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#India – Silence of Government on ‘Honour’ Killing Law is Killing #Vaw

Kamayani Bali Mahabal aka Kractivist honor   Pic courtesy — http://50watts.com/I-Am-a-Bird-of-the-Heavenly-Garden

The naked brutality of honour crimes against women is in contravention of the spirit of the ’United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)’ which has been duly signed and ratified by India. The prevalence and entrenchment of the caste system and rabid patriarchal ethos in the society at large are the root cause of this social evil. The Supreme Court of India, in its observation in the case of Lata Singh versus State of Uttar Pradesh and others in 2006, termed the caste system as a curse on the nation and acknowledged that inter-caste marriages are in the national interest as they will result in destroying the caste system. Referring to ’honour’ killings the Apex Court stated: “There is nothing honourable in such killings, and in fact they are nothing but barbaric and shameful acts of murder committed by brutal, feudal minded persons who deserve harsh punishment.”

In June 2010 Supreme Court issued a notice to the Central Government and nine State governments to know about the steps taken to curb such violence. The Union Government constituted a group of nine Ministers to look into the possibility of framing a separate law to deal with the menace of ’honour’ killings under former finance minister Pranab Mukherjee in 2010. But it eluded consensus till it was disbanded quietly with the exit of Mukherjee from the cabinet to become president.After criticism from women groups, the Prime Minister revived the group in 2012, But it is being suggested that ’honour’ killing is not the outcome of the gender bias attitude of the Khap Panchayats because in most cases the family members of the girl, including women, are the perpetrators of the crime. But the fact of the matter is that the ideology of the so-called family or clan honour is derived from the gender role assigned by patriarchy. The women who do not follow the socially acceptable behaviour or preserve their chastity have to bear the brunt in the form of violence, coercion and killings to restore the family ’honour’.

And it is an open secret that Khap Panchayats are the functional forums of patriarchy in the State and surrounding areas. There are numerous examples in Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh where these medieval institutions have directly or indirectly precipitated situations leading to cold-blooded murders of young women and men defying the age-old established value system.

The debate on enactment of the law is also being trivialised on the ground that ’honour’ killing is, after all, a murder and the perpetrators of this crime can be tried under the existing provisions of the IPC. But it is not a case of simple murder.The resistance was more because of doubts that the objective could be best served by amending Section 300 of IPC to include participation in khap’s calls for “honour killings” as an additional criterion of what constitutes murder.

It is a social evil no less in enormity than sati, dowry deaths and atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. It is difficult to quantify, but India is counted among the countries (Pakistan, Iraq, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Iran being others) having very high per capita incidents of ’honour’ killings in the world. We have the Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987; Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 (amended in 1983 and 1986); and Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 to deal with the social evils listed earlier. Then why not a stand-alone law to deal with ’honour’ killing which shames the civil society and silences forever the women and youth who dare to dream differently?

The Khap Panchayats and their supporters have raised dissenting voices against the enactment of a comprehensive law on ’honour’ killings. This is understandable as these extra-constitutional and mob-gathering forums have always considered themselves above the law of the land. The proposed Act for the abatement of ’honour killings’ has to be quite stringent whereby the perpetrators of the crime shall get life imprisonment  and the institutions and individuals aiding and abetting such killings shall also get deterrent punishment.

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Call for Written Submission to CEDAW Committee

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Inviting Written Submissions – The Committee on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW Committee) Asia Pacific Regional Consultation for the Proposed General Recommendation on Human Rights of Women in Situations of Conflict and Post Conflict

Dear Friends,

CEDAW Committee’s Asia Pacific Regional Consultation for the Proposed General Recommendation on Human Rights of Women in Situations of Conflict and Post-conflict is scheduled to be held on 27-28 March 2012, In Bangkok (Thailand)

This is a call for national and regional level women’s rights groups, NGOs and networks in the Asia Pacific actively engaged in protecting women’s rights during conflict and in peace-building and reconstruction processes during the post-conflict & transition settings to submit Written Submissions to the CEDAW Committee’s Working Group organising the CEDAW Committee’s Asia Pacific Regional Consultation on the Proposed General Recommendation on Human Rights of Women in Situations of Conflict and Post-conflict on 27-28 March 2012 in Bangkok.

The CEDAW Committee pursuant to its mandate on elaboration of the nature and scope of State Obligations on realisation of women’s human rights in conflict and post-conflict settings based on the CEDAW framework have called for a consultation for this region. The Consultation is aimed to assist the CEDAW Committee in developing provisions of its General Recommendation on Women in Conflict and Post-conflict situations, in light of the diversity of conflicts and diversity of experiences and issues faced by women in realisation of their human rights in CEDAW and recognised in other international human rights treaties.

The organisation of this Consultation of the Committee is being supported by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of the Women (UN Women) and the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). International Women’s Rights Action Watch (IWRAW) Asia Pacific is assisting the Committee, the UN Women and the OHCHR in organisation of this Consultation in Asia Pacific. As space for participation at the Consultation is limited, the CEDAW Committee welcomes and urges additional written inputs from women’s human rights groups and peace advocates who are not able to be physically present to be submitted.

The CEDAW Committee’s Working Group on the Proposed General Recommendation on Human Rights of Women in Situations of Conflict and Post Conflict presented the Concept Note of the General Recommendation on the Day of General Discussion held on 18 July 2011 (in conjunction with the Committee’s 49th Review Session in New York). The purpose of the General Recommendation is to provide appropriate and authoritative guidance to State Parties on the measures to be adopted to ensure full compliance with their obligations to respect, protect and fulfil women’s human rights during times of armed conflict and in all peace-building processes, which includes the immediate aftermath of conflict and long term post-conflict reconstruction. The rationale of the CEDAW Committee to organise regional consultations for the proposed General Recommendation is to highlight the impact of conflict on women in the region and focus on the context specific priorities as well as women’s priority concerns in the post-conflict context, e.g. impact of conflict on women from minority communities, and bring the regional perspective to the four thematic areas covered in the Concept Note on the General Recommendation, namely, Access to Justice, Women’s Participation in Peace-building Processes, Violence against Women and Women’s Economic Opportunities in the post-conflict settings, as well as other relevant thematic areas.

We would like to encourage national level groups and organisations involved in addressing the impact of conflict and post-conflict & transitions settings on recognition, exercise, access and realisation of women’s human rights as envisioned in the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) submitting their written submissions:

Illustrating the challenging realities of women both as victims, as active member of conflict (women combatants) and as agents of change in post-conflict peace-building and reconstruction processes;

Describing the actions, non-action and omissions on the part of State and its agencies resulted in aggravating the negative impact of on-going conflict and post-conflict situations on women and girls in exercise and protection of their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights;

Identifying gaps and challenges in drawing accountability of State as well as non-state & private actors including private militia & armed groups under the humanitarian and international human rights law, in particular CEDAW;

Providing recommendations to the CEDAW Committee’s Working Group on elaboration of the nature and scope of State Obligation to protect women’s human rights in situations of conflict and post-conflict, and scope of authoritative mandate of CEDAW to the women’s realities in these contexts

The Written Submissions must be prepared in English and must be precise and specific on the factual as well as theoretical/conceptual framework details. It will be useful to include 1-2 case studies on different and distinct roles played by women in situations of conflict and post-conflict to substantiate the recommendation put forward to the CEDAW Committee for the Proposed General Recommendation.

Preferably the Written Submissions should not be more than 10 pages including the annexures. We would welcome soft copies of analytical research papers, reports and studies that your organisation and/or network would like to share with the CEDAW Committee’s Working Group on the Proposed General Recommendation on Human Rights of Women in Situations of Conflict and Post-conflict to build its understanding on the specificities of conflict and post-conflict settings from the region to be addressed in the proposed General Recommendation to ensure women’s human rights under CEDAW are fully and equally realised and protected.

Please find attached an Outline to guide you in preparation of the Written Submission. Attached with this email are the Concept Note and Summary Report of the Day of General Discussion organised by the CEDAW Committee on the Proposed General Recommendation on Human Rights of Women in Situations of Conflict and Post-conflict.

Please send us your Written Submissions at [email protected] or [email protected] by 25 March 2012 (16 hrs. Bangkok Time)

For further inquiries, please feel free to write to Gauri Bhopatkar (Programme Officer, IWRAW Asia Pacific) at [email protected] or [email protected]

IWRAW Asia Pacific

10-2, Jalan Bangsar Utama 9

59000 Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia

Tel: (603) 2282 2255

Fax: (603) 2283 2552

Email: [email protected] / [email protected]

Website: http://www.iwraw-ap.org

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Forced Sterlisation in Sweden – Campaign

Dear Friends,

I want to draw your attention to the current situation in Sweden regarding forced sterilisation of trans* persons. You may be aware that sterilisation is a requirement under the current legislation before the State will recognise their gender. There was recently hope that this anachronistic requirement would be removed when steps began to have the legislation repealed. However, under pressure from conservative forces, it was announced last week by members of the government that the proposed changes would not be going ahead.

The UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women has explicitly condemned discrimination on the basis of gender identity in its General Recommendation No. 28 as well as repeatedly in reviews of various State Parties. Sweden has been a party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women since 1980. Not only has it failed to date to act on its legal obligations under the Convention in this regard but now that momentum for change has begun, the government’s continuation of the status quo is exacerbating its failures.

AllOut has created a campaign together with RFSL to lobby the government in this regard. Please condemn all discrimination based on gender identity and support this campaign by encouraging its friends and partners to sign on and distribute the information contained in the link below:

Stop Forced Sterlisation

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