 13th poster has become a bone of contention for many.

Pakistan did not kill by dad, war killed him.

Ever since Gurmehar spoke out against ABVP, she has been trolled incessantly and has been at the end of endless abuse, rape threats and more. She was even accused of misusing her father’s martyrdom for political ends. As if that weren’t enough, a couple of celebs got into the act last evening. It started with Virendra Sehwag posing with the following poster.

sehwag I didn't score two triple centuries, my bat did.

The poster read, “I didn’t score two triple centuries, my bad did.” The poster was meant to mock Gurmehar’s 13th poster which read “Pakistan did not kill my dad, war killed him”. Soon enough, Randeep Hooda joined the action when he tweeted a poster comparing the above two images.

Randeep hooda tweet Gurmehar Kaur

Around the same time, BJP MP Pratap Simha tweeted the following comparison between Gurmehar and Dawood Ibrahim.

Pratap Simha tweet Gurmehar Kaur

These tweets kicked off a new round of vicious trolling and abuse with many Modi supporters whom the PM himself follows on Twitter getting into the act. Unfortunately, Sehwag, Hooda and the trolls completely overlooked the context in which she held up that 13th poster. In fact, the words in that 13th poster weren’t even hers, they were the words of a slain army officer’s wife, they were the words of a mother trying to tell her angry-conflicted daughter that it is the war that killed her husband, and not Pakistan. The little girl had just tried to attack a burqa-clad woman thinking that it was the woman who was responsible for her father’s death and the mother was trying to hold her daughter back and trying to calm her down. Even though the nuance of such a statement could be hard for many to understand, especially for those who form their world-view based on WhatsApp forwards, what the mother was probably trying to express is that it is the war and the politics of wars that consumes people.

In fact, Sehwag, Hooda and the troll gang fixated on exactly 9 words out of Gurmehar Kaur’s 347-word message of peace. I have transcribed the video and the 347 word message is as follows:

“Hi 🙂 My name is Gurmehar Kaur. I am from Jalandhar, India. This is my dad Capt. Mandeep Singh. He was killed in the 1999 Kargil War. I was 2 years old when he died. I have very few memories of him. I have more memories of how it feels NOT to have a father. I also remember how much I used to hate Pakistan & Pakistanis because they killed my Dad. I used to hate Muslims too because I thought all Muslims are Pakistanis. When I was 6 years old, I tried to stab a lady in a burkha. Because for some strange reason, I thought she was responsible for my father’s death. My mother held me back and made me understand that Pakistan did not kill my dad, war killed him. It took me a while to know but today I do. I have learnt to let go of my hate. It was not easy but its not difficult. If I can do it, so can you. Today, I am a soldier too, just like my dad. I fight for peace between India and Pakistan. Because if there was no war between us, my father would still be here. I am making this video because I want the Governments of both countries to stop pretending and solve the problem. If France & Germany can become friends after 2 World Wars, if Japan & USA can put their past behind and work towards progress, then why can’t we?? Majority of regular Indians and Pakistanis want peace, not war. I am questioning the calibre of leadership of both nations. We cannot dream of becoming a first world country with third world leadership. Please pull your socks up. Talk to each other and get the job done.Enough state sponsored terrorism. Enough state-sponsored spies. Enough state-sponsored hatred. Enough people have died on both sides of the border. Enough is Enough. I wish to live in a world where there are no Gurmehar Kaurs who miss their Dad. I am not alone, there are many like me. #ProfileForPeace”.

The original video can be seen below:

After reading the above text and watching the above video, one can easily see how Sehwag, Hooda and the troll gang robbed all the nuance from this poignant message of peace. Randeep Hooda, in fact, kept going on for quite a while and called her a ‘pawn’ and a ‘prop’ thus trying to portray that Gurmehar doesn’t have an independent faculty of thought.

randeep hooda calls gurmehar a political pawn, she responds.

One may or may not agree with what Gurmehar has to say but it is rather disgusting to cherry-pick a single poster out of the 36 posters and make that the basis of trolling, abuse and character assassination. It is even more disgusting when one realises that those words were a mother’s advice to a daughter who’s lost her father. While the 20 year old Gurmehar handled all this with a lot of poise and elegance, for many others, this episode is deeply unsettling.

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Ramjas violence: DCW issues notice to Delhi Police, says female protesters were molested #Vaw

“Revolting that cops pinch n punched girls. Shame that protectors turned violators,” Swati Maliwal tweeted.

Ramjas violence, Ramjas college, ABVP, AISA, anti national slogans, delhi police, DCW, Delhi Commission for Women, Swati Maliwal, protesters molested, indian express, india news, latest newsRamjas College had on Wednesday witnessed attacks on Ramjas students and Left-affiliated AISA and protests by the RSS-backed ABVP.Two days after the Ramjas College incident, the Delhi Commission for Women on Saturday issued a notice to Delhi Police asking who ordered the lathi-charge against the protesting students. DCW chairperson Swati Maliwal also said that the policemen attacking female protesters in DU could be charged for molestation and that severe punishment was needed. “Policemen attacking female protesters in DU may amount to molestation; severe punishment needed,” she told news agency ANI.

Students Raise Slogans Against ABVP At Delhi’s Ramjas College

Maliwal also tweeted saying that she was shocked that police was now openly molesting the protesters and it was shameful that those who were supposed to protect had turned into violators. “Was part of several protests. Been lathi charged but never touched by police. Cops turning into goons now. Molesting protesters openly (sic),” she said, also urging for an independent high level inquiry in the matter. “Revolting that cops pinch n punched girls. Shame that protectors turned violators. Need a high level independent enquiry into the incident.”

Ramjas College had on Wednesday witnessed attacks on students, the Left-affiliated AISA and protests by the RSS-backed ABVP against an invite to JNU students Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid to address a seminar on ‘Culture of Protests’. The seminar was withdrawn by the college authorities following opposition by the ABVP. The Delhi Police has acknowledged “unprofessional” conduct on the part of some of its personnel during the clash and suspended three policemen.

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#SundayReading – The goddess of small things

An old devadasi from the village.   | Photo Credit: Piyush Goswami

She was five when she was dedicated to a temple. But Galamma is busy crafting a better future for her children

Galamma sat on the floor. Her eyes yearned for sleep; something she had lost 20 years ago. She raked her fingers through her tousled hair. Her eyes darted towards the narrow street beside her house from time to time. And we stared at her; at the scarlet tinge of her lips, the green bangles on her wrist, and the cracked soles of her feet.

“I was five,” she said chewing betel leaf, her forehead lined with worry. “That was my age when they tied the muthu (pearl) around my neck. My mother couldn’t speak very well. Her hands and legs didn’t work any more. So she prayed to Uligamma. She promised to dedicate her daughter to the deity. An astrologer told her it would bring them luck. She kept her promise. But she was never cured. And I became a devadasi.”

We met Galamma in Naregalu of Koppal district in Karnataka. Born Dalit, Galamma also became a devadasi, double jeopardy in her milieu. Even though the Karnataka Devadasi (Prohibition of Dedication) Act, 1982, has waged a relentless war against the regressive practice of dedicating daughters to the temple, the repercussions of the system continue to be felt in these areas decades after their abolishment.

“In our culture, girls are treated with cruelty,” said Galamma, as she shooed away the roosters in her courtyard. “I had no choice but to accept my fate. It was extremely difficult. I have five children. If you are married, no matter who you are, you are considered virtuous. But if you are a devadasi, you acquire the status of a prostitute. We are filth, they reminded us. And we never forgot.”

The next generation

In a corner of the room, her daughter Suneetha rocked back and forth. She fidgeted with her long braid, as she listened to her mother speak. It was a story she was familiar with. “Men came and left as they pleased. Sometimes they couldn’t even provide for us,” said Galamma. “There were days when we didn’t have anything to eat. I felt alone. Perhaps if I had a husband, we could have shared our troubles. No one should go through what I went through. We can’t change our past. But we can create a better future for our children. That willingness to change must come from within,” she explained.

Suneetha dropped out of school many years ago soon after the birth of her little brother because there was no one to look after him. She re-enrolled and today, she is in Class X and lives in Bandhavi, a residential school set up by the non-profit organisation Visthar in Koppal. The organisation has spent decades rehabilitating the children of devadasis by helping them get an education.

“I am fair and my sisters have dark skin,” Suneetha confided one afternoon. “We don’t have the same father. As a kid, I often wondered why I looked different. At times, people in the village would pass hurtful remarks. ‘Why don’t you look like your siblings?’ they would ask.” She sobbed for a while, then said, wiping away her tears, “Houdu, nanna Amma devadasi.” (Yes, my mother is a devadasi.) “But she will always be my mother. Despite all the hardships she went through, she continues to fight for women. She encourages parents to educate their daughters, to make them more aware of their rights. She has immense strength in her soul. And I couldn’t be more proud of her.”

Her mother bled for days after giving birth to her brother. Suneetha remembers it all: her going to work with a swollen belly, the baby being born, her falling sick. Everything. There was no one to take care of them. “I too have dreams,” she declared. “When I grow up, I want to be a nurse. There aren’t any doctors or nurses in our village. People are sick all the time. And they don’t get any help. Many die. Maybe I can help someday.”

Her older sister Mahalakshmi fiddled with the stove in the kitchen. She works as a teacher, and is one of the few fighting back. Why don’t others, we ask. She explained to us that the continuous oppression of Dalits had left such an indelible mark on their identity that they could not differentiate between normal and unjust behaviour. “Even today, we are prohibited from entering temples meant for Lingayats. One day I broke that tradition,” she said with pride. “Everyone stared at me dumbfounded. What was a Dalit girl doing here, they wondered. They all knew who I was but made no attempt to throw me out. Discrimination exists, no doubt. Maybe it isn’t as dire as it was decades ago. But it’s there.”

As a young girl, she told us, the absence of a father had left a great void. She didn’t know who he was. She didn’t know what it meant to have a father. At times, she felt betrayed. “I was constantly reminded that I have no appa. There were times when I yelled at my mother and refused to speak to her for months. I blamed her for my troubles. ‘Neenu nanna thaayi alla,’ (You are not my mother) I told her once,” she said, bowing her head, “I feel ashamed of what I said. I was very young. But she always forgave us. She never abandoned us. We paid a heavy price for what our ancestors did. They condoned a practice that only brought us misery. This should not happen again.”

And it doesn’t. No one dedicates their girls to the goddess anymore, said Galamma, sipping on her tea. She then spoke of times when Lingayat men refused to sit with Dalit men at tea stalls, when people offered her water from a distance, when their wages were thrown on the ground. “They didn’t want to risk touching the hands of a Dalit. Those were the years when we were stripped of our dignity.” She went through all that, and much more. “On several occasions, I wanted to question them, to stand up and fight. But I didn’t. I was poor and worked on their farms. I couldn’t afford to lose my job. Who would feed my children?”

Beside Galamma sat a middle-aged man. His eyes were scarlet. He looked everywhere except at us. At times, he stared at the walls tracing their cracks to the corners. “Mahalakshmi’s father came back five years ago. He wanted to live with us,” said Galamma, pressing her knees. “By then, I had everything. I built all this myself. He has returned but I can’t marry him because it’s forbidden to do so. He is here, but I don’t know if I am lonely. It’s uncertain in my head. And this is the only emotion I am familiar with—uncertainty. This is all I know.”

Mahalakshmi’s father is an alcoholic. He seemed calm but at night, he could turn violent, Suneetha muttered under her breath.

It happened again a few days ago. Suneetha gazed at the trees above her and whispered, “I don’t sleep very well at night when I’m home.” Her voice broke as she said, “Appa keeps yelling at my mother. I don’t like it. He drinks too much. Sometimes, I reprimand him for his behaviour. I can’t stop worrying about amma.” Then she fell silent.

The writers have travelled 30,000 km across India over the past year for their social art project ‘Rest of My Family’.

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Dear Censor Board, stop shoving sanskaar down our throat

Alankrita Shrivastava’s Lipstick Under My Burkha was refused a censor certificate for being “lady oriented” and exploring women’s sexual fantasies.

A still from Lipstick Under My Burkha

Alankrita Shrivastava’s film Lipstick Under My Burkha is not the first victim of the Censor Board’s snip-happy tendencies. From bra shots in Sidharth Malhotra and Katrina Kaif-starrer Baar Baar Dekho to lines like “I have the Indian figure” in Pan Nalin’s Angry Indian Goddesses, the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has repeatedly resorted to chopping off whatever it deems un-sanskaari.

As for Lipstick Under My Burkha, Alankrita’s film has been denied a certificate because “the story is lady oriented, their fantasy above life.” To give you some context, the film tells the story of the sexual awakening of four women (their ages ranging from a teenage college girl to a 55-year-old widow) in Bhopal, who want to break the barriers of the patriarchal society and explore their inner selves. Ratna Pathak Shah’s voiceover in the film’s trailer tells you what the film is all about – “Khandar se ghar ke ek bandh kamre mein Rosy qaid thi… Apne jawaan rangeen armaano ke saath bilkul akeli. (In a dingy room of the old house, Rosy was trapped… Alone with her racy dreams and desires)”

But for the CBFC, sex is that-dark-deed-which-must-not-be-named. And a film on women’s sexuality? How dare you! According to a report in The Times Of India, the 2015 film Badmashiyan faced a bizarre instance of censorship – in a scene where the girl files a complaint of molestation, the words “hum-bistri” had to be muted from her dialogue. The baffling part is that the CBFC had no objection to the same words, when used by the guy.

The CBFC’s reasoning shows the way they think – “lady oriented” films dealing with their fantasies must be locked into a box and thrown into the depths of the ocean, never to be even accidentally stumbled upon. Although it is not really the CBFC, but one man – CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani.

Nihalani has often been accused of forcibly passing his dictatorial decisions off as the call of the Censor Board. But as member Ashoke Pandit’s tweet would show, the decision is not unanimous. “I condemn the denial of #CensorCertificate to @prakashjha27’s film #LipstickUndermyBurkha. Its an act of arrogance by Pahalaj Nihalani (sic),” he tweeted this morning, outraged by the CBFC’s decision to deny Lipstick Under My Burkha a certificate. Nihalani has been shoving sanskaar down our throats for a long time; and even James Bond was not spared. Remember how Daniel Craig’s kiss with Monica Bellucci in 2015’s Spectre was snipped by half?

In an interview with The Hindu in 2015, Nihalani had openly taken on the role of the moral police and said that he does not mind being conservative if his actions are in the “interests of the nation”. “I will give the right kind of content. I will monitor the sensitive things that might harm the society,” he had said, adding, “In the name of modern, we can’t barter our country. We can’t sell our culture.” In the interview, Nihalani self-appoints himself as a guardian of our culture, arguing that youngsters will get a wrong impression if they are exposed to films which do not have, as he calls it, “the right kind of content”. One wonders if that was the rationale behind allowing films like Mastizaade and Great Grand Masti to have a smooth release. Or allowing kisses galore in Befikre because the protagonists are Indians in Paris who do not reflect our sanskaar.

According to The Cinematograph Act, “a film shall not be certified for public exhibition, if, in the opinion of the authority competent to grant the certificate, the film or any part of it is against the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the States, friendly relations with foreign State, public order, decency or morality or involves defamation or contempt of court or is likely to incite the commission of any offence”. Given that “decency” and “morality” are subjective terms with no set standards, who decides what is unacceptable?

In fact, a report prepared by the Mudgal Committee appointed by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to “examine the issues of certification under the Cinematograph Act 1952,” admits that there can never be watertight or rigid guidelines for certifying a film. It’s the context that is of more relevance. “The courts have over the years attempted to grapple, with little success one might add, to give precise meanings to terms such as morality, obscenity and excessive violence etc. These are concepts which are incapable of surgically precise definitions and interpretation of such terms will vary from person to person.”

Keeping this in mind, the entire concept of censorship becomes redundant. Films have fought a bitter battle against the censors and won. 89 cuts were suggested for Alia Bhatt and Shahid Kapoor-starrer Udta Punjab, including the removal of the word Punjab from its title. The Bombay High Court overturned the directive and told the CBFC that its job was to certify, not censor.

And with all the piracy and easy access to the internet, it isn’t effective, anyway.

To give Lipstick Under My Burkha an ‘A’ certificate is understandable, but to ban it altogether is patently unconstitutional. And ridiculous, to say the least.

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Naliya gang rape: Victim faces FIR; govt orders judicial probe into case #Vaw #WTFnews

Hiral Dave
Hindustan Times, Ahmedabad
Naliya gang rape

The victim was allegedly gang raped by nine men, including BJP members, in Naliya town of Gujarat’s Kutch.(Representative image)

A 24-year-old woman, who was allegedly gang raped by nine men, including BJP members, in Naliya town of Gujarat’s Kutch, has been accused of criminal breach of trust and cheating by her former husband.

The first class judicial magistrate SS Brahmbhatt asked Gujarat police earlier this week to file an FIR against the woman under sections 406 (criminal breach of trust), 419 (cheating by personation) and 504 (insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) based on a complaint filed by her ex-husband.

Kalpesh Momaya, a resident of Kutch, had moved court and alleged that his former wife cheated him by decamping with jewellery and cash to the tune of Rs 25,000 a day after they got married on January 31, 2016. They got divorced the next month and she remarried her first husband.

Momaya has also named the parents of the woman, a resident of Mumbai, and one Ismile Bhukhara of Kothara village in Abdasa taluka of Kutch in the complaint.

“An FIR will be registered against the rape victim once we receive the written copy of the court order,” Kutch (West) superintendent of police Makrand Chauhan told Hindustan Times.

The gang rape is also being investigated by Kutch (West) police under the supervision of CID (crime).

A couple of days after the local court’s order, the Gujarat government on Wednesday announced to hold a judicial probe into the rape case.

“We are committed to ensuring that all guilty are punished and no one is spared,” chief minister Vijay Rupani said in the state assembly after opposition Congress members voiced the demand, forcing frequent adjournments of the House.

The Congress has tried to corner the Bharatiya Janata Party over the gang rape case as four of the nine accused are BJP members, including two councillors.


According to the FIR filed by the woman in January this year at Naliya police station, she was raped on different occasions for more than a year since August 2015. She had come to her mother’s house at Kothara village from Mumbai looking for work. She got a job at an LPG distribution agency in Naliya run by BJP member Shantilal Solanki.

She alleged that in August 2015, Solanki called her to his home to give her salary. He allegedly spiked her cold drink and assaulted her with the help of two others who took turns to rape her.

They also filmed the sexual assault and used the tapes to blackmail her and rape her multiple times. She also alleged that Solanki along with 65 other men ran a sex racket in which they had exploited at least 35 women.

Besides Solanki, BJP workers Govind Parumalani, Ajit Ramvani and Vasant Bhanushali have been named in the FIR. Ramvani and Bhanushali are councillors of Gandhidham municipality. All four have been suspended from the primary membership of the BJP.

The case took a political turn after Congress hit the streets demanding a fair probe into the incident.

The Congress, which has claimed to have sex CDs of BJP leaders in connection with the same case, took out a rally from Naliya to Gandhinagar this week. The opposition party has also frequently disrupted assembly proceedings till the announcement of a judicial probe.

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Unwarranted Hysterectomies- Would authorities help if Men’s Genitalia Had Been Removed?

Docs Remove Women’s Uteruses for Profit, Authorities Refuse to Help. Would it be Different if Men’s Genitalia Had Been Removed?

By Ila Ananya


Photo courtesy: Vijayakumar Seethappa.

On 6th February, around 600 Dalit and Lambadi women from different tandas in Aland, Kalaburagi, Chittapur and Chincholi districts in Karnataka gathered outside the office of the Kalaburagi Deputy Commissioner (DC).

Most of these women were victims of unwarranted hysterectomies — the complete removal of the uterus — performed by doctors in private hospitals. The women had been conned by these doctors, who diagnosed a risk of cancer for problems like irregular menstrual cycles, white discharge or pain in the lower abdomen. An urgent hysterectomy, these doctors said, was the only way their lives could be saved. Hysterectomies had become a business, and women’s bodies were the new market.

On Monday the 6th, the protesting women were angry and aggressive. They demanded to meet the DC, and when told that he was ‘out on business’, the women decided to storm the office. “It almost became a law and order situation,” says Akhila Vasan, state convener of the Karnataka Janarogya Chalavali (KJC), a group of public health activists. “But because of the aggressive pressure, the government responded.” The Additional Regional Commissioner assured the women that the doctors would now be booked with criminal cases immediately, and hospitals that had performed such hysterectomies would also be immediately closed. Additionally, the women would also be given compensation after a committee was formed to identify the victims.

Vasan says that the matter had first come to light back in 2015 during KJC’s ‘Health as Human Rights’ workshop in Gulbarga. One of the activists found that women in the villages were talking of a big “bimaari” (illness) in the villages, where their doctors told them they were at the risk of cancer when they went to them with any gynecological problems. “You have had children,” they were told, “so why do you need this organ?”


Photo courtesy: Vijayakumar Seethappa.

6th February was the second time these women came together to protest this injustice and exploitation. Their first protest, also in front of the DC’s office, had been a year-and-a-half earlier, demanding an enquiry into mass unwarranted hysterectomies that had been performed in the area. The KJC had submitted a report while a second report was submitted by a committee set up by the Commissioner of Health and Family Welfare. In both reports, 98 percent of the 707 women spoken to reported undergoing hysterectomies in private hospitals. Thirty eight hospitals were named. What was additionally shocking was how young these women were — 65 percent were less than 35 years old, while 25 percent were less than 30 years old.

In its fact-finding report, the KJC analysed the women’s medical records and whether they had really needed the hysterectomies. They found that, besides the unnecessary and cruel operations, no medical procedure was followed even in cases where women had died of hysterectomies. There was no post-mortem done, the body was cremated in a suspicious manner and families were bribed to stay silent. Between 25th January and 2ndFebruary, 2017, KJC had campaigned in 35 tandas showing women the state’s reports about hysterectomies, asking them what they thought should be done. This was when the women decided to go on an indefinite protest.

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Till date, no FIRs or cases have been filed against these criminal doctors and hospitals. “The reports have been with you for one-and-a-half years, but what have you done,” Vasan describes the women as asking. She sounds furious when she says that private hospitals in India enjoy maximum impunity.

Maitreyi Krishnan, an advocate who has been helping women in Kalaburagi file complaints, says that they had first approached the police to file an FIR a year-and-a-half ago. No FIR was registered and the police didn’t take suo moto cognisance either. The hospitals continued to function and the doctor’s licenses were not revoked. Next, the women had approached the Kalaburagi bench in the Karnataka High Court. On 5thJanuary 2017, the bench had finally issued a notice to the Health Department demanding a response.

Women protesting at Kalaburagi. Photo courtesy Vinay Sreenivasa, ALF.

Photo courtesy: Vijayakumar Seethappa.

Amidst all this, Vasan says, some of the women have been threatened to withdraw their complaints — they speculate that the rich privileged doctors are behind this. According to Narendra Gupta, who filed a PIL on unwarranted hysterectomies in the Supreme Court back in 2013, many such accused doctors have tried to bribe protesting women and used local politicians to exert pressure on them to withdraw their cases.

Hysterectomies have many health impacts. Sapna Desai, Health and Research Coordinator at Sewa Co-Operative, a women’s organisation that operates a community-based health insurance scheme, says that the procedure results not just in early menopause but also causes a decrease in oestrogen production and increases the risk of cardio-vascular disease and osteoporosis. The women in Kalaburagi were never told of these consequences.

Krishnan says that either the Medical Council (a statutory body regulating medical colleges and doctors registration) or the consumer court can be approached in such cases, but neither is a strong option. “In consumer courts, the only possible result is compensation for the victims. The doctors face no other punishment, even if their actions have resulted in death,” says Vasan.

On the other hand, she says that if the police are required to file an FIR for medical negligence under the current law, the complainants first need to get the approval of the Medical Council. The next barrier comes here –Medical Council enquiries are conducted by peers. “If members to the Medical Council are elected by their own fraternity, do you think they are going to act against them?” Vasan asks.

In Kalaburagi, too, the KJC first approached the Karnataka Medical Council (KMC) with a fact-finding report about a case where a young woman had died on the operation theatre table during a hysterectomy. After spending a year on the case, the KJC was dismissed on flimsy grounds two months ago. “The KMC allowed the doctor to go free even though there was proof that the doctor had threatened the victim’s family and bribed her husband with Rs 3 lakh,” Vasan says. According to her, the doctor had got the husband to say that he didn’t want to press charges. The husband said that he believed that the cause of her death was anaphylactic shock. The KMC dismissed the case without even calling for the Karnataka Women’s Commission’s video proof, in which the man supposedly said he had been bribed and made to sign a paper without knowing its contents.

Also Read:  Our Blind Spots on Rural Pregnancy in India Revealed, One Video at a Time

Photo courtesy: Vijayakumar Seethappa.

Such unwarranted hysterectomies have been happening across the country. Jashodhara Dasgupta of SAHAYOG, a voluntary organisation working on women’s health, says that hysterectomies have also been wrongfully carried out in other parts of India as well — and sometimes these scams even deploy government health schemes. The Rashtriya Swasthya Bhima Yojna, a government health scheme for unorganised workers in India, for instance, provides Rs 30,000 for a family of five. But the money can only be used if patients are admitted in hospitals. Between 2010 and 2012, Dasgupta says, many women were diagnosed with great urgency that they absolutely had to have hysterectomies. The doctors then admitted them into hospitals and charged them the full Rs 30,000 available on the scheme.

Similarly, hysterectomies became a scam under the Aarogyasri scheme in 2008. The scheme itself was started in undivided Andhra Pradesh in 2006. SV Kameswari, from Life-HRG, an NGO providing basic healthcare services in Medak, Telangana, found that 163 hysterectomies had been performed by private hospitals (as compared to eight in government hospitals) in Medak alone, between October 2008 and June 2009. In private hospitals, the discharge summary for the women was found to be mostly blank with no information about the procedure done or follow-up instructions.

Vasan argues that we must begin to hold the state responsible for being unable to protect these women against such criminal doctors. She is hopeful that there will finally be some justice after the protest this month. However, given how reluctant the police have been to begin investigations and how slowly the legal appeal has progressed, these women worry if the Additional Regional Commissioner’s promises will hold any meaning after all.

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Sexual harassment – underbelly of the Indian startup ecosystem exposed #Vaw

With the startup ecosystem polarised over the recent sexual harassment accusations by some women entrepreneurs, it is time to explore why women do not speak up. 

Women always think twice before they put anyone, especially sexual offenders, under the bus. In fact, they think thrice, four times, even five until it is so late that they talk themselves into believing that they were the ones at fault.

If you have been following the recent multiple sexual harassment episodes involving investor Mahesh Murthy reported on social media, you may have noticed the undertone of the conversations that is steering the blame squarely on the doors of these women entrepreneurs.

For those of you late to the party, here’s a quick brief. On Saturday, entrepreneur Pooja Chauhan, who is the co-founder of Vayuz, posted on her LinkedIn page saying she finally gathered the courage to make public a lewd message from Murthy as a response to her Christmas greetings. Another entrepreneur, Wamika Iyer, Founder of, too shared her conversation with Murthy that had made her uncomfortable because of its implicit sexual nature.

When YourStory reached out to Wamika, she said her conversation had taken place a year ago and at that time she had reached out to various media platforms to “expose” Murthy. “No one responded to my plea then. I can understand that he is a powerful man and has a lot of influence,” she told me over a phone call from Mumbai.

While working on her startup, Wamika was looking for mentorship and had reached out to Murthy as he is a “renowned VC who offers mentorship and funding to entrepreneurs.” She described the chat conversation (screenshots below) that she had with him that not only made her “uncomfortable but also demotivated her from pursuing her dreams.”


But when she found no support from anyone in the media or the startup ecosystem, she decided to lie low and continue with her work. “In May, I read about a woman entrepreneur recounting a similar experience with Mahesh Murthy that was reported in a digital media,” she says, adding, “again, I reached out for my story to be covered but I was discouraged.”

Finally, on Saturday, February 12, when Pooja wrote of her experience on LinkedIn, Wamika was inspired to speak up as well. And if you have noticed in the comments that Pooja’s post received, a number of women have shared that they have been at the receiving end of a similar treatment from Mahesh Murthy.

Screenshot from the comments section of Pooja Chauhan’s post.

At the time of writing this, Murthy had apologised to Pooja, which she accepted.

Did we ask for it?

This is 2017, for God’s sake. Why are the young, independent women of today still afraid to speak out?

Still afraid that what they say will not be believed or at best be brushed off as trivial.

Last week, a young colleague sought my help regarding a voice message she had received on the night of Valentine’s Day. A male voice slurred a ‘happy Valentine’s Day’ to her. It was a recording of a few seconds, but it rang for a long time in my ear — a creepy sort of after-effect making my hair stand on end.

I was furious, but I saw that tears had welled up in her eyes. She whispered, “Did I do something wrong here?”

After the initial shock had evaporated that it was a known personality who had left the late night voice message, I attempted a weak laugh — ‘these things happen; he must be taking his chances; you know how it is; the society is more open now; there may have been cases where his advances have been reciprocated, blah, blah, blah,’ I went on. If this was my way of comforting her, it was not helping one bit. She sat there guilty-faced.

Is that all I had to say? It was almost as if I was alluding to the ‘you-must-have-asked-for-it’ argument. Making excuses for a middle-aged man sending messages to young girls in the middle of the night.

Last year, another colleague had filed an official complaint with the IIT Bombay authorities against sexual misconduct and stalking by an IItian. No action has been taken yet by the authorities, despite her outing him on social media.

What makes us — the supposedly independent and strong-willed women — to bury such incidents deep within our psyche and throw the key away? It’s like telling a man it is okay if the guy on the road punched your face because you accidentally hit his car.

A new casting couch?

At a time, when we are talking about participation of more women in the entrepreneurial ecosystem and encouraging them to dream big, incidents like these act as roadblocks. Yet, many women are so caught up battling the inherent gender biases prevalent in the system that they often ignore or brush aside cases of sexual harassment.

Should they be more worried that the investor is concerned that they will change their priority once they become mothers and neglect their business?

It is an open secret that many women entrepreneurs have been asked at investor pitches if they planned to get married anytime soon, or were planning to have a baby — as the case may be. They have had to sign difficult term sheets, more complex than their male counterparts.

Term sheets, some say, that will pale such incidents in comparison.

No wonder then, the coming out of these women has polarised opinion. One comment by a woman referred to them as complaining “school girls”, asking them to “grow up.” There are other suggestions from friends and buddies that this is Murthy merely displaying his “devil-may-care-attitude” and not many can understand his “sense of humor.”

It is clear women are not finding this funny.

Wamika asks if this is what mentorship is like in the Indian startup ecosystem. “We encourage women to fulfill their passion but if there are perverts like him, then how would women pursue their dreams? I was deeply hurt by this kind of behaviour from a senior mentor in the industry,” she says, adding, “If we do nothing about such cases and just stay calm thinking about the society, such people will continue to behave this way. It is a shame to have such experienced professionals in the VC industry, and it is our responsibility to stand up together and protest against such people and show them that money cannot buy everything.”

Murthy had since posted an unapologetic clarification on his Facebook page, which has now been pulled down. When YourStory contacted him, he said it was not deleted but had been set to ‘Friends Only’ view. Over a telephonic conversation, Murthy suggested that this was merely an opportunism displayed by the women. At the time of publishing, we had not received his email responses. However, he wrote back saying that he had instead written a piece on Medium “that should more than reasonably answer your questions.”

Anahita Thukral, Manager at Axis Capital, commented that his explanation reminded her of the time when Trump’s “grab them by the pussy” statement was dismissed as locker-room talk.

“Kissing someone under a mistletoe without consent (especially someone you aren’t that intimate with) is not okay,” she notes. “To my fellow women talking about how women should ignore this kind of talk and ‘be tough’, let me remind you that we did not fight for our voices to be heard for this long just so we can put up with things that are clearly beyond the line of ‘professionalism’. Staying silent has almost never helped — maybe talking about this might actually help both sides see the other side’s point,” she adds.

Disrupt but how

The startup culture built on its inherent ‘disruptive’ nature is breaking all the old rules and rewriting new ones as it goes along. The boundary of work and personal life is dissolving. Men and women work in close proximity for long hours, chill out at bars together and it is no surprise that they may find themselves in a zone that is later difficult to navigate.

The testosterone-dominated Indian startup ecosystem that takes its smoke breaks on Twitter lets the women down badly. The boys club rules here. Now, people are suggesting that like the casting couch, there perhaps exists an ‘investing couch’ too.

Time to call out

We’ve seen this in professions like legacy media, advertising, and of course, the film and entertainment industry. Recall Tarun Tejpal, Mahmood Farooqi, or even Phaneesh Murthy. It all started with ‘harmless banter and teasing’ which quickly turned into criminal sexual offense.

Terming it foreplay, veteran journalist and author Ammu Joseph says, “Despite the relative freedom enjoyed today and the rise in consensual relationships, the sexual jokes and innuendos do not seem to have disappeared.”

She adds that often, it is a case of powerplay where the woman is forced to back off because of the status and position of those making the advances.

Adds veteran journalist Laxmi Murthy, “Men operate on a buddy system, and often in such cases make the woman look silly, making her think perhaps she needs to pull up her socks and stop complaining.” She advises that women should instead counter it in their own style. Gather enough people with same concerns and provide a reasoned argument. “Be informed and put it out there,” she adds.

Sometime ago, I watched this interesting video that explained consent in a very simple way. It says,

“If you are still struggling with consent, just imagine instead of initiating sex, you are making them a cup of tea.”

Women say that men today cannot understand the concept of consent. Sure, anyone has a right to proposition, but if it goes on persistently, despite the other party’s ‘no’, then it is a serious matter.

Legal recourse

And surprise, surprise. There is legal recourse at hand. Pointing towards the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013, lawyer Kanti Joshi, Convener, SASHA (Support Against Sexual Harassment), says,

“The aggrieved party, whether she is employed in the offender’s company or not, has the right to file a complaint to the anti-sexual harassment committee at the offender’s workplace.”

According to the law, organisations have to display the guidelines prominently and give a fair hearing to the aggrieved. In the event that the plea is not addressed to the satisfaction of the aggrieved party, she can take her complaint to the local complaints committee. However, this is easier said than done. Says Laxmi Murthy, “Most lawyers will push women to go for a criminal complaint which then becomes complicated.”

Every organisation with 10 or more employees is expected to have a committee against sexual harassment under the Vishakha Guidelines which is now the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013. Kanti says in the past three, four months, her organisation has been approached by many startups with requests to implement the provisions of the law.

It takes a lot of courage to call out a bully, especially the powerful and mighty, on a public forum. As the women say, it is always our word against theirs.

There is a Bantu word, Ilunga, that aptly captures the sentiments of the women in the startup ecosystem at present — “You are ready to forgive and forget any first abuse, tolerate it the second time, but never forgive nor tolerate on the third offense.”

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Award Winning film on Gender Equality ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ BLOCKED by censor board #WTFnews

 Lipstick Under My Burkha has won the Oxfam Award for Best Film on Gender Equality at the Mumbai Film Festival and the Spirit of Asia Prize at the Tokyo International Film Festival.
 Prakash Jha, Prakash Jha Lipstick under my burkha, Prakash jha film denied CBFC certificate, No certificate for Prakash Jha’s Lipstick under my burkha, Konkana Sen, Rathna Pathak Shah, Konkana Sen Lipstick under my burkha,Award winning film Lipstick Under My Burkha produced by Prakash Jha was denied certification by CBFC.Lipstick Under My Burkha stars exemplary actors like Ratna Pathak Shah, Konkana Sen Sharma, Aahana Kumra and Plabita Borthakur. The film directed by Alankrita Shrivastava and produced by Prakash Jha had earlier received the Oxfam Award for Best Film on Gender Equality at the Mumbai Film Festival and Spirit of Asia Prize at Tokyo International Film Festival. The film will also be screened on February 24, 2017, at the Glasgow Film Festival. It is being applauded for the content and clear prosecution by everybody, except the Central Board of Film Certification.

That’s right. The movie has been denied release in the country because ‘the story is lady oriented and their fantasy above life’. It is unclear how the CBFC concluded that women wanting freedom, or cursing or even exploring their sexuality as a ‘fantasy’. There are ‘contanious sexual scenes and abusive words, audio pornography, and a bit sensitive touch about one particular section of society [sic]’.

Watch Video| WHAT?! CBFC Denies Certification To ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ For Being ‘Lady Oriented’


A simple plot about four women from different walks of life, living in a small town — exploring their sexuality and seeking freedom has been denied under certain guidelines like 1(i), 2(vii), 2(ix), 2(x), 2(xi), 2(xii) and 3(i). In layman’s terms, the guidelines are that human sensibilities should not be offended by vulgarity, obscenity or depravity, scenes showing sexual perversions shall be avoided and if such matters are germane to the theme they shall be reduced to the minimum and no details are shown, scenes degrading or denigrating women in any manner are also not presented.

Enraged Prakash Jha, who spoke to Mirror, said, “As a country we must encourage freedom of expression but the CBFC refusing to certify films that tell uncomfortable stories discourages filmmakers from pushing the envelope. Films should challenge the status quo which is what Lipstick Under My Burkha perhaps does and I believe our audience deserve to watch it.”

More from the world of Entertainment:

Also read | House panel questions delay in granting CBFC certificates to films

The Bollywood fraternity has also shown its support to the film. Actor Farhan Akhtar took to Twitter and wrote, “Below is the reason CBFC listed for denying #LipstickUnderMyBurkha a release. Keep your barf bag ready..” Pooja Bhatt has also said, “CBFC consists of frightened people, only interested in securing their jobs.They won’t take a stand & are happy if one approaches revising com.”

See | Celebrities show their support for Lipstick Under My Burkha

The director, Alankrita Shrivastava is currently in Glasgow, for the Glasgow Film Festival. She also tweeted the official letter they received from CBFC and finds it ironic that an award winning film is denied certification.

See | Alankrita’s Tweets

How a woman living her life on her terms, when filmed from the perspective of a woman is degrading other women is a concept that we as mere citizens, who also happen to be women might not understand. However, we have the CBFC to thank for beautifully pointing this out and for forcing us to miss, what might as well be the movie of the year.

The examining committee of the CBFC refused to certify Jha’s latest film, Lipstick Under My Burkha citing multiple reasons including abusive language and “women’s fantasies”. “The story is lady-oriented, their fantasy above life. There are contentious sexual scenes, abusive words, audio pornography and a bit sensitive touch about one particular section of society,” reads the letter from the CBFC.

The Censor Board's notice refusing certification, signed by the regional officer. It was published on an independent blog.

The Censor Board’s official notice signed by the regional officer. Credit: moifightclub, published on an independent blog.

Lipstick Under My Burkha features actors Konkona Sen Sharma, Ratna Pathak Shah, Aahana Kumra and Plait Borthakur. Set in small-town India, it chronicles the secret lives of four women trying to cull out a sense of freedom amid numerous constraints. Director Alankrita Shrivastava, who is currently at the Glasgow Film Festival for the premiere of the film on February 24 said that CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani had watched the film with the Revising Committee after which she was called in and informed that the committee unanimously decided to not certify the film. “It’s a feminist film with a strong female voice which challenges patriarchy. I think that’s why they don’t want to certify it. As a filmmaker, I stand by the story and will fight for it till the end,” she asserted

Early last year, after the Examining Committee had failed to arrive at a consensus on the certification of his cop-drama, Jai Gangaajal, featuring Priyanka Chopra, Prakash Jha had approached the Revising Committee which had offered him a ‘U/A’ certificate with 11 cuts, which included editing out cuss words like ‘saala’ and ‘ghanta’ which the filmmaker argued were a part of everyday conversations in the hinterlands. He refused to comply with the diktats and appealed to the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) that passed the film with a U/A certificate and no cuts. The National Award-winner’s battle with the Censor Board of Film Certification (CBFC) continues.

In January 2017, Jha’s new production, Lipstick Under My Burkha, directed by Alankrita Shrivastava, was screened for the Censor Board’s Examining Committee and Jha was informed that the film cannot be certified. The reasons stated in a letter read: “The story is lady oriented, their fantasy above life. There are contanious sexual scenes, abusive words, audio pornography and a bit sensitive touch about one particular section of society, hence film refused under guidelines 1(a), 2(vii), 2(ix), 2(x), 2(xi), 2(xii) and 3(i).”

An enraged Jha who is presently in London, told Mirror, “As a country we must encourage freedom of expression but the CBFC refusing to certify films that tell uncomfortable stories discourages filmmakers from pushing the envelope. Films should challenge the status quo which is what Lipstick Under My Burkha perhaps does and I believe our audience deserve to watch it.”

Set in small town India, the film featuring Konkona Sen Sharma, Ratna Pathak Shah, Aahana Kumra and Plabita Borthakur, chronicles the secret lives of four women in search of a little freedom. Alankrita, who is at the Glasgow Film Festival for the film’s premiere on February 24, informs that CBFC Chairperson Pahlaj Nihalani had watched the film with the Revising Committee after which she was called in and told that they had unanimously decided to not certify the film. “It’s a feminist film with a strong female voice which challenges patriarchy. I think that’s why they don’t want to certify it. As a filmmaker, I stand by the story and will fight for it till the end,” she asserts.

Lipstick Under My Burkha has won the Oxfam Award for Best Film on Gender Equality at the Mumbai Film Festival and the Spirit of Asia Prize at the Tokyo International Film Festival.

Alankrita, who assisted Jha on Raajneeti and Apaharan before turning director with his Turning 30!!! adds that they are waiting for the official letter from the Revising Committee after which they will apply to FCAT. “I am travelling to some more festivals and hopefully I will have a hearing by the time I return in March,” she says.

Nihalani when contacted said he did not wish to comment on the subject after the Board had unanimously refused to clear it. When it was pointed out that the official letter from the Revising Committee has yet to reach Jha, he said shortly, “It’s the producer’s job to get it from the office.” Earlier, the CBFC had objected to the premise of the Nawazuddin Siddiqui starrer Haraamkhor which touched on a teacher-student illicit romance, refusing to certify it. The makers approached the FCAT which cleared the film with a ‘U/A’ certificate.


While Lipstick Under My Burkha may face censorship in India, it has already earned accolades at the Mumbai Film Festival (movies screened there do not require a Censor certificate) and at festivals abroad.

It won the Oxfam Award for Best Film on Gender Equality at MAMI while winning the Spirit of Asia award at the Tokyo International Film Festival.

Here’s the film’s trailer which features Konkona Sen Sharma, Ratna Pathak Shah, Aahana Kumra, and Plabita Borthakur in leading roles.

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India – Now, SC/ST victims to get minimum compensation of Rs 8.5 lakh from state government #Vaw

The Centre has amended the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules, 1995 through a notification on April 14.

The Centre has amended the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules, 1995 through a notification on April 14.
NEW DELHI: An SC/ST victim of gang rape, murder or an acid attack will now get a minimum compensation of Rs 8.5 lakh from a state government, in what is an significant enhancement of relief for such crimes through an amendment to the rules by Centre.

The Centre has amended the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules, 1995 through a notification on April 14, now specifying as many as 47 categories of offences in which states will pay compensation ranging from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 8.25 lakh to SC/ST victims. The rules last amended in 2011 had provisions for only 22 kinds of offences with minimum compensation ranging from Rs 60,000 to Rs 5 lakh.

The enhanced amounts now must be paid by the state within 7 days of the incident being reported, either in full or at various stages of the investigation and trial, as per a schedule.

District Magistrates have been authorised to immediately withdraw money from state treasuries for the same and courts empowered to also order socioeconomic rehabilitation. The Police will now have to file a charge sheet in cases of SC/ST victims within 60 days and any delay has to be explained in writing by the officers.

Any incident of intentionally touching an SC/ST woman without her consent, stalking, sexual harassment or sexual assault will now lead to compensation of Rs 2lakh. A rape victim would get Rs 5 lakh while a victim of gang rape or a acid attack damaging her face would get Rs 8.5 lakh. Earlier, outraging modesty or sexual exploitation of a SC/ST woman got her only Rs 1.2 lakh relief. Any crime against SC/ST involving punishment of over 10 years, had relief of Rs 50,000 while compensation was Rs 5 lakh for murder.

The new rules have also detailed many offences which were earlier in a general category such as a “derogatory act” and “insult, intimidation and humiliation” and only got a minimum of Rs 60,000 as compensation.

New categories as in the existing SC/ST Act have now been specified in the rules like – abusing by caste name in any place within public view, promoting dedication of a SC/ST woman as a devadasi and Garlanding with footwear or parading naked or semi-naked – with a relief of Rs 1 Lakh.

Under the new rules, Prevention from voting or filing nominations or any poll-related violence or boycott during voting of SC/ST persons would now lead to a compensation of at least Rs 85,000 to each victim. Any victimisation of a SC/ST person at hands of a public servant would mean a compensation of Rs 2lakh while any social or economic boycott of a Dalit person would lead to a relief of Rs 1 lakh for the victim. Denying a SC/ST person entry to an educational institution, hospital or any public place would lead to immediate restoration of the right plus a compensation of Rs 1 lakh – a new provision.

The new rules, notified on April 14 as SCs and the STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Rules, 2016, have come into force immediately.

The Modi Government had brought the new Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015 which was applicable from this January 26 to ensure more stringent provisions for prevention of Atrocities against Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribe. The new rules now enforces this Act.

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