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Archives for : Women Rights

Senior advocate arrested for raping woman lawyer inside Delhi’s Saket court complex #Vaw

The accused, in his 50’s, was arrested from south Delhi’s Sangam Vihar area.

The Delhi Police have arrested a senior advocate who allegedly raped a woman lawyer inside his chamber in south Delhi’s Saket court complex.

The accused is in his 50’s. He was arrested from south Delhi’s Sangam Vihar area and later produced before the Saket court.

In her statement to the police, the woman said the senior advocate was in an inebriated condition and sexually assaulted her inside his chamber. The woman lawyer works in the same complex.


Speaking about the case, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) (south) Romil Baaniya said, “The victim, in her statement to the police, said the accused, who was in an inebriated condition, sexually assaulted her in his chamber which is in the same complex where she works.”

The matter came to light when the woman called up the police on the intervening night of July 14 and 15 and told them she was sexually assaulted by the senior lawyer.


Police have recorded her statement and the woman’s medical examination has also been conducted.

“The chamber where the alleged assault took place has been sealed and the Forensic Science Laboratory and crime team has inspected it,” Baaniya said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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How I stood up to my sexual predator- a senior cricket journalist #Vaw

How I stood up to my sexual predator

By Sarah Waris

He was a renowned senior journalist. I was flattered by his praise for my work. Then it got weird.

Last week, Sarah Waris, a twenty-four-yearold freelance cricket writer spoke about being stalked and sexually harassed by a senior cricket journalist. In her Facebook post that quickly went viral she refrained from naming the well-known male journalist. The immediate fallout of Sarah’s post was that the journalist accused of harassment has since had his accreditation cancelled by the BCCI and other boards around the world.

Here, Waris writes why she chose to go public, and the dilemmas she faced as a young professional woman taking on an established senior colleague.

It began with a simple Facebook message last June when I shared an article I had written on the complete lack of any excitement about an India-Pakistan match at the Women’s Cricket World Cup. Within an hour of my posting this piece, a well-known senior cricket journalist responded with words of encouragement, congratulating me on my work and asking me to carry on writing with similar passion. He then proceeded to ask for my WhatsApp number, which did not raise any hackles as that’s also a platform where we, in the fraternity, often exchange ideas and opinions.

In fact, I was rather chuffed. While a few senior journalists had showered me with praise before, this man, so well regarded internationally too, was in a different league. He was lavish in his praise for my writing, saying I could get into any of the international media organisations with ease, and that he would personally fast-track my entry into any media website of my choice. The excessive flattery should have been a red flag but at that moment, I was simply delighted to be recognised for my writing.

There was silence for a few months after that initial flurry of praise, and then in February this year, he got in touch with me again promising me the moon if I moved from Kolkata to Bangalore where he lives. A full-time job with the International Cricket Council, or a job at any of the top cricket websites headquartered in Bangalore could be mine, he suggested.

I declined, letting him know that I freelanced out of choice and not compulsion. By now, I was also taken aback with his persistent efforts to get me to move to Bangalore.

The February conversation was the start of a series of conversations, offers and revelations from him. He started with volunteering to edit an article that I had written. From there he went on to talk about more intimate things, his past peccadilloes, describing himself as a “man slut.” He talked about his encounters with women in great detail even as I kept thinking: “That’s too much information.”

I was weirded out but still unsuspecting. Possibly because I thought I had a sense of the man from reading all his writings. I would always try and steer the discussion back to cricket. For instance, I would ask him questions like which of the hundred Test matches he had covered stood out in his mind but he would respond briefly trying to steer the conversation away from cricket. So there we were, the two of us, desperately trying to row the boat in different directions.

He gave me nicknames such as “Harami Muslim Girl”. My Whatsapp display pictures were “wicked” to him.

One day he asked me: Did I indulge in anything “wicked?”

“Why not?”

“Did I have any intentions to?”

“Did I feel guilty indulging in them?”

“How could I lead a chaste nun’s life?”

Rather belatedly, his intentions became clear to me and as soon as that happened, I stopped responding to his calls and messages. But after a few days, he wrote to introduce me to a certain Mahreen Hasan — a writer working on a book and keen to interview me because most Muslim women were reluctant to answer her questions openly. The male journalist and this Mahreen both hoped that I would help her out.

This is when things started getting creepier still. After sending me the initial outline of her proposed work, Mahreen sent me the questionnaire, but instead of giving me time to fill it up, she struck up a conversation on Hangouts. Her questions were pathetic, and her description of sexual acts/fantasies cringe-worthy. She attempted to make me open up about my sexuality, and by describing her experiences with a hand shower, she hoped I would share my experiences too.

I am a naturally observant person and I began to observe uncanny similarities between Mahreen and the male journalist. For instance, whenever he would make an off-colour remark, the male journalist would follow it up with a particular smiley. I realized that Mahreen would do exactly that when she would make an observation about sex from her purported questionnaire. I began to notice greater similarities between the language used and the tenor.

Another clue was Mahreen’s email ID. The address was an “incognito” one, which meant that it was anonymous. Now, someone who is writing a book tends to mail from their official ID. It had been a few weeks since we had been introduced but she was hardly ever interested in the book. One day I casually asked her why her email address was not an official one, to which she said that women feel more comfortable sharing details if they know they will be confidential. Then Mahreen gave the game away by saying, “I created this ID ten years ago.”

She had earlier told me that she was 28 years old which would then mean that she had been a writer from the age of 18. It dawned upon me that the male journalist and Mahreen were indeed one and the same person.

What a game! What a creep!

Luckily, I have a number of really close friends in some of the biggest sports media organisations and I told them about how this journalist used a fake account, posing as a female to lure women. Sharing this bit led to shocking revelations. I wasn’t the only one to encounter ‘Mahreen’. She had been introduced to another female sports journalist as a physiotherapist. Chameleon-like, ‘Mahreen’ would change her profession and identity depending on who she was talking to. I even got in touch with one woman journalist whom ‘Mahreen’ had messaged back in 2011. That proved to me that this male journalist had a pattern of sly, predatory behaviour and that he has been at it for some time. Maybe the silence around his behaviour had been due to fear of what he, in his position of power, could do to a fledgling journalist’s career.

But when he messaged a good friend of mine a few months ago, asking her to meet him in Kolkata during the IPL matches is when I felt something needed to be done. I had warned my friend about him and she took all precaution but what, I wondered, about poor innocent women who had no one to warn them about this man’s behavior? After all it’s so easy to fool women, given his reputation as a senior sports journalist.

I thought if I wrote a post on social media without naming him, he would realise that his game was up and that we were on to him. I have chosen to reveal my identity because hiding behind a pseudonym gets you nowhere. People won’t take you seriously as there’s no skin in the game. I had not done anything wrong, I had nothing to hide. Also, I have a great support system so I had faith that I would be alright.

My post has since gone viral. Journalists from New Zealand, Australia, England, West Indies and of course India reached out to ensure my safety and to offer their support. The biggest names in the field, idols whom I look up to, praised my efforts in making this public and instead of the matter dying there, the issue just gained momentum. After my letter to the BCCI pointing out his behaviour, they cancelled his accreditation and he has been suspended from the other Boards as well. Respected websites have cancelled their contracts with him and last I heard, children in Russia were requesting sites to stop him from publishing any football pieces as well.

It was then that I realised how fair and ready the fraternity is to ensure a safe and professional working environment for all concerned.

We have all refrained from unnecessary drama of naming and shaming. There have been no blame games and everyone in the fraternity now knows that women can raise their voices and that they are heard. If this can deter other predatory professionals, this will have been worth it.

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Kerala Church Rape Case – Priests acted as predators”, says HC; declines bail to 3 Kerala clergymen #Vaw


The Kerala High Court today rejected the anticipatory bail petitions of three priests of a church accused of raping a woman, observing they acted as “predators” and took “undue advantage” of her.

The three — Abraham Varghese alias Sony, Job Mathew and Jaise K George — had approached the court soon after the crime branch of Kerala Police slapped rape charges against four of the five Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church priests, who were accused of sexually exploiting the victim.

“Prima facie the applicants acted as predators…they have taken undue advantage of the position of the survivor,” Justice R Vijayaraghavan said, dismissing their bail pleas.

According to the woman, she was “systematically abused” by the accused, who were all closely known to her family.

The court said it cannot ignore the prosecution’s apprehension that the accused would tamper with evidence and influence the witnesses as the investigation was in the preliminary stages.

“The reasonable possibility of the accused managing to obstruct the course of justice, if released at this stage, cannot be brushed aside,” it said.

The judge said given the gravity of the alleged crime, the evidence present, and the status of the accused with reference to the victim and witnesses, there was a likelihood of the accused fleeing from justice and obstructing its course.

“I am of the view that the applicants are not entitled to an order of pre-arrest bail,” he said.

The court also directed the accused to surrender forthwith before the court of jurisdiction.

Justice Vijayaraghavan said he had “anxiously” considered the submissions and scrutinised the case diary.

The alleged crime was registered on July 2 this year after a senior police officer conducted a preliminary investigation.

“They (the clergymen) were in a position of dominance over the victim and by exploiting the said status, they are alleged to have sexually abused her. The victim in her statement emphatically asserted that the consent was not unequivocal or voluntary,” the judge said.

The woman, he said, has given a graphic description of how she was threatened and forced to succumb to the carnal desires of the accused.

“I find no reason to ignore her statement at this stage or to place reliance on Annexure A1 which does not inspire confidence. The survivor has an explanation of offer for keeping the incident under wraps,” the court noted.

The public prosecutor said the victim had, in her statement to a magistrate, narrated in detail the abuse to which she was subjected.

The statement of the survivor was corroborated by the evidence of other witnesses and electronic evidence in the form of call data records and chat transcripts, he said.

In their bail applications, the priests had rejected the woman’s allegations of sexually assaulting her.

They claimed the case was registered against them solely “under political pressure exerted by certain vested interests to derive political mileage“.

The crime branch registered an FIR against four priests, including the three whose pre-arrest bail petitions were rejected today, after recording the alleged victim’s statement.

The woman’s husband had last month accused five priests of using his wife’s secret confession to “blackmail and sexually abuse” her.

The name of the fifth clergyman was not included for want of substantial evidence.

The incident came to light after an audio clip of the purported conversation of the husband of the alleged victim with a church official about the alleged sexual abuse of his wife by the priests was widely circulated on social media.

Veteran CPI(M) leader and chairman of the Kerala Administrative Reforms Commission V S Achuthanandan and the National Commission for Women had written to the state police chief, Loknath Behara, seeking a thorough probe.

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Mumbai- 11 -year-old Girl calls 1098, sends father to prison for rape #Vaw

11-year-old, encouraged by a lecture on ill-treatment of children, called child helpline

A special court on Wednesday sentenced a 35-year-old man to 10 years in prison for raping his minor daughter, who, encouraged by a school awareness lecture on ill-treatment and harassment of children, approached the child helpline 1098 herself.

In 2014, the child helpline got a call from the 11-year-old survivor, narrating the torture she was facing at home. She had attended an awareness camp on child rights and remedies in her school and wanted to reach out to someone who could help her. Narrating how her alcoholic father slept with their neighbour and beat her and her brother every night, she said her mother wasn’t there to help so she called the helpline.

Special judge Milind Kurtadikar relied on the statements of several witnesses, including an NGO worker, to convict and sentence the man, a resident of western suburbs, for molestation and rape under the Indian Penal Code and aggravated sexual assault under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses (POCSO) Act.

The prosecution, led by Shankar Erande, examined seven witnesses, to prove the guilt of the child’s father.

Sequentially narrating her experience, the victim said that when she first called up the child helpline and spoke about the harassment meted out to her and her brother, the social worker came over the same afternoon and heard them out. She promised to speak to her father and left. The next day, the girl called the helpline with urgency, as they were being beaten up again.

When the NGO worker spoke to the father, he denied ill-treating his children but later continued his misbehaviour. The NGO worker then brought along the co-ordinator. This time the man gave an undertaking in writing that he would treat his children well.

The 11-year-old girl told the court that as soon as the worker and the co-ordinator left the house, her father threatened to leave her alone; he said he would go away with her brother. The NGO worker visited every month and the man behaved himself for some time.

Suddenly one day, she found him sleeping beside her. He sexually assaulted the child and buried her screams with his hands. Extremely disturbed, she narrated the incident to her neighbour and then to the NGO worker, who encouraged her to lodge a police complaint.

The man denied the assault and alleged that the child was being tutored by the NGO worker. He claimed that his daughter was jealous that he was spending money on his lover’s children instead of his own and this was her way of getting back. However, these claims were rejected by the judge.

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Prof Shoma Sen will be 60 on August 1st in Yerwada Prison – Send her Greetings #DefendDissent

Mulaquaat #2
Yerwada Women’s Jail Pune
3rd July 2018

By- Koel Sen

We wait. The wait is long this time.
Monsoon clouds hover above us.
Papa, hasn’t met her since they picked her up from home.

We park ourselves on a small bench outside the Mulaquaat Kaksha that can barely fit two people. I have made two cute little friends there, who come panting with their tongues hanging and greet me with a nudge on my knee. It’s cold and windy, about to rain.

Papa is writing down on a small piece of paper, things he needs to tell her. His gentle hands shiver from rheumatoid arthritis. In a bit, I see him dozing off while doing so, sitting next to me.

The wait is long this time. We are tired and un-slept and hungry. I start counting the dark-grey gravel around my feet. They start merging into different patterns. I look up. The tall white wall of the Mulaquaat building has grey formations on it, that start moving, turning into little hazy figures. I wonder if I am hallucinating. I remind myself, I haven’t slept and it’s the stress. The mind can play such crazy tricks while you wait outside the jail, I wonder how it would be inside… I hold my tears as a deep hollow feeling swallows me from inside.

We meet. Maa and Papa do most of the talking, I try hard to deflect the obstruction caused by the light reflecting on the glass wall this time. I want to see her properly.

In a bit, I get the intercom to talk. Among other regular talk about moneys, medicines, cot and clothes – she suddenly tells me… “There’s this big built old lady, OK, who is like the ‘boss’ around here”… .”What?!” I say, “Maa, are you getting bullied ?”, “No, no, “.. she said “She asked me to ask my daughter to buy her a bra, she has given me her size.. .” “Maa, seriously.!?” I asked. “What now, are you running charity services inside?”.. .we laugh, “I got you your bras, give her one of yours… Don’t let anyone bully you Maa, don’t be the usual softie that you are.”…

It begins to rain outside.

It’s her 60th Birthday on the 1st of August, she will now be produced only on the 2nd of August. Well-wishers are welcome to send her cards, letters and love to the this address –
UT no. 311 of 2018
Shoma Kanti Sen
Yerwada Women’s Jail
PUNE – 411006


#ReleaseShomaSen  #JusticeforShomaSen  #DefendDissent

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Shoma Sen – Demonising a Beloved Teacher and Life-long Activist

A teacher, a reader and learner, an intellectual, an activist and a human rights defender. Shoma Sen is all of the above, and more. The state would like the world to believe that she is involved in ‘anti-national’ activities, but that’s the price that many citizens are paying today for asserting their right to speak out, to dissent, and understand and articulate the world around them.

The early years

Social institutions, thriving on feudal patriarchal notions are disapproving of women’s participation in production and laud her reproductive roles; violence against women at the familial and societal level is given social sanction and women are confined to a dependent life within the domestic space. Therefore, women’s access to economic and political activity itself is a first step to their participation in decision making processes rather than the symbolic steps towards their “empowerment” that are seen in this system.

Shoma Sen, Contemporary Anti-Displacement Struggles and Women’s Resistance: A Commentary, Sanhati, November 3, 2010

Shoma spent her early years in Bandra in what was then Bombay. The 1970’s were a turbulent period. At that time, almost everyone had sympathies with the Left. While in college, she was with the Vidyarthi Pragati Sanghatana (VPS) and she edited Kalam, the student magazine. She was involved in supporting the workers during the textile strike in Mumbai of the 1980’s. During this time, Shoma became a lecturer in Mumbai and a part of Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR), and helping bring out the CPDR magazine, Adhikar Raksha.

Shoma moved from Bombay to Nagpur, where her daughter Koel was born. Shoma spent the next few decades of her life living in Nagpur with her partner and daughter, teaching in colleges and working to build a democratic movement that recognises and fights for the rights of the most marginalised and vulnerable sections of society. Shoma and Koel stood by her partner throughout the difficult times that he was arrested and released between 2007 and 2017.

Working with women

As Shoma says (ibid), “If democracy and development are to be really meaningful to women in India, then ways must be evolved to include women in these processes and not simply make symbolic gestures for their empowerment.”

Shoma’s home has always been a refuge for women struggling to survive and make ends meet; she has done everything in her power to help them fight an unjust system. She is an active member of the national collective, Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS). She was an early member of the Nagpur-based Stree Chetna. She later became the founder convener of the Committee against Violence on Women (CAVOW) and edited its magazine, Stree Garjana. The organisation took part in fact finding visits to examine the implementation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Manipur after Thangjam Manorama’s brutal killing in 2004 and the allegations of sexual violence by the Salwa Judum in South Bastar in Chhattisgarh. CAVOW also played a role in organising legal aid for many women political prisoners during the early 2000s. Shoma also convened an adivasi mahila sammelan at Ranchi in March 2006. She has been a long-time Dalit and women’s rights activist, advocating for the rights of the marginalised and powerless. In an essay titled ‘The Village and the City: Dalit Feminisms in the Autobiographies of Baby Kamble and Urmila Pawar’, she looks at the ways in which mainstream feminism has tended to ignore the problems of caste, resulting in a distinct Dalit feminism that acknowledges patriarchal oppression from outside and within communities. In 2011, she was a part of Indian Association of Women’s Studies (IAWS) national conference in Wardha. In recent years, Shoma has been involved with Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR) in Nagpur. She has been helping voices of resistance be heard, voices that are being silenced everywhere in the current socio-political climate.

A life spent teaching

We are appalled and outraged by the arrest of Sen, one of our most distinguished and popular teachers in English. She is also a scholar of national repute in the domains of culture studies and critical theory.”

Supantha Bhattacharya, associate professor & colleague, Nagpur University, Times of India, June 20, 2018

Shoma got involved with the Women’s Studies department at Wardha’s Hindi Vishwavidyalaya, and being fluent in Hindi, often helped cover the shortage of teachers and examiners. She taught in ad hoc positions in several colleges, like the People’s Welfare Society (PWS) College in Indora, Nagpur, leaving home (and her then young daughter) early in the morning to get to work. After college hours, she would visit women (many of them Dalits and victims of domestic violence) in the slums and ghettos of Nagpur to discuss their issues and concerns.

She joined Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University, heading its English department. As a teacher, she was appreciated by both students and seniors. Promoted as Head of Department and respected for her intellect, Shoma has been an active scholar in the fields of post-colonialism and women’s studies for several decades. Her articles have appeared in scholarly publications such as the Economic and Political Weekly (EPW) and The Journal of Commonwealth Literature. She is a valued member of the University community and an important voice in the struggle to uphold human rights. She has travelled to deliver lectures and talks and is a popular teacher, with a passionate interest in reading, researching and teaching literature and women’s studies. Shoma is due to retire in July 2018 after more than three decades of exemplary service. Today, after all these years, her friends and colleagues are in shock at this brazen display of force by the police on her and the other four arrested, and wonder if this is the fate that awaits all those who speak out against poverty, inequalities and injustice.

Now, days before she was scheduled to retire in June 2018, the university, where she spent so many years of her professional life, suspended her for being detained by the police under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The state that confronts its own citizens

With fifty per cent of the population largely deprived from economic and political activity, such a democracy cannot be real in any sense and the participation of women in struggles is a process of democratisation. If the gender axis of such struggles is sharpened then this trajectory is more likely to lead to equality and women’s liberation.”

Shoma Sen, Contemporary Anti-Displacement Struggles and Women’s Resistance: A Commentary, November 3, 2010 in Sanhati

Shoma was arrested in pre-dawn raids conducted simultaneously across four cities along with four others. They were Surendra Gadling, a respected lawyer who fought multiplepro bono cases for adivasis, dalits and political prisoners and General Secretary, Indian Association of Peoples’ Lawyers (IAPL); Sudhir Dhawale, founder, Republican Panthers Jaatiya Antachi Chalwal (Republican Panthers Caste Annihilation Movement) and editor, Vidrohi magazine; Rona Wilson, public relations secretary of Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP) and Mahesh Raut, anti-displacement activist and former Prime Minister Rural Development Fellow (PMRDF). All those arrested have at various times spoken against the brutalities committed by state forces and the police against its citizens and have fought for the release of political prisoners. These arrests come in the wake of the assertion of dalit, adivasi, OBC and Muslim unity during the Bhima Koregaon Shaurya Din Prerna Abhiyan organised by the ‘Elgaar Parishad’ in Pune on December 31, 2017, and the attack by right wing organisations following the extraordinary unity among the communities.

Shoma has been charged under various stringent sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), and has been accused of, among other things, inciting the violence in January 2018 through speeches; of doing so on behalf of the banned CPI (Maoist); of having links with and harbouring fugitive members of this party at various times; and of fundraising for them. By charging her with extraordinary number of sections of the IPC and UAPA, the police want to project her as a “dreaded criminal” and this legal overreach is intended to ensure a prolonged stint in police and judicial custody, irrespective of the validity of the claims. These charges are meant to serve as a life sentence to the arrested by the police, reaffirmed through the media, even if the judicial system finds them innocent in the days to come. Her arrest is part of the State’s ongoing efforts to intimidate and silence people who have been outspoken or critical of its anti-people policies.

It is a matter of grave concern that dissenting intellectuals and activists are being targeted in this manner by the state. Most of the media too is playing its role as an “arm” of the government, instead of doing what it is supposed to do, i.e., to conduct independent investigation before publishing its stories and refraining from sensationalism and media trials.

After a lifetime of working for others, people like Shoma Sen are branded ‘anti-national’ by the Indian State. Humane and perceptive people who have spent their lives working to recognise, transform and build a more democratic society, are being treated as criminals waging war against ‘national interests’. Here, we must ask, whose interests are being served? Dialogue and dissent is a crucial part of any democratic society. The repression of these voices and vindictive and excessive state action is completely unacceptable in a free democracy.

Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS), a network of women working for a democratic society, against patriarchy, caste discrimination, communalism and bigotry, stands in solidarity with Shoma Sen and all those arrested under these unconscionable conditions and demands their immediate and unconditional release.

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India – The marriage penalty on women

An exclusive focus on educating women or financial inclusiveness is unlikely to be effective in making women economically more empowered

The discourse on economic development has become increasingly gendered, in recognition of both the ethical construct of equality between men and women and the realization that women’s empowerment generates positive externalities.

Despite the pronounced gendered approach to policy initiatives recently in India, the country slipped 21 places between 2016 and 2017 in The Global Gender Gap Report released by the World Economic Forum. Within the sub-indices, India’s low rank on gender parity in labour force participation (LFP) fell further, by four points, to 139 (among 144 countries).

The National Sample Survey shows that among working-age women who are currently not enrolled in educational institutes, LFP stood at 37% in 2011, registering a 10% fall over 20 years. The explanations for this decline have circled around rising incomes, the changing education structure and the decline in number of agricultural jobs.What is missing from this discourse is the focus on one specific demographic group—married women.

The observed decline in female LFP has been the largest and most significant for rural married women. In urban areas, while there has been no decline in participation by married women over time, the figure has been stagnating. On the other hand, there has been no fall in the employment rate for men in the same demographic group.

A few facts underline this phenomenon. In 2011, around 50% of unmarried women in the 15-60 age bracket were in the labour force, while the proportion for married women was 20%. There has been a rise in labour force participation rates among urban unmarried women between 1999-2011, from 37% to 50%, but, for married women, it has been stagnant for 30 years. For married and unmarried men, the participation rates are high (around 95%) and constant over time.

With marriage almost being universal in India, the different trajectories that single and married women have followed clearly hint at marriage and consequent childcare being one of the important barriers in access to employment for women. Juxtaposed against a rapid increase in the number of years women get an education, an increase in age for marriage and a reduction in fertility levels, these trends seem contradictory to the trend of labour force participation seen in India.

The latest figures from the National Family Health Survey show that the average age at first marriage in India is 18 for rural and 19.4 for urban women. Age at first birth is 20 for rural, and 21 for urban, women. While the average years of education acquired by a girl who is 15-19 years is low (8.5 and 10 in rural and urban India, respectively), even for a girl with graduate or higher education, the mean age at first marriage is 23 years and mean age at first birth is 24 years.

These numbers lay bare two realities that young girls face in the country. First, there is a small window of opportunity to be economically active after completion of education and before marriage. Second, with universal marriage and expected child-bearing, there is little space between marriage and first child. While the number of children born to a woman has come down (two in urban areas and 2.5 in rural areas in 2015), this may not necessarily increase women’s labour force attachment if households place greater importance on the quality of their progeny.

Are women more likely to (re)enter the labour force once the children have grown up? A look at participation numbers at the cohort level shows that there is an increase in participation proportion from 17% in the early 20s to 22% in the early 30s. Even for women with graduate and higher level of education, it increases from approximately 13% in the early 20s to 28% in the early 30s. Childcare is clearly a constraint for married women and continues to remain a roadblock from the employment perspective.

Hence, an exclusive focus on educating and skilling women or financial inclusiveness is unlikely to be effective in making women economically more empowered unless policy measures address the constraints of childcare faced by married women. With patriarchal norms underlying the traditional role of men and women in Indian households and non-marketization of childcare, coupled with a shift towards nuclear families, the burden of domestic work lies on women. At the same time, the absence of flexible work hours and easier physical access to work have been compounded by the persistent gender gap in wages.

Adoption of technologies that potentially reduce the burden of housework—for instance, the Ujjwala programme’s subsidization of cooking gas, which can induce a shift towards cleaner fuel that also reduces cooking time–is one small but important step in the right direction. Under the Maternity Benefit Amendment Act (2016), provision of a crèche facility has become mandatory for establishments employing at least 50 individuals. But the Rajiv Gandhi National Crèche Scheme for the Children of Working Mothers, started by the government for low-income families, has been marred by poor infrastructure and limited benefits due to its flawed design.

There is no silver bullet that works best in empowering women economically in our country. But the heart of the matter is that to get more women to work, we have to get them out of their homes.

Farzana Afridi and Kanika Mahajan are, respectively, teachers at the Indian Statistical Institute and Ashoka University.

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178 Women Film Practitioners across genres condemn AMMA’s move to reinstate Actor Dileep

Express solidarity with women artistes in the Kerala film industry


On the night of February 17, 2018, a well known actress, who has worked in Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu films, was kidnapped and molested in a moving car while she was on her way from Thrissur to Kochi.

Five months later,  popular Malayalam actor, Dileep, was arrested because of his alleged involvement in the molestation case. He has been accused of hatching a plot with the prime accused, Pulsar Suni and his associates, for abducting and assaulting the actress in a moving car.

A day after his arrest, he was expelled from the primary membership of the Association of Malayalam Movie Artists (AMMA).

However, recently, after actor Mohanlal took over as chairman of AMMA, the accused actor Dileep’s suspension from AMMA was revoked.

This decision has sent shock waves throughout the Malayalam film industry and four leading actresses who are members of the association have resigned from the AMMA. The recently formed Women in Cinema Collective, based out of Kerala, has also come out strongly to protest this decision.

In yet another show of solidarity, 178  women film practitioners from all genres across India have come together to sign a letter of protest. These include Nandita Das, Renuka Shahane, Gitanjali Rao, Namrata Rao, Shweta Venkat, Aruna Raje, Lovleen Mishra, Sheeba Chadha, Aruna Vasudev, Shama Zaidi, Nalini Malini, among several others.

Statement from Women Film Practitioners:

As women working in film across genres and industries in India we received the news of AMMA ( Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes) reinstating actor Dileep, who is an accused in the abduction and molestation of an actor, with shock and deep disappointment.

A body that is meant to represent artistes of the Malayalam movie industry showed complete disregard for its own member who is the victim of this gross crime. Even before the case has reached its conclusion, AMMA has chosen to validate a person accused of a very serious crime against a colleague. We condemn this cavalier attitude by artistes against women artistes who are working alongside them. There is misogyny and gender discrimination embedded in this action.

We admired and supported the Women in Cinema Collective that was formed by women film artistes in Kerala in the aftermath of the abduction and molestation of a colleague, a top star in the industry. We applaud the WCC members who have walked out of AMMA to protest the chairman’s invitation to reinstate the accused.  We pledge our continued support to the Women in Cinema Collective who are blazing a trail to battle sexism in the film industry.

Cinema is an art form that can challenge deeply entrenched violence and discrimination in society. It is distressing to see an industry that stands amongst the best in the country and has even made a mark in world cinema choose to shy away from using their position and their medium responsibly at this important moment. Today women form a significant part of the film and media industries, we reject any attempt at silencing us and making us invisible.

Associations representing film workers have to function through democratic processes and we have to ensure that a few powerful members cannot subvert and marginalise voices of those less powerful than them. As women we are starkly aware of how vulnerable we are in every film industry. This is our attempt to come together and stand in solidarity with the Women in Cinema Collective and urge the chairman and other office bearers of AMMA to function with sensitivity and responsibility, and above all democratically.


  1. Aanchal Kapur, Researcher, Film Curator, New Delhi
  2. Aaradhana Kapur Kohli, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  3. Aditi Pinto, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  4. Akshay Gouri, Film Student, Kolkata
  5. Aliza Noor Khan, Media practitioner, Hyderabad
  6. Ambarien al Qadr, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  7. Amira Sultan Kapur, Media practitioner, Chandigarh
  8. Ananya Chakraborti, Filmmaker, Kolkata
  9. Anjali Monteiro, Filmmaker, Academic, Mumbai
  10. Anjali Punjabi, Producer, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  11. Anubha Yadav, Writer, Academic, New Delhi
  12. Anupama Chandra, Filmmaker, Film Editor, New Delhi
  13. Anupama Srinivasan, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  14. Aparna Sanyal, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  15. Apurwa Yagnik, Film Editor, Filmmaker, Jaipur
  16. Archana Borhade, Cinematographer, Mumbai
  17. Archana Kapoor, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  18. Aradhna Seth, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  19. Aruna Raje, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  20. Aruna Vasudev, Scholar, Author, Film Festival Director, New Delhi
  21. Arunima Shankar, Film Editor, Goa
  22. Ayisha Abraham, Academic, Filmmaker, Bengaluru
  23. Batul Mukhtiar, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  24. Bela Negi, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  25. Bishakha Dutta, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  26. Chandita Mukherjee, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  27. Damini Benny Basu, Actor, Kolkata
  28. Debadrita Bose, Filmmaker, Kolkata
  29. Debalina Majumdar, Filmmaker, Kolkata
  30. Debjani Mukherjee, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  31. Deepa Dhanraj, Filmmaker, Bengaluru
  32. Deepika Sharma, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  33. Deepti Khurana, Academic, Rohtak
  34. Deepti Pant, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  35. Dinaz Stafford, Casting Director, Mumbai
  36. Dipti Bhalla Verma, Film Editor, Filmmaker, Gurgaon
  37. Ekavali Khanna, Film Actor, Kolkata
  38. Fareeda AM, Film Editor
  39. Farha Khatun, Filmmaker, Film Editor, Kolkata
  40. Gargi Sen, Media Practitioner, New Delhi
  41. Gauri D Chakraborty, Academic, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  42. Geeta Sahai, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  43. Gissy Michael, Sound Recordist and Designer, Mumbai
  44. Gita Raju, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  45. Gitanjali Rao, Animation Director, Mumbai
  46. Gouri Patwardhan, Filmmaker, Pune
  47. Gopi Desai, Actor, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  48. Guneet Monga, Film Producer, Mumbai
  49. HansaThapliyal, Filmmaker, Bangeluru
  50. Heer Ganjwala, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  51. Hemanti Sarkar, Film Editor, Mumbai
  52. Iggy Ahluwalia, Art Director, Bombay
  53. Indrani, Student, Writer, Kolkata
  54. Irene Dhar Malik, Film Editor, Mumbai
  55. Ishani Roy, Cinematographer, Mumbai
  56. Jabeen Merchant, Film Editor, Mumbai
  57. Jayoo Patwardhan, Filmmaker, Pune
  58. Jenny Pinto, Filmmaker, Bengaluru
  59. Jeroo Mulla, Academic, Mumbai
  60. Jill Misquitta, Filmmaker, Kodaikanal
  61. Jyoti Kapur Das, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  62. Kasturi, Filmmaker, Film movement worker, Kolkata
  63. Kavita Joshi, Filmmaker, Media Trainer, New Delhi
  64. Kirtana Kumar, Actor/Director, Bangalore
  65. Koel Sen, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  66. Kunjila Mascillamani, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  67. Lalitha Krishna, Filmmaker, Film Editor, Mumbai
  68. Layashree Joshi, Filmmaker, Kolkata
  69. Leena Manimekalai, Filmmaker, Chennai
  70. Leena Yadav, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  71. Lipika Singh Darai, Filmmaker, Film Editor, sound Recordist, Bhubaneshwar, Mumbai
  72. Lovleen Mishra, Film Actor, Mumbai
  73. Madhavi Tangella, Filmmaker, Academic, Kolkata
  74. Madhuja Mukherjee, Academic, Artist, Filmmaker, Kolkata
  75. Madhusree Dutta, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  76. Maheen Mirza, Filmmaker, Cinematographer, Bhopal
  77. Malini Dasari, Cinematographer, Hyderabad
  78. Mansi Pingle, Filmmaker, Bengaluru
  79. Manoshi Nath, Costume Designer, Mumbai
  80. Meenakshi Barooah, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  81. Minnie Vaid, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  82. Miriam Chandy, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  83. Moupia Mukherjee, Writer, Gender Exponent and Film Maker, Kolkata
  84. Nabeela Rizvi, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  85. Nalini Malani, Visual Artist, Mumbai
  86. Namita Nayak Chopra, Sound Recordist and Designer, New Delhi
  87. Namrata Rao, Film Editor, Mumbai
  88. Nandita Das, Actor, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  89. Natasha Badhwar, Cinematographer, Author, New Delhi
  90. Neena Verma, Film Editor, Pune
  91. Neha Parti Matiyani, Cinematographer, Mumbai
  92. Nidhi Sharma, Film Student, Kolkata
  93. Nilita Vachani, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  94. Nina Sabnani, Academic, Animation Filmmaker, Mumbai
  95. Nishtha Jain, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  96. Nupur Basu, Filmmaker, Journalist, Bengaluru
  97. Padmaja Shaw, Academic, Filmmaker, Hyderabad
  98. Paramita Ghosh, Film Editor, Mumbai
  99. Paromita Vohra, Filmmaker, Script Writer, Mumbai
  100. Pinky Brahma Choudhury, Filmmaker, Bagli
  101. Priya Thuvassery, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  102. Priyanka Chhabra, Filmmaker, Film Editor, New Delhi
  103. Priyanka Gaikwad, Sound Recordist
  104. Pooja Gupte, Cinematographer, Mumbai
  105. Pooja Sharma, Cinematographer, Mumbai
  106. Puloma Paul, Film Editor, Mumbai
  107. Putul Mahmood, Filmmaker, Academic, Kolkata
  108. Radha Misra, Academic, Pune
  109. Ranu Ghosh, Cinematographer, Filmmaker, Kolkata
  110. Rajashree , Filmmaker, Novelist, Mumbai
  111. Reema Borah, Filmmaker, Guwahati, Mumbai
  112. Reena Mohan, Filmmaker, Film Editor, New Delhi
  113. Rekha Nigam, Script Writer, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  114. Renuka Shahane, Actor, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  115. Richa Hushing, Filmmaker, Puducherry
  116. Ridhima Mehra, Film Producer, New Delhi
  117. Rinchin, Script Writer, Bhopal
  118. Ruchika Negi, Filmmaker, Academic, New Delhi
  119. Ruchika Oberoi, Filmmaker, Script writer, Mumbai
  120. Rukshana Tabassum, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  121. Saba Dewan, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  122. Sabeena Gadihoke, Academic, Cinematographer, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  123. Sagari Chhabra, Author, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  124. Sakshi Gulati, Filmmaker, Pune
  125. Sanchali Mukhopadhyay, Cinematographer, Kolkata
  126. Sameera Jain, Filmmaker, Academic, New Delhi
  127. Samina Mishra, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  128. Sampritee Ghatak, Actor, Kolkata
  129. Sania Farooqui, TV Anchor, Journalist, New Delhi
  130. Sanghamitra Deb, Actor/Performer, Kolkata
  131. Sayani Gupta, Film Actor, Mumbai
  132. Sehjo Singh, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  133. Shabani Hassanwalia, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  134. Shabnam Sukhdev, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  135. Shanthi Mohan, Cinematographer, Mumbai
  136. Sharmistha Jha, Filmmaker, Kolkata
  137. Shama Zaidi, Script Writer, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  138. Shashwati Talukdar, Filmmaker, Dehradun
  139. Sheeba Chadha, Film Actor, Mumbai
  140. Sherna Dastur, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  141. Shikha Sen, Film Editor, New Delhi
  142. Shilpi Gulati, Filmmaker, Researcher, New Delhi
  143. Shubhangini, Film Student, Kolkata
  144. Shrushti Rao, Film Student, Kolkata
  145. Shweta Ghosh, Filmmaker, Film Scholar, Pune
  146. Shweta Venkat, Film Editor, Mumbai
  147. Simantini Dhuru, Educationist, Filmmaker, Mumai
  148. Smriti Nevatia, Film Curator, Mumbai
  149. Solanki Chakroborty, Cinematographer, Mumbai
  150. Sonali Jha Chatterjee, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  151. Sohini Dasgupta, Filmmaker, Kolkata
  152. Sreecheta Das, Filmmaker, Kolkata
  153. Sreemoyee Bhattacharya, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  154. Sruti Viswesaran, Filmmaker, Film Editor, Mumbai
  155. Subasri Krishnan, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  156. Suchitra Sathe, Film Editor, Pune
  157. Sudarshana Chakroborty, Filmmaker, Journalist, Kolkata
  158. Sujata Kundu, Filmmaker, Editor, Academic, Kolkata
  159. Suhasini Mulay, Actor, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  160. Sunanda Bhat, Filmmaker, Bengaluru
  161. Surabhi Sharma, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  162. Sushma Veerappa, Filmmaker, Bengaluru
  163. Suzanne Caplan Merwanji, Filmmkaer, Mumbai
  164. Swati Dandekar, Filmmaker, Bengaluru
  165. Teena Kaur, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  166. Teena Gill, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  167. Tinni Mitra, Film Editor, Mumbai
  168. T. Jayashree, Filmmaker, Bengaluru
  169. T.N. Uma Devi, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  170. Yasha Ramchandani, Film Editor, Mumbai
  171. Yashodara Udupa, Filmmaker, Bengaluru
  172. Urmi Juvekar, Script writer, Mumbai
  173. Usha Bhasin, TV Producer, New Delhi
  174. Usha Rao, Filmmaker, Bengaluru
  175. Vanaja C, Filmmaker, Hyderabad
  176. Vasundhara Phadke, Film Editor, Mumbai
  177. Veena Bakshi, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  178. Vineeta Negi, Film Editor, Pune

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Gujarat -Woman Lynched by Mob over suspicion of being ‘ child lifter’ #WTFnews

Mob overturned the auto and began assaulting the women and videographing the act. Inset: Shanti Marwadi

Fake viral videos that peddle fear by claiming an out-ofstate gang is stealing children claimed a life in Ahmedabad. A 40-year-old woman was beaten to death by a mob who mistook her and her relatives for child-lifters on Tuesday afternoon.

Police identified the deceased as Shanti Marwadi of Korta village in Pali district of Rajasthan. She belongs to Navnath community, a nomadic tribe that moves across cities and towns, seeking alms, singing bhajans and selling bead necklaces to earn a living. Thirty-three people of the tribe, including seven women, had moved to the city 15 days ago, living in makeshift houses near Bhadreshwar in Sardarnagar area.

Four of them — Shanti, her brother-in-law’s wife Anshi (35) and two sisters-in-law Lila (50) and Aasu (40) — were seeking alms near a chawl in Juna Vadaj around 2 pm when a couple of men approached them. Aasu told Mirror, “They seemed drunk and demanded money from us. When we refused, they accused us of being child-lifters and snatched our bag containing rice and flour. We fled and climbed into an auto, but the men followed us on motorcycles.

They intercepted our rickshaw and began shouting that we were child kidnappers. Soon, a crowd of 30-40 people gathered around. They overturned the rickshaw and began assaulting us.” Several people videographed the act and shared them on social media, too. The videos show the mob hitting the women with plastic bottles. Some men were videographed trying to drag the women out of the auto, failing which they slapped and hit the women.

Vadaj police rushed to the spot and resorted to lathicharge to disperse the mob. The four women were rushed to Civil hospital but Shanti was declared dead on arrival.

Anshi said, “When we got into the rickshaw, men on 5-6 motorcycles surrounded the vehicle and began raining blows. They were stinking of liquor. They called us child kidnappers and soon an angry mob gathered around, baying for our blood.”

Lila said, “The crowd overturned our rickshaw and the driver ran away. We kept pleading with everyone that we are not child lifters. We promised to go with them to the police station but no one paid any heed to us. We told them that we were married and had children of our own. But they kept up the assault. Shanti hit her head on a rod in the rickshaw.”

A case has been registered against unknown persons under IPC section 302 (murder), said Inspector (Vadaj) J ARathwa.

Police Commissioner A K Singh said, “No one has the right to take law in their hands. We will not spare those involved in the attack. I request people not to trust social media rumours about presence of child lifting gangs. In case of suspicion, contact the police control room, or PCR vans and do not take law in your hands.”

‘Call control room, do not take law in hand’

The Ahmedabad police has issued an advisory asking people to refrain from taking law in their hands and inform the police control room about suspicions of child-lifting gangs following a death of a woman in the city. Messages alerting people of child-lifting gangs on prowl have become viral in Gujarat for the past several days. Police clarified that they have no intelligence about presence of any child kidnapping gangs and they are fully alert to the challenge. The police have decided to take strict action against people spreading such provocative and fake messages on social media.

Woman beggar lynched by mob on suspicion of being a child-lifter

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How India Became The World’s Most Dangerous Country For Women #Vaw

Tish Sanghera,



Mumbai: India is perceived as having the worst record for sexual violence, harassment from cultural and traditional practices and human trafficking, meaning it is now considered the least safe country in the world for women.


These are the findings of a global perception poll carried out by Thomson Reuters Foundation, a charity, which surveyed 558 experts on women’s issues in order to assess nations on overall safety for women.


A failure to improve conditions has led to India becoming the most dangerous country for women; it was fourth in 2011, the last time the poll was conducted.


India is ahead of war-torn Afghanistan (2nd), Syria (3rd) as well as Somalia, a country that ranks significantly lower on human development indices, on overall perception of threats to women’s safety.


India is the only country to feature in the top five rankings for each of the six categories looked at by the poll, never registering lower than the fourth place.


“When only 10% of women in India own land compared to 20% globally, femicide rates are the highest in the world, there are 37 million more men than women in the Indian population, and 27% girls are married before the age of 18 – also the highest rate in the world- you begin to understand the reality in India,” Monique Villa, chief executive officer, Thomson Reuters Foundation, told IndiaSpend.


“India is still fighting the deep-rooted patriarchal mindset, which sees women as inferior in the world’s biggest democracy,” Villa added.


Most Dangerous Countries For Women, 2018 & 2011
Rank 2018 2011
1 India Afghanistan
2 Afghanistan Democratic Republic of Congo
3 Syria Pakistan
4 Somalia India
5 Saudi Arabia Somalia

Source: 2018 Poll, Thomson Reuters Foundation and 2011 Poll, Thomson Reuters Foundation


Cases of sexual violence against women and minors in India made international headlines in 2018 with the high-profile case of eight-year-old Asifa in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district, and the gang rape of anti-trafficking activists in Jharkhand.


The government has responded with harsher penalties for rapists and death penalty for child rapists but this may, in fact, deter reporting of rapes, IndiaSpend reported on May 2018.


A deteriorating situation


“India tops the list with levels of violence against women still running high, more than five years after the rape and murder of a student on a bus in Delhi sparked national outrage and government pledges to tackle the issue,” The Thomson Reuters Foundation report, released on June 26, 2018, said.


When the poll was conducted in 2011, India was ranked fourth overall, better only than Afghanistan, Congo and Pakistan. Its ranking was primarily attributed to high instances of female foeticide and infanticide, and human trafficking.


Seven years later, the 2018 poll shows India has been ranked as the most dangerous country for women on three significant issues:


  • Sexual violence: including domestic rape, lack of access to justice in rape cases, sexual harassment and coercion into sex as a form of corruption;
  • Cultural & religious practices: including female genital mutilation, child and forced marriage, physical abuse and female infanticide/foeticide; and
  • Human trafficking: including domestic servitude, forced labour and forced marriage


Countries That Performed The Worst, By Category
Rank Health Discrimination Cultural Traditions Sexual Violence Non-Sexual Violence Human Trafficking
1 Afghanistan Afghanistan India India Afghanistan India
2 Syria Saudi Afghanistan Democratic Republic of the Congo Syria Libya
3 Somalia India Somalia USA India Myanmar
4 India Pakistan Pakistan Syria* Yemen Nigeria
5 Yemen* Somalia Saudi Arabia Congo Pakistan Russia*

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation
Note: *Yemen had the fourth worst performance along with India on health, Syria had the third worst performance along with USA on combating sexual violence, and Russia had the fourth worst performance along with Nigeria on combating human trafficking.


As many as 39 crimes against women were reported every hour in 2016, up from 21 in 2007, IndiaSpend reported on December 12, 2017.


The government has failed to address laws discriminating against women, including criminalising marital rape and outlawing khap panchayats that impinge on the right to choose whom one wants to marry, IndiaSpend reported on January 15, 2018.


“The three Es: educating boys on gender equality, empowering girls both economically and socially, and enforcing the laws that exist and are not implemented,” Villa said when asked about measures needed to improve women’s safety.

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